Idyllwild Jazz in the Pines: Music and art among the trees

In Music
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It’s almost time to idle away the hours with beautiful scenery and the calming sounds of cool jazz.

The 24th annual Jazz in the Pines Festival in Idyllwild, a mountain tradition of jazz along with blues and R&B plus generous helpings of art, will feature 27 bands, performances on several stages and more than 50 vendors during its three-day run, starting Friday.

Proceeds benefit Idyllwild Arts, which has a mission to transform lives through the power of the arts.

“People are very interested in jazz. That’s why we started the festival,” said Pamela Jordan, president and head of the school with the Idyllwild Arts Foundation. “But there also are a couple of other reasons: to preserve and celebrate the heritage of jazz in America, to provide a venue for jazz performers to perform and to raise scholarship dollars.”

The festival has evolved along with the academy. Jazz instruction was added about the same time the festival started.

The academy is a residential arts boarding high school for grades 9-12 that was founded in 1946. It has 310 students from 52 countries, and a large segment rely on some form of financial aid, which the festival helps provide.

But music, in all its forms, is the reason visitors trek up the mountain each summer to settle in and be entertained.

“This is my third year as president, so it allows me to listen to people with fresh, new ears,” Jordan said. “People come for the jazz, but when they get here, it’s the music and the venue. We’re nestled in the pines. It sounds cliché, I know, but it’s true. It’s simply beautiful up here.”

Festivalgoers will be treated to performances on several stages, all of which provide continual entertainment throughout the days. One features traditional jazz and bebop. Another, located in the speaker’s recital hall affectionately called “the barn,” showcases avant-garde fare and experimental works where the audience is close to the performers. And then there’s the French Quarter.

“Well, that’s just a party,” she said with a laugh.

Visitors are free to go back and forth between the stages. Music isn’t the only art form celebrated during the weekend, as more than 40 artisans will be showing their works. All of it adds up to what Jordan called “the magic of Idyllwild.”

“We want to celebrate the power of music and all aspects of learning and engagement,” she said.

The festival’s legendary founder, Marshall Hawkins, who has played with Miles Davis, Roberta Flack and Herbie Hancock, will be performing with two dozen performers.

Jordan is looking forward to yet another fabulous festival.

“You go to something and you see Evan Christopher. I mean, I love hearing him every year. And I love, love, love the acts,” she said.

“But I think I look the most forward to the people. It’s really about the people. And we’re so fortunate to have Marshall Hawkins here. It’s a privilege to see him and hear him.”

Jazz in the Pines
When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday-Sunday
Where: Idyllwild Arts Academy, 52500 Temecula Road, Idyllwild
Admission: Tickets start at $85. $350 for the entire festival plus dinner/dance, party and VIP access.

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