Labor Day Jazz Party Sets Off O.C. Jazz Year

Orange County’s’s season of jazz events kicks off Labor Day weekend with the 13th annual West Coast Jazz Party. Following this, an ‘07-‘08 lineup featuring the best in jazz commences at the Orange County Performing Arts Center and Cerritos Center.

All together in the next several months O.C. will honor the presence of such jazz legends as James Moody, Phil Woods and Ramsey Lewis, as well as displaying younger greats the likes of Wynton Marsalis, Jeff Hamilton, John Clayton and Arturo Sandoval, among many others.

The Jazz Party begins its four-day celebration, Aug. 30 to Sept. 2, with promoters Joe Rothman and John McClure, serving up a tasty menu, combining over 75 of the country’s best musicians, playing in various mixtures of groups and individuals in venues at the Irvine Marriott. There will be afternoon and evening concerts, as well as the traditional Sunday morning, 10 to 2, jazz brunch aboard the Hornblower Yacht with all stars playing on three decks while the ship sails around Newport Bay.

Highlighting this year’s schedule will be the Friday night appearance of the legendary reed player, James Moody, 82, and still going strong. Preceding Moody Friday will be no less than the 81-year-old vibraphonist, Terry Gibbs, who shook the jazz world up as a frenetic youngster and still plays at a blistering pace. Moody will be joined by a quartet, featuring Mike Wooford, piano, while Gibbs will stir things with perennial party favorite, clarinetist-saxophonist Ken Peplowski.

Saturday afternoon’s highlight is a salute to Gerry Mulligan; the evening features stellar tenor men Scott Hamilton and Harry Allen. In addition, top-flight trombonist, Steve Turre, from the East Coast, will be on hand.

Sunday nights’s closer salutes Count Basie, with a band directed by trumpeter Byron Stripling and former Basie drummer Butch Miles. By the way, starting festivities Thursday evening will an appearance by Steve March Torme, son of vocal star Mel Torme.

For prices and information, call (949) 759-5003 or go the

At the Performing Arts center, the jazz begins Oct 5, 6, in the Samueli Theater, with the appearance of the highly regarded bassist Renaud Garcia-Fons who will bring his brand of world music to Orange county with a quartet featuring Flamenco guitarist Antonio Ruiz. Following on Oct. 26, 27, Tierney Sutton, considered one the country’s top jazz vocalists, will hold forth.

Another female, Rachel Price will sing Nov. 16, 17. New on the scene, she has been compared to such as Diana Krall and Jane Monheit. A week later, Nov. 24, is a big day for county jazz fans when the renowned Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra appears in the large Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, playing the world premiere of a piece honoring the late composer-performer Benny Carter. The work has been co-comissioned by the center.

The king of the Hammond B-3 Organ, Joey DeFrancesco, will be on hand, Dec. 21, 22, in tandem with the celebrated Bobby Hutcherson on vibes.

For the new year, The Crusaders, a force on the jazz scene for decades come in Jan. 19, playing their patented jazz-funk at the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Also, in a one-night appearance at the Concert Hall, Jan. 31, Wynton Marsalis will bring in the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, one of the most highly respected bands in jazz.

Back on the Friday, Saturday night schedule at the Samueli, highly praised newcomer, Taylor Eigsti on piano, appears Feb, 8, 9. Closing out the season at OCPAC, April, 25, 26 will be famous Charlie Parker disciple Phil Woods with his group This is not to say that Woods has not put his own stamp on jazz with his fiery alto solos.

Call (714) 556-2787 or go to for tickets and information.

Fans of fusion and contemporary jazz will have their days at the nearby Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts first, Oct. 27, when vocalist Brenda Russell and guitarist Earl Klugh appear. As well, "An Evening With Keiko Matsui," Nov. 1, will feature the world popular entertainer who encapsulates new age and smooth jazz genres. "Smooth Jazz Christmas," with saxist Dave Koz and friends will return for its annual concert, Dec. 21, 22.

One of the Cerritos’ season highlights will be the appearance of the Ramsey Lewis Trio, March 8. This award-winning pianist has captivated fans since 1965 with his tasty renderings of classics and originals. Closing out the year, April 4, will be the dynamic trumpeter Arturo Sandoval. This talented Cuban promises to deliver an evening charged with energy and excitement.

Call (800) 300-4345 or for more information.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Moody, Marsalis, Lewis, et al, Scheduled to Appea
  • Subtitle: 2007-08 Promises Big Year for Orange County, Ca, Fans
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