Smooth JazzNotes


Art Good's Catalina Island JazzTrax Festival is celebrating its 21st anniversary with three weekends of incredible, first-rate Smooth Jazz artists in a most phenomenal setting. Since 1987, one of the premier festivals in the world, it takes place on an island 26 miles off of the coast of Southern California (near Los Angeles). Travel from the mainland takes as little as 15 minutes by helicopter, to an hour by boat. Warm sunny days and cool evening breezes make this the perfect vacation destination. The sun shines 267 days per year on Catalina Island, with an average rainfall of 14". The town of Avalon is only one square mile in size, making it easy to navigate on foot, and the picturesque harbor that Avalon is nestled around provides a relaxing location to slow down and enjoy the view. Walking and golf carts are the preferred modes of transportation in this charming town of 3500 permanent residents where cars are limited.

Santa Catalina Island with its Mediterranean climate and charm has been inhabited for at least 7000 years. Indigenous peoples occupied the island until Spanish colonization starting in 1542, introduced new diseases. By 1769, the Spanish began to build a series of missions along the California coast, disrupting the trade networks of the island inhabitants. By the mid- 1820’s, the few indigenous people left had migrated or were moved to the mainland.

One of the many explorers who visited the island was Spaniard, Sebastian Viscaino who arrived on November 24, 1602, the eve of St. Catherine's Day. Although he only stayed a few days, he renamed the island Santa Catalina in honor of Saint Catherine. In 1820, New Spain revolted from the mother country over the trade restrictions and Mexico was formed with California becoming a province of the new country. To avoid the tariffs levied by the new government, ships would unload part of their cargo on Santa Catalina Island and replenish their stock with undeclared goods.

Santa Catalina Island was awarded, by Mexican Governor Pio Pico, to Thomas Robbins as a land grant in 1846, just four days before the United States invaded California. To maintain his title, the grantee had to use the land, so Robbins established a small rancho on the island, but sold it in 1850 to Jose Maria Covarrubias, two years after California became a part of the United States as the result of the Treaty of Guadeloupe Hidalgo.

In 1849, gold was discovered in California bringing an influx of people to the state. Squatters became an issue throughout the state and it took years to settle claims. Several squatters occupied the island and began running sheep and cattle. On the mainland, various sections were purchased by James Lick of San Francisco, and when it was finally decided that Robbins grant was legal; his title was confirmed in 1867.

In the meantime, in 1863 silver was found, mostly on the island's west end. In January of 1864, a company of Union soldiers from Fort Drum arrived on the Island to survey its resources and suitability as an Indian reservation. Native Americans in the northern part of the State were resisting encroachment on their lands and the commander of the Army of the Pacific hoped to be able to remove them from their homes and place them on the Island. The Secretary of the Interior, who had jurisdiction over Indian Affairs, did not approve the proposal, and the soldiers left the Island by September.

When James Lick asserted his ownership in 1867, he evicted all squatters and miners who declined to enter into a lease agreement with him. For years, Santa Catalina Island was inhabited by sheep, cattle, and a few herders. It was visited from time to time by Chinese or Japanese fishermen.

In 1919, chewing gum magnate, William Wrigley Jr., purchased the island and began improvements with the idea of preserving and protecting it for future generations to enjoy.

The Catalina Casino is Catalina Island’s most recognizable landmark built by Wrigley.  The round, Art Deco structure raises 12 stories high, and is surrounded by the sea on three sides.  During the day its white facade gleams in the sunshine, and at night it lights the harbor with a romantic glow. Built in 1929, the Casino, which is actually a place of entertainment, not a casino, played host to dozens of Big Bands through the 1930s and 1940s.  Completely restored a few years ago, the ballroom retains its original style—a lavish medley of rose-hued walls, black Art Deco reliefs, an arching fifty-foot ceiling with five Tiffany chandeliers, an elevated stage, raised seating areas around the dance floor, and a vintage, full-service bar in back.  The outdoor balcony that encircles the ballroom overlooks the protected coves of Avalon Bay where seals, dolphins, and colorful fish are usually found splashing about in the clear blue waters.

The Casino Art Gallery, Avalon Theatre, and Catalina Island Museum are located on the lower level in the Casino Building. Open daily, the Museum is a must see for a visitors to the island.

William Wrigley Jr.’s, home, The Inn on Mt. Ada, and botanical gardens are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Inn on Mt. Ada, built in 1921, overlooking Avalon Bay, has been meticulously restored and furnished to represent the time period when the Wrigley family lived there. The botanical gardens, covering 37.85 acres, places special emphasis on California native plants. Many of the plants are on the endangered species list and some are only native to Santa Catalina Island.

The Catalina Visitors Country Club was built for the baseball team Wrigley owned, the Chicago Cubs. It is a striking example of Early California Revival architecture, with cream colored walls, dark green trim, and a Spanish-tile roof. Spring training on Catalina Island---can you imagine!

1972 saw the formation of the Catalina Island Conservatory by the Wrigley family. 42,135 acres of the island were turned over to this non-profit organization with the expressed purpose of keeping Santa Catalina Island natural by promoting preservation and restoration efforts of the flora and fauna of the island.

Santa Catalina Island, with its quaint European flare, has become a popular vacation destination. It is no surprise that it has served as the backdrop for over 500 films, documentaries, television shows and commercials. Add in a jazz festival and it’s no wonder that this is one of the crème de la crème jazz festivals in the world!

Tips for Visiting the JazzTrax Festival

1. What to wear: It is warm during the day, but can become breezy at night. Shorts during the day and some wear nice slacks, others just go casual in jeans at night. It is more casual Thursday night. Layering works.


Art Good
Festival Creator & Host

Gregg Hudson
Production Manager

Art Good
Announcing Baseball Scores

Mike Diocson
Pacific Coast Entertainment

(Internet Broadcast)


Weekend 1

Ray Parker Jr. Unplugged at Wrigley Ranch


Paul Brown with Gregg Karukas and Jesse J


Marion Meadows


Jesse J



Nick Colionne




Candy Dulfer
More Photos on Candy's Interview Page


Lao Tizer


David Pack




Mindi & Jason Steele (her husband)





Mindi & Lance Abair (her father)







Mindi Abair


More Photos Added Daily


Will Richards
Very inspiring local artist who sits in the front row drawing with pastels

Bettie Miner
Jazz Artist

Mike & Cindy Nordskog
with Mindi Abair and her father, Lance Abair


Smooth Jazz Notes asked "What are your favorite memories of the Catalina JazzTrax Festival?"

From the Artists...

Mindi Abair: When I moved to Los Angeles, I couldn't get arrested. I tried to sit in at places and they thought I was kidding (I didn't look the part!). I first was hired by a band in San Diego (easily a 3 hr drive from Los Angeles). I took the gig. It snowballed into more. Well, there was a radio dj there at KIFM by the name of Art Good. He went on the radio and told people to come see me play! How cool, eh?! Before you knew it I was driving back and forth almost nightly to play in San Diego. Every band down there was hiring me! Art talked to me and found out I had my own band that I was starting to book in LA. He asked if I would appear at the Catalina Island Jazz Trax festival in 1994 as an "All Star" in the jam. I played with Keiko Matsui, Paul Taylor and Rick Braun. It was incredible for me. And afterwards, I went to a jam session at "The Blue Parrot", a local restaurant, and sat in with Rick Braun and sang and played "Mustang Sally". It was a really fun night! And it was a great start for me as an artist. Art Good really helped me get going as a solo artist by inviting me to Catalina to play. I've watched him do it for a number of artists over the years. And's my favorite place to play. It's always a magical show in Catalina.

Ray Parker Jr.: I had such fun at the Wrigley Ranch playing to the folk on the hay!
I love Catalina as it is such a pretty place and I love the festival...always great memories.

From the Attendees...

Paula (12 years): Bobby Caldwell’s Big Band was awesome.

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