Local pays tribute to jazz greats coming to festival
Commitment, dedication, work and sacrifice.
That’s what separates the "good" from the "great" according to local jazz and rock musician Pat Carnahan.
Carnahan said artists like Robben Ford, Marcus Miller and other jazz gurus coming to Park City this weekend for the Jazz Festival, are wholly immersed on their music.
"I’m a ski bum, those guys are on a mission," Carnahan said. "Musically, they are probably born with it, I don’t know, but I’m sure these guys work really, really hard."
Carnahan who moved here 20 years ago for the slopes, says the difference between him and the festival musicians is that focus
"The difference is, I play really hard. Sometimes I’ll be on a (ski) lift and I think, ‘man I should be working on something right now.’" Carnahan said. "The difference is a total commitment that I haven’t done; it already takes up so much of my brain."
Carnahan however, is satisfied with the life he leads in Park City.
"It’s a pretty good life, my only stress is waiting for the next good powder day," he said. "I’m always looking for the gig but I enjoy living here and playing around town. I don’t see myself traveling around like they do. Otherwise I think they work really hard."
Carnahan plays at Shabu every Friday and Saturday night. At times the musicians in town will eat at the establishment. It’s an honor to play in front of them.
"I’ve just heard stories of some of these guys, how prolific they are, and in some them the credentials are just out of control superstars," Carnahan said.
Last year George Benson came to Shabu and listened to Carnahan play. Carnahan was in awe of playing in front of a jazz master and introduced himself after his performance.
"He’s in the history books," Carnahan said. "He’s an icon. If Robben Ford shows up, I’m going to see him too."
For Carnahan, this weekend’s Park City Jazz Festival isn’t an amateur event.
"I really want to see a couple of the guys," he said. "Last year was the first time I made it. It was really fun, I love that venue, the Deer Valley thing is really out of control, whether you’re skiing or at a show, it’s a really good venue. I think its going to be awesome. I wish I could go all three nights."
Some of this year’s musicians are from the same jazz background that inspired Carnahan.
"Miles Davis was one of my main guys getting into jazz. I just like all of his stuff, I was really psyched to get to see him. I’m mostly in the older stuff. I don’t really listen to FM 100."
He saw some of the musicians play with Miles Davis years ago.
"There are two guys that played with Miles Davis, Marcus Miller played bass with him through the ’80s and Robben Ford who also played with Joni Mitchell and George Harrison," Carnahan said. "I saw this guy (Ford) back in the ’70s with Joni Mitchell and thought, ‘This guy should have his own band.’ Years later, he’s one of the best guitar players on the planet, one of my heroes."
Since that time, Carnahan has seen Ford live roughly seven times.
"He’s got some really cool records, in the blues section at Orion’s. He’s very slick, he can play jazz or rock or whatever. It’s pretty powerful."
Carnahan isn’t the only one who thinks Ford transcends musical genres.
"The guitarist has effortlessly traversed genres without compromising his exquisite, blues-based playing and singing," it reads on his Web site.
The festivities this time of year surrounding the jazz festival add to Carnahan’s show. Although he said people like his rock music more than his jazz, "There’s a little extra buzz that you don’t normally get around here" during the arts festival, he said. "We’ll be playing jazz afterwards if anyone didn’t get enough. This weekend should be fun; I got my trio at the Shabu from 9 p.m. to 12."
Carnahan’s bass player, Doug Wright will also play at the festival and with Carnahan at the Shabu this weekend.
"My bass is getting ready to take off, Carnahan said. "He’s playing in a Hard Rock in New Orleans and other shows. He’s one of Salt Lake’s best musicians for sure."
The Park City Jazz Foundation’s education programs during the festivals are what Carnahan is looking forward to the most. Musicians that will be playing in the festival will be teaching young students and teachers for free.
"It should really be fun, I’m hoping to make it Saturday morning," he said. "I’ve made it to those in the past."
He graduated from the Berklee College of Music in Boston. There he learned to appreciate quality musical education and learning from successful musicians.
"When I went to college, that was the main thing, the number of guest artists that would come in and do clinics, you’d ditch classes for it," he said.
He learned firsthand the influence these musicians can have on young, aspiring talent.
"If it’s somebody that you’re already are into, then it’s really inspiring," Carnahan said. "That was my main reason for going to Berklee. I wish I was still there sometimes, I was just swimming in music there."
However, according to Carnahan, the teacher can only do so much for the student.
"These kids are going to hear some of them speak for the first time. You’re going to take something with you out of the experience for sure, and however you apply it will determine how far you go," he said. "They got there because of the discipline, there’s probably a lot of natural talent but I wouldn’t underestimate the work they put into it for sure."
The Fidelity Investments Park City Jazz Festival opens Friday Aug. 25 at 3:30 p.m. at Deer Valley. Some tickets are sold out. Free classes taught by musicians participating in the festival will begin Aug. 26 at 9:30 a.m. at the Choir Auditorium Band Room. For more information, call 940-1362 or log on to http://www.parkcityjazz.org.
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