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Newport Beach Jazz Party: Feb. 17-20, 2011

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The upcoming Presidents' Day Weekend marks the opening of the 11th Annual Newport Beach Jazz Party, which spotlights “Right Down The Middle And Straight Ahead" jazz at the Marriott Newport Beach Hotel in Southern California.

The four-day event, Feb. 17 through 20, 2011, kicks off Thursday, 8 p.m., with guitarist/vocalist John Pizzarelli's tribute to Duke Ellington, “Rockin' In Rhythm," with the Swing Seven led by drummer Jeff Hamilton. Also scheduled is clarinetist Ken Peplowski's quartet and pianist Larry Fuller's trio.

Following, on the next three days, will be performances throughout the day and evening, including morning brunches, afternoons by the pool side and night times in the Grand Ballroom. Friday night will begin with an all-star set led by trombonist Dan Barrett, which includes trumpeter Claudio Roditi, tenor saxophonist Houston Person and clarinetist Anat Cohen, followed by tenor saxophonist Scott Hamilton with pianist Benny Green. Next, San Francisco vocalist Kim Nalley will appear, backed by Person. Rounding out the night, will be the Jeff Hamilton Trio.

Roditi will open Saturday night's sets with a group starring Hamilton and pianist Eric Reed. The second session will bring together Yellowjackets' tenor saxophonist Bob Mintzer along with Green and flautist Holly Hofmann. Famed lyricist Alan Bergman is up next. Bringing the evening to a close will be a clarinet celebration with with Cohen and Peplowski.

Sunday night will open with one of the most often-recorded drummers in jazz, Lewis Nash, and his group, followed by a solo piano set by Benny Green. Green leads the next session, joined by Hamilton and bassist John Clayton. The third set will feature the Ken Peplowski Quartet, with pianist Tom Ranier. The weekend comes to a swinging close with Frank Sinatra, Jr. and his twenty-piece orchestra, under the direction of Terry Woodson.

Featured at the pool during the afternoons will be the Latin and Brazilian sounds of the Scott Martin Band; USC Thornton Jazz Orchestra, directed by Mintzer; dynamic B3 organist Atsuko Hashimoto with drummer Hamilton and guitarist Graham Dechter; and the Dave Tull Trio. Other highlights include all-star sets led by Bill Cunliffe, Hofmann/Cohen and Roditi/Gilbert Castellanos.

For tickets, call (949) 759-5003 or visit the Newport Beach Jazz Party website.


Written by Larry Taylor

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