Fest Five: Tom Flynn, Connect Address

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With Summer Fest only a few short weeks away, we’re bringing back our Fest Five series, where SJZ staff and community members share the five artists, events or activities they’re most excited to experience during Summer Fest.

We re-introduce the series with Tom Flynn, CEO of Connect Address. Before his current tenure with Connect Address, Flynn co-founded a number of Silicon Valley start-ups, among them Lavante Inc. and AuditSolutions Inc. When he’s not hard at work, he can be found on adventures with his wife Mel and awesome daughter Izzy or sneaking the occasional murder mystery novel.

Flynn was kind enough to be one of the dashing models during our B#SV (Be Sharp Silicon Valley) fashion show and fundraiser earlier in the year. In his words, he shares the five things he’s most excited for with Summer Fest just around the corner.


Jazz Jam at the Hedley: Jazz Songbirds of the South Bay!

Technically, this event is the Wednesday before the official kickoff off of this year’s Summer Fest.  Regardless, there is just too much to love about this.

Set in the jaw-dropping Hedley Club in the historic De Anza Hotel in downtown San José, the Jazz Jam features five talented local jazz singers: Ren Geisick, Michelle Hawkins, Armelle Delaney, Jackie Gage and Amy Dabalos.

In this beautiful setting, with these wonderful singers… I cannot think of a better way to get us in the Summer Fest mood.



San Jose Jazz in all its Glory

I love Summer Fest because – as the flagship event for San Jose Jazz – music lovers from all over will have a couple days to turn their undivided attention to the organization that hosts this incredible event.

The three-day festival is the perfect opportunity to enjoy some great music, dancing, food and drinks. It is also a great time to learn about how special this not-for-profit organization actually is.

Did you know that for the other 362 days of the year SJZ dedicates its efforts and resources and time to the community?  In addition to throwing great parties and festivals throughout the year, SJZ hosts free weekly music concerts and jams sessions; sponsors countless music education classes and camps that positively affect thousands of children in the Bay Area; and, of course, they shine a national spotlight on Bay Area musicians and artists.


The Loch Ness Monster

I am excited this year to meet my musical “Loch Ness Monster.”  You know…  that thing that will likely never happen, but you fly all the way to Loch Ness in the middle of nowhere (just kidding Scottish people) on the very slim chance that you may be the one to see it.

This year, my Loch Ness Monster has both the vocal perfection of the Catherine Russell and the saxophone skills of Marcus Wolfe (with his group Parker 51).  No doubt I will see both of these acts individually during their sets (and I am counting down the days) but I am also holding out the slightest hope that Loch Ness lightning will strike and the two of these Jazz geniuses may happen to be near the same stage at the same time and they may have a fleeting moment to work out a couple tunes together… and maybe I will be there to see it.  The chance that this could happen… not so good.  The thought that this could happen… yeah, that is one of my fest fives.

Jazz Quartets… from Argentina…  at the Blackbird Tavern
Chocolate… meet peanut butter… now meet vanilla ice cream.  These three things together… it’s THAT good.

Marta Lledo Quartet and the Tango Jazz Quartet take the stage at the Blackbird Tavern on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Both acts come from a similar place musically, but create very different experiences. The Tango Jazz Quartet places me with a gradually receding bottle of red wine in a corner table of a smoky Buenos Aires nightclub in the late 1940’s. By contrast, The Marta Lledo Quartet has me lounging by a seaside promenade of the same Argentine city, in the same year, staring at the sea (and the beautiful women) and enjoying a much fruitier drink.  But that’s just me.

Being at the Blackbird Tavern for both of these events is the icing on the cake.  I know where I’ll be having dinner on Saturday and Sunday.  And their specialty drinks – the best in the Bay Area. See for yourself.

Mind-blowing Jazz Innovation

Although I could make a case that every single act on the Summer Fest lineup is innovative – and I would be right – I do have to call out a few of the acts in particular that seem to be pushing jazz in new directions.

Pianist and sound maker Kris Bowers; Japanese-influenced Akira Tana; the trippy Michael Bellar; the hip-hop and mash-up crossover Knxwledge; the savage Karriem Riggins, and finally the musically poetic but casually frenetic Marc Cary whose piano style takes a cue from the old Charles Bukowski Poetry Anthology.

These acts, just to name a few, seem to simultaneously pay tribute to the roots of jazz music while mixing it up in a blender with their other favored influences.  Where I recognize all of their sounds as “jazz,” I do not recognize any of their sounds… and that newness is a good thing.  At least to me it is.

To view the full Summer Fest 2014 line-up, click here. If you’d like to purchase tickets, you can do so here.