Students from the Brubeck Jazz Residency Program | Photo: David Bazemore

There are many great ways to support the arts and arts education in Santa Barbara, but the Brubeck Circle at the Lobero Theatre is certainly the jazziest among them! Named in honor of the late, great jazz pianist and composer Dave Brubeck — whose brother Henry was head of the Music Department at Santa Barbara High School back in 1953, when Dave first graced the Lobero stage with his signature “cool jazz” tunes — the Brubeck Circle was designed to carry on his legacy of jazz education, and to keep this uniquely American music alive in his honor.

“He was really a longtime favorite; people seriously couldn’t get enough of him,” said David Asbell, the executive director of the Lobero, who has been with the organization since 1997. “When he passed away, we thought that it would be great to create the Brubeck Circle. And the mission statement of the Brubeck Circle has stayed pretty much the same since its founding in 2009. It’s there for people who want to support jazz education and jazz performances at the Lobero.”

Membership to the donor circle starts at just $150 and that goes to support two great educational programs. One is the Brubeck Jazz Residency Program with The Derek Douget Band out of New Orleans. As Asbell explained, Douget and his bandmates work on-site with students (at local high schools, colleges, and nonprofit organizations), who are also invited to a group jam session on the Lobero stage. “It’s very impactful. This year, for the first time, they had schools twice: Santa Barbara High, San Marcos, Dos Pueblos all got to work with them twice, plus UCSB and Santa Barbara City College.”

The Brubeck Circle also supports the Santa Barbara Vocal Jazz Foundation residencies at local elementary schools. This program teaches jazz history and appreciation, and it includes live performance opportunities for the students as well.

Speaking of live performances, the Lobero has long been regarded as one of our country’s best venues for live jazz music, and membership in the circle gives supporters exclusive pre-sale purchasing for Jazz at the Lobero Shows, and bigger donations earn extra perks, including VIP pre-show parties, invitations to a private onstage dinner, and other special Brubeck Circle events. 

The Brubeck Circle of donors has made it possible for the Lobero to bring all sorts of musical legends to Jazz at the Lobero, including Herbie Hancock, Charles Lloyd, Keb’ Mo’, Robert Cray (who returns on July 29), and many more.

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