Brian’s Best Bets

Artist administrator Brian Fitzgerald knows jazz. By day Brian handles artist liaison and contract duties, in addition to helping patrons purchase tickets; by night (at on his lunch break) he is a talented jazz guitarist. Here’s Brian’s Best Bets on summer concerts worth checking out. Julian Lage To fully realize the impact of Julian’s prodigious talent on the guitar and appreciate his dedication to his art, you have to experience him live––in person. The trio format provides the perfect structure to showcase Julian’s formidable skills and allow for maximum musical interaction and exploration. Davina & the Vagabonds If the name alone is not enough to get you off the couch and “down to the nightclub,” then take my word for it – this Davina & the Vagabonds is worth the price of admission at twice the price! Prepare yourself for a night of blues-based fun with Davina’s infectious vocals, piano playing and stellar stage presence. Anthony Wilson and the Curators Anthony can and does do it all, quite literally. Gifted writer, top-flight Grammy-nominated composer and arranger, producer, bandleader, first call sideman, and more. Now add vocalist to this impressive list. Did I mention that he also has serious chops as well? Don’t take my word for it—come see for yourself. Yellowjackets Strap on your seat belt and get ready for takeoff! From the first note to the last, this ensemble burns as if their very lives depended on it. For Jacket fans, this is not news. They should be on every jazz fan’s musical bucket list. If you haven’t seen them, here is your chance to experience jazz fusion... read more

9pm Show Added! Tony Lindsay Presents: The Music of Marvin Gaye, Lou Rawls & Bill Withers

Tony Lindsay Presents: The Music of Marvin Gaye, Lou Rawls & Bill Withers sold out so quickly, Kuumbwa Jazz has added a 2nd show at 9:00 pm on Thursday, January 14. Tony Lindsay’s fans know him as a founding member of the popular r&b/jazz group Spang-a-Lang and as an amazing, uncompromising singer. His smooth, soulful vocal work with Santana–an association that has stretched over twenty years–spearheaded the guitar legend’s accession to eleven Grammy awards. Besides Santana, Tony has performed or recorded with Al Jarreau, Steve Winwood, Patti Austin, and Aretha Franklin–just part of a long list of top-tier international artists. Vocalists Nicolas Beard and Fred Ross join Lindsay for a rootsy night of sophisticated soul celebrating three stellar singer/songwriters: Marvin Gaye, Lou Rawls and Bill... read more

Tim’s Six-Pick

With over 40 years of experience presenting jazz at Kuumbwa (plus over 25 years of programming the world-famous Monterey Jazz Festival) Artistic Director/Co-Founder Tim Jackson is an expert in the field. As a result of patrons asking us which shows are must-see, Tim’s created his personal list of Six-Picks, “not-to-miss” shows for the spring calendar. Orrin Evans Trio, March 13 Pianist Orrin Evans has all the bases covered. From solo piano to his Captain Black Big Band, Orrin continuously expands the boundaries of jazz piano. His trio work is most sublime. Buika, March 20 at Rio Theatre Spanish vocalist Concha Buika is an international sensation. Her blend of Flamenco, R&B and Afro-Beat traditions has won fans across the globe. This is her first visit to Santa Cruz. Nolatet, April 7 Nolatet is what’s happening! Vibraphonist Mike Dillon and pianist Brian Haas float are legendary on the NO rhythm scene, joined by James Singleton on bass and Johnny Vidacovich on drums. Allison Miller, April 14 With her great band BOOM TIC BOOM! Allison has made several visits to Kuumbwa over the years. This is one of the great young bands in jazz and worth checking out. DakhaBrakha, May 4 This incredible Ukranian folk quartet played Kuumbwa last year and wowed the audience. They blend world music tradition and unique instrumentations into a virtuosic sound all their own. Alfredo Rodriguez Trio, May 16 Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodriguez continues to mesmerize with his latest release Tocororo, filled with innovation and passion. No wonder Quincy Jones continues to produce this rising sensation. Hope to see you soon!... read more

Jazz Notes Jan/Feb 2016

January/February Concerts On Sale We are kicking off the new year with a fantastic set of concerts for all musical tastes: January 25 Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour featuring Raul Midón, Ravi Coltrane, Nicholas Payton, Gerald Clayton, Joe Sanders, Gregory Hutchinson; February 5 Booker T. Jones; February 8 Aaron Neville Quintet featuring Charles Neville (at the Rio Theatre); February 13 Tuck and Patti (Special Valentine’s dinner available); February 16 Lisa Fischer and Grand Baton (at the Rio Theatre); February 29 Regina Carter’s Southern Comfort. For a complete list of concerts, visit: Thank You 2015 Concert Sponsors Appenrodt Commercial Properties, A Train Law Group, George Badger and Barbara Beerstein, Richard Baer and Bella Babot, Barry Swenson Builder, Bill and Cloy Codiga, Dr. Arthur Dover, Aptos Travel Clinic, Dunbar Productions, East Harbor Studios, Erik’s DeliCafé, Fine Art 360, Howard and Rosalind Fisher, French Resources Group, Gal Palz for Jazz, Gayle’s Bakery and Rosticceria, Kyle Goldman, Good Times/, Harry Harrington and Sharon Hale, The High Notes, Jazzabelles, David and Abigail Kaun Fund, Kuumbwa Jazz Board of Trustees, Kuumbwa Kats, Lighthouse Bank, Logos Books & Records, Drew Miller – Digital Benefits Advisors, Sue Nerton and Tom Thacher, The Offbeats, Plazita Medical Clinic, Gordon and Teresa Pusser, Swift Street ArtWorkSpace, Radiology Medical Group, Relatives of Rhythm, Redtree Partners, Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Co., Santa Cruz County Bank, Scott Smith and Mary Culley/Rachel Spencer and Kevin Rooney, Soif Wine Bar & Merchants, Michelle Taylor and Jeff Farnsworth, Ten Sharps, Wedeen Hammer Group at Morgan Stanley, Stuart and Daphne Wells, Wells Fargo Bank Ellington Awards Since 2005, Kuumbwa Jazz has honored individuals whose long-standing support... read more

KJ Board of Trustees Celebrate Jazz

Kuumbwa Jazz Board of Trustees celebrate their sold-out, sponsored, concert featuring the Kuumbwa Jazz debut of 12-year old piano prodigy, Joey Alexander. For more on Joey Alexander visit: photos: r.r.... read more

Jazz EPICenter Cover Story

Wednesday, September 16, 2015 | by Andrew Gilbert | Good Times Weekly In celebration of the Kuumbwa Jazz Center’s 40th anniversary, a look back at how it shook up the jazz world Standing behind his electric keyboard, his beatific face bathed in sweat and his rotund body draped by a shiny metallic purple tunic, Sun Ra started the slow, undulating incantation. Before long his entire besparkled Arkestra joined him, intoning, “We travel the spaceways/From planet to planet” again and again. It was only the end of the first set, and Sun Ra had already traversed a cosmic array of black music, from skittering stride piano and swooping orchestral swing to oblique post-bop and cascading free jazz supernovas emanating from the fiery saxophones of Pat Patrick and Marshall Allen. As the band exited the stage, filing through the center aisle with horns held aloft, the audience chimed in and kept the “spaceways” chant going for several minutes. Just another mind-blowing night at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center, circa 1989. Objectively speaking, Kuumbwa is a pioneering venue that introduced the nonprofit jazz club concept, providing a model for numerous performance spaces around the country. When it comes to longevity, stability and artistic quality, the institution stands alone. But as someone who came of age as a jazz fan in Santa Cruz, and did some of his first music writing as a volunteer producing copy for Kuumbwa’s calendar, I’m not exactly objective. Many of the Kuumbwa concerts I experienced during my undergrad years at UC Santa Cruz stand out more vividly in my mind than shows I saw at other venues last year.... read more

Bay Area’s bursting with jazz piano stars

Bay Area’s bursting with jazz piano stars Wednesday, September 8, 2015 | by Andrew Gilbert | San Jose Mercury News Aaron Goldberg has heard some extraordinary piano playing in his life. He’s even produced some of it himself. At 41, he’s one of his generation’s most respected jazz musicians, an uncommonly accomplished accompanist and leader of several celebrated trios inflected by his abiding passion for Brazilian and Caribbean music. But he was still knocked sideways by hearing piano legends Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock performing as a duo at London’s Barbican this summer, calling the concert “the highest level piano playing I’ve ever heard in my life.” Goldberg and Corea’s paths cross this weekend when they both help kick off SFJazz’s 2015-16 season. Goldberg performs as part of a pianist showcase in the intimate Joe Henderson Lab on Sunday with bassist Reuben Rogers and SFJazz Collective drummer Obed Calvaire. He brings the same trio to Café Stritch on Sept. 16 and Kuumbwa on Sept. 17. Corea plays four nights in the Miner Auditorium, opening with a solo recital on Thursday and a piano duo with Cuban master Gonzalo Rubalcaba on Friday. Trilogy, Corea’s trio with bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade, which earned the pianist his 22nd Grammy Award for 2014’s three-disc album “Trilogy” (Concord Jazz), performs on Saturday, and his duo with banjo star Béla Fleck celebrates their new double album “Two” (Concord Jazz) on Sunday. (Tickets for the Corea series run $45-$120 at The remarkably prolific Corea, whose touring and recording seem to have accelerated in his mid-70s, also opens Stanford Live’s 2015-16 season with... read more

Jazz Notes Sept/Oct 2015

Annual Fall Fund Drive Our Annual Fall Fund Drive kicks off in October. For me, it has become a good time to remind myself of how I became member of Kuumbwa and why I have chosen to become more involved over the years. As perhaps many of you did, I started attending occasional concerts, drawn to the venue by artists I knew. My knowledge of jazz was fairly narrow. As enjoyable as those concerts were, and remain, I soon became aware of new artists and different types of jazz. I was amazed that I could see such a wide range of incredibly talented jazz musicians here in Santa Cruz. My occasional concerts became more regular concerts. I began sponsoring concerts, became more involved and about 10 years ago was asked to join the Board of Trustees. Through that exposure, I learned that Kuumbwa is more than just concerts. It is also a broad range of educational programs focused on encouraging and inspiring young people to appreciate and to participate in the jazz world. These programs include the Kuumbwa Jazz Honor Band, Summer Jazz Camp, Artists in Schools program, and Master Class Series (often free). I value what Kuumbwa does both in and for our community. I hope you do, as well. During this Fall Fund Drive, please join me in committing your support to our organization. It is greatly appreciated. Thank You, Drew Miller President, Board of Trustees Tell Me Why by Bob King “I came up with the idea to publish a children’s book because I feel kids are in front of a screen too much these days,” says... read more

The Accidental Guru

Wednesday, 19 August 2015 | by Andrew Gilbert | Good Times Weekly Marcus Miller wonders when he became the elder statesman Calling multi-instrumentalist Marcus Miller precocious doesn’t quite capture the scope and depth of his musical talent. Coming of age on the New York scene in the mid-1970s, he started gigging before he graduated high school, working with populist jazz artists like pianist/keyboardist Lonnie Liston Smith and flutist Bobbi Humphrey. But it was a call from Miles Davis that catapulted him into the jazz firmament. Plagued by health problems and substance abuse, the trumpet legend was just emerging from five years off the scene when he called the 22-year-old electric bass phenomenon. As usual, the trumpeter’s eye for spotting remarkable talent proved prescient, as Miller went on to work with many of jazz and R&B’s most consequential artists, including Luther Vandross, Chaka Khan and David Sanborn. As a composer, he’s written scores for numerous films, such as House Party, Boomerang, and Above the Rim, and Chris Rock’s UPN sitcom Everybody Hates Chris. After all those years as a wunderkind, he finds himself positioned now to be a mentor and elder statesman. The band he brings to Kuumbwa on Monday, Aug. 24 is stocked with players who are about the same age he was when he went on the road with Davis, a somewhat shocking situation for someone who was “always the youngest guy in the band,” says Miller, 56. “All of a sudden I’m the dude with all the stories,” he says. “Hopefully I’m enlightening them a little bit.” Miller is celebrating the release of his debut album on... read more

Cuban Piano Legend Chucho Valdés & Irakere: On Sale Now

Winner of five GRAMMY® and three Latin GRAMMY® Awards, Cuban pianist, composer and arranger Chucho Valdés is the most influential figure in modern Afro-Cuban jazz. He will be performing in Santa Cruz for one-night only with his legendary band Irakere re-visited. Tuesday, October 27 at 7:30 pm At the Rio Theatre BUY... read more

Support Jazz Education: Shop Westside New Leaf August 20th

Shop New Leaf’s Westside location on Thursday, August 20th and 5% of all sales will be donated to support Kuumbwa’s Jazz Programs. Kuumbwa Jazz operates several programs to introduce youth and adults to jazz and encourage them to participate as artists and audience members. These include Summer Jazz Camp, a nine-day camp for 12- to 18-year-olds; High School Honor Jazz Band; Artists-in-the-Schools, in which performers work with students at lower socio-economic campuses; and the free-to-the-public Master Class series. They are a valuable community resource in an era when music education has all but disappeared from our schools. Celebrate the bounty of the harvest, August 20th at the Westside New Leaf Community Market and support jazz education in your... read more