LIHU‘E — Jazz music will take over the Marriott’s Kaua‘i Lagoons Saturday, June 25, during the 4th Annual Red Clay Jazz Festival. Flutist Hubert Laws headlines the event, which is presented by the Kaua‘i Concert Association is flutist Hubert Laws.
Laws was recently awarded the 2011 National Endowment of the Arts Jazz Masters Fellowship, which is considered to be the nation’s highest honor in jazz.
Performances by Berklee College of Music’s Hailey Niswanger, Maui’s Phil and Angela Benoit and Kaua‘i’s Ne‘ena Jazz Quartet round out the music celebration.
“One of things we try do at the jazz festival is have a local group, a statewide group and our headliners come from the rest of the world,” said Judy Arrigo, Jazz Festival Chair.
With the lack of large jazz festival throughout the state, committee member and jazz musician Ron Margolis hopes the Red Clay Jazz Festival evolves into a premier celebration.
“It’s gotten a little larger every year,” Margolis said, who plays with Ne‘ena. “Jazz is a lot of fun because the songs never come out the same way twice. It gives me a chance to be creative and think outside the box.”
A highly improvisational art form, Margolis said that takes a long time to learn and master.
“Jazz music allows an artist be the most expressive out of all the musical styles,” said Steve Dubey, who plays trumpet for Ne‘ena. “That improvisation is spontaneous. You have to rely heavily on your ear and your knowledge of the song your playing. Each song is like a blank canvas, and you get to create a new art piece each time you play.”
Ne‘ena, which plays a mix of contemporary, Latin and swing jazz music, opens Saturday’s festival with a 3 p.m. performance.
Ne‘ena means “movement” in Hawaiian.
“We like to kid around and say we like to keep things moving,” said Steve Dubey, the frontman of the group.
Dubey, who performs trumpet and chromatic harmonica, described Ne‘ena’s sound as “a mix of contemporary, Latin, swing and other styles.”
David Braun, who plays trumpet, said that performing jazz music is like talking story. “You just start relating to each other and make music on the spot,” he said.
“For me, music is a big praise to God,” Braun added. “I really enjoy that time to fellowship and make music, and to me, that represents the creativity of every day life.”
Braun will be performing with the Southside Swing Quartet Wednesday at 22 North as part of a series of events acting as a prelude to Saturday’s festival.
From 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Michael Ruff will be performing at 22 North in Lihu‘e, and the Southside Swing Quartet will be performing at Joe’s on the Green in Po‘ipu. There is a $10 cover for both of these events.
On Thursday, the Hailey Niswanger Quartet performs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Aupaka Terrace at the Kaua‘i Marriott Resort & Beach Club in Lihu‘e, and Treysara will perform 7 to 9 p.m. at the Nanea Lanai at The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas.
From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 24, there will be a wine and pupu party with the artists at Oasis on the Beach. Tickets are $40 per person.
Those interested of attending both Friday’s and Saturday’s festivities can purchase tickets for $75.
The festival will also be serving organic and locally grown foods prepared by chefs from 22 North, Kaua‘i Marriott Resort & Beach Club, Hukilau Lanai and Reggie Berry’s Interactive Cafe. Wahooo’s Seafood Grill and Bar will provide a selection of wine and beer. Tickets for food are sold in $4 increments.
“We are trying to include local food with zero waste,” Arrigo said.
A portion of the money raised from the jazz festival will be donated to the Kaua‘i Concert Association Scholarship Fund, which has awarded more than $24,000 since its genesis.
Visit http://redclayjazz.org for more information or to purchase tickets.
• Andrea Frainier, lifestyle writer, can be reached at 245-3681, ext. 257 or afrainier@ thegardenisland.com.
What: Red Clay Jazz Festival
When: 3 to 9 p.m. June 25
3 p.m.: Steve Dubey and Ne‘ena Jazz Quartet
4:30 p.m.: Phil and Angela Benoit
6:15 p.m.: Hailey Niswanger Quartet
7:45 p.m.: Hubert Laws
Where: Kaua‘i Lagoons
How much: $40 advance, $75 Friday and Saturday