Jazz and Forest Trains
FISHING CAMP – Jazz in the forest? Who knew! With a Steinway, nothing less.
The past few years have not been easy for an iconic destination Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railway. In March 2017, railroad owner and local legend Max Stauffer passed away. Later that year, the eponymous Railroad Fire encroached on its perimeter and burned down some of its land and equipment. Enter 2020 and the pandemic and the closure, followed in 2021 by the forest closure.
Despite the challenges, the Railroad and its general manager, Scott McGhee, rebounded with incredible determination. Earlier this year, YMSPRR and Fresno Flats formed a collaboration to offer children and their parents a history lesson. A Halloween Limited is taking place on October 31, with costume contests, stuff or treats, and great food!
In its latest innovation, YMSPRR brings jazz – and a Steinway piano – to the Lewis Creek Amphitheater this Sunday, October 10, with a concert by the Grammy-nominated jazz pianist David Benoit.
According to Benoit’s website, “For three decades, Grammy-nominated pianist / composer / arranger David Benoit reigned supreme as one of the founding fathers of contemporary jazz… He was born in Bakersfield, California, and raised in Los Angeles. Benoit was bitten by the jazz bug after watching a Charlie Brown special on television and listening to music by Vince Guaraldi in 1965. “I was already a fan of comics,” he says, “but when did I? heard this piano trio, it was the defining moment when I decided I wanted to play like Vince Guaraldi.
Benoit received three Grammy awards in the Best Contemporary Jazz Performance categories for “Every Step of the Way” (1989), Best Large Ensemble Performance for GRP All-Star Big Band (1996) and best instrumental composition for “Dad’s Room”, this last single from the album Professional dreamer (2000). In 2010, Benoit received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Smooth Jazz Awards, and he worked with an impressive medley of musicians including the Rippingtons, Emily Remler, Alphonse Mouzon, Dave Koz, Faith Hill, David Sanborn, CeCe Winans and Brian McKnight.
He has composed film scores for Clint Eastwood and Sally Field and has conducted orchestras such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Asia America Symphony Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra.
In addition to his live performances and recordings, Mr. Benoit hosts a morning show on Long-Beach based KKJZ.org.
This is actually the third in a series of Jazz Train concerts presented by promoter Scott Pederson of Concerts in Scotland. The former featured the Brian Simpson and Steve Oliver combo on September 26, and the latter featured Rick Braun on October 3.
As if the magnificent sounds of the jazz piano weren’t enough, the evening also includes a pre-show gourmet picnic at the Sugar Pine station of grilled chicken sausages with apples on a pub bun with spicy sweet mustard or a grilled portabella mushroom served on a brioche bun with lettuce, tomato and onion, accompanied by a salad of red potatoes with herbs and mustard vinaigrette as well as a salad of kale and Brussels sprouts with apples and maple vinaigrette -shallot. To top off the meal, a homemade bread pudding with whipped cream.
A round-trip passage on the historic Shay No.10 transports guests through the forest to the amphitheater and the music of the evening, with an assortment of homemade chocolate chip and nut cookies, snickerdoodles and gingerbread cookies available during the show.
The cost for the entire package is $ 125 per person, and reservations are available here. Afternoon starts at 3 p.m., but be sure to arrive early to check-in. Prepare for cooler weather as the train is located at the 5,000 foot level. The train runs rain or shine.
To complete the evening, a cash bar of your favorite craft beer, wine and assorted drinks and waters will be available for purchase and can be taken aboard the JAZZ TRAIN.
All confirmed passengers booked on the JAZZ TRAIN are kindly requested to arrive from 2:00 p.m. Passengers of all ages will have an extended opportunity to explore the wonders that create the home of the historic Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad.
Promoter Scott Pederson has said the announcement for the 2022 Jazz Concert Series will be forthcoming in the New Year.
Photos and information by David Benoit courtesy of David Benoit management, Management of Chapman & Co.. Railroad photos courtesy of Mount Yosemite Sugar Pine Railway.