The annual Sitka Jazz Festival is scatting into town this week. Concerts are on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 1 and 2, at the Sitka Performing Arts Center. Students from Sitka and other parts of Alaska will perform earlier in the evening, followed by a cast of jazz greats each night.
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Renowned composer and saxophonist, Tom Scott, is in the lineup, as well as Barbara Morrison, and The Greatlanders Air Force Band of the Pacific. Katherine Kramer will be tap dancing in the first dance performance the festival has ever had on its program.
But Sitka Jazz Festival co-director, John DePalatis , says the event is about more than the concerts. There are 23 workshops that will run on Friday morning and into the afternoon on Saturday. Classes range from basic jazz theory to learning the art of improvisation.
“If you just come to the concerts, you’re really not seeing the festival itself,” said DePalatis. “It’s kind of like an iceberg — you see the concerts, but underneath is all of educational stuff going on. Everything from very specific Greatlanders working with trombone players to I think our last session is there in the auditorium with Barbara Morrison and Tom Scott just talking about stuff. You know, we really look for people who are good with students because it’s equally as strong of an educational festival as it is a performance festival.”
Students can attend the workshops, as well as anyone who has an all-festival pass. There are free concerts on Thursday and Friday from noon to 1 pm at Harrigan Centennial Hall.
Performances by students from Sitka, Ketchikan, Petersburg, Juneau and Kodiak will start at 6 pm, and the pros will hit the stage from 8 to 1030pm.
Tickets are available at Old Harbor Books — $10 for a student concert, $25 for a professional concert (includes admission to a student concert), and $45 for an all-festival pass. For more information about what’s on the schedule, you can visit www.sitkajazzfestival.com.