Santa Monica City Hall is not just a place for politics anymore. For the first time, the Santa Monica Cultural Affairs Division has organized a free summer concert series on the lawn of City Hall. Joining the Twilight Dance Series as one of Santa Monica’s public-sponsored music events, the new series focuses strictly on jazz.

The Jazz on the Lawn concert series will feature concerts from 5 to 7 p.m. on three consecutive Sundays in August.

Cuban master conguero Francisco Aguabella kicks off the series with a performance on Sunday, August 13th. Next up is the Acoustic Jazz Quartet with vocalist Cheryl Conley on Sunday, August 20th. Closing out the series is the Mad Alsacians on Sunday, August 27th.

City officials say they will gauge the reaction to this year’s concerts in deciding whether to make the series an annual event.

While the bands play on the north lawn, local performance artist Marcus Kuiland-Nazario will lead concert-goers in games of croquet and horseshoes on the south lawn.

FRANCISCO AGUABELLA — Aguabella is considered one of the area’s living jazz legends. Leaving Cuba in 1954 to perform in the Italian film Mambo, Aguabella has had an extensive touring and recording career. He has performed with many of the great Latin jazz, rock, folk and lounge artists including Tito Puente, Frank Sinatra, Dizzy Gillespie, Eddie Palmieri, Cachao, Lalo Schifrin, Peggy Lee, Nancy Wilson, Carlos Santana, Paul Simon and recent Grammy winner Bebo Valdes.

Aguabella has received awards such as the National Heritage Fellowship of the National Endowment for the Arts and has received a fellowship from the Durfee Foundation. Currently, a documentary film is in production about his life.

ACOUSTIC JAZZ QUARTET — The Acoustic Jazz Quartet specializes in contemporary jazz sounds, mixing its original compositions with modernizations of classic jazz tunes. The quartet has been gigging since 1996. Melodic Ella Fitzgerald-influenced singer Cheryl Conley will be performing with the group.

MAD ALSACIANS — The Mad Alsacians perform jazz classics with a French flair. The upbeat-sounding trio combines the musical tones of guitar, acoustic bass and according to perform a soulful repertoire that includes selections from the “Hot Club” era of Paris.

Director Jean-Paul MonschÈ moved to Paris at age 19 to further his musical development, study jazz and support himself with his piano playing. He collaborated with various artists, local cabaret singers and jazz, blues and rock groups, which allowed him to develop an eclectic approach and wide stylistic competence.

The Jazz on the Lawn series is funded by the City of Santa Monica Cultural Affairs Division with support from the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and the Recording Industries Music Performance Fund.

Information, (310) 458-8350.

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