Music lovers rejoice. What will be the 26th annual Oregon Dixieland Jubilee (OBJ) jazz festival kicks off Friday, Feb. 20 starting at 4 p.m. at the Seaside Civic and Convention Center. The event is sponsored by the Lighthouse Jazz Society, a nonprofit that seeks to preserve this musical form as an important piece of our national heritage.

The Jubilee will run through Sunday, Feb. 22, culminating in a closing ceremony at 3 p.m. Twelve bands promise to keep folks dancin' at nearly every venue and there are five of them this year - the Pacific and Necanicum rooms in the Convention Center, the Seaside Elks Lodge, the Best Western OceanView Resort and the Shilo Inn Oceanfront.

Food and beverages will be offered, and there'll be a shuttle bus on duty during "jazz hours," so parking shouldn't be a problem.

Musicians arrive from across the United States

Nearly 6,000 fans of this high-energy, "feel good" music are expected to attend. The featured bands come from all over the U.S. Out of Connecticut, there'll be the Titan Hot Seven and Ivory & Gold. California will be well represented with five bands, including Blue Street, High Sierra, Tom Rigney and Flambeau and Titanic. Washington state's Uptown Lowdown and Grand Dominion will also appear; and you won't want to miss performances by Bill Allred's Classic Jazz Band from Florida, the St. Louis Rivermen out of Missouri or the Firecracker Jazz Band, which traveled all the way from North Carolina to participate in this celebration of American roots music. In addition, Oregon's own 234th Army Band will make its first appearance at the event.

Gospel service offered Sunday

In association, the public is welcome to attend an open gospel service at 9:30 a.m. Sunday at the Convention Center. Proceeds from free-will offerings will go to the South County Food Bank. The Seaside Elks Club will also host an Afterglow Party starting at 5:30 p.m. that evening, where folks may enjoy music, food and dancing for a $25 charge. A raffle will raise scholarship money to be awarded to North Coast music students for jazz summer camp.

American art form

Sometimes called "the only American art form," jazz came out the southeastern part of the country - the area south of the Mason-Dixon line, aka Dixieland - where such well-known jazz standards as "Basin Street Blues" and "When the Saints Go Marching In" originated." The term "Dixieland" also refers to a style of jazz that originated in New Orleans - the earliest recorded example of the genre. It's basically an amalgamation of music styles that came before it, such as brass band marches, French quadrilles, ragtime and blues. Played primarily by black musicians early on, this national cultural treasure is now performed and/or enjoyed by a much broader population spectrum.

The Glass Slipper is one of several vendors who set up at the Convention Center and sell dance shoes, clothing, accessories and souvenirs during the festival. Photo by Glynis Valenti, courtesy Oregon Dixieland Jubilee.According to Wikipedia on the Internet, the instruments used and the size of Dixieland bands vary. However, there's often a "front line" of trumpet (or cornet), trombone and clarinet and a "rhythm section" which features at least two of the following: a guitar or banjo, a string bass or tuba, piano and drums. The definitive Dixieland sound is characterized by one instrument (usually the trumpet) playing the melody or a recognizable variation on it, and other instruments improvising or "jazzing" that up.

Dixieland music has been played since the early part of the 20th century. It lost some fans when swing jazz from the 1930s and, later, bebop jazz from the 1940s came along. However, a revival of Dixieland jazz in the next decade or so made many semiretired and retired Dixieland jazz musicians quite famous rather late in life. Some of the newer groups of the 1950s imitated the recordings and bands of decades earlier. Others "riffed" on them, coming up with innovations and new tunes that eventually became what's called "Progressive Dixieland." It merged traditional Dixieland melody with bebop-style rhythms. The progressive form, at the risk of over simplifying, contrasts with "trad" or the traditional variety. The latter is the kind that's typically performed at the OBJ.

The umbrella parade is a colorful fixture at the Sunday morning gospel service. Photo by Glynis Valenti, courtesy Oregon Dixieland Jubilee.Trumpet player Louis Armstrong and his band of All-Stars was probably most closely identified with Dixieland jazz, although the man's musical influence extends well beyond that. Organized in the late 1940s, the group featured Earl "Fatha" Hines, Jack Teagarden, and a number of other musicians who've since earned a lofty spot in jazz history. Prior to that, in the 1920s, Armstrong secured his status as an American music icon with his Hot Five and later Hot Seven bands. Their landmark recordings are de rigueur for the collections of serious jazz buffs.

Jewels of pre-World War II hot jazz continue to entertain audiences worldwide. They include, according to Wikipedia, "timeless recordings made by King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, Fats Waller, James P. Johnson, New Orleans Rhythm Kings, and Bix Beiderbecke." Active traditionalist scenes exist around the world, particularly in Britain and Australia. Traditional jazz music, with important influences from Dixieland or traditional jazz, left its mark on swing music, rhythm and blues and early rock and roll.

Justin TerHar, right, practices a song on the tenor saxophone along with alto saxophone players Luka Harn, left, and Will Meyer. Photo by Alex Pajunas.Seaside High School trumpet players Dalton Clark and Molly Hinmsvark practice hitting the notes on 'Zoot Suit Riot.' Photo by Alex Pajunas.The Seaside High School jazz band will be among the groups performing in the Oregon Dixieland Jubilee at the Seaside Civic and Convention Center Feb. 20-22. Photo by Alex Pajunas.Seaside High School's flourishing jazz band shares the program this weekend with some of the country's best Dixieland groups. Led by band director Terry Dahlgren, these students represent the next generation of jazz musicians.

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