Live jazz ‘trickles back in’ to Marion Art Center

Nov 6, 2023

MARION — After the sun had set on Friday, Nov. 3, the sound of jazz could be heard coming from the Marion Art Center— from deep bass notes to lively saxophone solos. 

It was the Marion Art Center’s fourth annual Jazz Jam, an event that brings together regional musicians to play jazz standards with a house band —Matt Richard on piano, Dave Zinno on bass and Gary Johnson on drums — holding down the rhythm. 

According to trombonist and Marion Art Center music committee member Phillip Sanborn, a jazz jam is different from an open mic.

“People come here who have never played with each other before, who have a commonality of songs — jazz standards,” said Sanborn. “We call a song, everybody knows it, they play it.”

Around 12 musicians registered to join the jam on Friday night. Many were saxophone players but a pianist, drummer and guitar players joined the ranks too.

For Sanborn, who plays in the South Coast Jazz Orchestra and has played jazz in the region for years, the Marion Art Center is helping to fill the void left by the loss of Marion restaurant and jazz venue Gilda’s Stone Rooster.

However, the Marion Art Center’s jazz programming is allowing the genre to “trickle back around this space,” he said.

Marion Art Center Executive Director Jodi Stevens said that the center “can’t replace Gilda’s, obviously, but since there is no home in Marion any more for jazz we’d love to [be that home].”

The Jazz Jam has been “growing every year,” said Sanborn. 

In addition, the Marion Art Center has held small-venue jazz concerts in its upstairs gallery and will host Matt Richard and Dave Zinno on Friday, Nov. 17.

“Hats off to the Marion Art Center for hosting this and letting jazz happen in Marion,” said Sanborn.