Just the mere fact that a jazz festival even exists in our oft-forgotten neck of the woods is reason enough to merit its support. With many seasoned performers booking nights at ritzy Westside or Orange County beach locations, finding great jazz gigs in the Inland Empire is certainly possible, but it’s rarely a constant. However, here’s to hoping that the first annual Inland Empire Jazz Festival at the Cucamonga-Guasti Regional Park in Ontario heightens the genre’s visibility in our locale. This event promises to be more than simply a roster full of horn blowers—they’ll be touting “education, cultural awareness, economic development, charity and community” by kicking off on Friday with a special three-hour block designated for those with developmental disabilities, followed by six hours of amateur jazz competition. Weighted on the more contemporary end of the coin, the pros start performing on Saturday and continue into Sunday, hosted by actress Vivica A. Fox, keyboardist Brian Culbertson and sax man Steve Cole. Saturday’s line-up is slated to include Grammy-nominated jazz guitarist Paul Jackson Jr., the Latin-jazz flavors of the L.A. Mambo Combo, session guitar ace A. Ray Fuller, smooth sax man Jackiem Joyner and more. Sunday features University of Redlands alum and longtime sax pro Gerald Albright, veteran violinist Michael Ward, California sax native Jeanette Harris, amongst others. In addition to the tuneage, there’ll be a vintage car exhibit, an art walk by the lake and all kinds of grub, making for a musical weekend getaway that’s—conveniently—not too far away. (Waleed Rashidi)
The Inland Empire Jazz Festival at Cucamonga-Guasti Regional Park in Ontario, runs August 24-26. For details, maps and updated information, visit HYPERLINK "http://www.iejazz.com" www.iejazz.com. Tickets $10-$240.