[EVENT RECAP] San Jose Jazz Summer Fest
This past weekend saw us at the mercy of San Jose and all of its musical offerings. The San Jose Jazz Festival kicked off on Friday, August 9 with the Gypsy Allstars, Miles Bonny + B. Lewis, Mark de Clive-Lowe, Lyrics Born among other talents.
We were spoiled by the musical tips and suggestions of our new friend, Brandon Roos (marketing and social media rep for the festival). Roos was adamant that we made the Jazz Beyond Stage (held at the Pagoda) showcases -- Mark de Clive-Lowe and Miles Bonny + B. Lewis. We followed his recommendations and made our way to the Pagoda; let's just say that guest appearances by Mark's wife (striking resemblance to Erykah Badu) and saxophone virtuoso, Grace Kelly, did not disappoint.
Saturday began with a sprightly awakening from the New Orleans-themed, Big Easy Parade. Additions like this, the Big Easy Stage, Jazz + and a strong evening program at the Pagoda were the exact elements that made this year's festival one of the most memorable. The late-night programming was heavily concentrated with a more avant-garde style of jazz. One that bridged the gap between predominantly straight-ahead jazz to a new wave of young purveyors -- fusing jazz, hip-hop and electronica genres. Saturday also hosted the likes of: Pink Martini, Audiotrópico, Arturo O'Farrill & the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, Zydeco Flames, Rebirth Brass Band among others.
Derrick Hodge was a name heavily circulated throughout the festival, everyone we met seemed to coin him as the highlight and he quickly became one of the most buzzed about musicians. Hodge is the bassist of the innovative hybrid group, the Robert Glasper Experiment, who delivered an awe-inspiring performance of their own, at this year's Winter Fest (S J Jazz Summer Fest's winter counterpart).
Derrick Hodge delivered an almost religious performance on Sunday night at the Pagoda. With relatively no expectations nor knowledge of his sound, we walked in during a mesmerizing performance of "Message of Hope." The room was filled with a wall of sound -- one which resonated with heavy bass lines, hip-hop overtones, jazz undertones and layered with electronic soundscapes; his sound can merely be described as impassioned, hypnotizing and overall...emotional. Other Sunday highlights included: Sasha Dobson, The California Honeydrops, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, The Cookers and Yosvany Terry Quartet.
We were humbled to meet so many of this year's talent. The majority of which were unbeknownst to us prior to the festival, and now have become some of our new favorite artists.
Our experience at this year's San Jose Jazz Festival epitomizes the very beauty of why we love music. We were introduced to the music of so many talented musicians, were able to see the gap between traditional jazz and avant-garde find a happy medium in a new musical genre, and nonetheless, this festival saw the formation of new and special friendships.
There is a new feeling in the air, and if this festival has taught us anything it is that jazz music is changing and no longer just for the straight-ahead and traditional. Would we be so bold to say that we've been converted...? Possibly.