Billy Mintz Band hits the Jazz 88.3 stage


Right to left: Billy Mintz, Putter Smith, John Gross, and Roberta Piket. The Billy Mintz Band performed live on radio air at the Saville Theater on Oct. 9. Torrey Spoerer, City Times.

Torrey Spoerer

City College’s locally based public radio station KSDS Jazz 88.3 FM recently hosted a live radio broadcasted concert for the Billy Mintz Band. The band performed their own original songs of various jazz sub-genre influences for about an hour and a half in total duration.

“We typically host these live-broadcasted concerts once a month on every second Tuesday,” said KSDS Membership Director April Pendergraft. “During the summer, we even host these concerts twice a month, usually in June and July.”

The radio station is public, meaning that it’s a non-profit station funded by its members and generous listeners. The station’s been based at City College now for the past 40 years.

“Members can attend these concerts for free, and City College students can attend for just $5 per attendee,” said Pendergraft.

The membership that she is referring to is the public station’s Play it Forward Membership Drive. The membership donations help Jazz 88.3 FM continue continue playing jazz forward —- literally —- for the next listener and potential new fan of any age and background. Donations also help support Jazz 88.3’s educational music programs.

Other musicians present in the band, led by drummer Billy Mintz, were pianist Roberta Piket, John Gross on tenor saxophone and bassist Putter Smith.

Pianist Roberta Piket’s fingers danced back and forth between a traditional acoustic piano and an electric Yamaha DX7 keyboard. Piket also at one point surprised the audience with her elegant singing, armed with a soft-yet-bold voice comparable to that of famous mid-century female jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald.

Bassist Putter Smith nailed precisely bold, thick notes with such consistency that his wooden stand-up bass could put any resin-framed electric bass guitar in melting heat.

Jon Gross fed the audience with intense sax solos, filled to the core with wide note ranges that can flex and warp one’s eardrums.

The leader and star of the band’s performance that night, dummer Billy Mintz, portrayed his diverse skills and talent all night through the drums. Switching back and forth between various kinds of drumsticks and drumming styles, it was as if Mintz was portraying his beans on the live radio air like a paintbrush to canvas.

“We host some amazing jazz acts from all around the nation and from all various sorts of jazz related backgrounds, such as blues, progressive jazz, folk jazz and so on and so forth,” said Pendergraft.

For anyone who hasn’t already considered becoming a Jazz 88.3 member, it’s inexpensive and can be a way of showing support for genuine and original jazz music in the San Diego community.

For more information, either tune your radio in to 88.3 FM, or visit their website online at