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Friday, May 26, 2006 - Page updated at 12:57 AM

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Jazz students, professionals to connect at Edmonds fest

Times Snohomish County bureau

Dee Daniels likes to ask her voice students a question, no matter what their age.

"In my clinics, I'll ask, 'Why do you sing?' " she said. "It's really interesting, the answers you get."

With Daniels' four-octave range, it was clear what her answer would be: "I can't imagine not singing."

Daniels is the headliner for the sixth annual Edmonds Jazz Connection, which includes free performances of nearly 300 student musicians in 30-minute blocks from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

She will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Saturday for a two-hour paid concert in Edmonds-Woodway High School's Great Hall.

She'll also share her experiences at The Forum, an informal panel session to discuss jazz and answer questions from students and the general public at noon Saturday at the Edmonds Theater. Jim Wilke of public radio's "Jazz After Hours" will host the free discussion, which will include drummer and educator Clarence Acox, saxophonist Michael Brockman and educator Fred Stride.

Daniels expects questions at The Forum will be ones that young musicians have been asking for years. That's part of the reason she created "The Total-Self Approach to Singing," a method of teaching.

Edmonds Jazz Connection


Daytime: Free concerts by award-winning middle-school, high-school and college bands and vocalists are scheduled in 30-minute blocks from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. There will be three venues: the Edmonds Masonic Center, 515 Dayton St., for big bands; the Edmonds Theater, 415 Main St., for combos; and the Edmonds Conference Center, 201 Fourth Ave. N., for vocal groups.

Evening: Dee Daniels, the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra and an all-star student band and choir will perform from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday in the Great Hall of Edmonds- Woodway High School, 7600 212th St. S.W.

Admission: Tickets for the evening concert are $35 for reserved seating, $25 for general admission and $15 for students. Tickets are available at 800-510-3698, www.jazzconnection.org and Arista Wine Cellars, 320 Fifth Ave., Edmonds, and are expected to be sold at the door.

"For me, it's not just about the voice — there's a whole lot else," she said by phone from her home in Vancouver, B.C.

"That's where the total self comes in — the spiritual, mental, emotional and physical side. You can love to sing and get attention singing in the shower, but where does the people element come in?"

A lot of aspiring musicians don't know how to give of themselves, how to tap into their emotional side, Daniels said.

"It's more than just standing up and memorizing lyrics and melody," she said. "The whole purpose is to communicate; we're such storytellers."

Daniels didn't start out as a jazz singer.

"I was in a rock 'n'roll and R&B band," she said. "I sang top 40, did all that stuff and evolved into jazz."

Jazz singers who are good storytellers have a lot of opportunity, Daniels said.

"You deal with vibration and tone, the capability to touch people. You have the possibility to affect people in such a fantastic way. We have the power of words but also access to a universal language, which is music."

Daniels will do jazz standards Saturday night with the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra. She has performed in Seattle with the group at Benaroya Hall and in its sacred-music concert at University Christian Church for four years.

Some of her numbers will be selections from a compact disc she made with the Netherlands' Metropole Orchestra, which she has worked with since 1995.

Daniels' four-octave range — D sharp over high C at the top end and second A below middle C on the low end — is used for "effect," but she said that "all of us have more range than we think we do."

Daniels appreciates the concept of the Jazz Connection, which organizers call the "reality connection" between students and professionals, between academia and the real world.

Educators help select students for the festival, often from schools that have been recognized nationwide, such as Edmonds-Woodway, Mountlake Terrace and Meadowdale high schools.

This will be Edmonds-Woodway senior Dylan Smith's final Jazz Connection before he goes to college. He won outstanding trumpet solo this year at the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival in Idaho and was among 28 youths in a jazz ensemble that played at the Grammy Awards in February.

Kirk Marcy, the director of choral activities for Edmonds Community College and the music director of the Soundsation jazz choir and Soundsation Jazz Camp, wrote that this event culminates "a rigorous year of learning and preparing for festivals and competitions. Kids are under no pressure and can perform for 30-35 minutes and receive standing ovations from an appreciative community."

There's another connection, too. Proceeds from the night concert will benefit the Burned Children Recovery Foundation and other groups for youths. Founded by Everett native Michael Mathis, the foundation offers therapy, counseling and a summer-camp program for young burn survivors from throughout the country. More than 15,700 have been helped to date.

"Kids appreciate aiding other kids who need to be lifted up," Marcy wrote. "They just need to be asked."

Diane Wright: 425-745-7815

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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