Saturday, September 27, 2014

Jazz greats set for Athenaeum concerts

All-star band The Cookers, top trumpeter Dave Douglas and sax stars Greg Osby & Joe Lovano are set for La Jolla concert series, which begins Thursday.
Since the inception of the La Jolla Athenaeum’s live jazz programming 25 years ago, high quality and stylistic diversity have been its hallmarks. But its pending fall Jazz at The Scripps Research Institute concert series seems uniquely designed to present artists who celebrate jazz’s rich past, present and possible future directions.

The Cookers, who kick things off Thursday night, feature seven musicians who are each acclaimed band leaders. The lineup includes saxophonists Billy Harper and Donald Harrison, trumpeters Eddie Henderson and David Weiss, pianist George Cables, bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Billy Hart.

The series continues Oct. 15 with the Joe Lovano & Dave Douglas Sound Prints Quintet, which features saxophonist Lovano, trumpeter Douglas, pianist Lawrence Fields, bassist Linda Oh and drum ace Joey Baron.

An Oct. 25 concert by the Greg Osby Four will conclude the series. Osby, one of the most significant and influential saxophonists of the past three decades, last appeared here at the same venue with guitarist Jim Hall in 2011.

Together, The Cookers, the Grego Osby Four and Lovano and Douglas’ Sound Prints Quintet offer a rich palette of jazz styles that are steeped in tradition, yet very much of the moment. Each group’s approach varies, but all share a penchant for rhythmic intensity, melodic invention and improvisational adventure.

“There are three generations represented among the artists we have this fall, and they are among the best of their generation,” said Daniel Atkinson, who launched the Athenaeum’s jazz series in 1989.

“With The Cookers, you have a group whose members are mostly in their early 70s. Their members have played with some of the most significant artists of the 1960s and ’70s, including Herbie Hancock, Dexter Gordon and more. Joe Lovano is about 60 and has made an immense impact. Dave Douglas and Greg Osby are both around 50."

For Atkinson, Thursday's series opening concert takes on an added significance.

"The Cookers represent the kind of jazz that got me interested in jazz in the first place in the late 1970s and early 80s," he said. "I heard them perform in January at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York, and they really brought the house down. It's a sterling ensemble."

Tickets for each concert are $30 for Athenaeum members; $35 for nonmembers. Series tickets for all three performances are $84 for members; $99 for nonmembers. More information: (858) 454-5872 or

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