“Jazz Out” Before Summer Fest

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In mid-August, San Jose becomes the epicenter of the jazz universe. What started as a 1-day, one stage affair in 1990 has now grown into a 3-day, 11 stage extravaganza with 100+ performances by 1,000 musicians.

As the event has grown, so has community engagement and enthusiasm, as evidenced by the many other jazz events happening in and around town. Be sure to read on if you feel Summer Fest can’t come soon enough.

Cafe Stritch – Rahsaan Roland Kirk Tribute Week

If you can’t wait for Friday’s kickoff, check out Rahsaan Roland Kirk Tribute Week at Café Stritch in the South First Street SoFa District.

From now until August 9, a full menu of events is planned, including a free August 7 screening of Adam Kahan’s Rahsaan documentary The Case of the Three Sided Dream along with a panel discussion with Kirk’s widow Dorthaan Kirk, Steve Turre and Betty Neals.

Thursday through Saturday, the Rahsaan Tribute Sextet, featuring Steve Turre, performs two sets each night with special guest Betty Neals performing her iconic “Theme for the Eulipions.” Tickets are $15 at brownpapertickets.com. While you’re there, be sure to check out No Walls Between Us, an exhibit of jazz photographs by Kathy Sloane.

Opened in March, 2013, Stritch was named for an iconic saxophone used by Kirk, the jazz great whose “Theme for the Eulipions,” gave rise to the name Eulipia, the white tablecloth restaurant and jazz club that preceded Cafe Stritch in the same location.

Blackbird Tavern – Wayne Wallace

Wednesday night, we’re starting the festival early with a special kickoff party with three time Grammy® winner Wayne Wallace at local hot spot the Blackbird Tavern. Wallace is one of the Bay Area’s Latin jazz powerhouse. He’s performed, recorded and studied with such greats as Aretha Franklin, Bobby Hutcherson, Earth Wind and Fire, Pete Escovedo, Santana, Tito Puente, John Lee Hooker, Max Roach and the Count Basie Orchestra. He’s also appeared at Summer Fest several times. This is a wonderful opportunity to see a local great in intimate confined. The concert, happening from 9-10:30pm, is only $5.

San Jose Rep – Drum! Night

Drum! Night is an unofficial part of Summer Fest we look forward to year after year. Organized by Drum! Magazine, Drum! Night is Northern California’s premier drumming event, featuring superstar stick handlers, clinics and demonstrations. This year’s show will feature clinic performances by Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Cindy Blackman-Santana (solo artist/Lenny Kravitz/Freddie Hubbard), and Jason Bittner (Shadows Fall/Anthrax). It’s a drum extravaganza!

Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph – Jazz Mass

Many musicians have described the act of improvisation and playing jazz as “spiritual,” and jazz is a natural companion to religious services. On Summer Fest weekend, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph presents two jazz masses: Saturday, August 10 at 4:30pm and Sunday, August 11 at 10am, both featuring vocalist Ian Hinkle and Walter Bankovich on piano.

First Unitarian Church of San Jose – Jazz Service

Sunday, August 11, the First Unitarian Church of San Jose presents a service dedicated to jazz. A mix of people from the congregation and the wider community will play and tell stories of this distinctly American music and its close ties to our history and social justice movements. The church is at 160 North Third Street, a short walk from the festival grounds.

These events, and more, make it impossible to visit downtown San Jose and not come into contact with great jazz. Hold you breath and dive in! You can always sleep next week.

Jazz Jam at the Hedley

We are excited to kick off the week of Summer Fest with our monthly Jazz Jam at the Hedley Club tonight, August 7 . Stop by Hotel De Anza anytime from 7:30pm to 10:30pm, and you can play and network with other musicians in our area including the best-known, unknown, and soon-to-be-known Jazz artists. This event comes around only once a month, so bring your instrument and get jammin’. No need to be shy!