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Pique’s guide to free jazz

Whistler Jazz on the Mountain has a score of free and by-donation events this weekend

It's a big, big week for music in Whistler, and it has something to do with a little event called Jazz on the Mountain at Whistler. Have you heard of it? It's a jazz festival, with jazz heavyweights like Kevin Eubanks, Spyro Gyra and Oliver Jones, who is coming out of retirement specifically for this gig.

Along with the ticketed events, there's a score of free and by-donation events ruling the village this week. While the ticketed events are worth the money, it's the music happening throughout the village that pulls the experience together for everyone, jazz fans or not. Here's what's happening:

Master Class Series: Jazz on the Mountain isn't simply about the musicians playing and the audience watching. The Master Class Series is a three-day workshop where guitar students from across the continent have the opportunity to learn from heavyweights in the jazz world - and each of the workshops are open to the public. Who knows, you might just see the Next Big Thing in action.

Friday: 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Greg Lowe; 2:30 to 4 p.m. Lorne Lofsky

Saturday: 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Stanley Jordan; 2:30 to 4 p.m. Russ Freeman

Sunday: 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Kevin Eubanks; 2:30 to 4 p.m. Stan Samole

Minimum $5 donation

Village Square performances: There will be free performances in the square this weekend. This is what the festival is truly all about - stopping people in their tracks, converting a few of them to the wonders of jazz, creating a vibe and a buzz in the town that have them walking away and thinking, "Wasn't that weekend wonderful?" Included in this will be the Master Class performance, where the most improved student will jam with Kevin Eubanks and the other tutors from the workshops.

Friday: 2 to 3:15 p.m. Five Alarm Funk; 4:30 to 5:45 p.m. Vito Rezza and Five After Four

Saturday: 2 to 3:15 p.m. JOMAW Group with Kevin Eubanks; 4:30 to 5:45 p.m. Michael Farquharson Quintet

Sunday: 2 to 3:15 p.m. Mat Marucci Quartet; 4:30 to 5:45 p.m. Master Class Performance with Kevin Eubanks

Mountain Top BBQ Jazz Series: Staying true to the festivals name, every day from 5 to 8 p.m., there will be live music at the Roundhouse Lodge on Whistler Mountain. It's free save the price of the lift ticket, so if you've been looking for an excuse to head up the mountain - as if the beauty isn't enough - then this might just be your chance.

Friday: Ali Milner

Saturday: Chris Smith

Sunday: The Night Crawlers

North Shore Credit Union Acoustic Jazz Series : All weekend, festival sponsors North Shore Credit Union will transform their village storefront into a live venue. Just how this will look is unknown at this time but what better way to get some banking done then by hearing some of the finest unplugged jazz this side of the Rockies.

Friday, 6 to 7:15 p.m. Cory Weeds Quartet

Saturday: 4 to 5:15 p.m. Cory Weeds Quartet; 6 to 7:15 p.m., The Night Crawlers

Sunday: 2 - 3:15 p.m., The Night Crawlers; 4 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. & 6 to 7:15 p.m., Brad Turner Quartet

By donation

Mallard Lounge Jazz Jam: Closing each night this weekend at the Fairmont is Nancy Walker on piano, Kieran Overs on string bass and Barry Romberg on drums, a Toronto-based session trio who are on-call for major acts coming through town who need a backing band. They've played with all the heavyweights and they're playing all weekend, for free, starting at 10 p.m.