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Highlights of San Jose Jazz Summer Fest

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WIDE RANGE: San Jose Jazz's Summer Fest has a little of something for everyone. Bop, pop, jazz, and rock all make an appearance.  Aaron Abernathy is pictured here.

WIDE RANGE: San Jose Jazz's Summer Fest has a little of something for everyone. Bop, pop, jazz, and rock all make an appearance. Aaron Abernathy is pictured here.

There’s a little bit of something for everyone at San Jose Jazz Summer Fest. Here are some of the highlights—from hot Latin rhythms to laid back licks, genre-defying new artists old standard bearers.

Aaron Abernathy
Aug 10, 11pm, Cafe Stritch
If that surname sounds familiar, it’s because Ohio-born pianist Aaron Abernathy is a grand-nephew of MLK’s right-hand man, the Rev. Ralph Abernathy. The younger Abernathy has wrestled with the plight of being black in America is his own way. That includes his vivid and moving 2017 album Dialogue, in which he seeks to reinvigorate the classic soul sound borrowed from Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye with a thoroughly contemporary take on institutional racism and the economics of inequality.

Orquesta Latin Heat
Aug 10, 9pm, GlassHouse
San Jose jazz audiences need no introduction to this popular 10-piece local dance band that has been perfecting a beguiling blend of merengue, salsa, cumbia and other Latin rhythms for the past six years. Latin Heat—which brings in musicians from Venezuela, Puerto Rico and many parts of the US—takes the headlining slot at Friday’s Jazz Fest Afterparty at the GlassHouse on South Market Street.

Yoshiaki Miyanoue
Aug 10, 10pm, El Taurino Stage
Japanese-born jazz guitarist Yoshiaki Miyanoue first picked up a guitar at the age of 10 and has been recording for close to 40 years. He was so deeply inspired by legendary guitarist Wes Montgomery that his second album was titled Song For Wes (which featured guest sideman Philly Joe Jones). Also, just like his idol Montgomery, Miyanoue never uses a guitar pick, preferring to play with the thumb. That style and a great love for American jazz has brought him audiences from New York to Tokyo and far-flung spots in between.

Sylvia Cuenca
Aug 11, Noon, Cafe Stritch
Celebrated New York-based percussionist Sylvia Cuenca has deep rhythmic roots in San Jose. It was in the South Bay where Cuenca grew up, inspired by jazz drum legend Max Roach. She later went on to perform and record with the San Jose City College Big Band before embarking on a three-decade career as a prominent drummer and recording artist behind many of the jazz world’s biggest names. She returns to her hometown at the head of a quartet with pianist Peter Zak, bassist Essiet Okon Essiet and bassoonist Paul Hanson.

Yissy & Bandacha
Aug 11, 2pm, Main Stage
Yissy Garcia grew up steeped in the sound of her father’s band, the great Cuban supergroup Irakere. Yissy is now an internationally celebrated percussionist and bandleader in her own right, bringing to the world a bold mix of styles powered by Cuban rumba, but mixed thoroughly with flavors of hip-hop, jazz and funk. Yissy & Bandacha’s debut recording Ultima Noticia was available only at their live shows until earlier this year. Now that it’s unleashed on the world, Cuban jazz may never be the same.

Aug 11, 4:45pm, Boom Box Stage
Despite the shouting that their all-caps band name implies, the Marin County-based group YASSOU is much more likely to murmur than scream. Fronted by ghostly vocalist Lilie Hoy, YASSOU jumps off into a deep dive beyond pop predictability to something haunting and dreamlike, which has drawn comps to artists such as St. Vincent and the XX. They come to the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest just before launching an ambitious collaboration with the San Francisco Ballet.

Kishi Bashi
Aug 11, 7pm, Hammer Theatre
Musical adventurer Kishi Bashi continues to bank major street cred from his association with the art rock band Of Montreal. But his signature sound has been forged both as a solo artist and as the frontman for the electronica outfit Jupiter One. On the heels of his much buzzed-about 2016 release Sonderlust—a set of shiny-pop dance tunes in which he showcases an impressive falsetto—Kishi Bashi is now embarking on a new form of expression altogether, something he calls a “songfilm,” in which he delves into the history of Japanese-American incarceration during World War II.

Aug 12, 2:30pm, Salsa Stage
The Latin American diaspora comes alive in the guise of Avance, a band fronted by quartet of vocalists that also boasts of a big and brawny horn section and a scintillating rhythm section. From Central America to Cuba to Colombia to Puerto Rico, Avance reaches into every corner of the salsa-loving world, adding a big helping of James Brown-style dance and R&B.

Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio
Aug 11, 2:30pm, El Taurino Stage
Lovers of the unique sound of the Hammond B-3 have the Delvon Lamar Trio circled on their Jazz Fest calendars. The Seattle-based group is powered by the intuitive interplay between their namesake leader on the organ and guitarist Jimmy James, reflecting the soul jazz legacy of the 1960s and ’70s. With drummer David McGraw, DLO3 showcase their chemistry on their 2016 debut release Close But No Cigar.

Swing lessons
Various Times
Jazz audiences aren’t lumpy masses of passive listeners. Jazz audiences dance. But sometimes the body doesn’t want to go where the spirit wants it to go. For those who need a little training, the Swing Stage at the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest is offering free lessons in swing dancing from many of the South Bay’s best dance teachers shortly before most performances. So, are you going to just stand there, or are you going to bust a move?

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