POST-SEPTEMBER SONGS: We’ve just been blessed with a deceptively rich feast of jazz in the region. All within a week, Dave Brubeck deftly tickled his 88s (at age 88) at the Lobero, the sleek and powerful Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and its formidable trumpet man Wynton Marsalis hit the Arlington, and the Solvang Jazz Festival put on show number three last weekend, bringing the likes of Take 6 and pianist Eugene Maslov to the picturesque land of the abelskivver. Within driving reach in California, we also had the 52nd annual Monterey Jazz Festival and the second annual Angel City Jazz Festival, making for a delicious September blur of live jazz.
Now, back on your heads. Various buses have rolled on to the next towns and a more sobering reality is kicking in. Jazz in our town is in a state of hurt, both in terms of concert life and of touring artist showcases. Most depressingly, the Lobero, shin-kicked by the economy like the rest of us, was forced to suspend the beloved Jazz at the Lobero series this season. Any complaints, of course, are in no way directed at the Lobero, which has nobly served Santa Barbara’s jazz community grandly for years.
In fact, the impressive caliber of jazz at the Lobero has made it a candidate for the title of America’s finest jazz room, with just the right ambience and acoustics for the music’s intimate demands on our attention. This listener’s Top 10-ish list of jazz shows at the Lobero in recent years: SFJAZZ Collective, Brad Mehldau Trio, The Bad Plus, Chick Corea’s solo piano concert, Bill Frisell-both his quartet and duo with Joey Baron-Ahmad Jamal (more than once), John Scofield’s brainy-groovy A-Go Go band, Pat Metheny (with his trio and with the Gary Burton reunion band) : and the list goes on and on, which, of course, makes the absence of the Lobero jazz series a bigger hole in the cultural heart of Santa Barbara.
And, of course, Santa Barbara’s own Charles Lloyd has put on many a fine show here, including bands featuring such great pianists as Bobo Stenson and Jason Moran. His historic trio concert with drummers Zakir Hussain and Eric Harland, a project now known as Sangam, was recorded for the ECM label in the Lobero (the first notable and internationally recognized Lobero jazz recording since Horace Tapscott’s sides from here).
If this were Europe or Canada, government arts funding would likely enter the picture to lend support to a cause as great as Jazz at the Lobero. But this is America, suspicious of arts outside of the self-sustaining private-sector realm of pop pap. In an ideal scenario, we would see a rallying of Santa Barbara’s deep-pocketed patronage resources to inject new funding for jazz, just as private moneys have flowed and bolstered the estimable state of classical music in town and the rehabilitation of the Santa Barbara Bowl. But how much do today’s affluent like jazz? Wynton Marsalis rallied funding and cultural energies to create Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York, but that’s New York. Could it happen in Santa Barbara? Perchance to dream.
THAT BEING SAID : : Jazz still does roll through town, such as at SOhO, where this Monday’s fare is the fine Sicilian-born, N.Y.C.-based singer/pianist Daniela Sch¤chter. As heard on her album Purple Butterfly, she’s got subtlety, swing, and taste to spare.
LONG-HAIR MUSIC TO DRINK BY: Cellist Matt Haimovitz deserves a heroic commendation, not only for his impressive, adventurous musicality, but because he insists on bringing his music down from the classical scene mountain and into the taverns. Said taverns have included CBGB in N.Y.C., the Knitting Factory in Los Angeles, and SOhO in Santa Barbara, where he returns Sunday for a solo cello show (with occasional electronics). His new album, Figment, takes its name from pieces by Great American centenarian Elliott Carter. Say no more.
TWANG TIMERS: Two country legends, different generations, pass through S.B. County this week: Tonight, indisputable country hero Merle Haggard plays the Arlington, and next Thursday, top-selling but still ¼ber-hip and great geetar picker Vince Gill comes to the Chumash Casino.