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San Jose Jazz Celebrates International Jazz Day With Concerts

In Music
THE JAZZ SINGER: Nicole Henry is just one of many performers taking the stage locally on International Jazz Day.

THE JAZZ SINGER: Nicole Henry is just one of many performers taking the stage locally on International Jazz Day.

Even though it has been celebrated officially for more than five years, 2016 marks the first time San Jose will participate in International Jazz Day. The UNESCO-Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz-sponsored event is observed all over the world, but now, thanks to a collaboration between the city, San Jose State University and San Jose Jazz, America’s oldest and original art form will get its moment in the Silicon Valley sun.

With The Smithsonian Institute’s April Jazz Heritage Month, as well as upcoming jazz celebrations at the White House, the timing was ideal, according to Brendan Rawson, executive director of San Jose Jazz. “A lot of stars aligned,” he says. “And it felt right for us to do something free for the local community that ties into this whole international initiative.”

The event will be held at Hammer Theater—with the main acts taking the stage inside, and other performers spilling out into the plaza. Formerly home to the San Jose Repertory Theatre, the Hammer Theater is now in the hands of SJSU, which allows for a multi-dimensional use of the space.

With the help of the SJZ Boom Box, a retrofitted mobile outdoor stage, at least four local bands are scheduled to perform on the plaza. Inside, the lineup includes a performance by SJSU’s Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble and a set by renowned vocalists Nicole Henry and Nicolas Bearde, in collaboration with the San José State University Jazz Orchestra, and directed by Grammy-award winner Dr. Aaron Lington.

But San Jose Jazz is offering more than just the diverse flavors of music and food (provided by a fleet of food trucks). On one side of the building, in the cafe, Arturo Viera, the curator of Latin music for San Jose Jazz, will be giving a lecture on the current world of Latin Jazz and its history, from Puerto Rico and Cuba to New York and beyond. In the main auditorium, there will be a screening of Songs of Lahore, a 2015 documentary about a group of Pakistani Jazz musicians traveling to play with Wynton Marsalis in New York’s Lincoln Center.

While this may be the first time San Jose has come together to celebrate Jazz under an international collaboration, Rawson is confident for the future of International Jazz Day in San Jose. “Hopefully we get a big enough response that we can build a tradition around it,” he says.

International Jazz Day
Apr 30, 1pm-8pm, Free
Downtown San Jose

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