We ventured down to Newport Avenue on Saturday to check out the Jazz 88 OB Music & Art Festival. The sounds of jazz filled the air, and the crowds, while not as big as the Street Fair/Chili Cook Off, were decent. With 7 stages, 26 bands and 70 artists participating, there was certainly something for everybody, even if you didn’t have the thirty bucks to buy access to the paid stages. Newport Avenue was closed off between Bacon and Cable for the Artist booths. There were also numerous “craft” booths scattered about.
Musicians were performing on stages at Winston’s, the Harp, & Gallaghers. All were jam packed, as was the side stage next to Hodads. We couldn’t really see the VIP crowd in the OB Hotel Courtyard, but the main stage seating in the OB pier parking lot appeared to be not quite full while we made our rounds. The (no cost, all ages) Community Stage “Presented by City Councilman Kevin Falconer” was jumping, being located in Veterans Park, adjacent to assorted food vendors and craft booths.
After wandering about and checking out the scene, we parked in front of the Community stage to catch a little jazz and were blown away by the performance of a group of teenagers who play with the School for Creative and Performing Arts Jazz Combo. Their set included standards by (among others) Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, David Sanborne and Grover Washington. The composition of the band changed throughout the show with performers coming and going from the stage as needed; the leads bounced back and forth between alto & tenor sax, trumpet, guitar, piano and vocals. It was very cool to watch the faces of people walking into the area as they realized that these big sounds were coming from such young musicians.
Vocalist Jullanar Gamboa wowed the crowd with renditions of “Fly Me to the Moon” and “The Girl from Ipanema”. Southern California trumpet virtuoso, Gilbert Castellanos, who played on one of the main stages with the New Latin Jazz Quintet, sat in with the band and gave a jaw-dropping performance. And the show closed with a rousing rendition of the classic “Caravan”, originally performed by Duke Ellington in 1937.
The festival was sponsored in part by San Diego City College (KSDS) Jazz 88.3, one of the few radio stations in America to offer full-time, undiluted Jazz programming and OB Mainstreet Association.