Jazz at Charles Pointe features performers from recent Jazz Stroll

by Mary Wade Burnside LIFESTYLES EDITOR
The Exponent Telegram

CLARKSBURG — Fresh on the heels of the success of the Holiday Jazz Stroll, the West Virginia Jazz Society announced the lineup for the Jazz at Charles Pointe event.

The Winter Jazz Weekend Jazz at Charles Pointe event will be held at the Bridgeport Conference Center and will feature New York City saxophonist Noah Preminger, performing at 8 p.m. Jan. 24, along with Dr. James Moore, a trumpet player and director of the jazz program at West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon, said Eric Spelsberg, president of the West Virginia Jazz Society.

Then, at 8 p.m. Jan. 25, Washington, D.C.-area saxophonist Marshall Keys will play with Elkins-based band Osmosis, featuring Seth Maynard.

“The reason we got them is that they played the Stroll in Weston and tore the place down,” Spelsberg said. “No one expected it. No one had a clue it was going to be that good.”

In addition to Moore, Preminger will be accompanied by piano player Timothy Brey of Philadelphia and drummer James Johnson III and bassist Paul Thompson, both of Pittsburgh, Spelsberg said.

The first Jazz Stroll was held in June in Clarksburg and then one was held in August in Weston, where Spelsberg lives. The Holiday Jazz Stroll, featuring four acts playing three sets was held Dec. 20 in four area venues around Clarksburg, said Mike Lambiotte, of Clarksburg Uptown, which sponsored the event with the West Virginia Jazz Society.

Those venues all were filled to capacity with 1,045 audience members, Lambiotte added, proving that there is an audience that appreciates jazz in the area.

“With the work we put into it and the quality of the artists, we thought everybody who would enjoy jazz would find some place they liked, and it turned out to be the truth,” Lambiotte said. “We were hoping for capacity and we got it.”

The Winter Jazz Weekend will be the fifth one held by the West Virginia Jazz Society, which kicked off its inaugural January event at Charles Pointe in 2010.

“Now we’re doing 30 shows a year,” Spelsberg said. “It’s funny how it builds up.”

For the performance, the Bridgeport Conference Center will be transformed into a more cozy jazz club with a capacity of about 200, said Scott Duarte, the venue’s general manager.

“We put up different decorations and shrink the space up,” Duarte said. “It makes it a more intimate environment.”

Doors open at 6 p.m. and entertainment begins at 8 p.m. Audience members can enjoy a dine-around eating experience with different food stations as well as specialty cocktails. Tickets cost $45 per person per night.

Also, during the day on Saturday, area students will have the opportunity to learn tips from the 26-year-old Preminger

“That’s the ‘phenom” part of the notoriety and buzz about him,” Spelsberg said. “He has this mature sensibility, a mature sound for someone who is as young as he is.”

From 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, about 40 high school students from around the region will participate in the Winter Jazz Academy, conducted by Preminger, Spelsberg said.

Students who wish to apply for the Winter Jazz Academy should call Bob Workman at (304) 669-5215.

Then, at noon, a luncheon for the students will feature a keynote speaker, whose name has not been released yet, Spelsberg said.

That afternoon from about 1 to 2:30 p.m., the students then can participate in the Too Cool For School Showcase, in which they can play in ensembles with each other and with some of the talent appearing in the evenings.

“It’s neat,” Spelsberg said. “Their parents can come and it’s free to the public.”

With the success of the West Virginia Jazz Society, the next Jazz Stroll already has been planned for around June 20 or 21, Lambiotte added, the same time frame as the first one.

“We’ve thought about having another Jazz Stroll in March, but that’s a little close,” he added. “It takes an enormous amount of work to pull it off.”

To purchase tickets for the Jazz at Charles Pointe Winter Jazz Weekend that will be held Jan. 24 and 25, call the Bridgeport Conference Center at (304) 808-3000.