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Christian Sands

ARTICLE: San Diego jazz concerts — outdoors and socially distanced — blossoming from La Jolla to North Park

The San Diego Union Tribune

George Varga
March 29, 2021

Live, in-person concerts are happening at Panama 66, Queen Bee’s and in the courtyard of the La Jolla Music Society’s Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center

The number of socially distanced live jazz concerts in San Diego is slowly but steadily growing as musicians and promoters carefully navigate the evolving coronavirus pandemic landscape for ticketed live events.

Weekly outdoor performances have been taking place since Feb. 17 at Balboa Park’s Panama 66, which has eight more Wednesday concerts led by top trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos set for April, two per night. This Wednesday’s two performances by Castellanos — the founder of the Young Lions Jazz Conservatory at Liberty Station — are already sold out.

Outdoor concerts also began in February in North Park at Queen Bee’s Art & Cultural Center, which on Tuesday will begin presenting indoor concerts led by saxophonist Charlie Arbelaez, the venue’s newly appointed music director. He has been a mainstay at Queen Bee’s for some time and hosted a Feb. 10 livestream benefit concert, which also featured Castellanos, for the then-shuttered grassroots cultural center.

Adding to the options, La Jolla Music Society on Monday announced a three-part jazz concert series in its Wu Tsai Courtyard at the Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center. It begins April 21 with rising pianist Christian Sands and his trio. Sands, a multiple Grammy Award-nominee, was a teen protégé of jazz keyboard luminary Billy Taylor. The society, which last week announced a series of outdoor chamber-music concerts at the same La Jolla site, also calls its open-air venue The QRT.yrd. (That moniker should not to be confused with downtown San Diego’s somewhat similarly named Courtyard, which has hosted periodic outdoor jazz events over the years.)