Jazz, retro, pop on tap Friday night at Dungeness Schoolhouse

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM — It's hard to tell who's more eager to make music this Friday night.

New York City-based jazz vocalist Elinore O'Connell and pianist Linda Dowdell are cooking up the second annual Jazz at the Schoolhouse, an evening of swing, retro pop and jazz standards at the Dungeness Schoolhouse, 2781 Towne Road.

Tickets, available at the door only, are $10 to the 7:30 p.m. concert.

O'Connell, who was part of the original creative team for Broadway's “Les Miserables,” has enjoyed a long career on the east and west coasts: She played Fantine in the first “Les Mis” in Los Angeles and has since performed and taught musical theater in New York.

O'Connell and Dowdell, meantime, have a long history together, having worked on shows in New York and performed as a jazz duo.

In Sequim, O'Connell has joined Dowdell for the second consecutive summer, and starting next Monday, the pair will teach a two-week musical theater intensive for teens at the Dungeness Schoolhouse.

The singer arrived here more than a week early, though, to get ready for Friday's jazz.

Dowdell is a pianist, composer and arranger who moved from New York City's Manhattan to Sequim four years ago — and “seduced me to come out,” O'Connell said.

Not only could the women work together again, but there is “this amazing piano at the schoolhouse,” she added.

Grand piano

The refurbished grand piano will be a star of Friday's show along with O'Connell, Dowdell, bassist Ted Enderle and saxophonist-flute-clarinet man Craig Buhler.

And this year, drummer Terry Smith, known for his work with the Olympic Express Big Band, Haywire and the Soulshakers, will join the ensemble.

“I loved the Schoolhouse show last year,” said Buhler, adding that O'Connell “is a joy to hear . . . It's not often you are presented with an offering like this one in little old Sequim.”

The evening will range from songs like “Paper Moon” and “Knock Me a Kiss” to “Windows of Your Mind” and “The Look of Love.”

Buhler plans to pay tribute to the late Dave Brubeck with tunes such as “Take 5,” “Strange Meadowlark” and “Three to Get Ready.”

One other “I can't wait to try,” Buhler said, “is Ben E. King's version of the Dean Martin classic 'Sway.'”

Dowdell added that O'Connell “has a terrifically strong instrument — her voice — having trained to sing eight-show weeks on Broadway.

“As an actress, she is a storyteller,” Dowdell said, “so all her songs have the depth and backstory that an actress brings to a performance.”

“My major love is live performance,” said O'Connell. Jazz at the Schoolhouse is “this bonus that I get to do.”

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Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at diane.urbani@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: July 23. 2013 5:50PM
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