This Thursday, the Village Area of the Yuma Palms Regional Center becomes an amphitheater under the stars, offering a savory taste of local talent paired with harmonics of the holidays.

A precursor to the 2020 Village Jazz Series, the Yuma Palms Regional Center and its parent company, Inland Commercial Real Estate Services, present two unique opportunities to herald the holiday season with special “pre-Village” holiday concerts at 6 p.m. on Thursday and again Dec. 19.

The mood of this week’s concert will be set by Jason and Eloisa Arviso, the duo behind “Jason and Elle,” with their performance of festive favorites. On Dec. 19, the voices of the Yuma Catholic High School Choir will adorn the atmosphere with traditional holiday tunes. Both evenings’ guest performers will be accompanied by the Village Jazz Series’ host band, the Yuma Jazz Company.

Performing together for almost 20 years now, chord charts aren’t the only element that guides the jazz quartet – in fact, it’s “reading” one another and the atmosphere that inspires the notes.

“That’s the whole idea of jazz,” said Steven Hennig, trumpeter and one of the group’s founders. “Each person is improvising their part. On solos, you’re creating the melody and the others are reacting to what you’re playing, and you’re reacting to what you hear as a soloist – that, in essence, is what makes jazz unique in art forms. It’s created in the moment.”

Heavily influenced by the techniques of Louis Armstrong, Hennig has been enamored with musical improvisation since becoming acquainted with the trumpet in junior high school. It’s an “expressive and impactful” art form that rarely presents the same sequence twice, he says.

“It’s different every time because it depends on the mood of the people that are playing … and the mood of the audience,” Hennig said. “That is why I always look forward to performing – if I was performing the same thing (every time), I would not be interested. The idea that every time you go out, you can do whatever you want – I love that.”

Re-working recognizable seasonal favorites in the same way, Hennig guarantees the “pre-Village” concerts will help Yumans get into the Christmas spirit.

“We always have people there who haven’t experienced jazz in this way,” Hennig said. “Because jazz means different things to everybody – to some people, it’s Dixieland, or it’s big band swing, or it’s jazz hands. But with the improvisational aspect, anything can happen. I hope people that have not heard this before hear it and decide, ‘I’d like to hear more.’”

While listeners won’t have to bring their own food or drinks thanks to the Village Area eateries loaning their structure and exterior lighting to the concerts’ ambiance, they will need to bring their own seating to enjoy the full effect of the events.

Listeners will also receive the full schedule for the 2020 Village Jazz Series, which kicks off its 14th season on Jan. 9.

Up-to-date information on the weekly events and performers comprising the Village Jazz Series, as well as other opportunities to experience jazz in Yuma may be found at YumaJazz.com.

Sponsors for the Pre-Village Holiday Concerts include KSWT, Yuma Sun, KAWC Radio, KOFA Border Radio, Long Realty and Above All Plumbing.

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