I’ve been writing about the local jazz scene for a few years now, both for Examiner and as a volunteer for the Bakersfield Jazz Workshop. One of the things I’ve noticed is that Bakersfield, known for Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and the “Bakersfield Sound,” also has a very rich jazz history as well as a vibrant, current jazz scene.
Every genre of jazz seems to be covered in Bakersfield. We have straight ahead, latin, smooth, and free jazz. There are artists who make classic rock songs jazzy and some who give pop tunes a “chilled out” jazzy vibe. Still others specialize in fusion, be-bop, big band, funk, blues, bossa nova, New Orleans, etc.
All musicians need a place to play and there are several in town that offer jazz regularly for their customers. These include The Padre Hotel, Le Corusse Rouge, Imbibe, King Tut, Metro Galleries, Que Pasa, Cafe Med, and the Crest Bar & Grill. Even Sandrini’s, known more for rock bands, offers up jazz once in awhile. The Bell Tower Club, Stars Dinner Theatre, and The Petroleum Club also have special jazz events during the year.
You can catch jazz at Bakersfield College when the BC Jazz Ensemble performs and at Cal State Bakersfield with its recurring Jazz Coffeehouses. The annual and widely respected Bakersfield Jazz Festival is held at CSUB every May as well. Additionally, several of Bakersfield’s high schools have outstanding jazz programs of their own.
In short, if you’re a jazz fan, then there are venues here in town that can fill whatever need for jazz that you have.
Notwithstanding the above, you still need jazz musicians if you want to hear jazz music. Given that, you may be surprised at just how many outstanding jazz musicians live and perform in Bakersfield.
So, for those of you who may not have read any of my previous articles, as well as the rest of you, here’s a list of many of Bakersfield’s jazz performers. It consists primarily of those who regularly appear in Bakersfield. I’ve included website links when known, as well as pictures of many of them in the accompanying slideshow.
Let me know if I’ve forgotten anyone or anyplace.
Bakersfield’s jazz performers:
Mark Meyer, Steve Eisen, Rick Lincoln, Pat Cierley, Randy Fendrick, Kama Ruby, Rick Taira, Steve Merrick, Glen Fong, Robin Bramlett, Terry Cano, Mike Raney (trumpet), Mike Raney (sax), Paula Einstein, Paul Perez, Pat O’Connell, Jay Smith, Jamael Dana Dean, Shawn Smith, Zanne Zarow, Zeke Victor, Jay Jay Hicks, Darren Gholston, Lawanda Smith, Mbaya Cotton, Colorblind, Kelulu, Dan Murillo, Paul Cierley, Jim Scully, Jenn Neil, Doug Davis, Ray Zepeda, Linda and Keith Barbour, Mike Montano, Jeff Rosbrugh, Mike Bhone, Gerry Huggins, Soulajar, Mark Manda, Laura Booker, Alton Gordon, Kris Tiner, Bakersfield Jazz Orchestra, BC Jazz Ensemble, Candace Freeman, Jonathan Martinez, Chris Nguyen, Isaiah Morfin, Mark Hall, Micah Nacita, Richie Perez, Melissa Lucas, Mike Smothers, Jeff Ingle, Mark Infante, Ron Christian, Sam Sands, Ken Bausano, Jonathan Weinmann, and many, many more. My apologies to those I’ve forgotten.