By Jack Taylor
The woods and trails of Saint Edwards State Park in Kenmore were ringing with more than the sounds of birds and bees as the Thomas Marriott Quintet took center stage on Friday, Sept. 1, for the first of two free Jazz in the Park events this month.
Kamela Daniels, who helped put on the event, spoke about how choosing jazz honors the history of the newly renovated Saint Edward Seminary building.
“I chose jazz because the building was built in 1930, and we wanted to keep with the era,” Daniels said.
Equally important to Daniels was to show the local community what has become of the space since its remodel. After eight years of renovation comes the unveiling of The Lodge, a new hotel that boasts 84 guest rooms and suites, a restaurant, two bars, and 9,000 square feet of meeting and event space. It also features a Vita Nova Spa offering natural treatments with a tranquil indoor and outdoor relaxation space.
People, young and old, scattered throughout the lawn at The Lodge, showed up to see the Thomas Marriott Quintet perform.
“Jazz is an interactive musical event that is for all ages,” Daniels said. “Kids get up and dance; elders come; it’s something that speaks to so many different ages and generations.”
Playing upbeat music along with ballads such as “You’ve Changed,” audiences got to sit back in the sun and enjoy music. Yet, the show was as much of a treat for the band as it was for the audience.
For the band members, playing in front of an audience has not been an everyday occasion in the last year. Mark Taylor, a saxophone player who has worked with Thomas for the past 20 years, spoke about how COVID-19 shifted how he played his instrument.
“When you’re in isolation, you’re practicing and writing, but you’re not doing a heck of a lot of playing,” Taylor said.
Drummer Stefan Schatz said playing jazz is like learning a different language. Schatz, who has only been in Seattle for the last four years, admitted that COVID made him change directions too.
“I was able to turn more inward and do some composing, which is very new for me,” he said.
As for the best part about performing live, Taylor loves playing with other great musicians.
“I like the music, I like the spontaneity, the improvising,” he said. “It’s exciting when you mesh with a group of players, and it really hits. It feels good, and you get a high from it.”
On Sept. 18, The Lodge offers another night of Jazz in the Park with Jake Bergiven & Javatown Swing Orchestra performing on the lawn.
If Daniels has her way, there could be more concerts to come at Saint Edwards Park.
“By next summer, if all goes as planned, we will have a regular series all summer long,” Daniels said.