For nearly 15 years, Bruce Micklus has overseen Missoula’s swingingest week of jazz. Well, one of them.
Jazzoula, originally scheduled as a lead-up to the University of Montana Buddy DeFranco Jazz Festival, moved to late April a few years ago, but it was for the best, leaving this year’s opening day falling on April 30, International Jazz Day.
“It’s an experience,” Micklus said. “It’s really a unique opportunity to celebrate the different worlds of jazz.”
The 2019 Jazzoula features close to 80 musicians, from children just 8 or 9 years old, to Missoula jazzheads who’ve spent decades honing their craft.
This is the first year Jazzoula has featured middle school and high school jazz combos, Micklus said, who are performing on April 30 and May 1 under the direction of UM Jazz director Rob Tapper.
“It should be fantastic,” Micklus said.
There’s some other kids adding to the festivities: the annual “Youngest Divas” show features young vocal students, from 8 years old to high school age. Micklus said the event is “always entertaining.”
This year, two musicians will be honored with a spot in the Missoula Jazz and Blues Society Hall of Fame: Ron Meissner and Naomi Segel.
Meissner is a guitarist, who’s played in various groups for decades in Missoula.
Segel, a recent transplant, has led the Lakebottom Sound series as well as her own conduction orchestra in various venues around town.
“She hasn’t been in town for a very long time,” Micklus said. “She’s changed the jazz scene.”
It is also the first Jazzoula without the “Grand Dame” of Missoula Jazz, Jodi Marshall. Marshall was a pianist, who played both jazz and classical and was the church accompanist for decades at St. Anthony’s, where Jazzoula is held.
“The light will burn for Jodi Marshall,” Micklus said.
Jazzoula 2019 features many longtime groups and musicians, such as the Basement Boyz, Night Blooming Jasmine and the Eden Atwood Trio.
Wednesday and Saturday night’s shows bring out a little of this year’s theme, Micklus noted.
“If anything, this year we are definitely leaning into a Latin flair.”
Chuck Florence, Jim Driscoll and friends have some Latin tunes lined up for their Wednesday night set, Micklus said, which is followed by Brazilian salsa/bossa nova group Canta Brasil.
Then on Saturday, Missoula’s Salsa Loca will bring their Cuban and Latin American rhythms before John Roberts and Pan Blanco close out the festival with a combination of funk, African and Latin rhythms and vocals.
“They have two completely different styles of playing Latin music, but we’re going to rock the joint,” Micklus said.
Tickets for Jazzoula are $13 for one night (or $11 for students and seniors) or $35 for a five-night pass ($30 for students and seniors). They're available at Rockin’ Rudy’s or at the door.
Doors at 6 p.m. at St. Anthony’s Church community hall, 217 Tremont St.
Music starts at 6:30 p.m. with sets lasting around 35 minutes.
Food and bar available, with tables and concert seating.
Here’s the full schedule:
Tuesday, April 30
Missoula All-City Middle School Jazz Combo and Missoula All-City High School “C” Jazz Band, directed by Rob Tapper.
Missoula’s Youngest Divas
Eden Atwood Trio
Night Blooming Jasmine
Wednesday, May 1
Missoula All-City High School Jazz combos A and B
Boyd Void (UM Jazz “B” group)
Chuck Florence, Jim Driscoll and friends
Steven Gores Ensemble
Thursday, May 2
River City Players
Stephanie Gariepy Combo
Johan Erickson Jazz Authority
Captain Wilson Conspiracy
CrossTalk with Billy Kautz
Friday, May 3
Joan Zen Jazz
Conduction Orchestra with Naomi Siegel
The Boyd Collective (UM Jazz “A” group)
Carlson/Meissner Band with Jim Driscoll
Josh Farmer and Friends
Hall of Fame induction of Ron Meissner and Naomi Siegel
Saturday, May 4
Melody and Clipper Anderson
Naomi Siegel and Marina Albero
John Roberts and Pan Blanco