Gilbert Castellanos' jazz jam is making a move. For the past three years, the trumpet player has housed his weekly Wednesday night jam at Seven Grand in North Park. However, some changes in programming at the whiskey bar led to the need to find a new home for the event. Starting this fall, the jazz jam will take place at Panama 66 in Balboa Park.
For Castellanos, who has been part of San Diego's jazz scene for two decades, and has kept his weekly jam session running for almost as long, it's not the first time he's had to come up with a backup plan.
"As long as I've been doing this, I've taken nothing for granted," he says in a phone interview. "You have be prepared, and have a backup plan. But I've always been able to find a home for it."
Gilbert Castellanos launched his jazz jam in San Diego in the '90s, and it's moved around to a variety of different venues, including tapas bar Ole Madrid, Little Italy restaurant El Camino, and downtown nightclub Onyx Room, which was the longest-running home (10 years) for the jazz jam.
He had already been performing at Panama 66 when owner Jeff Motch approached Castellanos about moving the jazz jam to the venue. Castellanos had already moved his Young Lions program—where he gives young musicians the opportunity to perform on local stages—from Croce's Park West to the Balboa Park restaurant stage. The two events will actually take place on the same evening now, and Castellanos is enthusiastic about this next phase.
"I think it's going to be an amazing thing," he says. "For the first time in history, the jam session will be all ages. It's a full restaurant—they serve food—and it's outdoors. That's also a first."
The first of Castellanos' new weekly jam sessions will take place on Oct. 7 at Panama 66, immediately after the Young Lions performance.