Bayside Summer Nights concert series will feature fireworks galore, plus a few rock and R&B legends
Chances are good that Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Roger Daltrey of The Who will sing “See Me, Feel Me” when he performs Aug. 15 as part of the 2018 edition of the San Diego Symphony’s annual Bayside Summer Nights.
But the title of that song from “Tommy,” The Who’s landmark 1969 rock-opera, also applies to much of this outdoor concert series at Embarcadero Marina Park South, which opens with a trio of “Star Spangled Pops” concerts Friday through Sunday. Audiences will be able to watch and feel the thundering fireworks displays that will conclude no fewer than 19 evenings of music in this summer’s 31-concert series.
So expect the night sky to light up repeatedly, if not quite as memorably as at Radiohead’s non-symphony-related Embarcadero show in 2006 — which had the added visual impact of a nighttime missile launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Here are our Top 10 picks for this year’s Bayside Summer Nights concerts that are likely to ignite, with or without any post-performance fireworks. (Ticket information appears below).
Megan Hilty, July 6-7
Not only has this golden-voiced singer thrived on on Broadway as Glinda in “Wicked” and as Doralee Rhodes in “9 to 5: The Musical,” she also was a hit as Ivy Lynn in the Marilyn Monroe-inspired TV series “Smash.” Blessed with a wonderfully supple soprano, Hilty imbues each note she sings with taste and carefully calibrated dynamic control. And she shines whether singing jazz standards, Broadway classics or such urbane pop songs as Don Henley’s “The Heart of the Matter” and Damien Rice’s “The Blower’s Daughter.” ($25-$92, July 6; $27-$95, July 7)
Arturo Sandoval, July 12
Arturo Sandoval is, without doubt, the only expatriate Cuban jazz trumpet star to have an HBO movie made about his life (2000’s “For Love of Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story,” in which Andy Garcia plays the title role). He is also the only jazz trumpeter from any country whose recording partners include — on his new album, “Ultimate Duets” — Ariana Grande, Stevie Wonder, Pharrell Williams and Abba’s Anni-Frid Lyngstad. Sandoval won’t have any high-profile guests when he and his propulsive quintet perform here — and that’s a good thing. His soaring trumpet playing sings quite memorably on its own. ($18-$69)
Godfathers of Latin Jazz: A Tribute to Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo, featuring Jon Faddis, July 26
Sparks should fly from the first downbeat at this celebration of the fiery fusion of Latin and jazz pioneered in the mid-1940s by South Carolina-born trumpet giant Dizzy Gillespie and Cuban-born percussionist Chano Pozo. Powerhouse trumpeter Jon Faddis, who was mentored by Gillespie, will head share solo duties with saxophonist/flutist Justo Almario and percussionist Carlos “Charlie” Chavez. They’ll be accompanied by the 15-piece KSDS Jazz Orchestra, under the direction of trumpeter (and San Diego Symphony jazz curator) Gilbert Castellanos. Expect to hear such timeless Gillespie/Pozo gems as “Manteca” and “Tin Tin Deo.” ($18-$69)
Marc Cohn and the Blind Boys of Alabama, July 27
It’s been 27 years since singer-songwriter Marc Cohn scored his breakthrough hit, “Walking in Memphis,” and 25 years since his last U.S. radio hit, “Walk Through the World.” He remains an amiable performer and a courageous one. Such courageousness would hold true for almost anyone who shares the stage with the Blind Boys of Alabama. Launched in 1939, the legendary gospel vocal group counts Ben Harper, Peter Gabriel and Bonnie Raitt among its high-profile fans and collaborators. The Blind Boys are ostensibly accompanying the piano-playing Cohn here, but he’d be well-advised to reverse those roles. Once this mighty vocal ensemble hits the stage, they should easily command the spotlight. ($18-$69)
Patti LaBelle, July 28
Patti LaBelle was just 16 when she formed her first group in 1960 and still a teenager in 1963 when she scored her first hit as the leader of the Blue Bells (who soon changed their name to the Bluebelles). By 1971, she was leading the far more edgy LaBelle, best recalled for its 1974 hit “Lady Marmalade.” Her solo career began in 1977. Now 74, LaBelle is equally adept performing soul, funk, gospel, pop or jazz. True, she paces herself and tends to feature her backing singers more often than in previous years. But when this still-vital vocal dynamo hits and sustains a succession of high notes, you can feel it deep in your bones. ($37-$96)
Burt Bacharach, Aug. 3
One of America’s greatest living songwriters, Burt Bacharach — who turned 90 in May — is clearly not the retiring type. Currently at work on several new musicals, he’ll spend July touring Europe, followed by a series of West Coast dates in September. His only challenge in concert is trying to fit in even half of the many hits he and lyricist Hal David co-wrote with other artists. They include “Anyone Who Had A Heart,” “I Say a Little Prayer,” “The Look Of Love,” “(They Long To Be) Close To You,” “This Guy’s In Love With You,” “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?” and “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again.” ($27-$85)
“Bird on the Bay: A Charlie Parker Tribute,” featuring Charles McPherson, Aug. 9
The music of bebop sax icon Charlie “Bird” Parker stills sounds fresh more than half a century after his death. His rich repertoire will be celebrated by a band led by San Diego’s Charles McPherson, long hailed as the greatest alto saxophonist to have mastered and extended Bird’s musical legacy. He’ll be joined by a band that features two other top alto saxophonists, Jeff Clayton and Christopher Hollyday, along with trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos, bassist Katie Thiroux, drummer Lewis Nash and pianist Randy Porter. ($18-$69)
Roger Daltrey, with Leslie Mendelson, Aug. 15
Roger Daltrey is showing his age. In 2015, The Who’s famed lead vocalist battled back from a near-fatal case of viral meningitis. In May, Daltrey dismissed the #MeToo movement as “salacious crap.” He now wears hearing aids in both ears and says he’s so deaf that he lip reads in order to follow the music on stage. But, at 74, the man who famously sang “Hope I die before I get old” in the 1965 Who classic “My Generation” is not ready to fade away. He just released his first new album in 16 years, “As Long As I Have You,” which features Who guitarist Pete Townshend and mixes vintage soul and R&B gems with songs by Stevie Wonder, Nick Cave and Boz Scaggs. Daltrey is also on the road with a band that includes Pete Townshend’s brother, Simon, and several other touring members of The Who. ($36-$82)
Robert Randolph & The Family Band, Aug. 19
When Robert Randolph began to make a national impact 15 or so years ago, he was hailed as “the Jimi Hendrix of the pedal-steel guitar.” Apart from his undeniable virtuosity, what made him stand out was his ecstatic, gospel music-infused “sacred steel” sound. It originated in the House of God, an African-American Pentecostal denomination that features pedal-steel guitars at its church services in place of more expensive organs. Randolph mixes his gospel roots with blues, rock and soul. His versatility is further demonstrated by his playing on albums by such diverse artists as the Blind Boys of Alabama, Eric Clapton, Anita Baker, Ozzy Osbourne, Lynyrd Skynyrd and San Diego’s Switchfoot. ($25-$92)
The Ladies Who Jam, featuring Dee Dee Bridgewater, Aug. 23
A two-time Grammy-winner and one of the foremost interpreters of the music of Billie Holiday, vocal dynamo Dee Dee Bridgewater’s jazz bona fides have been a matter of record since the 1970s. She is also a first-rate soul singer, as her rousing 2017 album, “Memphis … Yes, I’m Ready,” attests. No matter what she performs here, Bridgewater will benefit from the stellar accompaniment of trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, pianist Helen Sung, violinist Nora Germain, bassist Endea Owens and ace drummer Sylvia Cuenca. ($18-$69)
San Diego Symphony’s 2018 Bayside Summer Nights
When: All concerts are at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: Prices vary
Phone: (619) 235-0804
8:30 a.m.: Arturo Sandoval will be performing on July 12, not July 11.
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