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O. C. LIVE

Art, Jazz to Bloom at Arboretum

May 16, 1996|BILL KOHLHAASE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Organizers of the fourth annual Orange County Art & Jazz Festival are expecting their biggest turnout ever this year, according to festival director Larry Anders. They're preparing for 6,000 people to attend the two-day event this weekend on the grounds of the Fullerton Arboretum.

"We've nearly doubled our attendance each year," says Anders, explaining his estimate of 6,000. Crunch the figures and you discover that the fest's first event in 1993 drew only 750 people? "Yes," confirms Anders, recalling that weather also played a part that year. One afternoon, they barely got the loaner piano covered before the rains came at the end of the day.

But this home-grown music and art festival has caught on and it's easy to see why. More intimate than last week's Newport Beach Jazz Festival (and certainly more friendly than the gorilla of jazz festivals, the Playboy), this daylight-hours-only, family-oriented event doesn't book the biggest names. Instead, it provides a variety of hungry, local bands and musicians who are often otherwise limited to area clubs and coffeehouses. "This is quite different than the usual jazz festival where you go solely to sit in lawn chairs and listen to music," says O.C.-based keyboardist Ron Kobayashi, who'll be making his third OCAJF appearance. "This involves every member of the family, allows them to go out together and enjoy great music and all the artists that are there. Everyone can enjoy the day, not just the music fans."

This year's musical highlight is again the group of all-stars led by trumpeter Jeff Bunnell (who'll also appear with the Cal State Northridge big band). Bunnell, a busy studio musician whose credits include the bands of Horace Silver, Poncho Sanchez and Jack Sheldon, has gathered a fine combo that includes saxophonist Bob Sheppard (Freddie Hubbard, Steely Dan), trombonist Andy Martin (Poncho Sanchez, Jack Sheldon), pianist Tom Ranier (Milt Jackson, Dexter Gordon, Carmen McRae, Natalie Cole), bassist Dave Carpenter (Woody Herman, Buddy Rich, Maynard Ferguson) and drummer Joe LaBarbera (Bill Evans).

Bunnell, who promises to mix some new tunes with standards out of the Jazz Messengers tradition of drummer Art Blakey, likes the idea that there's something for the whole family. "You wouldn't take your kids to the Playboy festival; they'd be bored out of their minds," he says. "But here, there'll be plenty of things for them to explore."

In addition to 18 different musical groups on the main stage and the second stage (the latter is actually the porch of the arboretum's historical Heritage House), the fest will also host about 45 booths displaying arts and crafts. New this year will be a kid's stage that will host sing-alongs and performances by the Fullerton Civic Light Opera and the Orange County Song & Dance Company.

But the main jazz action will be on the South Lake Stage (see accompanying schedule) where emcee Chick Niles will introduce such acts as Tony Guerrero, the Susie Hansen Latin Jazz Band, and Charged Particles, an electric trio from Ohio who are the first out-of-staters booked to play the OCAJF.

* What: The Orange County Art & Jazz Festival.

* When: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday.

* Where: Fullerton Arboretum, Cal State University Fullerton, 1900 Associated Road.

* Whereabouts: Exit the Orange (57) Freeway at Nutwood Avenue; go west. The college is on the right.

* Wherewithal: $8 each day; $4 for students and seniors, free for ages 12 and under.

* Where to call: (714) 541-2787.

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Festival Schedule

Performing on the South Lake Stage at the Orange County Art & Jazz Festival at the Fullerton Arboretum:

SATURDAY

11:30 a.m.: Cal State Northridge Big Band and Combo with Jeff Bunnell.

1 p.m.: The David Jennings Electric Band.

2:30 p.m.: Charged Particles.

4 p.m.: O.C. Art & Jazz Festival All Stars with Jeff Bunnell, Bob Sheppard, Dave Carpenter, Tom Ranier and Joe LaBarbera.

5 p.m.: Tony Guerrero Swing Fest with Debbi Ebert.

SUNDAY

11:30 a.m.: El Dorado High School Big Band.

12:30 p.m.: UCI Big Band with Steve Crum and Tony Guerrero.

1:30 p.m.: Ron Kobayashi Trio.

3 p.m.: Back Door Blues Band.

4:30 p.m.: Susie Hansen Latin Jazz Band.

Los Angeles Times

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