Features & Columns

San Jose Jazz Summerfest

San Jose Jazz pushes the boundaries again

Intro | The Internet | Kamasi Washington | Rahsaanathon

San Jose Jazz Summerfest

For the uninitiated young music consumer, jazz is too often perceived as the smooth, less-than-edgy "quiet storm" radio sound or academic, intentionally difficult cacophony. But jazz is about more than pastel washes of electric sax and impossibly convoluted compositions that require a music theory degree to untangle.

It's possible to trace a direct line from jazz through blues, R&B, rock & roll and on into hip-hop. One can hear jazz influences quite explicitly in Wu Tang Clan's boom-bap samples and in the face-melting guitar work of math metal acts like The Dillinger Escape Plan. Even the EDM of today can be linked to the work of London and Chicago DJs spinning what they referred to as "acid jazz."

Jazz was pioneered by men and women who have long since passed—a generation as old, or older, than the grandparents of today's youngest Millennials. But that doesn't mean jazz can't be presented in a way that's relevant today.

San Jose Jazz gets this. More important, the organization is proving it understands how to curate a festival that appeals to fans of all kinds of jazz—from Latin and Gypsy to swing and funk—and to those who might not realize they had an ear for the genre.

San Jose Jazz once again will partner with boutique promoter Universal Grammar to produce a handful of "Jazz Beyond" concerts and DJ sets featuring artists operating at the bleeding edge of jazz.

This weekend's Jazz Beyond shows kick off Friday, with a performance by buzzed-about Los Angeles outfit, The Internet. The former Odd Future-affiliates blend classic R&B, downtempo trip-hop, jazz conservatory chops and plenty of glitchy electronics into a syrupy, psychedelic future-soul cocktail.

On Saturday, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, the former DJ and producer of the legendary NYC rap crew, A Tribe Called Quest, will be spinning at The Continental.

And on Sunday, saxophonist and Flying Lotus protege, Kamasi Washington is set to unleash a maelstrom of maximalist jazz virtuosity.

Also, all this week Cafe Stritch hosts its third annual Rahsaanathon. Though not officially affiliated with San Jose Jazz Summer Fest, the event, which pays tribute to far-out jazz saxophonist Rahsaan Roland Kirk, is a destination for many jazz aficionados in town for the broader festival.

Read about these and other local jazz performances in this issue.

Intro | The Internet | Kamasi Washington | Rahsaanathon