Each June, Tacoma Musical Playhouse pays homage to a different aspect of jazz and its history with its Jazz @ TMP showcases. The focus was on the big band era with their Swing Daze and Swing Daze 2 concerts in 2008 and 2009, followed by tributes to jazz divas, Latin jazz and iconic crooners in subsequent years.
“It's always been kind of an educational thing,” said Tacoma trumpet player Lance Buller, who books TMP's annual jazz gala. “It's entertainment, but I've always sort of wanted to have a little part of the show to explain a little facet of jazz – a different style. This year I thought ‘Hey, man, go back to the basics.’”
This year's showcase will emphasize New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz, on June 15. Sweet & Hot will trace the genre back to its roots in ragtime and blues and feature a headlining performance by Marilyn Keller and the Portland-based Black Swan Classic Jazz Band, with music starting at 8 p.m.
“New Orleans was the city that had the first opera house in the country; it wasn't New York, it wasn't Boston,” Buller said. “New Orleans had the first opera house. Culturally, it was a sophisticated city that way. And, like Wynton Marsalis said, it's just a gumbo – things all coming together just at the right time. That's what this show is going to show.”
Sweet & Hot is also one of the final shows at Tacoma Musical Playhouse before it undergoes at $1.2 million facelift. The 360-seat venue – located at 7116 Sixth Ave., in Tacoma – will undergo renovations following the June 16 performance by Memorie Singers.
“The main difference is the orchestra will be onstage in its own loft area, so we'll be able to add all of those seats back in,” explained managing artistic director Jon Rake. “Then we'll have better access for handicap seating. We're also moving our sound booth. We're creating a crossover for the actors in the back so they don't have to go outside.”
Rake said TMP's summer production of Ragtime will be held at Curtis High School, 8425 40th St. W., in University Place. The playhouse will reopen in time for its 20th season to kick off in October.
Tickets for Sweet & Hot show are $25 and are available through the TMP box office, at 7116 Sixth Ave., in Tacoma; (253) 565-6867 or http://www.tmp.org for further details.