The San Jose Jazz Summer Fest has become one of the nation’s most important live music events, featuring more than 100 performances of the best in jazz, blues, Latin, R&B and more. Indoor and outdoor stages provide a variety of environments as well as music, and even with its awesome scale and breadth, the festival’s tight footprint makes it easy to sample everything.
For this year’s 30th anniversary, which is set to take place August 9-11, the fest has expanded its programming, adding three new outdoor stages: a full-fledged Jazz Beyond Stage spotlighting some of jazz’s most forward-looking artists in a street-party-style setting; the Gospel Stage, presented in collaboration with St. Joseph’s Cathedral; and the Latin-alternative Sonido Clash Stage, adjacent to the Salsa Stage.
If you’re ready to experience the best of the Bay Area when it comes to jazz, you’re probably well on your way to booking your tickets. If you still need a little coaxing, here are 5 Reasons to Visit the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest right now!
The lineup brings the heat
When it comes to its lineup, the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest absolutely packs it in, with music starting at 11 am and lasting well past midnight. Bay Area artists receive a good portion of the billing, which means you can expect top-notch appearances by the likes of the San Jose Jazz Orchestra, San Jose State of Mind and the San Jose Jazz High School All-Stars to set the tone. But you can always count on SJZ to bring you some of the biggest names in jazz, and this year’s fest is no exception. Headliners for the 2019 edition include pianist Fred Hersch, vocalist Dianne Reeves, bossa nova icon Ivan Lins, U.K. supergroup Sons of Kemet, the global-cabaret outfit Pink Martini and the gospel-inflected singer (and Bay Area native) Gregory Porter. Also on the program are rising stars like pianist Emmet Cohen, vocalist Veronica Swift and drummer Kassa Overall; their appearances here provide intimate opportunities to catch them before their careers blast off. Plenty of jazz styles will be represented, from salsa to blues to R&B and beyond. Also on the bill: a special appearance by Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees and musical legends The O’Jays. Rest assured, when it comes to great music in San Jose, there’s something for everyone.
There’s not better fest for cutting a rug
Care to dance? Then the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest is for you. SJF’s Swing Stage is one of the hottest “scenes” at the Summer Fest, and it’s definitely not a place to just sit and listen. Come before most performances and learn the elements of swing dance with some of the area’s best teachers. Then, cut a rug to the tunes of the SOJ Big Band, the Indygo Rhythm Section, the Los Gatos-Saratoga Big Band, The Serenaders, The 7th Street Big Band and so many more. Few festivals are as dance-friendly as this one, so if tripping the light fantastic is your idea of a good time, you’re welcome here with open arms (and jazz hands).
The Club Crawl keeps the party going
At San Jose Jazz Summer Fest, as the music winds down, the nightlife winds up. To produce the highly anticipated Club Crawl, the fest has paired with hotels, restaurants and bars to program great music all over downtown San Jose from mid-evening until midnight, which means it’s easier than ever to find a place to refuel your fun. The best part: There are no cover charges, and all venues are in easy walking distance of the festival grounds. And fear not, the music travels with you. That’s because, at most restaurants, you’ll find plenty of local jazz acts to satiate your hungry ears. Check out the list of participating venues below:
MOSAIC RESTAURANT & LOUNGE
211 First St.
Fri, Aug 9 @ 8-11pm The South Bay Jazz Cork Tete (straight ahead jazz)
Sat, Aug 10 @ 8-11pm The Kevin McCullough Quartet (straight ahead jazz)
FIVE POINTS COCKTAIL BAR
169 W. Santa Clara St.
Fri, Aug 9 @ 8:30-9:45pm DOMI & JD Beck (jazz beyond)
HOTEL DE ANZA, HEDLEY CLUB LOUNGE
233 W. Santa Clara St.
Fri, Aug 9 @ 8:30-11:30pm Mason Razavi Quartet (straight ahead and modern jazz)
Sat, Aug 10 @ 8:30-11:30pm Festival Jazz Jam (bring your axe and hang at the fest jam!)
87 E. San Fernando St.
Fri, Aug 9 @ 9pm-12am The Latin Jazz Collective 5tet with John Nava (Latin jazz)
Sat, Aug 10 @ 9pm-12am Brian Andres Afro Cuban Cartel (Latin jazz)
282 Almaden Blvd.
Fri, Aug 9 @ 9pm-12am Jennifer Lee Quartet (jazz vocals)
Sat, Aug 10 @ 9pm-12am Joyce McCulloch Quartet (jazz vocals)
LOS SAN PATRICIOS
81 E. San Fernando St.
Fri, Aug 9 @ 9pm-12am Bennett Roth-Newell Trio (modern jazz)
Sat, Aug 10 @ 9pm-12am Kevin Bryson Trio (straight ahead jazz)
170 S. Market St.
Fri, Aug 9 TBA
Sat, Aug 10 TBA
The British Airways Music Lounge is the place to chill
Friday through Sunday, Fest-goers with Priority Access or higher wristbands can enjoy the British Airways Music Lounge, featuring pared-down performances by top fest artists. For the second year, the Music Lounge is located in Hammer 4, a raw, alternative “black box” space on an upper floor of the Hammer Theatre Center. Thanks to the support of British Airways, San Jose Jazz has teamed up with the U.K.’s SoulandJazz.com to capture the excitement and essence of five of these performances in the highest level possible in 8K, 360º Virtual Reality, with sound delivered in Dolby AmbiX. Regular Music Lounge sets are pared down, 20-minute performances that allow you to see another side of your favorite artists, in an intimate setting. For the special taping occurring this year, the artists will run through a three-song set, which will be repeated until the performance has been appropriately captured. Audience members are invited to come and go between songs, but must remain silent during the performance/filming.
Vendors galore (and sustainability to boot!)
With more than 40,000 people in attendance, the festival offers plenty of opportunities for food, wine and arts & crafts. Local vendors will be out in abundance to sell their wares, from authentic tacos and succulent BBQ ribs to chic sundresses and stylish hats. Highlights from last year include BNB Wings N Things, Sherry’s Kids Enterprise, Stick-N-Grill, the Juicery, the Lemonade Bar, Twisted K’s and the festival favorite, Me So Korny. To top it all off, the festival has made a commitment to produce the most environmentally-conscious festival in the city, and they’ve partnered with all of their vendors to uphold these principles.
If you’d like to learn more about the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest, or to purchase tickets now, visit the festival’s website.