IF YOU GO
What: Chattanooga Traditional Jazz Festival
When: Thursday-May 1
Where: Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga Choo Choo
Admission: Thursday event at the Hunter is free to museum members, $8 for nonmembers. Festival is $145 for the weekend; individual afternoon sessions are $25 and evening sessions are $30.
The Chattanooga Traditional Jazz Festival will kick off its annual celebration Thursday evening with a tribute to the West Coast revival style of play. Hot Jazz in Stone and Steel will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Hunter Museum of American Art, 10 Bluff View.
The evening will feature musicians Bob Schulz, Hal Smith and Ray Skjelbred, who will pay tribute to pioneers Lu Watters, Bob Scobey and other West Coast cornetists. The musicians will discuss and perform the music, which is a unique American art form.
“It is one of the very few truly American art forms, and it is appropriate to have this event at the Hunter,” said festival co-host Mike Griffin.
Schulz and Smith will be joined the following Saturday morning at 10 in the Centennial Theatre at the Chattanooga Choo Choo by Bert Barr, Clint Baker and Marc Caparone in a forum discussing the influential jazz genre.
Traditional jazz is also known as Dixieland jazz and had its origins in New Orleans. The West Coast style introduced a banjo and tuba into the rhythm sections. The movement began in the late 1930s by the Lu Watters Yerba Buena Jazz Band in San Francisco with later contributions by trombonist Turk Murphy. Each will play during several sessions throughout the weekend.
The festival itself is set for April 29-May 1 at the Choo Choo and will feature four traditional jazz bands. They are New Eldorado Jazz Band, Grand Dominion Jazz Band, Uptown Lowdown Jazz Band and the Frisco Jazz Band.
The festival was started in 1990 and is hosted by Astrid and Mike Griffin. Its original purpose was to raise money to build what is now the Bessie Smith Cultural Center.
Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...