Local dance enthusiasts are eagerly warming up for the annual “End of Summer Blast.” The event is sponsored by Orcas Island Dance Club, but open to everyone. It will be held in the Orcas Center Madrona Room Friday, September 5, beginning at 8:30 p.m. Tickets may be purchased for $10, at Kay’s Antiques, Eastsound.
Music will be provided by the Steve Alboucq jazz quartet, whose previous appearances at local dances have increasingly drawn rave reviews. The group’s versatility and musicianship not only result in a very wide range of dance music, from golden oldies to contemporary, but also make easy listening for non-dancers.
A bonus treat for attendees will be a guest performance by Willie Thomas, a horn player of near-legendary reputation. A musician since his teens in Florida, he gravitated to New York in the early ‘60s, at the time when bebop – a new, hard-driving variant of blues-derived jazz – was emerging, largely from the black night clubs. He then was often the only white musician performing in those clubs.
Thomas played with a lot of that day’s jazz notables, incuding the likes of Woody Herman and Slice Hampton, and was a teacher to many of the younger musicians. He has retired to Orcas Island, where he and Alboucq while away many a day in intense musical sessions. The veteran also remains in touch with many old-time musicians and composers. In this way, Alboucq says, “Willie has a direct connection to the great traditions of jazz.”