Santa Monica City Hall is not just a place for politics anymore — not since the inception of the Jazz on the Lawn Concert Series.
For the remaining three Sundays of August, Santa Monica will host free concerts by jazz virtuosos on the lawn of City Hall. Performance are from 5 to 7 p.m. at 1685 Main St., Santa Monica.
The series kicked off on August 5th, with a cultural performance by Brasil Brazil. The group features Brazilian singers Ana Gazzola and Sonia Santos joined by several musicians making use of tropical percussive instruments to recreate the passion, enthusiasm and excitement of music popular at Brazilian carnivals.
Next in line to play the Jazz on the Lawn series is The Jazz Tap Ensemble, a group that combines the American traditions of tap dancing and jazz music, scheduled for August 12th.
Looking to lead a renaissance of tap, The Jazz Tap Ensemble will feature two dancers and three musicians at the upcoming performance. The group operates under the artistic direction of Lynn Dally.
The Jazz Tap Ensemble is currently in its 27th year of operation bringing tap dance to the concert stage. The ensemble has worked with tap luminaries, including Gregory Hines, Jimmy Slyde, Dianne Walker, Brenda Bufalino, Savion Glover, Charles “Honi” Coles, Steve Condos, Eddie Brown, and Harold Nicholas.
Highlights of the Los Angeles-based group’s career include performing at Gregory Hines’s Evening of Tap at Carnegie Hall, the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, Madrid’s Festival en Danza and Lyon’s 4th Biennale, An American Story.
Television and film credits include starring in the programs Jazz Tap Ensemble Live in Concert, Jazz Tap Ensemble with Honi Coles, and Christian Blackwood’s award winning film Tapdancin’.
Jazz trumpeter Nate Birkey takes the stage on August 19th. His subtle vocals and trumpet stylings mixed with creative melodies and vivid charisma bring to life his forays into Americana, gospel, bossa nova, and traditional jazz, as heard on his most recent live CD, titled Shortest Day. Birkey’s band includes tenor saxophonist Justin Claveria, pianist Jamieson Trotter, current Los Lobos drummer Cougar Estrada and bassist Jim Connolly.
Wrapping up the series will be Maggie Palomo (a.k.a. Hot Salsa Momma) with a performance on August 26th. Palomo spent the summer evenings of her youth listening to the sounds of Marvin Gaye and Aretha Franklin, she says. Nowadays, her performances combine that Motown sound with the cultural sounds of her Cuban heritage. The Santa Monica-based artist will bring the series to a close with hot salsa tunes.
The City of Santa Monica Cultural Affairs Division in collaboration with the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and the Recording Industries Music Performance Fund are responsible for organizing the series.
Guests are encouraged to bring a blanket to spread out on the grass, lawn chairs and picnic dinners.
Free parking is available after 4 p.m. at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 1855 Main St., Santa Monica and on the streets surrounding City Hall. Revenue from the sale of water and soft drinks at the event will go to support the Virginia Avenue Park Teen Center. Teens involved with the center will also have a selection of their artwork for sale, including hand screened T-shirts and multimedia creations.
Information, www.arts .santa-monica.org or (310) 458-8350.