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Cool sounds descend on Renfrew Park

August 30, 1998|By DON AINES

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The Paul Bollenback Trio played under the shade of a spreading horse chestnut tree on Sunday.

Perhaps more accustomed to dark, smoke-filled clubs, bassist Steve Novosel said between sets, "It's a little different, but it's still nice. Even though it's outdoors, it's still an intimate setting."

Bollenback, a guitarist, was making his seventh appearance at the seventh annual Jazz Festival, a free concert presented by the Renfrew Institute. Novosel and drummer Lenny Robinson filled out the trio.

Novosel played here with Bollenback before. He said David "Fathead" Newman was the saxophonist that day. On Sunday, New York sax man Steve Wilson was the featured performer.

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"It seems to have picked up in terms of attendance," Novosel said. Renfrew Institute Director Melodie Anderson-Smith estimated there were about 700 people laid back on blankets and lawn chairs under the cool shade of the Kentucky coffee trees.

"This is like Central Park in Waynesboro," said Faye Kilbride of St. Thomas, Pa. She said it was only the second time she'd seen jazz performed live.

"It's beautiful down here. In fact, it's awesome," her friend Sonny Hettenschuller of Chambersburg, Pa., said of the Renfrew Museum and Park.

"It draws people from all over the region. We have people come to the jazz fest that have never been here before," Anderson-Smith said of the farm that now serves as a museum and cultural center.

Andrew Sussman, executive director of the Cumberland Valley School of Music, helped organize the first festival. "I stumbled on Paul Bollenback about eight years ago at the Park Circle in Hagerstown ... He just blew me away. He's a spectacular player."

Voted Musician of the Year in 1997 at the Washington Area Music Awards, Bollenback, 39, said he splits his time between touring, living and teaching in Washington, D.C., and New York City. About two weeks ago, he returned from Norway, where he played with organist Joey DeFrancesco.

"It's been successful each year. We've had great players," Bollenback said as he waited for the last set to start. Each year he said there have been different "configurations" of artists at the festival.

Wilson, who has been touring with jazz legend Chick Corea, said he and Bollenback have been "trying to figure out ways to work together."

After playing the standard "I Hear the Rhapsody" and Kenny Dorham's "Funji Mama," Wilson and Bollenback huddled on what pieces they would play in the last set.

Paul French of Fairfield, Pa., brought his 12-year-old son Gideon to hear the improvised quartet. He said Gideon's been playing drums for about four years.

"I just bought him $200 worth of drums yesterday," French said.

"That's a lot for him," Gideon said.

Sussman said the beauty of the festival was "putting four musicians together and see what happens."

"The best definition I've heard of jazz is, the sound of surprise," he said.

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