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Hot SLC Jazz Fest picks from KUER’s Steve Williams

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KUER FM 90 jazz director and nighttime voice Steve Williams wants you to attend this year’s Salt Lake City International Jazz Festival, July 6-8 at Washington Square. Why? Glad you asked. Well, for starters, the three-day event is free, and 2007 could mark founder Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson’s last hurrah in office. Plus artistic director Jerry Floor’s Salt Lake City Jazz Orchestra is so good, singer Nancy Wilson refers to it as “best in the West.” Let’s read what else Steve has to say:

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The lineup this year is choice with multi-Grammy winning singer Dianne Reeves headlining. She won a Grammy this year for the soundtrack to Good Night, and Good Luck, a film which features her in cameos throughout as a band singer. Reeves is at the top of her game and, I think, the best singer working. Her voice and delightful delivery are showstoppers every time. She has many recordings, singing the songs of the Great American Songbook as well as some of what I call the “New Standards.” She’s scheduled for Friday evening and is one performer that I would not miss.

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Clarinetist and tenor saxophonist Eddie Daniels returns with a quartet and a sure spot with the jazz orchestra with which he’s played at the festival for years. He brings big-band experience from his days in the Mel Lewis-Thad Jones big band playing in the sax section. The clarinet came back to him during this time. Most reed players begin on the clarinet as kids and Daniels is the main man winning all kinds of awards on the instrument. He’s one of the most recorded clarinetists in the business, working with his own small groups and a featured artist on the Dave Grusin albums that include Gershwin’s music, Bernstein’s West Side Story, Charlie Parker tunes and record dates that include music of the European masters. He delights all audiences with his virtuosity.

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Trumpeter Chuck Findley is another friend of the festival and returns to play with the Salt Lake City Jazz Orchestra. He lives and works in Los Angeles and loves to come back to this Salt Lake City. He has a long bio that includes sessions with legends Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra, Harry James, Joni Mitchell, The GRP All-Star Big Band under Dave Grusin and many more that he can recall if you ask him. He brings an aloofness and sense of humor that is very relaxing and comforting. He lays into trumpet solos with a casual assuredness reinforced with plenty of fire and compassion.

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More wonderful invited guests include Rocky’s favorite ’70s rock group Cold Blood with Lydia Pence, and multi-reedman David “Fathead” Newman, who spent many years in the Ray Charles Band, portrayed in the film Ray by Bokeem Woodbine. Newman brings a bluesy sensibility to the festival. The group Cannonball-Coltrane Project, led by former Gene Harris bassist Luther Hughes, plays here for the first time. Eldar Djangirov, the youthful piano virtuoso returns a little older than the last time he was here. Singer/pianist Diane Schuur and others round out a weekend of jazz of all kinds.

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Did I mention it’s free?

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Steve Williams

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