Jazz festival returns to OB

Ryan Johnson

Although Sept. 11 will forever be known as a day of remembrance of attacks on American soil, residents of Ocean Beach used the date as an occasion to celebrate. Known for its eclectic community, the residents hosted the Jazz 88 Ocean Beach Music & Arts Festival, now in its sixth year.

The festival hosted 26 bands ranging from jazz to blues to funk to swing and played music on 4 indoor and 3 outdoor stages. Supported by San Diego City College and the San Diego Community College District, the event was organized and run by staff and students of FM radio KSDS Jazz88.

Local acts such as San Diego Music Award six-time winner Lady Dottie and the Diamonds and two-time SDMA winner Sue Palmer were on stage, along with international artists like Grammy award winner Ernie Watts and his quartet.

Antonio “T.J.” Johnson, a singer of more than 30 years, stood proudly on the community stage and paid tribute to our country with versions of the national anthem and “America the Beautiful.” Johnson said the festival was marked with “a breath of spiritual energy that Ocean Beach has…it’s what OB is all about.”

The Four Queens of Boogie Woogie featuring Sue Palmer, an OB resident, came together after realizing that they were able to harness their collective energy into something unique and great. The supergroup of lady pianists includes Palmer, the Bay Area’s Wendy Dewitt, Tucson’s Lisa Otey and Los Angeles’ Dona Oxford.

Oxford spoke excitedly after their set about the beginnings of the Four Queens.

“We all knew of each other and when the four of us got together at one time about two years ago it was like ‘Oh my God!’ Oxford said. “The chemistry was so great, we decided we have to continue this and we’ve been doing it ever since!”

Also performing on the Anthology Main Stage was San Diego State University’s All Star Big Band featuring trumpeter Bobby Shew. Speaking with the band’s conductor Bill Yeger, professor of Music and Director of Jazz Studies at SDSU, it was clear that education plays a huge part in creating tomorrow’s musical all-stars capable of backing someone like Shew, a Grammy nominee.

“I call it the All-Star Big Band because I selected people who are in the program now going back 33 years,” Yeger explained. “So it’s the best people who have played in the SDSU Jazz Band.”

The day ended with a funky main-stage set by Maceo Parker. Parker, who described his start with the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, as “like being at university,” certainly had no trouble channeling Brown by helping the crowd to “Get Up Offa That Thing.”

Those interested in fine arts weren’t ignored as part of Newport Avenue was turned into an outdoor gallery for some of San Diego’s finest visual artists.

Patti Judd, who represents Anthology, commented that “the mood was festive and we were certainly rewarded with a sunny afternoon and all its artistic moments.”

Judd continued to say that she hoped “San Diego audiences and sponsors (would) continue to gain momentum in supporting live music.”

After Parker’s set marked the end of the festival, audience members could be seen dancing down Newport Avenue. For some, the night was just beginning as many bars and venues in OB continued to support live music throughout the night.

Leave it up to Rick Estrin, who played his harmonica with the band “The Nightcats” to summarize the sentiment of how the day felt in true jazz-cat style, “It felt good, man!”