San Jose Jazz Summerfest: Bria Skonberg, Gary Nunez and Plena Libre And Storm Large


It is always a challenge to figure out which shows to attend at the San Jose Jazz Summerfest. And this year was no different. On the last and third day of the festival I ended up watching Storm Large and her band. She is a sassy, no-nonsense singer, who effortlessly went from singing a love song to totally turning a well-known Cole Porter number into a funky version. She got started in her singing career working punk and rock gigs. She also sings with Pink Martini, the Portland-based music group.

Gary Nunez and Plena Libre played Puerto Rican music and they had the audience up on their feet dancing and doing the congo line much to the chagrin of the well-intentioned ushers.

The highlight of the day for me was watching the wonderful Bria Skonberg and her group of musicians. She embraced old jazz standards and played some of her own delightful compositions. She is a talented trumpet player and vocalist. Dalton Ridenhour, who accompanied her on the piano was wonderful.


San Jose Jazz is celebrating its 26th Summerfest (Aug 7-9, 2015). With a dizzying array of shows spread across 12 stages it is always a challenge to figure out which ones to attend. I ended up watching about 5 shows today that included a wonderful world premiere of Etienne Charles‘s San Jose Suite. The piece pays homage to 3 San Jose’s located in Trinidad, Costa Rica and USA. I was unsure what to expect of this show, and was pleasantly delighted by the suite. It was intriguing to discover how Charles found and wove a common theme around these cities.

Bombay Jazz fused American jazz with North Indian classical music. This was the first time that I listened to them and it was quite an experience to watch how American and Indian musicians worked together to create this fusion music.

The grand finale of the evening was the delightul Cuban bolerista Ernesto Oveido and The John Santon Sextet. Oveido was a consummate and elegant singer. He sang a handful of well-known boleros including my favorite Bruce Manigua. Oviedo is 80 years old and yet he sang in an effortless manner.

Besides these three shows, I also watched Canadian singer Johnny Summers and John Pizzarelli Quartet from  New Jersey.


San Jose Jazz

San Jose Jazz

San Jose Jazz Summerfest celebrates its 26th year from August 7-9, 2015. The 3 day celebration will see over 100 performances spread across 12 stages in downtown San Jose. There is something for every one from jazz to blues to salsa to soul to zydeco music.

The opening night features San Francisco Bay Area’s Con Brio and Chicago’s JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound in the main stage.

Here are some of the guests featured in this year’s jazz festival: Eddie PalmieriOran Etkin, Javon Jackson, Jimmy Heath, Gary Bartz and Donald Harrison,  Bob Schulz Frisco Jazz Band; Dave Haskell Group,  Jamie Dubberly & Orquesta Dharma, Fito Reinoso y su Ritmo y Armonia, Bombay Jazz and others.

The festival always features local musicians and high school bands. Sylvia Cuenca New York QuartetNatalie Cressman, Aaron LingtonLe Boeuf BrothersSan Jose Jazz High School All Stars and San Jose Jazz Summer Camp Combo are some of the musicians from the bay area. You can catch most of them in the Silicon Valley stage during the festival.

Brazil’s award winning 20-piece jazz band Letieres Leite & Orkestra Rumpilezz will play at this year’s festival. The band is also playing at New  York’s Lincoln Center.

Trumpeter Etienne Charles will have his world premiere of “San Jose Suite.”  The piece explores stories, rituals, native chants, rhythms, and other cultural elements of 3 different San Jose’s – in Trinidad, Costa Rica and California.

For tickets  and information about San Jose Jazz Summerfest visit their website.

San Jose Jazz Summer Fest 2014

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I wish these pictures could play the music we heard at the 25th San Jose Jazz Summer Fest that just concluded yesterday. Bootsy Collins headlined the show on the opening night on August 8, 2014 in the main stage right … Continue reading