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Fresh Fire at Avalon Bar & Grill

Pianist and composer Ron Hoopes has never lost his passion for music. After 30 years as a music teacher at the College of the Siskiyous in Weed, Calif., he's helped many students hone music skills. One of Hoopes' students, tenor saxophonist Ted Taforo, has started his freshman year at Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y.

Taforo earned two awards for his compositions from the American Society of Composers and Publishers and a jazz improvisation award from Down Beat Magazine, Hoopes says.

Hoopes and Taforo perform together in the Mount Shasta-based group Fresh Fire, along with bassist Nathan Sivananda and drummer John Aviani. Fresh Fire will perform at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 7, at Avalon Bar & Grill, 105 W. Valley View Road, Talent.

"We play a lot of my compositions when we perform," Hoopes says. "There's also contemporary jazz, and the standards that we put our original stamp on."

Hoopes started playing as part of the Los Angeles jazz scene about 35 years ago. He performed with artists such as Warne Marsh, Gary Foster and others. Hoopes, along with bassist Putter Smith and Bill Moyer, recorded a full-length album called "Respect for a Great Tradition."

Today, Hoopes and Fresh Fire have a new self-titled CD, recently recorded in Mount Shasta by Carl Schwindeman of Waterdog Recording in Dunsmuir. And there's a nice endorsement written by Foster included in the CD's liner notes.

"In this recording, it's clear that Hoopes has continued to grow as a jazz musician," Foster writes. "Especially considering the academic world most often sees a teacher abandon his love for performance. Taforo ... makes a formidable debut here. With the possible exception of Chris Potter, there's probably no recent first recording by any young artist that has shown such remarkable maturity. The music that they (Hoopes and Tafaro) make is the product of an extraordinary teacher/student relationship."

Hoopes says he feels very good about the new album.

"It's met all my expectations," Hoopes says. "It's not only a fine recording, but our creative level caught fire the day we started working on it."

Hoopes is busy getting the CD out to jazz magazines and other parts of the music industry to see what kind of feedback it will get. The CD will be available at Fresh Fire's show at the Avalon.

There is no cover for the show. Call 512-8864.

From left, pianist Ron Hoopes, bassist Nathan Sivananda, drummer John Aviani and tenor saxophonist Ted Taforo are the members of Fresh Fire. - Photo by Gayle Hoops