DeMiero Jazz Fest inspires students by day, audiences by night

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Frank DeMiero with clinicians Rob Hyatt and Kate Reid. “I’ve known about the festival for years, and have worked with a number of Frank’s associates, said Reid, a vocal clinician from the University of Miami at Coral Gables. “I literally jumped at the chance when I was invited this year to participate and work with student vocalists.”

The 2018 edition of the annual DeMiero Jazz Festival kicked off Thursday morning in Edmonds, setting the stage for three full days of music clinics and performances by jazz notables.

More than 60 jazz choirs will participate in daytime clinics, workshops and performances. Grammy-nominated artist René Marie and international star Dee Daniels will headline the three evening concerts on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Student jazz clinics are open to the public, and provide the chance to observe name jazz talent assisting area students refine their techniques, providing them with performance hints and helping them develop as musicians. Clinics will run all day Friday and Saturday at the North Sound Center, 201 4th Ave. N.; the North Sound Church, 404 Bell St.; and the Edmonds Center for the Arts, 410 4th Ave. N.

A big part of the festival is the chance for local students to learn from jazz luminaries in group and individual clinics.

“It’s such a joy to see the students’ eyes light up when they’re working one-on-one with these name artists,” said Festival founder Frank DeMiero. “The chance to incorporate techniques and methods from the pros into their own performance skills can bring them to a new level. For many it’s an experience they’ll never forget.”

Now in its 42nd year, the DeMiero Jazz Festival has evolved through several name changes including The Soundsation Jazz Festival, The Lynnwood Jazz Festival, the Edmonds Community College Jazz Festival, and finally in 2005 became the DeMiero Jazz Festival

From the outset, the event took a major departure from similar jazz festivals, all of which were competitive, had strict rules, and featured only one first-place winner, with everyone else going home as losers.

DeMiero was determined that this festival would be different, and be more of a place to learn and less of a place to compete. A place where it doesn’t matter if you are a novice or an experienced performing group. A place where as long as you give your all and do your best, you are a winner. A place where students and artists come together to learn.

The DeMiero Jazz Festival was born in 1977 and became the first non-competitive jazz festival in the country. This philosophy continues to drive the event today.

Students crowd the entrance to the North Sound Center as they arrive for Thursday’s DeMiero Jazz Fest performance clinics.

This year DeMiero is trying a new approach with the students, also designed to bring out their best.

“We’re calling it TMI, the Thursday Music Intensive,” said DeMiero. “We are bringing in world-class musicians, clinicians and expert guests a day early, for a bonus intensive day of performing and learning for a small number of select choirs. Under the guidance of these nationally recognized artists, the students settle into a full day of interactive sessions where they are given an entirely new piece of music, something they’ve never performed or even seen before, and spend the full day learning it. This includes not just the vocalists, but also independent special sessions for musicians, rhythm section, sound engineer and even the director. At the end of the day they come back together and perform the piece at the Thursday evening concert.”

The piece is a new arrangement of America the Beautiful by clinician Rob Hyatt, so while the words will be familiar, the vocalization and instrumentation will be entirely new.

The performance is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday evening at the North Sound Conference Center. Tickets are available at the door.

Dee Daniels

The rest of the weekend will be jam packed with additional clinics where students will learn from the greats. Special concerts on both Friday and Saturday evenings on the Edmonds Center for the Arts stage will feature René Marie, Dee Daniels, Seattle Jazz Singers, Soundstation and the 2018 Dee Daniels Vocal Jazz Scholarship recipient Jaidyn Lam. The clinics are open to the public. Tickets for the evening concerts can be purchased here.

For more information, visit the DeMiero Jazz Festival website.

— Story and photos by Larry Vogel

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