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Terra brings jazz to the State Theatre

John Benson • Aug 8, 2011 at 10:48 AM

Want to go?

WHAT: Jazz @ Eight featuring Guitarist/Trombonist Doug Neel with MSQ in performance of “Sandusky Bay Jazz Suite”

WHEN: 8 p.m. August 26 WHERE: State Room at Sandusky State Theatre, 107 Columbus Ave., Sandusky

COST: $12/ticket

INFO: 419-626-1950 or sanduskystate.com

A major purveyor of jazz music throughout the area, Terra Tech Music Arts and Humanities Lead Faculty and Coordinator Mike Shirtz realized the summertime was a quiet time for local music. That’s when he conceived the Jazz @ Eight music series, which debuted July 29 at the Sandusky State Theater.

“It was my idea because a lot of people said they’d like to hear more jazz and hear different things,” said Sandusky resident Shirtz. “So in one of the meetings we had with the Sandusky State Theater about other things, this idea came up. We talked about it and we decided let’s try a jazz series.”

This year Jazz @ Eight includes three different concerts catering to various jazz audiences. The inaugural affair “Rhythm of Life” features jazz singer Ellen Winters accompanied by the Michael Shirtz Quartet in an evening of jazz standards. Award-winning jazz vocalist Winters, who has performed at the Montreux and North Sea Jazz Festivals in Europe, the Rocky Mountain Jazz Festival in Banff, Canada and the International Association of Jazz Educators Conventions in Boston and Chicago, has become quite the jazz name around the Chicago-Milwaukee areas.

“With Ellen Winters, they’ll experience a combination of traditional jazz mixed with new, contemporary jazz,” Shirtz said. “For instance, one of the tunes she’s doing on this evening is ‘On the Sunny Side of a Street,’ which is a big band tune from the ‘40s, but she’ll do it as a groove-blues chart. It doesn’t have the same style people may be expecting. She’ll do it in a more contemporary way. She’s paying tribute to older tunes but in a modern way to reach out to younger as well as older audiences.”

The remaining dates of the Jazz @ Eight music series include Aug. 12 with trumpeter Charles Saenz and the Michael Shirtz Quartet performing “A Tribute to Miles Davis & Dave Brubeck,” as well as Aug. 26 with guitarist-trombonist Doug Neel and the Michael Shirtz Quartet playing the “Sandusky Bay Jazz Suite.”

“I wrote ‘Sandusky Bay Jazz Suite’ last year and premiered it at a jazz festival,” Shirtz said. “It’s jazz impressions about sailing around Sandusky Bay and experiencing the area. It’s a five-movement suite. That’s the first set of that show and the second set will be doing different jazz compositions and jazz favorites for jazz lovers.”

Looking ahead, Shirtz is optimistic Jazz @ Eight could potentially become an annual event for Sandusky music lovers.

“The State Theater has already said if these turn out to be popular events they’d like to see the jazz series keep going,” Shirtz said. “The thing about Jazz @ Eight, you can go out and have dinner somewhere and then come and see some jazz shows. It makes for a perfect Friday night.”

Jazz @ Eight’s “Rhythm of Life” show featuring Ellen Winters and the Michael Shirtz Quartet takes place at 8 p.m. July 29 at the Sandusky State Theater. Tickets are $12. Call 419-626-1950 or visit www.sanduskystate.com.

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