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There's Music In The Air in Los Gatos

Silicon Valley/Santa Cruz commuters may want to stop by for some great free tunes Wednesday and Sunday evenings as Jazz on the Plazz celebrates its 10th anniversary in Los Gatos.

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 Aug. 8, Terence Blanchard, who's won five Grammys and two Golden Globe nominations, is performing. He's also the writer of the HBO show series Treme.

Each year, Jazz on the Plazz gives out a Jazz Legend Award. Past recipients have been Mose Allison, Diane Schuur, Cleo Laine and last year's recipient was Jack Jones, who sang The Love Boat theme.

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 terihope@losgatoscoffee.com, 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 18: Mitch Woods and his Rocket 88's, Blue Wednesday

July 24: Gala-Barbara Morrison

July 25: Barbara Morrison

Aug. 1: Akira Tana and The Secret Agent Men

Aug. 8: Terence Blanchard—Jazz Legend Recipient

Aug. 15: Jamie Davis

Aug. 22: Monterey Jazz Festival County High School Allstars

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

Jim Thrall February 20, 2012 at 09:32 PM
The lineup looks great for both concert series. I enjoyed the cover bands. I thought they brought a lot to the party. Its often harder to get crowds to form for unfamiliar music, but in this town folks show up just to be together, and that's community. Love this town!
Robert Menkemeller February 20, 2012 at 11:46 PM
Love the Music in the Park series and really appreciate everyone who puts all the hard work in to make it happen for us. I'm interested in seeing Joe Sharino, Zebop and Tony Lindsay and even though I'm not fully sure of the other bands, the White Album Ensamble sounds good as I'd guess it's a Beatles Tribute band. Can't wait to have the season start. Thanks for all you do!
Mary Lindsay February 21, 2012 at 01:00 AM
Looking forward to both music series! They'll be terrific! Thank you Los Gatos Music & Arts!
Irene Aida Garza-Ortiz February 21, 2012 at 02:55 AM
The line up looks FAB'! Hoping I'm not too tired to go to this after I teach! It's always good to see faces from my childhood there as well! Looking forward to it this year!
Brad Kava (Editor) February 21, 2012 at 03:21 AM
This is a great lineup. Keith Crossan played with Tommy Castro for years and has a really excellent solo album out. One of my favorite funky sax albums ever. Tony Lindsay is Santana's singer. Chris Cain is as close to seeing BB King in his prime as you can get. Sista Monica blows the roof off the place, even if it's outdoors.Freda Payne...that's big. Mitch Woods is the real deal..and those are just off the top of my head. A great chance for people commuting from Santa Cruz to stop off and catch some music on the way home.
Mary Lindsay February 21, 2012 at 03:33 AM
And seeing as how Brad Kava was the music editor/reporter/columnist at the Mercury News for many years (isn't that right?!), I think he knows!
Sheila Sanchez (Editor) February 21, 2012 at 03:41 AM
Hi Brad, thanks for the comment. During my interview with Michael Jacobi he said he knew you from your work KSCO Radio Santa Cruz! Small world. Small world!
Brad Kava (Editor) February 21, 2012 at 03:57 AM
That's right Mary. Now, I have the best job in the world as Santa Cruz Patch editor. But I will be stopping by these shows in LG. How could I not?
Sharon Childs February 21, 2012 at 08:11 PM
What an exciting music season we are going to have this year! The Los Gatos Music & Arts group of volunteers work hard to bring our community together with music. Thank you.

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