JAZZ SEARCH WEST GRAND FINALE

The Bay Area’s Annual Jazz Talent Search for solo instrumentalists and vocalists is in it's final round! 8 finalists perform at the Grand Finale at Yoshi’s Oakland. 4 top winners are ultimately selected and awarded prizes designed to enhance their musical career such as a demo CD, recording studio time, full tuition to Jazz Camp West and performance opportunities.

2019 Finale

GRAND FINALE
TUESDAY APRIL 30, 8PM
YOSHI'S OAKLAND
510 EMBARCADERO WEST
OAKLAND CA 94607
ADMISSION: $20

Drinks and Food available.

From left to right: Erik Nelson, Erin Honeywell, Marcello Severo, Cristen Spencer, Charles Chen, Hannah Mayer, Rebecca Holtz and Rhonda Sauce

From left to right: Erik Nelson, Erin Honeywell, Marcello Severo, Cristen Spencer, Charles Chen, Hannah Mayer, Rebecca Holtz and Rhonda Sauce

2019 Finalists

ERIK NELSON - SAXOPHONE

Erik Nelson.jpg
  1. How long have you been playing/singing?
    I've been playing for 9 years.

  2. How were you introduced to music?
    Elementary school band.

  3. Who are your biggest musical influences?
    John Coltrane and Michael Brecker.

  4. Why do you want to compete in Jazz Search West?
    For fun.

  5. What are your goals as an artist?
    Do something new and interesting.

  6. What would winning Jazz Search West mean to you?
    Launching my career hopefully.

ERIN HONEYWELL - VOCALS

ErinHoneywell_sweetwater.jpg
  1. How long have you been singing?
    For as long as I can remember, I've been singing. When I was little, I would use the handle of the vacuum cleaner as my microphone, and music was just always playing in my house.

  2. How were you introduced to music?
    My parents first introduced me to great music, especially my mom. She would would sing us Stevie Wonder for our lullabies, and always had some form of soul, jazz, or blues playing in the house. It was in Middle School and High School, however, that I really got into jazz. I was just amazed at the beauty of jazz standards and the amount of creativity and playfulness they demanded. Luckily, I had a great teacher who encouraged me.

  3. Who are your biggest musical influences?
    Stevie Wonder, Ella Fitzgerald, and Aretha Franklin. I have SO many influences, but they're the biggest ones. They started my life long love affair with music, and they continue to teach and inspire me with their virtuosity and feeling.

  4. Why do you want to compete in Jazz Search West?
    At first, the idea of any sort of competition was a bit shuttering, and it still kind of is. But for the sake of my own development, I know I need to quiet my ego and look for opportunities to grow. This was a perfect chance to do that. Win or lose, I knew I'd be able to connect with more jazz-lovers and get some constructive feedback. I also love that all the prizes are designed to really push your career forward, and it would be really nice to have some help with that.

  5. What are your goals as an artist?
    As an artist, I want to create music that moves people and be a vessel for heart-opening connection. I would love to travel the world with people and players who inspire me to be better and create that high that only comes from good music. I want to feel grounded in my body, connected to the harmony, and sing the truth. For me, witnessing other artists in their truth is THE most inspiring act. I want to be a part of that culture of authenticity.

  6. What would winning Jazz Search West mean to you?
    Winning Jazz Search West would be an incredible honor and an incredible validation. Pursuing music is often filled with a lot of doubt and rejection, and winning this competition would just be an amazing push forward, both personally and professionally.

MARCELLO SEVERO - PIANO

Screen Shot 2019-04-17 at 1.12.46 PM.png
  1. How long have you been playing?
    12 years

  2. How were you introduced to music?
    I began taking piano lesson at the age of 4.

  3. Who are your biggest musical influences?
    I am influenced by experimental jazz musicians, such as Charles Mingus and Miles Davis. I also take influence from modern classical musicians like Debussy, Bartok, Steve Reich, and John Adams.

  4. What are your goals as an artist?
    It provides more opportunities for me to perform jazz.

  5. What are your goals as an artist?
    I would like to collaborate with like-minded musicians and get my compositions performed.

  6. What would winning Jazz Search West mean to you?
    If I won the competition, I would appreciate the recognition and the potential prizes, like a recording session.

CRISTEN SPENCER - VOCALS

  1. How long have you been playing/singing?
    I have been singing since 2011, in jazz band and choir.

  2. How were you introduced to music?
    My family is a very musical family, so expressing myself musically was very innate. My way was via performing and singing. Soul, gospel and power rock were what got me going

  3. Who are your biggest musical influences?
    Some of my biggest musical influences are Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Larry Graham, Outkast, and Lianne La Havas, and Mccoy Tyner

  4. Why do you want to compete in Jazz Search West?
    I want to compete in Jazz Search West to become a better performer, and get powerful and knowledgeable constructive criticism about my craft and the way that I can improve it

  5. What are your goals as an artist?
    My goals as an artist are to always perform things authentic to me and to BAM, become a pro, and enjoy the journey!

  6. What would winning Jazz Search West mean to you?
    For me, winning Jazz Search West would be a great accomplishment and would place me and opportunities to work with others and to grow personally as an artist.

CHARLES CHEN - PIANO

Screen Shot 2019-03-26 at 1.39.42 PM.png
  1. How long have you been playing/singing?
    I've been playing the piano for 25 years.

  2. How were you introduced to music?
    My grandfather helped fix electronics in the 60s, so we always had a bunch of records at home. I grew up listening to people like Ella Fitzgerald and Wes Montgomery.

  3. Who are your biggest musical influences?
    Peter Horvath is my jazz teacher. Ellen Wassermann is my classical teacher. They've been very influential in my growth and I take all their advice.

    I spent about an hour writing this paragraph and ended up basically reconstructing the Wikipedia list for jazz and classical pianists. Let's just say I stand on the shoulders of masters, and so here's two that you know and two that you may not know:
    Jazz: Oscar Peterson, Keith Jarrett, Jaki Byard, Elmo Hope
    Classical: Glenn Gould, Artur Rubinstein, Dinu Lipatti, Radu Lupu

  4. Why do you want to compete in Jazz Search West? 
    I just want to perform for more people!

  5. What are your goals as an artist?
    Perform once a month
    Record an album
    Learn all of Bach's Well Tempered Clavier

  6. What would winning Jazz Search West mean to you?
    It would be awesome because I want to play on the Fazioli in Piedmont Piano again!

REBECCA HOLTZ - VOCALS

Holtz_Headshot.JPG
  1. How long have you been singing?
    I've been singing jazz music for the past 9 years.

  2. How were you introduced to music?
    Grateful to have a musical family and a thriving creative community where I grew up. Big shout out to Eugene Uman and the Vermont Jazz Center for their mentorship!

  3. Who are your biggest musical influences?
    Ella Fitzgerald, Cécile McLorin Salvant, ZAZ, Jose James, Dinah Washington, and Nancy Wilson.

  4. Why do you want to compete in Jazz Search West?
    I'm relatively new to the Bay Area and haven't had formal training in a while. JazzSearch has been a great opportunity to get constructive feedback and hear a range of talented, innovative artists!

  5. What are your goals as an artist?
    To inspire the audience. To move people to emotionally connect with the performance and, hopefully, with each other.

  6. What would winning Jazz Search West mean to you?
    It would be a huge honor and encouragement to move me forward on this musical path.

HANNAH MAYER - PIANO

Hannah Mayer.jpg
  1. How long have you been playing/singing?
    I have been playing piano for 10 years.’

  2. How were you introduced to music?
    I grew up listening to a lot of musical theatre albums, which now I look back on with newfound appreciation for the composers and the melodic motifs written throughout that help tell stories. In addition to some classical technique, my first piano teacher taught me to play chords and sing, accompanying myself. This led me to play jazz in middle school where I learned to translate chords into a jazz setting. From there I became interested in jazz and fell in love with the music.

  3. Who are your biggest musical influences?
    Currently I am very inspired by the playing of Wynton Kelly, Bud Powell, Cedar Walton, and Herbie Hancock.

  4. Why do you want to compete in Jazz Search West?
    I want to compete in Jazz Search West because it is an extremely supportive environment where I can receive feedback to improve my playing. The experience will also allow me to meet and hear other talented musicians from around the Bay Area. 

  5. What are your goals as an artist?
    I would love to be able to create music that people can connect and relate to.

  6. What would winning Jazz Search West mean to you?
    Winning would be such an honor, and would help me in becoming the musician I aspire to be in terms of personal connections, opportunities, and self confidence.

RHONDA SAUCE - VOCAL

rhondasauceheadshot.jpg
  1. How long have you been singing?
    I've been playing music instrumentally for about 19 years, however, I've only recognized my voice as a legitimate instrument in the last 10 or so years; since then I've been exploring the many ways in which I can use voice to express music.

  2. How were you introduced to music?
    I don't think I've ever had a proper introduction to music; music seemed to always be around. When I was young, I distinctly remember the radio being on all the time, hearing old Motown, Funk and Jazz classics. To be honest, I don't think I knew what or who I was listening to at the time, but I was fascinated with these various sounds and sought to emulate them both instrumentally and vocally. With a bit of time and formal training, I've been able to explore jazz more intimately, while creating my own identity within the genre pulling from these older influences.

  3. Who are your biggest musical influences?
    What a loaded question! First and foremost, Django Reinhardt, he was my first introduction to Jazz. From there, American Jazz artists like Cole Porter, Eddie Jefferson, Coleman Hawkins, Ella Fitzgerald, Sydney Bechet. 

  4. Why do you want to compete in Jazz Search West?
    To be challenged! Hearing all of these talented performers is reigniting my infatuation for jazz and singing. It's so encouraging to be around musical contemporaries-- so much so that I enjoy practicing again.

  5. What are your goals as an artist?
    I want to hone my technical skills as a vocalist and push the bounds of what an be done with the voice. When I hear scat and vocalese artists like Jon Hendricks, King Pleasure, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, and Al Jarreau, it really challenges how I conceptualize my voice as an instrument and the many things I can do with it. It inspires me to come up with new and different methods of making sound, challenging traditional beliefs of what it means to "sing jazz."

  6. What would winning Jazz Search West mean to you?
    Winning Jazz Search West would definitely validate my abilities as a vocalist-- since my primary musical training has been solely instrumental, I carry a certain insecurity with regard to my voice because I don't exactly know what I'm doing-- I'm just having fun making sounds that are easy on the ears.