Jazztrax has brass with horns, big band sounds

Violins too as jazz greats return to Avalon

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Greg Adams at the Sweet Bay Band.

A funny thing happened to long-time promoter Art Good when he watched a video of the Seabreeze Jazz Festival a few months ago. 

Good, a southern California smooth jazz aficionado who has promoted the popular Jazztrax festival on Catalina Island since 1987, said something happened that day. He remembered how much he liked the sounds of horns mixed with guitars, bass and piano. 

Good said he always enjoys the performance of rising guitarist Norman Brown, who just happened to be on stage that day with three horn players. 

“I said to myself, I’ve got to have Norman Brown, but with the horns,” said Good, who eventually did book Brown for the 2022 festival, coming to the famous Catalina Island Casino the weekend of October 13-16 and a second weekend from October 20-23. 

But, said Good, “I booked Norm under one condition, you’ve gotta have the horns.” 

“I’m paying extra for Norman Brown to bring in a horn section,” laughs Good, saying “Norman Brown is going to bring a horn section.” Brown, in fact, is now booked as the closing act in the Casino on the last night of the festival (Oct. 23). 

In an interview this week, Good said jazz pianist David Benoit is also going to appear with a horn section. The Rendezvous Band will appear along with others in the lineup to bring more of the big band sound to the Casino stage.  

Greg Adams and East Bay Soul is another brass-laden band that will be on the JazzTrax stage in 2022. 

“In many ways, it is reminiscent of Wrigley bringing in jazz greats like Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and the greats that have played this building,” he said. The 93-year-old structure opened in 1929 after William Wrigley, Jr. personally guided its construction. 

“I’m a big fan of horns,” said Good, “they just bring up performance.” 

Good said he is especially happy that saxophonist Dave Koz, one of the most famous horn players in today’s jazz scene, is back at JazzTrax 2022. 

Sultry sax player Mindi Abair, another JazzTrax favorite, will return as well, he said.

In addition to the horns, Good said the violin is another interesting, featured instrument in 2022. In fact, said Good, this year’s Jazztrax logo depicts a mermaid playing a violin. 

Mega jazz star Damien Escobar, who plays an electric violin, will close out the first weekend of JazzTrax, closing the Casino show on Sunday, Oct. 16, he said.

“It is an amazing place for artists to perform,” said Good, noting that he has a special table where he sits every year just absorbing the history, glamour, and elegance of the 93-year-old structure. 

Like last year, this year’s JazzTrax will be a COVID-vaccinated-only event. Only COVID-vaccinated fans will be allowed in, said Good, noting that safety precautions are encouraged by his audience because they want to feel safe. 

Good said in an earlier interview that local hotels are doing a great job of finding places for the attendees for both four-day weekends of the 2022 festival. As usual, JazzTrax has worked out a special schedule with the Catalina Express to accommodate the surge and “day trippers,” who perhaps want to only attend the festival in various segments. 

Here is the entire lineup for the 2022 festival, as Good says there are more additions coming:

Thursday, Oct. 13

Daniel Ho with Janna Xue, Peter White.

Friday, Oct. 14

The Peet Project (The Bad Boys of Budapest), Jazmin Ghent.

Sat., Oct. 15

Randal Clark w/Jeff Lorber, Lindsay Webster w/Adam Hawley, Chris Standring.

Sun., Oct. 16

Gino Rosaria, Richard Elliott, Christian de Mesones w/10-piece band, Damien Escobar.

Thursday, Oct. 20

Blake Aaron, Paul Jackson, Jr.

Fri., Oct. 21

Jessy J, Mindi Abair.

Sat., Oct. 22

Eric Darius, Greg Adams w/East Bay Band, Mark Jaimes, Dave Koz.

Sun., Oct. 23

Jeff Ryan, David Benoit w/Rendezvous Band, Justin Lee Shultz, Norman Brown w/horns. 

Tickets are still available at jazztrax.com.

Jazztrax has brass with horns, big band sounds