The Spokane Jazz Orchestra brings “The Groove Summit” to life

Returning to their 2017 concert of the same name, the Spokane Jazz Orchestra’s Groove Summit returns to the Bing Crosby Theater for a jazzy evening of standards, new treatments and some original works.

Featuring musical director Don Goodwin and pianist Brent Edstrom, the program will feature a variety of styles all tied together by a groovy beat.

“The groove is really important, whether it’s a swing groove, a funk groove or a rock groove, it just has to move and have and have that energy,” Goodwin said. “The name also suggests a kind of party atmosphere – so whatever the style, the music seems to have that aspect.”

But what does “groove” really mean?

It’s tricky, Goodwin said. Anything with a steady beat technically has a groove. There are certain tempos where you don’t feel it. But somewhere between too fast and too slow – that’s where you’re going to find the groove.

“Somewhere in that sweet spot in the middle, there’s a wide range of these tempos where you’d think, ‘Yeah, this music has groove,'” he said.

“I would add that the groove is sometimes a bit intangible in that it’s sort of the composite of all the musicians and they place every part of them against that tempo,” Edstrom said.

You could have two bands playing a standard song at 120 beats per minute, but depending on how you play the baseline, the drums, the piano, “you can achieve something that really transcends rhythm into that magical feeling.”

A jazz pianist, composer, arranger, session musician and longtime orchestra member, Edstrom teaches composition, theory and jazz studies at Whitworth University. His recent engagements include national tours with Motown star Freda Payne, jazz band arrangements commissioned for a gala concert honoring Clint Eastwood, and performances with notable players like John Clayton, Eddie Daniels, Victor Wooten and Clark Terry, among others. He also arranged some of the music for Peter Rivera’s recent R&B performance Celebrate Symphony.

During the concert, Goodwin will take breaks to play on a Hammond B3 organ.

“It’s a big instrument,” Goodwin said. Imagine an upright piano with an extra set of keys, pedals and electronic switches. Playing with hands and feet at the same time is common, but the Hammond also adds a new level of volume control with their signature Leslie speakers that spin while producing sound.

“It’s a really special instrument with a lot of really cool tools that allow you to sculpt the sound in a really interesting way,” he said.

An instrument often used in jazz and classic rock, the B3 organ, Goodwin explained, contributes a lot to that “groovy feeling.”

“I always have to use the right word – it’s such a cool sound,” Edstrom said.

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Ada J. Kenney