PORT TOWNSEND — We meet here, said John Clayton, all for “the F bomb.”
“Fun,” Clayton told his audience of students and faculty at the Jazz Port Townsend orientation earlier this week.
His smile lit up the Wheeler Theater stage at Fort Worden State Park, home to the Centrum workshop and festival that culminates in a slew of public concerts this weekend.
Clayton, the artistic director, upright bass player and Grammy winner, is one among many formidable jazzmen and -women here.
The Jazz Port Townsend festival, which includes showcase concerts in the fort’s 1,200-seat McCurdy Pavilion as well as intimate shows, is more concentrated and accessible to young people this year. Jazz in the Clubs, previously a downtown Port Townsend thing, has been moved up to Fort Worden.
The “clubs” are relatively small venues — the USO Hall, the Madrona MindBody ballroom and others — that form a circuit on the fort campus.
“We want everybody of all ages to go to the clubs,” said Jazz Port Townsend program manager Gregg Miller, “and some of the [downtown] venues in past years were empty rooms with great music inside.
“Now,” he believes, “we’re going to have all ages,” to go with stellar jazz filling the space.
Tickets to this and other Centrum summer festivals are also available at the Centrum office at Fort Worden weekdays from noon to 4 p.m. and online at centrum.org/tickets/individual-tickets.
Next week — Wednesday, Aug. 1 through Saturday, Aug. 4 — the fort’s clubs will reopen for another round of this: The Acoustic Blues Festival brings Blues in the Clubs on the weekend, to go with a blues dance Wednesday and three concerts later in the week.
Veering back to Jazz Port Townsend, this festival showcases performers including singer Jazzmeia Horn of New York City, winner of the Sarah Vaughan Competition in 2013 and the Thelonious Monk International Vocal Jazz Competition in 2015.
This week’s 35 teaching and performing artists include drummer Matt Wilson, who’s played with Herbie Hancock, Elvis Costello and numerous other stars of the musical firmament; Chuck Easton, the Chimacum-based multi-instrumentalist who plays all over the Pacific Northwest, and vibes man Stefon Harris, associate dean and director of jazz arts at the Manhattan School of Music.
A senior luminary, pianist George Cables, joins them. A New Yorker, Cables is here for his 35th Jazz Port Townsend. The artist has inspired workshop students who’ve become well-loved performers; Cables remembers a singer and pianist named Diana Krall, for example, studying here some three decades back.
Here’s the Centrum Jazz Port Townsend lineup of performances at Fort Worden State Park, 200 Battery Way.
For information, visit Centrum.org or call 360-385-3102, ext. 110.
• Free Friday at the Fort features the Jazz Port Townsend Participant Big Band led by Clarence Acox, noon to 1 p.m. on the Fort Worden Commons lawn. Admission is free while food and drink will be for sale.
• A “May I Introduce …” set with Dave Stryker, guitar, Justin Kauflin, piano and Katie Thiroux, bass.
• The “Brother Lee” Tribute to Lee Morgan with the Terell Stafford Quintet: Tim Warfield, tenor sax, Terell Stafford, trumpet, Dawn Clement, piano, John Clayton, bass, and Billy Williams, drums.
• 7:30 p.m., McCurdy Pavilion, tickets $28, $38, $48.
Saturday afternoon showcase
• The Jeff Hamilton Trio set with Tamir Hendelman, piano, Jon Hamar, bass and Jeff Hamilton, drums.
• “A Social Call” set featuring vocalist Jazzmeia Horn, Taylor Eigsti, piano, Harish Raghavan, bass, and Marcus Baylor, drums;
• A Dave Mariott Tribute featuring the Centrum All Star Big Band directed by John Clayton.
• 1:30 p.m., McCurdy Pavilion and Littlefield Green, reserved seating $32, $43, $56.
Saturday night showcase
• “The Journey” set with vocalist Jean Baylor, drummer Marcus Baylor, pianist Taylor Eigsti, bassist Jon Hamar and vibist Stefon Harris.
• Celebrating George Cables: Faculty Performers Pay Tribute to a Treasure,” with Stefon Harris, vibes, Terell Stafford, trumpet, Jeff Clayton, alto sax, Tim Warfield, tenor sax, Dan Marcus, trombone, Chuck Deardorf, bass, and Jeff Hamilton, drums.
• 7:30 p.m., McCurdy Pavilion, $28, $38, $48.
Jazz in the Clubs gets going at 10 p.m. and rolls on till 12:30 a.m. on six stages across the Fort Worden campus.
These shows give lovers of jazz a chance to hear workshop participants — and internationally known faculty members — who’ve played together in workshops and rehearsals all week.
Parking is available around the fort and signs point to the various venues. Each of these “clubs” offer bar service, soft drinks and grab-and-go appetizers all night long. All ages are welcome; a wristband covering the whole fort of live music costs $25 per night.
• Madrona MindBody: Jazz Port Townsend workshop participant vocalists.
• Fort Worden USO: Jazz Port Townsend participant combos.
• Building 204 Upstairs North: Jeff Clayton, Dave Stryker, Justin Kauflin, Katie Thiroux, Marcus Baylor.
• Building 204 Upstairs South: Stefon Harris, Jay Thomas, Gary Smulyan, John Hansen, Dan Balmer, Michael Glynn, Julian MacDonough.
• Fort Worden Chapel: George Cables, Chuck Deardorf, Jeff Hamilton.
• Fort Worden Commons Room A: Sachal Vasandani, Taylor Eigsti, Harish Raghavan, Matt Wilson.
• Madrona MindBody (Building 310): Jazz Port Townsend workshop participant vocalists.
• Fort Worden USO: Jazz Port Townsend participant combos.
• Building 204 Upstairs North: Gary Smulyan, Dave Stryker, Randy Halberstadt, Michael Glynn, Julian MacDonough.
• Building 204 Upstairs South: Thomas Marriott, David Marriott, Dan Balmer, Eric Verlinde, Chris Seymour, John Bishop;.
• Fort Worden Chapel: Jazzmeia Horn, Tamir Hendelman, Marlene Rosenberg, Billy Williams.
• Fort Worden Commons Room A: John Clayton, Harish Raghavan, Matt Wilson, Gary Hobbs, later to be joined by Terell Stafford, Tim Warfield.
Diane Urbani de la Paz, a former features editor for the Peninsula Daily News, is a freelance writer living in Port Townsend.