Central Washington University – or Central as locals call it – is where music lovers go to firm up the foundation, and leave as fully fledged recording engineers, choir directors, teachers, musical artists of far-reaching significance. Careers are practically guaranteed at this accessible, highly qualified institution located in Ellensburg, WA. It’s way more cost-effective and centrally located for Washingtonians than, say, the two bigger, overpriced extremes: University of Washington in Seattle and Washington State University in Pullman.
And look at all the great musical talent coming out of Central. Most of them make a point to visit or participate in Ellensburg’s annual Jazz in the Valley festival, a celebration of jazz, blues, gospel, Latin, and swing from mostly locally grown artists throughout the West Coast.
This year, the three-day festival (scheduled for the last weekend in July every summer) greets locals and visitors for its July 29-31st extravaganza, held at various venues – a barbecue joint, an art gallery, museum – and featuring over 23 outstanding artists in their element. Those artists include returning and audience favorites, Lenny Price, Jake Bergevin, Gail Pettis, McTuff, Total Experience Gospel Choir, Bruce Babad, and Dylan-Thomas Vance.
Piano marvel Hal Weary and his Quartet bring his special full-bodied jazz sound to the Main Stage of the Rotary Pavilion, July 30, 5 p.m., and at the Dakota Café, 9 p.m.-midnight.
Weary took up formal training at a very young age, studied through all the proper channels, then honed his immense range (be-bop, hard-bop, stride, post-bop, gospel, Afro-Cuban, world music) in a performing and recording career spanning that of a legend and calling to mind existing legends like Cyrus Chestnut and James Williams. Weary is ably backed by bassist Jeff Johnson, drummer John Bishop, and saxophonist Lenny Price.
For more info: Expect sold-out crowds. Buy a full festival pass for only $35 now, not later. Passes/tickets went on sale back in May. Children aged 10 and under can attend for free. Online orders available. In the Ellensburg area? Visit the town’s Chamber of Commerce at 609 N. Main Street, or call (509) 925-3137 | (888) 925-2204.