Perhaps it’s my East Coast and Midwest upbringing, but I have little tolerance for winter anymore, even the placid season we “endure” in Northern California. The aforementioned regions are digging out from a series of punishing storms right now while I’m rummaging around for my shorts and looking to spring and summer.
Toward that end, I conducted some save-the-date research on the 2010 editions of Northern California’s leading jazz festivals. Tickets are not on sale yet and, for the most part, the festival’s lineups have not been announced. That doesn’t mean we can’t pencil these events in, however, and let our minds imagine the great music, food and drink they offer, all set beneath the glorious California sun.
Sacramento Jazz Jubilee
When: May 28-31
Where: Old Sacramento and other venues
Lowdown: The world’s largest Dixieland jazz festival has expanded its palette remarkably in recent years. The 37th edition will feature a variety of other jazz genres along with blues, zydeco and more. Already announced is a Saturday performance by the Molly Ringwald Quartet – the actress grew up in the Sacramento area and her father is a life long jazz performer.
Healdsburg Jazz Festival
When: June 4-13
Where: Various Healdsburg venues
Lowdown: Now in its 12th year, this Sonoma County favorite makes ample use of the area’s many intimate venues. No news yet on who’s playing in 2010 but just bear in mind that last year’s lineup featured such luminaries as Julian Lage, Esperanza Spalding, Randy Weston and James Moody.
Fillmore Jazz Festival
When: July 3-4
Where: Fillmore Street between Jackson and Eddy, San Francisco
Lowdown: This fest’s website sums up its appeal. “The best talent the Bay has to offer is showcased on our stages, from up-and-coming jazz fusion and Latin-flavored acts to seasoned crooners belting out jazz standards.” Last year, the lineup included the likes of Marcus Shelby, Lavay Smith and Kim Nalley.
San Jose Jazz Festival
When: August 13-15
Where: Downtown San Jose
Lowdown: This Silicon Valley favorite turns 21 this year and you can expect it to again draw more than 100,000 people to central San Jose for a hot weekend of jazz plus blues, R&B, salsa, electronic and more. The ideal festival for the family with diverse musical tastes.
Russian River Jazz Festival
When: Sept. 11-12
Where: Johnson’s Beach, Guerneville
Lowdown: This event has changed its name to Jazz on the River but it remains paired with the Russian River Blues Festival. Tickets are on sale although no acts have been announced yet. On the other hand, do you really need an excuse to visit the beautiful and wine-drenched Russian River region?
Monterey Jazz Festival
When: Sept. 17-19
Where: Monterey County Fairgrounds
Lowdown: Statistics speak volumes when it comes to this event. Monterey marks its 53rd year in 2010, meaning it remains America’s longest continually operating jazz fest. Attendees will encounter more than 500 artists performing on eight stages across three nights and two days. The actual lineup has yet to be announced but we should know who’s who by the time tickets go on sale March 29. We do know that the marvelous Dianne Reeves serves as artist-in-residence and that the youth-oriented Next Generation Festival is set for April 9-11 in downtown Monterey.
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