A variety of jazz-themed events through Aug. 24 will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Concord Jazz Festival, highlighted by concerts at the Concord Pavilion and Todos Santos Plaza on the Aug. 3-4 weekend.
The Concord Summer Festival was first held Aug. 26-31, 1969 at what is now Dave Brubeck Park adjacent to Concord High School. The festival continued in the park through 1974, providing the impetus for the construction of the Pavilion, which opened the following May as “The House That Jazz Built.”
Local auto dealer and jazz devotee Carl Jefferson developed the idea of the festival and guided it through its years in the park and then at the new Pavilion. While the festival was held in the park the programming was heavy on jazz but also included country (Chet Atkins and Boots Randolph), comedy (Bill Cosby), rock (Carlos Santana) and classical pops (conductor Arthur Fiedler with the San Francisco Symphony).
From the festival’s success sprang the Concord Jazz record label in 1973 when Jefferson realized that many of the legendary jazz musicians who came to the festival were unable to get their music recorded and released.
Concord Jazz is now part of Concord Music (one of the largest music companies in the world with over 12,000 albums) and continues its commitment to presenting the finest jazz and live music with this year’s line-up in Concord, according to Concord Records President (and De La Salle High grad) John Burk.
There will be anniversary events throughout the community, including two Jazz & Java presentations at the Concord Museum, concerts at Diablo Valley College, The Veranda and Todos Santos Plaza and jazz-themed events at Concord Tap House, Six Flags Hurricane Harbor and Puesto in The Veranda.
The 50th Anniversary Concord Jazz Festival concert on Saturday, Aug. 3, at the Pavilion presented by Live Nation and Concord Jazz includes Dave Koz & Friends, Chick Corea, Poncho Sanchez & His Latin Jazz Band, The Legendary Count Basie Orchestra and much more. The festivities begin at 2 p.m. with pre-concert music plus beer, wine and arts and crafts booths.
The Sunday, Aug. 4, free concert at Todos Santos Plaza features the Mary Fettig Quartet, Steve Snyder’s Big Band, The John Santos Sextet, Soul Sauce and L.O.V.E. Music begins at 1 o’clock in the downtown Concord park.
The festival was last held 15 years ago in 2004 at the Pavilion with Poncho Sanchez on the bill.