Saturday morning from 10:30 a.m., then 10:45 and finally at 11 a.m., the three venues for the 22nd Jazz in the Pines will come to life with exciting, bold and attention-grabbing sounds. The Euphoria Brass Band will be the first, their horns sharing a special “N’awlins” sound with the attendees at the French Quarter. Fifteen minutes later, Joshua White’s fingers will run across the piano keyboard in the Stephens Recital Hall. Then at 11, David Garfield and the Afro Cuban Jazz Project will open the Holmes Amphitheatre.
Thus begins two days of continuous and exciting jazz. Multiple artists will share their music with thousands who have journeyed to the Idyllwild Arts campus, many, maybe most, have traveled this route before to immerse themselves in jazz — the American contribution to music.
Not only festival patrons, but the musicians are returning — not only to the stage, but several to where they started their jazz education — Idyllwild Arts.
Marshall Hawkins, festival director of music, is proud to welcome home several popular and well-known alumni. Evan Christopher, class of 1987, started the procession. Jason Jackson, class of 1989, quickly followed and will be accompanied by vocalist Rosena Hill, his wife, who is a Carnegie Hall veteran. Christopher lives in New Orleans and the Jacksons in New York City who perform throughout the country.
Other renowned alumni include Saturday’s headliner Graham Dechter, class of 2004, and Sunday’s headliner Casey Abrams, class of 2009.
More recent graduates who will be performing over the two days include Lake Jiroudek and Nora Germain.
“The focus on the alumni is very appropriate. It reflects the school big time,” Hawkins said with a smile, since he mentored all of them. “They have been less involved and are now coming into their own and can be more involved in the festival.”
Hawkins is proud of his students and glad to include them in the jazz fest. Not only does it “keep musicians working,” but “it exposes the purpose of the school to more potential students.”
He added, “The pros know the alumni can play as well or better than [long-time professionals].
“I enjoy the dream,” Hawkins said about his career at Idyllwild Arts and his time passing on jazz to new generations. “The destination is not nearly as important as the journey. It’s my personal mission.”
An opportunity to hear many of the illustrious alumni playing with friends and their mentor will occur Saturday evening. Saturday at 6:30 p.m., the Seahawk Modern Jazz Orchestra, which Hawkins founded, will play in the IAF Theatre.
Hawkins strongly recommended attending this year’s Jazz in the Pines because, “It’s back to music people love and enjoy; but some, like Paul Carman’s Forbits, are edgy. Also, I enjoy Barnaby Finch’s jazzy bluegrass. And there is nothing else to say, just amazing, about Harry Pickens’ return.”
Similar to Idyllwild Arts Foundation President Pamela Jordan, Hawkins also stressed the connection between the longevity of the jazz fest and the community. “If the jazz fest were lost, the community would suffer. But for 20 years the community, like the Rotary, [Bob and Barbara] Woods and Lin Carlson, have been an important part of the academy.”
In 1994, Hawkins organized and produced the first Jazz in the Pines. “I knew it was successful, but I’m still surprised. It brings tears of joy and there is no telling about the future. The priority is the art.” And he confirmed that he already is thinking about additions for the 23rd Jazz in the Pines in August 2016.
For: Karimu, the international help foundation
Why: To build a birth center in the village of Dareda Kati in Tanzania
Who: The Seahawk Modern Jazz Orchestra
When: 6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16
Where: Grand Idyllwild Lodge