Locals Celebrate National Jazz Month
April is National Jazz Month
Celebrating this original American art form, the 5th Annual California Jazz & Wine Fest takes place Sunday, April 17 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village. Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Westlake Village Sunrise through its 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation, The Sunrise Rotary Foundation, this fundraising event benefits local and international charities, including Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and the Mark Taper and Johnny Mercer Artists Program that focuses on healing the whole child through art and music.
Headlining this year’s event is international jazz favorite, Grammy-award winner Tom Scott and his Quintet. Joining him on the Main Stage are the Adam Clark Trio, Paul McCallum & Friends and the Santa Barbara Community College Jazz Big Band. Featured on the Bistro Stage are The Karl Hunter Band, The Barrelhouse Wailers, Lori Andrews, Jazz Harpist and our own Westlake High School Jazz Ensemble.
Event attendees can also enjoy unlimited premium wines, craft brews and gourmet food from local vendors throughout the day. Get your ticket for this day of great music, food and wine at CaliforniaJazzWine.com or call 805.380.6010. Tickets are $100 per person/general admission and $150 per person/VIP admission (one-hour early entry for tasting, valet parking, preferred seating and other amenities). Tickets are limited; must be 21 or older to attend.
Fans of jazz genres, from bop, modern, cool and fusion to traditional, big bands and vocalists, will find a growing jazz scene in the Conejo Valley and throughout Ventura County, thanks to several jazz greats moving into the community in the past couple decades.
Legendary jazz clarinetist and big band leader, the late Artie Shaw, called Newbury Park his home, as does Don Randi, pioneer of the legendary jazz club The Baked Potato. Bonnie Bowden, who replaced Lani Hall and toured the world with the Sergio Mendes Brasil band in the 70s and 80s, is another local jazz great who has lived in Oak Park for more than 25 years. Bonnie performs locally and throughout the region.
Another wonderful local talent is singer Lola Haag. Performing at Bogie’s and Galletos, Lola was named Best Jazz Artist in Ventura County at the Ventura County Music Awards in 2015. Find performance information at LolaHaag.com.
The newly remodeled Bogie’s at the Westlake Village Inn features great straight ahead jazz Tuesday nights, saving locals from a trek into Hollywood or beyond. And unlike most of the Los Angeles venues, Bogie’s has no cover charge.
The first Monday of each month at the Palm Garden Hotel in Thousand Oaks (Ventu Park exit off the 101) finds the Harry Selvin Big Band swinging and celebrating the music of Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Frank Sinatra and even mixing in some Count Basie. The music makes you feel like dancing, and despite the excellent food and drinks, you and your partner can’t stay seated for very long. Find out more at HarrySelvin.com or call 805.716.4200.
Find more live jazz at the Market Street Broiler in the Simi Town Shopping Center on Friday nights and at Galletos in Westlake Village on Saturday nights, where jazz guitar nights are often led by local jazz great Jim Fox. Also check out the Squashed Grape in Ventura, which recently relocated and added dinner to complement their jazz entertainment.
Passing the Torch
Conejo Valley is also fortunate to offer excellent jazz programs to middle and high schoolers, led by talented and supportive local band directors. The students compete in local, regional and national competitions and perform at local events, such as the California Jazz & Wine Fest.
Whatever your jazz jones, you can find the latest updates on the local jazz scene at VenturaCountyJazz.com.
Ira Nepus is a professional musician and has been a jazz enthusiast his entire life. For local jazz updates, visit IraNepus.com and IraNepusMusic.com.
Ben Malkin is a stone cold jazz fan and publisher of Conejo Valley Lifestyle.