Jazz returns to the music room of the Athenaeum for the library’s annual winter series at 1008 Wall St. Since seating is limited, early reservations are suggested.
• The 7:30 p.m. concerts open Feb. 7 with an Athenaeum debut by Los Angeles-based jazz vocalist Sara Gazarek, with Josh Nelson on piano, Hamilton Price on bass and Zach Harmon on drums. A graduate of the Thelonious Monk Institute and USC’s Thornton School of Music, Gazarek has been turning musical heads since her 2007 debut album, “Return to You,” featuring her winning interpretations of jazz standards as well as contemporary and original songs.
• The music continues on Feb. 13 with another Athenaeum debut by the Norwegian-Dutch Mats Eilertsen Trio, featuring Eilertsen on bass, Harmen Fraanje on piano, and Thomas Strønen on drums.
Eilertsen is joined in this trio by top Dutch jazz pianist Fraanje, who made a stunning Athenaeum debut in 2009 with trumpeter Eric Vloeimans. Norwegian drum master Thomas Strønen rounds out the ensemble, himself a leader on several CDs.
• The series ends Feb. 21 with the return of Road Work Ahead, a collective band co-led by pianist Bill Mays, guitarist Peter Sprague, bassist Bob Magnusson, and drummer Jim Plank. The band stretches back to the 1980s when all four players were based in San Diego. Their last Athenaeum performance was in 2003, and they are reuniting to celebrate the issue of their latest new CD.
Mays’ career has included work with Bud Shank, Sarah Vaughan, Shelly Manne, Gerry Mulligan, Clark Terry, Benny Golson, Bobby Shew, and the Mel Lewis Orchestra.
Guitarist Peter Sprague has been the leader of groups including Blurring the Edges and Brazil Jazz, and is known internationally for his work with Dianne Reeves, Chick Corea, Hubert Laws, and David Benoit.
Bassist Magnusson has been featured on hundreds of recordings, and has worked with Sarah Vaughan, Bud Shank, Laurindo Almeida, Benny Golson, Shorty Rogers, and Art Pepper, among countless others.
Drummer Plank, percussionist for the San Diego Symphony, is equally adept in the world of jazz, having recorded with artists such as Laurindo Almeida and Mike Wofford.
Single concert tickets are $21 members, $26 nonmembers; series tickets are $57 members, $72 nonmembers at (858) 454-5872 or ljathenaum.org/jazz