Barbara J. Brighton’s lifelong love of jazz has bloomed in advocacy and activism. She has provided an important Los Angeles performance showcase for student musicians, the Young Artist Jazz Series, for 23 years. Innumerable young players, including more than a few nationally known musicians, received their first public exposure on the Catalina Bar & Grill’s bandstand that Brighton has presided over. It’s no exaggeration to note that nearly all SoCal jazz musicians under 45 have participated in YAJS. While she has a 40-plus career as a licensed psychotherapist, Brighton’s efforts to produce a competition for student musicians launched her role as impresario. Her consultations with the late recording executive Ellen Cohn proved invaluable, leading to Brighton’s founding of BJB Jazz Ventures. Barbara produced jazz brunches and memorial tributes to Cohn, Carmen McRae and Horace Tapscott. At the behest of the late Bill Traut, Kurt Elling’s manager, she booked the singer into every SoCal jazz venue for a solid month; then Blue Note Records hired her to do the same for Caecilie Norby. Barbara also handled promotion of pianist Kenny Werner’s book Effortless Mastery in Los Angeles.
She initiated the Young Artist Jazz Series in 1996 with the help of club owner Catalina Popescu (the JJA’s 2012 Los Angeles Jazz Hero). Schools with jazz programs suddenly had a destination and reliable venue; schools without jazz programs gained added incentive. Families and listeners who might not have ever stepped into a jazz club were newly part of the Catalina’s audience.
“As impresarios and presenters, women run jazz in Los Angeles. And Barbara Brighton is one of the important ones who make
it possible for the music to be heard in this town.” Kirk Silsbee, Jazz Journalist