Nonprofit jazz group brings top performers to The Majestic

Julian MacDonough founded Whatcom Jazz Music Art Center in fall 2014.
Julian MacDonough founded Whatcom Jazz Music Art Center in fall 2014. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Bellingham drummer Julian MacDonough founded Whatcom Jazz Music Art Center one year ago as an all-ages nonprofit performance and education space in the lower level of The Majestic on North Forest Street, with the entrance on Maple Street.

It’s an intimate space with a capacity of 100, but it has hosted performers who loom large in the Northwest jazz scene and beyond: Greta Matassa, Louis Hayes, Cory Weeds, Harold Mabern and Jennifer Scott, to name a few.

We have a host of wonderful teachers that will help guide players of any level.

Julian MacDonough, Whatcom Jazz Music Art Center founder

Teaching high school students is an important part of MacDonough’s mission, and to that end he has some news. He and the other instructors are expanding their weekly high school jazz classes to include people of all ages and abilities.

If you have ever wanted to learn how to play small group jazz, he says, or you used to play and want to get back into it, or you want to improve your improvising abilities, sign up for the combo classes.

“We have a host of wonderful teachers that will help guide players of any level to improve upon their skills,” MacDonough says.

Instructors this fall include MacDonough’s father, pianist Bill MacDonough, who teaches theory, improv and piano; Kevin Woods, head of jazz studies at Western Washington University, who will teach theory, improv and trumpet; Roger Yamashita, who will teach bass; Greg Feingold, who will teach improv and bass; plus Zach Zenovich, teaching guitar; Jimmy Austin, teaching improv and theory; Josh Cook, teaching theory, improv and saxophone; and Julian, teaching drumming and improv.

Students also have the opportunity to perform at the center in recital and to open for regional and national acts.

Saxophonist Steve Kaldestad, Joe DeFranceso, Miles Black Trio perform in October.

In September, MacDonough and the center’s affiliate, Boxley Music Fund, changed the basic membership charge in order to keep bringing high-quality regional music and big names in jazz to the space. The monthly charge of $25 will remain the same and will get you into all regional and local performances, but national shows will now be discounted 50 percent for members.

The center’s nonprofit status is through the Boxley Music Fund, but all proceeds are used solely for support the center. Tax-deductible donations are always appreciated, MacDonough says.

Here’s what’s coming to the center this month:

▪ Vancouver, B.C., saxophonist Steve Kaldestad, with Michael Glynn on bass and Seattle’s Matt Jorgensen on drums, Wednesday, Oct. 21.

▪ Joe DeFranceso, a master of the Hammond B3 organ, and his trio, Monday, Oct. 26.

▪ Miles Black Trio, opening for New York saxophonists and brothers Peter and Will Anderson, Wednesday, Oct. 28.

There’s also a need for tax-deductible scholarship donations for youths whose families can’t afford to pay tuition for classes at the center.

“We are absolutely determined to never turn away any student that wants to be a part of this organization due to financial hardships,” MacDonough says. “Last year we had four students who did not have the means to pay, but we still included them and the generosity of some wonderful members helped us offset those costs.”

Details: http://wjmac.org, 206-612-5967 and Facebook.