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Local Talent Shines in Seventh Year Jazz-Cab
by Sharon Lint


January 27, 2005

Ketchikan, Alaska - Every winter for the past seven years, FirstCityPlayer's Annual Evening of Jazz and Cabaret has filled the air in-between our drizzling raindrops with syncopated hits. It has become a true signature event here in Ketchikan that brightens days and allows local talent to shine.

Beginning with a two-week tutorial taught by jazz professionals, Anne Phillips, Bob Kindred, Paul Meyers and Matt Perri, the blending of instruction, community involvement, performance and music proves time and again to be the experience of a lifetime for Ketchikan residents. The premise for the event is simple; have fun with one of American's most original art forms - Jazz. Anyone can participate - even if you have a beat but can't dance to it. Whether you're a performer, audience member or part of the production crew, somehow Anne, Bob, Paul and Matt can get you to jump, jive and wail in no time.

This year's offering was a case in point. On Saturday night, Bridget Piscoya's "Hallelujah, I Love Him So" opened the show with a strong pulse and Rebekah Wiedenhoeft followed with a solid rendition of "Vienna." Mary Kowalczyk's "Golden Earrings "and Frances Klein's "Seven Years" explored the work of Peggy Lee and Norah Jones and by the time Matt Perri finished "Tuxedo Junction" everyone had the Jazz bug beat.

Elizabeth Nelson gave a flourishing appearance with "Buds Won't Bud" and Greg Bird's "Angels" was both spirited and moving. Anne popped on stage for a song before Lucy Cruz punched out Buddy Johnson's "Since I Fell For You" and then Amy Wadley wowed the crowd with "Coin Operated Boy."

Maria S. Dudzak nailed every note in "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered," and was followed by Bob and Paul playing a sophisticated composition that began with an offbeat tempo and as always, ended in an explosion of applause. Although Barbara Bailey lost the beat at the beginning of the next number, "I'll Be Seeing You," she proved herself a true professional by picking it back up and going on to a great finish. Tera and Calli Olmstead's show-stopping act ended Act I on a high note with, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough."

After refreshments and a few hellos, the Jazz Choir came on stage and delivered an excellent assortment of tunes that have historically lifted up spirits and taught toes to tap. Count Basie's "OO-BLA-DEE" and "Lil Darlin'" led the roll, with our own Dave Rubin's swinging "Next Time Around," and Phoebe Newman's inspirational poem "Why Faith Abides" (put to music by the wonderful Anne Phillips), close on their heels. "I Will Rise" moved the cabaret back into the sphere of soloists and Rudy Saccomanno did a great job leading the way by singing "Just For A Thrill."

Caoimhe Ryan said goodbye to the Jazz Cabaret by singing "Blue Skies" and Paul's rendition of "Amazing Grace" took us back to the origins of Jazz just before Deb Turnball's "Come Rain or Come Shine" moved us back up to the post-war forties. Calli Olmstead was backed by several of her fellow artists and capped the night off with an electrified version of "Heard It Through the Grapevine."

There was a look of simple mesmerized joy on everyone's face by the end of the performance. Ketchikan's wintry gloom was forgotten, spirits were uplifted, and smiles were everywhere. Perhaps that's because Jazz is, as Duke Ellington so aptly put it, a "Barometer of Freedom" and we here in Ketchikan are very sensitive to instruments; both environmental and musical.



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