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Raitt’s word as good as her guitar licks

Stewart Oksenhorn

At Jazz Aspen’s 1998 Labor Day Festival, her first appearance in the Roaring Fork Valley in some 10 years, Bonnie Raitt expressed surprise at how enthusiastic and unrestrained the Aspen/Snowmass crowd was.”I’ve been away too long,” said Raitt from the stage. “I’ll have to come back soon.”Raitt’s word is as good as her slide guitar licks. Jazz Aspen has announced that it has booked Raitt to close its 10th annual June Festival, set for Snowmass Village’s Town Park June 15-18. And the way that Raitt’s upcoming appearance came about makes it clear that Raitt has had the Aspen area on her mind since that performance two years ago.”It was Bonnie’s idea; her people contacted us,” said Jim Horowitz, executive producer of Jazz Aspen, adding that Raitt has no plans for extensive touring this summer. “She initiated it, and that’s really nice for us.”Several other artists who have made past appearances at Jazz Aspen are also on the bill for the June Festival. The four-day festival opens with Wilson Pickett, the soul music legend who opened the June Festival three years ago. Pickett, known for such tunes as “Mustang Sally,” is seeing a career renaissance with last year’s CD “It’s Harder Now,” which was nominated for a Best Rhythm & Blues Grammy Award. Opening for Pickett will be the 15-piece Cuban band Maraca y Otra Vision.The second day of the festival features an all-jazz evening with pianist-vocalist Diana Krall opening for Wynton Marsalis & the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra is the most prominent and most ambitious big band playing. Over the past few years, it has toured on every continent, including a stop at Jazz Aspen three years ago.Krall is breaking new ground for traditional jazz vocal music. Her most recent CD, “When I Look In Your Eyes,” was nominated for a Best Album Grammy, the first jazz record in 15 years to be so recognized.Singer Natalie Cole makes her Jazz Aspen debut on day three of the June Festival. The daughter of the legendary Nat “King” Cole, Cole has earned accolades in the jazz and pop arena for such albums as “Inseparable,” her early ’80s debut, and “Unforgettable, With Love.” An opening act for Cole has yet to be announced.Tickets to the June Festival will go on sale to JAS Club members on March 20, and to the general public on March 27. Prices range from $28 lawn tickets to between $40 and $75 for tent seating. Tickets are available at the Wheeler Opera House box office, or by calling 920-5770.


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