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Niagara And Surrounding Area

In the vineyard photo by Mike Keenan

The Niagara Blog:     Saturday Sun, Fun, Wine, Chef Dodd's Treats and Jazz at Trius

Ranee Lee in action photo by Mike Keenan "Summertime, and the livin' is easy. Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high"... as I listen to the easy, pastoral George Gershwin lyrics, sip Trius sparkling rosé wine, ensconced in my red canvas deck chair in front of a huge outdoor stage under the cerulean sky, enjoying Niagara on the Lake's lazy warm summer Saturday along with 1200 other jazz aficionados, and thinking this is certainly not hard to take.

The Trius Jazz & Blues festivals are highlights in Niagara during summer festival season, and for 24 years, Trius Jazz & Blues at the Winery has been offering premier Canadian talent to Niagara. Today, it's Ranee Lee, Michael Occhipinti, Ron Davis and Heillig Manoeuvre. Ranee Lee performs last, and is well worth the wait, the earlier music good but not quite up to her speed, yet how can you go wrong with tasty wine and Chef Frank Dodd's morsels, myriad gourmet snack pairings which include decadent popcorn and ice cream?

The red deck chairs command the best viewing areas with others who have brought their own lawn chairs and foodstuff content to take to the sides and still others equally content to sit well behind the stage and quite close to rows of thick vines loaded with grapes destined for fermentation.

Tickets start at $40 per person, and it looks like the event is close to sold out. Parking this year is much easier at the rear of the complex.

Ranee Lee is a Juno Award winner who began her career as an actress. Her album, Ranee Lee Lives Upstairs won her Vocal Jazz Album of the Year at the 2010 Juno Awards.

Michael Occhipinti is an eight-time Juno nominee guitarist and composer. He played from his latest project, Shine On: The Universe of John Lennon - a tribute to Lennon's music.

Ron Davis is a pianist who has released seven full length albums and is currently working on two more to be released in 2013 - Blue Modules and Symphronica.

Heillig Manoeuvre was founded in 1998 by bassist Henry Heillig. Their hit, Ladybug Waltz, was released in 2004 and can still be heard frequently on the popular music stations including Jazz FM. The other members of the quartet include pianist Stacie McGregor, saxophonist Alison Young and drummer Charlie Cooley.

The event was well staffed by courteous servers wearing distinctive T-shirts with sax and wine motifs. They fetched wine by bottle or glass leaving one to enjoy the fun in the sun. Each pair of deck chairs was outfitted with an umbrella, and during the sets, the audience was asked to lower them.

Cool horn playing, photo by Mike Keenan  Everybody now, photo by Mike Keenan  Eye in the sky photo by Mike Keenan

This year, impromptu dancing on the grass in front of the stage took a while to percolate, but by the end, a large group was grooving on the turf while overhead, a small hand-controlled helicopter equipped with a camera, flitted back and forth recording the event.

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Hillebrand Jazz Fest
You Tube Dave Brubeck - Take Five

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