An indication that Jazz in the Pines succeeded in its 22nd year was the Sunday headliner attendance, because not everyone attends both days and most who attend only one day just attend Saturday.

So, what a thrill I experienced seeing the lumps of grass hardly able to hold a seated person in front of my chair close to the stage heavily occupied Sunday just before Casey Abrams arrived.

Casey walked up with experienced jazz musicians, including Marshall Hawkins, one weekend afternoon in the summer of his senior year at Idyllwild Arts Academy at Cafe Aroma’s “stage” and played bass brilliantly to a bunch of us diners.

Shock. Our mouths fell open. Who was this kid? Jack and I met him after the gig and learned about his interest in American Idol.

I knew his dad, Ira Abrams, and enjoyed several conversations with him over the years at the Parks Exhibition Center. Ira knew my son, Zac, and we conversed once on Zac’s decision to join the military. Zac was an Idyllwild Arts Academy and Kansas City Arts Institute visual arts graduate. Zac’s art background never prepared me for his decision to join the Navy but it didn’t surprise Ira. He helped me accept my son’s decision.

I didn’t know Ira’s kid, though. Casey seemed to come out of nowhere and take the world by storm. That day at Cafe Aroma to Sunday at Jazz in the Pines where hundreds of people clapped and danced along in awe and glee to a young talent who never stops surprising — a truly great entertainer.

And the chemistry he and the fabulous Haley Reinhart have together never fails to please their audiences. Thanks for the great show, Casey and friends.

Becky Clark,