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Newport Beach Jazz Party Coming Valentine's/ President's Weekend

Larry Taylor By

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This year's Newport Beach Jazz Party should be more festive than ever as it celebrates both Valentine's Day and President's Day weekend, February 14 to 17, at the Marriott Hotel Newport Beach in Orange County, California.

Promoted by Joe Rothman and John McClure, this annual party, along with one on Labor Day, are among the longest running and most successful jazz events in the world. The two entrepreneurs started twelve years ago at the Irvine Marriott, with Newport added three years later. The upcoming will be their 2lst.

As always, some sixty of the jazz world's best will perform almost non-stop in a variety of contexts and configurations, in venues throughout the hotel. There will be morning jazz brunches, 9:15am to 11:30am, daily afternoon shows on the outdoor pool stage, noon to 3:30pm, small groups playing cocktail/dinner hour music, 4:50pm to 6:50pm, with the main event beginning each night at 7pm in the Grand Pacific Ballroom. If fans haven't had their fill by then, there are night club appearances in either the Cardiff del Mar Room or Sam & Harry's lounge, 11:15pm to 1:30am.

Among those participating this year in the sessions are esteemed guitarist Kenny Burrell, reed players Houston Person and Ken Peplowski, trombonists Dan Barrett and George Bohannon, bassists Chuck Berghofer and Kristin Korb, pianists Kenny Drew Jr and Alan Broadbent, drummers Jeff Hamilton and Lewis Nash—to name just some of the many. Also a wide range of vocalists will be on tap, including Dena DeRose, Sue Raney and Niki Harris.

Thursday night's Valentine concert kicks off the party with perennial favorites, the Four Freshman on hand, plus a "Salute to Chet Baker," which is especially appropriate given that legendary trumpeter made "My Funny Valentine" immortal with his '50s vocal rendition. Taking part in the tribute will be Warren Luening on trumpet, with pianist John Proulx covering songs associated with Baker.

Friday afternoon, pool-side proceedings will conclude with the appearance of a prize-winning college band. That night's ballroom concert will be topped off with the much-praised Jeff Hamilton Trio.

Saturday night's major attraction will be a session comprised of the Newport Beach Jazz Party All-Stars in a program bringing together a variety of groupings: The Duo, The Trio, 3-Tenors, 3-Trumpets, ending in an all-out jam session. Participants here range from the young, heralded pianist Gerald Clayton and tenor player Rickey Woodard to bassist John Clayton (Gerald's father) and trumpet virtuoso Gilbert Castellanos.

Sunday afternoon the crowd can look forward to the appearance of the International Power Trio, starring sensational Japanese organist Atsuko Hashimoto, who will appear with Person on sax and Hamilton on drums. Last fall the trio wowed the audience in an appearance at the Monterey Jazz Festival.

The concerts conclude Sunday night with the precision-perfect Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, recognized worldwide as one of the best. Finally, a fitting ending for all romantics will be a Valentine Weekend dance featuring the dreamy sound of Person's horn.

For ticket and further information, call 949-759-5003.


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