Abe Lagrimas Jr. will be a busy musician during the jazz festival playing the drums and ukulele.

Isles swingin’

The 11th annual Hawaii International Jazz Festival kicks into high gear tonight at the Hawaii Theatre with the anticipated "Swingtime in Hawaii" program.

Taking its cue from the lively swing music of the '20s through the early postwar era that emanated from Honolulu, a 17-piece big band -- starring such talented "cats" as trombonist Slyde Hyde and trumpeter Ollie Mitchell (Kauai residents once stalwart members of the Los Angeles recording scene in the '70s) and former isle resident/ trombonist Ira Nepus (see feature in Monday's paper or online at 2004/07/26/features/index1.html), plus local lights saxophonist Gabe Baltazar, trumpeter DeShannon Higa and drummer Abe Lagrimas Jr., who'll feature his own talents on the ukulele when the festival travels to Maui the following weekend.

Hawaii International Jazz Festival

Where: Hawaii Theatre

When: 7 p.m. today ("Swingtime in Hawaii") and tomorrow ("International Jazz")

Tickets: $20, $35 and $45

Call: 528-0506

The band is rounded out by festival director Abe Weinstein; Scott Villiger, David Choy, Don Hutchinson and Bill Beimes on saxes; Brien Matson, Thomas Hesch and Ken Hara on trombones; Mike Morita on trumpet; Dan Del Negro and Betty Lou Taylor on keyboards; Sam Ahia on guitar and John Kolivas on bass.

Baltazar will be a featured soloist tonight, along with special guest clarinetist Ken Peplowski, formerly with the Benny Goodman Orchestra. Other noteworthy guests include steel guitarist Owana Salazar, the recuperating Melveen Leed, Jimmy Borges, Keahi Conjugacion, Ginai, Andrea Young (daughter of the late and legendary Trummy Young) and the man of exotica himself, Martin Denny.

"International Jazz" night tomorrow will boast special headliner Lalo Schifrin. The award-winning and multifaceted pianist, composer and conductor has more than 100 film and television scores to his credit, most notably "Enter the Dragon," "Bullitt," "Dirty Harry," and the two "Rush Hour" movies, and the memorable "Mission Impossible" theme song.

(In 1993, Schifrin wrote a commissioned work in honor of Queen Lili'uokalani. His "Lili'uokalani Symphony (Symphony No. 1)" got its premiere performance with the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra.)

Also on the bill will be saxophonist Choy doing his smooth jazz thing; the Honolulu Jazz Quartet; another former island resident, Los Angeles guitarist Doug MacDonald, reteaming with his former bandmate Baltazar; and the Gypsy Pacific band from Maui.

Free daytime jazz clinics are also happening at the Hawaii Theatre today and tomorrow. At 10 a.m. today, Ira Nepus will guest teach. Ken Peplowski and David Choy will lead their own clinics at 10 and 11 a.m. tomorrow, respectively.

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