Kara Patterson Words of Art: Trout Museum jazzed for January concert series

2:30 PM, Dec. 27, 2012  |  Comments
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On the third Thursdays of most months, performers and audiences transform the Trout Museum of Art into a downtown Appleton jazz club.

Cabaret-style seating throughout the galleries and on the upper-level balcony sets the stage for the intimate atmosphere of the museum's Jazz at the Trout concert series, which is in its third season.

The arrangement is a win-win for the museum, the musicians and those who gather to hear the music in surroundings where they also can view visual art on display.

"It's a great outreach," said pianist/composer John Harmon, the series' artistic director. "The venue is fairly casual ... you get an up-close look and listen. Afterward, the (jazz) artists speak with the patrons. Coupled with the artwork, it's a great mixture."

The Jazz at the Trout series' committee has announced a lineup of concerts for January through May. Performers are saxophonist Tom Washatka, headlining the Tom Washatka Quorum; singer/songwriter Steve March-Torme; the piano and cello duo of Bill Carrothers and Matt Turner; Christine Salerno and ZIJI, a Brazilian and contemporary jazz group; and vocalist Janet Planet with guitarist Tom Theabo.

The museum plans to announce the series' fourth-season concerts in late summer.

Museum executive director Pamela Williams-Lime said while there are no talks scheduled to accompany the series, the concerts themselves are great informal educational opportunities.

"This is a great opportunity in this intimate setting to actually interface with the musicians during intermission and after the performance," she said. "... The musicians are encouraging people to interact and approach them. They love talking about their craft. They're there for that purpose. That's one of the reasons they like performing in this size of a venue."

Washatka, an Oshkosh-based musician, composer and music instructor whose performance is the series' first concert of the new year, is no stranger to performing at the museum.

"It's just really conducive to music," he said. "The acoustics are really, really good and the intimacy of the room is what I really like as well. Being part of the jazz series is exciting to me."

The Jan. 17 concert by Washatka and the Tom Washatka Quorum features Washatka's arrangements of jazz standards and some of his original compositions.

"In 2004, 2005, I wrote a series of tunes dedicated to my father, and so I'll be playing three of those tunes," Washatka said.

Jazz at the Trout concert-goers in the first three months of 2013 have the chance to take in the museum's upcoming new exhibit, Williams-Lime said. "The Members' Biennial Exhibition," a juried exhibit of fine art by artists who are Trout Museum members, opens Jan. 11 and runs through March 30.

"It's a really nice pairing," Williams-Lime said. "You see (musicians) performing in different combinations. When you look at the upcoming exhibit, it is also very eclectic in that it is a range of different artists from the region."

The first two concerts of the series' third season, in October and November, were sold out, Williams-Lime said.

"We're very pleased with the direction of the program and the attendance and the excitement of the people who've been attending," she said. "We look forward to having many successful seasons of Jazz at the Trout."

- Kara Patterson's Words of Art column focuses on Fox Valley arts each Sunday. She's reachable at 920-993-1000, ext. 215, or kpatterson@postcrescent.com; on Twitter @KaraNPatterson

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