Fest Five: Michael Ambrosino

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If you can really only judge a person by their record collection, you’d discover that Michael Ambrosino appreciates just about every nook, cranny, cornerstone and sub-genre in the family of jazz.

He grew up in New England, and credits Weather Report’s Heavy Weather as having saved him from a life of punk rock and very sad folk songs. His passions include all aspects of technology, building sustainable business solutions, cooking, and of course telling interesting stories through jazz. Over the years, Michael has had associations with WWOZ, WRUR, and WUMB, and currently he’s the host of Hard Choices on KMHD-FM in Portland, Oregon. Hard Choices focuses on the legacy of hard bop and its influence on the past half century of jazz, and streams live every Saturday morning from 11am to 1pm PST.

This will be Michael’s first time at the JazzWeek Summit and Summer Fest. He’s thrilled to be able to take part in this amazing week in San Jose and struggled to suggest only five concerts. But here goes!

Charenee Wade Group: Offering — Music of Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson
Like Billy Child’s recent tribute to Laura Nyro, Charenee Wade has done a admirable job showcasing a different side to Gil Scott Heron’s music. The arrangements of these tunes are tasteful, smart recreations for a jazz sensibility. Should be a great show!


Doug Beavers’ Titanes del Trombón
Suddenly it seems like trombonists are leading some of the best bands in jazz. Doug Beavers is no exception here. This is a tight, high – energy band that carries on the sacred tradition of Latin jazz artists moving the music forward in a thoughtful, progressive and extremely creative fashion.


Kamasi Washington & the Next Step
Kamasi’s album The Epic was, well, epic! It’s been a while since I’ve seen an artist record like this. I can only imagine how much fun it will be to hear this band live. I’m all ears for this concert.


Terri Lyne Carrington’s Mosaic Project: LOVE & SOUL, with Ledisi
Here’s a world class drummer with a producer’s sensibility, and the grace and courage to put women in jazz on center stage. The Mosaic Project is unafraid to blend any number of musical styles with the power and passion to support their original or jazz standard material. Oh, and she’s just really, really good.


Villalobos Brothers
I always enjoy taking on a new band, and especially one that takes a musical traditions to a new heights like Villalobos Brothers do. So many styles played in such a virtuosity fashion!


Honorable Mention: The Internet
New to my ears, The Internet gets my attention with a disruptive blend of soul, pop and hip-hop that I just can’t stop bobbin’ my head to.

This radio DJ has our heads spinning with his artists picks. Which artists are part of your Fest Five? We want to see your list! Take a look at the full Summer Fest 2015 lineup here and see if you can list only five artists that you’re looking forward to this year. Share it with info@sanjosejazz.org or post to our Facebook page. Also send a photo of yourself holding up five fingers, and you may be included in the blog as we count down to the Fest.