The Banderas Bay Jazz Allstars, or simply BBJA, is an instrumental jazz group that first appeared in the 2012 Music Festival. They are relatively new to the region, and have been consistently selling out their performances in the greater Vallarta area as their reputation has grown.
The group consists of San Pancho’s own Chas Eller on keyboards. Chas is a founding member of the jazz fusion group, Kilimanjaro, whose three CDs have all made it onto the Top Ten of the Jazz Radio Airplay charts in the States. In addition to tours of the U.S. and Europe with Kilimanjaro, Chas also toured with blues great, Paul Butterfield. Between those two groups he has performed at some of the most prestigious jazz festivals in the world, including The Montreux Jazz Festival (Switzerland), The Newport Jazz Festival, (US), The Montreal Jazz Festival, (Canada), The Roskilde Festival (Denmark), The Utrecht Blues Festival, (Holland) and many more, including a tour of the Soviet Union in 1991. In 2011 Chas missed his first San Pancho Music Festival in five years, when his group Kilimanjaro was asked to perform at the Java Jazz Festival, in Jakarta, Indonesia, along with luminaries such as Carlos Santana, and George Benson.
Saxophonist, and flutist extraordinaire, Bryan Savage has had a very successful career not only as a featured soloist with artists such as the Amazing Rhythm Aces, Al Stewart, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, John Denver, and more, but he is also well known as a solo artist on the Smooth Jazz scene. In 1996 his single “Catfood” made it up to #2 on the National Jazz Airplay Charts. That led to his signing, in 1997, by Virgin Records, and the release of “Soul Temptation”, one of his most successful CDs to date. He has opened for Bonnie Raitt, Mick Fleetwood, Santana, Glen Frey, Eddie Money, Journey, Gary Burton, Rick Braun, Chuck Mangione, and many others. Additional credits include a gold record for his sax work on the number one-selling Steve Martin hit single “King Tut”, and national TV appearances on Solid Gold, The Midnight Special, and the Merv Griffin Show. A resident of Colorado, Bryan now winters with his wife Michelle, in La Cruz.
Bassist Tom Lilienthal, is formerly from California, and is now spending his winters outside of Bucerias, and his summers in San Miguel de Allende. A veteran of many successful acts over the years, Tom was also an award winning music educator for many years in the San Francisco Bay Area. He was the leader of the highly successful band, Festival, which featured a number of luminaries, and which eventually was discovered by Tom Fogerty, of the much acclaimed, Creedence Clearwater Rivival. Lilienthal not only toured with Tom Fogerty, but he also played bass on Fogerty’s release, “Deal It Out” on Fantasy Records. Tom has performed with The Coasters, The Drifters and The Shirelles, as well as at the Monterey Jazz Festival with Margie Baker and at the Concord Jazz Festival with Festival, featuring Mary Fettig and Marc Russo. Last March, Tom traveled to Indonesia with Chas, to perform with Kilimanjaro at the Java Jazz Festival, in Jakarta.
The newest member of the group, Cuban born Lazaro Poey, is nothing short of amazing! After leaving Cuba to move to Puerto Vallarta area a few years ago, Lazaro was soon discovered by former Santana keyboardist, Tom Coster, who was hosting a jazz series at the Vallarta Yacht Club. Lazaro has recorded and performed with Tom Coster for over four years, and continues to perform with his wife Gema, a talented vocalist, also from Cuba. Lazaro represented his native country of Cuba on several occasions, touring Europe with a group whose members included Chilean born pianist, Carlos Mass, at jazz festivals in Barcelona, France, Germany, Rome, Sicily, and Austria. He has shared the stage with such luminaries as Winton Marsalis, Dizzie Gillespie and the Brecker Brothers. A master of percussion and drums, he has given important clinics in the states of Mexico City, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosi, Guanajuato and Puebla, in addition to being a guest musician on several occasions of the symphonic orchestras of San Luis Potosi and Aguascalientes.