Gator Nation at Sun Valley Jazz & Music Festival 2016
Bringing the sounds of the swamp to River Run at Sun Valley! Visit www.gatornation.com for more information.
Nic Roggeman Photography
History of the Sun Valley Jazz & Music Festival
Tom Hazzard, a southern California boy, grew up surfing Laguna Beach and sneaking into jazz clubs to hear the exciting new music pioneered by Sidney Bechet, Jelly Roll Morton, Buddy Bolden, and other “unsavory characters.” His heart was captured by Louis Armstrong, the Dorsey Brothers, Duke Ellington, Bessie Smith and a score of others who were swingin’ to the new Dixieland beat. Tom scooped up the hit recordings of his favorites, a collection boasting over 7,000 records in his later years.
Fast forward to spring of 1988. Tom Hazzard was driving home to Boise, Idaho, after enjoying a jazz festival in California. Accompanied by the love of his life, “Barbara Jean, the Village Queen,” Tom was dreaming up a marvelous concoction. He envisioned modern-day Dixieland artists struttin’ their stuff for adoring fans in the mountains of Idaho. He pictured a five day party at the classy Sun Valley Resort, complete with marching band salutes, big band bashes, and swing dancers cutting a rug into the wee hours of the morning.
Two years later, the Sun Valley Swing ‘n’ Dixie Jazz Jamboree was born. Tom and Barbara, with the help of Sun Valley Company General Manager Wally Huffman, cooked up a jazz festival and plugged it into the slowest weekend of the year in Sun Valley. They held their breath as the long-awaited day arrived. Fans came in droves and a legend was born.
Over two decades later, the Sun Valley Jazz & Music Festival continues to delight festival goers from all fifty United States, every Canadian province, and dozens of foreign countries. Tom and Barbara’s daughter Carol and husband Jeff work year-round to perpetuate Tom’s dream: live music performed by 180 musicians in 260 concerts over a five day period.
Now that’s a party!
Keeping the Jazz Alive Since 1989
The third weekend in October each year, the annual Sun Valley Jazz & Music Festival celebrates a history of jazz music. Each year between five and six thousand jazz connoisseurs from each of the fifty states and several foreign countries attend the event.
Largest and Most Popular Single Event
The success of the event since 1989 is tied to the quality of music presented as well as the draw of the location. Sun Valley, Idaho, is an attractive, exciting destination that adds to the charm and allure. “All the bands want to play in Sun Valley,” said Bill Alred of Orlando, Florida, the leader of one of the festival’s most popular groups. “Things are perfect here – the venues, appreciative fans, accommodations – everything, not to mention a spectacular setting in these gorgeous mountains. An invitation to come here is a prized possession in our industry.” The event was integral to the expansion of the summer tourist season as well. “The festival is our largest and most popular single event,” said Wally Huffman, past General Manager for the Sun Valley Resort. “We fill the resort for a week. What’s more, the in-town accommodations, stores, restaurants, and other facilities in Ketchum do tremendous business, so it’s an economic boom as well as a crowd favorite.”
Original American Art Form
The Sun Valley Jazz Jamboree was granted 501(c)(3) public charity status in 2009. The new designation will allow for the expansion of educational outreach programs. “We are developing a twenty year continuance plan. The new non-profit status plays a significant role in our ability to reach more people and educate them about Jazz,” said Carol Loehr, Co-Director of the Sun Valley Jazz & Music Festival and daughter of the Hazzards. “We are shifting from a generation that grew up during the jazz and big band era; their tie to the event is a sense of nostalgia. As time goes by, our focus changes to keeping the music alive by sharing this truly original American art form with a new generation through education and live performances. “ To this end, one goal for the event is to expand the long history of grade school and high school workshops and performances to as many of the schools in Southern Idaho as the finances allow.
- Five straight days of music
- Forty Bands
- One Million Smiles
- One Hundred Eighty Musicians
- Two Hundred Sixty Shows!
Jazz festival tickets are available online or by phone 877-478-5277. The event will host guests and musical groups from around the nation, Canada, and Europe. Groups will perform in the scenic, prestigious Sun Valley Resort.
As a singer of Jazz, some would say that “scat” is the ultimate. Ella Fitzgerald, in the early years, found the band she sang with being downsized to be more affordable to clients. (If you don’t already know…the singer is most often first to go) She memorized some (all) of the horn parts and pulled double duty. The consonants used along with open and closed vowels sounded like the horns in the section she was singing. This later translated to a few songs and then to that spectacular performance where she forgot the lyric…and reverted to what she knew best…the music. The era was bebop…and scat was fresh. It only was part and partial to jazz because it was innovative compared to other singers’ delivery.
But I need not remind you that for ANY jazz singer…scat is not the jazz end all.
Jazz has always been a collaboration of heartbeat, a shout and a wail…humans, in a fleeting moment… attempting creation.
In the 21st century, it appears that the singer wants to mimic the instrument…and the lyric; the essence of the song…falls by the wayside.
Jazz sung and unsung delivers what all the music of the world deliver separately….hope, healing, joy, disdain, revenge, love, purity, flight and knowing.
Why the passion? Jazz is not for the faint of heart! Jazz is by and for people who are unafraid to explore possibilities.
Thank you to all who attended the 25th anniversary of the Sun Valley Jazz. It was a wonderful time with many first timers and some that have been with us all 25 years. Our hats are off to you the supporters, sponsors and fans because your appreciation and love for the music keeps the jazz alive!
Tickets are available here.
Sue Palmer & Her Motel Swing Orchestra
“St. Louis Woman…..with all her diamond rings……” Some of my earliest memories are of hearing strains of W.C. Handy’s “St. Louis Blues” being played by my mother’s very musical family: my Aunt Arlene blowing alto sax, Auntie Sallie’s smoky voice, and Aunt Toot playing the sexy blues on piano.
I was lucky enough to have cool musical role models to grow up with. My grandparents, Virgie and P.G.Turner, were born in the late 1880’s, and were both musicians. Virgie taught all her 6 children piano and P.G. was a fiddler who played and called all the square dances in their little town, Chilicothe , Texas. While Grandpa played Turkey in the Straw type tunes, his children were all swing musicians. My mother was the youngest and played drums and percussion. When the family came to town, the primary event, other than eating and drinking, was making music.
Family history photos – Top Left to Right: Sallie, Jerrie now, Gal Band, Jerrie 1945.
It was assumed that everyone would participate, even if it was just to clap at the end of a song. It wasn’t necessary to be good, just to participate. While I was always encouraged to play, my mother did not really want me to be a professional musician. She thought it was a “hard life.” I think part of this was based on her lack of knowledge of the “life,” and how one would make a living.
Perhaps the most professional of all my aunts and uncle (Uncle Douglas played trumpet), was Auntie Arlene. Arlene Turner migrated to California during World War II, and lived in Hollywood, with her girlfriend, singer Sallie Davis. While playing at gangster Mickey Cohen’s Continental Club , her drummer broke her foot, so she needed an emergency drummer. She ended up using Jerrie Thill, who had recently moved there from Iowa. She and Jerrie later both played with the Ada Leonard All Girl Orchestra, and went on to form a quintet, with Sallie Davis and 2 others, and tour the West Coast as The Biltmore Girls. While my aunts retired from the music business in the ’50’s and died over 20 years ago, Jerrie lived to be over 90 and I was lucky enough to meet her before she died . She filled in lots of the details I didn’t know and provided me countless precious pictures.
Growing up in an atmosphere of music appreciation, I have always associated music with the joys of life, the fun of life. My school friends that came over to the house in that period remember it well, as it was unusual. Probably the fact that there were so many women doing it too, was unusual. I learned to be inclusive and open, encouraging everyone to just play, and try it. I have my family to thank for that. “St. Louis woman, with all her store bought hair……”
Sue Palmer Queen of the Boogie Woogie!
Click here to Enter to Win the Party Favorites CD from Sue Palmer and her Motel Swing Orchestra.
When Anne and I first met we could not have been more ill suited for partnership, either personal or professional. I had learned, and was still plying, my trade as a barroom pianist: traveling over 1000 miles a week to play my 9 steadies—earning as much back then weekly as on a single well-paying gig now. During the day, I would lure students at a community music school into the great swamp of jazz.
Anne was teaching a huge parade of classical students at that same school; she remains a gifted pedagogue with a formidable pedigree, having studied with some of the most important flautists on the East Coast, among them Rampal’s most celebrated American protegé, Ransom Wilson. When we encountered one another it was electrifying “love at first sight” dampened only by the inconvenient presence of her mortician husband (no joke!). As I chastely waited on the sidelines, Anne’s first marriage ran its course and we became musical and life-partners in 2000.
We immediately set about finding some musical common ground—beginning with ragtime—while expanding each other’s musical abilities; she encouraged me to improve as an accompanist while I bade her dip her toe into the miasma of improvisation. There are too many influences and experiences to list exhaustively here, so a broad foray into highlights of our musical life will have to suffice.
I Remember Vividly:
- Our first public performance in the Lodge Dining Room at Sun Valley during the Jamboree; Anne was so scared to have people sitting two feet away from her that she didn’t blink once.
- Exploring tunes and styles: Anne has most likely performed more Fats Waller during the last decade then any other flutist in musical history.
- Our performance of Summertime in Caesarea, Israel in 2008 in front of an audience in lawn chairs 2500 strong; the plethora of frogs in the moat underneath the stage began singing along during the unaccompanied flute introduction to the tune.
- Traveling to Rwanda in 2010 at the invitation of the Swiss Ambassador to that troubled country to share cultural awareness and appreciation through music. Here we jammed on everything from Scott Joplin to Jimi Hendrix.
For us, music invites a global journey to teach and learn about one another. We are grateful for the opportunity to continue this adventure.
Jeff & Anne Barnhart