Jazz Festival returns to Old Town Temecula

Yve Evans returns to lead the ninth annual Jazz Festival at the Old Town Temecula Community Theater Sunday, March 8. Valley News/Shawna Sarnowski photo

The ninth annual Jazz Festival at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 8, is pretty straightforward, according to organizer Jeff Stover.

“There will be two and a half hours of jazz in different configurations with three singers, two saxophonists and two piano players,” he said.

Of course, there’s more to it than that.

Held at the Old Town Temecula Community Theater, the concert features some of the finest jazz musicians in the Inland Empire kicked off in the courtyard by the Andy Fraga Trio.

The concert then moves indoors for more music by Yve Evans, Keith Droste, Jonathan Karrant and Doug McDonald. Father and son team, Colin and Joel Wenhardt are back this year and more festival favorites include Don Rice and David Hitchings.

“Don Rice on sax, 95 years old and plays with old school, warm sound that very few people have these days,” Stover said. “Also, Joel Wenhardt on the piano first appeared in the show when he was 14. Nine years later, he is a Julliard grad who lives New York.”

Stover said he is excited to have Evans back leading the way.

“Yve Evans mixes her brand of music and humor that totally connects with her audience,” he said.

Other performers include Stover on bass and newcomer, vocalist Ava Sarnowski.

“It is important to give new talents a chance to sing in our show such as Ava Sarnowski,” Stover said.

He said this year there is no theme to the concert, per se.

“No theme just a collection of great jazz classics and standards and show tunes put to a jazz setting,” Stover said.

When asked why it is important to keep the festival going each year, Stover said, “It is important to preserve this vintage classic jazz sound for new listeners and players to hear and follow.

“It is important to showcase the local people and Temecula theater’s longtime performers and to hire these great musicians and pay them for dedicating their lives to sharing this music with the people. Also, the city has an interest in the arts and in education through the theater and a vision of jazz in the Old Town area.”

Stover said he hopes the public will come out to support jazz and the musicians that play it.

“The money stays with local musicians who are part of the Temecula theater family having performed for many years here,” he said. “The people should come out to act as a preservation donator to keep this music playing today after 50 to 100 years.”

The ninth annual Jazz Festival will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 8, at the Old Town Temecula Community Theater, 42051 Main Street, in Temecula.

Tickets range in price from $25 to $37 and are available at the theater’s box office, by calling (866) 653-8696 or online at www.tickets.temeculatheater.org.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com.