Inclusive San Jose Jazz Summer Also Features Blues, R&B and Latin Salsa

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Denise Hamm and best friend Jean Hendricks Smith enjoy the musical diversity of the 30th Annual San Jose Jazz Festival - Summer Fest in downtown San Jose.

The heat of summer was cooled down by the smooth jazz and music at the 30th San Jose Jazz Summer Fest.

Featuring dozens of local and international entertainers, the three-day festival gave at­tendees a chance to dance, sing along and groove to sounds new and old of jazz, blues, R&B and Latin Salsa.

Headliners including vocal­ist Diane Reeves, the Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra and En Vogue wowed the crowd.

Other performers includ­ed; Gregory Porter, Charlie Hunter, The Family Stone, Top Shelf Big Band and Zydeco Flames and the Marquis Hill Blacktet.

Dressed in matching red suits, the O’Jays appropriate­ly sang “Love Train.” Diane Reeves and Kool and the Gang also sang classic favorites.

Performances honored jazz greats and events, going back to slavery. The SJZ Collec­tive creatively reimagined the music of bass legend Charles Mingus featuring a multigen­erational cast spearheaded by drummer Wally Schnalle with veteran trumpeter John Wor­ley Jr., bassist Saúl Sierra, or­ganist Brian Ho, saxophonist Oscar Pangilinan and guitarist Hristo Vitchev.

Guests grooved with the Marquis Hill Blacktet that combined hard bop and hip hop, featuring drummer Jona­than Pinson and vibraphonist Joel Ross.

Sammy Miller and the Con­gregation featured their seven-piece ensemble’s syncopated sounds of a Pentecostal church service with tenor saxophon­ist Ben Flocks, trumpeter Al­phonso Horne and trombonist Sam Crittenden.

With Richard Howell “A Love Supreme” on saxophone, the improviser took the John Coltrane classic to another lev­el including his son Ele Howell on drums, bassist Nick Panout­sos and Ian McArdle on piano.

Arsenio Rodriguez Project celebrated the memory and tradition of Arsenio Rodriguez while vocalist Jackie Gage’s tribute to Nancy Wilson ac­companied by pianist “Orange Julius” Rodriguez, paid hom­age to the rich storytelling songstress.

Inspired by the feats of Jo­seph Cinque, who led the 1839 revolt by enslaved Mende people on the Spanish slave ship La Amistad, Cuban pia­nist/composer Elio Villaf­ranca presented music from his double album “Cinque,” a five-part suite exploring the cultural and rhythmic currents connecting Cuba, Puerto Rico, Haiti, the Dominican Repub­lic and Jamaica.

His all-star band featured saxophonists Vincent Herring and Greg Tardy, trumpeter Freddie Hendrix, trombonist Steve Turre, drummer Lewis Nash and percussionist Arturo Stable.

Festival attendee Denise Hamm said this is her favorite festival.

“The San Jose Jazz Festi­val has something to offer ev­eryone,” she said. “From old school jazz to new school jazz with a twist, this art form is timeless and keeps on chang­ing.”

In the wake of the recent mass shootings in Gilroy, se­curity was upgraded with more officers and metal detectors. Hamm appreciated the addi­tional security.

“The extra security is great,” she said. “It really gives us a sense of extra protection in these strange times. I encour­age people to live their lives in spite of the craziness. We all have to live together and have great times together.”

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