Jazz Bakery to join forces with Angel City Arts’ Jeff Gauthier
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In a move that marks a combining of two key presenting powers on the L.A. jazz scene, the Jazz Bakery’s board of directors has appointed Angel City Arts’ Jeff Gauthier as the Bakery’s first executive director. Gauthier will work closely with Jazz Bakery founder and president Ruth Price as the still-itinerant club continues to work toward opening a new space in Culver City.
In addition to being a musician with his own ensemble, Gauthier is a longtime force for good on the local jazz scene. He oversees the Culver City jazz label Cryptogramophone and Angel City Arts, a nonprofit organization founded by Rocco Somazzi that presents shows at the Blue Whale in Little Tokyo as well as the annual Angel City Jazz Festival.
The Jazz Bakery will co-present this year’s festival, and Gauthier describes his current role with the Bakery as primarily in an administrative capacity, assisting Price with its ongoing ‘Movable Feast’ series as well as the organization’s upcoming capital campaign in support of its planned new home to be designed by Frank Gehry.
While Gauthier couldn’t speculate as to a timetable for the Bakery’s return, he was optimistic about the work ahead. ‘We have to raise a lot of money to get this to happen,’ he said, explaining that a design and contractor are already in place. ‘But there’s a lot of good energy and interest.’
Gauthier said that one of the added benefits of the partnership is to avoid situations such as one he described happening last week, when Angel City Arts was presenting a show with saxophonist Tim Berne the same night the Bakery hosted Berlin-based guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel. With Gauthier now on board with the Bakery, both organizations will work together to promote each other’s programming. ‘I think Ruth and I make a good pair in terms that we complement each other in our programming,’ Gauthier said by phone on the way to a meeting with the Bakery’s board of directors. ‘She’s really forward-looking, maybe a little bit more on the mainstream side. And I think we fill in the blanks a little bit on the more progressive side of things.’
A former jazz vocalist, Price founded the Jazz Bakery in Culver City in 1992, and the club was an integral part of the L.A. jazz scene before losing its lease in 2009. While working to find a new location, which was announced early last year as a space to be built near the Kirk Douglas Theatre, Price has staged concerts around the city in a series of Movable Feasts that have appeared at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood, the Colburn School’s Zipper Hall and Pasadena’s Boston Court.
When the new club is completed, Price has said she envisions the space as a kind of ‘mini-mini Lincoln Center’ with a 200-seat theater and a smaller space for local artists along with plans for an education program with local schools to support young musicians.
Angel City Arts will continue to present one to two shows a month at the Blue Whale, and a theme for this year’s festival is already in place with a plan for musicians to pay tribute to their mentors. Trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire and pianist Myra Melford have already been announced for the event, which is scheduled to happen over two weekends in October.
Looking ahead, Gauthier sees the Bakery as key figure in a resurgence for jazz on the West Coast, eventually forming a circuit of sorts for touring artists with the San Francisco’s SFJAZZ Center, scheduled to open in early 2013.
‘That’s my vision, to collaborate,’ Gauthier explained. ‘That’s really what my being involved with the Jazz Bakery is going to be about: Opening doors and collaborating and representing the community.’
-- Chris Barton