Columbia nightclub to jump with live jazz

William Goffigan Trio opens 2003 concert season tonight

Music preview

Howard County

January 02, 2003|By Sandy Alexander | Sandy Alexander,SUN STAFF

Organizers of the Baltimore Washington JAZZfest want local residents to think of Columbia when they want to see live jazz.

With the slogan "Jazz is alive on Route 175," the group has been expanding its venues for jazz performances since 1994. For the past two years, that has included concerts by regional talent on the first Thursday of every month in Columbia Town Center.

"It's an attempt to keep jazz alive," said Doris Ligon, founder and director of the African Art Museum of Maryland in Columbia, which is the parent organization of JAZZfest.

The Thursday Jazz in the Shadows series is also a way for the museum to reach the community and, possibly, raise money.

"Jazz has its roots in the traditional music of Africa," Ligon said. At the same time, she added, "Jazz is for everybody."

The Jazz in the Shadows series features mostly straight-ahead jazz, but occasionally includes contemporary jazz and other musical styles.

The William Goffigan Trio will open the 2003 season of Jazz in the Shadows at the Silver Shadows nightclub from 6:30 to 9 tonight.

Next month, the series will feature Antonio Parker, a saxophonist and composer from Washington, D.C.

"We really try to do everything with a degree of pizazz," said Ligon. "It is not thrown together."

"I would say it's a very relaxed atmosphere where people come out to have a good time," Goffigan said of Jazz in the Shadows.

Goffigan, of Baltimore, plays drums with Nevitta Ruddy on keyboard and Ron Pinder on the saxophone. They focus on straight-ahead jazz, but like to add variety with blues, Latin music and the occasional show tune.

He said jazz is getting broad exposure, being used in cartoons and advertisements and that it influences contemporary and popular music as well.

"Jazz is interwoven into the fabric of society," he said.

But building an audience for an evening of traditional jazz has taken some work.

JAZZfest began in 1994 with an evening of music featuring three groups playing in different rooms at Historic Oakland in Columbia.

That event, called House of Jazz, continues annually and has grown.

"This can be a jazz town," said Ligon. "It has to be done well ... and include the youth."

Among other goals, the group would like to see more young people develop an appreciation for jazz, said Ligon's husband, Claude M. Ligon, who is chairman of JAZZfest.

"We're trying to get youth to realize that jazz is not just for us old folks," he said.

Most of all, the JAZZfest board hopes to get jazz fans into the habit of attending these events. The Thursday night events draw 50 to 60 people, but the club has room for 400, Doris Ligon said.

Publicity is considered the key. "You have got to make sure you have left no stone unturned to assure the people this is going to be a pleasurable evening," she said.

"We want them to know there's going to be a quality group each time," Claude Ligon said. "We want them to feel comfortable going to hear jazz in Columbia Town Center."

Jazz in the Shadows is held from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. the first Thursday of every month at the Silver Shadows nightclub, 5550 Sterrett Place, Columbia. The events are smoke-free, tickets cost $10 and a cash bar is available. Information: 410-730-7106 or go to www.baltowashjazzfest.org.

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