Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Pop-up jazz performance in downtown Spokane honors Black pioneers of genre for Juneteenth

Imagine Jazz performs Monday at River Park Square in downtown Spokane to celebrate Juneteenth.  (Luke Pickett/FOR THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
By Luke Pickett For The Spokesman-Review

Dozens of shoppers were treated to an hour and a half of jazz Monday at River Park Square as part of Spokane’s annual Juneteenth celebration to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States.

The pop-up concert put together by nonprofit Imagine Jazz featured a Spokane-based jazz quintet and a set list inspired by the Jazz Messengers, a monumental 1950s jazz group.

With famous songs detailing the Black experience like Billie Holliday’s “Strange Fruit,” jazz evolved into not just a musical style, but a symbol of the Civil Rights movement in America.

The concert tribute’s set list was designed to celebrate Black culture and the newest state and federal holiday, said River Park Square’s marketing and events manager Chelsea Garibay.

“These pieces tonight are pillars of the jazz community,” Garibay said. “It’s a tribute to that jazz era and a celebration of its Black composers.”

Imagine Jazz performed songs associated with the genre’s trailblazers, including Art Blakey, Wayne Shorter, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, Cedar Walton, Bobby Watson, Betty Carter and Abbey Lincoln.

The quintet featured Rachel Bade-McMurphy on saxophone and vocals, Jared Hall on trumpet, Jake Svendsen on piano, Kai Wagner on bass and Brendan McMurphy on drums.

The nonprofit’s mission is to preserve the jazz legacy and advocate for creative progress through guest artist concerts and workshops.