Jazz Swings Into Pinehurst
BY MARY ELLE HUNTER
Special to The Pilot
A wonderful mix of classic and -contemporary jazz is on tap Friday, Feb. 11, and Saturday, Feb. 12, at the Carolina Hotel, in Pinehurst.
The Heart 'n' Soul of Jazz, which has become a tradition in the Sandhills, returns with the spotlight on the Original Dixieland Jazz Band from New Orleans and the dramatic song stylings of Simone, backed by her quintet.
Presented by the Arts Council of Moore County and the Pinehurst Resort, the weekend is a time-honored opportunity for jazz lovers to hear the most outstanding and well-known jazz musicians, as well as being a major fundraiser for the Arts Council.
"The internationally known stars that appear each year have never disappointed us, and this year promises to be no exception," says Jan Schnell, the energetic chair, who with her late husband first organized the event more than two decades ago.
The Original Dixieland Jazz Band dates its beginnings to 1916, when under the leadership of Nick LaRocca, it first introduced New Orleans to the sounds that would sweep the country. Just a year later, the ODJB made the first jazz recording, "Darktown Strutters Ball," and followed that with numerous recordings that became the staple of the Dixieland style of jazz. Now directed by the original leader's son, Jimmy LaRocca, on trumpet and vocals, the ODJB has performed concerts and jazz festivals worldwide and presently have two nationally-selling CDs.
The ODJB has garnered rave reviews from audiences both in the United States and abroad. Calling the band "wonderfully evocative of the era," one reviewer went on to say "...the front line is so well versed in traditional jazz polyphony that the band's fundamental inspiration is always evident." The front line is composed of Tim Laughlin on clarinet, Ben Smith on trombone, and Jimmy LaRocca, with Al Bernard playing bass, John Royan on piano, and David Hansen on drums.
LaRocca and the ODJB are dedicated to jazz education and participate in clinics, lectures and workshops, whenever and wherever they can.
He says, however, that they shine brightest on a concert stage, like the Cardinal Ballroom of the Carolina, where they will open the 26th annual Pinehurst jazz jamboree on Friday night, Feb. 11, at 8 p.m.
"We're really looking forward to coming to Pinehurst, and each of the two sets we will play will have a mix of the traditional Dixieland tunes that I and my father before me have played over the years," he says.
A parental spirit has guided the career path of Simone, singer, actress and songwriter, who is the daughter of legendary music artist Nina Simone. The only person qualified and artistically capable of carrying on her mother's legacy, Simone is a multi-faceted performer, whose background includes starring roles in the noteworthy Broadway musical productions "Rent" and "Aida." She has the unique ability to transcend genres similar to that of her mother, a musical pioneer.
With a rich vocal range, and an instinctive ability for expressive interpretation, Simone has adopted many elements of her mother's style, at the same time remaining a talented artist in her own right. At present she is working on a second recording, the focus of which is to expand what she has done in the past, incorporating a more symphonic sound. Her schedule is a full one, between the new CD, a double Nina Simone CD that Simone will produce later this year, appearances at jazz festivals and a European tour this spring.
"Being on stage and making people happy gives me the most pleasure, without a fourth wall between me and the audience," Simone says. Although she can't recall ever appearing in North Carolina before, she is happy to be coming back to the Tar Heel State. Her roots are here since her mother's family came from Tryon, and the town has mounted a bronze depiction of Nina Simone and named a parkway in her honor.
Simone will take the stage in the Cardinal Ballroom on Saturday night, Feb. 12, at 8 p.m., and Jan Schnell says she is thrilled to be presenting Simone with her "extraordinary voice" to new lovers of jazz, as well as the returning jazz aficionados who have supported the Heart 'n' Soul event each year.
"Just experiencing the culmination of an event such as this over the years gives me an overwhelming feeling of exhilaration and gratitude for all those involved in making it happen," Schnell says.
She particularly singles out the management and staff at the hotel, and the director of the Arts Council, who have been essential in bringing all the complicated details together.
Pinehurst Resort has been an enthusiastic sponsor for many years, she points out, as well as other sponsors, such as Progress Energy, American Airlines, Kingfisher Society, and the post-performance reception sponsors - Wachovia, BB&T and Lyne's Furniture Gallery.
"Pinehurst has enjoyed being a major sponsor, because it allows the resort to support the great Arts Council organization that does so much to enhance the arts in our community," says Scott Brewton, executive vice president and general manager for Pinehurst Resorts.
Tickets for the 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.
For a lucky audience member, 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 special surprise from Pinehurst Resort.
A preconcert dinner will be featured in the Carolina Dining Room for $40 per person (inclusive of tax and service). Reservations are required, and may be made by calling (910) 235-8434.
Contact Pinehurst freelance writer Mary Elle Hunter at email@example.com.
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