Wednesday, April 26, 2017

"Alexander’s blend of jazz and reggae makes for an outrageously good time" 
— The Wall Street Journal

Monty Alexander
Harlem-Kingston Express

THU, JUN 8 · 8PM

During this year's 35th Annual San Francisco Jazz Festival, Jamaica-born jazz great Monty Alexander, who has garnered acclaim for bridging American jazz and the music of his native Jamaica. Over six-decades, pianist Alexander has created a unique blend of reggae and jazz, and has been described by The Wall Street Journal as “the first—and certainly the most successful—musician to combine Jamaican music with North American jazz.”

The pianist’s 2011 GRAMMY-nominated Motéma Records release Harlem-Kingston Express stands as the ultimate expression of Alexander’s unique perspective on jazz, featuring his trio (including SFJAZZ Collective drummer Obed Calvaire) as well as a Jamaican rhythm section, embracing reggae, dub, bebop, and Afro-Cuban approaches.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Masego – 2016 San Jose Summer Jazz Festival Report by: Carol Ealey

When my husband, Michael asked me which artists I wanted to see at the 2016 San Jose Jazz Summer Festival, I had no idea except for Bobby Caldwell and Goapele two of the headline artist, so I searched the line-up to see who I could fit into our busy event schedule.

The artist that I selected was Masego (real name Micah Davis) after listening to his song “Girls That Dance on YouTube. As we headed over to the Post Street Stage one of the many stages at the San Jose Jazz Fest you could hear that thump of trap, hip hop and jazz mix of music that made you want to dance. I loved it.

Masego is a 22-year-old multi-instrumentalist – he plays the saxophone, piano, drums guitar, cello and many other instruments and he’s a singer. On stage he showed his talents by playing several instruments much like a one man band and he showed his comedic style as well as an impromptu rap about two cute girls in the audience. Masego has real talent and I love his style of music which he calls TrapHouseJazz. It merges traditional jazz sounds – saxophone, scatting with the thump of trap music and house.
Masego was born in Kingston, Jamaica, to an American mother and Jamaican father. His father is a pastor in the military so they moved around a lot when Masego was little settling in Newport News, Virginia. His mother is also a pastor, specifically the minister of music at their church. Church was a strong presence in Masego’s life, as was playing in the church band; music came naturally to him. As he said in a recent article that he listened to a lot of gospel (Jmoss, William Murphy, Fred Hammond, Kirk Franklin) since that’s all he was allowed to play in the house. But Cab Calloway influenced his style and his love of jazz swing and the dances that go with it. This blend of styles is clearly evident in his music.
Masego has talent and his energetic show at the 2016 SJ Jazz Summer Festival was one of the highlights this year. If you want to hear this new style of Trap House Jazz I would encourage you to check out a sample of his music at You won’t be disappointed.


San Jose Summer Jazz Fest 2016 Report: DENISE DONATELLI

Finally at the end of my day; Denise Donatelli. I made my way over to Cafe Stritch and was greeted by an impatient, hungry line of over 70 people clamoring to see this 4 time Grammy nominee vocalist. Hey, with a line like this, how am I going to get into this place? But wait. Mike gave me a Streetwise press pass. With a sticker. I walked right up to the door and flashed the pass.
"OK," she said, "and uhh...oh yeah, you got that sticker."
I went into an empty room with the stage lights set up just right and the band was doing their mic checks. I snapped off a few shots to get my exposures down and after I burned enough frames I notice a cat tuning the piano. I was floored. I've never seen that before. I mean they always tune of for Yuja Wang and Daniel Barinboim but I've never seen a tuner for jazz or pop music. So when he was done I go over and talk this spritely Japanese dude dressed in ninja black.
"So you tune before every gig?"
"Naaa", he says, "I just hang out here cus' I love the jazz. I tune because I really want them to sound good. But a lot of guys don't appreciate it...and some guys; even really good musicians, can't even tell the difference,".
"I know man, it's sick !".
"But I just tune cus' I love it", he said, "and I want to give something back to them. So if they can't enjoy it to hell with them man." We laughed our guts out like long lost brothers.
Then I said, "So you tune ... that means you play."
"Yeah, I play", he said, "but I'm a really bad player."
"We're on the same page", I said, "It takes me two years to learn something that my 16 year old son can learn in two weeks. So if you still want to listen to me, to hell with you!!" Our laughter was broken by a KCSM dj putting in a big plug for the station and introducing, let's say it right here, the amazing Denise Donetelli.

Then Denise comes on stage and immediately has the audience in her back pocket. She's like that smooth cocktail you reward yourself with at the end of a hard day's work. The clarity of voice, the effortless sustains, the inviting warm embrace of this wonderful singer. She uses her insturment to bring new life to standards such as Green Dolphin Street and fresh interpretations of comtemporary tunes like Soul Shadows , No Better, and A Promise. I especially enjoy her rendition of the bossa nova style tune Ange where she combines latin rythms with minor discordant harmonies, not unlike the great jazz vocalist Kurt Elling, all with comfortably pure tonality and an effortlessly clear voice.
According to Wikipedia, Denise Donatelli started as a classical pianist at the age of three and studied for 15 years. For three consecutive years she won first place in competitions held by the National Federation of Music Clubs. After college, she married and had sons. To remain with her family, she did not begin to sing professionally until the boys reached their teenage years.
She has recorded studio spots for episodes of The Simpsons and television promos for Frasier, Card Sharks and Turner Classic Movies as well as national and international commercials for CNN, Hyundai, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and many more.
She has performed with Bill Mays, Roger Kellaway, Tamir Hendelmen, Bob Sheppard, Joe LaBarbara, the Stan Kenton Alumni Band. She tours extensively, performing at jazz festivals; like the San Jose Jazz Festival, jazz clubs, performing art centers, and with university jazz bands where she conducts master clinics.

Her next gig is in La Jolla, CA with Geoffrey Keezer and Friends who she records with. Donatelli has released five albums; three have been nominated for Grammy's. Although this singer's voice is truly a reward in itself, no one will be surprised if Denise Donatelli's next album finally wins the recognition this fine singer deserves.

Tom Wing Wo

San Jose Summer Jazz Fest 2016 Report: LEGALLY BLUE ByTom Wing Wo

After Kenny Washington at the Jade Leaf Lounge I had three hours to kill before singer Denise Donatelli. I headed over to the Gordon Biersch stage cus' it was only a block and a half away.

                        Legally Blue was the surprise of the Jazz Festival for me.

                                       Joanne Wegener is backed 
                      by four excellent blues musicians

John Keating on keyboards, Mike West on drums.

                                               Chris Wilder on bass.

       And the rock solid, articulate and inventive Aart de Gon                                               guitars.

All the cats in Legally Blue are excellent muscians and they'll have their first CD release party this Saturday, August 20 in Sunnyvale. Singer Joanne is dramatic and expressive with a mellow and gut wrenching interpretations of blues standards and orginal blues tunes written by each of the intermentalist in this goup. She has an inviting, relaxed rapport with her audience that makes you feel like you're at home with your family and a part of the band. She's so comfortable on stage that at one point she turned her back to the audience to shoot a selfie with the crowd in the background. The audience totally cracked up and band the blew the roof off the top of this outdoor stage.

Back in the 70's I played drums and sang vocals in a garage band called Karma Co. in Sacramento. It was founded by two brothers from Georgia who wrote blues and rock tunes. I played my share of blues but I've almost forgotten it. That all changed when I heard Legally Blue today.

Legally Blue has gotten me back into the Blues and I can't wait to hear them again.

Tom Wing Wo


San Jose JazzFest 2016 Report:Legends and Emerging Artists Triumph By Shelah Moody

Closing day of the 27th Annual San Jose Jazz Summer Fest, Sunday Aug. 14 was a celebration of world music and a joyous weekend for Streetwise Radio.
The streets of downtown San Jose, as well hotels, cafes and restaurants hosted legendary musicians and emerging artists, attracting thousands of fans to the largest city in the Bay Area.

Our first stop on a warm south bay afternoon was the Jade Leaf Lounge, where Cuban pianist Harold Lopez Nussa, joined by Ruy Adrián López-Nussa, (drums/percussion) and Alune Wade (bass/vocals) were creating elegant, tropical soundscapes.

                         Harold Lopez Nussa
While children in swim suits danced through the fountains at Cezar Chavez Plaza in the heart of downtown San Jose, 

2015 Grammy nominee--saxophonist Miguel Zenon, and his band --Alex Brown (piano), Hans Glawischnig (bass) and Henry Cole (drums)-- showcased rhythms and melodies inspired by Zenon’s native Puerto Rico. The quartet played original compositions and arrangements from Zenon’s albums, “Esta Plena” and “Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook.”

It feels great to be here,” said Zenon, who was nominated for a 2015 Grammy in the Best Latin Jazz Album category for “Identities Are Changeable.”
This is our second time here. The first time was maybe, five years ago. Last time, we played in a theater, so it’s nice to play outside; it’s so pretty here and people are enjoying themselves. “It’s a really nice vibe.”

                    Saxophonist Miguel Zenon
Zenon comes from a fine tradition of Puerto Rican jazz greats including trombonist/composer Juan Tizol, who played with Duke Ellington’s orchestra. Incidentally, as a member of the SFJAZZ Collective, Zenon cop-produced and arranged the album “The Music of Michael Jackson & Original Compositions,” recorded live at SFJAZZ Center in 2015.

                             Rick & Russ Show

The World Famous Rick & Russ Show spun classic R&B on the main stage as Grammy winning vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant, currently one of the hottest performers on the touring circuit, prepared for her set the main stage. Accompanied by pianist Aaron Diehl, bassist Paul Sikivie and drummer Lawrence Leathers, the bespectacled jazz goddess opened with her original ballad, “Fog.”

                         Cecile McLorin Salvant
In February, I watched Salvant accept her Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album, “For One to Love” at the Premiere Ceremony at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles. Salvant is a pure, articulate singer whose voice can emulate everything from an elegant violin refrain to the sassy wa-wa of a trombone. Salvant delighted the audience with a string of jazz standards and Broadway show tunes including “The Trolly Song,” made popular by Judy Garland, “Wives and Lovers,” by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, “Something’s Coming” by Leonard Bernstein, “What a Little Moonlight Can Do,” made popular by Billie Holiday and the whimsical “Sam Jones Blues” by Bessie Smith.
I was lucky to have been raised in a household where music was a very important part of our upbringing,” said Salvant, in an interview after the show. “We listened to music from all over the world including, but not only jazz. We listened to folk music from South America, from Africa, from Europe and all kinds of American popular music and folk music from Appalachian to funk and R&B to disco and classical music. When I moved to France and met my jazz teacher, I started perusing jazz as an option for a career. I never really thought I would do it professionally.”
Salvant said she has not read her extensive Wikipedia page and said she hates to google herself. The artistically inclined singer wore a colorful patterned Issey Miyake dress that fluttered in the wind and complemented the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest mural on the main stage. Miyake is Salvant’s favorite designer; she loves his vivid colors and his clothes are light weight and are easy to travel with, she said.
I don’t like to look at myself or watch myself or be in that spirit, because I don’t think it is very enriching as a musician,” said Salvant. “It’s not very enriching to be constantly scrutinizing yourself in that way or looking at what other people think of you. Something people may not know about me is that I really love visual art and I draw a lot. I’m actually preparing a show in New York at a gallery in November. Mostly water colors and ink drawings. It’s really a fun thing to do when I’m on tour. We have a lot of moments where we wait. You know, people come to the shows and they see us perform and they think that’s what it is. But a lot of it is traveling to the performance and waiting for the plane or the train or being in a car for a long time. There are a lot of hours like that where we can’t really work on music. I can read, I guess, but I feel like drawing is a wonderful activity that’s also creative. I started doing it about five years ago and it’s been enriching to me. I’ve done a few of my album covers.”
I asked Salvant how it felt to perform at the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest.
“It feels great,” said Salvant. “The audience was warm and wonderful. I’m having a wonderful time, and I’m actually seeing a line form at the CD table.
As Salvant graciously signed CDs for fans, a New Orleans style parade made its way around the main stage, warming up the for the evening’s headliner, Sergio Mendes and Brasil 2016.

Shelah Moody, Sergio Mendes and Radio host Safi Wa Narobi of KPFA FM 

The 75-year-old, Grammy-winning Bossa Nova singer/songwriter/composer and his multicultural band performed “A Celebration of 50 Years of Brasil ’66.”
My father was a jazz pianist who was heavily influence by Samba and Bossa Nova. As a child, Mendes’ iconic “Herb Alpert Presents Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66” and other albums were constantly played in our home, and songs such as “Fool On the Hill,” “One Note Samba” and “Look of Love” became the soundtrack of my life.
Oakland rapper H20 led the intro to Mendes’ signature tune, “Mas, que Nada,” and oh, how we danced and sang along to the “O, o-o-o-oh ari-ah, rayoh...Obah, obah, obah!” chorus!

                                Greg Bridges of KCSM FM  and Albert “Tootie” Heath
In a late Sunday night set at downtown San Jose’s Café Stritch, radio host Greg Bridges of KCSM FM San Francisco introduced the legendary drummer Albert “Tootie” Heath, joined by Richard Sears on piano and Martin Nevin on bass

                                   Albert “Tootie” Heath

“This cat has been a big part of my life through listening for many, many years,” said Bridges said of Heath. “I learned rhythm from him and cats like him. So many musicians have learned from him; he is a part of the foundation of this music that we call jazz.”
Hailing from one of the first families of jazz, Heath and his musical siblings—Jimmy Heath (saxophone), and the late Percy Heath (bass) formed the Heath Brothers in Philadelphia, PA in 1975 and produced modern jazz recordings such as “Marchin’ On,” “Brothers and Others” and “In Motion. At 81, the gracious Heath packed Café Stritch, and captivated the audience with his stamina and his polyrhythmic drumming technique.
For info on the 2017 San Jose Jazz Winter Fest, go to

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Adrian Younge Written by: Rajada Ealey

Mark your calendars everyone because the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest is approaching soon and guess who’s performing, Adrian Younge! Some of you may know him for producing the brilliant Black Dynamite soundtrack or some of you may know him for his latest collaboration with Wu-Tang Clan member, in Twelve Reasons to die II. But those of you who don’t know him, this may be your perfect chance to see this amazing composer live in action.   

When I first listened to Adrian Younge, I instantly found myself placed in a time machine headed back to the 60s and 70s. He’s usage of smooth jazzy, soul-funk rhythms reminded me a lot of music my mom loves to play. Artists like Slave, Chic, and Larry Young immediately came to mind. It was a blast from the past, but I had to realize that this music wasn’t from the past. It was from the present! Very excited to come to that realization, I became excited for future soul-funk works from this man. Starting out strong with the production of the Black Dynamite soundtrack in 2009, Adrian Younge has had many other successes the following years after. Songs like La Ballade and Silently definitely established a friendship with my ears. His musical style is a unique one. Influenced by the upbeat aroma in which soul-funk brings, but also the chill atmosphere in which the style of Jazz oozes, is a great combination and I have yet to hear anyone who does it better than Adrian Younge. He has the skills to put his best work first and it definitely shows in his works. Having been skilled in a wide range of instruments, such as bass, keyboards, flute, synthesizes, and the viola just to name a few, has paid off because Adrian Young not only holds one but three titles to his name: a musical arranger, producer, and composer. I most certainly would jump at the chance to see Adrian Younge live. So check him out, you may find something you were just looking for. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016


SUN, JUN 12 · 7:30PM 

Renowned saxophonist and composer returns during this year's34th Annual San Francisco Jazz Festival with his exciting new sextet “The Void” featuring trumpeter Ralph Alessi and SFJAZZ Collective trombonist Robin Eubanks. With an unmatched skill for invention and exploration, Ravi continues carry the Coltrane legacy into the 21st century.