Roster for Pacific Jazz Festival Emphasizes the Contemporary

The second annual Pacific Jazz Festival Saturday at the Pacific Amphitheatre looks as if it will touch all the bases. Like the older and highly successful Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl, the Orange County event pulls musicians from a range of styles, but with heavy emphasis on the contemporary.

“We always look for a balance and try to put in some traditional artists, some Latin artists, vocalists, some New Age people,” said festival producer Ira Okun. “The only thing we’re missing this year is a big band like Louie Bellson’s band, which performed here last year.”

This year’s big-band entry was to have been the Duke Ellington Orchestra directed by Mercer Ellington, but the group had to cancel because of a scheduling conflict. In its place will be flamenco guitarist Ottmar Liebert and his group.

The one-day event (it was two last year) will begin at 2:30 p.m. There will be a variety of foods and arts and crafts for sale around the amphitheater perimeter. Survival tips: drink plenty of liquids, bring a sweater for the evening, and don’t forget the sunscreen.


Here is the lineup (subject, as always, to last-minute changes) in the scheduled order of appearance:

* The Timeless All-Stars, the festival act most easily identifiable as jazz, will open the festival. Joining All-Stars regulars vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, tenor saxophonist Harold Land, bassist Buster Williams and drummer Billy Higgins will be trombonist Julian Priester and pianist Billy Childs (see accompanying story).

* Brazilian-born vocalist Flora Purim and percussionist Airto, her husband, with a band that features Latin-jazz flutist Dave Valentin.

* Ottmar Liebert and his group, playing selections from their “Nouveau Flamenco” album, which has been getting much play on radio station KTWV-FM.

* Diane Schuur, a singer with a big, vibrant style who likes to pull from the Basie book. According to her publicist, Schuur has cleaned up her act and dropped 100 pounds--she’s now under 125 (does Oprah know about this?). She will be backed by a trio featuring keyboardist Randy Porter.

* Steel drummer Andy Narell, with many members of the band on his “Little Secrets” recording: Steve Erquiaga on guitar, Keith Jones on bass, Karl Perazzo doing percussion and Paul van Wageningen on drums.

* Smooth-toned guitarist Larry Carlton will be up next, followed by keyboardist David Benoit, whose most recent album, “Waiting for Spring,” has him exploring his jazz roots on originals and compositions by Bill Evans and Vince Guaraldi.

* Closing the show will be Keiko Matsui, a keyboardist who likes to vary her impressionistic New Age approach with the blues. Matsui will be joined by her husband, Kazu Matsui, who plays the shakuhachi, a large Japanese flute; saxophonist Mike Acosta and, on vocals, former Santana member Greg Walker.

The Second Annual Pacific Jazz Festival begins at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the Pacific Amphitheatre, 100 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa. Information: (714) 634-1300. Tickets: $19.25 to $33.