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Daniel Atkinson’s big jazz venture

Opening more slots for all that jazz

Jazz concert impresario Daniel Atkinson has been presenting music with Jazz at the Athenaeum for 32 years, showcasing national talent for eight annual events in the Athenaeum Library, and six more at the larger Scripps Research Institute. Anyone who’s ever been to one of these gigs can appreciate the amount of work involved, so the news that Atkinson was busy setting up a new series in addition to his duties at the Athenaeum came as a surprise.

Place

Athenaeum Music and Arts Library

1008 Wall Street, San Diego

“I think there were two factors,” Atkinson remembers. “One is that I retired from my full-time job at UC San Diego Extension a year ago.” (He was the director of Arts, Humanities, Languages, and Digital Arts.) “That opened up more time for me to think about what else I’d like to do at this stage of my life. I actually had our first concert with the new organization scheduled last April, and then covid hit, so we hung tight for 16 months. The second answer is that, for many years, it was clear that for every show I’d book on the Athenaeum series, there would be four or five that I’d have to turn down because we didn’t have enough slots available.”

Atkinson will continue to be the jazz director at the Athenaeum. His new series will complement, rather than compete with the venerable institution. The new organization is called San Diego Jazz Ventures, and the first few events have already happened: an August 21 show featuring the Ben Williams Band and an August 28 date with vocalist Gretchen Parlato. San Diego Jazz Ventures will collaborate with The Alexandria at Torrey Pines restaurant, gym, and conference center.

Place

Alexandria at Torrey Pines

10996 Torreyana Road, San Diego

“We actually did a fundraising event for the Athenaeum there a couple of years ago. It was very successful, and I noticed they had this beautiful outdoor venue which seats about 250 people comfortably. They also have an indoor facility that seats around 200 that I hope to use at some point in the future.”

Despite its proximity to the Torrey Pines Golf Course, the jazz crowd won’t need to worry about shielding themselves from the occasional errant flying object. “That would be an impossibility. This is on the other side of Torrey Pines Road. Even Tiger Woods on a great day is not going to land a stray ball on the place.”

Regarding the venue, ticket prices and parking, “General admission seats are $50 each, and that comes with a glass of wine or non-alcoholic beverage. We also have $100 seats for the first few rows. There is plenty of free parking. There’s a lot directly adjacent to where the concerts will be, and there’s underground parking accessible from the other side of the building.” The first two shows were held at 5 pm. “It’s a very picturesque, beautifully landscaped. You have to envision the location as being nestled on the east side of the hill.”

Having been in the jazz concert business for more than 30 years, Atkinson, after a mild prompting, mulls over the most important lesson he’s learned. “The one thing that comes to mind is that things never stand still. Once you think you know what works, everything changes. That’s particularly true on the side of marketing and promotion. I’m just catching up to the dominance of social media as a driver for people to learn about concerts and eventually purchase tickets. So the key is to never get too comfortable, because the game is always changing.”

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Jazz concert impresario Daniel Atkinson has been presenting music with Jazz at the Athenaeum for 32 years, showcasing national talent for eight annual events in the Athenaeum Library, and six more at the larger Scripps Research Institute. Anyone who’s ever been to one of these gigs can appreciate the amount of work involved, so the news that Atkinson was busy setting up a new series in addition to his duties at the Athenaeum came as a surprise.

Place

Athenaeum Music and Arts Library

1008 Wall Street, San Diego

“I think there were two factors,” Atkinson remembers. “One is that I retired from my full-time job at UC San Diego Extension a year ago.” (He was the director of Arts, Humanities, Languages, and Digital Arts.) “That opened up more time for me to think about what else I’d like to do at this stage of my life. I actually had our first concert with the new organization scheduled last April, and then covid hit, so we hung tight for 16 months. The second answer is that, for many years, it was clear that for every show I’d book on the Athenaeum series, there would be four or five that I’d have to turn down because we didn’t have enough slots available.”

Atkinson will continue to be the jazz director at the Athenaeum. His new series will complement, rather than compete with the venerable institution. The new organization is called San Diego Jazz Ventures, and the first few events have already happened: an August 21 show featuring the Ben Williams Band and an August 28 date with vocalist Gretchen Parlato. San Diego Jazz Ventures will collaborate with The Alexandria at Torrey Pines restaurant, gym, and conference center.

Place

Alexandria at Torrey Pines

10996 Torreyana Road, San Diego

“We actually did a fundraising event for the Athenaeum there a couple of years ago. It was very successful, and I noticed they had this beautiful outdoor venue which seats about 250 people comfortably. They also have an indoor facility that seats around 200 that I hope to use at some point in the future.”

Despite its proximity to the Torrey Pines Golf Course, the jazz crowd won’t need to worry about shielding themselves from the occasional errant flying object. “That would be an impossibility. This is on the other side of Torrey Pines Road. Even Tiger Woods on a great day is not going to land a stray ball on the place.”

Regarding the venue, ticket prices and parking, “General admission seats are $50 each, and that comes with a glass of wine or non-alcoholic beverage. We also have $100 seats for the first few rows. There is plenty of free parking. There’s a lot directly adjacent to where the concerts will be, and there’s underground parking accessible from the other side of the building.” The first two shows were held at 5 pm. “It’s a very picturesque, beautifully landscaped. You have to envision the location as being nestled on the east side of the hill.”

Having been in the jazz concert business for more than 30 years, Atkinson, after a mild prompting, mulls over the most important lesson he’s learned. “The one thing that comes to mind is that things never stand still. Once you think you know what works, everything changes. That’s particularly true on the side of marketing and promotion. I’m just catching up to the dominance of social media as a driver for people to learn about concerts and eventually purchase tickets. So the key is to never get too comfortable, because the game is always changing.”

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