The spirit of jazz

It’s a combination of traditional musical styles that can leave a listener floored.

It’s the blending of age-old church hymns with roaring jazz music during a special mass at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, and the result can blow an audience away.

“It is one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen,” said Beth Debrey, parish administrator, who is helping coordinate the church’s ninth annual Jazz Festival Feb. 6-8, which concludes with a jazz mass, “Spirit of the Blues.” “It is the most exciting and spiritual event, I’ve ever been to.”

The service will run at 8:30 and 11 a.m. Sunday, the final day of the three-day celebration. It will feature a host of all-star musicians, including a 24-boy choir, and a different twang on otherwise traditional hymns. Surrounding the sermon delivered by Father Bill Miller, the traditional songs will be played with in a bluesy way, but newer jazz songs will also accompany the messages.

“It’s really touching,” Debrey said of the weekend’s curtain call performance in the roughly 300-seat church, 4364 Hardy Street, in Lihue. “It’s just amazing.”

A brunch will follow the free, 11 a.m. musical mass.

But besides Sunday’s finale, the celebration will feature two jazz concerts highlighting top-flight talent coming in from around the world to perform.

“We got the blues” kicks off at 7 p.m. Saturday and will feature one of the great guitarists and blues musicians, Eric Bibb, from Finland, and Valerie Duke, a former vocalist from the Glenn Miller Big Band who hails from Chattanooga, Tennessee.

It’s not just the musicians coming from far and wide. The ninth annual event is billed as Kauai’s longest running jazz celebration that attracts 1,000 people each year, so many people plan their island vacation around the show.

“People from really all over the world come to see it,” Debrey said.

Which explains why the Friday night kick off concert, “A Tribute to Hawaii,” is already sold out. It features ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro and popular vocalist Amy Hanaialii. Shimabukuro has been praised in Rolling Stone, and performed on television shows like Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel and the Today Show.

“There are no bad seats,” Debrey said of the church’s quaint, comfortable atmosphere for the musicians who have performed in much larger houses. “A venue like that doesn’t come that often.”

Saturday’s concert costs $40 in advance, or $45 at the door. 

Info: http://stmichaels-

kauai.org or 245-3796.

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