Santa Barbara Jazz Society Summer Jazz Jam
When: 1-4 p.m., Aug. 18
Tickets: $15 for SBJS members; $25 nonmembers; $5 for full-time students; $7 for vocal jazz musicians with membership.
By JOSH GREGA
NEWS-PRESS STAFF WRITER
Local jazz musicians are invited to show their talent at the Santa Barbara Jazz Society’s annual Summer Jazz Jam, a three-hour session of improvising on jazz standards at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club.
On Aug. 18 jazz instrumentalists and singers will bring their charts of choice and take turns sitting in with the SBJS four-piece house band, consisting of pianist Debbie Denke, her husband Kim Collins on bass, drummer James Antunez, and Jon Crosse on trumpet, saxophone and several other wind instruments.
While the songs played with guest musicians will mostly be on-the-fly and unrehearsed, the event will feature some numbers with just the house band as well as a prepared rendition of the Michael Franks composition “Scatsville,” on which the quartet will back up a vocal trio that includes SBJS President Natalie Wilson.
Ms. Wilson said the afternoon is sure to be unpredictable and showcase both seasoned and less experienced performers.
“It’s always fun. There will be singers who perform quite a bit and there are some who just want to get up and sing who have less experience,” she said,
Since he was unable to attend the jazz society’s Christmas jam last December due to a wrist injury that required surgery, Mr. Antunez said he was happy to be invited back to the house band this time around. Though he’s still on the mend from his injury, he will play drums and for a few numbers, sing simultaneously.
He particularly looks forward to playing with guests he hasn’t yet performed with, as it makes him think about how to best use his instrument in response to what they are playing or singing. It also adds to the excitement and unpredictability, Mr. Antunez said.
“We don’t know what we’re going to play, but it’s a journey,” he said.
Though Ms. Denke and Mr. Collins often played together in their younger years, the pianist said these days she and her husband are busy with separate musical gigs and don’t perform with each other as often as one may expect. However, once they start playing together, the chemistry is instantaneous.
“When we do a gig, it’s like everything comes back from years past,” she said.
Members of the house band’s rhythm section may at certain points vacate the stage if a guest shows up to play drums, bass or piano. Multi-instrumentalist Jon Crosse however, will likely be ever-present. Specializing in wind instruments, Mr. Crosse will bring several horns to the jam session In addition to his main instruments, trumpet and saxophone, of which he will have a tenor, alto, and soprano. He will also bring a flugelhorn, clarinet, alto flute, and a regular flute. If a guest arrives with a trumpet in hand, Mr. Crosse will break out one of his saxophones or whichever other instrument he wishes.
“Jon Crosse is amazing at every horn he can put in his mouth,” Ms. Denke said.
A seasoned musician who spends most of his time serving as musical director for Canadian singer and songwriter Paul Anka, Mr. Crosse said he has played with most of the area’s jazz musicians. Thus, he expects the guests will be people he has already had onstage experience with.
“It’s a comfortable situation in that regard,” he said.