Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, Filoli is gearing up for a special season featuring its customary mix of local and national names. Opening the series on June 21 is pianist/composer Taylor Eigsti (right), who first performed at Filoli on his 16th birthday in 2000 as a replacement for an injured Marian McPartland; he'll be playing with his trio and special guest Gretchen Parlato. Also making repeat appearances are pianist Larry Vuckovich with his nine-piece all-star band plus multi-award-winning vocalist Jackie Ryan(below right) July 12; and trumpet masterArturo Sandoval (left), August 9. Like many other musicians, Sandoval loved the Filoliambience, relaxed atmosphere, and responsive audience and insisted on returning.
Rounding out the 2015 lineup are the Jeff Hamilton Trio with pianist Tamir Hendelman and bassist Christophe Luty, July 26; Philadelphia-basedFrank Bey and Bay Area guitarist Anthony Paule and their blues band, August 23; and husband/wife stride and swing pianists Stephanie Trickand Paolo Alderighi with bassist Marty Eggers and drummer Danny Coot, September 13.
Filoli is an historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and one of the finest remaining country estates of the early 20th century. Concertgoers are urged to come early to tour the gardens and the House, a prime example of early 19th-century Stuart and Georgian architecture. The House has been featured in a number of TV shows, most notably as the mansion in the TV series Dynasty. It has also been used in TV commercials and movies, including Heaven Can Wait, Wedding Planner, and Rent.
Jazz at Filoli has presented some of the most prominent jazz and Latin-jazz musicians through the years, among them Toots Thielemans, Gregory Porter, Bobby Hutcherson, Cedar Walton, Marian McPartland, Cyrus Chestnut, Benny Green, John Pizzarelli, the Brubeck Brothers, Pat Martino, Eddie Daniels, Charles Brown, Louis Bellson, Shelly Berg, Buster Williams, Scott Hamilton, Dick Hyman, Nnenna Freelon, Ernestine Anderson, Karrin Allyson, Janis Siegel, Jane Monheit, Dena De Rose, Bob Dorough, Eliane Elias, Airto and Flora Purim, Poncho Sanchez, Pete Escovedo, and Arturo Sandoval.
The series was founded in 1991 by the late Chuck Huggins, CEO of See's Candies (which became sponsors for the series and remains a major donor), and the late Bud Spangler, the concert and record producer, radio host, and drummer. (Photo at left: Huggins and Spangler.) Spangler produced the series from 1991 until 2007, with vocalist Madeline Eastman serving as co-producer from 1991 through 2000, and music industry veteran Merrilee Trost filling that role from 2001 through 2007. Paul Blystone was series producer from 2008 through 2011. Trost has been producing the series since 2012.
Until 1995, when pianist Cedar Walton and his trio were brought in, musical offerings had been restricted to top bands from the Bay Area. Since then, more and more internationally known musicians have been presented along with the best of the Bay Area jazz scene.
It's estimated that more than 77,000 Jazz at Filoli tickets have been sold over the last 24 years, and this year's sales will take that number over 80,000. Some patrons have attended every year since its inception.
Concerts are presented on the erstwhile tennis courts, with tables and chairs are set up to accommodate as many as 650 people. More than 50 volunteers greet the guests and serve complimentary white wine, pitchers of beer, sparkling water, gourmet coffee, and snacks. Concert attendees are also offered free tours of the historic House and gardens, and free parking. Show times are 1:30-4:00 pm.
Boxed lunches may be ordered in advance and picked up on arrival at Filoli, but people often bring their own picnic lunches, some of them quite elaborate, complete with wine glasses, linen napkins, and silverware, to share with friends. Enjoying the music while watching a family of deer in the woods behind the outdoor stage or marveling at the resident peacock spreading his plumage is a reminder why Jazz at Filoli is a highlight of the Northern California summer music calendar.
Series subscription (all six concerts): $335 members, $395 nonmembers. Individual concerts: $60 members, $70 nonmembers. Boxed lunch (must be ordered in advance): $18 per concert or $108 for the series of six concerts. Tickets are on sale to current Filoli members by mail and special member web page only as of Tuesday May 12, by phone and mail as of Monday May 18. Nonmembers may purchase tickets beginning Tuesday May 26. Phone: Mon-Fri, 9am-4pm, 650-364-8300, ext. 508.