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SJO evening of jazz promises plenty of ‘swing and groove’

Brent Edstrom
Brent Edstrom

Spokane Jazz Orchestra joins pianist Edstrom and friends

Since its inception in 1975, the Spokane Jazz Orchestra has become one of the most reliable sources for lively jazz in the Inland Northwest. This weekend they’ll offer up a versatile mixture of tunes from the past and present, featuring pianist and composer Brent Edstrom, an SJO veteran and a professor of music at Whitworth University.

Edstrom will be performing with the aptly named Brent Edstrom Trio, which is rounded out by bassist Eugene Jablonsky and drummer Rick Westrick, and they’ll be joined by the full orchestra for pieces both old and new.

“Several of those have a twinge of the New Orleans sound,” Edstrom said of the evening’s program, pointing to his compositions “Gumbo” (which will make its premiere tomorrow night) and “Bayou” as examples. Some of the selections are alternate takes on familiar standards, including well-known tunes by Marian McPartland, Mary Lou Williams, Oscar Peterson and Dave Brubeck, and a jazzy riff on Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein’s “All the Things You Are.”

“This idea of swing and groove is at the heart of all of this,” Edstrom said. “I selected things that I thought would be toe-tapping and would be fun to listen to. People can expect to enjoy some good grooves and swing at the concert.”

SJO will also be highlighting a group of outstanding high school musicians who were winners of its “Young Giants of Jazz” competition, a significant experience for the teenage musicians. Regardless of age, though, Edstrom said the essence of jazz is in freedom of expression.

“The thing I’m trying to bring to the concert is the joyful aspect of jazz,” he said. “I hope people will take away the joy that’s at the heart of jazz.”