Santa Cruz native, Dillon Baiocchi, represents a new generation of musicians that’s putting a fresh spin on contemporary jazz music. Inspired by Santa Cruz’s natural beauty, his unique jazz blend cooks with the diverse bop styles of his current home base: New York City. Just three years ago Baiocchi graduated from Soquel High School, and today he is a student at the New School of Contemporary Jazz Music.
Though the styles and flavors of music in the Big Apple are constantly evolving, Baiocchi still holds his hometown roots close to his heart. Home for the holidays, he will perform along with his bandmates, and one of his all-time favorite jazz alto saxophonists, Cannonball Adderly, at The Crepe Place on Wednesday, Jan. 4. “I’m really looking forward to being back in Santa Cruz,” he says. “There just isn’t that much access to nature in New York. And also, the people here are so supportive of me and appreciate jazz music.” For that reason, Baiocchi has kept his friends close—The Dillon Baiocchi Quintet is comprised of his bandmates from high school, who met as members of the Kuumbwa Jazz Honor Band. As youth, they performed together at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium and Santa Cruz Jazz Festival, and would regularly share albums they found inspiring, including music by Roy Hargrove. In New York, Baiocchi has had the opportunity to collaborate with a number of young people with similar aspirations when it comes to creating music. “The camaraderie of the New School inspires a more laid back and less critical approach to the music we make,” he says. “At some of these gigs in the city, the crowd can be so serious and critical. That’s OK, but I want to be sure the music-making is fun too.” A. CARLO ALBANO
INFO: 9 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 4. The Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $8. 429-6994.