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

Fred Witt | 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.

In the second half of the show the audience had started dancing in the grass aisles of the town square venue.  After a quick look, Bria spun the group on it heels and gave the town a nice dance number.  In the chatting by the audience after the show comments were, “Wonderful.” “Really great.” “Terrific.”  To the question, “Have you heard this artist before ?” a common answer was “Yes, and I came right down to hear her again !”

Skonberg’s performances include her original work.  Recently, shows are changing with two things. She has started to redo original arrangements, bringing a new experience to the music.  Also, Bria is bringing in new compositions.  (There are more to come with a new release.)  Here are two samples of Bria’s original arrangements: Little Girl, and Let’s Go All In.  If you catch these songs in a current show listen to see if new arrangements have come in.  (Caution, web samples of the music may not have the best audio, *or* stage dynamics…).

This year she has signed with Sony, and her next release is scheduled with them, expected in September.  Skonberg will be back in our area next month at the Monterey Jazz Festival.  Click here and here  (tour dates) to see her coming tour dates.

In an after-show exchange with KCSM, Bria offered some words for the listeners and readers: “I’m looking forward to sharing the new tunes too! The [new] album is going on pre-sale Friday and features five new original songs.  I’ll bring a couple of them out for the Redlands Bowl on August 9th and will be at the Monterey Jazz Festival on September 16th with my NY-based quintet.  All info at www.briaskonberg.com.”

Bria’s set list at Los Altos JotP:

1. Swing That Music/Hollywood Swinging
2. Egyptian Fantasy
3. Don’t Be That Way
4. From This Moment On
5. Trust In Me
6. Hip Check
7. Big Yellow Taxi
8. Three Little Words
9. Black & Tan Fantasy
10. Take The A Train
11. Sunny Side of the Street
12. Work Song
13. Have A Little Heart
14. Bye Bye Blackbird
15. So Is The Day
16. Dream A Little Dream of Me

Bria’s supporting JotP performers:

piano – Adam Shulman
bass – John Wiitala
drums – Beth Goodfellow

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