Every act was a mellifluous treat at this year's Jazz in June -- a three-evening summer concert series celebrating its 25th annual smorgasbord of jazz and blues performances.

The musical fireworks skyrocketed over Andrews Park Friday night and showered down on several hundred appreciative fans. The lineup began with the 25th Anniversary Jazz in June All-Stars and culminated with Grammy-award winning flugelhornist Chuck Mangione.

"People tell me we've had record attendance this year," said Jim "Hard Luck" Johnson, Jazz in June chair and host of KGOU's "Weekend Blues."

"Every year we try to keep the variety coming," Johnson said.

The Jazz in June lineup is determined each year through surveys from festival goers and recommendations from musicians and board members, he said.

"Board members compile a package based on what's affordable and present it to the board," Johnson said.

And board members are relieved and absolved each year when the ingredients come together in a harmonious rhapsody and groove.

Johnson said the spirit of this year's festival was personified by Ann Rabson, a member of Saffire -- the trio of Uppity Blues Women that headlined the Thursday night performance.

"In the past six months she's had a kidney removed, a perforated intestine and a lumpectomy. She's an example of the kinds of artists we have who know the show must go on," he said.

Johnson said Saffire and Dorothy Ellis, aka Miss Blues, "tore it up" to the crowd's delight. "It was a real treat. The artists were thrilled. They sold a ton of CDs," he said.

Norman residents Mike Martin, girlfriend Sonia Adkins and sister Sylvia Cate said they attended all three nights: Blues Under the Stars Thursday night at Brookhaven Village; Jazz Under the Stars Friday night at Brookhaven Village and Jazz in the Park Saturday at Andrews Park.

"We loved it," Cate said. "We know a lot of people that go to Brookhaven."

Cate called Miss Blues "an icon" who's been performing at Jazz in June since it began 25 years ago.

The Norman North Jazz Choir and director Tony Gonzales won Adkins' praise. "Outstanding. They were the best," she said.

Other performers included Bruce Benson and Studio B; and Barrie Lee Hall Jr. and the Duke Ellington Orchestra

Meanwhile, Joel Young and the 25th Anniversary All-Stars pleased the Saturday night crowd with jazz favorites, from John Coltrane's "My Favorite Things" to Miles Davis' "Footprints."

Young performed at the inaugural Jazz in June and many of the subsequent concerts.

Johnson said Young approached the board of directors a couple of years ago, suggesting "a jazz perspective," presented by musicians who'd played in at least three of four Jazz in June performances. The lineup included drummer Young, bassist Victor Rook, guitarist Shane Conaway, saxophonist Gary Clardy, pianist John Harris, percussionist Boyd Littell, percussionist Jahruba, and special guests Charles and Barbara Burton.

Jazz in June is a non-profit organization. To read more about the 2008 festival performers visit jazzinjune.org or call 325-2222. To make a donation to Jazz in June contact the Jazz in June Development Office at 329-8111.

Tom Blakey 366-3540 tblakey@normantranscript.com

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