Stanford Jazz Festival in full swing

Bassists Linda Oh and Esperanza Spalding among notable performers

For jazz fans, highlights of the annual Stanford Jazz Festival are many, with world-class talent both locally and globally sourced.

Mixing and matching from the superb Stanford Jazz Workshop (the festival's parent organization) faculty, founder and director Jim Nadel puts together a diverse festival lineup, running this year through Aug. 6 at various venues on the Stanford campus.

A prominent presence at this year's festival is bassist Linda Oh. The Malyasia-born, Australia-raised, current New York City resident is playing in concerts at Dinkelspiel Auditorium (starting at 8 p.m. each night) on Tuesday, Aug. 2, Wednesday, Aug. 3, and Friday, Aug. 5. She's also participating in the all-star closing-night concert on Saturday, Aug. 6, at Bing Concert Hall.

A member of Manhattan School of Music's (MSM) precollege jazz faculty, Oh said she's looking forward to being a part of the faculty of the Stanford Jazz Workshop (SJW) for the first time.

In addition to playing with pianist-keyboardist Fabian Almazan since their MSM days, Oh is a longtime member of trumpeter Dave Douglas' most recent quintet. Oh has also played in the Sound Prints quintet with Douglas and tenor saxophone titan Joe Lovano, and in three different family groups, including two co-led by twins The Le Boeuf Brothers and a trio with saxophonist and drummer Marcus and E.J. Strickland. She's also been a member of The Whitfield Family Band.

As is the case every year with the festival, there will be some familial-type reunions on the bandstand at the shows that Oh will anchor on bass. The Aug. 2 date is billed as "Ambrose and Friends," with Oakland native and workshop alumnus Ambrose Akinmusire leading a group that includes Almazan and drummer Obed Calvaire. He and Calvaire formed a trumpet trio for Oh's debut album, "Entry," which she self-released in 2009.

The following night boasts an international flair with at least three sets of musical ties: guitarist Gilad Hekselman (born and raised in Israel) and guitarist/vocalist Camila Meza (a native of Chile) co-headline a show that features pianist Ethan Iverson (of The Bad Plus fame) and the legendary drummer Billy Hart.)

Mapping out the connections, one finds that Oh has gigged with Hekselman, and they've both played with saxophonist Jonathan Greenstein. She's also performed in concert with Meza, and Iverson and Hart have been members of each other's bands for over a decade. (The Billy Hart Quartet, with Iverson, saxophonist Mark Turner and double bassist Ben Street, has its own show at Dinkelspiel on Sunday, July 31, at 8 p.m.)

On Friday, Aug. 5, Oh will participate in the famed SJW All-Star Jam in which a slew of faculty members -- including saxophonists Turner and SJW alumnus Dayna Stephens, and Meza and Hekselman -- partake in an always-inspired night of organized-yet-extemporaneous communal interactivity.

The concluding 2016 festival concert on Saturday, Aug. 6, at Bing Concert Hall was originally going to feature Bobby McFerrin. The famed "Don't Worry, Be Happy" vocalist had to pull out for health reasons and has been replaced by Grammy-winning bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding, now performing alongside Oh, Akinmusire, guitarist Julian Lage and pianist Taylor Eigsti (both SJW alumni) and percussionist Tupac Mantilla.

Oh said she's intrigued at the possibility of performing with fellow double bassist/bass guitarist Spalding and isn't sure exactly what to expect from that night.

Though the festival and workshop take place at Stanford University, they are not officially affiliated with the school. However, there are some musicians with strong Stanford connections.

The group Charged Particles features keyboardist Murray Low and drummer Jon Krosnick, who both have ties to The Farm. Low is a jazz-piano guest lecturer in the music department while Krosnick is the Frederic O. Glover professor in humanities and social sciences (the trio also includes bassist Aaron Germain).

Woodwind virtuoso Paul McCandless will perform with the Charged Particles rhythm section on Saturday, July 9, at 8 p.m. at Campbell Recital Hall, and will also give an "Inside Jazz" pre-concert talk an hour prior at that Braun Music School venue.

Performing with McCandless is particularly special to Krosnick for personal reasons.

"Paul's music was the soundtrack for the first date I had long ago with my later-to-be wife," Krosnick wrote in an email, "and we just celebrated our 30th anniversary. Cathy credits Paul's music as illustrating for her the kind of guy I am."

What: The 2016 Stanford Jazz Festival

Where: Various venues on the Stanford campus

When: Through Aug. 6

Cost: Free-$105

Info: Go to SJF or call 650-736-0324.

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Like this comment
Posted by joanne reiter
a resident of another community
on Jul 6, 2016 at 9:28 pm

Linda Oh is a wonderful musician and an imaginative and brilliant bassist. She enlivens any band she plays with and is also an excellent writer and leader. Plus she is a lovely person. Highly recommend seeing her.

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