You won't find a bigger fan of the Bradley Fair jazz concerts than the man who's on stage helping to introduce them.
"The talent of these musicians is amazing," said Steve Bauer, who emcees the concerts along with Lukas and Careth, two fellow DJs from radio station B98. "They don't have any electronic machines generating their music. It's the instruments they play. It's all live."
This summer's series kicks off June 2 with East Coast saxophonist Joseph Vincelli, who has become a favorite of Bradley Fair audiences thanks to him performing at the series since the beginning. He'll be followed by another saxophonist, Jackiem Joyner, on June 9; Special EFX on June 16; the woodwind one-two punch of Elan Trotman and Althea Rene on June 23; and southern soul-jazz trumpeter Lin Rountree rounding out the schedule for the Celebrate America Concert and Fireworks event on June 30.
Bauer has been spinning contemporary jazz recordings on B98 every Sunday morning since 2003. He got involved in the Bradley Fair series a couple years later.
"In the early days, it was more just a variety of music," he said of the series, which takes place around the lifestyle center's scenic lake. "From about 2006 on, it has concentrated on contemporary jazz." He's impressed by the youth and diversity of this summer's performers.
"Four of the six artists are of a younger generation, if you will. I call them the future of the music — of contemporary jazz. A lot of people think this music is for an older generation but it appeals to everybody. What we have found in talking with people over the years is that, whatever the age of the person is, when they come out and experience a jazz concert, they go away with a completely different idea as to what the music is like."
It'll be the first time Joyner, Special EFX and the duo of Trotman and Rene have played in Wichita. Guitarist Chieli Minucci, who heads Special EFX, has performed in Wichita, but not at Bradley Fair, while the band's keyboardist, has headlined his own Bradley Fair show.
Bauer is one of several jazz aficionados who advise Bradley Fair on which artists they should present. He interviews them for segments that air on B98 on the Sunday before each concert.
"What I have learned in talking with the musicians so far is that several of them started playing on different instruments than the ones they wound up focusing on," he said. "So they're multiply talented. Most of them don't just play one instrument."
Some bring "cool life experiences" to the stage, too, he said. Rene, for instance, was a Wayne County deputy sheriff in Detroit for a decade before switching careers. Trotman is a Barbados native who incorporates Caribbean rhythms into his music. Minucci has played with everybody from Celine Dion to Jennifer Lopez and Lionel Richie. Rountree had a role in "Sparkle," a 2012 film starring Whitney Houston.
Bauer advises concert goers to come early — way early — if they want to guarantee their favorite spot is still available. The Bradley Fair Plaza opens for seating at 6 a.m. each Thursday during the series. "Last year, we got out there at 4:45 a.m. and there were people sitting around waiting to put their chairs out," Bauer said.
For more about the performers, visit bradleyfair.com/events.php.