This weekend, globetrotting, Grammy-winning Jazz musicians from New Orleans, Maui, Oahu, the Big Island and Los Angeles will come together for the third annual Lanai Jazz Festival. As in years past, organizer Ken Martinez Burgmaier, along with Jazz Alley TV and HawaiionTV.com, are bringing a weekend of free Jazz performances to the Pineapple Island.
Friday offers a sneak peek at what’s to come with the Jazz Alley TV Trio: Gene Argel, Paul Marchetti and Doug White, along with a special performance from the Jazz Fest Musicians, all in the Lodge at Koele.
Then on Saturday, the Jazz starts early in Lanai City when Robbie Ray Lopaka and his Cocoland Jazz Guitar appear at Coffee Works at 9am. Then at 11am, Damon Parillo and his Jazz guitar will appear at Cafe 565. The festival heats up at 4pm beside Koele’s cozy fireplaces. The lineup includes Delfeayo Marsalis, Eric Marienthal, Paula Fuga, Damon Parillo, Ron Hetteen, Robbie Ray Lopaka, Dave Graber, Calvin Hoe and the Jazz Alley TV Trio in the Great Hall.
It’s the perfect opportunity to check the latest changes in the Four Seasons resorts on Lanai, subtle but gorgeous since Larry Ellison bought the island.
“Complete with a new look and new guest experiences, Four Seasons Resorts Lanai welcomed the new year with style, distinction and excitement,” says Alice Bouman, Resort Manager at Four Season Lanai. “On the eve of 2013, Manele Bay and The Lodge at Koele completed several property enhancements, refining the overall design aesthetic of the resorts to capture a distinct sense of place synonymous with Hawaii. Highlights include new furniture in the Great Hall, hammocks now adorn the gardens, additional TV’s in the Trophy Room to catch your favorite sports games, enhanced landscaping and a new 100 percent sustainable and local menu in the Dining Room.”
On Sunday, the Jazz party picks up at 10am at No Ka Oi Grindz with Lopaka and a luxurious Jazz piano breakfast at the Lodge. Chef Kevin Erving has a spectacular menu in store with dishes like garlic and thyme roasted chicken Roulaude, creamy corn and Parmesan polenta, sugar snap peas, mint, chicken jus or pan seared Mahi, Molakai sweet potato hash, ginger and pineapple emulsion and cilantro pesto. Start Sunday with the chef’s smoked salmon frittata, cream fraiche and caviar.
I had a chance to catch up with Marienthal, a Grammy-winning saxophone master who will be playing at the festival. He’s has traveled the world but this will be his first time on Lanai.
MAUITIME: From a young age, you’ve always known music was your lane. What is something else you would have devoted your life to aside from music?
ERIC MARIENTHAL: I’m a family man and I have been happily married to my wife Lee Ann for the past 30 years and she gets to come with me to Lanai. I get to bring her I should say, on this trip which we are both very excited about. So you know I’m definitely the most excited about the fact that we have raised two wonderful kids, both very successful. They are also quite accomplished musicians–Katie graduated from USC with a musical theater degree and my son Robert is quite a good singer songwriter and guitar player.
MT: Your Jazz career has taken you around the world. What’s your favorite place so far?
EM: I’m actually in Rome Italy right now. We are playing here tonight and I have probably been to easily 70 different countries in my life, and I can’t imagine a better place than right where I am this very moment. A hundred yards away from the Spanish Steps as we speak and it’s so beautiful here. I have gotta say this is a hard place to beat.
MT: What would you say to the generation now pursuing music?
EM: Become as diverse as you possibly can. The music business is what you make of it like any other business. and the more diverse you can be with every different base that you can cover you create another form of potential opportunity to work. For instance, if you are a good sight reader you could have a good career as a studio musician, teacher, improvisor or composer or arranger. All of these different things can lead to different ways of creating a better career for yourself.
MT: You’ve played with Al Hurt, Chick Corea, Jeff Lorber and Russell Ferrante. What did you take away from these collaborations?
EM: When I play with Chick Corea, I just learn so much about communication. I think I learned that was the most important part of playing Jazz. And not really just Jazz–all kinds of music. But in improvisational music like Jazz it’s vitally important that you listen to each other and communicate with each other as you’re playing. Because improvising with a group is very much like a conversation and what one person says has everything to do with what someone else will say. In musical terms, what somebody plays will affect what somebody else plays, or how they react. With Corea and other great musicians I have learned in different ways how important that communication connection is and when it’s there it makes the music so much better.
MT: What was your favorite performance?
EM: I have so many. There was one particular tour with the Chick Corea band where we traveled for three months. In three months we were in 24 different countries and played 87 different cities in only 90 days. I’m so proud that I survived that tour. It was exciting that we played for so many different people and we did it in a very concentrated way over those three months. I remember playing every night. We had four nights off in three months. When you play that much with musicians of that quality the music comes to such a high level things happen that you would have never though could happen. So being in a situation where our band was playing so incredibly well is rare to experience in your life.
MT: What is your advice for an aspiring artist here in Hawaii?
EM: Play as much as you possibly can. Music is about creating and creating all that you can. People love music, good music, and sometimes it doesn’t matter what type of music as long as you are playing it well. So as long as you’re presenting yourself in front of an audience just make sure you’re playing your best possible. People are drawn to good music. Try to create new places to play, too. If your music is good, people will come listen for sure.
MT: How can we keep Jazz alive?
EM: By always moving forward. That is why fusion is such a big part of Jazz. Fusing different styles of music together. One of the unique things with Jazz music is it encompasses so many different styles. That is how it has evolved to this point. So continuing the evolutionary process is what will keep this music going.