Wynton Marsalis | Credit: David Bazemore Photo

This edition of ON the Beat was originally emailed to subscribers on March 13, 2023. To receive Josef Woodard’s music newsletter in your inbox each Thursday, sign up at independent.com/newsletters.

(Soundtrack for this column: Wynton Marsalis Septet, Marciac Suite here)

By some cosmic cultural coincidence, last week’s concert scene in Santa Barbara leaned into the friendly winds of jazz with a New Orleanian birthright. Last Tuesday, the mighty Marsalis — the Wynton sibling — made one of his almost annual stops in town, bringing his fine Septet to play a mostly standards-fueled set for a packed and happy Granada Theatre (see review here). Then, on Saturday night, we got a blast of sharply-tooled jazz from another repeat visitor to Santa Barbara, Crescent City saxist/pedagogue of note Derek Douget, in town with his quintet for a week.

It’s getting to be a happy habit: this was the fifth time for Douget and company out west, thanks to the Lobero Brubeck Circle’s sponsorship. The musicians are kept busy during a week’s residency, giving master classes and other educational interactions to area high schools, junior highs and colleges, culminating in the Lobero blowout.

Douget’s set veered through tunes by his mentor and later band-leading boss, the late Marsalis patriarch Ellis; interesting originals by himself and drummer Adonis Rose; and a reflective “high” point in the form of the dreamy and timeless ballad “Infant Eyes,” by the late jazz sage Wayne Shorter. On that tune, UCSB Jazz Ensemble head Jon Nathan offered his sure touch on drums. Douget invited students onstage to join the party, including a standout moment when the fine young SBCC drummer Ethan Fossum engaged in a fours-swapping tête-á-tête with trumpeter Ashlin Parker. Parker proved to be the starring soloist on this night. Made last week also a convergence of high-flying New Orleans trumpeters.

For a taste of genuine N’Awlins musical cuisine on the way out, the show ended with a roiling jazz-ified take on the Meters classic “Hey, Pocky A-way.”

Pacific Chamber Music Birth

Next Friday, April 21, at Hahn Hall, the venerable but ever new-minded chamber music stalwart Camerata Pacifica makes news on the world premiere front, unveiling its latest commissioned work. Noted composer Libby Larsen, a Grammy-winner who has specialized in writing new music with an American accent, has written a new Horn Trio for the group, called Land. In this case, the commissioning parties — Joan Davidson, in memory of her husband John Schnittker — play a role in the fabric of the piece. Schnittker was centrally involved with the land, and its stewardship thereof, as Secretary of Agriculture under Johnson and in work as a governmental farm policy consultant.

Danish String Quartet | Credit: Caroline Bittencourt

Larsen said, “I consider the whole of the piece to evoke a larger cultural arc — a certain time, sense of place and recognition of human beings in community — to which John Schnittker belonged and in which his life’s work flourished.” Doing the French horn honors will be Benjamin Goldscheider, joined by pianist Irina Zahharenkova and cellist Jonathan Swenson. The intriguingly left-of-standard program also features music of Arvo Pärt, Isang Yun, Ota Taktakishvili, Julia Gomelskaya and, for token standards sake, Rachmaninov.

Speaking of premieres, the third installment of the impeccable Danish String Quartet’s ongoing Schubert-anchored “Doppelgänger” project — combining music of Schubert with newly-commissioned works — hits a high note tonight (April 13) at Campbell Hall. The new work in question, appearing in its official U.S. Premiere at UCSB, is Rituals, by Icelandic composer Anna Thorvalsdottir. Her already ascendant reputation has been recently super-charged by an infamous scene dissecting her music in the film Tár and with a premiere by the New York Philharmonic in January. (See story here).

In other classical news, the Santa Barbara Symphony turns to the ever and immortally beloved world of Beethoven, this weekend at the Granada. (See story here).

SOhO Sunday Menu

A healthy twofer of shows descends on SOhO this Sunday. In the afternoon, the Santa Barbara Jazz Society hosts its monthly gathering/gig, this time with a spotlight on vocalist James Arnold. By night, the Santa Barbara Acoustic series (easing into the final three shows of its illuminating run in town) hits the stage, with the respected regional folk sensation Marley’s Ghost.

Epic Jambanding, 805 Representing

Tie-dyed garments and extended grooves are the order of business at this week’s big jamband-alooza event “Skull & Roses,” April 19-23 at the Ventura County Fairgrounds (where the Grateful Dead played a few memorable shows). Among the local Santa Barbara/805 connections in the roster are Grateful Shred (with drummer Austin Beede) and the Santa Barbara–based band No Simple Highway, a late-breaking addition to the list, playing at noon on Saturday, April 22. Capping it all off, late on Sunday afternoon, the Dead deity and general jamband phenom guru Phil Lesh leads the charge.


FKJ, second up in the unfolding new Santa Barbara Bowl season, on Wednesday; the songful duo known as The Brother Brothers — being identical twins Adam and David Moss — returns to SOhO on Monday, April 17; next in the ever-enticing ¡Viva el Arte de Santa Bárbara! series, Los Angeles-based Tres Souls brings its vintage boleros songbook around, to Isla Vista School on Friday, Guadalupe City Hall on Saturday and the climactic concert at Marjorie Luke Theatre on Sunday — all for free!


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