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KCSM Reviews: Denise Donatelli & Friends at the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest 2016

August 15th, 2016

16_08_13_KCSM_DDonatelliDenise Donatelli is a veteran jazz singer originally from Pennsylvania and now of Los Angeles.  She performed Saturday night with a 3-piece combo at the Cafe Stritch as part of the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest 2016 (Denise Donatelli & Friends).  It was an hour and a half performance with about 15 songs. The performance was also being broadcast live by KCSM radio.  KCSM’s crowd-friendly announcer Greg Bridges hosted the performance on the floor.

Denise gives the audience a lot of straight-ahead, American jazz.  Some of her numbers were All Or Nothing At All, When the Lights Are Low, Be Cool, Practical Arrangement, Big Noise New York, Eyes That Say I Love You,  Another Day, Skylark, and Soul Shadow.  Several of these were from her four Grammy-nominated recordings.

The show started off with a light touch.   By the second half of the show, with the hearty approval by the audience the songs were really being belted out. Listen below to hear her sing Joe Samples’s Soul Shadows.  To find out more about her music and performances see her web site at  If this is your music style I recommend you catch one of her performances or try her recordings.  If you get to a show, you might find the piano player & the drummer of this group putting out a full effort.

KCSM Reviews: Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers at the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest 2016

August 15th, 2016

16_08_12_KCSM_KRuffinsKermit Ruffins, a mature artist from New Orleans is a master trumpeter, singer, and composer.  Kermit and his group the Barbecue Swingers performed Saturday on the Main Stage of San Jose Jazz’s Summer Fest 2016.  Ruffins’ group is typically a keyboard-organ & song show, with trumpet and accompaniment by piano, electric base and drums.  Kermit played songs made famous by Louis Armstrong and New Orleans standards.  On Saturday he played Sunny Side Of The Street, St James Infirmary, What A Wonderful World and Honeysuckle Rose. Kermit had a guest vocalist, Nayo Jones. She appears on his latest recording I’m so New Orleans. The show made for a great way to listen in the shade at San Jose Jazz Summer Fest 2016.

Listen to them play Treme, below. For more information on the group try the San Jose Jazz artist’s web page.

KCSM at San Jose Jazz Summer Fest 2016 – Funky Meters Fri Aug 12 730pm

August 10th, 2016

Funky Meters photographed at Stern Grove in San Francisco, CA July 13, 2014©Jay Blakesberg

Funky Meters photographed at Stern Grove in San Francisco, CA July 13, 2014©Jay Blakesberg

On Friday night at San Jose Jazz Summer Fest 2016 the Funky Meters will be playing on the main stage at 730pm. The Funky Meters are a New Orleans based soul and funk band. Their music traces back the original Meters band and they have been playing together since the mid 90s. Along with greats like James Brown they are considered to be one of the originators of funk and soul music.

From the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest 2016 web site:

funky METERS tap into the roots of the Meters’ musical heritage while taking the sound well into the future. Their trademark sound blends funk, blues, and dance grooves with a New Orleans vibe. The collective résumé between the four artists in the band speaks volumes for the level of musicianship and creativity that comes alive when they play together. After years of solid touring, playing countless venues, the Funky Meters are stronger than ever. In fact, the funk is still going as strong today as it was 40 plus years ago.

Here is a sample of what you will here Fri night in downtown San Jose.

San Jose Jazz Summer Fest: Special Admission KCSM Artist Performance Lounge, Sat & Sun, Aug 13 & 14.

August 9th, 2016

16_08_08_KCSM_MLoungeKCSM Jazz 91 Radio is sponsoring a venue in this weekend’s San Jose Jazz Summer Fest.  The site is in The Pagoda, ground floor at the  Fairmont San Jose.   Performers include the headliners Chico Freeman Plus+tet and Melissa Aldana, as well as La Tenza Latin Jazz, the Wallace/Worley Quartet, the Souter Vichey Ramirez Trio, and the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest All Star Quartet (including Tootie Heath).

The shows are about 20-30 minutes long.  See details below for show time & day details.  The Pagoda is a limited-seat venue and admission is an exclusive benefit for the VIP and Priority Access ticket holders.  Admission will be on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Click here for Summer Fest ticketing details, and click here for your web version of the Lounge line-up, and here for the Summer Fest general line-up information !

La Tenza Latin Jazz            1:30 pm
Chico Freeman Plus+tet   3:30 pm
Melissa Aldana                     5:30 pm

Wallace/Worley Quartet          1:30 pm
Souter Vichey Ramirez Trio    3:30 pm
San Jose Jazz Summer Fest
All Star Quartet                       5:30 pm

Chico Freeman Plus+tet, San Jose Jazz Summer Fest, Sat Aug 13.

August 8th, 2016

16_08_08_KCSM_CFreemanChico Freeman is a veteran tenor sax and trumpet performer from Chicago.  He has some three dozen releases, many of them out in the 70’s.

Chico’s early influences included Miles Davis and Winton Marsalis, and so it comes as no surprise that his reviews describe him as modern/progressive/fusion jazz.  His performance is also described as muscular.

Freeman is admired and awarded as a saxophone player.  Click here for two samples of his work: Coltrane’s piece “Lonnie’s Lament,” and (a whole concert at) Jazzwoche Burghausen, 2002.

You can catch the Chico Freeman Plus+tet  act Saturday 8/13, 3:30 pm in the KCSM Music Lounge at the Pagoda at Fairmont San Jose, and at 7 pm on the California Theater Stage presented by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.   In addition to this show at Summer Fest, Chico will be playing at Yoshi’s, Oakland 8/14; Seattle 8/16; Ft. Bragg, 8/19 and then Freeman is off to Europe.  Click here for more on his tour dates.

KCSM Reviews: The Double Hidden Gems – Los Altos’ Jazz on the Plazz (JotP), and the Singing voice of Songwriter-Trumpeter Skonberg

August 7th, 2016

16_07_27_JotPLos Altos’ summer jazz program, Jazz on the Plazz is open air, down town, and free to the public.  Their shows are Wednesday evenings, in the vicinity of 6:30 to 8:30.  JotP is a volunteer operation led by their great host Jonathan Knowles.  The program is supported by sopnsors, with some help by the city.  Click here to see their line up for this month.

16_08_02_KCSM_BSkonbergLast week Jazz on the Plazz brought in the (originally British Columbia) New York singer-songwriter-trumpeter Bria Skonberg.  Bria is one of jazz’ rising stars, having been touring and recording for some 10 years now.  With one of her performances you get great trumpet playing, a remarkable singing voice, and one of the warmest smiles on stage.  See the end of this article for her set list and performer names for this JotP show.

So much comes out in one of her performances that “getting it all” can be a challenge to the listener.  The combos she appears with are always good, as are her trumpet work (!) and songwriting.  With all this going on, the hidden gem in a show can be the high points of her voice and this can be the treasure hunt for the audience.  When you get to a show, listen carefully for some of these best parts that might escape you.

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Cécile McLorin Salvant, San Jose Jazz Summer Fest, Sun Aug 14.

August 4th, 2016

16_08_02_KCSM_CSalvantCécile McLorin Salvant is a young singing star with a rising career at age 26.  Born in Miami FL she was in music early, with piano starting at age 5 and choral work at age 8.  At age 18 she went to France for study and performances.  Cécile has 3 releases out already.

McLorin Salvant sings with a really good voice: now delicate, and next powerful.  Her music has a classical, straight-ahead jazz style, but frequently has modern score passages, which add a new layer of interest.  Try here her song “If this Isn’t Love”, and here for the more ethereal and changeable “Fog.” In all the work, her quality voice comes through as a real high point.  (Many of her pieces on the web have excellent dynamics and staging: no one plays over anyone else.)

In addition to this show at Summer Fest, Cécile is appearing on a big tour sequence through AZ, San Diego, NY, before appearing at the Monterey festival in September.  Click here to see all her tour dates and places.

KCSM Interviews: Brendan Rawson, Exec. Director of San Jose Jazz Summer Fest, Tuesday Aug 2.

August 1st, 2016

SJjazzSummerFest2KCSM’s Alisa Clancy will interview SJZ’s Brendan Rawson live on her Tuesday show, Morning Cup of Jazz.

A San Jose native, Executive Director Brendan Rawson formerly spent time as Director of Cultural Participation at FirstACT Silicon Valley. He comes to SJZ with lots of experience in the arts, from his involvement in helping launch Left Coast Live to his time on the boards of Teatro Vision and the Bay Area Glass Institute. This is the third Summer Fest with Brendan at the helm.  Brendan will cover festival highlights, new special features, venues and more!

16_08_01_KCSM_BRawsonWhile SJZ certainly keeps Brendan busy, he also contributes to the local community through his involvement with Naglee Park Garage which he co owns.

On the eve of Summer Fest’s silver anniversary, Brendan shares, in his words, the five acts he plans to make time for this weekend.  Also, click here to see all the details of the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest.

KCSM at the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest Aug 12-14

July 26th, 2016


SJjazzSummerFest2KCSM will be joining you at the San Jazz Summer Fest 2016. There will be 3 days of music on 12 stages with over 120+ performances. You can hear jazz, blues, Latin, funk, R&B, salsa, New Orleans, world, Jazz Beyond, Next Gen and more! This all takes place in downtown San Jose. If you have been you know it is a blast.

KCSM radio will be broadcasting live on Sat Aug 13 from Cafe Stritch in downtown San Jose. Cafe Stritch is a lovely cozy jazz club on North 1st St. You can see the line up at San Jose Jazz Summber Fest 2016 Cafe Stritch Stage.

In addition KCSM will be sponsoring the music louge taking place in the Pagoda Restaurant in the Fairmont Hotel. Listen to KCSM to find out more about the music lounge.

We are looking forward to seeing you at San Jose Jazz Summer Fest 2016! You can find out more info at San Jose Jazz Summer Fest 2016 Aug 12-14.


SFJAZZ Center & SF 2016 Summer Program

June 22nd, 2016

16_06_15_KCSM_SFCenterIn the city of San Francisco the SFJAZZ Center is a remarkable place to go for a performance.  The place is pretty new, opening some 3 1/2 years ago.  The building can put on large and small shows (at the same time).  The Joe Henderson Lab seats up to 100.  Upstairs, the state-of-the-art Miner Auditorium is almost 10 times bigger and can seat up to 700-some.  The building is downtown at Franklin & Fell, just 4-5 blocks behind the War Memorial Opera House.

16_06_15_KCSM_JHendersonThe Joe Henderson Lab is small enough to get away with no sound amplification.  This lets you go directly mano-a-mano with the performers, that is, acoustically.  In this era of all-to-many occasions of sound boards that amped up the instruments and had them playing over the vocalists, this room gives a much better chance for a balanced performance.  Furthermore, if the amps are out of the way (or only minimally on), the true quality of the instruments and singer come through. The show last Tuesday was singer-trumpeter Bria Skonberg with a trio accompaniment. (See our review here.)  The sound balance was delightful; no one played over anyone else.  The performers and the sound quality were great.

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