Jazzy Jive

Jamestown Community College will be bumping with bebop and jazz on Friday as the school hosts its annual JazzFest.

The Ken Crane Sextet and Razz and Friends Big Band will perform during JCC’s JazzFest on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the Scharmann Theatre.

According to Crane, the Ken Crane Sextet will play a variety of jazz styles from the jazz improvisation traditions of Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Clifford Brown to contemporary fusion jazz-rock in the style of the Brecker Brothers.

“The particular part of jazz that I love is the post-bebop era from the 1950s, and we’ll have some traditional things from there,” said Crane. “We’ll also have some Ella Fitzgerald type things.”

In addition to being an instrumental music teacher for Portville Central School, Crane has taught at Houghton College, Eastman School of Music and at JCC. He is a professional jazz trombone player, and has accompanied several renowned bands and performers including: Maynard Ferguson, Buddy Rich, Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme, and Sammy Davis Jr. He has also performed with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and jazz festivals in the Northeast.

“I lived that lifestyle in my youth, and got to play with some of the people who created the music in the first place,” said Crane. “We like to keep that going because otherwise people don’t hear jazz that regularly anymore.”

Susan, Crane’s wife, is a flutist in the sextet. Mrs. Crane is also an adjunct music instructor at JCC. Crane’s daughter acts as a vocalist, and his son, Kendall, is the drummer. The other members of the sextet include: Matt Michaud, guitarist; Elizabeth Humphrey, vocalist, pianist and flutist; and Daniel Wartinger, bassist.

“It’s exciting to me to see an entire family that plays together, gets along and enjoys working at this music together – it adds something different and makes it extra special,” said Crane.

The show will also feature Razz And Friends Big Band, which is led by Ralph Rasmusson, a retired Falconer music teacher, and also features jazz singer Barbara Jean. It also includes about a dozen of JCC’s music students. The band’s repertoire consists primarily of songs by Duke Ellington, Cole Porter and other composers.

“We will be presenting several big band jazz and swing numbers,” said Rasmusson. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for those of us who have been listening to big band music all of our lives to be present for a live performance of Barbara Jean with a backing big band. When you hear a good live musical group you leave uplifted, and it will also increase student imagination. To those of us who want to keep jazz alive, the only way to do it is by being there when it’s being played.”

Mike Kelly, director of music for JCC, said that one of the main reasons he has hosted the event for almost a dozen years is because he feels it is important to keep jazz alive by exposing young students to the artform.

“It gives our students an opportunity to see professional level performance of the oldest original American artform,” said Kelly. “It allows them to set their own goals, and put it in their own standards. What the JazzFest does for our music department is brings people onto our campus to realize the gem that we have here.”

Admission is $5 for the general public, $3 for area students and senior citizens, and $2 for JCC Faculty Student Association members. Tickets can be purchased through JCC’s box office by calling 338-1187, or by visiting campusstore.sunyjcc.edu.