Clayton: it’s a 'wonderful energy'

Clayton: it’s a 'wonderful energy'
PULLMAN - The Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival swings into its final evening Saturday.

Jazz fans have been filling up the seats in the Kibbie Dome for three nights.

On Wednesday night the "New Orleans is in the House" performances were on tap, with headliner Dr. John. Thursday night featured artists including Roy Hargrove and Friday night’s featured “Masters and Mentors”, with young artists sharing the stage with jazz stars like pianist Hank Jones.

During the day groups perform sound checks for the evening performances. The festival's Artistic Director John Clayton, is on hand for most of those.

"Last night was our first night and it was just a wonderful energy and I think that energy's going to happen every night," said Clayton on Thursday. "Every night's different, because we have different artists and we're doing different feels and different themes."

Perhaps the biggest difference this year than in past years is the adjudication process. Participants in competitions no longer finish first, second, or third in their respective categories. While they still get prizes and trophies, Clayton said the festival does not want to label someone a Third Place musician.

"Instead, we allow the judges to just award prizes to whoever they think should get them," Clayton said. "Because, truly in art, there's no such thing as the best trumpet player, the best drummer, the best piano player, because it's subjective."

Thursday, Clayton listened to a number of groups who would be performing over the next couple of days, to make sure the sound tickles your ears just right.

And, he knows a thing or two about good music. Clayton is a Grammy winning bass player who won this year for his musical arrangement talents. He was nominated seven times before, but he talked about what's it like to add Grammy winner to his moniker.

"I look at the people that are in the same category to the left of me and to the right of me," he said. "And I think, 'Wow. Why did they choose me? I can't do what that person did, and I can't do what that person did, and I love what they did.' So, its very humbling and flattering."