World class jazz for a good cause

Bakriges Quartet to play for kids' charity

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WILMINGTON, Vt. — Christopher Bakriges has taken his jazz to top venues around the world. But soon, the Deerfield Valley resident will bring his act to nearby Wilmington for a good cause.

The show will be the second of five performances in the 2nd Annual Southern Vermont Deerfield Valley Jazz Series, and will feature the Christopher Bakriges Quartet playing at 8 p.m. Saturday, June 23, at Historic Memorial Hall in Wilmington.

Proceeds from the show will help benefit the local chapter of Food 4 Kids, a national non-profit that addresses issues of hunger, as well as food scarcity for children.

"We all have to do what we can to take on issues that go directly to the heart of helping kids everywhere," Bakriges said. "The Deefield Valley may be home to a major ski resort, but this is a problem that is everywhere, including right here. I happen to play with a very talented group of artists who also think this is important, so it's a win-win for everyone involved."

The local Food 4 Kids initiative kicked off in 2016, according to Bakriges, as a result of action taken by the Loose Knit Group, a women's cohort from the West Dover Congregational Church. The group teamed up with other local volunteers upon learning that more than half the students in the Twin Valley school district qualified for food assistance.

The group buys and confidentially distributes food packages to eligible students. This is the second year Bakriges' group will help the cause.

Barbara Hyde, who spearheads the Food 4 Kids chapter in the Deerfield Valley, said people often ask: "Kids need food in this valley?" She called it a typical response when people are not aware of the program.

"Locals and vacation home owners are surprised to learn that in some schools nearly 70 percent of the students are on free or reduced lunch, and then on weekends there may not be enough to eat," Hyde said. "[We] learned of this and developed a plan to help these children. Chris Bakriges has joined local organizations and fundraisers in the two years since this program began with donating funds [through the jazz series] to us so that nutritional nonperishable food could be purchased and packed in bags for the weekend by volunteers."

Hyde went on to say that Bakriges asked whether he could perform with his quartet as a benefit. She said the Food 4 Kids chapter and all involved in the cause "are honored to have his support."

Joining pianist Bakriges in the quartet are Jay Hoggard on vibraphone, Billy Arnold on drums and Santi Debriano on bass.

The group plans to include music in the show inspired by songs from around the world in celebration of global humanitarian efforts.

The quartet also have their own take on jazz standards, according to Bakriges.

"Jazz is quintessentially American and next to some other musical genres, might not be as popular in volume of global sales," Bakriges said. "But this show will be an opportunity to help a good cause. The audience will see this in an architecturally significant historical venue while soaking in the effort of world class musicians, all right here in the tiny Wilmington."

Bakriges went on to discuss the international performance credits of the quartet members, summarizing them as "long lists common to accomplished professionals who have been worldwide performing at high levels."

Ultimately, though, Bakriges came back to his theme of helping out Food 4 Kids and the rare opportunity to see this level of jazz performance in an intimate venue away from the bright lights of a big city.

"The audience is up close and personal in that majestic space, and that helps the intimacy of the experience, while also making it breath-taking" Bakriges said. "Jazz is a unifying force and we are doing this for kids. What better way to spend a summer evening than bringing together a love for both children and top-shelf music?"




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