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Jazz Under the Stars

By July 15, 2020 No Comments

Jazz Under the Stars – Smaller But Still Happening!

Two Bands at One Physically-Distanced Concert Aug. 27 at McGrath Amphitheatre

Photos at: www.shorturl.at/fBF16

The COVID-19 pandemic will shrink, but not cancel KCCK’s Jazz Under the Stars.

Instead of four concerts, there will be a single, physically-distanced event August 27 at McGrath Amphitheatre, featuring two bands. In-person attendance will be limited, masks required, and a video livestream will be provided for those who prefer to watch from home.

“Holding big public events in Noelridge Park is a non-starter this year,” says KCCK general manager Dennis Green. “There simply is no way we can guarantee a way to keep our patrons, staff, and performers safe. But McGrath is a more controlled environment. We’re working with their staff, Wired Productions, and our other vendors to put on a concert that will incorporate physical distancing and also provide the community with the opportunity to get out and enjoy live music, which we have all missed so much.”

The plan is contingent on Venuworks receiving permission to reopen and hold events.

The concert will feature dual headliners, The Eric Thompson Quintet and The Iowa Women’s Jazz Orchestra Sextet.

“Eric Thompson has performed at Jazz Under the Stars us many times, but never as a group leader,” Green says. “We had originally booked both Eric and the Iowa Women’s Jazz Orchestra (IWJO), an all-female big band. But ensemble leaders are still working through how to rehearse a big band safely, and I thought we would have to wait a year for our first all-female headliners. But then IWJO co-leader Toni LeFebvre put together a six-person subset of the group for the virtual Iowa City Jazz Festival. They had a lot of fun and were eager to perform again.”

In-person attendance will be limited to 900. Attendees will be required to keep a minimum of six feet between non-household groups. Adults will be required to wear face coverings unless seated. An announcement on food vendors will be made in the next few weeks.

To accommodate additional time needed to sanitize equipment between bands, the event will begin at 6pm. Gates open at 5:30pm.

The concerts will be broadcast live on KCCK, 88.3 and 106.9 FM in the local area, and at www.kcck.org. A video livestream will also be provided to accommodate those who aren’t comfortable attending in person. Attendees should bring their own chairs or blankets for seating.

The Eric Thompson Quintet

Eric Thompson’s dad put a pair of drumsticks in his hands at just seven months, and while still a toddler, young Eric toured the country as the “World’s Youngest Drummer,” performing on The Tonight Show, and challenging the legendary Buddy Rich in an onstage “drum battle.” Today, Eric Thompson is a versatile drummer and teacher, with a long list of credits in performing, writing, and arranging in jazz, marching band and drum corps. He graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music in Jazz Studies, and performed for many years on the East Coast with his band “Guaranteed Swahili.” Since returning to Iowa, he’s opened his own teaching studio, and has performed with the Bob Washut Trio, Local on the 8s, Equilateral, and many more. Joining Eric will be Robert Espe, saxophone; Brett Messenger, trumpet; Bob Washut, piano; and Danny Oline, bass.

The Iowa Women’s Jazz Orchestra

The Iowa Women’s Jazz Orchestra was founded by trumpeter Toni LeFebvre when she was a grad student at the University of Iowa. The band’s purpose is to showcase the artistry of women jazz performers, and to provide role models for girls in Iowa Jazz programs, to let them know their voices are valid and meaningful. The sextet version of the band is comprised of Toni LeFebvre, trumpet; Lynne Hart and Jen Tiede, saxophone; Gail Williams, piano; Vivian Shanley, bass; and Farron Johnson, drums.

Major support for KCCK’s Jazz Under the Stars series comes from the McGrath Family of Dealerships, Collins Community Credit Union, West Music, Brian and Marty Stoll, and Kirkwood Community College.

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Jazz 88.3 KCCK-FM is a locally-programmed public radio station owned by Kirkwood Community College, broadcasting in analog FM and HD Radio at 88.3 FM.  Iowa’s Jazz Station is also on any IOS and Android phone or tablet, webcasts at www.kcck.org, and on Johnson County translator at 106.9 FM.  KCCK has presented Jazz Under the Stars every summer since 1987.

For more information contact KCCK at (319) 398-5446.