Marsha Lytle and Bubba Jackson at the 2011 Jazz in the Pines Festival. Photo by J.P. Crumrine

Besides great jazz, Bubba Jackson, artistic consultant for the 2012 Jazz in the Pines Festival, promises a two-day immersion in a jazz seminar.


“Brian Bromberg, the Big Phat Band, Kenny Burrell and all the groups, I’m really, really excited about the festival,” Jackson exclaimed. Then he explained his reason and intention for the seminar statement.

“What I brought to hear is the diversity of jazz. They’re all from the same tree, but they are different branches,” he said. “The whole concept is the evolution of jazz. I want to show its roots and its growth.”

No course syllabus will be provided at the gate and no test at the end, but Jackson and Jazz Chair Marsha Lytle have planned an intense two-day musical symposium displaying the vast array of jazz genres from straight ahead and smooth to Latin and fusion, blues to zydeco, soloists from traditional vocalists to drummers and guitarists.

There will be opportunities to hear familiar sounds and performers and opportunities to hear what’s new and exotic.

“Kenny Burrell is absolutely straight ahead,” Jackson said. “He’s a jazz icon. He’s one of the most prolific jazz guitarists.”

Burrell, now director of jazz studies at UCLA, has been playing since the 1950s. He’s played with Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson and Bill Evans as examples of his jazz roots. Besides teaching and mentoring new jazz musicians, he has begun performing jazz guitar solo concerts, which will be a major feature of his Saturday, Aug. 25, Holmes appearance.

“Brian Bromberg is one of the contemporary jazz musicians,” Jackson said of Sunday’s, Aug. 26, headliner.

Bromberg, a bassist, has taken the instrument to new levels. He plays the acoustic, the electric and the piccolo bass. In his performances, the bass is no longer simply the keeper of the rhythm.

The French Quarter will host blues, zydeco, Latin and local jazz groups. Rocky Zharp returns with his Blues Crackers and other blues bands both days. Popular Bonne Musique Zydeco Band also returns this year, as do familiar Idyllwild groups, Change Required and Contagion.

“These are very different elements,” Jackson said describing the performers in each of the three venues. “But they’re all under the umbrella of jazz. We only have so much time and I want to highlight the folks that typify the different parts. There’s something for everyone. But I also want to raise the level.”

Jackson views Jazz in the Pines much as he does his radio show on KJAZZ 88.1. He wants the audience to enjoy the musicians, but he also wants everyone to return.

Each year will be different and there will be surprises. For example, Ray Goren, the 12-year-old jazz musician was introduced to Idyllwild audiences last year as a member of Deacon Jones Blues. This year, Goren returns to the Holmes Amphitheatre stage Sunday, Aug. 26, with his own band.

“If they thought they saw something last year, not true,” Jackson said describing the growth of the developing young musical prodigy. “He’s changing the face of the blues.”

Closing the Barn on Sunday will be Clayton Cameron, whom Jackson called “the drummer’s drummer.” He’s given new life to brushes and is the consummate drummer, according to Jackson.

Jackson devotes his talent and time to support the festival that supports the students at Idyllwild Arts. He’s conscious of the performers and their variety and professional contacts and quality. He wants to offer students an opportunity to learn, not just music and stage presence, but the music business and all its aspects. “It’s integral to the academy,” he said summing up his view of the event and its relationship with the institution.

“I see the festival getting bigger every year,” he said. “My life is surrounded by festivals — three to four each year. But to have a festival with shade is a privilege.”

Confirming Jackson’s perspective on Jazz in the Pines, Burrell acknowledged that its reputation is growing and was one reason he so easily agreed to performed here this year.

“I want to stay true to jazz. I can still present the talent the Idyllwild Community deserves,” Jackson said. “The festival is getting better each year.”

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