Wine & Jazz Festival lineup impresses

Big names include Al Jarreau, Arturo Sandoval, Diane Schuur

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If you go

What: The 14th annual Vancouver Wine and Jazz Festival.

When: 4–10 p.m. Aug. 26; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Aug. 27; and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Aug. 28.

Where: Esther Short Park, 301 W. Eighth Street in downtown Vancouver.

Cost: $60 for 3-Day Pass, $20 for Friday only, $25 for Saturday only, $25 for Sunday only. (See website for discounted advance-purchase prices).

Information: 360-906-0441 or visit Vancouver Wine & Jazz Festival.

With a lineup of Grammy-award winning artists, the Vancouver Wine & Jazz Festival is ready to offer its annual extravaganza of food, music, and art at Esther Short Park. Arturo Sandoval, Diane Schuur, Al Jarreau and Bill Frisell are a few of the biggest names that will help to turn downtown Vancouver into a mecca for jazz fans.

“We’ve got people who have bought tickets from upstate New York, Connecticut, Florida and Louisiana, plus some visitors from Croatia who are looking at starting a similar festival in their country,” said Michael Kissinger, the festival’s artistic director.

All in all, the festival is expected to attract around 12,000 people. They will feast on a program that includes vocal, acoustic and amplified styles, as well as blues and New Orleans jazz.

“I know a lot of the performers personally and try to plan three or four years down the road,” said Kissinger. “Arturo Sandoval is one of these incredible crossover guys. He can play the Haydn Trumpet Concerto and then follow it with Salt Peanuts. Al Jarreau is a real jazz icon. We have wanted to schedule him here before, but it just hasn’t worked out until now. Diane Schuur is just a phenomenal jazz singer. Stanley Jordan is a virtuosic guitarist. So is Bill Frisell, who lives in the Seattle area.”

In the blues category, the festival will feature Coco Montoya and John Hammond. Montoya is a preeminent blues guitarist who was a member of John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. Hammond won a Grammy in 1985 and was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame earlier this year. He has been called “America’s modern country blues man” and is acclaimed for his influential songs built on guitar and harmonica. Also, Tacoma-based trio Junkyard Jane will play its “Swampabilly Blues” on opening night.

The Dirty Down Brass Band will bring its bold version of New Orleans jazz to the festival on Sunday, and it will be followed by the up-tempo fusion jazz of Spyro Gyra, which is returning to the festival due to popular demand.

Of course, the festival will also feature some of best local talent, including bassist David Friesen and his Jazz Quintet, the Dan Balmer Trio, and Go By Train.

“My trio will play exclusively my compositions,” Balmer said. “They are contemporary jazz music from my seven CDs. So we will be playing the most popular tunes from those albums. Go By Train is a collaboration between me and keyboardist Clay Giberson. We’ll play music from the group’s three recordings. We like to call it ‘music from the future,’ because we keep the music fresh. I would call it Space Age Fusion Jazz.”

“Professionally, I’ve been playing for thirty years,” Balmer added. “That’s a great festival that Michael Kissinger has put together. I haven’t done all that many shows in Vancouver, so I’m looking forward to playing there.”

The festival will include a secondary Jazz Education Stage, which will host up-and-coming young jazz groups like The Christopher Brothers from Los Angeles and the Gaylor Brothers Band, which began as the jazz quartet for Mountain View High School in Vancouver.

In addition to all of the music, the festival will provide a selection of more than 200 wines. International cuisine from nine local restaurants will also be offered, as well as displays of visual art and crafts from 40 fine artists from California, Montana, Washington and Oregon. All seating is general admission. Blankets and low-back sand chairs are permitted.

“The combination of food, music, and visual art make the festival a true cultural arts event,” Kissinger said. “And we have over 300 volunteers who help make the festival run smoothly. So, the community has embraced the festival, and that makes it an exciting place to be.”