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June 17, 2009

Stanford celebrates jazz with more than 100 performers, 34 events

This year's Stanford Jazz Festival launches its 38th season on June 26 with an eclectic menu of jazz, including swing, bebop, cool, big band, modern, blues and Latin shows. The festival continues through Aug. 8.

Stanford's renowned jazz festival is one of the top jazz events on the West Coast, drawing about 15,000 music enthusiasts annually. This year's festival is presenting 34 concerts and showcasing more than 100 performers over its six-week run. The Jazz Camp and Jazz Residency have over 500 participating students so far.

Among the more popular events are noontime concerts on the patio of Tresidder Union (the side nearest White Plaza). The concerts, free and open to the public, are scheduled for Wednesday, July 22; Friday, July 24; Wednesday, July 29; Friday, July 31; and Monday to Friday, Aug. 3-7.

According to Jim Nadel, founder and artistic/executive director of the Stanford Jazz Workshop, which sponsors the festival, this year's events are distinguished by "the unique combinations of musicians rarely heard elsewhere, the global scope of the festival and celebration of great artists from the past as well as jazz icons."

He said that the focus of the festival "brings together a unique community of musicians … who would never otherwise gather in one place and interact musically and informally." For example, dynamic and versatile drummer Matt Wilson teams with guitarist Julian Lage on July 25; the following day, pianist, composer and bandleader Taylor Eigsti brings his new and innovative "Free Agency," featuring two singers and two pianos, for its West Coast debut.

Nadel also noted the appearance this summer of two of the National Endowment for the Arts' Jazz Masters. Jazz legend and bebop pioneer James Moody teams up with Benny Green on opening night June 26, and saxophonist Jimmy Heath and the Heath Brothers, one of the most influential families in jazz, will return to the festival Aug. 2.

The global scope of the festival will be showcased by Cuban virtuoso Gonzalo Rubalcaba in a rare solo piano performance June 27. Dafnis Prieto brings his Sí o Sí (Yes or Yes) Quartet to Stanford June 28. Prieto, also Cuban born, "is a thrilling drummer and his dazzling rhythm compositions are also always warm, accessible and uplifting," said Nadel. Brazilian guitarist Paulo Bellinati will make his first appearance at Stanford July 17, and Wayne Wallace's Latin Jazz Quintet will perform July 19.

The festival will feature two celebrations of great musicians. Frank Sinatra will be honored with a special program, "Songs of Sinatra," July 5. "The great American songbook has always provided jazz musicians with wonderful vehicles for improvisation," said Nadel. With the Sinatra program, he said, "We celebrate Frank Sinatra's contributions in interpreting this great music."

Saxophonist Stan Getz, an influential Stanford faculty member and artist-in-residence, was inspiration in the early days of the program; he will be celebrated during "Stan@Stanford: Remembering Stan Getz" Aug. 4.

The festival is an outgrowth of the Stanford Jazz Workshop, a nonprofit founded in 1972 to foster jazz education and appreciation. From the outset, however, it welcomed jazz artists and fans to campus each summer. As its reputation and programs grew, and as it started attracting such prominent musicians as Dizzy Gillespie and Stan Getz, the workshop began presenting public concerts to encourage appreciation and awareness of jazz. These concerts evolved into the Stanford Jazz Festival.

Perhaps as a result of its education-oriented origins, the festival continues to include programs that mix well-established performers with newcomers. The annual festival also features recitals by its Jazz Camp and Jazz Residency participants and a Jazz Mentors concert showcasing its teacher-training program.

Two free "Early Bird" Saturday morning shows, designed for those 12 years and under, are a magnet for families and introduce younger listeners to the fundamentals of the genre. The annual "Everything You Wanted to Know About Jazz" concert—also a free event—tours different jazz styles and analyzes the arrangements of popular standards such as "Autumn Leaves." Many Stanford Jazz Festival events also feature "Inside Jazz" free pre-concert talks by leading personalities from the jazz community.

A complete schedule of festival events is online at For more information, visit the website or call 736-0324. Tickets range from $10 to $40 for general admission (depending on the concert). A half-price discount is available for those with a valid student ID and for children under 18. To buy tickets, visit the Stanford Ticket Office in Tresidder Union or call 725-2787. Tickets also can be purchased online at



Cynthia Haven, Stanford News Service: (650) 724-6184,

Laura Grivainis Thorne, Stanford Jazz Workshop: (650) 736-0324, ext. 305,


Jim Nadel, Stanford Jazz Workshop: (650) 736-0324, ext. 304,

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