Classics come alive through trio

Classics come alive through trio


Sequim Gazette

Three local musicians are aiming to bring their jazz across the peninsula through the new Sequim and Port Angeles group Charisa – A Jazz Affair.

The jazz trio combines the talents of singer Charisa Silliman, 24; Signe Crawford, 63, on soprano sax and flute; and pianist Darrell Plank, 54. They formed the band during their time playing and singing together in the Olympic Express Big Band.

“We honestly all have a complete love affair with jazz,” Silliman said.

The band has its first official gig 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 17, at Wine on the Waterfront, 115 E. Railroad Ave., Port Angeles. Its set consists of 24 jazz and Christmas songs from the 1930s-1950s.

Silliman said the era’s music had been lost.

“This music speaks to people,” Silliman said.

“It’s emotional and talks about lust, love, heartbreak. I want to make people feel and remember points in their life they haven’t thought about.”

Silliman gets a similar experience with her music as watching a black-and-white movie. She said it makes her feel homesick and takes her to a place she wishes she could be.

“That’s lost on the radio now,” she said. “It’s all mostly dance remixes now. There’s no originality. (Jazz) music reminds people what’s good about humanity.”

Forming a dream team

All three musicians have family or ties to Sequim or make it their home.

Silliman’s family moved here in 1990 and she continues to perform with Olympic Theatre Arts.

“I’ve always wanted to sing jazz since I was little,” she said. “Singing in (the trio) is a fun contrast with the big band.”

Music was ingrained in her at an early age as one of six children. Silliman performed with her siblings and parents in what she describes as a “Von Trapp-like” singing group similar to the movie “Sound of Music.”

Crawford began her musical path with clarinet in the fourth grade and said performing jazz continues to be a lifelong dream. She once was in a Port Townsend-based jazz band called One Fan Clapping that played benefits and special events.

“I didn’t ever want to be famous,” Crawford said. “I thought it would be cool to be a musician for someone famous.”

Crawford predicts Silliman going far with her talents and the trio being a starting point.

“I envision her going off in another direction,” Crawford said. “She’s young. She deserves to make headlines.”

Crawford teaches music professionally at Strait Music in Port Angeles, the Northwinds Homeschool Band and once a week in musician Craig Buhler’s studio.

Plank has been playing piano since second grade. He retired to Sequim from a job at Microsoft and after co-founding the video game company Sucker Punch Productions.

“For me, it’s just a fun thing and a way to help them out,” Plank said. “I’m really happy to be in it and the others are great people.”

He’s been in the Big Band for two years and plays piano for Olympic Theatre Arts in some productions, which is how he met Silliman. Plank was in a previous jazz group, but has mostly a classical music background.

“This is me trying to stretch my wings a little bit,” Plank said. “I want to see if I can fly with it.”

Find Charisa – A Jazz Affair online at Facebook with upcoming events.

The trio performs with the Olympic Express Big Band 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 31, in a New Year’s Eve concert at The Lodge at Sherwood Village. 660 W. Evergreen Farm Way, Sequim.

Charisa – A Jazz Affair

7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 17

Wine on the Waterfront,

115 E. Railroad Ave., Port Angeles.

Free event – 24 Christmas and jazz tunes

from the 1930s-1950s. Minors allowed.

Facebook: Charisa – A Jazz Affair

Reach Matthew Nash at