The 2012 lineup for the 20 free public outdoor concerts that make up the two popular Jazz on the Plazz and Music in the Park summer series has been announced and you won't be disappointed.
It's also the 10th anniversary of Jazz on the Plazz, started in 2002 by a group of dedicated volunteers who serve on the umbrella nonprofit Los Gatos Music & Arts organization that puts it all together.
The nonprofit's mission is to inspire, nurture, develop, facilitate and produce concerts and educational programs and scholarships that benefit the local community.
Jazz on the Plazz concerts draw between 2,500 and 3,000 residents to each performance at Town Plaza Park and Music in the Park draws about 4,500 to the Civic Center lawn on Main Street, according to organizers.
And contrary to popular perception, the concerts aren't paid for by the Town of Los Gatos. They are 99 percent funded by private individuals and organizations, organizers said. Therefore the need for Los Gatos Music & Arts volunteers to aggressively look for sponsorships to continue the events in the future.
"We can't keep doing the concerts unless we have people in the community willing to step up and be a part of the mission of promoting arts and music," said Los Gatos community advocate Jonathan Knowles, who serves as chairman of the board of directors of Los Gatos Music & Arts.
In many circles, Jazz on the Plazz is considered one of the premier free concert series in the country, said executive producer Michael Jacobi.
The high caliber of Grammy Award winners and jazz legends is unmatched by any other public community based jazz offering, Jacobi noted.
"You can see jazz in a lot of places, but to actually see an established artist, that's something rare. If you were to go to a jazz club, you would have to pay a cover charge," Jacobi added.
Knowles said those who learn about the nonprofit and its high-quality concerts are astonished by its talented performers.
Knowles said they're also surprised that a year or so after seeing them perform in Los Gatos, the jazz musicians start headlining in more important venues.
For example, Jazz on the Plazz opens June 20 with international recording artist Freda Payne, who's starred in the award-winning musical Blues In The Night, Jelly's Last Jam and also in the Broadway production of Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies, Ain't Misbehaving' and the Tony Award winning production of Hallelujah Baby.
On July 25, Barbara Morrison is scheduled to perform and she'll also be singing during the Jazz on the Plazz Gala July 24, which is a charity event held at the home of Los Gatos residents Larry Arzie and David Stonesifer.
"I'm in New York once a year and it's always very gratifying that people are not only aware of our event, but I have artist come to me and say, 'We would love to play there because we know how well you take care of your artists,' " Jacobi said.
Jazz on the Plazz kicks off Wednesday June 20, 6:30-8:30 p.m., through Aug. 29, at Town Plaza, at the intersection of West Main Street and Santa Cruz Avenue near the post office.
Music in the Park begins Sunday, June 17, 5-7 p.m., through Aug. 26 on the Civic Center lawn. This year, organizers say it's moved away from tribute bands still offering some of them, but also a great mix.
"They're free to go, but they're not free to put on," Jacobi said about the effort and the need for sponsorships. "You may hear the magic, but the whole thing doesn't happen magically."
Those interested in sponsoring the series should contact Jacobi at Jazzstandards1@aol.com, or 408-483-3353. They can also contact Los Gatos Music & Arts President Teri Hope at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 408-348-7766.
The Jazz on the Plazz series lineup is as follows:
June 20: Freda Payne
June 27: Spider Saloff
July 11: Keith Crossan
July 24: Gala-Barbara Morrison
July 25: Barbara Morrison
Aug. 1: Akira Tana and The Secret Agent Men
Aug. 15: Jamie Davis
Aug. 29: Paula West
The Music in the Park series lineup is as follows:
June 17: Joe Sharino
June 24: Zebop!
July 1: Sista Monica
July 8: Tempest
July 15: White Album Ensemble
July 22: Opera San Jose
July 29: Sambada
Aug. 5: Tony Lindsay
Aug. 19: Chris Cain
Aug. 26 Pete Escovedo