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This article by Richard Skelly was published in the Preview section of U.S. 1 Newspaper on April 15, 1998. All

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Something Old, Something New

A common expression among jazz and blues musicians,

one they sometimes use to pick songs for their live sh ows, recommends

that they play "something old, something new, something borrowed,

and something blue." And every year in April and November, the

Cape May Friends of Jazz — organizers of the Cape May Jazz Festival

— do just that.

The spring edition of the Cape May Jazz Festival, taking place Friday

through Sunday, April 17 through 19, will pay tribute to Chicago-based

soul jazz singer and songwriter Oscar Brown Jr. And the eminent Brown

is making his third festival appearance with two performances, on

Friday, April 17, at 9 p.m. and Saturday, April 18, at 10 p.m.

Brown and Philadelphia-based blues vocalist Frank Bey fit perfectly

into the "something old and something blue" portions of the

festival, as do vocalists Juanita Williams and Jeannie Brooks, who

freely mix blues standards into their live shows.

In the "something new" department, tenor saxophonist Ravi

Coltrane — the son of legendary tenor saxophonist John Coltrane

and pianist Alice Coltrane — will perform with drummer Ralph Peterson’s

Fotet on Saturday, April 18 at Carney’s, a spacious club on Beach

Drive in Cape May. Finally, for "something borrowed," the

festival organizers are presenting a good number of musicians who

have become familiar faces every November and April, people like keyboardist

Brian Trainor and his quartet, as well as saxophonist-flutist Tim

Eyermann and his group, East Coast Offering.

Carol Stone, a semi-retired travel agent, has had a hand in organizing

the spring and fall editions of the festival with help from program

chairman Woody Woodland. Stone says her job as president of Cape May

Friends of Jazz is now a nine-month-a-year commitment for her. Over

the course of the weekend, Stone can be seen roaming the crowded clubs

with her video camera, taping the performers for the Cape May Friends

of Jazz archives. The peripatetic Woodland seems to be everywhere

at once, serving as an MC, telling jokes, and introducing musicians

in each venue.

Stone says she’s most enthused that the festival committee has decided

to honor vocalist Brown this year. "Since we’re paying tribute

to him, we’ve been able to do a better job of getting the word out,"

she adds, noting a couple of national jazz magazines have picked up

on the Cape May Jazz Festival.

"A lot of really serious jazz people are coming out of the woodwork,"

Stone says enthusiastically. "They’re really happy to see and

hear Brown, who’s been around a long time, in a small club setting."

Asked about the origins of the festival, Stone says

she and Woodland were attending the Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival in

October, 1993. "We looked at each other and said, `we could start

a Cape May Jazz Festival.’ I knew some local business people and started

asking around. People advised us to start our own non-profit corporation

and so we formed a board of directors." Funding was arranged through

the Cape May County Division of Culture and Heritage, which in turn

gets funding from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

Last November, despite torrential rains on Friday and Saturday nights,

nearly 3,000 people came out to enjoy the music in more than half

a dozen clubs, most of them within walking distance of one another,

along Cape May’s Beach Drive. The festival organizers also utilize

a fleet of yellow school buses to shuttle patrons between venues.

Other acts playing the April edition of the Cape May Jazz Festival

include vocalist Gina Roche and the Tim Lekan Trio, vocalist Phillip

Manuel, who will be accompanied by Eyermann’s East Coast Offering,

tenor saxophonist Michael Pedicin Jr., who will make his festival

debut, and the Fred Hughes Trio. Hughes will accompany vocalist Williams

in a Sunday morning program of jazz and gospel.

Of the various musicians and groups that seem to have become Cape

May Jazz Festival favorites, Stone says the program committee invites

them back because "there are certain bands that play together

a lot, like Tim Eyermann and East Coast Offering, Brian Trainor, Robin

VanDuzee and Denis DiBlasio." Their rhythm sections are tight

and focused, Stone says, so they can serve in another capacity as

backing musicians for visiting musicians, like vocalist Brown and

guitarist Jimmy Bruno. In his Friday and Saturday night shows, Brown

will be joined by Robin VanDuzee and his quartet, featuring Clifford

Buggs on trumpet.

"We also try to keep our ticket costs reasonable," Stone acknowledges,

and one way for the festival to accomplish this is to pair regionally-known

groups — Eyermann, VanDuzee and DiBlasio — with national acts

like Brown and Coltrane. Old, new, borrowed, and blue, the jazz enthusiasts

are the winners.

— Richard J. Skelly

Cape May Jazz Festival, Cape May Friends of Jazz Inc.,

at various venues along Beach Drive, 609-884-7277. Features Oscar

Brown, Jr., Robin VanDuzee Quartet, Denis DiBlasio Quartet, Jimmy

Bruno, Brian Trainor Quartet, Jeannie Brooks, Bootsie Barnes Quartet,

Ravi Coltrane and the Ralph Peterson Fotet, Tim Lekan and Gina Roche,

Barbara Walker, Frank Bey and others. Friday, April 17, to Sunday,

April 19 .

A $60 weekend pass covers all 15 shows, and individual tickets are

also available for Friday and Saturday night at $15 and $25. Tickets

to the Saturday and Sunday afternoon jazz and blues jam sessions are

$15 each.

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