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Picking Up the Tempo

1 Hiroshima P58 Ken Fong 9.12

Visiting bands, duos and soloists fill stages across Laguna Beach, joining established local performers in what is becoming more of a year ‘round scene.

The latest attraction is Jammin’, a smooth jazz series that is a collaboration between Laguna Playhouse and Mozambique restaurant, whose owner Ivan Spiers keeps the music turned up.

Hiroshima, a jazz fusion band, begins the series Monday, April 15 with a fundraising performance benefiting the Playhouse’s education programs.

Named after the Japanese city Hiroshima, the band founded in 1974 features a mix of American jazz and Japanese music comprised of traditional and contemporary sounds.

Spiers, who is defraying all production costs, said he wants to enhance Laguna’s music scene with well-known, contemporary talent. As a donor and subscriber to the Playhouse, it made sense to him to pursue a partnership helping a non-profit arts venue that opened its house to other musical performances to bolster its revenue.

Spiers joined forces with Joe Hanauer, a Playhouse and Laguna Beach Live board member, who enlisted support from the Playhouse’s top administrators.

“The Playhouse used to do strictly theater but dark nights left possibilities for other entertainment,” said Hanauer, noting that non-drama performances, from dance to big bands, have shown the Playhouse suitable for larger scale musical events. The Playhouse holds non-theatrical bookings up to 2015, he said.

“It’s a win for the Playhouse and a win for the community,” said Playhouse Executive Director Karen Wood.

Some of Laguna’s well-established music presenters expressed enthusiasm at the music scene’s growth and increasing diversity.

“I am all excited about the variety of music coming to Laguna,” said Susan Davis, the Festival of Arts’ director of special events, who books a jazz series during the summer festival.

Laguna Beach Live’s success with its midweek jazz series helped demonstrate local audiences’ appetite for the genre, president Cindy Prewitt said.

“More and more our concerts are selling out and that says to me we can use more music in town. I welcome jazz at the Playhouse for the variety that it will bring and more opportunity to hear good music. Laguna Beach Live! is all about making Laguna a music town and it is happening,” said Prewitt.

Hiroshima, April 15, 7:30 p.m. Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Rd. Tickets: $35-$75 http://www.lagunaplayhouse.com/onstage/special/

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