THE SOUND OF SUMMER RUNNING: Come summertime, the jazz calendar generally gets lean around these parts. But all is not lost. SOhO has a solid roster of jazz artists coming through on Mondays, its designated jazz night. On recent Mondays, we’ve heard the remarkable Kate McGarry-one of the jazz highlights of the year-and hard-blowing tenor saxist Frank Catalano. A run of fine vocalists continues with Gillian Harwin (July 7), Inga Swearingen (July 14), and Judy Wexler (July 21). Kindly guitar hero Larry Carlton plays SOhO in August, and the Lobero has David Sanborn in the 805 on August 16.
Other important jazz action may or may not unveil itself before summer’s end. Down at Anacapa and Cota, the ambitious eatery/nightclub Bollinger‘s has been in construction for many moons and could open by August. Founder Gary Bollinger, himself a trumpeter and committed jazz fan, has loosely, wisely modeled his place after Yoshi’s in Oakland-widely regarded as a model American jazz space. In the semi-separated club called the “Riviera Room,” Bollinger plans to book a variety of genres, with the idea of bringing in touring jazz musicians on Tuesdays and/or Wednesdays.
FESTIVAL HORIZON GAZING: Last week, big news was unveiled at the Santa Ines Mission in Solvang. (Is there a prettier spot for a press conference?) The Solvang Jazz Festival, which kicked off promisingly last September, is gearing up for festival #2, taking place in this idyllic town on September 25-28-a week after the Monterey Jazz Festival. Festival director Stix Hooper has assembled a solid roster, including two fine piano trios-the Monty Alexander Trio and the Jean-Michel Pilc Trio (which has wowed SOhO a couple of times)-veteran jazz organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band (a hot big band outta’ L.A.), and Bobby Rodriguez’ Latin Jazz Orchestra.
Last year’s inaugural festival was a solid step in what could be a grand and growing tradition. This festival has the makings of something special and lasting, if the pieces fall together. For one, the intelligent (and realistic) guidance and cachet of Crusaders drummer Hooper at the helm is a considerable plus. A critical challenge is outreach, as in luring jazz lovers from all over the tri-counties, and from far beyond. Generally, the idea is to morph Solvang, for an autumn weekend, into a jazz-enriched zone akin to festivals in small, picturesque towns in Europe. Stay tuned.
SHOW OF THE WEEK: Classical music lovers savor summer, thanks to the dazzling Music Academy of the West concert schedule. This week, the list includes a Chamberfest Series, on Tuesday at the Lobero, fortified with music of the past century-works by Finnish composer Einojouhani Rautavaara, and Aaron Copland, along with a performance of Olivier Messiaen’s classic Quartet for the End of Time.
STAGE TIC OF THE WEEK: The summer pop concert season is in full swing, and so are airborne guitar picks. Pick-flinging is a rock show tradition, a way of literally sharing between performer and the crowd, and also a nervous tic. Stephen Stills peeled off several choice guitar solos at the recent CSN show, capping off each with some expert pick chucking, and Brandi Carlile lobbed the plectrum at the Lobero, to the point where one of her guitar tech’s jobs is actually resupplying her microphone stand with more picks on the requisite double-sided tape. And then there was Death Cab for Cutie‘s Ben Gibbard, who is more from the beta male school of indie rock behavior, and not quite comfortable in his own skin. He also flung a pick, as a nervous tic, but it was aimed at his guitar amp instead of the crowd. He’s got the move down, but his aim is a bit dyslexic.
STAGE SPEAK OF THE WEEK: Robert Plant, during his enthralling show with Alison Krauss and a T-Bone Burnett-led band at the Bowl, during the early, pre-dusk portion of the evening: “What’s all this stuff called daylight?”