Locally based jazz singers Sacha Boutros and Jonathan Karrant have a habit of bumping into each other at other people’s shows. Members of each other’s mutual admiration society, they wondered how it would be to sing together.
On Saturday, December 7 at the Athens Market Taverna in downtown San Diego local jazz fans can go find out.
“Jonathan and I had been talking about doing something for awhile,” Boutros said in a recent telephone interview. “I love how he sings, and we were always in admiration of each other.”
“We’ve been wanted to doing a show together for a long time, but with both of us traveling quite a bit it was difficult to nail down a date,” Karrant said in an e-mail exchange. “We final focused on it and got a date set.
“It’s a holiday show so of course we’ll be singing lots of holiday songs. We’ve got lots of duets planned. Our voices complement each other very well! We will also each be singing a few songs from our albums.”
While Boutros is a native San Diegan, and Karrant spends about half his time here (the rest of the year he’s based out of Las Vegas), neither is known primarily as a local artist. Both tour heavily, and Boutros may be better known in New York than she is in her home town.
“In New York, it’s about if you’re good or not. …In New York – can you play, or can you not play? That’s the only thing, bottom line. You can either sing your ass off and pack the house, or you’re out.
“I don’t really play much locally, and I’m not recognized as a local musician. I’ve never been nominated for a San Diego Music Award, but I’ve gotten five Grammy nominations.”
Boutros listed San Diego-based jazz musicians with national reputations – folks like pianist Mike Wofford, saxophonist Charles McPherson, trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos, guitarist Peter Sprague, bassist Gunnar Biggs, flautist Holy Hofmann – and said that living in San Diego does little to benefit any of their careers.
“I do the same thing they do – I’m in New York and I perform, and I come home. Then Hawaii. Then I’m in Europe, and I come home. There are pockets of time where I don’t come home for a long time.
It’s a hindrance to a musical career at a high level. There’s no [professional] advantage to living here at all.”
But then Boutros admits that the climate – both weatherwise and culturally – is pretty hard to beat, pointing out that many of the above musicians choose to stay in San Diego because it’s such a great town in which to raise a family, particularly compared to New York.
Karrant is originally from Fort Smith, Arkansas, before heading to New York to pursue acting and music. His travels brought him to San Diego – where, like many of us who are originally from elsewhere else, he managed to somehow not move on.
It was here in San Diego that the two singers first met, starting off a pattern of bumping into each other.
“Sacha and I first met several years ago at a music event here in San Diego, and then bumped into each other soon after at Yoshi’s in San Francisco,” Karrant remembered.
Boutros’ recollection mirrored that:
“I met him at the Red Fox Room about five years ago. We were each with our own friends and we both sang that night.
“Then I ran into him again in San Francisco at a Nancy Wilson concert.”
While the specific program for the December 7 show were still being worked out by the two singers at the time of the interviews, Boutros said the arrangements will be somewhat basic due to the fact that the only accompaniment will be piano and bass. And Boutros admitted to a bias toward Vince Guaraldi’s holiday tunes from the “Peanuts” specials.
But for those fans who miss out on the December show, Karrant indicated there will likely be additional opportunities to hear the two singers down the road.
“I think this will be the start of many projects together. We share a lot of the same tastes musically and we have plans to do some records together down the line.”
See Sacha Boutros and Jonathan Kurrant together on Saturday, December 7, 7pm, at the Athens Market Taverna, 109 W. F St., downtown San Diego. 619.234.1955.
Sacha Boutros’ CD is reviewed in this issue.