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Everything’s Great in Guelph — Unless You Ask Sainkho Namtchylak

Nancy Wilson

Greetings from cold, snowy Moscow, Idaho, temporary jazz capitol of America. Between February 21 and 23, this modest college town just east of the Washington state line is inundated with jazz activity, with a veritable nomadic encampment of student band competitions (junior high through college), master classes, workshops and a roster of celebrated artists.

The festival itself dates back to humble beginnings 34 years ago, and Hampton himself has been ensconced here since the late ’80s. At 92, and after impairing strokes a few years ago, Hampton still views the festival as an important part of his musical life. While Hampton’s presence onstage was minimal this year, he did appear in the traditional closing night show by his big band. After the festival, Hampton’s band was headed to a stint in a Seattle club. Come physical ailments or other obstacles, Hampton is living proof of the spirit of jazz as life-long enabler.

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