It may still feel like summer but the arts fall season has already begun.
The early bird is usually the Jazz’SAlive Festival, now in its 33rd year of bringing together local and national jazz musicians to entertain San Antonians in Travis Park. It’s a mostly-free two-day musical blast, complete with food and arts vendors, children’s play zone, and a Children’s Symposium Sunday morning at 10 a.m. The latter introduces kids to various musical instruments but each child must be accompanied by an adult.
On Saturday, Sept. 17, musical acts follow each other throughout the day, from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., with an “after dark” jam session at the St. Anthony Hotel that ends at 1 a.m. On Sunday, the fun continues from noon to 10 p.m. If you want a reserved seat in a specially designated premium area, it will cost you $30-$50.
The lineup includes familiar names such as Henry Brun and the Latin Playerz Orchestra; Grammy-winning saxophonist Joe Lovato and his trio; Lao Tizer and his band; saxophonist Kirk Whatlum, and terrific guitarist Sergio Lara and his trio. Like me, you may remember Lara’s collaboration with Joe Reyes that years ago produced several flamenco-flavored Latin jazz recordings under the name of Lara & Reyes. At our house, we still cherish those CDs. This time, he will play with two new partners, bassist Greg Norris and percussionist David Alvarado, plus a special guest, guitarist Carlos Sanchez.
Other participating groups include the Wasabi Big Band (11 musicians); UIW Cardinal Jazz Band; Dr. Zog; the Tony Bray Quartet; the Sparky Thomason Quintet; San Antonio River Rats Brass Band and a group that calls itself the Azul Experience. The name intrigued me enough to find out more about them. Well, it turns out the band is made up of former Air Force veterans who have all toured at some point with the Tops in Blue band. They are: Darryl McEachin (keyboardist and co-founder), Godfrey Smith (drummer and co-founder). Henry Roberson (bassist) and Chris Knox (guitarist).
For a different kind of experience, you may want to attend the special Jazz Mass at the nearby St. Mark’s Episcopal Church at 9 or 11:15 a.m. on Sunday. This should be a memorable experience but arrive early, the church’s beautiful sanctuary is not very big. (www.saparksfoundation.org)
More rousing music will be heard this weekend at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts as the San Antonio Symphony, the Mastersingers and the Children’s Chorus of San Antonio kick off the fall season with one of the most vigorous and enjoyable music works ever written, the boisterous “Carmina Burana” by Carl Orff. Take the kids to this concert; they won’t be bored! (www.tobincenter.org)
And since we are talking about music, here’s an oldie-but-goodie, “The Sound of Music” in a new production at the Majestic Theater. The show inaugurated the 2016-17 Broadway in San Antonio season. Under the direction of Tony-winning director Jack O’Brien, it tells the iconic story with a fresh, more contemporary touch. Asked by an interviewer how he would like the audience to feel after seeing his “Sound of Music,” O’Brien replied: “Astonished.” You can be “astonished” at 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. (www.majesticempire.com)
Theater companies across the city are also readying new productions but we’ll talk about that next time. Have a fun weekend!