New Works Fest 2021 Promo Video
The SJZ New Works Festival, April 29–May 8, will feature four nights of streamed performances by some of the most exciting artists in jazz, blues, R&B, soul and electronic music in the SF Bay Area and New York. The festival is an outgrowth of SJZ’s Jazz Aid Fund initiative, which provided grants individually to 33 artists, each to produce a new work. A direct response to the Coronavirus pandemic, these grants provided immediate funds to these musicians, who had been largely excluded from regional and national aid efforts. The works submitted have proven to be extraordinary, and we’ve chosen 11 artists to present 25-minute segments available to create great evenings of music on a pay-per-view basis. The Fest also includes a free International Jazz Day live stream on April 30 at 7:30pm featuring the Oran Etkin Open Arms Project.
These concerts will be captured in the SJZ Break Room, a popup video recording studio and venue that SJZ has developed in its ground floor offices at First and San Carlos in San Jose's SoFA District. The technology of the space is first-class with marvelous sound, lighting and video, and all the action is projection-mapped to a 35' X 14' bank of windows, providing the show free to the public and enlivening downtown street life.
Chris Cain offers up a soulful stew of Memphis-style electric blues. His powerfully deep vocals and blues guitar riffs are unforgettably his own, while reminiscent of legends like BB King.
Claudia Villela’s glorious five-octave voice is lithe and startlingly beautiful in every register. The Rio de Janeiro native writes and sings mostly in with keen emotional insight and supple rhythmic command.
Saxophonist Howard Wiley is a major force in the Bay Area music scene, steeped in African-American idioms like gospel, blues, jazz, funk and R&B.
Hayward multi-instrumentalist Ian Santillano taught himself how to play the guitar after years of playing Guitar Hero.
Javier Santiago is one of the most prolific young pianists in the Bay Area and a notable force in the jazz, beat and hip-hop scenes.
Justin Ouellet, named 2019’s Best Jazz Instrumentalist by San Francisco Classical Voice, has garnered a reputation as a fearless performer and dedicated educator.
Oakland native Kev Choice is a classically-trained pianist, emcee, composer and bandleader who uses wit and creative lyricism to bring a positive and inspiring message to his unique blend of jazz, R&B and soul.
Oran Etkin has been described as “ebullient” by The New York Times, a “composer of eminent individuality” by Yusef Lateef and was voted #1 Rising Star Clarinetist in DownBeat Magazine’s Critic’s Poll.
Learning to play a Wurlitzer electric piano while still in diapers, Robbie “Gwobs” Benson had a rich musical upbringing where a Hammond B3 organ was just an arm’s length away.
Tammy Lynne Hall began playing the piano at age four, and has become one of the most respected and beloved performers and music directors in the SF Bay Area.
Ten Spencer is a rising, Oakland-based vocalist and visual artist. Her sultry, honey-sweet voice captures the minds of her audience and invites them into her world.
A fearless musical explorer, Vân-Ánh Võ is an award-winning performer of the 16-string đàn tranh (zither) and an Emmy Award-winning composer who has collaborated with Kronos Quartet and Yo-Yo Ma.
To make Fest nights even more special, grab some takeout from these great restaurants who support San Jose Jazz.
See what's on the menu
New Works Fest
Ian Santillano, Tammy Hall & Claudia Villela
Thu, Apr 29
7:30pm Pacific /
International Jazz Day Live Stream: Oran Etkin's Open Arms Project
Fri, Apr 30
Betto Arcos: Interview with Vân-Ánh Võ, John Santos and Claudia Villela
Mon, May 3
Film Screening: Linda and the Mockingbirds
Wed, May 5
Ten Spencer, Vân-Ánh Võ, Javier Santiago & Chris Cain
Thu, May 6
Robbie Benson, Justin Ouellet, Howard Wiley & Kev Choice
Sat, May 8
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Justin Ouellet, named 2019’s Best Jazz Instrumentalist by San Francisco Classical Voice, has garnered a reputation as a fearless performer and dedicated educator. In addition to an accomplished career as a classical musician on both violin and viola, Justin moves effortlessly between genres such as jazz, R&B, blues, rock and hip-hop, and has collaborated with an astonishing range of artists from Kev Choice and Jennifer Johns to Air Traffic Controller and Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg. Justin is a recipient of the Academy of Gospel Music Award for his achievement in arts education as co-director of Orchestral & Chamber Music Studies at Oakland School for the Arts.
Oakland native Kev Choice is a classically-trained pianist, emcee, composer and bandleader who uses conscious lyricism to bring a positive message to his unique blend of hip-hop, jazz, R&B and soul. Kev has worked with the likes of Michael Franti, Goapele and The Coup, to name a few, and has toured as music director with Ms. Lauryn Hill. He currently leads his own multi-genre blending band, the Kev Choice Ensemble and has composed for the Oakland and San Francisco Symphonies. His latest album is 2020’s Social Distancing. He currently teaches at Oakland School for the Arts and serves on Oakland's Cultural Affairs Commission and the Governor's Board of the SF Chapter of the Recording Academy.
Claudia Villela’s glorious five-octave voice is lithe and startlingly beautiful in every register. Born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, she writes and sings mostly in Portuguese, interpreting lyrics with keen emotional insight and supple rhythmic command. Already performing professionally in Brazil in her teens, Claudia later attended the Manhattan School of Music evolving into an inventive scat singer and an ingenious songwriter with an astonishing body of original material. The latest of her seven albums is 2019’s Encantada (Live), a collection of performances that DownBeat lauded as exhibiting “an unwavering commitment to the highest level of improvisation.”
claudiavillela.com facebook.com/claudiavillelamusica instagram.com/claudiavillelamusic
Hayward multi-instrumentalist Ian Santillano taught himself how to play the guitar after years of playing Guitar Hero. Since then, he’s forged a melodic, soulful sound from influences including John Mayer’s Continuum, D'Angelo’s Voodoo and Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly. While at Santa Clara University, Ian sharpened his music skills, learning jazz and music theory while getting degree in Computer Engineering. Now 24, he writes, produces and records his original music. Lush pads, funky drums, dreamy vocals and aggressive guitar solos support lyrics of honesty and self-experience. Ian has a sound all his own: “Greasy Mayer;” melodic funky soul with a touch of jazz vocabulary.
iansantillano.com iansantillanostore.com instagram.com/ian_santillano
Ten Spencer is a rising, Oakland-based vocalist and visual artist. Whether it’s hip-hop, modern jazz, R&B, soul, rock or indie pop, her sultry, honey-sweet voice captures the minds of her audience and invites them into her world. Ten works with musicians on both coasts and has opened for artists including Joe, Alex Isley and Mario. Her music is original and healing, and expands upon a wide appreciation of the Black American improvisational music that guides her work today. She’s the recipient of various vocalist awards and was the 2019 Jazz Search West Award winner.
Chris Cain offers up a soulful stew of Memphis style electric blues. His powerfully deep vocals and jazz inspired, blues guitar riffs are unforgettably his own, while reminiscent of legends like BB King and Albert King. When Chris burst onto the blues scene with the first of 12 albums, 1987’s Cuttin’ Loose, he found himself sharing the stage with a few of those legends including Albert King and Albert Collins. The combination of his blues upbringing and his jazz studies melded to form the searing guitar style that has moved Chris Cain to the top ranks of the blues music scene.
chriscainmusic.com Chris' Facebook Page
Oran Etkin has been described as “ebullient” by The New York Times, a “composer ofeminent individuality” by Yusef Lateef and was voted #1 Rising Star Clarinetistin DownBeat Magazine’s Critic’s Poll. His unique sound on the clarinet, bass-clarinetand saxophone emanates from openness to deep musical connections that oftentranscend cultural and generational boundaries. Last April, as the world was closingdown, Oran’s response was Open Arms Project: a series of singles and music videosrecorded and filmed shortly before the closures on location in Rio de Janeiro,Harrare Zimbabwe, Prague, Paris and São Paulo. “Open Arms to me is an attitude,”he reflects. “It’s felt in the warmth with which I was greeted in each country andhow we welcomed each other into our musical worlds.” One year later, as the worldstarts to open and imagine a new future, Oran will premiere the next stage of theOpen Arms Project. Traveling to San Jose from New York, he’ll collaborate with SFBay Area musicians to reinterpret and add their own voice the music of the OpenArms series. Reflecting the true spirit of International Jazz Day, Oran and his bandcreate a fresh forward-looking sound that tells the musical story of an opening andhumanly connected world.
Javier Santiago is one of the most prolific young pianists in the Bay Area and a notable force in the jazz, beat and hip-hop scenes. He has played with top rising international stars including Theo Croker, Kenneth Whalum, John Raymond, Yosvany Terry and Irwin Hall. Javier’s debut album, Phoenix (2018) on Ropeadope Records was named the #1 Jazz Album of the Year by Vinyl Me, Please. In addition to being a pianist and sideman, Santiago is also an accomplished educator, arranger and producer. He is alumnus of The Brubeck Institute Fellowship Program and The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in NYC.
javiersantiagomusic.com javiersantiago.bandcamp.com instagram.com/JavierSantiagoMusic facebook.com/javiersantiagomusic
Saxophonist Howard Wiley is a major force in the Bay Area music scene, steeped in African-American idioms like gospel, blues, jazz, funk and R&B. Howard is a certified prodigy, having been selected as a member of the Grammy All-American Jazz Band at age 14, later participating in the Herbie Hancock Institute program and winning a scholarship to Berklee School of Music. He’s gone on to tour regularly with Kamasi Washington and has performed with the likes of Miss Lauryn Hill, Sheila E, Christian McBride and more. He has performed at the Playboy Jazz Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, North Sea Jazz Fest, SXSW and at prestigious venues worldwide.
Learning to play on a Wurlitzer electric piano while still in diapers, Robbie “Gwobs” Benson had a rich musical upbringing in San Jose, where a Hammond B3 organ was just an arm’s length away. Surrounded by the sounds of his dad & uncle's R&B vinyl collection and their stories as bay area musicians, Robbie was born into a deep appreciation for his hometown’s rich musical history. Greatly inspired and mentored by the local legends he’d see perform (Clifford Coulter, Ron E. Beck, Russell Ferrante, etc.), Robbie has tried to keep that old-school San Jose "funk" alive for the next generation.
Tammy Lynne Hall began playing the piano at age four, urged on by her two grandmothers who pooled their resources to fund her private lessons. Since then she has become one of the most respected and beloved performers and music directors in the SF Bay Area. Tammy has worked with acclaimed vocalists like Etta Jones, Kim Nalley, Nicolas Bearde, Ernestine Anderson, Melba Moore, and Queen Esther Marrow; and instrumentalists such as Regina Carter and Terrence Brewer. In 2017 she was awarded Best Musical Direction from the Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle for her work in Pamela Rose's Blues Is A Woman.
tammyhall.com facebook.com/hallhawkins instagram.com/tammylynnehall
A fearless musical explorer, Vân-Ánh Võ is an award-winning performer of the 16-string đàn tranh (zither) and an Emmy Award-winning composer who has collaborated with Kronos Quartet, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, and Yo-Yo Ma. She has performed her music in 14 countries, at prestigious venues including Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Houston Grand Opera, WOMAD Festival (UK), and the 2012 London Olympic Games. A prolific composer, she co-composed music for the Oscar® nominated documentary Daughter from Danang and the Emmy® Award winning film and soundtrack for Bolinao 52. In 2021 she premieres Songs of Strength at Cal Performances and Mekong: SOUL, commissioned by the Kennedy Center.