Marilyn Keller and the Black Swan Classic Jazz Band are back for the 2018 Pentastic Hot Jazz Festival. File photo

Every band a headliner at Penticton jazz festival

Pentastic Hot Jazz Fest back for 22nd year

“The best ever” is a claim heard for everything from a new laundry soap to, in this case, the Pentastic Hot Jazz festival — but they’re backing up their claim.

“It is. It is the best one ever,” said organizer Michael Campbell, talking about the 2018 Pentastic, which runs Sept. 7 to 9 this year. “It’s the best one yet because we’ve never had this many headliners in one bill. Every one of these bands is a headliner.

“We’ve even talked Tom Hook out of retirement. He’s making the trip from New Orleans.”

Like some of the other bands coming to the three-day jazz fest, Tom Hook and the Terrier Brothers are no strangers to Penticton.

And though she seems like a new addition to the list, neither is Bria Skonberg, a New York City trumpet player, singer, songwriter and winner of the Vocal Jazz Album of the Year at the 2017 JUNO Awards.

“We’re very excited to have Bria Skonberg and her New York All Stars. Bria was first with us about 17 or 18 years ago, when she was a high school student with a group called the 51st Eight out of Chilliwack,” said Campbell. “She was a bright light at that time and has done nothing but grow.

Skonberg moved to New York City a few years ago, Campbell explained, “to better her trade.”

“She’s a star and we talked her into coming back to visit us,” said Campbell. “She sings like an angel, she plays trumpet like you don’t want to believe.”

Campbell said nothing is certain, but it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that trumpet player, and Pentastic fixture, Lance Buller could end up squaring off or doing some jamming.

“He knows Bria and Bria knows him and they like each other, so we’ll see if we can conjure something up that would have them on the same stage at the same time,” said Campbell.

Tom Rigney and Flambeau, who Campbell describes as a constant favourite at jazz festivals throughout North America is back for 2018, as is Coronet Chop Suey another of the most popular groups on the jazz festival circuit in North America.

“Dave Bennett and the Memphis Speed Kings is a story in itself,” said Campbell. “We have exit surveys and we ask our guests to rate the band from 0 to 10. Bennett got seven 14s.”

Yes. And they were both very well-received last year.

The Cocuzzi Coots Courtet is coming back for the second year. Campbell said he recruited them when he and wife Beth were “blown away by them” at the Sun Valley Jazz Festival.

“I’m proud to say that we have a very good reputation amongst the travelling musicians,” said Campbell. “We’re a place to be seen at. Some festivals look to our success and try to pattern some of their stuff after what we do. That’s always a good sign.”

Another returning favourite is the Black Swan Classic Jazz Band, featuring singer Marilyn Keller.

“Our festival has always loved them and they put on the gospel show on Sunday morning that is free to everybody,” said Campbell. “People line up for that. Not just because it’s free but because it’s a great band.”

Campbell said it’s easy to say “this is the best ever” but he truly means it.

“I cannot think of a festival anywhere that has a better lineup than ours,” said Campbell. “There’s not one band on there that we’re anything less than very proud to have on our lineup.”

For the full lineup and more information, visit pentasticjazz.com.

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