JazzTrax at 25

OCEAN AUTUMN: If you were to quiz someone not from Southern California about what one of the biggest signs of fall is on Catalina Island, can you guess their answer? Oh, they might say the buffalo molting. (Wait. We know buffalo don't molt. We're only joshing, and plus, we have a strict vow to never write about Catalina without putting out some supreme props for the b to the uffalo. Love them.) One might say a scary dance at the Casino. (That's a pretty good sign of autumn.) But the correct answer is the JazzTrax Festival. And really, people know about it regardless of whether they live in SoCal or not. If they love the jazz, and they know their major music happenings, they're well aware of this premiere, multi-weekend confab. And that multi-weekend confab? Turns 25 in 2011. It starts on Friday, Oct. 7 and keeps it grooving over the next two weekends.

ON THE BILL: The Max Weinberg Band (both pictured and opening the fest on Oct. 7). Mindi Abair. Spyro Gyra. Big, big, big, boom, boom, boom. And plenty of other great acts. Now. There are some Thursday happenings, we should mention, if you want to get your weekends going. And you will need to stay on the island if you push it to the wee-smalls (one should always push it to the wee-smalls). But this is "the Granddaddy of 'Em All," says the site, and we'll second that. JazzTrax isn't just a big music thing for Catalina but for jazz itself. And should we say that a vintage-sweet island and smooth sounds just go together? Setting isn't everything here, but it certainly lends oodles of oomph.

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