Tabari Lake, 2018. Photo by Jacob McCaslin

The 18th Street Arts Center is putting on a show this weekend.

While primarily known for their art shows and artist’s residencies, the 18th Street Arts Center will organize a jazz concert this weekend, a culmination of a jazz musician’s current residency through the center’s Make Jazz Fellowship. The concert will take place at the World Stage in Leimert Park this Saturday.

Anuradha Vikram, artistic director of the arts center, says the upcoming concert featuring jazz resident Tabari Lake will be a peculiar experience for music lovers, just as peculiar as Lake himself.

Lake is currently in month two of a three-month jazz residency which provides musicians a monthly stipend, a furnished live-in studio, and a chance to interact with Los Angeles-area students.

“He’s the total package of what we want in a resident,” Vikram said.

She says Lake is a jazz savant, wowing the residency panel with his application that showed off his music, a collection of  Calypso/Carribean roots leaving behind a unique sound, tone and sentimentality.

“Panelists trust their ears,” Vikram said. “There are many reasons why they pick someone, but if the music doesn’t move them, that’s it. And for that reason, it’s pretty clear why Tabari Lake is here.”

Lake had a long journey — literally and creatively — to Santa Monica and the 18th Street Arts Center.

Lake was born in the St. Thomas U.S. Virgin Islands, where he learned to play bass, steel drums and the clarinet before moving to Michigan. He attended the Interlochen Arts Academy there and eventually learned upright bass under internationally-renowned jazz bassist Rodney Whitaker.

After stints in Berkeley, Spain and Valencia, Lake found a home in LA, and for the past couple of months of his residency, Santa Monica.

“I love the neighborhood and I love the city,” the soft-spoken Lake says. “The fellowship has done a lot for me, too.”

Lake first heard of the fellowship through a former fellow he went to Berkeley with. After applying and wowing the panelists, Lake says the fellowship has developed him as a musician in a way he never thought imaginable.

“It’s really been an opportunity for me to be a sounding board and reflect my own reality and my experiences and to create art around that,” he said. “It taught me to put together a cohesive concept I’m passionate about, which I have a responsibility to do. It made me a better artist.”

Lake says he’s more excited than nervous to play on a much bigger stage than he’s used to, saying he’s rehearsed enough to get some of the pre-show jitters out of his body. He says he’s more focused on his message with his music.

His concert will explore what it is to be both a Virgin Islander and U.S. resident. His project will explore the dichotomy of being both, using music to explore those identities.

Lake says no matter how the show this weekend goes, he’s grateful for the opportunities he’s had here in LA and the 18th Street’s residency.

“Being here is the epitome of being in the land of opportunity,” he said. “Especially in music. There’s NY and then there’s LA. The weather in Santa Monica is closer to the Virgin Islands though, a lot better here.”

Tabari Lake: Make Jazz Culminating Concert takes place Saturday, March 9 at The World Stage, 4321 Degnan Blvd, Los Angeles. Concert at 8 p.m., doors at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free with RSVP. For more information, visit:

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