The Irvine Barclay Theatre has announced its 2018-19 jazz series, and it looks as if the 752-seat venue has stepped up its game.
Kicking off the festivities is the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis on Oct. 2. The acclaimed group will perform the music of Duke Ellington.
Next up is Grace Kelly on Oct. 19, the 25-year-old Korean American saxophonist who's considered a jazz prodigy. She performed at President Obama's inauguration at 16, was a regular on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," and has toured with her band around the world. In 2016, she won the 64th annual Downbeat Critics Poll for "rising star, alto saxophone."
On Dec. 2, trumpeter Dr. Bobby Rodriguez will bring his Latin jazz ensemble to the Barclay for "A Latin Jazz Christmas." The Fred Hersch Trio will perform Jan. 17, 2019. Grammy and Tony award winner Dee Dee Bridgewater will sing with the Memphis Soulphony on March 14. Singer and guitarist John Pizzarelli will give a "Salute to Sinatra & Jobim @50" on March 29. And closing the third annual series will be the Christian McBride Big Band on April 29, 2019.
Jerry Mandel, president of the Irvine Barclay since October 2015, said he's always been committed to jazz, and aims to showcase the genre's best, including superstars and hidden gems.
"Jazz is America's music," said Mandel, who served as president and CEO of the Orange County Performing Arts Center — now the Segerstrom Center for the Arts — from 1997 to 2006. "I've been thrilled with the response from the audience. I knew the audience was here. Every artist I've selected, I selected for a reason. I tell people, 'If you stay with me, sign up with me, you'll see all of jazz.' "
Mandel is particularly excited about opening the 2018-19 season with trumpeter Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Mandel once served on the national advisory board for Jazz at Lincoln Center.
"Wynton is the No.1 guy in jazz, and they are the No.1 most important jazz ensemble anywhere," Mandel said. "The fact that we're opening with them shows that we are really serious. Opening with them says we have arrived."
Marsalis has won nine Grammy Awards and a Pulitzer Prize in music. He also is an accomplished composer, educator and radio and television host. Pianist Hersch is a 12-time Grammy Award nominee. He has recorded about 50 albums as a leader or co-leader, and has been on the jazz studies faculty of the New England Conservatory since 1980. Vanity Fair called him "the most arrestingly innovative pianist in jazz over the last decade."
Bridgewater has won three Grammy Awards and a Tony Award for her role in "The Wiz" in 1975. The vocalist has performed with notables such as Max Roach, Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon and Dizzy Gillespie. Her latest album "Memphis … Yes, I'm Ready," honors the city where she was born.
Pizzarelli is a well-known band leader, singer and guitarist, delivering contemporary interpretations of jazz standards and the Great American Songbook. He has collaborated with Paul McCartney, James Taylor, Natalie Cole, Rickie Lee Jones, Rosemary Clooney and many others.
He and his wife, Jessica Molaskey, often perform together and host a popular radio show called "Radio Deluxe," which is syndicated on more than 40 stations nationwide, including KJAZZ (88.1 FM) out of Long Beach.
McBride is a six-time Grammy-winning bassist. He has performed with many of music's legends, including James Brown, Sting, McCartney, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Chaka Khan. He hosts "The Lowdown: Conversations with Christian" on SiriusXM satellite radio and National Public Radio's "Jazz Night in America." His most recent album, "Bringin' It," won the 2018 Grammy Award for best large jazz ensemble.
Season subscriptions to the Barclay's 2018-19 jazz series are $248-$400 for orchestra and balcony seats, and $692 for Center Orchestra Gold seats. Individual tickets will go on sale later this year. For more information, call (949) 854-4646 or visit thebarclay.org.