Cool Jazz event supports many causes, including clean water projects, local music education

Cool Jazz event supports many causes, including clean water projects, local music education

Contributing writerNovember 22, 2013 

You might say the Cool Jazz/Clean Water Festival is all about wine, water and song.

The 13-year-old festival, happening Saturday, includes a day of jazz with high school and middle school bands and an evening of wine tasting and more music, this year by Syd Potter’s Olympia Jazz Tentette.

The water comes later.

The festival, produced by the Rotary Clubs of Thurston County, raises money for clean-water projects in developing countries.

“With all the money that we’ve raised locally, as well as the matching funds (from the regional and international Rotary organizations), we are approaching $1 million raised for clean-water projects,” said Kim Dinsmore, who’s on the volunteer committee for the event. “We’ve provided clean water for thousands of people.”

The festival also has funded the purchase of more than 400 instruments for local schools through Patrons of South Sound Cultural Arts, supported the Rotary’s youth leadership training course, and provided high school and middle school jazz bands with the opportunity to perform and receive feedback from professionals.

“This is still pretty early in the season for us,” said Darren Johnson, band director at North Thurston High School. “It’s nice to get out early and have a nice venue to play in.

“And our jazz band ends up playing a lot of places that are far away,” he said. “This is a great chance for parents to hear what their kids have been working on.”

After its performance, each band gets a one-on-one session with a professional musician.

The bands also appreciate the opportunity to help the cause of clean water, Johnson said. The day performances are free to bands and audience members, but donations are accepted.

The event premiered as an evening jazz concert, which later evolved into wine tasting with music, hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction of wine baskets.

“We had some great evening concerts,” Dinsmore said, “but it was a ton of work to get a professional group to show up and really hard to sell tickets.

“We moved to the wine tasting idea because wine has become so popular in Washington. It’s a way to get everyone together for good fun and fellowship.”

And jazz.

“Syd Potter is a local jazz great, and he has a 10-piece band that will play on the main stage during the event,” Dinsmore said. “We’ll set up the stage like a cabaret and then you can take your wine and listen to them play.

“They played last year and people loved them.”

Cool Jazz/Clean Water Festival and Wine Tasting

What: The festival is a day of music by high school and middle school jazz bands, plus an evening of music and wine tasting. Proceeds support projects such as international clean-water projects and to purchase instruments for local school districts. It is presented by the Rotary Clubs of Thurston County.

When: School bands will play from 9:40 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday; wine tasting with music by the Olympia Jazz Tentette is from 7-10 p.m.

Where: The Washington Center for Performing Arts, 512 Washington St. SE, Olympia

Tickets: The day of jazz is free, though donations are accepted; the wine tasting is $50 per person, which includes 10 tastes, hors d’oeuvres and a souvenir wineglass.

More information: cooljazzcleanwater.com

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