NEWPORT –– With a crowd of musicians, students and jazz lovers swirling around her, Catherine Rickbone seemed content with the turnout at the Performing Arts Center.
“It was good last night and we’re sold out today,” said Rickbone, who is the executive director of the Oregon Coast Council For the Arts. “We’ll probably have upwards of 1,600 to 1,700 tickets sold.”
By all accounts, the 2018 Oregon Coast Jazz Party was a success, those in attendance said. The local celebration of jazz music, now in its 15th year, highlighted female musicians and included performers of both sexes from all over the world. One of the performers, Copenhagen resident Sinne Eeg, came all the way from Denmark to perform at the Jazz Party and speak in the Q&A session after the last performance Saturday.
“I like this venue and that people are hanging out, talking to different people,” Eeg said. “People are out listening to music, and it’s good to be here and hear other performers.”
The Jazz Party was started 15 years ago to celebrate the musical genre and highlight local musicians. Members of the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts, or OCCA, knew there weren’t other local events celebrating jazz.
“When OCCA decided to found this, it was a type of performance not done here before,” Rickbone said. “This would broaden the types of experiences and genres here.”
The genre was singled out in part because it’s America’s classical music, she added.
“Jazz is America’s art form,” Rickbone said. “No other music can lay as much of a claim to that as jazz music. It’s spread throughout the world and now you can hear it everywhere.”
The three-day festival honoring female musicians in jazz featured the Grace Kelly quartet and world-renowned violinist Regina Carter with her quartet. Other performances at the festival included New York-based pianist Helen Sung, high school student from San Diego Serena Geroe, the South Eugene High School Dorians Jazz Choir and the Taft High School Jazz Ensemble.
“I love listening to the music,” said Jazz Party volunteer Linda Brodeur. “It’s a great chance to see people have fun.”