St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church hosts 11th annual festival

If you go

The 11th annual All Angels Jazz Festival takes place tonight through Sunday at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church.

Friday’s 7 p.m. concert features Abe Lagrimas Jr. with Noel Okimoto, along with Hot Club of Hulaville.

Saturday’s 7 p.m. concert features Bruce Hamada with Matt Lemmler and Abe Lagrimas Jr., along with Maggie Herron, Abe Lagrimas Jr. and Dean Taba. Tickets are $60 at the door.

For Alan Van Zee, there’s just something about jazz.

“It’s free spirited. It doesn’t follow the rules,” he said. “And there’s such an incredible wide spectrum of jazz music, so when you think you know it, you hear something new and you think ‘I haven’t heard it like that before.’”

Van Zee, music director for St. Michael and All Saints Episcopal Church, is in charge of organizing the church’s annual jazz festival, which began 11 years ago when Bill Miller was the pastor.

“He had done a previous festival at his church in Texas. He was always a big fan of jazz, so when he came to St. Michael’s, he brought the idea with him,” Miller said. “At the beginning, the artists came from the Hawaiian islands. Then, little by little, we started bringing in artists from the Mainland and other countries.”

While Van Zee has been involved with the festival since the beginning as part of the choir for the jazz Mass, this is his second year as organizer.

“I’m familiar with the festival, but that’s quite different from being in charge of it,” he said. “There were definitely times my first year of planning where I thought ‘what did I get myself into.’”

The festival has grown since its early days, attracting tourists and residents alike. Residents mark the festival on their calendar, and some people come year after year. About 800 to 1,000 are expected to watch this year.

“People tell me they plan their vacation to Kauai around the jazz festival,” Van Zee said.

For this year’s festival, Van Zee wanted to focus on Hawaiian jazz artists, bringing musicians from throughout the state.

“We decided to do a Hawaii all-stars event,” he said. “It’s wonderful because it reminds people how much world-class talent we have here.”

Performers include the Hot Club of Hulaville, Abe Lagrimas Jr., Bruce Hamada, all of Honolulu, and Maggie Herron, of the Big Island.

Kauai musicians slated to perform include David Braun, Dennis McGraw, Karen Dickinson and David Yukimura.

Meeting musicians is one of Van Zee’s favorite parts of the festival.

“They’re all humble, regular people who just happen to have amazing talents,” he said.

During Sunday’s jazz Mass, Kauai keiki, Blade Kanekuni and Nialani Green will be performing a tap dance routine.

An addition to the festival is a documentary called “Night Bird Song.” The film, filmed by Stephanie Castillo, of Kauai, documents the life of Thomas Chapin, a famous jazz musician.

The film is free and open to the public.

Van Zee said he enjoys being able to provide people with an outlet to discover jazz.

“It’s a great introduction for people who haven’t had a lot of exposure to jazz. There are people who never listened to jazz who come to the festival and they love it.”

The festival begins tonight and runs through Sunday. Tickets for Friday and Saturday night are $60.

Sunday’s events are free. There are two jazz masses — at 8:30 and 11 a.m. The showing of “Night Bird Song” starts at 7 p.m.

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