Jazz Festival

Concord 1995
Concord, California
Carl Jefferson
Concord's Own Dave Brubeck
Dave Brubeck, Concord’s most famous native son, attended local schools and received his early musical training here. Internationally acclaimed, his contemporary jazz group is often heard in the Bay Area. — Andrews, Page 190

Concord Jazz Festival

Sparked by his fondness of jazz, enthusiastic Concord automobile dealer Carl Jefferson persuaded a handful of friends to help him create the Concord Jazz Festival. The city matched his and their contributions, and the eager group held its first festival on an undeveloped field adjoining the high school.

At that 1969 turnout of more than 17,000, Jefferson knew he was correct  the public is hungry for musical dishes when top quality artists serve them.

While extremely happy over the initial success, he  envisioned a facility where those in jeans would feel  as welcome as those in more formal attire. What he brought into realization, in May 1975, is the Concord Pavilion, built at a cost of $4.5 million. The pavilion sits on the eastern edge of Concord, without the outside walls of a building. Thirty-five hundred listeners may sit under a roof, and forty-five hundred more may lounge on the lawn, picnicking or reclining while they enjoy some of the country’s greatest performers.

No theater for the exclusive use of the elite, the Concord Pavilion offers a varied fare. Presenting ballet, symphony, rock, and traditional jazz, this Concord facility draws its audience from all over the Bay Area. Attendance remains high and makes it a moneymaker for the City of Concord. It is unique in  Northern California, and its creator is a public-spirited dynamo with an affection for all music for music’s sake.

Emanuels, Page 35

A CONSTANTLY GROWING schedule of cultural events prepared the community for businessman Carl Jefferson’s idea to start an outdoor summer jazz festival. Planned by a committee of 20 citizens, the first Concord Summer Festival was held in the open at the Concord Boulevard Neighborhood Park on August 26. 1969. Jazz enthusiasts from all over Northern California came to hear such artists as Oscar Peterson, Pearl Bailey Peter Nero, George Shearing, Ella Fitzgerald, Gerry Mulligan, and Dave Brubeck. Performances by the San Francisco and Oakland symphonies were also popular.

The festival grew to such proportions, both in audience numbers and in performance quality, that music critics from the New York Times and Saturday Review compared it favorably to Woodstock and Wolf Trap.

Andrews, Page 192

Carl Jefferson

Carl Jefferson has been successful in business, in education, music, the theater, and community activities.

Born in Alameda, he was educated at Moran School and Miramonte Junior College in Atascadero before transferring to the University of California, Berkeley.

He came to Concord in 1958 as president and general manager of Montclair Motors on Willow Pass Road. In 1960, he bought the dealership and renamed it Jefferson Motors, Inc. He owned the business for 20 years.

The peak of his civic career involved his life­long delight in music, particularly jazz. A suggestion that the community needed some kind of unifying involvement culminated in Concord’s first Summer Festival. Six successful events ultimately led to the building of the Concord Pavilion.

In 1973, the Pavilion founder launched his Concord Jazz, Inc. recording company. The label, with a catalog of nearly 300 LPs, has garnered 19 Grammy nominations and four Grammy awards.

Jefferson’s long and varied career has included such honors and achievements as: co­founder and president of Diablo Scholarships, Inc., the Junior Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Service Award, founder and president of the Concord Century Club, Rotary Man of the Year, and the Phoebe Apperson Hearst medal as one of the “Most Distinguished 10” in the Bay Area.

Andrews, Page 190

Concord Pavilion

Jefferson was convinced that the city, with its long summer season, could support an outdoor pavilion to accommodate an expanded music festival. He and several city officials took a nationwide inspection tour of the leading music pavilions. The city then funded an architectural feasibility study which led to the hiring of architects Frank 0. Gehry and Associates of Santa Monica to draw up plans for the site on 122 acres of gently rolling hills off Kirker Pass Road. In 1973, the Concord Performing Arts Center Authority was formed by the city and the Mt. Diablo Unified School District.

The Pavilion opened May 16, 1975, with a benefit performance featuring Sarah Vaughan and Henry Mancini.

Concord Pavilion
The winner of an American Institute of Architects design award, the Pavilion is roofed, but open on three sides. There’s seating for 3,769 under the roof and 5,000 more on the surrounding grassy slopes. More than 300,000 patrons attend performances each season by symphony orchestras, dance troupes, athletes, and individual celebrities such as Johnny Mathis, Bette Midler, Barry Manilow, and Zubin Mehta. What began as an idea in the community has developed into one of the country’s outstanding performing arts facilities.

Anderson, Page 192

%d bloggers like this: