Yes, you heard me right. Jazz is back in La Jolla. And this time the La Jolla Community Center is playing a big part in bringing great music to this beach neighborhood known for fine art galleries, haute cuisine restaurants, and more than enough sea lions.
“The turnout has been really surprising,” says Lori Bell. “Jazz these days can sometimes draw a crowd of 40 or 50 people. The hall that we have at the community center, which seats 80, has been filled for every show! We had one show where we had 93 people. They just flowed out onto the patio.”
Bell is Artist in Residency at the La Jolla Community Center and the director of a series of concerts at the center. Held the last or next to last Friday of the month and called the Fourth Friday Jazz Series, the concerts began last July with a performance by Mike Garson and Rob Thorsen and continued through November of last year. As Artist in Residency, Bell joins the guest musicians as part of the performance.
Originally hailing from Brooklyn, New York, Lori Bell has made her home in San Diego for decades. Noted for her full tone and commanding improvisational abilities, she is an outstanding classical and jazz flutist. Her CD, Music of Djavan, was nominated for Best Jazz Album at the San Diego Music Awards. In December of 2011 Bell received an Award of Excellence from the Global Music Awards for her recording, Lori Bell. The award, which serves as a “showcase for original music, unique voices, and undiscovered and emerging artists,” recognized Bell’s recording for its “music of depth and outstanding arrangements of original composition.” In 2010 she was featured on the cover of the San Diego Troubadour.
As a member of the community center’s board of directors, Glen Rassmussen contacted Bell last year to see if she would direct the series. Bell has performed with some of the best musicians. For the series she simply went through her Rolodex (or cell phone, or whatever bit of technology that we use now) and contacted some of the top-notch musicians in San Diego and Los Angeles. “Besides performing with some great musicians, this series gives me a chance to perform new material or work up new arrangements of old standards,” she says. “And it’s just great to perform here. The hall at the community center is just gorgeous.”
Last month the theme for the concert was “Women in Jazz” and featured vocalist Allison Adams-Tucker, bassist Evona Wascinski, and pianist Melonnie Grinnell. Joining this ensemble as a special guest was violinist Jamie Shadowlight.
This month Ron Satterfield returns to the concert series. Paired almost like salt and pepper, Satterfield and Bell have performed with each other as a duo, trio, or other configuration going on 20 years now. “We used to run into each other all the time,” says Bell. “I’d known him as a piano player, not as a guitarist. We finally got together to play some music. He’d found one of my tunes and asked me how I’d written it, and I said that I wrote it on the piano.” Satterfield was incredulous, but Bell sat him down and played the tune for him on the piano. They started performing together soon afterward.
Satterfield will be performing an evening of James Taylor songs. For those of you out there saying, “James Taylor? He’s not jazz!” Satterfield can set the record straight. He says, “What struck me about James Taylor, even when he first hit the scene in the seventies, was that although he was in this singer/songwriter genre, he was very progressive. He was using different chords, very progressive and very jazz-oriented. He added a lot of color to what he was doing, things like minor sevenths major sevenths that you didn’t hear from other singer/songwriters.”
Satterfield has been a fan of James Taylor since the early seventies. New to southern California back then Satterfield performed “Fire and Rain,” which hadn’t taken off yet on the west coast. He remembers the reaction being, “Who is that?”
Satterfield performed a showcase of James Taylor for a date at Dizzy’s back in 2003. Back then he was joined by Roy Gonzales on congas and Kevin Koch on drums. For this month’s concert Tommy Aros will be joining Satterfield on congas. The San Diego transplant uses Taylor’s jazz sensibilities to expand and augment his tunes. For example, Satterfield will play one of Taylor’s songs and add a minor blues section, allowing for jazz solos.
Satterfield will return for next month’s concert. Pianist and composer Dave Mackay will be joining Satterfield and Bell for a reunion of their Interplay Trio. The three musicians formed Interplay back in the late eighties and received a great deal of acclaim for their recordings.
This concert series conclude in June, with a concert by Mike Garson and bassist Bob Magnusson. For more information on the concert series you can check out Bell’s website www.loribellflute.com.