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Volume 40 Issue 17 • Aug. 26-Sept.1, 2010
now in our 40th season

A Jazzy Island

by Chris O'Day

There is melodic flow to Nantucket.  Waves crash the beach then softly flow back to the ocean.  The sun slowly sets under an array of beautiful a pink, yellow, orange, and blue sky.  Seagulls caw, Piping Plovers flutter, seals squeal, and children laugh.  A person weathered by the world comes to the island for a summer feeling jaded, and leaves inspired, fresh, and feeling renewed.

We all have a soundtrack to our lives.  Music speaks to the emotional core of our experiences and one song can remind us of a whole summer of memories.  “I think it all goes to the root of something primal, we have something to look to as a society in music, that give us form,” said Len Germinara, a Nantucket poet and jazz aficionado.

He continued, “You want to be able to look out and touch it (experiences, emotions).  Jazz and blues and poetry and dance and art allow this.  They are the cornerstones of which we build our houses.  It’s what we believe as people.  You hear “Take the A Train,” and in your mind you’re instantly transported to a California beach watching the sunset.  Music creates the symbols in which we view the world.”

Germinara is one of the founding members and organizers for the Nantucket Jazz Company.  The company is made up of jazz lovers, who due to their deep admiration for the music and the island, wish to bring the best jazz music — from all genres — to island for all to hear.  To this end the company has recruited to the island some of top talent from all over.

Their next show is entitled “A Musical Collage.”  It features Armen Ghazaryan performing on the violin, Paul Connors as a vocalist, and Robby Behrman serving as the night’s M.C. The concert will feature many songs of the American Standard.  Premiere Jazz Paianist Rio Clemente is headlining this  event that is happening at the First Congregation Church at 7 pm on Wednesday, September 1.
Clemente puts on a top-notch show.  “He’s known for his high energy and his commitment to his craft.  He puts lots of energy into his shows, its quite spectacular, fun, and he cares about everything to do with his music and performing,” said Germinara of Clemente.

From 5 to 7 pm the evening before the concert, organizers are hosting a Meet the Artists Reception in the courtyard behind European Traditions Antiques on Straight Wharf.  All four musicians will attend to chat and connect with music lovers.  This reception on Tuesday, August 31 is free; tickets to the concert on September 1 are available at Nantucket Bookworks on Broad Street, The Bean on Centre Street, and The Tennis Loft on Straight Wharf.

Nantucket has long been history with jazz.  In fact, The Chicken Box first became popular on island as a hot spot for jazz and the blues.  Gene Mahon used to run a jazz club on island.  Keep your ear tuned at the Club Car for mood setting groovy jazz.  Also, the Muse is no stranger to jazz, as pictures of all the famous Jazz ensembles that have performed on their stage banner the walls.

Another place to hear great jazz on the island is The Unitarian Church.  For years the Church’s Music Director Marcia Hempel has organized Thursday Noonday concerts.  Hempel herself is a musician who performs on the church’s famous 1831 Goodrich organ.  These concerts serve as a midday and midweek break for people to come and relax. This summer there have been performances from the local favorite Cobbletones and other artists such as jazz vocalist Bob Lehman.  The finale to the concert series happens August 26th, featuring Jazz pianist Matthew Hutchinson.

Nantucket has evolved so much over the years and so has jazz. There is a genre of Jazz – from bepop to jazz fun – for every type of mood you may be in. People often say Nantucket is as much of a state of mind as it is a place. Jazz fits that sentiment like a nice pair of Nantucket Reds.  Germinara said, “One of my favorite quotes is, “if there wasn’t supposed to be so much dancing why is there all this music?”  You hear your favorite piece of music and it takes you to another place and you feel those emotions.  I could be humming Blue Rondo à la Turk and in my mind be at Great Point.”

 

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