Officials award Jazz Bakery owner two shows at summer concert series

This year’s summer music festival will feature two music producers for the first time in several years, after a Feb. 28 vote by the Culver City Redevelopment Agency.

The Culver City Music Festival, one of the most well-attended summer events in the “Heart of Screenland,” is slated to have two jazz-flavored concerts produced by the Ruth Price, the owner of the Jazz Bakery, which will be returning to Culver City in 2012. Producer Gary Mandell, who has been at the helm of the summertime music fest for nearly a decade, will be in charge of the production of six shows.

The agency opted for the aforementioned arrangement instead of allowing Mandell to produce the entire series or having he and Price split the eight performances.

Councilman Scott Malsin, who introduced the idea of awarding Price a role in the concert series, argued unsuccessfully for the latter option. Redevelopment agency officials had previously considered inviting Santa Monica radio station KCRW to produce the music series. According to a staff report, on Feb. 17 the agency reviewed the radio station’s application and declined to continue discussions with KCRW. The station wanted too much money, according to Mandell.

Audiences at the music festival have grown exponentially over the last several years. Held outside City Hall during the height of summer, it has attracted revelers from far-flung cities such as Long Beach and Pasadena.

Awarding the contract for the music series has taken on political overtones in recent years. Former Councilman Steven Rose clashed with Mandell over the type of musical acts that the producer brought to town, and city officials have stepped up their efforts to bring in other producers, despite the popularity of the concerts and pleas from Mandell’s fans to allow him to continue to produce the concerts.

Mandell, who has been a record producer since the 1970s, appeared to take in stride the bifurcation of the music series. “I liken it to the Sundance Film Festival,” Mandell, the owner of Boulevard Music, said in an interview after the agency meeting. “It’s like having two festivals, one with two weeks of jazz.”

Mandell has kept his sense of humor despite the reduction of concerts over the years from 14 to eight, and for him, only six this year. “At least I’ve outlasted (Egyptian dictator Hosni) Mubarak, (actor) Charlie Sheen and soon, maybe (Libyan leader Muammar) Gadhafi),” he joked.

Price said she is thrilled that she will have the opportunity to bring two jazz acts to Culver City this summer. “I’m really, really happy that we will be able to tell 1,000 people on each night where we will be located in the very near future,” Price told the News.

The Jazz Bakery, long a venue for jazz in Culver City, closed in 2009 but is slated to reopen at 9814 Washington Blvd. in downtown Culver City next year.

The concert series begins in July. The dates for the jazz shows will be Aug. 18 and Aug. 25, according to Price.