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12th annual Newport Beach Jazz Party

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By Patricia Myers

Tributes to Nat King Cole, Oscar Peterson,Chet Baker, Paul Desmond and the “Four Brothers" sound made famous by Woody Herman will be among the 44 sessions of the 12th annual Newport Beach Jazz Party, Feb. 16-19 in at the Newport Beach Marriott in southern California.

This year's edition has the biggest advance sale in years, according to Joe Rothman, party co-producer with John McClure. “This lineup is as strong as we've ever had, and we're nearly a sell-out for Saturday night. We have people coming from England, Canada and 27 states, from Connecticut and Massachusetts to Florida." This event was spawned from the West Coast Jazz Party that Rothman and McClure started in 1995 as a Labor Day weekend event in Irvine, Calif.

Rothman said new elements this year will be staging two big bands on opening night, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra with octogenarian vocalist Ernie Andrews, and the Arturo Sandoval All-Star Orchestra. First-time performers will be Romanian-born pianist Marian Petrescu, considered “the Horowitz of jazz piano" who will play a tribute to Peterson, his early idol; and Australian trumpeter and multi-instrumentalist James Morrison, who also plays an electronic brass-style MIDI wind controller that was invented for him.

Returning favorites will include the Jeff Hamilton, B3 organist Tony Monaco, Italian-born pianist Rossano Sportiello, singers Barbara Morrison and Mary Stallings, and a Saturday night “dance-party" combo led by tenor sax balladeer Houston Person. Also featured will be another octogenarian crooner, and Chicago's Frank D'Rone.

Additional themed sets will be the “Basie, Benny and Buddy Big Band" led by Ken Peplowski and featuring drummer Butch Miles, Harry Allen presenting a “Four Others" tribute to Woody Herman (Allen, Peplowski, Rickey Woodard, Adam Schroeder), Scott Hamilton and “Heavy Juice" (Hamilton, Allen, Sportiello, John Clayton, Hamilton), bassist Luther Hughes & the Cannonball-Coltrane Project, and John Proulx performing tributes to Cole and Baker.

The Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa is the headquarters for poolside sessions, nightly sounds and champagne brunches, plus additional early-evening sessions at the nearby Ritz Restaurant. Four-day admission with seating for 470 is $360 to $390; daily admission also is available. For reservations and accommodations, call 949-759-5003 or go to newportbeachjazzparty.com

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