Imperial Beach Internationally known jazz artist Gilbert Castellanos joins this year's lineup which includes Hollis Gentry, for his eighth consecutive year, Reel to Real, the Navy Jazz Fleet Ensemble, Longboard Blues Band and others at the 8th Annual Imperial Beach Chili & Jazz Festival on Saturday, May 19.
Trumpeter extraordinaire, Gilbert has been playing jazz since the sixth grade and has performed at the best-known international jazz festivals, including Montreal, Italy, Germany, Holland, and Spain. Even though Gilbert promotes himself as a single artist who plays with many bands, he is bringing the Hammond B3 Quartet to the festival which he considers to be his best.
Gilbert describes his music as, "taking traditional jazz to a new level, influenced by 50's and 60's music, creating a type of post modern be-bop sound."
The Hammond B3 Quartet includes Joe Bagg on the organ, Anthony Wilson on guitar, Tim Pleasant on drums and Gilbert on trumpet.
The music begins at 7:30 a.m. with the Longboard Blues Band followed at 9:00 a.m. with the local South Bay Union School District Stage Band. Other talented teens take the stage at 10:00 a.m. with the Mar Vista Middle School Jazz Ensemble, followed immediately by the Mar Vista High School Jazz Ensemble.
Afternoon performances begin at 12:15 p.m. with Gilbert Castellanos followed by the Navy Fleet Jazz Ensemble at 1:30 p.m. This is the third time that the Navy Fleet Jazz Ensemble has played for the Chili & Jazz Festival. The ensemble is comprised of 19 highly trained musicians who perform a diverse set of musical styles encompassing the big-band era of the 40's and 50's as well as today's popular jazz tunes.
Mid-Afternoon performances start at 2:45 p.m. with a double set from Hollis Gentry. As always, crowd-pleaser Hollis Gentry brings a group of talented musicians to play standard jazz favorites and his Neon jazz tunes. Hollis and Neon can be seen regularly at Croce's on Friday nights and Sundays with his trio in the jazz bar.
At 4:15, the awards are presented to the best amateur and restaurant teams. The day's bid finale is at 5:00 p.m. with a performance by Reel to Real, a harmonious blend of jazz, funk, R&B and Latin flavors performed by six talented musicians.
Veterans Park is expected to draw up to 15,000 people to sample 40 competing chili tastes with proceeds to benefit four non-profit organizations which are the Imperial Beach Health Center, the Children's Treatment, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Imperial Beach and the Imperial Beach Reach Out to Families Center. A committee of more than fifty volunteers staff the event and proceeds given are expected to exceed $25,000.
Entrance is free to the public and children are welcome. Chili tastes cost fifty cents each but other food is also available, and for the over 21 crowd, there is the beer garden.
The chili teams complete against each other in front of a panel of celebrity judges who select the winners and award cash prizes of $500 for first place, $250 for second place and $100 for third place. Cook-off entrants are divided into amateur and restaurant categories. The amateurs make three gallons of chili on-site and the restaurant make six gallons. Recognition is also given to the best team costume, the most enthusiastic team and the best decorated booth design. Every year interest has been growing in the restaurant category and among this year's entrants to date are the Loew's Coronado Bay Resort, the Marriott Coronado Island Resort, the Tin Fish, the Cuban Cabana and Grandma's Pantry.
Another Chili & Jazz tradition is the pancake breakfast from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., with the Imperial Beach Little League organizing and cooking pancakes for hundred of hungry people. A plate of pancakes, sausage and coffee cost $3 for adults and $1.50 for children. Proceeds will benefit the Imperial Beach Little League.
Veterans Park is located on Imperial Beach Boulevard between 8th and 9th streets. Those traveling south on Freeway 5 should exit west onto Coronado Avenue, the second of two Imperial Beach exits. Handicapped parking is available. The public is encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs. The Eagle & Times newspaper produces the official program. For more information, call the Chili and Jazz Hotline at 619/575-7997.