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Viewpoint: Jazz Blast will blow you away

Chuck Brooks

Fifty-two weeks ago, the first event of its kind took place in the charming amphitheater located in Rosemount's Central Park. It had never before been attempted. It was held in hopes a community would appreciate and attend the event for what it was: music.

As it turned out, the day was one of the hottest last summer would see. I was in attendance as the event's emcee. For eight hours, when I wasn't on the stage, I was in my lawn chair on the grass with my umbrella for shade. People fought for space under the trees atop the hill, so they could listen to some great jazz while staying protected from the sun. Well, folks, it's back. Not the heat, hopefully, but the event. This weekend, June 17, the second-annual Jazz Blast erupts at 4 in the afternoon and will wind down by 9 in the evening. Once again, all of it will happen in Central Park of Rosemount.

The Jazz Blast is sponsored by the Rosemount Community Band. It is the largest fundraiser of its performance year. This year, the event will present four different jazz groups from the Twin Cities area along with a 4 p.m. opening set of tunes from the Rosemount Community Band itself. Admission is free. All money earned will come from purchase of food (hot dogs, brats, burgers, chips) and drinks and from donations. Music lovers and summer enthusiasts in the area are encouraged to support Jazz Blast by purchasing food and beverages while listening to some over-the-top talented groups perform throughout the afternoon and evening.

At 4:45 p.m., the first jazz group to perform is Rosemount's own "651 Jazz." This six-member group specializes in jazz, blues, and swing classics. They also have a vocalist who brings new meaning to "belting it out of the park." These people are the first of four great groups.

At 6 p.m., the next group to perform is Nova Jazz. It is a Twin Cities, nonprofit organization dedicated to performing and recording original jazz compositions by Minnesota composers. The group is divided into trombones, trumpets, saxophones and a rhythm section. Sixteen artists in all combining to produce a sound you're not likely going to forget for some time. It plays repertory or contemporary jazz and is often referred to as a "big band." A pure delight.

At 7 that night, you'll hear the sounds of Doug Haining and the Twin Cities Seven. I'm going to borrow some sentences from their website because I think they say it better than I could: "When you want the best in swing entertainment, you want The Twin Cities Seven... a true swing band that delivers a musical message without annoying amplifiers or overdone theatrics. Natural sound is the forte of this group. You'll enjoy top quality musicianship as you listen to authentic swing music delivered in the style of the finest swing groups in the history of jazz - Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday to name just a few."

As if that isn't enough already for a free concert in the park, at 8 p.m. concluding the Jazz Blast event, the ACME Jazz Company will be bringing down the house in fine fashion. The ACME Jazz Company is a modern big band jazz group. While paying tribute to the big bands of the past, AJC plays music with a modern twist. This 19-piece big band was formed in 2008 and plays at O'Gara's in St. Paul on the first Monday of the month. They have performed at the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, Jazz on the Prairie, Hilde Performance Center and Como Park. By the time these folks finish, it will be 9 p.m. and you'll be be-bopping home from having been witness to some of the finest jazz music you're going to hear in this part of the country.

Let me reiterate. This is a freebie. The Rosemount Community Band sponsors this event because they believe in the power of music. Bring the kids; let them witness music in its finest form. When they see these adults performing, many who are my age and beyond, they'll realize that music isn't something that's good only for the school-age years, but it's a gift that will continue to provide happiness and escape for a lifetime. Throughout the evening, I'll be sending around the donation bucket to help defray for the costs of hiring these performers as well as other expenses. Bring your lawn chairs or a blanket; find a spot on the grass, and settle in for five hours of rockin' fun!

If you know me, you know my microphone manner. I may be in the audience looking for you. You sure don't wanna miss that, do ya? Didn't think so. See ya on the 17th!