WAYNESBORO - Bidding adieu to the final Sunday of summer could be a little sweeter at Renfrew Institute's 25th annual jazz fest, to be held on the lawn behind the Renfrew Museum house from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, August 28.
The musical extravaganza will feature a talented group of top performers, including five-time Grammy-award nominee Karrin Allyson, tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, bassist Ed Howard, drummer Jerome Jennings and guitarist Paul Bollenback.
FirstEnergy Foundation will sponsor this year’s concert on behalf of West Penn Power. “We are proud to help sponsor this marvelous concert that brings extraordinarily talented jazz musicians and vocalists to our backyard for our customers and others to enjoy. We hope this gift encourages support from others to sustain this remarkable tradition over the next quarter century,” said David McDonald, president of West Penn Power.
A star-studded lineup
The New York Times has used terms like, “utter musical fearlessness,” “a complete artist” and “one of the jazz world’s finest,” to describe Karrin Allyson’s musical talent. The spirited and expressive chanteuse flows fluidly among musical genres from bebop, to blues, to bossa nova and ballads. She sings in English, French, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish and has recorded 12 original studio albums for the Concord Jazz label.
Chambersburg native Scott Goulding, of the Yoko Miwa Trio, said the audience is in for a treat. “Karrin Allyson is a consummate jazz singer and a true musician. She is not someone who just sings the melody and steps off to the side to let the band solo. She is great at improvisation and writes challenging arrangements. Her pitch and rhythmic timing are always spot on and she’s always hip, often engaging the audience.”
James E. Cherry, jazz fan and author of “Bending the Blues” and the soon-to-be-released “Edge of the Wind,” is also a fan of Allyson. “It’s no accident that Karrin Allyson is a five-time Grammy nominee. She is equally skilled as a vocalist and a pianist. She is not satisfied with playing old songs the old way; she sings and plays them her way, making them her own and, in doing so, extends the tradition. Her tribute to John Coltrane is a classic,” he said.
Also taking center stage is legendary tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander. With 35 albums as a leader and 70 as a sideman, Alexander is an accomplished musician who has worked with notable jazz greats like Pat Martino, Freddy Cole, Cecil Payne, Little Jimmy Scott and more. Alexander is currently wrapping up a tour of Japan and China and is looking forward to stopping in Waynesboro before returning to New York where he will continue to headline at venues like The Blue Note, Sweet Rhythm and Smoke, and Joe’s Pub.
Goulding, who is no stranger to Alexander’s talent, describes him as one of the modern-day tenor saxophone titans of jazz - rooted in the tradition, while, at the same time taking a modern approach. “It’s no surprise he has such wide appeal,” said Goulding, adding, “I’ve seen him in many configurations with different personnel and he’s one of those rare players who sounds good with anybody; his original voice comes through, no matter what.”
Returning again this year is crowd favorite Paul Bollenback, who has missed only three performances in the 25 years that the Renfrew Jazz Festival has been in existence. The guitarist, who has played with an impressive array of musicians, lays claim to eight recorded albums as a leader and has appeared on television shows like "Good Morning America," "The Today Show" and "Entertainment Tonight."
Drummer Jerome Jennings, who will also join Sunday’s lineup, has performed in more than 25 countries and has shared the stage with musical legends like Count Basie, Ray Charles, Wynton Marsalis, Slide Hampton and many more. He shares his talents by conducting clinics and educational youth outreach.
Last, but by no means least, is the highly sought after bassist Ed Howard, who has performed with such luminaries as Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny and Freddie Hubbard, to name just a few. This is Ed’s sixth appearance at Renfrew.
Founder and organizer Andrew Sussman said he is looking forward to the event. “Since 1992, we have been honored to host an incredible list of internationally acclaimed and legendary jazz artists in Waynesboro.” Sussman said that the free concert has played an integral part in the town’s art renaissance. “I hope everyone will come out to help us celebrate this milestone.” he said.
When you go:
Renfrew Institute’s 25th annual Jazz Festival
2-4 p.m. Sunday, August 28
On the lawn behind the Renfrew Museum House
1010 E. Main St., Waynesboro
Free, but donations are welcome.