Art Beat interview with Jake Bergevin: Is Edmonds the next big jazz destination?

Jake Bergevin’s Jazz Punishments group performs in the big band tradition and features alumni of the Edmonds-Woodway High School jazz program.

We are fortunate to have so many talented artists in our city, and a community that supports arts, so Edmonds as a jazz destination makes sense. I had the opportunity to talk with one of the individuals who is making this happen and learning about how the upcoming Jazz Walk this Saturday, May 21, fits in with this vision.

Jazz is something very near and dear to my heart. Growing up in a jazz family, the daughter of pianist Barney McClure and flautist/composer Ann Lindquist, I was immersed in the intricacies of jazz from a young age. Having the opportunity to speak with Edmonds local Jake Bergevin and learning about all that is happening in our community got me really excited (dare I say jazzed) to see this become a reality.

Jake Bergevin

When I asked Bergevin how this all got started I got a simple answer, “I’m crazy.” He went on to elaborate how the last few years of sitting at home really impacted him as a musician. To cope with the lack of interacting with students and music everyday he started giving concerts from his deck on a weekly basis and reconnecting with students from his past.

Jake Bergevin performing

Bergevin has quite the resume, including his current role working as the Edmonds-Woodway High School Department chair and band director, and having taken the school’s jazz ensemble five times to New York as finalists in the Essentially Ellington contest. He has also held leadership positions, working with the International Association for Jazz Education, serving as the Washington Music Education Association Jazz Curriculum Chair, and leading the Educator Track at the Centrum Jazz Port Townsend Festival.

Many of Jake’s talented students have gone on to become accomplished musicians. During the quarantine, Jake caught up with trumpeter and vocalist Christine (Hannan) Eisenmenger. Christine studied her trumpet technique at the internationally-renowned conservatory Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University and then pursued a master’s degree in vocal jazz. She is now living in Edmonds and introduced Jake to her husband Connor Eisenmenger, a highly accomplished trombone player who holds a master’s degree in jazz studies from University of North Texas.

Christine Eisenmenger

Jake, Christine and Connor started playing music together and a group started to form. The group would meet at the Rotary Gazebo in Edmonds City Park and play music together. Once the band started to really get going and more members added, Bergevin started thinking about how to bring this all together. Between the high school summer jazz programs that Bergevin offers, where many guest artists come to Edmonds to participate, and the Sea Jazz at the Port of Edmonds, and all the connections and artists coming together who wanted to play, an idea was born. There was a decision at this point to make Jazz Colony into a nonprofit organization to synthesize all that jazz in Edmonds.

Former EWHS student and musician Jack Hillman, and Edmonds local Pete Bennett, got on board and the nonprofit idea started to become a reality. The group doesn’t have nonprofit status yet (the steps are being taken), but it pushed forward with the idea to bring a Jazz Walk to Edmonds. After seeing the success of such events in Port Townsend and Ballard, there was an excitement to see what could happen in Edmonds. The first-ever Edmonds Jazz Walk will be happening this Saturday and will be the inaugural event for the new nonprofit. The idea behind the nonprofit is to give people access to jazz, offer opportunities for musicians to perform, and to invest in future musicians. Bergevin shared that in addition to Hillman and Bennett, Danny Kolke from Jazz Clubs Northwest has been a huge part of making this happen.

With much anticipation, the first annual Jazz Walk is scheduled for Saturday, with a full lineup of artists performing at various venues around town, including Bergevin himself playing at 9 p.m. at the Masonic Lodge. Participating in the upcoming Jazz Walk and supporting Jazz Colony is what you can do to help make Edmonds the next jazz destination.

— By Rachel Gardner

Rachel Gardner has a heartfelt appreciation for art in all forms and believes everyone is an artist, some just don’t know it yet. A dedicated and involved Edmonds resident, she can often be spotted onstage cracking jokes between sets or in the audience enjoying local live performances. She enjoys being playful with her art and finding unique ways of expression, like forming a boho-grunge-folk ukulele trio with local Edmonds moms.

  1. Nice photographs in the piece.

    Our sons had Bergevin in high school and we were really impressed with his program.

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