San Jose Jazz Summer Fest Returns This Weekend

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The rapper common in profile against a gradient violet-orange background
Common headlines the 2021 San Jose Jazz Summer Fest, continuing the festival's embrace of hip-hop.  (Courtesy San Jose Jazz)

The San Jose Jazz Summer Fest returns smaller and safer this weekend, Aug. 13–15, after pulling the plug on last year’s event due to the pandemic.

The long-running jazz festival has shrunk its physical scope if not its musical one, reducing 2019’s 14 stages to six, three of them outdoors and three indoors.

The diverse range of headliners on the main stage at Plaza de César Chávez includes Prince protégé Judith Hill, Oakland-born soul singer Goapele, and Chicago rap legend Common, whose appearance reflects the festival’s increasing embrace of hip-hop.

Among the notable smaller venues is the Montgomery Theater, which will host two tribute performances: one for Doug Carn and another for Chick Corea. The work of organist Carn has experienced a revival thanks to his foundational contribution to the freshly popular 1970s spiritual jazz movement. Carn himself demonstrates his mastery of the jazz organ this weekend while jamming with a cast of Bay Area luminaries.

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Jazz fusion pioneer Corea passed away in March. San Jose Jazz’s in-house band the SJZ Collective will play a selection of Corea’s works in celebration of the 23-time Grammy Award winner’s long and eventful career.

Around the corner and a few blocks away from festival grounds is the Latin Tropical stage, formerly known as the Salsa stage, access to which will be free to the public. Notable performers include Bay Area Cuban music classicists Septeto Los Amigos, the all-female salsa band Las Chikas and timba specialists Rumbankete.

In light of the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus, the festival is taking several precautions including mask requirements for all indoor venues, proof of vaccination or negative COVID test for entry and limited seating for indoor concerts.

San Jose Jazz Summer Fest runs Aug. 13–15. Details here.