French Quarter with Carrie Lee Bland-Kendall is a collaborative effort between a quartet of top-tier Michiana professionals and a masterful vocalist whose career has taken her from Bangkok to Broadway. This group has an irresistible swing, and its innovative approach to the Great American Songbook will delight audiences. A regular feature at the Elkhart Jazz Festival since 2015, French Quarter – with leader Chris French – presents a colorful collection of toe-tapping standards that is always full of surprises.

Clarinetist and Saxophonist Chris French comes to EJF with a 35-year career as an orchestral musician, studio recording artist, and soloist. He has played numerous touring Broadway shows, and is one of the most versatile doublers in the Midwest. Chris holds clarinet performance degrees from the Juilliard School, and is currently on faculty at IUSB, St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame, and at Goshen College where he directs the Lavender Jazz Ensemble.

Rafael Chávez is a Goshen College graduate who has been active in the regional music scene for more than 10 years. Currently playing throughout the Midwest with his band, Lalo Cura, Chávez is also an avid jazz guitarist and has played with local jazz legends such as Chris French (French Quarter), Jim Catalano (VibeNation), and Darrel Tidaback, among others. Chávez enjoys teaching guitar lessons and has been doing so since 2005 at TG Music and at Goshen College’s Community School of the Arts.

Steven Perry is a freelance drummer/percussionist/composer hailing from Osceola, Indiana. Steven is a recent graduate of the prestigious Jazz Studies program at Western Michigan University and will be pursuing his Master’s in Music at Temple University in Fall of 2017. At 23, Steven has already had the opportunity to study and perform with many great Jazz artists including Randy Brecker, Billy Hart, Bill Nicks, and the Western Jazz Quartet.

Bassist Darrel Tidaback returns to the EJF, adding to his many previous appearances here. He has performed with numerous jazz greats including Bucky Pizzerelli, Lionel Hampton and Rosemary Clooney. Currently he directs the Indiana University South Bend Jazz Ensemble and performs extensively in both jazz and classical settings.

Carrie Lee Bland-Kendall was born in Bangkok, Thailand, raised in Berlin, Germany, and Savannah, Georgia, has honed her craft as a singer, actor, and producer for over 25 years and was a stalwart in Chicago Theater community for much of that time. This exmilitary-brat has toured across the U.S., appeared on film and television and lends her voice to commercials and animation. She has worked with many talented directors and artists, including renowned Broadway Musical Director, Kevin Stites. Carrie Lee is a founding member of GoShakes Theatre, serves on the advisory board for Goshen Theater, Inc., Chairs The Mayor’s Arts Council, and is Entertainment Coordinator for the River Bend Film Festival. Carrie Lee is excited to be performing with the talented musicians of French Quarter at the Elkhart Jazz Festival this year!

Photography by Stuart Meade Photography