Jazz in North Park is the new name for an old concert series that hopes to pick up where it left off over a year ago. In 2008, Jazz in the Park (as in Balboa Park) went dark when its host, the San Diego Museum of Art, pulled the plug after a seven-year run.
“I had to leave there when the museum gave our hall to the Old Globe Theatre, while they were rebuilding for a year and a half,” says series music director Holly Hofmann, a San Diego–based jazz flutist.
Hofmann says that there were offers to move the concert series to other venues but that she wanted to maintain the same calendar footprint as she’d had in Balboa Park. Jazz in the Park shows were held on the first Wednesday of every month, she explains, and among the series’ suitors, only the Birch North Park Theatre was able to accommodate her.
“I have wonderful people working with me at [the Birch]. They’re committed to the artist and for all the right reasons.”
Jazz in North Park will kick off February 3 for an initial run of six months.
“I’ve just booked the first six months because we want to see how it’s going to go.” The format, she says, will once again be traditional jazz.
In the past, Hofmann has featured jazz luminaries such as Hank Jones, Diana Krall, Joe Pass, and Kenny Burrell. She says that Jazz in the Park attendance had a healthy average, in the neighborhood of 375–400. At times, she says, it was SRO in the 500-seat venue, and they had to scramble to find extra seating. The Birch North Park Theatre can accommodate up to 700 concertgoers. Is Hofmann concerned about having to manage larger expectations?
“I’m not looking to fill it, per se, just to have a user-friendly arts house in which to have concerts.”
So far, Hofmann says that advance ticket sales are promising. “I didn’t know if this was the right time, but the people at the North Park Theatre encouraged me because they see in their own audience numbers that things are turning around a bit.”