A nod to the greats | June 19, 2009 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |


Palo Alto Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - June 19, 2009

A nod to the greats

Stanford Jazz concerts feature tributes to top musicians and to one very influential year

by Rebecca Wallace

As in summers past, the Stanford Jazz Festival has a bright and busy lineup, with performers spanning styles and generations.

This year, the festival also pays tribute to two music giants and to one noteworthy year: Stan Getz, Sinatra and 1959. Three themed events are part of the 38th concert season, which runs June 26 through Aug. 8 at Stanford University.

Tenor saxophonist Stan Getz, who died in 1991, played a major role at Stanford Jazz, teaching and guiding other musicians. "Stan's contributions were integral in the workshop's formative years and helped make our program what it is today," Stanford Jazz founder and director Jim Nadel wrote in the season brochure.

In return, the concert "Stan@Stanford: Remembering Stan Getz" will be held in honor of the musician who was known as "The Sound." Players are: bassist Larry Grenadier, who was a Stanford student when Getz was on campus; tenor saxophonists Joe Oliveira, Dayna Stephens and Patrick Wolff; trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire; guitarists Peter Bernstein and Julian Lage; pianist Randy Porter and drummer Gregory Hutchinson. The show is set for 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4, in Dinkelspiel Auditorium.

A 7 p.m. panel discussion on Stan Getz, free with a concert ticket, includes speakers Larry Grenadier and Bill Dement, the pioneering Stanford sleep researcher who also plays bass.

One hardly needs to explain how Frank Sinatra made a splash in music, but singer-trombonist Danny Grewen will certainly be called upon to sell the tunes during "Songs of Sinatra: An American Celebration." The concert will delve into Sinatra's legacy and illustrate how he keeps inspiring jazz musicians — such as the players who will join Grewen on stage: Noel Jewkes on tenor saxophone, Jim Rothermel on woodwinds, Larry Dunlap on piano, Seward McCain on bass and Vince Lateano on drums.

"Songs of Sinatra" is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 5, in Dinkelspiel Auditorium. KCSM host Alisa Clancy will give a pre-concert talk at 1:30.

Meanwhile, Stanford Jazz faculty member Victor Lin, a New York City pianist and violinist, will be gearing up to emcee "1959 Revisited" on Wednesday, July 29.

Half a century ago, the jazz world was turning out watershed works that still reverberate today, including Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue," Ella Fitzgerald's "George and Ira Gershwin Songbook" and John Coltrane's "Giant Steps." Lin and other faculty members will tip their hats to the masters in a 7:30 p.m. concert at Campbell Recital Hall. Lin will also speak at 6:30 p.m.

The Stanford Jazz Festival opens with the James Moody Quartet, featuring both bebop pioneer tenor saxophonist Moody and young pianist Benny Green on Friday, June 26; Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba plays the following night.

Other scheduled performers include: Cuban drummer Dafnis Prieto on June 28; story-telling singer Wesla Whitfield on July 12; blues guitarist Elvin Bishop on July 22; and the iconic Heath brothers, saxophonist Jimmy and drummer Albert "Tootie," on Aug. 2.

Menlo Park native Taylor Eigsti, a Stanford Jazz veteran pianist who's still in his early 20s, returns to perform on July 26. His new project, Free Agency, combines jazz with rock, R&B, classical and electronic music.

Programs for kids include an intro to jazz's woodwinds and strings with Stanford Jazz founder Nadel (who also plays alto sax) and a host of other musicians, on July 11.

Info: For Stanford Jazz Festival program details and ticket information, go to www.stanfordjazz.org or call 650-736-0324. Call the box office at 650-725-ARTS.