Jazz concerts in San Diego – outdoor and socially distanced – flourishing from La Jolla to North Park

The number of social distanced live jazz concerts in San Diego is slowly but steadily increasing as musicians and promoters cautiously navigate the evolving landscape of the coronavirus pandemic for paid live events.

Weekly open-air performances have been taking place since February 17 at Panama 66’s Balboa Park, which has eight more Wednesday concerts led by top trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos scheduled for April, two per night. This Wednesday’s two performances by Castellanos – the founder of the Young Lions Jazz Conservatory at Liberty Station – are already sold out.

Outdoor concerts also began in February in North Park at Queen Bee’s Art & Cultural Center, which will begin on Tuesday featuring indoor concerts led by saxophonist Charlie Arbelaez, the venue’s new musical director. He’s been a mainstay of Queen Bee’s for some time and hosted a live benefit concert on February 10, which also featured Castellanos, for the then-closed popular cultural center.

In addition to the options, La Jolla Music Society announced on Monday a three-part jazz concert series in its Wu Tsai courtyard at the Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center. It begins on April 21 with rising pianist Christian Sands and his trio. Multiple Grammy nominees Sands was a teenage patron of jazz keyboard luminary Billy Taylor.
The company, which last week announced an outdoor chamber music concert series at the same La Jolla site, also calls its outdoor venue The QRT.yrd. (This moniker should not be confused with the Courtyard in downtown San Diego, somewhat of the same name, which has hosted periodic outdoor jazz events over the years.)

There’s even more jazz to come, starting tonight – March 29 – when La Jolla Athenaeum Music & Arts Library‘s live jazz performance series kicks off with a performance by five-time award-winning pianist Billy Childs. ‘a Grammy Award. He will be accompanied by bassist Dave Robaire.

Internationally renowned San Diego saxophonist Charles McPherson will perform the concert live on May 17. The Athenaeum is exploring outdoor performance options for this summer, according to its jazz program coordinator, Daniel Atkinson.

A full list of upcoming San Diego jazz concerts appears below, along with ticket information. Outdoor live concerts are for all ages with remote corporate headquarters and a requirement for spectators to wear masks except when consuming food or drink.

The capacity of the three outdoor jazz concert halls in San Diego is similar, as each is limited to 25% of their usual capacity by current sanitary guidelines in California and San Diego County. This means 79 people per concert at QRT.yrd, 75 people at Queen Bee’s and between 50 and 64 at each performance of Panama 66.

A growing hybrid

Cuban-born percussion virtuoso Pedrito Martinez returns for a concert in June in La Jolla with his band.

(Photo by Brenda Kenneally

“We had our Tuesday jam sessions held on our back patio,” said Queen Bee Music Director Arbelaez, who teaches jazz at Palomar College. “But with a reduced capacity, we can only accommodate around 30 people. By moving indoors, we can more than double that number to 75 – and we won’t have to worry about the weather.

Arbelaez hopes to launch a weekly series of jazz concerts at Queen Bee’s as soon as health guidelines allow. He thanks Castellanos, saxophonist McPherson and Holly Hofmann, flautist and organizer of jazz concerts from San Diego, for providing him with expert advice on the development of the series he is considering.

In a development that reflects a growing hybrid, the four paid outdoor concerts at Panama 66 Wednesday in April will also be broadcast live on the YouTube channel. ElectricLouieTerre. Live-streamed concerts will be free, although an online musicians tip option will be available to online attendees.

“The paid dinner concerts sold out quickly, which we are very happy with,” said Castellanos, who works closely with Panama 66 co-owner Jeff Motch.

“It’s also great to have them broadcast live by Louis Valenzuela – and (the radio station) Jazz 88 KSDS will start to rebroadcast some of the shows on Saturday afternoon,” continued Castellanos. “I’m actually doing a live concert this Sunday at 5 pm to help Louis raise money to upgrade his equipment. Lots of musicians will play, including Rob Thorsen, Christopher Hollyday, Irving Flores and Charlie Arbelaez.

Due to the COVID-19-fueled interior hall closures, the Wednesday night jam sessions that Castellanos has also hosted for years next to Panama 66 in the auditorium of the San Diego Museum of Art have been discontinued. last year. He and Motch look forward to resuming traffic jams – and full service at Panama 66 – when it is safe and permitted to do so.

“Honestly, it will depend not only on which sanitary guidelines allow us to fully reopen, but when it makes sense for us to do so, and when is it comfortable and safe for our customers and employees,” said Motch, who is also co-owner of Blind Lady Ale House in Normal Heights with his wife, Clea Hantman.

“We do the same at Panama 66 as we do at Blind Lady Ale House, constantly talking to our customers. We want to measure the temperature of the room to see when they are comfortable eating out and attending social events. We don’t want to go until our customers are ready to go – and not until our employees are ready to go …

“Most of our employees are fully immunized, or will be in April, and that will change a lot of views. It will be great for our employees to feel safe and confident that they won’t get sick or miss work, and that they can serve people regardless of who they are serving.

As of this month, Panama 66 also hosts concerts featuring different musical styles every Friday and Saturday. No tickets are required for these performances, but food and drink purchases are.

Jazz Athenaeum

Performances take place at 7 p.m. and can be streamed for up to 48 hours after taking place. $ 15 (members), $ 20 (non-members). ljathenaeum.org/events; (858) 454-5872

Tonight: Billy Childs and Dave Robaire

April 12: Eric Reed and John Clayton

May 17: Charles McPherson and his gang

June 14: Larry Koonse and Josh Nelson

La Jolla Music Society Courtyard Jazz

Performances take place at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. $ 70 and $ 80 (includes a $ 10 drink voucher). ljms.org; (858) 459-3728

April 24: Christian Sands Trio

June 11: Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio, with Jimmy James and Dan Weiss

June 24: Pedrito Martinez Group

Panama 66 Jazz Club Dinner

The performances are at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. $ 25 and more. panama66.com/ live music Tickets for the April performances will go on sale, gradually – concert by concert – on Sunday, from around 7 p.m.

April 7: Gilbert Castellanos Quartet, with Sam Hirsh, John Murray and Kevin Kanner

April 14: “The Original Hammond B3 Organ Quartet Reunion Concert”, with Gilbert Castellanos, Anthony Wilson, Joe Bagg and Mark Ferber

April 21: Gilbert Castellanos Quartet, with Joshua White, Marshall Hawkins and Tyler Kreutel

April 28: Gilbert Castellanos Quartet, with Joshua White, John Murray and Tyler Kreutel

Artistic and cultural center of the queen bee

Performance times vary. queenbeessd.com

Today and every Tuesday at 8 p.m.: Jazz Botanka jam session, with Charlie Arbelaez, his band and his guests. To free.

Friday: Charlie Arbelaez presents “Just Play”, with Christopher Hollyday and Doug Webb. 7 p.m. $ 25.

April 23: Jon Mayer Trio, with Roy McCurdy and Will Lyle. 7:30 p.m.

Willie J. Johnson

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