Smooth Jazz September-October 2020

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Photo: Colin Peck

Perm issi o n To Talk presents

MEN, MEDICINE & MUSIC A Tribute to Willie Pay ne Jr.

Virtual webinar and jazz concert Hosted live by Eric Darius

Thursday, October 22, 2020 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm Performances by Eric Darius and featuring speakers: JOHN CHIN, MD, FACC, FHFSA Cardiologist, Heart Failure/Transplant Specialist ELSIE GYANG ROSS, MD, MSC Vascular Surgeon/Professor Stanford University Prizes, giveaways and silent auction items including a guitar signed by the artists from the San Diego Smooth Jazz Festival, and other exciting packages —Benefiting the Ol’Loreece Foundation, Permission To Talk—



Termite & Pest Control Professionals

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COMMENT ON OUR POSTS! www.smoothjaz

Photo: David Hopley


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CONTENTS Publisher and Managing Editor Melanie Maxwell

Copy Editors JoAnn Armke Paula Fitzgerald Barbara Knox Brad Sondak

Photo: Pat Benter

Operations & Distribution Manager Craig Collier

Although the Catalina Island JazzTrax Festival is postponed until 2021, brighter days are on the horizon

Contributors Ken Capobianco Cashmira Marcia Manna Darcy Peters Contributing Photographers Pat Benter Ellis Moore Photography David Hopley Colin Peck Graphic Design Gina Mancini Smooth Jazz News 5519 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., #134 San Diego, CA 92117 858-541-1919 Smooth Jazz News is normally published seven times annually: Monthly: April and May; Bimonthly: June-July, August-September, October-November, December-January and February-March. However, due to COVID-19, sporadic online issues will replace the print publication schedule.

The publisher assumes no responsibility for claims  or  actions of its advertisers. Opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of the publisher, staff or advertisers.

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Notes from the Publisher Time is always a gift. Spend it wisely. Here are some tips for staying entertained and informed during the pandemic.


Willie Payne: Humanitarian, businessman and smooth jazz supporter Family and friends honor their memories of the beloved smooth jazz advocate

The love story of Maggie and Will Shares Living the American dream and their best smooth jazz life


Eric Darius mourns the loss of his friend Willie Payne Their mutual passion for music sparked their friendship, but their love of life, Christian faith and family values built the foundation of their lifelong bond

13 DISCover New Music With our need for music stronger than ever, check out these new releases 14 18

Dave Koz The multi-Grammy-nominated saxophonist looks ahead to a better time and place with his 20th release, A New Day Jazz Buzz Savvy San Diego smooth jazz fan connects listeners to livestream opportunities

30 Book review “Dave Brubeck: A life in time” 30 Cashmira’s Starguide September-October horoscopes 32

Smooth Jazz News merchandise Cool concert apparel: new hoodies, plus hats, fleece jackets, golf shirts, T-shirts and tank tops

No portion of this publication may be reproduced in any form without ­prior written p ­ ermission from the publisher.

©2020, Smooth Jazz News | All rights reserved

Smooth-Jazz News/123513291125001 @SmoothJazzNews

NOTICE: During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have temporarily paused publication of the print edition of Smooth Jazz News, as well as paid subscriptions. However, we will post digital editions for you to read online for free. If you are a subscriber, you will not be charged during this period of non-publication of the print magazine, and your subscription expiration date will be extended accordingly when we resume print publication. We sincerely apologize to everyone for this temporary inconvenience.

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NOVEMBER 5-7, 2021

Rick Braun

Jazmin Ghent

Jonathan Butler

Nick Colionne

Brian Culbertson

Eric Darius

Adam Hawley

Keiko Matsui


Brian Simpson


Vincent Ingala

Michael Lington

Paul Taylor

HILTON DAYTONA BEACH OCEANFRONT RESORT An incredible weekend of concerts, dinners, brunches, beach and lots of fun are all included! 386-681-7007 Presented by The Florida Smooth Jazz Foundation


DON’T HIT THE PAUSE BUTTON. FIND VIRTUAL ADVENTURES! With live smooth jazz events and their marketing budgets on hold, publication of Smooth Jazz News is still temporarily on pause. Although I’ve explored various options to keep the print magazine alive, I’ve surrendered to the fact that the presses won’t be rolling anytime soon. So, I’ve been filling up my usual 60-plus-hour workweek by indulging my passion for writing—something I don’t get to do very much when I’m actively managing the operations and selling ads for Smooth Jazz News. I hope you’ll also discover the Even before the pandemic hit, I spent the little plethora of virtual classes and events time I had off taking various types of writing classes to improve and expand my skill set. in other areas of interest such as Last year, I enrolled in a five-week course offered art exhibits, photography groups, by Writing Pad on Zoom––before that virtual

author events, museum tours, writing courses or, perhaps, music lessons.

Online concerts Rick Braun performing in his living room for his weekly “Rick’s Cafe Live” concerts on YouTube

platform became essential for pandemic communication and education—called “How to Write a New York Times-Worthy Article.” Upon completion of the course, I wrote a piece about keyboardist Jeff Lorber and his connection to Mariah Carey’s latest single, then submitted it to that newspaper. A week later, the editor sent me a nice rejection letter. That’s OK, I ended up publishing it in the May 2019 issue of Smooth Jazz News. During my interim unemployment, I again set my sights on breaking into freelance writing part-time for mainstream newspapers and magazines. I mean, a girl’s got to work! Since the pandemic, I’ve managed to take more than three dozen online writing classes, including weekly “Freelancing with Tim,” which involved Zoom panel discussions with a variety of successful writers, editors and authors hosted by Tim Herrera, the Smarter Living editor at The New York Times. I also joined a readand-critique group at San Diego Writers, Ink dedicated to finding and pitching editors as well. This resulted in my writing and

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Online music lessons Hal Leonard offers instructional DVDs for every level of musician, including beginners, at

pitching articles and essays to other publications. Most recently, I wrote about my experience getting jacked around with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and how I ultimately declined this seemingly too-good-to-be-true “forgivable loan” program. That one sparked the interest of an editor at a popular business outlet. But when I responded to her request for more information, she ghosted me. Then, I thought AARP The Magazine might find useful an article about how baby boomers could improve their social lives through smooth jazz. I haven’t heard a peep from them since I pitched that story three months ago. However, their silence did not deter me. I pitched two more stories to their editors. One was about how smooth jazz fans, as a high-risk, yet active, group were coping with the effects of the pandemic on their smooth jazz lifestyle. My dual aim was to make a wider readership aware that smooth jazz is not only alive and well, but it’s a fun and adventurous lifestyle that fosters friendships with fellow fans as well as the artists. The other one was about how I left the corporate world to launch Smooth Jazz News, and how my business abruptly ended during COVID-19, which also adversely affected my staff and our readers. Still crickets. Yet, I remain undeterred. And, I am even more determined to keep Smooth Jazz News going in some capacity during this partial global economic shutdown. Although our operations manager, Craig Collier, and I remain off the payroll, the shoestring budget for these digital issues does pay for writers, editors, graphic and website designers, and a host of other recurring business and production-related expenses. We have been grateful that our team has been able to create these digital-only issues for the past several months, which we’ll continue to do as long as generous advertisers and sponsors provide us with the necessary budget to do so. We hope you enjoy them and will

Virtual art exhibits Festival of Arts is offering its new foaVirtual online gallery at

stick with them until we get back to business and printing as usual–– and we can resume our smooth jazz lifestyles! Meanwhile, I hope you’re taking advantage of the smooth jazz concerts online, as I have been, and that you’ll also discover the plethora of virtual classes and events in other areas of interest such as art exhibits, photography groups, author events, museum tours, writing courses or, perhaps, music lessons. Some of them are free, but all are available for everyone to explore at their fingertips!




The kismet-kissed, jazz-loving couple thrive on enduring romance By Marcia Manna

If Will and Maggie Shares’ love story was made into a movie, smooth jazz would be the soundtrack of their life together. As dedicated smooth jazz fans, they regularly attend annual smooth jazz events here and abroad, including the Seabreeze Jazz Festival in Panama City Beach, Florida; The San Diego Smooth Jazz Festival; Brian Culbertson’s Napa Valley Jazz Getaway; Dave Koz & Friends at Sea cruise; and the Algarve Smooth Jazz Festival in Portugal. When the couple married in June 2006, their love-and-jazz-themed wedding featured Culbertson’s music. And, their honeymoon included a four-day getaway to Art Good’s Big Bear Lake JazzTrax Summer Music Festival.

The couple’s enthusiasm for jazz even inspired saxophonist Marcus Anderson to dedicate the song “Your Touch” to Will and Maggie—much to their delight—on his new release, Hero. “We play it all the time,” said Maggie, during a phone interview from the couple’s Atlanta-area home. “That one stole my heart,” Will added. “We met Marcus a few years ago, and he said, ‘Man, I love you guys for supporting me for so many years.’ He interviewed us for a song. When you listen to it, it sounds like we wrote it, like we made it, you know?” Will was born in Kansas City and raised in Michigan, while Maggie was born in Nigeria, but grew up in the

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minute. He offered to sell the tickets. Will, who would never “engage United Kingdom. She later studied for two years in France, and then in anything crooked,” hesitated. moved to Atlanta, where she earned her doctor of pharmacy degree “He looked at me, and I thought, ‘You better buy those tickets, at Mercer University. Thereafter, she considered returning to France, if you want me to ever speak to you again,’” said Maggie, giggling but then made a fateful decision. at the memory. She chose to stay and explore professional opportunities “I could tell he was nervous. But he bought the in the United States, where she would eventually tickets, and they were front-row seats. And it become a citizen. Maggie’s daughters: turned out that the first two rows got to The couple’s paths first crossed during “Mom, we want you to date Will.’ meet and greet. So, I was in heaven. the summer of 1997 when Maggie That was a big score for him.” sought employment in Atlanta I’m like, ‘No, he probably doesn’t like me.’ Three months after they began as a clinical pharmacist. Will, They said, ‘Yes, he does.’ I said, ‘He probably has seriously dating, Will proposed. who was the hiring manager a girlfriend.’ They said, ‘No, he doesn’t.’” Maggie agreed, then for a medical staffing turned him down. company, interviewed “I changed my mind,” her for a position. she said. “My reason was When Maggie walked he didn’t have any kids. in, one word came to Will’s It was the second time mind … supermodel. around, and I couldn’t “I thought she was afford to make any beautiful. She stood out,” mistakes. But we stayed Will enthused. “I was in a relationship. A few keeping it professional; months later, he asked she did her interview with me to marry him again. me and we talked. She I finally decided. The smelled so good. She wore girls convinced me––and this perfume, Cabotine. he just loved, loved, I remember that to this day.” loved my girls and me.” Will and Maggie were (Left) Will and Maggie Shares toasting friends at Brian Culbertson’s Napa Valley Jazz Getaway “The girls really both previously married, (Right) Maggie and Will Shares chilling poolside in their backyard in Atlanta, Georgia pushed us together,” and Maggie was a single Will said. “A lot of time, mom to Amina and we would drink wine, listen to jazz and come Aisha, ages 10 and 15. up with crazy ideas. We just started planning a Will did not have children, and when Maggie wedding. What about in the backyard? What about if we introduced her daughters to Will, he became involved in hosted it here? We just grew together with an idea, and it turned the girls’ lives. He included them on outings with Maggie, drove out to be beautiful.” them to classes and invited the three of them to his home for dinner. They invited 250 friends and relatives and hosted the celebration For a while, the relationship between Maggie and Will simmered at their Atlanta home. in the friend zone until Amina and Aisha brought their union to Today, Maggie is a pharmacy operations manager for Kaiser a boiling point. Permanente, and Will works for Quest Diagnostics as an area manager. “They sat me down and talked me into dating him,” explained Maggie. Now that Maggie’s daughters have grown up and moved out, the “They said, ‘Mom, we want you to date Will.’ I’m like, ‘No, he empty nesters spend time enjoying their home, listening to smooth jazz, probably doesn’t like me.’ They said, ‘Yes, he does.’ I said, ‘He and looking forward to the day when they can resume connections probably has a girlfriend.’ They said, ‘No, he doesn’t.’” with the musicians and fans in the smooth jazz community. Maggie recalled that their first real date was in December 1997, “We met so many nice people,” Will said. when Will asked her if she would like to see the first Dave Koz and “We attended all the jazz festivals in California––it was like a Friends Christmas Tour. She enthusiastically accepted. routine. People thought we lived there. We look forward to seeing “He picked me up, and I was all dressed up and just excited,” couples we haven’t seen in years. The music pulls us forward and we Maggie remembered. keep growing.” “We got there, and he didn’t have tickets. He told me to wait by the Sadly, the pandemic has put many socially isolated couples on door, and he went to the will call. I overheard the conversation, and edge, and live music gatherings are on hold indefinitely. But Will they said, ‘We are sold out.’ He turns and looks at me, and in my and Maggie, married for 14 years, still wake up and gaze at each head I am saying, ‘This guy is crazy. I’m all dressed up, and does he other with love and amazement. not have tickets?’” “We really like each other,” Will said, chuckling. “It’s definitely A man standing off to the side approached Will and explained a blessing.” that he had purchased four tickets, but the extra couple canceled last


GRAPHIC P L E DESIGN H D ? E T E C N E J O EDITING e R k P a m A o t t H n e T l WI Tap odurimtapression! WRITING o o g a BLOGGING GRAPHIC DESIGN EDITING WRITING BLOGGING Turn to the pros at Smooth Jazz News to custom create... ✔ festival guides ✔ programs

✔ brochures

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content and images! ✔ and more!


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• Am I Black Enough 4 You?!?!

(Hi-Falutin’ Music)

• Playing It Forward

(EDclectic Entertainment)

The EP Am I Black Enough 4 You?!?! by No Plan B featuring V. Jeffrey Smith is a kinetic emulsion of Afro, Caribbean and jazz influences. It is produced by multi-instrumentalist Smith, who is best known as a founding member of the group The Family Stand. The music is also featured in the indie mockumentary film “Am I Black Enough 4 You?!?! ,” which is directed by Kevin Harewood and features comedian A.J. Jamal and actor E. George Perry. Available at: iTunes,,,, Website:

With a rich and varied range of contemporary jazz tracks featuring a diverse blend of musicians and producers from all over the country, Alexander Zonjic’s Playing It Forward merges soulful expressions and technical artistry with tracks crafted by Grammy Award-winning artist Jeff Lorber, including contributions from the late Chuck Loeb, James Lloyd, Paul Jackson Jr., Michael Thompson, Evan Garr and Justin Schultz. Available at: iTunes,, Website:



• Time Sensitive

• The Collective

(A-Pex Recordings International)

(Innervision Records)

Rick Habana has started breaking new barriers on a project called The Collective, where he works with musicians and singers from all over the world. Smooth jazz legend Paul Brown is also featured on The Collective. Innervision Records will release Volume II in early 2021. Available at: iTunes,, and all digital platforms Website:

Contemporary keyboardist Al DeGregoris is back with his latest project—this time with legendary producer-composerkeyboardist Jeff Lorber at the helm! Tight, brassy and retro cool beyond any of his four previous releases, DeGregoris’ new album, Time Sensitive, showcases the dynamic chemistry he’s created with the fellow keyboardist and fusion legend more than ever before. The result is pure melodic magic. Available at:, iTunes, Website:

Advertisement: To inquire about placement, call 858-541-1919 or email




By Ken Capobianco

Unlike most jazz and pop musicians who have declined to release an album during this year’s pandemic because of the difficult logistics of recording and the inability to tour, superstar jazz saxophonist Dave Koz has embraced the challenges and is about to deliver new, original music to uplift his fans. On Oct. 9, the multi-Grammy nominee will release A New Day, an ebullient, spirited collection of songs, featuring an all-star cast of collaborators.

Photo: Colin Peck

A magic carpet ride through the milestones of his unimaginable career leads him to A New Day

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The dynamic record includes such jazz luminaries as David Sanborn, Bob James, Rick Braun, Jeff Lorber, Paul Jackson Jr., Brian McKnight, and Meshell Ndegeocello, among many others. The album is Koz’s 20th, and comes 30 years after his self-titled debut album, which launched his storied career. Recorded during the pandemic, the album is a big-canvas jazz album with a sonic crispness and rich musicality that defy the limitations of life during quarantine and social distancing. Koz understands that periods of crisis demand music to help people transcend the troubled times marked by grief and loneliness. “When the pandemic hit, I knew I had to make a record that’s sole purpose was to make people feel good, because that’s the way I’ve used music all through the pandemic to get by,” said the affable Koz, one of pop music’s most articulate and engaging personalities, via phone from his home in Los Angeles. “Music provides that kind of comfort and calm that other media just can’t provide. The idea that other people would use my music for the same reason I was, gave me purpose. “And it gave me something to do because we had to cancel all touring and the cruises this year. Like every other musician, I was grappling with how to express myself and maintain a connection with fans to stay sane. It was a project figuring out how to make an album completely virtual and make it sound like a cohesive musical statement, but it was important for me.” Creating the album under such trying circumstances was made easier because every musician he reached out to was free to work. “It helped that I had nothing else to do, and everyone was available,” Koz laughed. “I had multiple teams of producers working at the same time, so we had everything going on at once. We could be quite efficient. “Another key thing was we hired musicians who have played on hundreds or thousands of records––these are legendary musicians. Nathan East, John Robinson, Michael Thompson and Paul Jackson Jr. “They were available and looking for something they could sink their teeth into because they had all of this simmering musical energy. Since we couldn’t sit in a studio and produce with overdubs, I thought it was important to spend a little extra money. They all are expensive, but you get what you pay for. Those guys in their own home studios—unsupervised—were going to deliver tracks that I knew were going to be great. They don’t need producing. They just know intuitively what’s right for a certain song. And we got back these tracks that were perfect.” Without the ability to record with live musicians

and feed off the vibe of great playing, Koz and co-producers Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers had to be nimble and meticulous as they put together the tracks submitted to them. They developed the songs that were written digitally by Koz and his collaborators as they traded melodic ideas, works in progress and basic tracks via the internet. The music is bright––the songs swing, bounce, inspire and resonate emotionally. Koz said each of the songs was written with a purpose and the one cover (The Beatles’ “Yesterday,” featuring the

the pandemic hit, “IWhen knew I had to make a record that’s sole purpose was to make people feel good, because that’s the way I’ve used music all through the pandemic to get by.

wondrous Ndegeocello) was produced and performed to have special meaning, especially in a world that’s been turned upside down overnight. “‘Summertime in New York’ (with McKnight) was written on, I believe March 12, the day Tom Hanks and his wife came out and said they had contracted the coronavirus,” recalled Koz. “Broadway closed down. The NBA closed down. It was a pivotal day. And, meanwhile, my co-writers and I were writing this song that was not based on fear. It’s based on the joy of when we ultimately get to the end of all of this. We were focused on what it would feel like post-pandemic instead of focusing on the present and the fear and panic we were all feeling.” On the record is “Dr. Norm,” a buoyant tribute to his father, which was written during the quarantine while Koz could reflect on his parents and youth. “My parents have passed many years now, but I found myself with so much time alone. I really started to think about my parents and how they brought all their energy into my world,” Koz ruminated. continued on page 16


continued from page 15

“I think about my parents so much. They were great people, extremely nurturing. And that’s probably why I was thinking of them during that time because I missed that nurturing only parents can provide. “I wrote the song with Jeff Lorber, and it has the quirkiness that my dad had. He was extremely funny with a dry sense of humor. And the song has a sense of humor––it’s part cool and part goofy at the same time.” The song and title have a deeper meaning for the saxophonist, as Dr. Norm’s also is the incorporated name of the cannabis edible company run by Koz’s brother and sister in California.

“They make cookies from my mom’s recipe,” he said. “My mother was a typical Jewish mother, who loved to make food for everyone out of love. And her main thing was chocolate chip cookies. “My sister built the business, which provides these edibles. And, honestly, the testimonials from people who use the cookies for better sleep or to alleviate pain are wonderful. So, it’s taking my parents’ medical background––my dad was a doctor and my mother was a pharmacist by trade––and their nurturing to another level while making people happy.” A personal high point during the making of A New Day for Koz came when he finally collaborated on writing a song (“Side by Side”) with Sanborn. “Reaching out to my number one saxophone idol, David Sanborn, who is a friend, was genuinely important for me,” he said with enthusiasm. “I talked to him early on and said, ‘Dave, let’s write a song together and record it’––we’d never done that before. We wrote the song with Rick Braun and Philippe Saisse. ‘Side by Side’ is about the fact that I could lean on my idol, who really showed up for me at this time. And I showed up for him. It’s about who we leaned on to get through this period of time.” The California native is moved by the milestones he has reached with the release of A New Day. He is extremely grateful to be able to say that he is 30 years and 20 albums into one of the most enduring and creative careers in popular jazz. “All of the milestones are very important to me because this career, which I never could have imagined, is like a magic carpet ride. I mean, how many people who try this get to do it for 30 years? So, I come from a place of supreme gratitude for all the people who’ve helped create this wonderful experience for so long.

Photo: Colin Peck

“I intuitively believe we are going

to a better place—that better times on all levels will come after this ... I can’t imagine us going through this experience and not having it deliver us to a better place.


“If it all ended tomorrow—and I hope it doesn’t—but if it did, I’d only be able to say two words, and that’s ‘thank you.’” Despite the enormity of grief and death as a result of COVID-19 and the deep racial unrest that has marked 2020, Koz remains optimistic and believes this is a transition period in our lives. “I intuitively believe we are going to a better place–– that better times on all levels will come after this. You have to remember, I’m a very ‘the glass is half-full’ type person. I can’t imagine us going through this experience and not having it deliver us to a better place. “Just think of the magnitude of things we’ve had to deal with this year. We have a lot of work to do, but I think it will all be for the better.” He added that his positive outlook can be traced back to his upbringing. “Part of it goes back to the belief system my parents instilled in my brother and sister and I based on your own personal power and the idea that you create the life you want out of your own individual desires. And, I do believe that music helps smooth out that journey to where we are going.” Koz’s life and career have been dramatically altered by the pandemic. He said that he was forced to find new ways to connect with fans after having his touring and cruises canceled. He performed livestream concerts every Friday for more than two months and found them very gratifying. “I miss the road a lot, and having to cancel our cruises was very difficult for me. Probably the most challenging times of my life. It was so tough to navigate that,” he said. “The connection with the fans and playing music is so much a part of me. That’s like eating and breathing. That’s about giving happiness to people and getting happiness from them. It’s a two-way street. With the livestreams, I could feel their energy every Friday. That interaction with fans and all the comments were a real boost.” He said that he spent the quarantine period in his second home in Sausalito in Northern California, but he has driven back and forth between Sausalito and his Los Angeles home over the last few months. “Sausalito was a very nice place to be during the quarantine because I live in a cool little neighborhood with wonderful neighbors who look out for each other. It is much more of a small-town feel than Los Angeles.” Koz maintained that life during the pandemic has forced people to do more reflection about their lives and reconsider their priorities. And a lot of good can come out of that. “The quarantine forced everyone to re-evaluate everything. We all had to look at the manner and mechanisms of the way we live, and say to

“The connection with the fans and playing music is so much a part of me ... With the livestreams, I could feel

ourselves, ‘Is this their energy every Friday. still appropriate? Does it still work?’ I do believe that is happening in every aspect of our society.” The introspective musician feels we all have to find our own way as the world changes before our eyes, and we push on to seek a better tomorrow. “This year has made people think about all the things we thought would never change and then see them change overnight. The amount of change can be overwhelming when you think about it. “How do we hold on to everything for dear life when everything around us is chaos? You’re seeing more of what Michelle Obama calls ‘low-grade depression.’ I went through it. That feeling of ‘Who am I? What am I doing?’ “Everyone has gone through their own personal journey. Where this ends up, I have no idea, but I like to focus on the positive because it makes me feel better. Who knows what’s going to happen with the election or all the racial division? I know I like to fast forward into the future and pull where I am now to where I will be, and hopefully, it will all work out.” Koz is performing A New Day virtual album release, featuring special guests and plenty of surprises, on Friday, Oct. 9, at 4 p.m. (PDT). Tickets for this livestreamed event are $15 and include a digital copy of the new record, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Recording Academy MusiCares. For tickets, or more information on Koz, visit


jAzz BuZz

and the succulent life By Ken Capobianco

Livestream events break out worldwide, thanks to a San Diego-based forum James is surprised at the rapid growth of the The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on page, which is adding about 300 members a all aspects of the music industry and wiped out all week. “I never expected this at all. I might touring, leaving smooth jazz musicians without wake up in the morning and there might be 30 a means to bring their music to fans, who are or 40 people who want to join,” she said recently experiencing a Grand Canyon-sized void in their lives. via phone from her San Diego, California, home. In March, longtime smooth jazz aficionado “Sometimes there are waves from different Marilyn Lingenfelter James created a private Facebook countries. I get a lot of people from South Africa. page that would provide a forum for musicians who Jazz is very big there. No doubt, Jonathan Butler perform livestream concerts to connect with music has a lot to do with that.” listeners in need of the life-affirming salve for the Marilyn Lingenfelter James and She added, “I have no idea how they are soul that only live music can provide. her husband, Rick Phetteplace finding out about this, but people must be And Smooth Jazz Online Events was born. talking about it.” James, along with her tech-savvy partner Susan Olk Casella, Virtual word-of-mouth and sharing is the very foundation of launched the site that now boasts an impressive 12,300 members viral growth on the internet and the secret of success for popular and is growing exponentially each week. The user-friendly page social media forums. is a wonderful information-laden meeting place for like-minded Unlike numerous private pages on Facebook, there are no music fans to congregate and find out about upcoming livestreams criteria for joining Smooth Jazz Online Events, so all music fans from both superstar smooth jazz artists like Rick Braun and Brian are welcome. James manages the page and monitors all sign-ups to Culbertson and upstart jazz musicians from around the world in prevent bots and trolls from intruding on the collegial atmosphere. search of audiences during dire times.


Mindi Abair’s Wine + Music Sessions with special guests Peter White (top) and Rick Braun and Tony Pulizzi (bottom)

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Adam Hawley with special guest Dave Koz

“We try to screen out potential spammers,” she said. “When they sign up, I can see their Facebook profile. Every so often I will see someone who has blocked their profile, so I won’t accept them. With almost everyone, though, it’s quite apparent they are legitimate and music fans. In terms of artists, we are open to most genres like funk, blues, or any variation of jazz. I love it when musicians take their own initiative to post their events.” James maintained that members come from as many as 140-150 countries around the world, so the global reach makes for an eclectic schedule of livestream events and diverse commentary. The number of artists who post livestreams, and live venues around the world that host them has dramatically increased over the months. Most major clubs have had to shut down due to state regulations or lack of touring acts, so livestreams are an integral new means of reaching music fans and raising revenue. “You have the Blue Note in New York, Scullers Jazz Club [in Boston], who charge a token amount to help the artists and the club survive,” James said. “The Baked Potato [in Los Angeles] did a benefit. I think more and more artists will be charging a small sum and have a virtual tip jar, where fans can donate to them through PayPal or Venmo or any cash app.” Unlike pop musicians who have primarily used Instagram Live as a streaming platform because their audiences skew much younger, most of the livestreams posted on Smooth Jazz Online Events are on Facebook Live, YouTube, Zoom and StageIt, which sells tickets that must be purchased with StageIt currency. Many of the musicians are learning the streaming technology on the fly because this is a new paradigm for them. In normal times, the musicians would rely on the clubs or intermediaries to do the footwork in the marketing, promoting and production of shows. It makes sense then that the most prolific and popular livestream musicians are artists like Culbertson and Boney James. They both were ahead of the curve and worked social media to their benefit well before the pandemic hit.

THE HANG WITH BRIAN CULBERTSON Brian Culbertson and Boney James performing

According to James, “The Hang with Brian Culbertson” draws nearly 3,000 fans each Friday. Braun, who hosts “Rick’s Café Live” every Saturday night from his living room, is also a prominent livestream artist. James added that saxophonist Mindi Abair performs a popular weekly livestream and markets wine through a wine club she started in January. Replays of shows remain on the page for several days because many members live in different time zones around the world and can’t see the performances in real time. James says she posts between 50-70 live events per week––most of them are on the page’s master schedule, which is prominently posted on the homepage. Some events she posts at the last minute as she finds out about them. The lively forum is a vital resource for fans and extremely popular for up-and-coming musicians in the global community. James said she’s learned a lot from managing the events page, but one thing resonates the most. “There are so many comments by people who say they don’t know how they would survive these times without the live music. I’m amazed at how much of a difference the shows make in people’s lives. These are the closest things to a live concert. That’s important to people, especially since they are able to interact with the artists in real time, which is so rare.” Smooth Jazz Online Events can be found at groups/881085992404178.


WILLIE LEE PAYNE JR. Oct. 25, 1947-Aug. 3, 2020

By Melanie Maxwell

The smooth jazz community has lost one of its most generous and enthusiastic supporters, Willie Payne. Sadly, the beloved philanthropist and founder of Payne Pest Management passed away on Aug. 3 from cardiac arrest. He was 72. Willie not only sponsored events such as The San Diego Smooth Jazz Festival, he and his wife, Kathy, were also two of the genre’s most passionate fans. As a benefactor and a paying customer, Willie had his wallet open as wide as his contagious smile. His beaming face and welcoming hugs will certainly be missed on the next Dave Koz & Friends at Sea cruise, Brian Culbertson’s Napa Valley Jazz Getaway, Thornton Winery’s Champagne Concert Series, the Catalina Island JazzTrax Festival, Christmas concerts, Rick Braun’s New Year’s Eve and every other event the couple patronized or supported. However, those who will miss him most are his family. Willie leaves behind his wife, Kathy; three adult children, David Payne, Angela Seward and Jason Payne; eight grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; six siblings; many cousins, nieces, nephews and very special friends; plus, a thriving business with 40 employees, which is now run by his youngest son, Jason Payne, and employs two of Willie’s grandsons, Marcus Payne and Jordan McFadden.

Kathy and Willie Payne with family and jazz friends

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Kathy and Willie Payne with Marilyn James and Rick Phetteplace; David Payne; Kirk Whalum; Willie Payne with grandchildren

“My father was the oldest of nine children and didn’t have a lot of material things growing up,” said Jason. “He had started a family at a young age, joined the Army and served his country, was a

28 years there and became the company’s top salesman worldwide. It’s also where he met Kathy Hurley (now Payne). After a two-year platonic friendship with Kathy, the divorced father

guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the top salesperson

of three young children—Jason, 4; Angela, 8; and David, 12—

in the world out of more than 5,000 at Terminix, started his

began dating his younger co-worker. Soon, the couple moved in

own pest control company in his mid-50s and grew it to the largest African American-owned pest control company in the United States. He was

His beaming face and welcoming hugs will certainly be missed ...

the definition of an American success story.” Born in 1947 to Mary and Willie Payne Sr., in Saginaw,

together. Kathy immediately took on the role as full-time stepmom to the kids, whom she loved. She participated in PTA meetings and was the traveling

snack bar mom at track meets, basketball tournaments, Little League, Pop Warner football and softball games.

Michigan, Willie considered himself a native San Diegan after the

She and Willie also became deeply involved in the Rancho

family moved to San Diego in 1950. He graduated from San Diego

Penasquitos community, serving on the Pop Warner football board of

High School in 1965. Afterward, he attended San Diego State

directors and the Parks & Recreation Council for 10 years, and the

University, where he played football under Don Coryell and was

Mt. Carmel High School Athletic Foundation for 15 years (Willie

later drafted into the Army, where he served four years.

was the president). The couple, who married in 1989, have been

Early in his career, Willie worked as a carpet cleaner, then at

together ever since, raising a family and building a business.

Safeway stores, while earning his bachelor’s degree from National

In 2006, they both left Terminix to launch Payne Pest Management

University. In 1977, he landed a job at Terminix, spent more than

and brought their co-worker and close friend Abbas Rad to work in continued on page 22

Willie and Kathy Payne with Mindi Abair; Reggie Jackson and Bill Wilson; Marcus Miller



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Jason Payne making a toast in his dad’s honor aboard the Legacy in Point Loma, California; Lynne Darius, Kathy Payne and her brother Pat Hurley; Jason Payne, Kathy Payne, Angela Seward and David Payne (Photos: Ellis Moore Photography)

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continued from page 21

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sales for them. That company has grown into a multimillion-dollar enterprise with three offices (San Diego, Orange County and Los Angeles) and 40 employees. Jason, after graduating from Boise State University on a full-ride football scholarship, joined his dad at Terminix in its management training program. During that time, Nike recruited Jason’s wife, Misty, to work at its world headquarters, and the couple moved to Beaverton, Oregon. A year after his parents opened Payne Pest Management, Jason and Misty left their jobs—as a pharmaceutical sales rep and senior event planner at Nike, respectively— and moved back to San Diego to join the family business. In 2015, Jason stepped into his dad’s shoes as president of the company, while Willie became the CEO. The Paynes’ youngest child says he’ll continue his father’s standards for excellence. “My father always taught me that whatever I did to do it 110

Jenifer and Bill Wilson offered their family’s Wilson Creek Winery for a small private service, which was held on Aug. 12, and streamed live on Facebook

percent,” Jason said. “It didn’t matter if it was in school, on the football field or at work. He taught me not to quit and to have the mindset of a winner at all times.” According to David Payne, the eldest Payne child, one of the most important lessons he learned from his father, which he says was also one of his keys to success, was to “Take care of the people who helped you get to where you are today.” Then added, “My father was very intelligent in the ways of the world and graciously shared that knowledge with me, my brother and my sister. “No matter how much our dad worked, he would always take us on a family vacation during spring break. It started when I was a freshman in high school and continued even until recent years. It was a chance for all of us to reconnect during our busy lives and enjoy being a family together and have fun doing it,” said David.

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Jordan McFadden and his grandmother Kathy Payne scattering Willie Payne’s ashes at sea; Kathy and David Payne; Kathy Payne with her brothers, Tim Hurley, Pat Hurley and Mitch Hurley; Lynne and Eric Darius (Photos: Ellis Moore Photography)

Vacations were one of his sister’s favorite things, too. “He always

And, like the smooth jazz hits they enjoyed, the yesses kept on

took me to beautiful resorts, elegant restaurants and the best

coming. “Yes, I will sponsor The San Diego Smooth Jazz Festival

shopping trips,” recalled Angela Seward, Willie’s only daughter.

and the Long Beach Jazz Festival,” blessing the promoters, Rainbow

For Seward, being Willie’s daughter had a lot of perks. “You attended more parties than you can imagine, went on lots of

Promotions, and jazz communities they served. “Yes, I will buy the studio equipment for your classes to teach

vacations, an overwhelming amount of sports lessons and events,

and mentor underprivileged children,” he told Dr. Tayari Howard,

but I also had the best dance partner.” However, she admits that it was

owner of online radio station KKSD.

also tough. “My dad always demanded 110 percent. He never accepted excuses. And, getting a higher education was always expected,” she said. Kathy said, “His favorite saying was ‘6 Ps: Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance, know your subject.’ He hated it when someone didn’t give it their all. He said it was a waste of everyone’s time.” Although he was always the captain in charge of his own ship––business,

“Yes, I can find you a spot to

... Willie Payne ingrained in close friends and family the legacy he lived, which is to work hard to become a success, always give back to the community, and never put forth any effort that’s less than 110 percent.

family and anything else––Willie was a

perform at The San Diego Smooth Jazz Festival,” he promised (and delivered) to up-and-coming artists. “Yes, I’ll help sponsor your Jazz at the Creek concert series,” he assured Leonard Thompson at M.A.N.D.A.T.E. Records. Yes, to donations for Camella and Richard Elliot’s biannual fundraising concert benefiting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) in Escondido, California.

yes man in the best possible way. With their company profits came

Even when KiFM Smooth Jazz 98.1 abandoned the format and

the couple’s benevolence and support of their other passion: traveling

stopped promoting concerts, Willie said, “Yes, I’ll revive Jazz at the

with friends and experiencing live music. “And, then, of course,

Beach in Oceanside,” stepping in as producer and giving artists

eventually being able to share that with others by sponsoring and

more work and fans more summer fun.

producing concerts and festivals,” said Kathy. In 2008, they sponsored WAVE Fest at the Hollywood Bowl, then

And, when former KiFM music director Kelly Cole landed back on the airwaves on 102.1, Kathy and Willie were right there with

the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach Summer Concert Series, KiFM

their checkbook and pen in hand, ready to sponsor her “Lites Out

Smooth Jazz 98.1’s Gaslamp Quarter Festival and that radio station’s

San Diego” show.

Jazz at the Beach series.

continued on page 24


continued from page 23

In July, to celebrate the Paynes’ 41st anniversary together, Cole,

Willie certainly demonstrated those humanitarian qualities

now on MAGIC 92.5, and Pat Prescott of 94.7 The WAVE gave

he wanted to instill in others. He served as president of CAI

on-air congratulatory shout-outs to the couple. Many of the

(Community Associates Institute), an organization of property

artists did the same on their

managers, homeowners

online concerts, including Brian

associations and vendors.

Whether you were a customer,

Culbertson and Rick Braun.

a vendor, a friend or an employee,

The Paynes also partnered on jazz concerts at Wilson Creek

Willie Payne always made you feel

Winery in Temecula, California, one of which featured Eric Darius. The saxophonist and his wife,

welcome, special, important, like family. Jazz fans who knew him cannot

Lynne, became such good friends with the Paynes that they often vacationed together. “Willie and Kathy were there for some monumental

imagine a concert, festival or cruise

without seeing him flash that big smile

occasions in my life, including when I surprised Lynne by

and stretch out his huggable arms.

proposing to her,” Darius said. “They were also there for our wedding.” The Dariuses were also the first people at Kathy’s doorstep at her Temecula home upon learning of Willie’s passing. Kathy and Willie moved from San Diego to that Wine Country

He coached community Pop Warner and Little League teams in Rancho Penasquitos. And, the foundation at Mt. Carmel High School created the Kathy and Willie Payne athletic/academic scholarship awarded to student-athletes every year in their honor. Some of the other accolades Willie earned included Payne Pest Management being in the Top 100 Pest Control Companies in the United

States nine out of 10 years running through 2019; No. 1 salesman at Terminix (out of 5,000 salesmen worldwide) five years running, and San Diego Minority Business Owner of the Year. He also chaired the 501(c)3 Ol’Loreece Foundation’s Permission

community four years ago to be near their children and grandchildren.

To Talk: Men, Medicine and Music benefiting men’s health, which is

Although Willie’s days of indulging his greatest passion, coach-

producing a virtual webinar and tribute concert to Willie on Oct. 22.

ing, were over, he still maintained his zest for mentoring young

Eric Darius is scheduled to perform, and featured speakers will

men, as well as all of his grandchildren. “His desire was for them to

include a cardiologist/transplant specialist and vascular surgeon.

become good, decent, strong and positive contributors to society,”

There will also be prizes, giveaways and a live auction. Visit

Kathy said. for details.

Angela Seward and Willie Payne; Willie and Kathy Payne with their grandchildren Brandon McFadden and Niyla McFadden; Willie and Kathy Payne; Kathy Payne and her brother Mitch Hurley aboard the Legacy (Photo: Ellis Moore Photography)

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Whether you were a customer, a vendor, a friend or an employee,

As the sun set on the Pacific Ocean, attendees shared their

Willie Payne always made you feel welcome, special, important, like

memories of the man they respected and loved so much. They all

family. Jazz fans who knew him cannot imagine a concert, festival

agreed that Willie Payne ingrained in them the legacy he lived, which

or cruise without seeing him flash that big smile and stretch out

is to work hard to become a success, always give back to the community,

his huggable arms. And, we’ll all miss the constant exclamations of

and never put forth any effort that’s less than 110 percent.

“Willie Payne!” every few minutes as he and Kathy made their way

“I know that excellence is instilled in our team, and espe-

through crowded aisles, corridors and walkways at concerts, cruises

cially in our son Jason, president of our company. The legacy will

and festivals.

continue; it’s in good hands,” said Kathy.

“That’s why he was so successful at whatever he did,” said Kathy. “And, he was always driven to be the best, and he demanded excellence.” Although it would have been difficult to find a venue large

Willie is survived by his wife, Kathy; children David Payne, Angela Seward (Monty Seward), Jason Payne (Misty Payne), and former son-in-law Phillip McFadden; grandchildren

enough to accommodate a funeral for all of Willie’s family, friends,

Kyle McFadden, Jazmine Payne, Jordan McFadden, Marcus

employees and colleagues, COVID-19 restrictions have prohibited

Payne, Brandon McFadden, Niyla McFadden, Devin

such a gathering. So, Jenifer and Bill Wilson offered their family’s

Payne and Kameron Payne; great-grandchildren Ke’lani

Wilson Creek Winery for a small private service, which was held on

McFadden and Jaxton McFadden; siblings: Leslie Payne

Aug. 12, and streamed live on Facebook. Willie’s immediate family,

(Ginette Payne), sister Brenda Sewell, John Payne,

a few close friends and several artists attended the invitation-only

Nolan Payne, Rickey Payne, Eleanor Thedord

service, which Pastor Jim Robeson from Community Bible Church

(Claude Thedord); many cousins, nieces, neph-

officiated. Cole and Prescott jointly read Willie’s obituary. Payne

ews and very special friends. He is preceded in

family members eulogized their patriarch, including all three of his

death by his parents and brothers Martin

children, his grandson Kyle and sister-in-law Ginette Payne. Darius

Payne and Michael Payne.

shared his memories of Willie, then played some of his favorite

In lieu of flowers, the family

songs. Vocalists Rebecca Jade, Erin Stevenson and his son-in-law,

suggests donations to the

Monty Seward, also performed.

Willie Payne Jazz Musician Fund,

A few days later, Kathy, joined by family and close friends,,

chartered the Legacy boat and scattered her husband’s ashes off

which benefits unemployed

the San Diego coastline. During the ceremony, a school of dolphins

smooth jazz musicians

suddenly appeared off the boat’s bow, seemingly welcoming

during the coronavirus

him into the water.


To honor his legacy, we’ve added a post on the

Smooth Jazz News blog

where you can contribute comments of your

memories and feelings for Willie Payne, which is live

now, Rick Phetteplace and Marilyn Lingenfelter James with Willie and Kathy Payne; Willie Payne and saxophonist Jessy J; Willie Payne and jazz harpist Mariea Antoinette



Memories of

WILLIE R e c a l l i n g a f a t h e r, p a r t n e r a n d f r i e n d

Memories of Willie from his children

taught her to say ’Anything I want.’ He loved Niyla more than life. There was nothing that made him happier than just sitting on the couch and having all the family over laughing and eating fried chicken.”

Jason Payne - “There were many memories I had of my dad. The first ones were in my childhood and him coaching me in football, baseball or just on the sideline showing support. As an adult, it was the hundreds of conversations we had about leading the company and how the decisions I made would not only affect me, but the 50 employees we had.”

The most important lessons I learned from my father Jason Payne - “He taught me whatever I did to do it 110 percent.There will always be people out there who tell you why you can’t do something, but block them out and come up with solutions and not excuses. It didn’t matter if it was in school, on the football field or at work—find a way to get it done. He taught me not to quit and to have the mindset of a winner at all times. And, that sometimes I would make a mistake but as long as it wasn’t catastrophic, we could learn from it and correct it.”

Photo: Ellis Moore Photography

David Payne - “When I was young, my dad would sometimes take me to the office with him on Saturdays. He would be the only person working in the office on a Saturday. He would be calling customers and filling out reports. Afterward, he would reward me for sitting for hours by taking me to a nearby Willie Payne with his daughter, Angela Seward, and son, David Payne, during The San Diego Smooth Jazz Festival bakery for doughnuts. And, when I was accepted to the University of the Pacific, my dad drove me there at the beginning of the school year and helped me move into my dorm room. During Angela Seward - “My dad always told me I could do anything the parent orientation and tour, he was the only Black parent. His son I wanted to do, and could have anything I wanted if I worked was now attending a private university, and he was extremely proud hard. Nothing is out of reach.” of my accomplishments.” Angela Seward - “Christmas was always a big family time at our house, and my dad spoiled us like no other. When I started having my own kids, it was even better. My dad would come over every Christmas morning and watch my kids open their presents and have breakfast with them, and then we would go to his house and open more presents and have a big family dinner. He would say to my daughter, Niyla, ‘What will papa get you?’ And when she was about 3 years old, he

What I will miss the most David Payne - “Of course, I will miss the many things that other people saw in him—his infectious smile, love of life, willingness to help others and desire to be the best at everything he did. But what I’ll miss most is spending quality time with him.”

Jason Payne - “The conversations about life lessons and his infectious smile. He could always brighten up a room whenever he walked in it.”

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Angela Seward - “I will miss dancing with my dad and his big hugs! He would hug me and say, ‘You know Dad loves you, right?’ My dad always made sure I knew I was loved and always wanted me to be happy. I will also miss our trips. My dad took me on so many trips with him, and they were always fun.”

What I admired the most Jason Payne - “His winning attitude. He was always about winning and trying his best no matter what.” Angela Seward - “My dad was a family man and a man of God. He was a good man who loved life and his grandkids more than anything. He would do anything for anyone if you just asked. He was selfless and a very giving man. I admire that my dad worked hard, tried to help those less fortunate and always accepted everyone no matter who they were and where they came from. He instilled in me and both my brothers to love your family and always give 100 percent no matter what you do. He used to say, ‘No one likes a slacker. So, do it right or don’t do it at all.’ He also taught me to be involved with my community.”

Quotes from friends and colleagues Abbas Rad, Payne Pest Management vice president of operations - “In the fall of 1997, I was working as an inspector in the sales department for Terminix at their San Diego branch, and Willie worked at the Western regional office. One day my branch manager said that Willie needed some help with one of his projects in the San Diego area, and asked if I could help him out. Willie had two other inspectors from two different branches helping him out in East and North County. I accepted their offer, and I helped him on that project. Working with him, I realized that he is a smart man, and he knows his sales and what he is going after. Later, I was asked if I could help him out again. I said yes. The money was good, and I enjoyed learning from him. After a few months and a couple of other fumigation projects, Willie spoke to Terminix’s upper management and asked if I could become his full-time assistant. They approved, and I moved up to the regional office. Willie made sure that Terminix provided me with a salary, a cellphone, gas allowances, invitations to company trips and a few other things. Willie was never about just Willie; he always made sure that I was taken care of exactly the same way they took care of him, just like a father taking care of his child. We did well at Terminix for seven years—No. 1 in sales for the entire company, averaging $2.5 million in new business every year. When Terminix was sold to an investment group in 2005, I didn’t like the changes. I told Willie that I was not going to work there anymore. He asked me if I could wait for a few months until he can get his pest control operating licenses and start his own company, and then we

can both leave together. I agreed to it, and he started Payne Pest Management on May 15, 2006. We did more than $1 million in production in six months. I have learned a lot from Willie, and I had given him my full loyalty. He would sometimes call me into his office to discuss my weaknesses, what I did wrong and how I could correct myself and make myself a better person. He used to call these ‘constructive criticism sessions,’ and they have been very helpful and handy throughout my life. He was a brother who I never had, a business partner, a friend, a boss, a co-worker and someone you could count on. He will be missed.”

Marilyn Lingenfelter James - “Willie and Kathy Payne were not just our dear friends, together, with my husband, Rick Phetteplace, we were family. The Paynes generously included us in their family gatherings, and we celebrated many holidays and birthdays with them. We will always have the fondest memories of our experiences with them all over the world as Willie’s ‘Road Dogs.’ Miss you forever, Willie Payne. And, we will always be here for my sister, Kathy Payne.” Mitzi Davis (part of Willie’s “North Carolina connection,” from Boonville, North Carolina) - “We met Kathy and Willie on the 2013 Dave Koz cruise, while dancing to DW3 in a ship lounge. There were a couple extra seats at the table where my husband, Jerry, my brother Dan Vestal, his wife, Connie, and I were at, and Willie and Kathy asked if they could sit down with us. We talked so long, the club manager asked us to leave so they could close the lounge. We became instant friends, and were the beginnings of their ‘North Carolina connection,’ as Willie always called us. We traveled with them on more cruises, the last one was in Australia. We met many times at Brian Culbertson’s Napa Valley Jazz Getaway. We visited many wineries, and we stayed with them at their home in Temecula. They traveled to North Carolina for Dan’s 65th birthday. Jerry’s sister, Darlene Reinhardt, and I joined Willie on his surprise 70th birthday cruise. Willie also introduced us to our beloved friends, Lynne and Eric Darius. But I have two favorite memories of Willie. The first is looking up at him in the main stage theater on the ship, with him holding up six tickets to our first Brian Culbertson’s Napa Valley Jazz Getaway in his hand. The other is from our visit to their home, when he took us to Spaghettini for brunch, with DW3 playing, and Eric Darius joining them onstage. BEST. DAY. EVER. We always shared the music, but so much more. We so admired Willie’s generosity, his honesty and his love for his family and friends. Our meeting with Willie and Kathy was not a random coincidence. We were led together by God. Our lives were changed in that one evening with DW3. And, now our lives have changed again, with the earthly loss of our dear friend. We are going to miss that smile, his phone calls, and those big bear hugs.”

To honor his legacy, we’ve added a post on the Smooth Jazz News blog where you can contribute comments of your memories and feelings for Willie Payne, which is live now,


My personal tribute to a wonderful friend and mentor • by Eric Darius

WI LLIE PAYNE “Willie’s legacy and impact will be felt for generations to come.”

I had briefly met Willie and Kathy Payne at various jazz festivals in

after one of my performances, with the intent

Southern California, but I truly got to know

of sleeping on our early-morning flight, only

them at KiFM’s Gaslamp Quarter Festival in

to have that flight delayed by four hours, which

San Diego about 10 years ago. After my

then caused us to miss our connecting flight.

performance, there was no designated area to

After a lot of rerouting, we ended up stranded

sign autographs, so Willie being the problem

in Mexico City overnight with no luggage.

solver that he was, escorted me over to their

s on the Legacy Eric and Lynne Dariu Loma, California, off the coast of Point yne’s ashes at sea to scatter Willie Pa

worse! It started with us pulling an all-nighter

Willie once again kicked into problem-solving

Payne Pest Management tent and reorganized

mode. He had everyone at the airport in

it to allow us to do a meet-and-greet with the

Mexico City at 2 a.m. scrambling to find us a

fans. Our relationship grew from there, as we

place to stay and to make sure we were on the

would talk frequently.

first flight out of there the following morning.

What sealed our friendship was our first

That flight, too, had its problems. However,

vacation together to Cancun a couple of years

due to Willie’s relentless determination, we

later. Things couldn’t have started out any

finally made it to Cancun two days later than anticipated, but we ended up having the most incredible time! Everything that could’ve possibly gone wrong did go wrong initially, but those setbacks became the catalyst that brought Willie, Kathy, my wife, Lynne, and myself even closer. We knew that after making it through the initial disaster of that trip that we were going to be great friends. That was the first of many amazing trips and memorable times together. Willie and Kathy were there for some monumental occasions in my life, including when I surprised Lynne by proposing to her. They were also there for our wedding. Willie always told me how honored he was to be a part of those moments, but the reality is that I was blessed to have had him there. One of my fondest memories was when I created a playlist of his favorite dance songs

Eric and Lynne Darius with Willie and Kathy Payne on vacation in Cabo San Lucas in 2019

that I called ‘The Payne Playlist.’ During one of our get-togethers, I surprised him and started playing music from the playlist. And, with the

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Eric and Lynne Da

rius with Willie an d Kathy Payne on vacation at So laz resort in San Jose del Cabo , Mexico, in 2019

Kathy and Willie Payne with Lynne and Eric Darius at their wedding in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico, in 2017

very first song, Willie stood up, grabbed Kathy’s hand to dance with him and proclaimed ‘That’s my jam!’ The next song started, he yelled again, ‘That’s my jam!’ And then again, the exact same thing with such excitement. After a few songs, it suddenly dawned on him that the playlist had been created just for him. He was beyond ecstatic, and danced all night! That became the soundtrack of our beautiful times together. Our mutual passion for music was what first

Willie and Kathy Payne with Eric Darius at The 2018 San Diego Smooth Jazz Festival

brought us all together, but it was really our love of life, Christian faith and family values

I’m truly going to miss our talks, our epic

to keep the music alive for both the musicians

that became the foundation of our lifelong

parties at his house with just the four of us,

and the fans. Willie’s legacy and impact will be

bond. Our friendship was so special and was

our sidecars, our vacations of a lifetime, our

felt for generations to come.

unlike any other I’ve ever had.

amazing dinners and celebrations, but mostly

He was so many things to me; he was like another father, as he always had my back and my best interests at heart. He was a best friend;

There hasn’t been a day that has gone by that

I’m going to miss his big heart, his contagious

I haven’t thought about him, and I will always

smile and his infectious laugh.

cherish every single moment that we shared.

Willie brought the best out of me, taught me

Willie, we love you, miss you more than you

he was someone I would confide in and turn

to work smarter and play harder, and embodied

know, and I know that you’re partying up there

to for advice. He was a business partner; he

what it means to live life to the fullest. There is

‘Big Willie Style.’ We’ll be taking care of your

was someone who truly believed in me, helped

so much more we still wanted to accomplish

bride ’til we all meet again.

to open doors for me and shared the same

and so many places still to visit and adventures

vision and drive. Lastly, he was also like a big

to embark on. It’s so hard to believe that he’s

brother to me in that I looked up to him, and

no longer with us. The jazz community has lost

he inspired me in so many different aspects.

a legend, who was so instrumental in helping

Eric Darius

Saxophonist Eric Darius is a popular festival attraction, who was named Debut Artist of the Year by Smooth Jazz News in 2004 and is currently an endorser of Cannonball Musical Instruments





CASHMIRA’S STARGUIDE Libra Sept. 23 - Oct. 22

You’re trying to talk someone into joining you on an upcoming trip. It is a big deal, so be square on what the costs might be monetarily and in time. You want to be able to enjoy this adventure with a good friend.

Scorpio Oct. 23 - Nov. 21

Aries March 21 - April 19

Some unsettling events are happening to you now. Don’t worry about what others might think of you taking advantage of some of these changes. Your quick, positive reactions can result in some great favor. You are worth it.

You have got a big life change coming up in a couple of months, so now is the time to prepare for that. There are lots of details to consider and deal with. Your talent for organization will serve you well while you get ready for that transition.

Taurus April 20 - May 20

Sagittarius Nov. 22 - Dec. 21

Gemini May 21 - June 21

You have a reputation for being generous to family and friends. If you hear that your generosity is being questioned, pay no attention. Apparently, some sour grapes are out there, and that gossip is really nothing to be concerned with.

Capricorn Dec. 22 - Jan. 19

You are well known for your ability to work hard, but now is the perfect time to show that you can play equally as hard. You need to let off some steam, so enjoy yourself and do not wear out your partners in this play!

Aquarius Jan. 20 - Feb. 18

You have some sensitive information that you’ve shared with someone, and you now question yourself. Was that gossip or simply disclosing facts? Was that person trustworthy? Take up the issue, and make yourself clear to that person pronto.

Pisces Feb. 19 - March 20

You’ve been invited to join a small group of folks, but you are hesitating about whether or not to join. Sure, you need to get out and make some new friends, but make sure you investigate their intentions and that their aims match your own.

“Dave Brubeck: A life in time”


You have the urge to try something new. You are feeling bold and positive, but this might affect your partner. Be clear about your explanation to calm any hard feelings about your new step into adventure. You will be presented with some financial opportunities soon. Be sure you discuss them with family before making any final decisions. Investigate the honesty of those offering the options to you. Verify you’re dealing with reputable partners.

Cancer June 22 - July 22

There are changes coming to your relationship, and it will be up to you whether they are positive or negative. You need to be able to respond with understanding and patience, if you both can move forward together.

Leo July 23 - Aug. 22

There are lots of changes going on with the folks around you now. Things are moving fast, so you better think carefully where you fit in with all these new circumstances. Change can be scary, but it is best to face it sooner than later.

Virgo Aug. 23 - Sept. 22

Wow, you are going to be recognized for skills shortly. Try not to get too full of yourself in the presence of others. Stay as humble as you can in public, and you can turn cartwheels in the privacy of your own home.

By Philip Clark Da Capo Press

2020 • 464 pages • $38

Reviewed by Darcy Peters Philip Clark’s biography of Dave Brubeck focuses on the music rather than biographical details. Brubeck was California born and originally was considered one of the “cool” West Coast jazz musicians. He was raised on a ranch with a deep interest in classical music inspired by his mother, and it became a backdrop to his version of jazz. Throughout his career, Brubeck rarely recorded alone. He preferred a quartet for expressing the sounds he wanted to achieve. The original band included Paul Desmond, Eugene Wright, Joe Morello and, at times, Gerry Mulligan. Over time, the members of the group shifted. Three of Brubeck’s sons joined the group at different points during his later years. The young Brubeck began playing in Oakland clubs, working on popular tunes with his jazz flavor. Soon, he began composing his own music, including classics such as “The Duke” and “Take Five.” In the ’50s, the State Department sent his group on a goodwill tour of Europe and Russia. Three of his five children joined him for three months, traveling around several countries and gaining fans. In a piece for Downbeat magazine, Brubeck wrote, “Jazz, our single native art form is welcomed––not simply accepted––without reservation throughout the world and is felt to be the most authentic example of American culture.” Brubeck recorded with Columbia Records, and he preferred to record live rather than in studios. He played in colleges all over the country and recorded the performances there, which resulted in some of his most famous records. When Brubeck added Wright, a Black bass player, to his mostly white band, the group experienced extensive racism in hotels. Because of it, he scrapped a tour of Southern colleges. He also canceled a promotional appearance on NBC radio’s “Bell Telephone Hour” because the producer insisted on filming the quartet with Wright cut out of the shot. This affected Brubeck deeply, and he incorporated those feelings into his music. Brubeck believed, “Improvisation, to me, is the core of jazz. Because I believe this, my style of piano is one shaped primary by the material, or ideas which I am attempting to express—not by a system or a search for an identifying sound.” Brubeck continued to perform into his 80s and passed away in 2012, leaving a huge musical legacy.

D I G I T A L - O N LY S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2 0 2 0 | 3 1

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