Local bandleader’s group to pay tribute to ‘Birdland’ in Ventura show

Live music

News release 

Skip Spiro’s 10-Piece Jazz/Blues Project will be presenting a special evening of music at The Grape in Ventura, 7-10 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 31. 

Billed as “Back To Birdland: The Titans of Modern Jazz Re-Visited,” Spiro and his 10-piece ensemble will pay homage to the giants of modern music who paved the way from trad jazz, to big band swing, bebop and fusion. 

Spiro, who has lived in the Santa Clarita Valley for almost 40 years, is a trumpet player who leads the group that includes musicians from areas throughout Southern California — as far north as Frazier Park and as far south as Irvine. 

“This program will shed light on a rich cultural period in our country’s history, which continues to influence and shape the sounds of modern contemporary music right up through classic rock, pop, rap, and hip hop,” said a news release from Spiro. 

From 1949 through 1965, the nightclub Birdland, located in midtown Manhattan, was the preeminent showcase for some of the most daring creative forces in modern jazz, earning and reenforcing its moniker “The Jazz Corner of the World,” the release said. During those years, Birdland became a fashionable night spot for celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner, Gary Cooper, Marilyn Monroe and others. 

Every night for $2 admission, the no-frills basement concert venue with, some say, the best acoustics in the world, would feature a double bill of the most exciting jazz artists on the scene, alternating sets starting at 9 p.m. and lasting until dawn, the release said.  

From Charlie Parker (nicknamed Bird) for whom the club was named, the original Birdland’s booking history reads like a who’s who of music pioneers: Miles Davis, Art Blakey, John Coltrane, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Maynard Ferguson, Thelonious Monk, Gerry Mulligan, Bud Powell, Stan Getz, Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, and more. 

Spiro grew up in New York during that period, and as a teenage music student caught the tail end of the Birdland era.  

“Spiro, inspired by the richness of this artful scene, has put together a very unique and exciting program honoring the creative forces that inhabited, shaped, and defined this New York City jazz mecca night after night, and still continues to influence the sights and sounds of modern creativity,” the release said. 

The Grape is located at 2733 E. Main St., in Ventura. 

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