Long Beach jazz band plays Santa Monica’s main library Saturday
By Michael Aushenker
Smooth jazz is coming to Santa Monica, and Gregg Young (guitar), Kirkwood Coakley (bass), Jorge Vermudez (percussion) and Mark Massey (keyboards) are bringing it, Long Beach-style.
On Saturday, Gregg Young and the 2nd Street Band brings an instrumental jazz presentation of contemporary groove jazz, Latin and Caribbean stylings to Santa Monica’s main library.
A San Francisco native, Young, whose jazz guitarist heroes include Wes Montgomery and Kenny Burrell, used to play Bill Graham shows at Fillmore and Fillmore West as well as the Avalon Ballroom, and a lot of major pop festivals.
“I always thought everyone has music in them,” he says of his fellow San Franciscans. “Everyone is just wired differently.”
Young also played Newport ’69 — headlined by Jimi Hendrix, Steppenwolf, Iron Butterfly and members of Creedence Clearwater Revival — which Young describes as “L.A.’s Woodstock, if you will,” as part of a psychedelic rock band called Womb.
In 2013, Young, whose regular gig is playing the courtyard at the Cinerama Dome/Arclight Entertainment Center in the heart of Hollywood, recorded the live album “Live: The Trio.” The LP includes “The Dome,” a jazz soca theme song Young wrote for the famed Welton Beckett-designed movie theater.
And speaking of Beckett buildings, Young also once played the now-shuttered Santa Monica Civic Auditorium at a New Year’s Eve Narcotics Anonymous gig.
“It was a really sweet venue,” Young recalls. “It had decent acoustics. There was no alcohol served that night. It was wonderful to play socially.”
Come Saturday, Gregg Young and the 2nd Street Band intend to play a slew of originals from the 2007 album “Instrumentally Yours,” including the samba “Yosemite Snowflake” and “The Number 4 Bell.” “Rain Cried Softly” helped Young clinch Smooth Jazz Artist of the Year at the 2007 Los Angeles Music Awards. The original is a commentary on “the condition of the rain forest. It’s mesmerizing, hypnotic, a very light cha-cha.”
The group also plays covers, most notably a pair of Bob Marley tunes: “Three Little Birds” and “Lively Up Yourself.”
And while the “2nd Street” in his band’s moniker refers to the “micro-city” of 2nd Street and Belmont Shores in his beloved Long Beach and not the one in downtown Santa Monica, Young looks forward to this weekend’s venue. After performing at the local Jewish and Filipino community centers early on back in San Francisco, “probably one of my first gigs was a library gig,” Young said. “To be at the library, I think it’s very special.”
Gregg Young and the 2nd Street Band play at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Santa Monica Main Library, 601 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica. Call (310) 458-8600 or visit smpl.org