Everyone knows Bubba Jackson. That’s a fact that can’t be denied. He’s been a part of the blues history in L.A. for decades. He was a disc jockey on KLON radio station for many years. He acts as the Master of Ceremonies for many Southland events. In these parts when you say “the blues” his name immediately comes to mind. He has stamped his name alongside the genre so totally, everyone knows Bubba!
I had a few basic questions for him. He answered then with enough detail so I got a pretty complete picture of his life’s journey.
L.A. Jazz Scene: Where were you born? Tell me about your family.
Bubba Jackson: I was born in Harlem, New York. I had two younger siblings, two older. I was the middle child. My father was not around to help raise us. My mother was “the general” who managed us all. I went to Cardinal Hayes Catholic School in the Bronx. I graduated in 1963. I still wear my class ring.
L.A. Jazz Scene: What did you do after high school?
Bubba Jackson: I was in the Air Force, in Denver, Colorado. I fell in love with the mountains. I planned on being an accountant. A sergeant I knew had jazz records. I walked into the studio and all he had were two mic’s and a turntable. I knew I could talk. So I went back to the bus and decided that I was going to try that in Denver. I had a wife and kids but I was going to try that idea. There was no money in the military.
I met a man who was a door to door salesman. Over two and a half years he taught me how to sell. Nothing had prepared me for being a salesman but he did. The first job I got in Denver was selling time, commercials, in Denver. It was “cold calling” different businesses to get them to advertise on the radio. My mentor was a brilliant salesman. I sold commercials, produced them, with the engineer also helping me.
There was a guy who had a gospel show on the radio. He gave me a job to be on the radio myself, during “drive time. “ I knew nothing about broadcasting but I learned. There were hard times, the radio station was sold, there were riots around the country. It was a hard time.
I got a job recruiting minorities for the police department. A young guy who was in construction came in and I asked him how he passed the test to join the police department. He said , “You pass every test if you want to get in the police department. “ I convinced him to go to school. The Leap Program for minorities helped young people to become professionals. These experiences helped me to grow. Working for the Urban League, the Leap Program in Denver, two TV shows. I grew so fast professionally.
I was working the 2 am to 6 am overnight shift in Denver. A reporter from the Denver Post interviewed me and I got a 3-page spread in the newspaper. Still, I had the idea to leave Denver and I was ready to take a risk.
L.A. Jazz Scene: Is that when you came to California?
Bubba Jackson: I came out here, to California with no real plan. I went to station KKGO. They turned me down; I went for an interview but they didn’t have a slot then. But I had experience so eventually I was given a chance there. They had a huge library! I worked there from 1985 till around “91 or ‘92. I worked at KLON and KACE so I had R&B, jazz, blues. I had a lot of variety working at different stations.
L.A. Jazz Scene: So how many years has it been?
Bubba Jackson: It’s been 40-years! I’ve seen and heard so much. The business is changing. I left XM satellite radio where I was the Program Director for the Blues channel. While at KLON I got into production. With the 1987 Long Beach Blues Festival. I wanted to meet the musicians and the people who showed up. I’ve been the Emcee at the Doheny Blues Festival at Dana Point for years at two stages. I’m not overwhelmed by audiences of 10,000 people! Someone has to be the “traffic director.” It all fits into my passion for the audience, that it’s a great experience for them. Jazz and the blues are the voice of the people, listeners are touched by the music.
L.A. Jazz Scene: Tell me what is going to happen at The Segerstrom Center for the Performing Arts
COSTA MESA, CA – Segerstrom Center for the Arts is set to kick off the Orange County summer music scene with a very cool Summer Jazz on the Argyros Plaza series outdoors on the new Julianne and George Argyros Plaza. The Center helped make Orange County a Southern California jazz mecca, presenting the world’s finest musicians and vocalists in its annual Jazz Series for more than 30 years. Now it takes the music outdoors starting Friday, June 1 for 11 consecutive weeks. Shows are from 7- 9 p.m. Bubba Jackson, KJAZZ DJ and jazz legend himself will be on-hand to host each evening. And all concerts are FREE
Bubba Jackson said, “This series is like no other in Southern California, and I’m thrilled to be part of it with Segerstrom Center. Jazz embodies the musical cultures of the various ethnicity’s, beginning with Africa. These musical styles from around the world showcase the melting pot that is America. Its greatness comes from its many distinctive cultural, artistic, ethnic and historic influences. Each Friday, we’re going to experience a part of that rich heritage with this series. We’re going to hear the voices of the past coming to us through these phenomenal artists who have made jazz their artistic language here and around the world.”Jackson explained, “What we have put together are 11 weeks of the finest and most exceptional artists from around Southern California. From seasoned professionals to the next gen of jazz, such as OCSA’s Ambassador Jazz Band. These teenagers “swing and rock” and are on par with any of the top professional groups. Music fans are in for a real treat, and I can’t wait to share these Friday adventures with everyone.”
Jazz fans and families from across the county are encouraged to arrive early to settle in to enjoy early picnic dinners, music and people-watching. The Center’s Café 360 will be open and serving a special Summer Jazz menu. Barbecues and similar food preparation are not permitted, and, due to space limitations, beach chairs and easily portable seating items are welcome, but guests are asked to not bring tables. Set-up begins at 6:00 p.m., with concerts starting at 7:00 p.m.
Under the direction of Dan St. Marseille, OCSA’s award-winning orchestra performs a breadth of repertoire, spanning from early jazz to the present. In addition to weekly rehearsals, the ensemble is often heard performing gigs around the Southern California area for private parties and charitable organizations. Over the years, members of the ensemble have participated in the California High School All State Honor Jazz Band, Monterey Next Generation Orchestra, Jazz Band of America, Grammy Jazz Band, Reno Jazz Festival All-Star Combo, and the Southern California School Band and Orchestra (SCSBOA) High School Jazz All-Star groups.
Dan St. Marseille Praised by jazz critics worldwide, saxophonist St. Marseille has worked with many major jazz and commercial artists, including conguero Poncho Sanchez, saxophonist Richie Cole, and singers Cab Calloway and Mel Torme. St. Marseille’s recordings are heard internationally on jazz radio and have been the subject of many articles in such publications as the Los Angeles Times, France’s International Herald Tribune, The Orange County Register, Downbeat, JazzTimes and Japan’s Jazz Critic magazine. His recordings received four-star ratings in the third edition of the All Music Guide to Jazz and The Experts Guide to the Best Jazz Recordings.
Flute soloist, musical director, record producer and educator, Danilo Lozano performs both innovative and accessible music by Latin American, African-American, Latin Jazz and Cuban composers as well as rarely heard pieces of the classical and contemporary repertories. He is the son of noted Cuban musician Rolando Lozano. Lozano has been described as “a fresh new voice of outstanding ability and rare musical sensitivity.” His appearance in “Artes de Mexico,” the massive 1992 Los Angeles festival, caused the Los Angeles Times to notice the recital’s boldness and how Lozano “skillfully laid out his avant-garde credentials with a display of extended techniques.”
Danilo is both musical director and flute soloist with Jose Rizo’s prestigious Jazz on the Latin Side All Stars and can be heard on their CDs The Last Bullfighter and Tambolero on the Saungu Record Label. He also recorded and produced composer Teresa LeVelle’s The Shadowlands on Innova records. He has also performed and recorded with such international musical greats as Linda Ronstadt, Paquito D’ Rivera, Celia Cruz, James Newton, and with many other artists and ensembles.
Cuban-born violinist Dayren Santamaria is the daughter of a musician father and an actress mother. She opted for a musical life and began to study violin at the age of 8. Today she has her own band, Dayren Santamaria and Made in Cuba with some of the best musicians in Los Angeles, including Oscar Hernandez (piano), Jimmy Branly (drums/timbales), Joey De Leon (congas/vocals), and Carlitos Del Puerto (bass). Her musical vocabulary encompasses classical, jazz, R&B, salsa, and Cuban folkloric. Santamaria is praised for her passionate renditions of works on both acoustic and electric violin.
Matt Forbes and His Vintage Pop Orchestra Bringing a bold, new sound to ‘vintage pop’, Matt Forbes is hailed as the freshest voice to hit the genre in more than a decade. He has received widespread critical acclaim with national television appearances on E! News, CTV’s eTalk and The Marilyn Denis Show. The album was a Critic’s Pick in HELLO! Canada and rose to #4 on Amazon’s Top 10 Chart for Hot New Releases in Vocal Jazz — where it remained for its first three months of release. His soulful vocals and unmistakable sound are wowing the millennials of his own generation with songs made popular decades before they were born.
Ron Kobayashi Trio
Pianist and leader Ron Kobayashi has performed with Mel Torme, Margaret Whiting, Eric Marienthal, Phil Upchurch, Teddy Edwards, Tim Weisberg, Kenny Burrell, Paula Kelly Jr., Herb Jeffries, Peter White and The Modernaires. He and his band have shared the stage with such notable artists as David Benoit, Eddie Palmieri, Cirque Du Soleil, Strunz and Farah, and The Fabulous Thunderbirds. The Trio has played numerous jazz festivals including the San Bernardino Music Festival, Orange County Art and Jazz Festival, Yorba Linda Arts Festival, Dana Point Jazz Festival, Mission Viejo Music Festival and the Playboy Jazz Summerfest in Pasadena.
Andrea Miller’s voice has been described as soulful, sensual, hypnotic and endearing. Influenced by Nancy Wilson, Sarah Vaughan and Stevie Wonder, Andrea is currently heating up the jazz scene coast to coast touring and receiving national airplay. She has performed with Al Jarreau, David Foster, Quincy Jones and Alan and Marilyn Bergman, and has appeared at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Pasadena Jazz Institute, Baked Potato, Spaghettini, the Newport Beach Jazz Festival, Catalina Jazz Club, Vibrato, Casselberry Jazz Festival and others.