.All That Jazz: San Jose Jazz Winter Fest Takes Over Downtown San Jose

San Jose Jazz Winter Fest is bringing 24 live performances from veteran and emerging jazz acts, as well as student groups. Here is a selection of some of the most interesting musicians playing at this year’s gathering.
Marquis Hill
Cafe Stritch; Thu, 7pm, $15-$25
Known for his technical but elegant sound, trumpeter and composer, Marquis Hill is quickly becoming recognized as one of the most imminent trumpet practitioners of his generation. Hill has had a long history in jazz with a resume to prove it. Since the age of twelve, Hill has performed in countless ensembles, earning a MA in Jazz Pedagogy from DePaul University from which he began leadership of his long running ensemble, the Blacktet. With four albums under the belt, Hill’s innovative composition and performance was awarded with the 2012 International Trumpet Guild Jazz Competition and the 2014 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Trumpet Competition. Hill is also a noted musical educator, with past teaching positions at University of Illinois, Chicago and the NIU Summer Jazz Camp. Marquis Hill and the Blacktet, which includes Christopher McBride on alto sax, Justin Thomas on vibraphone, Joshua Ramos playing bass, and Makaya McCraven on drums will be performing for one night only at Cafe Stritch. (TM)
Nicholas Payton Trio
Jade Leaf Lounge;Fri, 8pm, $25-$35
San Jose Jazz has a built reputation for consistently exhibiting exciting and imaginative musicians. With their upcoming presentation of the Nicholas Payton Trio, the company is ramping up its renown. Two decades ago he was hailed as one of the jazz’s most promising trumpeters. The Grammy-award winner has collaborated with everyone from Ray Charles to Herbie Hancock, and a revolutionary style, Nicholas Payton is considered one of the most important and distinct boundary pushers in jazz. This innovation extends to the use of other instruments such as keyboards and organs, which further extend Payton’s tantalizing but ethereal soundscapes. Much of this is a showcased on the Nicolas Payton Trio’s 2015 double album Letters, which they will be performing along with songs from Numbers  at the Jade Leaf Lounge. Payton’s trio also includes bassist Gerald Cannon and drummer Joe Dyson. (TM)
MACLA; Fri, 8pm, Free
In 2007, an 8.0 earthquake struck Peru. It lasted for three minutes and killed 519 people—including 17 attending mass in a church in Ica. More than 1,000 people were injured and 50,000-plus houses were destroyed. The destruction still affects daily life. Nosotras formed to raise money for the survivors. Composed of female performers, the renowned collective has toured South America, hoping to inspire and stress the crucial role women play in the arts. The quartet plays modern jazz, spiced up by percussive dancing by Gabriela Shiroma and conga and cajon slapping by Peta Robles. (JF)
Jade Leaf Lounge; Fri, 10pm, $15-$25
Before J.K. Rowling borrowed the word to christen flaming spells, Incendio served as a fitting moniker for this energetic group. Meaning “fire” in both Italian and Spanish, the band plays “Latin guitar world fusion,” which means they lay down some truly blistering acoustic and electric licks over a eclectic array of clean, invigorating rhythms. Since 2000, they’ve averaged more than 150 shows a year, hitting venues like the Sundance Film Festival, the California World Festival and the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. They’ve released nine studio albums—their seventh, “The Shape of Dreams,” sat atop the Amazon Flamenco charts for the better part of 2013. (JF)
Bria Skonberg
Cafe Stritch; Sat, 6pm, $20-$30
Bria Skonberg lives as testament to how full of crap dumb blonde jokes are. The award-winning trumpeter, vocalist and composer stands out among modern musicians for her roots in classical jazz, but explorations that fold in influences from soul music, world percussion and New Orleans blues. After two heavily praised albums, So Is the Day and Into Your Own, her third album will be executive produced by San Jose Jazz Festival—the venture funded by an anonymous donor. She runs the New York Hot Jazz Camp and Festival, and still somehow finds time to volunteer at the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Corona, Queens. (JF)
Bill Doggett
Jade Leaf Lounge; Sat, 8pm, $20-$30
Titanic R&B organist Bill Doggett is turning 100. The legendary centurion and former child prodigy formed his first collective at the ripe age of 15. He worked with and arranged compositions for Ella Fitzgerald. He toured with her as well as with Johnny Otis, Wynonie Harris and Lionel Hampton. He’s known for singles, “Hippie Dippie,” “Slow Walk” and his signature hit, “Honky Tonk.” The shimmering instrumental strolls along a loping bassline, giving time for his accomplices to rip solos on the guitar and saxophone before Doggett brings things home with a rollicking organ riff where his fingers zip, slide and pounce on the keys with holy exuberance. (JF)
J.C. Smith Blues Guitar Slingers
Cafe Stritch; Sat, 9pm, $20-$30
The Bay’s own J.C. Smith cracked into music as a drummer for the Back to Back Blues Band. Then, he traded in the sticks for an axe—a Gibson 335 to be precise—and started hacking new paths through the genre. His latest release, “Defining Cool,” stuck on the Roots Music Report for 20 straight weeks. He assists the Silicon Valley Blues Society and appears on KKUP-FM as “Johnnie Cozmik.” Rounding his lineup of slingers: Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Alvon Johnson, Jimi Hendrix tribute artist Pistol Pete, and Swiss import Aart de Geus, who creates his distinct sound by pumping his guitar through antique amps. (JF)


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