As a prelude or preview to performances in the Robinson Grand Performing Arts Center due to open in Clarksburg in 2018, the West Virginia Jazz Society has scheduled a “theater style” show as part of the Friday, December 9, Uptown Jazz Stroll in Clarksburg.
Sharon Clark, a jazz vocalist based in Washington, DC, will perform a two-hour concert in the First United Methodist Church, one of six venues hosting live jazz in Clarksburg for the Uptown Jazz Stroll. She will be supported by a stellar quartet of Davin Seamon on the Harrison Cultural Foundation’s Steinway Concert Grand piano, Jared Sims, WVU’s new director of jazz programs on saxophones, and Pittsburgh’s best rhythm section, Paul Thompson on bass and David Throckmorton on drums.
According to Stroll organizers, Clark’s star has been on the rise the past year with a Jazz Times magazine review calling her performance “a revelation.” She also headlined the famed Iridium Jazz Club on Broadway in New York City, while making regular tours of Scandinavian countries, Israel and Eastern Europe.
“There will be nothing to distract from the music,” said Eric Spelsberg, WVJS President. “People will be able to devote their full attention to Sharon Clark, the caliber of artist the regional community will enjoy in the Robinson Grand when it opens.”
The evening will open at 6:30pm with a brief Meet the Artists Reception with fruit punch and cookies. From there, people will take their seats, and “get ready to enjoy two hours of world class jazz.”
“This performance differs from most of the shows produced by the West Virginia Jazz Society,” Spelsberg added. “Our shows are generally in nightclub style places with dining and beverage service. This show, however, is alcohol-free. It will feature the finest musicianship, and be held in the Church’s sanctuary, which is acoustically perfect just like the Robinson Grand will be.”
Staging a show that varies from the “traditional” Jazz Stroll club gigs is borne of the event planner’s desire to match the venue, artist and audience in a showcase of jazz diversity.
“Jazz can be presented in many different ways,” said Rose Ann Policano, WVJS Vice President, and a member of the WVJS programming committee. “For instance, the show we’ve scheduled in My Little Cupcake will be unique. In their stage area, we’ll have a tribute performance by Jenny Wilson to honor jazz legend Bill Evans.
This will be followed by the premier of a documentary film on Evans’ life. That’s different for us, but still something the audience has asked for.”
Lovers of the “club jazz” that has made the jazz strolls popular won’t be left out, assured Spelsberg and Policano. This year’s Uptown Jazz Stroll will feature smooth jazz in the Fifth Floor Lounge, an organ quintet in the PWA Event Center, a classic jazz quartet in Washington Square, and what is billed as “cabaret jazz” in Kelly’s Irish Pub.
There is no cover charge thanks to sponsorship by the Highland Fund for the Arts. As of this report, additional support is being provided by the Clarksburg Exponent-Telegram, Harry Green Chevrolet and the Harrison County Commission. Seating is first-come-first-seated.
The First United Methodist Church is at 107 W. Pike Street (on corner of 2nd Street), across the street from a multi-story parking garage.
For additional information on the Sharon Clark performance, the Uptown Jazz Stroll or the West Virginia Jazz Society, visit: WVJazzSociety.com, or phone 304-517- 9813.
Photo: Sharon Clark In Got Jazz! Sharon Clark will appear in concert at First United Methodist Church during the December 9 Uptown Jazz Stroll in Clarksburg.