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MUSIC: Ventura County | SOUNDS

Jazzy Pendulum

Weekend's offerings at vineyard venue swing to opposite ends of genre's style.

July 09, 1998|JOSEF WOODARD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Summertime comes and the living, so the song goes, is easy. But not without some effort. Head over Highway 154 to Santa Ynez--home of celebrities and other landed gentry--to find one of the easier things on the summer senses in these parts.

The annual concert series at Gainey Vineyards, which begins this weekend, offers music in the alfresco splendor of the sprawling vineyard.

Musically, the series generally follows a stylistic course of easygoing jazz and singer-songwriters of note, including Randy Newman and Emmylou Harris in years past.

This summer's lineup kicks off Friday night with guitar wizard Stanley Jordan, who has built a career around the unorthodox method of left hand tapping the fret board and a musical palette that leans toward melodic pleasantries.

The focus takes a different turn Saturday night, when the Preservation Hall Jazz Band brings traditional jazz to town for what has become an SRO summer tradition. This will be the band's 13th annual performance at Gainey, and the group played for years at UC Santa Barbara before that.

Jordan literally burst on the scene in the mid-'80s, graduating from jazz busker, who played on the streets with his strange new tapping style, to the general embrace of the jazz industry and many critics, as he began to work the club and festival circuit.

The tapping technique, adapted from that used to play an instrument called the Chapman Stick, produces a thinner sound than more familiar ways of playing the guitar.

Jordan created a one-man band effect, playing bass lines, chord snippets and melody lines at the same time. He has also drawn on latter-day pop standards by the Beatles, Stevie Wonder and other sources outside the usual old-school show tune titles that make up most of the mainstream standard jazz repertoire.

His debut album in 1985, "Magic Touch," also caught fire, seizing the No. 1 spot on the Billboard jazz charts for 51 weeks. Other albums came slowly--"Cornucopia," "Stolen Moments" and "Bolero," his last release, in 1994. He's working on another.

Generally, Jordan has slipped out of normal jazz channels and appealed to an audience more in tune with pop notions and smooth jazz.

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, based in New Orleans, heads west every summer and has always had an avid following.

But time and fashion have caught up with the group lately, with the rise of interest in the roots of jazz.

A flood of CD reissues of early jazz and the incorporation of early jazz elements in the work of Wynton Marsalis and others--not to mention the young neo-swing scene of bands such as the Squirrel Nut Zippers and Ventura's own Big Bad Voodoo Daddy--have helped give new life to the jazz of old.

Suddenly, their sound, raucous and courtly, melodic and pleasingly chaotic all at once, is in vogue. They're the real thing, though, from jazz's birthplace.

This year's model includes trumpeter Wendell Brunious, trombonist Frank Demond, clarinetist Dave Grillier, bassist Ben Jaffe, pianist Thaddeus Richard, drummer Joe Lastie, and, not least, banjo player Narvin Kimball. Get down, get real, get rootsy.

Other shows coming up at Gainey are vocalist Diane Schur on Aug. 12, and Tower of Power on Aug. 21.

BE THERE

Stanley Jordan, Friday at 7:30 p.m., at Gainey Vineyard, 3950 Highway 246, Santa Ynez. $28. Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Gainey. $33. Gates open at 5:30 for picnics. (805) 688-0558.

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