Blue Jay Jazz Hits its Peak
The mountain’s decades-old summer jazz tradition reached new heights on Thursday, August 10, when the King Brothers Blues Band opened the 2017 Blue Jay Jazz Festival at the resurrected SkyPark at Santa’s Village.
An estimated 300 guests were on hand to launch the series that continued a week later with East Bay Soul, a 10-piece funk-and-R&B ensemble led by Tower of Power Founding Member Greg Adams, and concludes this Thursday, August 24 with Adrianna Marie and her Groovecutters and, to open the evening, the Rim High School Marching Band. Gates open at 5 p.m., music begins at 6:45 p.m.
"It was a glorious occasion,” said longtime supporter Polly Sauer. “Two of the mountains treasures, the Blue Jay Jazz Festival and SkyPark at Santa’s Village, provided the community and Southern Californian jazz aficionados with a spectacular concert and venue.”
“It adds to the culture, the flavor that we have up here,” agreed Wayne Austin, Associate General Manager of the Arrowhead Lake Association (ALA). “I was thrilled to see that the Festival is stronger than ever.”
In the audience, Adrianna Marie provided a performer’s perspective, calling the venue “an unbelievable improvement.”
“It’s pretty magical, with the fairy lights and the giant pine trees behind the stage,” she said. “Everything about the setting is great.”
After Adams and East Bay Soul filled the hills with their horns August 17, the Groovecutters planned to grab the brass ring the following week.
“We wanted to have as many horns as possible,” Adrianna Marie said. “We have all these arrangements with gorgeous harmonies and in addition to previously announced trumpet, alto and baritone sax players, we added Rex Amend, a killing tenor player who sounds like Johnny Hodges.”
The band will pull from their Kingdom of Swing CD, which has been #1 on the Roots Music Report Jazzy Blues chart and among Amazon’s Top 50 Jazz releases since it came out 20 weeks ago, and throw in “a couple straight ahead jazz tunes, like Art Blakey’s ‘Blues March.'”
Single tickets for tonight’s concert can be purchased at the door or by calling 909-744-9373. Tickets and tables for next week can be purchased at bluejayjazz.com.
Photos: The King Brothers Blues Band against the mountain greenery of SkyPark at Santa’s Village, top (Michael Fell, Lee King, Al Threats, left to right); Sam and Lee King (first inset); the SkyPark concert plaza at sunset on August 10 [photo by Hugh Bialecki] (bottom)