Details for the Jazz on the Mountain at Whistler festival are rolling out and the crowds won't have to be aficionados to enjoy the weekend.
Festival founder and organizer Arnold Schwisberg says the festival's lineup will appeal to a range of musical sensibilities, from jazz purists to jazz newbies.
"Whether you're new to jazz ... whether you're an established jazz aficionado or you just want to come enjoy a spectacular experience with a great festival atmosphere, come on down," Schwisberg says.
The festival will be held over the Labour Day weekend, from Sept. 2 to 4. The entire programming has yet to be finalized but confirmed performers include Spyro Gyra, The Rippingtons, Oliver Jones, Gary Burton, guitarists Stanley Jordan, Russ Freeman and Jay Leno's former sidekick Kevin Eubanks, who will be the festival's musician-in-residence.
The festival will include a combination of ticketed events and free programming, including concerts at Village Square. The Whistler Arts Council in conjunction with jazz festival organizers will put on a street festival as well.
An Acoustic Jazz Series will be sponsored by North Shore Credit Union and held for free at their Village Stroll branch.
Millennium Place will hold the Solo Guitar Series, featuring Jordan, Eubanks and Freeman.
"If you're lucky enough to get one of those tickets, I can pretty much guarantee one of the most virtuosic performances you'll ever see in your life and your jaw will be on the floor for the better part of an hour and a half," Schwisberg says.
A Master Class series - a sort of all-star jazz school for anyone who wants to purchase tickets and participate -featuring the aforementioned guitarists along with three top Canadian jazz educators will also be held.
A late-night component is currently in the works with local clubs and pubs - because late-night jazz is as great a pairing a saxophone and a reed- but that has not yet been finalized.
"That hasn't really gelled sufficiently enough for me to say anything definitive about," Schwisberg says.
A lawyer by trade, Schwisberg has been involved in jazz since his youth, first on the radio during his 20s, then later producing over 35 jazz records for Universal Music. He also helped to develop the Montreal Jazz Festival and Toronto Jazz Festival. When he came to Whistler for the first time in April 2004, he found immense potential in the layout of the Village to host a jazz festival of its own.
"I was struck by how this was possibly the best-designed pedestrian space I had seen in my life, and what an amazing place for a jazz festival," he says.