A peaceful place for a jazz jam

August 26, 2004|by KATE COLEMAN

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Guitarist Paul Bollenback described the phenomenon of musicians - some who might never have shared a stage - coming together without rehearsal and just clicking as "a little bit of a magic trick."

That's what will happen at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 29, at the 13th annual Renfrew Jazz Festival.

"We'll call songs that everybody knows. Everybody's strong enough to take care of what they need to take care of," Bollenback said last week in a phone interview from his New York home.

Bollenback apologized for washing dishes during the conversation. He was busy catching up before performing a couple of gigs in Manhattan, flying to Phoenix to record with jazz organist Joey DeFrancesco, coming back to New York and driving up to Rochester, N.Y., and Lewiston, N.Y., near Niagara Falls to play with DeFrancesco, then driving to Waynesboro, Pa.


Bollenback has been part of the Renfrew jazz event for 12 of 13 years. He missed one while on tour in Japan.

"I think it's my longest continuous engagement," he laughed.

The guitarist-composer comes to the Renfrew festival by way of event organizer Andrew Sussman, who heard him play in the 1970s. Together they work out the players. Bollenback recruits them and gives them directions to Waynesboro.

This year's session will feature saxophonist Eric Alexander, who has recorded 16 albums as a leader and played on more than 60 as a sideman.

Bassist Chris Berger will be there. He has toured with Maynard Ferguson, Herb Ellis, Susannah McCorkle and vibraphonist Joe Locke, who performed at Renfrew last year. Montez Coleman, whose rsum boasts gigs with Wynton Marsalis, Barbara Cook and Betty Carter, will be the ensemble's drummer.

Bollenback told the musicians Waynesboro is "kind of far."

But it's worth the drive.

"Renfrew is nice," he said.

In the summertime, a lot of the work in New York is outside, he said. But outside in New York, there's lots of noise - buses, sirens.

In the bucolic Waynesboro setting, there are listeners - people who come just for the purpose of listening to the music, he said.

Jazz musicians don't have the big hype that accompanies performers in other musical genres, Bollenback said. Their work becomes known by word of mouth.

Sussman, composer, jazz pianist and critic and executive director of the Cumberland Valley School of Music in Chambersburg, Pa., said he feels excited about the lineup and the festival.

He agreed that the magic of jazz will happen at Renfrew. "People who never have played together can create incredible music," he explained.

Bollenback said he appreciates the support Renfrew audiences have provided through the years. He's looking forward to Sunday.

"It's going to be a lot of fun," he said.

Thirteenth annual Renfrew Jazz Festival

2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 29

On the lawn behind Renfrew Museum

1010 E. Main St.

Waynesboro, Pa.


Parking is available in Renfrew's lower lot off Welty Road. Bring lawn chairs and blankets. If it rains, the concert will take place at Waynesboro Area Middle School auditorium, 702 E. Second St., Waynesboro.

For information, call 1-717-762-0373.

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