Heart 'n Soul of Jazz: Celebrating 25 Years of Great Music
The Heart ’n Soul of Jazz takes over the stage at the Cardinal Ballroom of the Carolina Hotel this weekend in celebration of 25 years of the fabulous rhythms and outstanding performances by the some of the best-known artists in the world of jazz.
Benefiting the Arts Council of Moore County, the event was originally called “Jazz in January” before being moved to the Valentine’s Day weekend in 2006.
Two of the most notable entertainers in recent years have been “brought back by popular demand” for the silver anniversary of the occasion. On Friday night, international star Harry Allen, on tenor sax, heads a group composed of Joe Locke, vibraphonist, and Nilson Matta’s Brazilian Voyage, playing a mix of American jazz standards interwoven with the seductive sounds of South American music. Among the selections the audience might expect to hear are “Desafinado,” “Girl from Ipanema” and “’S Wonderful,” for instance.
The talented Brazilian artists, all celebrities in their own right, include Nilson Matta on bass, Helio Alves on piano, Dudaka da Fonseca on drums and the sultry-voiced Maucha Adnet. Harry Allen notes that Brazilian music and jazz have a lot in common.
“They both have a songbook of great standards — beautiful tunes that feature wonderfully complicated harmonies and lend themselves well to improvisation,” Allen says. “Each is associated with a special rhythm which separates it from other types of music — it’s bossa nova and samba for Brazilian music and swing for American jazz.”
Saturday night, the spotlight will be on Tierney Sutton and her quartet. Called “a serious jazz artist who takes the whole enterprise to another level,” Sutton and her musicians were enthusiastically received by Pinehurst audiences when she first appeared at the event three years ago. Instrumental virtuosos Christian Jacob on piano, Trey Henry and Kevin Axt on bass and Ray Brinker on drums form a musical accompaniment that one critic has termed “an uncanny display of spirit and unity.”
Tierney Sutton, whose mother grew up in Durham and who has relatives living in North Carolina, is delighted to be returning to Pinehurst. Since 2007, the band has made two new CDs, both of which were nominated for Grammy awards.
“However,” she says, “more important, I think the work of the band has deepened and become more cohesive and spiritual. Our standards keep going up.”
Headlining in recent years at Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl and Jazz at Lincoln Center, Sutton and her band members made a trip to Turkey to perform just before coming to Pinehurst for Heart ’n Soul of Jazz. This is their third trip to that country.
“It turns out that a wonderful musician and radio announcer in Turkey has become a great fan of our band, and has done a two-hour show of just our CDs,” Sutton says. “This has resulted in many Turkish fans.”
Tierney Sutton and Harry Allen join a host of other jazz artists who have appeared in what has become an internationally known festival. From Marian McPartland to Ellis Marsalis to Toots Thielmann to the Buck Creek Jazz Band to Sophie Milman, the Heart ’n Soul of Jazz continues to be one of our area’s most glamorous musical events.
Starting out as a one-night fundraiser for the Performing Arts Center, then owned by the Arts Council (now known as the Sunrise Theater.), the event was the brainchild of Mal Owings and his late wife, Marge Owings. The first concert featured vocalist Maxine Sullivan and the Loonis McGlohon Trio.
After a few years, Jan Schnell and her late husband, Ed, took over the chairmanship of the annual event.
“We were always supporters of the arts, along with excellence in all kinds of music, and we were glad to have the opportunity to help raise funds for the Arts Council,” Jan Schnell recalls. “In 1992, we moved the event to the Carolina (then the Pinehurst Hotel) and Pinehurst Resort became one of the major sponsors. At the same time it was decided to expand it to a two-night celebration of jazz.”
The Schnells were determined to develop the weekend-long concept, and over the years they became increasingly successful in their efforts. More than $250,000 has been raised for the Arts Council during the last 25 years.
“The staff at the hotel works so diligently on every aspect of the weekend, as does Chris Dunn, the executive director of the Arts Council, to bring this spectacular event to fruition,” says Schnell. “The hotel provides special packages for the weekend, and there are exceptional dinners for jazz patrons, and of course the reception after each evening’s performance can only be described as a work of art — from the ice sculptures, magnificent dessert stations to the Irish coffee.
“To top it all off, the artists mingle with the guests at the post-concert receptions, chatting, having pictures taken and signing programs. Where else, anywhere, does that happen? It has become a signature part of the event.”
The 25th anniversary of the jazz celebration represents a significant milestone in Jan Schnell’s life. Her husband was an important participant in the event, until his death two years ago. She remembers when he did his office work at home, he always had music playing — whether it be classical, Dixieland, Billy Joel, flamenco or the sounds of any of the artists that have appeared at the Heart ’n Soul of Jazz. “We both felt so fortunate to be a part of this incredible community.
“But,” she adds, “keep in mind that without our sponsors, none of this could happen. They have contributed greatly over the years, and supported our endeavors.”
The major sponsors are American Airlines, Pinehurst Resort and the Carolina Hotel, Progress Energy, along with contributing sponsors, Wachovia bank, BB&T and Lyne’s Furniture Gallery.
Tickets for individual performances can be purchased by calling the Pinehurst Resort at (910) 235-8415. The $65 ticket (or $110 for both performances) includes the meet-the-artists dessert buffet and a chance for a door prize.
Lyne’s Furniture Gallery is furnishing a $1,000 shopping spree as Friday night’s door prize. The winner of the door prize on Saturday night will enjoy a two-night bed and breakfast stay for two people at The Sanderling, located on the Outer Banks. Breakfast and accommodations are included and are provided by Pinehurst Resort.
A special pre-concert dinner will be featured in Pinehurst’s Carolina Dining Room for $40 per person (inclusive of tax and service). Reservations are required, and may be made by calling (910) 235-8415.
Contact Pinehurst freelance writer Mary Elle Hunter at email@example.com.
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