Jazz Festival celebrates 25 years as Bakersfield’s 'Rite of Spring'

Jezz Festival For 25 years, California State University, Bakersfield has been bringing some of the biggest names in jazz to town with the Bakersfield Jazz Festival. Local jazz lovers have been treated to the sounds of Dizzy Gillespie, Chick Corea, Wynton Marsalis and David Sanborn.

This year, Bakersfield's "Rite of Spring" will once again entertain jazz fans with a stellar lineup on May 6 and 7 at CSUB's Outdoor Amphitheatre. Friday night's show begins at 6 p.m. and features Mento Buru, Dr. D's Debris, smooth jazz artist Eric Darius, and Latin jazz giant Pete Escovedo. The festival continues Saturday at 2 p.m. with an afternoon of local bands, followed by an evening fireworks show and headlining acts Allan Holdsworth, New York Voices and Rick Braun.

"It's the success of the festival that has allowed it to continue for 25 years," said CSUB music professor Doug Davis, who has organized the event since its inception. "At the very first concert, jazz lovers came out in droves. They were ready to have a moment to celebrate the music they love, and it really made it clear there was an audience in Bakersfield that would support jazz."

Today, on any given night, you can find live jazz music being performed at many venues around town. Groups such as the nonprofit Bakersfield Jazz Workshop not only entertain but educate the public about jazz music. Local bands such as Soulajar and Mento Buru have made a name for themselves on the scene.

"Many members of those bands are former students from CSUB and Bakersfield College," Davis points out.

In addition to the great music, there will be a variety of food and drinks for sale, including beer and wine, plus an artisans pavilion and other vendors. Local group Imagine Ballet Company will also return to the stage for an upbeat performance.

Festival-goers are welcome to bring blankets to spread on the grassy lawn, and coolers with picnic items. Alcoholic beverages, however, are not allowed to be brought in.

All proceeds go to scholarships for CSUB students. Last year, $30,000 in scholarships were awarded to more than 50 students across disciplines at the university. Major sponsors for this year's festival are: BMW, Heineken, Occidental Petroleum, Bolthouse Farms and Wells Fargo.

Two-day combo tickets are $55 general, $35 students, and free for children under 12. Friday night tickets in advance are $32 general and $23 students; at the gate they are $36 general and $27 students. Saturday tickets in advance are $35 general and $25 students; at the gate they are $40 general and $30 students. Two-day reserved tables for six are $450. For tickets, call Vallitix at 661-322-5200 or visit www.ticketswest.com. For more information about the Bakersfield Jazz Festival, visit www.bakersfieldjazz.com.

Bakersfield Jazz Festival Lineup

Friday, May 6, 7 p.m. (gates open 6 p.m.)

Main Stage

  • Dr. D's Debris: The "mad and blues-infused" compositions of Doug Davis with an all-star sextet, featuring the frontline horns of Ken Bausano, Mike Raney, and Paul Perez.
  • Eric Darius: His explosive arrival as a recording artist at 17 led to sharing the stage with everyone from Prince to Wynton Marsalis. Now with a No. 1 Billboard Contemporary Jazz hit.
  • Pete Escovedo Latin Jazz Orchestra: Escovedo leads one of the finest ensembles in Latin jazz and the winner of numerous "Bammy" awards. It's truly a family affair with daughter Sheila E., son Juan, and brother Peter Michael often onstage with the 10-piece group.
Festival Entry Stage
  • Mento Buru: World-Beat with the flavors of ska, reggae, Latin, and jazz, their sound is an on-going Bakersfield party.

Saturday, May 7, 2 p.m. (gates open 1 p.m.)

Main Stage

  • Kern County Honor Jazz Band: The best of Kern County's young jazz talent takes the stage.
  • Rickety Ship: An all-star sextet comprised of outstanding CSUB soloists Mark Manda, Chris Nguyen, Jo-El Patterson, and Fernando Montoya with pianist Jay Smith and drummer Canaan McDuffie.
  • Soulajar: Winners of the Starbucks/Hearmusic SoCal Music Award, combines funky grooves and exhilarating jamming into intricate songs with an uplifting message.
  • Kris Tiner Quintet: Featured on NPR Music as one of five new trumpet voices impacting modern music, Tiner's music has been described as "Smart, kicking and as natural as a heartbeat." (Jazztimes)
  • Allan Holdsworth: Winner of Guitar Player Magazine's poll as "best guitar synthesist," for many consecutive years, Holdsworth's trademark sound routinely soars to supersonic intensity. The guitar icon will be joined by Bass Institute instructor Ernest Tibbs and drummer Ronald Bruner, heard on the 2011 Grammy Award winner for best contemporary jazz album.
  • New York Voices: This multiple Grammy Award winning vocal ensemble is renowned for their extraordinary scope of music and the art of group singing.
  • Rick Braun: Four No. 1 hits on Billboard's Contemporary Jazz Chart in the past decade and five-time winner of National Contemporary Jazz Awards including Best Album and Song of the Year, "incredible chemistry that yields colorful beats with old school soul and modern groove."

Festival Entry Stage

  • Bakersfield Jazz Workshop: Their motto "Hear it, Learn it, Play it" says it all as this nonprofit educates others on the enjoyment of performing and listening to jazz.
  • Fat Daddy Blues Band: This local band is about mixing great blues music with a professional sound and performance.

For More Information

Contact CSUB Public Affairs
(661) 654-2136