Fest Five: Marketing Director Massimo Chisessi

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Marketing Director Massimo Chisessi’s Fest Five is just as eclectic as his lifestyle; his past roles have moved him through the underground art scene of San Francisco, to travels in Italy–where he was immersed in his family’s Italian heritage–and back down to San Jose, where he currently creates and oversees the look, feel, and experience of the festival.

 Though he is busy preparing for Summer Fest, he took a moment to share his Fest Five with us. (And, fun fact, the poster behind Massimo is Hang on Little Tomato, Saturday headliner Pink Martini’s 2004 CD release.)

Sasha Dobson
“I’ve been in love with Sasha Dobson’s voice and songwriting ability since 2011, when I heard her song ‘Burn’ on a promotional record put out by her label. The daughter of prominent South musicians, she was immersed in classic jazz from day one. She moved to New York and made the switch from jazz singer to singer/songwriter but her style is still highly informed by her jazz singing, particularly in the way she imbues each repeated melodic line with a fresh, spontaneous feel. The songs from her latest album Aquarius have something rare in music—and art, in general—genuine simplicity and eloquent restraint. Her lyrics and delivery are mesmerizing and let us feel as if we are peering into her innermost thoughts. Already playing alongside known stars like Norah Jones, she’s definitely one to watch.”

Pink Martini
“I was an art historian in college and grew up something of a cultural ‘sponge.’ Pink Martini’s sensibility of combining cultures, styles and languages in one concert, and even one piece, made me a lifelong fan. There is a wild freedom and creativity to what they do that is astonishing and entertaining. Who else dares to combine a Chopin etude and a Cuban love song into a seamless experience of love and longing? Who else takes a minor song from an iconic 40s film and play it for every bit of schmaltz it can take, starting with a wild harp arpeggio? Who else does an entire album in collaboration with a Japanese living treasure, having her sing—among other things—an iconic 60s Brazilian pop song? I’ve heard this band live three times, and it surpasses every expectation created by their recordings.”

Dafnis Prieto
“I don’t know the music of Dafnis Prieto very well, but I’m fascinated by what I’ve heard and I’m really interested to find out what he’s going to do. Everything his Trio will play will be 100% improvised—drummer Prieto will establish a beat and the other players will join in a musical journey that has never been heard before and will never be heard again. It’s really exciting to be able to witness that kind of creation first hand.”

Mark de Clive-Lowe
“Mark de Clive Lowe is the darling of the European club set, presenting his ‘Church’ project to sellout crowds in capitals like London and Berlin. But Mark comes from a jazz background, and brings the act of improvisation to contemporary electronica. He’s bringing jazz to a whole new audience.”

Preservation Hall Jazz Band
“A standard bearer for classic New Orleans Jazz for 50 years, Preservation Hall has a ‘new attitude.’ Their just-released album That’s It is their first ever of all original material and it shows the world that their musical language is still relevant and forever fun! I first heard Preservation Hall when I was at UCLA, in the very formal Royce Hall. As was their custom back then, they ended their concert with a 20-minute version of ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’ as they paraded around the hall, with much of the audience creating a dancing line behind them. I turned to my companion excitedly and asked: ‘Do you want to go up there?’ She turned to me gravely and said: ‘Where I come from, only the trash does that.’ Needless to say, we stayed in our seats. I am very happy that I’ll have a second chance, now that I don’t care what anybody thinks!”