As the final weeks of summer come to an end, so too does the 10th anniversary season of Sunset Jazz at Newport.
Newport Beach residents Joe Rothman and John McClure, former co-producers of the West Coast Jazz Party, came up with the idea in 2009 of presenting outdoor jazz and cabaret entertainment on Wednesday nights during the summer under the title Sunset Jazz at Newport.
This was around the time that Fashion Island discontinued their outdoor music series, so the timing was right.
And to make Sunset Jazz at Newport unique, they presented the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa with the idea of combining live music with an outside restaurant experience, with table service in their rose garden, offering appetizer, dinner and drink options.
It was the right idea at the right time.
“We were successful from day one,” recalled Rothman, noting that the Marriott’s rose garden itself is perfect for al fresco jazz.
“For 350 seats, the venue is beautiful, we bring in special sound equipment, and looking out at the ocean is not bad,” Rothman said.
Sunset Jazz at Newport has two more concerts lefts, on Sept. 11 and 18, and they’re both highlights of the series.
On Sept. 11, vocalist Barbara Morrison returns for her annual birthday celebration with The Peak Experience featuring Mike Peak, Ron Kobayashi, Kendall Kay, Ann Patterson, Rickey Woodard, and Andrea Miller.
According to Rothman, celebrating Morrison’s birthday has become a fun Sunset Jazz tradition. Morrison delivers rich, soulful and highly spirited interpretations of jazz, blues, gospel and pop songs. As an advocate for others, Morrison opened the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center in the historic Leimert Park district of Los Angeles in 2010, followed by the California Jazz & Blues Museum, the first such facility in the state which showcases photos of jazz and blues artists while offering performances by prominent musicians, including Morrison herself.
Peak has an unusual background and a passion for education. He retired from the engineering construction business in 1997 to return full time to the music business. In addition to making his band available to perform for fundraising events, Peak and his wife Lucy produce six to eight charitable events a year in their home to raise funds for school music education programs and for such organizations as WISEPlace, a community of housing and hope for women in crisis in orange county.
The Peak Experience has performed many times at the Newport Beach Jazz Party and more recently with Morrison at the Irvine Barclay Theatre, so this annual musical birthday bash offers the opportunity for Sunset Jazz audiences to hear them together.
On Sept. 18, the Sunset Jazz at Newport season concludes with the Tom Kubis Big Band: Live and Unleashed! This is the third straight year Kubis and his band have performed on the Sunset Jazz series, and based on audiences demand it won’t be the last.
Kubis, a composer/arranger, gathers 17 of L.A.’s best jazz musicians to create a big band sound guaranteed to raise the roof — if the rose garden had one.
Kubis has penned music that has been performed at virtually every major jazz festival in the world including the Playboy Jazz Festival and the Montreaux Jazz Festival. The Los Angeles Times called Kubis’ music “crisp and swinging. Written from a horn player’s point of view, they flow with tremendous urgency and drive.”
Joining this big band will be vocalist and lead singer of The Swing Kittens, Nicole Kubis. Nicole Kubis, a respected musician and composer in her own right, also happens to be Tom Kubis’ daughter.
Individual seats cost $29 for general seating, $49 for blue level, and $62 for gold on Sept. 1,1 and $39/$53/$64 for Sept. 18.
Sunset Jazz at Newport performances start at 6 p.m. and conclude at 8:30 p.m. Doors will open at 5 p.m. with table service featuring food and beverages.
For more information or tickets, call (949) 759-5003 or visit sunsetjazzatnewport.com.
The Marriott is located at 900 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, across from Fashion Island.