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Major jazz event to debut on Front Street in April

By Staff | Mar 3, 2011


LAHAINA — Lahaina store owner and jazz aficionado Bill Burton wants to launch a world-class jazz event in West Maui.

Burton and The Maui Jazz Society are charging ahead with plans for “The Front Street Jazz and Blues Walk” on April 15-17, 2011.

Through the new event, Burton wants to celebrate America’s original musical art forms, jazz and blues.

The festival will also highlight the beauty and excitement of Front Street and promote the myriad of businesses that make up the unique character of the former capitol of Hawaii.

“It is our hope and intention to build ‘The Front Street Jazz and Blues Walk’ into a world-class festival that benefits the vendors and merchants of Lahaina,” noted Burton, who serves as president of the jazz organization.

David Paquette will be the featured headliner for the inaugural festival.

With West Maui’s event lineup shrinking in recent years, another goal is “to prove it can be done,” Burton stated with a smile.

“I’ve done jazz festivals; this is a different concept,” he commented. “I want the event to be successful.”

The featured headliner for the inaugural event will be jazz legend David Paquette, who will help Burton stage the event.

Local jazz star David Choy will perform and assemble the rest of the talent roster, with a lineup of Maui’s top jazz and blues musicians performing at various venues along Front Street.

The owner of Sir Wilfred’s in West Maui since 1987, Burton is looking to raise $10,000 in community donations to hold the event.

So far, LahainaTown Action Committee, Longhi’s, Hard Rock Cafe, Pioneer Inn and Captain Jack’s are on board.

Five sponsorship levels are available from $350 to $5,000. For information, contact Burton at 661-0202 or bill@themauijazzsociety.com.

“I’ll be reaching out to the community and restaurants and bars,” said Burton, who emphasized that the concerts will be free and the promoters won’t make a profit on the jazz walk.

Burton has a strong ally in pianist and singer Paquette, because he has a large and loyal following on Maui after performing at the Pioneer Inn in the 1970s.

There he shared the stage with Maria Muldaur, Bonnie Raitt, Kenny Loggins, Turk Murphy and Trummy Young for classic, intimate shows in Lahaina.

Paquette also has a long track record playing in jazz festivals and tours, as well as coordinating jazz performances — most notably the Waiheke Jazz Festival in New Zealand since 1991. Attracting more than 20,000 fans annually, the festival has grown to become a five-day extravaganza featuring international jazz musicians.

Since 1983, Paquette has toured extensively, playing several New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festivals and establishing himself on the European circuit. In 1999, he played the Nice Festival alongside Tony Bennett, Joe Cocker and Phil Collins. In 2001, he played with the headlining Philips All-stars at the Eindhoven Festival and enjoyed a smash hit concert at the Périgueux Festival.

Living in New Zealand since the 1980s, Paquette has performed with the Auckland Symphony Orchestra at the Taranaki Arts Festival, as well as with the Aotea Symphony for the Children’s’ Cancer Foundation and Devonport Food and Wine Festival, among other prestigious events around the country.

His recording career encompasses more than 45 albums. Paquette’s CD, “That Old Feeling,” was awarded the prestigious “Hot Club of France Album of the Year” for 2000.

Choy for many years has been Hawaii’s most recorded saxophonist. His uncle is famed jazz saxophonist Gabe Baltazar.

A well-traveled, versatile artist, Choy covers the jazz spectrum from traditional to contemporary.

Although born and raised in Hawaii, Choy’s career has led him to studios on the West Coast, concert venues in Japan and touring the country with artists such as The Doobie Brothers, Michael McDonald, Patti Austin and James Ingram, to name a few.