JazzTrax returns to the island

Courtesy Photo Mindi Abair returns to the Jazztrax stage after a five-year interlude to be the featured artist for the “Unplugged” event to open both festival weekends.

Another small step to normalcy

For the first time since 2019, the sweet sounds of jazz are expected to waft across Avalon as the 34th Anniversary of JazzTrax opened last night.

“It’s been a whole lotta work,” said promoter Art Good, but he said the JazzTrax reboot was nearly complete as he and a team of technicians and professionals from around the country have been busy getting ready for this year’s festival.

The JazzTrax Festival was scheduled to open Thursday, October 14 with saxophonist Mindi Abair playing “Unplugged” on the beach at Descanso. Abair will play at the “Unplugged” session next Thursday as well, Good said.

Abair was already scheduled for the “Unplugged” event Oct. 14, said Good, which is sold out. And, following a cancellation by fusion guitarist Marc Antoine due to sickness, he said Abair will step back onto the sand for the Oct. 21 performance of “Unplugged” as well.

“Mindy is an amazing sax player and we are very fortunate to have her make two appearances during the JazzTrax Festival,” said Good.

Keyboardist Lisa Addeo was scheduled to open for Abair on Oct. 14 and Fatburger guitarist Evan Marks is scheduled to open on Oct. 21, he added.

“It’s been extraordinarily difficult” to get the 34-year-old festival back on track, said Good, but he said ticket sales were great as “faithful fans are apparently very eager to come back.”

Good said the festival will enforce rules that require proof of vaccination to enter the Casino and other JazzTrax events. “I have been very clear about it from the beginning,” said Good, noting that the L.A. County health guidelines that govern safety requirements for such events will be enforced.

After announcing the vaccination requirement to his massive base of fans, Good said the reaction has been “overwhelmingly positive.” Good said he has been sending detailed email updates to ticket holders to make sure they are aware proof of vaccinations will be required.

Getting JazzTrax back on stage is more than personal for Good. He has staged the Catalina Island JazzTrax Festival since the 1980’s and remains thrilled about putting on the big show inside the iconic Casino built by William Wrigley Jr. in 1929.

Good said he never tires of seeing the smiles on the faces of fans listening to jazz in the iconic Avalon Casino. “There is just something special about all of these people together enjoying themselves in this famous building on a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific,” said Good.

“It makes it all worth it,” said Good.

After missing 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the internationally recognized Catalina Island JazzTrax Festival returns to the Avalon Casino stage for the next two weekends, Oct. 14-17 and again from October 21-24.

Artists also appearing on the festival’s opening weekend, from Oct. 14-17, include keyboardist Lisa Addeo, saxophonist/singer Mindi Abair, keyboardist Nicholas Cole, guitarist Steve Oliver, saxophonist Gerald Albright, keyboardist Gregg Karukas, singer Jeffrey Osborne, flutist Kim Scott, the legendary group Spyro Gyra, Roman Street, and trumpeter Rick Braun.

On Friday, Oct. 22, the popular feature, “Sax to the Max” event at Descanso Beach returns, featuring a trio of spectacular saxophonists: Paul Taylor, Michael Lington and Vincent Ingala, according to Good.

Finally, the festival’s closing weekend (Oct. 21 -24) will feature Fatburger guitarist Evan Marks, classical guitarist, Toronto’s Four 80 East, harpist Mariea Antoinette, keyboardist Kayla Waters and saxophonist Kim Waters (daughter and father), Randall Clark, a debut saxophonist from Salt Lake City, Larry Carlton, keyboardist Carol Albert, legendary saxophonist NAJEE, and guitarist Adam Hawley.

The JazzTrax closing act on Oct. 24 includes world famous guitarist Peter White, appearing with saxophonist Euge Groove on the Casino stage.