The cool sounds of jazz will be heard in Columbia this weekend when the annual Baltimore-Washington JAZZfest brings international artists and local performers to a Town Center nightclub, a historic house and the mall.
In eight years, JAZZfest - which runs today through Sunday - has grown from one evening of music to four days with a diversity of acts, said Claude Ligon, chairman of the festival's executive board.
"We are getting more and more artists coming in and bigger names," he said.
David "Fathead" Newman will headline the event, playing at a jazz brunch at 11 a.m. Sunday.
Newman, who most often plays saxophone, has been well-known in jazz for more than 50 years. In 1954, Ray Charles invited him to join a band he was forming, and in 1959 he produced the young musician's first album, Ray Charles Introduces Fathead Newman.
Newman has played throughout the United States and in Europe and Japan, made numerous records and worked as a studio musician with top artists, including Herbie Mann, Hank Crawford and Aretha Franklin. The jazz musician has also pursued his own projects, which he said allow him to be more expressive and "show the full range of what I do." He records two albums a year and tours internationally. His latest album is The Gift.
Newman said in a telephone interview that his Columbia show will be "comprised of the old along with the new, dating back to my first recording." That includes his best-known song, "Hard Times," off his first album.
"I will be playing things that are associated with my style of playing through the years, and maybe get some new fans along the way," said Newman, who will be accompanied by bass, piano and drums.
Several activities will fill out the festival bill before Newman takes the stage Sunday.
Five acts will play at Historic Oakland on Saturday night in the "House of Jazz. " Guests will be free to wander throughout the mansion and listen to whatever they choose.
Damon Foreman lives in Columbia, but he tours the country as the leader of a group called Blue Funk. He said he is looking forward to playing guitar and singing jazz standards and original compositions close to home.
"Thanks to the people putting on the jazz festival, there has been a lot of awareness" of jazz in the area, Foreman said.
"I believe there will always be an interest in jazz. It's a sophisticated music. If you have an intellectual group of people, they will listen to it," he said.
Saisa, who uses only one name and is another House of Jazz performer, said she enjoys educating listeners about jazz. The vocalist plans to discuss the selections and invite audience participation as she performs.
"It is an opportunity for me to demonstrate ... our American music in a qualitative way," said Saisa, who lives in Ellicott Mills and has released two albums.
The Buck Hill Quartet, the Dontae Winslow Quartet and the Steve Guyger Quartet round out the bill Saturday.
Tomorrow afternoon, local performers will get their turn to play at the free "Jazz in the Mall" event at The Mall in Columbia. Jessie's Soul Line Dancers and the Howard Community College Faculty Jazz Ensemble will perform, as will the Goldenaires, a senior citizen community group, and the Centennial Lane Elementary School Jazz Ensemble.
Performances also will be held at Silver Shadows nightclub in Columbia. The Jerry Gordon Quartet will play from 6:30 to 9:30 tonight and Spur of the Moment will perform from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. tomorrow.
The Baltimore-Washington JAZZfest is a program of the African Art Museum of Maryland. Tickets range from $10 to $45, with proceeds benefiting museum programs.
Past events have raised $15,000 to $20,000.
"These days, we find there's a resurgence of jazz," said Newman, pointing to an increase in jazz study at universities and more jazz historians.
"Right now, we are igniting a lot of fire in the local community about jazz and the presence of jazz," Ligon said.
Information: the African Art Museum of Maryland, 410- 730-7106 or www.baltowash jazzfest.org. Tickets: 800-955- 5566 or visit www.tickets.com.
Arts festival schedule
Columbia Festival of the Arts brings national dance, music, drama and comedy performers to town through June 29.
Events will be held at several locations. Jim Rouse Theatre and Rouse Mini-Theatre are at Wilde Lake High School, 5460 Trumpeter Road, Columbia. Smith Theatre is on the campus of Howard Community College, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia. Columbia SportsPark is in Harper's Choice Village Center, off Harper's Farm Road.
Most tickets range from $17 to $68, with discounts for students and senior citizens. Information on or registration for an event: 410-715-3089, or www.columbiafestival.com. Tickets: 800-955-5566, go to www.tickets.com, or go to the Columbia Association Members Service Office, 10221 Wincopin Circle, Columbia.
Today: The Second City, comedy. 7:30 p.m. at Smith Theatre.