sounds of Gershwin's "Summertime" is the Hyatt Newporter, which will
start its 10th annual Summer Jazz Series tonight with a performance by
Strunz & Farah.
Other performers who will take the stage Fridays through the month of
October will include Peabo Bryson, David Sanborn and Hiroshima.
"It's not like a nightclub or festival. It's a really intimate
amphitheater out on the grass, on a raised terrace section with beautiful
white chairs," said Scott Pedersen, the series' producer. "The term jazz
is constantly evolving."
In the '40s and '50s, names such as Stan Kenton, Benny Goodman, Lionel
Hampton, Woody Herman and Arty Shaw graced the stages of Newport Beach.
Today, the scene has a different flavor, one that includes the
globe-trotting version of the genre practiced by guitar-duo Strunz &
Jorge Strunz of Costa Rica and Ardeshir Farah of Iran became musical
partners 21 years ago. Theirs is a world jazz, with a blend of Middle
Eastern styles and an Afro-Latin rhythmic foundation.
The Grammy-nominated group, whose credits include 10 albums and
awards, including Billboard's World Music Album of the Year, will perform
two Mideast compositions tonight -- one from an earlier album and one
from their new release titled "String Weave."
"World music is a category that includes music from all different
cultures on the planet," Strunz said from his Woodland Hills home. "And I
think jazz, like any art form, has to be a growing art form."He added
that contemporary music should include influences from different
Strunz grew up in Costa Rica, Columbia, Mexico, England, Spain, Canada
and the United States. His father was a diplomat whose work required
travel. Strunz's musical tastes spanned the globe since his early years.
He got his first guitar at the age of 6 and played flamenco and classical
About two decades ago, while looking for a guitar-playing partner, he
met Farah. From Iran and England, he shared Strunz's international flair.
"We're very similar," Farah said. "Even though we were from different
parts of the world, we had similar interests and even a similar
And Southern California has openly welcomed them. Veterans to the
Newporter jazz series, Farah said they have a following specifically in
Orange County -- a good sign for jazz in general, Strunz agreed.
"If it's only Nat King Cole or Duke Ellington, jazz becomes a museum
piece," Strunz said. "There's a lot more diversity in the States now, and
those different strains should be reflected in the music."
WHAT: Hyatt Newporter Jazz Series
WHEN: Opening concert with Strunz & Farah at 8 p.m. today. Concerts
continue Fridays through Oct. 12.
WHERE: Hyatt Newporter, 1107 Jamboree Road, Newport Beach
CALL: (949) 729-6013