Palo Alto Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - May 14, 2010

Summertime jazz

Stanford Jazz Festival gears up for its 39th season

by Rebecca Wallace

Big names, local names and up-and-coming names are on the bill for this year's Stanford Jazz Festival, now in its 39th season. The season starts June 16 with a pre-festival concert and then runs June 25 through Aug. 7.

Linked with the Stanford Jazz Workshop and its camp and other education programs, the festival is all about passing love for the music to new generations. So the season includes plenty of tribute concerts where Stanford Jazz faculty and other musicians pay homage to the greats who inspired them.

The first of four tribute concerts, on July 2, tips the hat to pianist Billy Strayhorn, composer and arranger for Duke Ellington's band, who wrote "Take The 'A' Train." For the performance, pianist Adam Shulman has arranged Strayhorn's compositions for a quintet, which will also feature Patrick Wolff on saxophone, Erik Jekabson on trumpet, Marcus Shelby on bass, and Smith Dobson V on drums.

Teens take the stage for an Ella Fitzgerald tribute concert on July 11; singers Laila Smith and Holly Smolik from the jazz workshop will join more seasoned vocalists Mary Stallings and Kenny Washington to honor the queen of scat.

Other tribute concerts will provide new takes on the music of Dave Brubeck (July 22), Django Reinhardt (July 28) and Stevie Wonder (July 29).

Another big name, who will actually perform at Stanford, is vocalist/guitarist Keb' Mo'. His Delta blues tradition should fit right in at bassist Ruth Davies' Blues Night on July 25.

Local folks will drop by as well. Menlo Park's Tuck and Patti, a vocal-guitar duo who played the festival in 2006, are scheduled to perform their mix of jazz, folk, soul and pop on July 10.

Pianist Taylor Eigsti, who grew up in Menlo Park, teams his trio with trumpeter Nicholas Payton on Aug. 3. Then, the Taylor Eigsti Group — another of the musician's projects, in which he mixes pop and other styles with jazz — plays the festival on Aug. 7. Becca Stevens is the featured vocalist.

Festival organizers say jazz is really "world music," and the lineup certainly includes a mix of international flavors.

After the pre-festival concert with pianist Dick Hyman on June 16, the festival starts June 25 with a night of Brazilian jazz featuring singer Luciana Souza and saxophonist Harvey Wainapel. The next evening, pianist Randy Weston explores jazz's African roots with his African Rhythms Trio.

Other global shows include Brazilian vocalist Claudia Villela with her band on July 17, Latin jazz with the John Santos Sextet on July 18, and Khalil Shaheed and the Mo'Rockin Project — which includes Arabic and North African instruments — on July 19.

Info: All events are at Stanford University, in Dinkelspiel Auditorium or Campbell Recital Hall. Ticket prices vary. Go to http://stanfordjazz.org or call 650-725-ARTS.

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