As Monty Python once said, “No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!” but at Jazzoula this week we can all at least expect The Swedish Acquisition. (And I don’t mean shopping at Ikea.)
The UM jazz group features musicians like Ben Haber of The Hasslers and Jordan Wiegart of the Front Street Jazz Group. They kick-off the four-day event tonight along with another UM band with a much tamer moniker, Gilcrest Point, as well as with the Joan Zen Band, Missoula’s Youngest Divas and the Basement Boys. The Basement Boys includes Jeff Stickney, who is being inducted into Jazzoula’s Hall of Fame. Other inductees include Chuck Hurt and Bill Haffey, who as a Latin high school teacher taught me to say things like “In vino veritas.”
In a way, Jazzoula is a prologue to the Buddy DeFranco Jazz Festival—an event put on by UM's College of Visual and Performing Arts and School of Music and features jazz musicians from across the country. (This year it's Fri., March 28 through Sat., March 29. Visit UM's festival website for more info.) But Jazzoula has a more intimate feel: It's set in a downtown church and gives audiences a chance to appreciate the solid jazz talent we have here in our valley so far from the usual hubs you think of with the genre. You might see Missoula's jazz scene emerge in small doses, like during Jazz Martini Night on Sundays at the Badlander, but for four days this week you get an immersion the likes of which you’ll rarely see any other time of year.
Jazzoula runs tonight, Mon. March 24 through Thu., March 27, at St. Anthony's Parish, 217 Tremont Street. Doors open at 6 PM and music begins at 6:30 PM nightly. $12/$9 students and seniors per night and $25/$20 students and seniors for a four-day pass. Tickets at Rockin Rudy's and at the door. Visit Jazzoula's Facebook page for the full lineup. Don't forget to check out Jazzoula After Hours Sessions at the Top Hat Sat., March 29, at 10 PM, after the Buddy DeFranco festivities.