Grand Lake / Live Music: Jazzing up the home stage | SkyHiNews.com

Grand Lake / Live Music: Jazzing up the home stage

by Cyndi Palmer
Sky-Hi Daily News

Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre is clearing the stage for a special performance of the Wapiti Jazz Quintet, led by local bassist Andy Irvine.

Irvine, who played bass for the theatre company’s 2006 production of “Almost Heaven: The Songs of John Denver,” proposed the possibility of a jazz quintet performance to RMRT that year. As great supporters of his work for years, the company and manager Chad Scott thought it was a great idea. Scott said more than 100 people attended that first “incredible” event and now Irvine prepares for another show.

Scott approached Irvine in the spring about another show and Irvine said he “accepted the invitation immediately. I’m looking forward to coming home and performing in Grand County again in a venue I truly love.”

Irvine is bringing in some outstanding musicians from his tours with On The One (John Staten on drums, Jesse Molloy on sax, and Pete Lombardo on guitar), as well as another local talent, Brad Pregeant on piano (whose gig with Irvine on the closing night of the Blues From the Top festival at the Winter Park Pub was one of his standout performances last year).

“This concert is always a highlight for me,” Irvine said. “I get a great energy from that hall and the folks are so very gracious and truly appreciative for what we do. The whole experience is rewarding front-to-back for me and my group.”

The concert he prepared will include “classic straight-ahead jazz compositions,” then things will start to sizzle with some “funky soul jazz.”

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His modesty outshined by the shear string magic he cannot hide, his playing is “more of a hobby at this point,” he said. With what he estimates is about 20 instruments, he’s thrilled to have recently been awarded a string endorsement with Black Diamond Strings, the string “hero (bassist) Verdine White” of Earth, Wind and Fire endorses.

With Black Diamond Strings he has an impressive list of projects in the works. Irvine’s new solo album “Soul Clap” is coming out in April 2009 and a Florida company is teaming up with the bassist to offer a series of funky bass clinics nationwide, as well as to promote the new CD. Both are sure to reveal what 25 years of fine-tuning has done for Irvine and he is excited for the opportunity “to further sharing my gifts and developing that side of my musical goals.”

Clinics will showcase some of the past mentoring he’s done for the Grand County Blues Society’s The Runaways youth band. It will also feature his guitar skills, his thoughts on performing, writing songs, and maintaining “a healthy spiritual condition within musical passions.”

“Grand County knows what an accomplished musician Andy is, with his ‘deep pocket’ and super funky solos,” Pregeant said. RMRT’s presentation Sept. 11 is a chance to see the man and the quintet in action and a portion of the ticket sales will go toward the theatre’s general operations.

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