Los Angeles is a long way to travel for jazz musicians living someplace other than Los Angeles. Logistically it’s pretty tricky to set up a series of gigs with the price of airfare and lodging, especially if you have a band traveling with you.
Couple that with the current lack of viable jazz venues in L.A. and the thought of trying to do anything out here is daunting, to say the least, and downright impossible for most. Aside from the advent of a few more jazz festivals, the opportunities for a traveling jazz band in this town are pretty slim.
One of the many goals of the Los Angeles Jazz Collective is to provide another way to help talented jazz artists from other parts of the country and the world. If there was somehow a way to encourage more artists to play here perhaps there would be more clubs open to having more jazz, thereby cultivating a savvy jazz audience that would seek out and support places that feature great music from travelers and locals alike. See also this Melbourne, Australia post.
So when New York-based guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg called to see about finding a way to get his band out to Los Angeles to play, we saw this as a good opportunity to see if we truly can be a conduit through which it is possible for more exceptional artists to have some help to make it work out here.
Heralded by All About Jazz as “truly one of New York’s undiscovered treasures”, Kreisberg is no stranger to many who have their finger on the pulse of modern jazz. He is certainly well known to jazz musicians in Los Angeles, having done a number of engagements here in years past with his fiery organ trio. Read also: A Blues Chronicle – From Robert Johnson To Robert Cray
I spoke recently with a grad student at CalArts who five years ago was on the fence on whether or not to major in music. This talented saxophonist credits a show he saw that inspired him so much that he decided then and there to commit his life to music. The band was Mark Ferber on drums, Gary Versace on organ and none other than Jonathan Kreisberg on guitar. One cannot overstate the impact a performance like that can have on a potential future jazz musician, and that is reason enough to create more of those chances.
One of Kreisberg’s CDs is titled “The South of Everywhere” and he featured music from that album along with a few of the players who recorded the album, notably excellent saxophonist Will Vinson (who also plays piano and will switch off on this gig) and Los Angeles native and local hero-done-good Mark Ferber on drums. Bassist Phil Donkin will also make the trip west, having just recently made a westward trip in relocating from the UK to NYC.
The gig took place at the Blue Whale, which is perhaps the best example of what this city is capable of when you have even a few people that are invested in the health of the jazz community in Los Angeles. (Check out this recent stellar review of this awesome place.) Hopefully, this was the start of many higher profile gigs at this place that in turn could trigger a new influx of killing players from points east and elsewhere.