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Jazzin' Up the Family

It's Not Just for Adults Anymore--Weekend Art and Music Festival in Anaheim Brings Students, Professionals and Public Together

April 24, 1999|BILL KOHLHAASE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Jazz--traditionally music of the wee-hours adults-only nightclubs--sees the light of day this weekend at the annual Orange County Art & Jazz Festival. Concerts will be held today and Sunday in and around the 2,000-seat amphitheater at Pearson Park in Anaheim. So bring the kids and the sunglasses.

The 6-year-old festival was conceived by Larry Anders to present jazz in a family atmosphere while providing students a chance to work with seasoned professionals.

He urged families to demonstrate their interest and support for the festival. "We're looking at the festival to serve as a giant fund-raiser for yearlong activities," Anders said. "We're a nonprofit organization, so the community's support is necessary."

Anders, a former trumpeter in the Miami Dolphins Jazz Band and owner of Caters California in Santa Ana, has lined up noted blues and ballad singer Barbara Morrison, who headlines tonight, and trumpeter Bobby Rodriguez's Latin Jazz Band, featured Sunday.

(Some of those professionals will appear with student groups from Irvine and Anaheim high schools and Saddleback College.)

Along with the music, there's an arts and craft exhibit, food vendor and corporate sponsor booths.

Prices are family friendly. Access to the community stage is free. Admission to the amphitheater, where Morrison and Rodriguez will play, is $8 for adults and free for children under 12.

This year, the festival has drummed up support with a prelude of free jazz and blues events that began last weekend at the Block in Orange and has continued all week, including concerts Friday by keyboardist Rob Mullins at Restaurant Kikuya in Huntington Beach and Billy Mitchell Group at Steamers Cafe in Fullerton, plus tonight's Steamers performance by Little Chris & the Nightcrawlers.

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Much of the student-professional contact will have taken place by the time the festival kicks off this morning. Trumpeter Jeff Bunnell, festival musical director for the last six years, has been rehearsing with the Irvine High A-Band in preparation for their opening performance today.

Trumpeter Rodriguez, director of the instrumental jazz program at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, has rehearsed the Anaheim High Big Band and will join them in a performance today on the Community Stage. (Also on tap are the Saddleback College Big Band and the Irvine High B-Band with Bunnell.)

Rodriguez, whose seven-piece Latin jazz group headlines Sunday, said the event offers parents a great chance to expose their children to the process of making music. He offered some advice on how to get the most out of the festival.

"It's important to let them [children] see the artists as they create the music, to get them up close and point out the different instruments and discuss what the musicians are doing," Rodriguez said.

According to Rodriguez, it's also inspiring for kids to play along.

"Bring maracas or other small percussion instruments along [to the festival] so that they can play with the musicians," he said. "My band does one number where we get the audience involved by passing out percussion instruments."

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Parents can also expose their children to music at home with recordings, Rodgriguez said: "Count Basie and Duke Ellington, Miles Davis and the great Latin artists--Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Poncho Sanchez. . . . But the most important thing is the visual, to get kids up close to the music makers."

There'll be plenty of chances this weekend. Vocalist Kristen Korb's trio and keyboardist Billy Mitchell's group are scheduled to perform today along with the Irvine and Saddleback bands on the amphitheater stage.

Sunday's amphitheater lineup: the Robert Incelli Latin Jazz Band, David Ameele Band, Al Jacob's Blues Band, Chris Standring and Rodriguez's Latin jazz band. Steamers Cafe's Terence Love will emcee.

Free musical performances from the John Peace Band, the Chris Ho Group and others today, and Pacific Crest, the Kirk Vickers Blues Band and others on Sunday start at 11:30 a.m. and continue until 5 p.m. on the community stage.

So, take along the kids and the sunscreen--and don't forget the maracas.

* Orange County Art & Jazz Festival, Pearson Park, 400 N. Harbor Blvd., Anaheim; today-Sunday, 11 a.m.- 6:30 p.m. Amphitheater admission $8, children under 12 free. Access to community stage, art and crafts exhibit, food vendors free. (714) 541-2787.

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