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Mancini Alumni Big Band Will Play Holiday Jazz Shindig

July 04, 2002|JOSEF WOODARD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The late songwriter Henry Mancini may be best known for ditties that have graduated from the screen to the American songbook, with such themes as "Peter Gunn," "Days of Wine and Roses" and "The Pink Panther."

But the Mancini touch went beyond just catchy tunes, bridging the popular and jazz music worlds in a unique way. That spirit of blending musical sophistication and melodic invention was perpetuated by the formation of the Henry Mancini Institute, a summer education program started by Jack Elliott in 1997. The institute is affiliated with Elliott's American Jazz Philharmonic.

Tonight, the Henry Mancini Alumni Big Band, led by the institute's artistic director, Patrick Williams, makes its Ventura County debut in Ojai's Libbey Bowl. The holiday concert is being presented by Ojai Music Festival, which just finished another of its Libbey Bowl visitations earlier this month.

A bounty of jazz talent will be onstage, including guest vocalist Sue Raney, as well as familiar West Coast jazz heroes such as saxophonists Pete Christlieb and Gary Foster, trombonist Bill Watrous and drummer Greg Fields.

* Henry Mancini Alumni Big Band, Libbey Bowl, downtown Ojai, today at 5:30 p.m. General admission, $15; senior citizens, $12; ages 6 to 17, $5; children 5 and younger, free. (805) 646-2053.

Outdoor Shakespeare: This summer, the Bard is coming to a park or outdoor space near you. (See cover story on Page 6.) Last weekend, Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival started its summer run on the green at Cal Lutheran University, and the Ojai Shakespeare Festival begins later this month.

Starting this Saturday, an itinerant production of "Macbeth," presented by the Classics in the Park organization, begins its movable feast to different properties in Ventura County and southward. This "Macbeth," directed by Irene Silbert and produced by Michael Jordan reportedly leans toward a setting akin to the post-apocalyptic landscape of "Road Warrior." Classic 400-year-old tragedy in park settings: Who could ask for more?

The production's first stop is the Arts Council Center's outdoor amphitheater in Thousand Oaks.

* "Macbeth," Arts Council Center, 482 Greenmeadow Ave., Thousand Oaks, Saturday, 5:30 p.m. Donation. (818) 991-1207. www.gothicproductions.net.

Swing Thing: As it does every year, the Music Under the Stars concert series at the Olivas Adobe heeds a stylistic agenda with a strong bent toward Americana of various types. It's an ideally rustic and historic setting in which to soak up sounds of bluegrass, country blues, folk, zydeco, rockabilly and the "California rumba" of the group called Bandidos de Amor on July 13.

This Saturday's concert by Mora's Modern Swingtet, though, is about the more urbane sound of jazz, circa 1930s swing sounds. Modern is a highly relative term.

Los Angeles-based, swing-obsessed pianist Dean Mora founded the big band Mora's Modern Rhythmatists in 1994.

The six-piece Swingtet, featuring vocalist Kayre Morrison, is a scaled-down version of the larger ensemble. But the mission remains the same: preserving swing-era traditions of Goodman, Ellington, Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey, et al., with care and understanding.

* Mora's Modern Swingtet, Olivas Adobe, 4200 Olivas Park Drive, Ventura, Saturday, 7:30 p.m. General admission, $15; senior citizens and children 12 and younger, $13. (805) 658-4726.

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