Every year, San Jose Jazz strives to bring great international artists to San Jose for Summer Fest. This year is no different. They may come from as far away as Japan, Bulgaria, Argentina and Cuba, but their sounds, and stories, serve to continue the overall jazz and Latin music narrative.
If you’re craving authentic Cuban sounds, look no further than Wil Campa, performing this year with his 13-piece orchestra Gran Union. Born and raised in Pinar Del Rio, Campa’s vocal talent has taken him around the world. While attending the acclaimed Escuela Superacion de Arte Raul Sanchez, Campa performed with the band Cumbre, which toured Spain, Finland, Germany, Martinique, the Netherlands and Brazil, and played Cuba’s Adolfo Guzman Festival. With his group set to perform on the Kaiser Permanente Salsa Stage Friday at 8:30pm, Wil Campa Y Su Gran Union will get plenty of feet moving.
In the case of Yoshiaki Miyanoue, we witness a Japanese extension of a jazz guitar tradition. Miyanoue, noted for his technique of playing with his thumb instead of a pick, learned his style from jazz pioneer Wes Montgomery. Montgomery’s sound had a profound effect on Miyanoue when he first heard him in junior high. Ever since, Miyanoue has not only furthered his sound but helped cement Montgomery’s far-reaching influence. He and his group, Smokin’, continue to regularly tour Japan but his appearances stateside are sporadic, so be sure to catch one of his sets at the Metro Market Stage (Saturday, 6pm) or at Tivo San Jose Rep (Sunday, 1pm) before this virtuoso returns to Japan.
Brazilian guitarist Alessandro Penezzi, originally from the outskirts of Sao Paulo, brings his signature Latin jazz sound to the Main Stage Sunday at noon. A former member of Trio Quintessencia, Penezzi has toured as far and wide as Russia and Angola. Count on Penezzi tapping into his repertoire of traditional choro music, which he covered on his release Abismo de Rosas. The Main Stage crowd should be in high spirits Sunday afternoon so expect a great response for Penezzi and his Quartet.
Penezzi isn’t the only featured Brazilian at Summer Fest. Led by Carlos Oliveria, the Kato-Vento Brazilian Sextet‘s sound recalls Oliveira’s early days in South America. The quick, light melodies of his homeland set the tone for the sextet’s three-flute attack. Catch them playing next to the Peralta Adobe on the Metro Market Stage Saturday at 4pm or on the Castellano Latin Stage Sunday at 4pm. Oliveira and Kato-Vento honor a regional Brazilian sound, serving an almost anthropological role of highlighting an overlooked portion of Brazil’s musical legacy.
Bulgarian modern jazz guitarist Hristo Vitchev, featured at Summer Fest alongside Christian Tamburr as the Vitchev / Tamburr New Quartet, has a similar streak of exploring his cultural past. In 2010, Vitchev wrote and performed a 7-part jazz suite inspired by the ancient Thracian city of Perperikon, which dates back to 5000 BCE. Though now based in San Francisco, expect a sound that features echoes of Vitchev’s Bulgaria when he performs on the Silicon Valley Stage Saturday at 3pm.
Let’s not forget Argentina, represented by La Tenaza Trio Sunday evening on the Cisco Bella Mia stage. Formed in Buenos Aires, members Julián Sobol, Mariano Toziano and Hernán Mazzitelli Vidal honor Latin America’s musical heritage by crafting a sound that incorporates genres from tango to Latin jazz. Their Sunday performance on the Cisco Bella Mia stage at 6pm will work well for those looking to end their festival on a more intimate note.
Great music works to tell a compelling story. Each of these artists not only make a case for themselves but the legacies they are respectively continuing as well. Whether it’s Wil Campa carving out a larger musical footprint for Cuba or Yoshiaki Miyanoue serving as an example for just how far jazz extends, our international artists are further proof of music’s uncanny ability to transcend culture.
Which of these artists are you most excited to see? Join the discussion by commenting on our Facebook post.