Outdoor Music and Film Festival is Jazzing Up Los Osos
In the future, Phil Cisneros sees his Back Bay Jazz Festival as a three-day event taking place in venues throughout the county.
I want to make it a tradition here on the Central Coast, he said. And I want it to be bigger and bigger.
But Cisneros knows that it will take time to build the event. So right now he's focused on drawing attention to the three acts that will appear at this weekend's festival.
For the festival's second year, Cisneros has brought back the Zongo! All Stars, and he's added two more the Roger Eddy Quartet from Monterey and the Redskunk Jipzee Swing Band, a teenage quartet from Morro Bay.
Cisneros came up with the idea for the festival when he joined the Los Osos/Baywood Park Chamber of Commerce. Cisneros, the president of the chamber, figured the festival could raise funds for the chamber.
A musician himself, Cisneros used to shoot photos of the popular Monterey Jazz Festival for a local radio station (and once found himself in a room talking jazz with Diana Krall and Clint Eastwood.)
While there are talented jazz musicians in San Luis Obispo County, he said, there aren't a lot of jazz festivals here.
This year's fest features three very different bands. The Zongo! All Stars, played the inaugural festival last year. The seven-piece percussive band grew out of a popular group called Mosaic, which performed in San Luis Obispo in the 1990's.
Most of us have over a decade of experience playing together, said Zongo trumpet player Paul Irving.
In the late '90s, he said, many of the band members left the area for school. When they came back, the band reunited as the All Stars.
Most of the guys in the band are monster players, he said. And we also tend to bring up guest musicians.
Sean Sullivan, a drummer with the band, recently won the Drum Circuit's Best of the Best contest, featuring winners from its contest over the past 20 years.
The All Stars, who play Afro-Cuban and Afro- Caribbean music, have a busy schedule for the summer, with gigs lined up at the San Luis Obispo Concerts in the Plaza and the Morro Bay Harbor Festival.
While the All Stars pride themselves on energizing audiences, Roger Eddy is a more laid-back musician who plays mellow instrumental versions of standards like The Way You Look Tonight, Fly Me To The Moon and It Had To Be You. But he also plays more soulful and rocking songs from artists such as the Beatles, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye and Van Morrison.
A veteran of the Monterey Jazz Festival, Eddy has performed with Glenn Frey, Huey Lewis and the News, Vince Gill, Lou Rawls and others.
He's an excellent musician, said Cisneros, a friend of Eddy's.
Cisneros learned of the final act at the Los Osos Farmer's Market. While there, someone told him about the Redskunk Jipzee Swing Band, a new band with roots in Morro Bay High School. After hearing about the band of teens, Cisneros went to see them perform at Bon Temps Creole Cafe in San Luis Obispo.
I was just blown away, he said.
Featuring two guitarists, a violinist and a tuba player, the Skunks are inspired by the music of European jazz musician Django Reinhardt.
They're just awesome players, said Irving, who has seen them perform. They should be a lot of fun.
The band will be playing at the upcoming Live Oak Music Festival in northern Santa Barbara County.
The night before the Back Bay Jazz Festival, Cisneros will host a free viewing of Chris Botti In Concert on an inflatable screen behind the Back Bay Inn. The event, which includes free wine tasting, begins at 6 p. m., with the movie starting at dusk.
The following day, the focus will be solely on local jazz acts. While the county is not as well known for jazz as Monterey, the jazz community is strong, Irving said.
I've seen lots of amazing jazz musicians in our county.