DeMiero Jazz Fest features hot vocal quartet

The Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet has been compared to iconic Manhattan Transfer, with its tight harmonies and swinging, spectacular concerts.

Uptown is the headliner at the 2014 DeMiero Jazz Fest, running through Thursday to Saturday at Edmonds Center for the Arts.

Based in the other Washington (D.C.), the Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet has performed internationally with the likes of Charlie Byrd, the Four Freshmen, Tony Bennett, Sonny Rollins, Dr. John and Aaron Neville.

DeMiero’s jazz festival was launched in 1977 as an educational confab where jazz greats mentored students. The festival is the baby of south Snohomish County living legend Frank DeMiero, 73, of Edmonds.

After teaching music at Mountlake Terrace High School from the mid-1960s to mid-1970s, DeMiero founded and led the music department at Edmonds Community College, where he started the Soundsation jazz choir.

Known nationwide for his jazz clinics and award-winning choirs, he also directed vocal jazz studies at the University of Washington, then retired in 1998 as supervisor of music for Edmonds School District.

DeMiero currently conducts Seattle Jazz Singers and Sno-King Community Chorale.

“The philosophy of the festival, which started out as the Soundsation Jazz Festival, has not changed in 37 years,” DeMiero said. “It’s all about positive reinforcement and leading by example. We have world-class entertainers coming in to work with school and community choirs and instrumentalists.”

This year’s festival will offer daytime clinics for more than 65 regional musical groups, who will have a chance to perform, receive a critique and attend workshops.

The festival features public concerts at 7 p.m. each night with all the professionals, including Dee Daniels, who now serves as the artistic director of the jazz festival and has been part of the Seattle jazz scene since the late 1970s, and Greta Matassa, who is one of the most talented singers working in jazz today, DeMiero said.

The festival’s “house combo” — percussionist Alvester Garnett, pianist Josh Nelson, bassist Jay Leonhart and guitarist Bruce Forman — will also perform each night.

Other performers include Charenee Wade, Kathy Kosins, Rosana Eckert, Greg Jasperse and Louise Rose and Soundsation ‘14 from Edmonds Community College.

The Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet finishes off the festival on Saturday night, and DeMiero can’t wait to hear what they will do for an encore.

Tickets are available by calling 425-275-9595 or online at www.ec4arts.org. More information is at www.demierojazzfest.org.

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.

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