Recording artist, Nicolas Bearde, a seasoned and highly respected showman, has established himself as a powerful presence in the contemporary jazz vocal mileu over this past decade. His silky baritone sound invites comparisons to Johnny Hartman, Lou Rawls, and Joe Williams, and his wit and engaging rapport captures and draws the audience into his live performances. Nicolas has 5 CD's out on his own label, Right Groove Records, and his most recent album release, "Invitation" in January 2016, rose quickly to the Top 20 on the Jazz Week Charts, garnering rave reviews at home and abroad.
For the past 30+ years, Nicolas has made major marks in the world of jazz as an original member of Bobby McFerrin's innovative a cappella ensemble, "Voicestra", while carving out his own distinctive solo career. With classic performances and innovative interpretations of jazz standards and blues - Nicolas is the definitive jazz romantic.
Kim Nalley has performed globally, including major jazz festivals such as Monterey, Umbria Jazz and Lincoln Center, and lived in Europe before returning to San Francisco to reopen
the club Jazz at Pearl's. As owner and artistic director from 2003 to 2008, Nalley raised the club to iconic international status. Nalley often combines music and history to create historiographical concerts, including her award winning “Ladies Sing the Blues”, “She Put a Spell on Me: Tribute to Nina Simone”, and “Freedom’s Song: Music of the Civil Rights Movement”. She was musical director and curator for the Martin Luther King Institute’s Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington and “The Heart of Lady Day, A Billie Holiday bopic.
Tiffany Austin has shared the stage with vibraphonist Roy Ayers at Motion Blue (Japan), drummer Tommy Campbell at NYC’s Blue Note, and saxophonist John Handy for a 3 night
engagement at Dizzy’s (NYC) to commemorate his 1965 Monterey Jazz Festival performance. Her debut recording, “Nothing But Soul” received a warm reception from audiences and
critics alike, including a 4star DownBeat Magazine review, a feature on NPR’s Fresh Air program, and inclusion on KQED’s Top 10 Bay Area Jazz Releases list for 2015.
Amikaeyla Gaston has been called one of the “purest contemporary voices” by NPR. Her debut album “Mosaic” won 12 music awards, including Best Jazz Vocalist, Best Urban Contemporary Vocalist, Best World Music Vocalist, and Best Debut Artist. She was named Washington DC’s best Female Composer three times and has performed and recorded and travelled the world with such artists as Sweet Honey in The Rock, Baba Olatunji, Mickey Hart, Pete Seeger, Gil Scott Heron, Howard Levy of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Eugene Friesen & Glen Velez of the Paul Winter Consort, Esperanza Spalding and Sheila E.
Jessica Lá Rel
Jessica Lá Rel is a soul singer-songwriter originally from Chicago now based out of the San Francisco Bay Area, Lá Rel released her EP entitled, Four Freedoms in September 2016 which placed in the Top 30 on the UK Soul Charts within two weeks of its release.
Lá Rel's most recent music videos have gained national attention as they inspire empathy around the issue of police brutality and representation in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics). Huffington Post recently commented on Lá Rel's work, stating Lá Rel "uses her song and video to provide an anthem for the contemporary movement for Black rights. She is a rising superstar with incredible potential, an artist who inspires, and someone that we should all be looking out for." Lá Rel has performed for Oprah, Nikki Giovanni, and Jesse Jackson, and has been featured at multiple venues/festivals in California, Atlanta, Washington DC, and Chicago. Jessica Lá Rel has also opened for Macklemore, Omarion, Melanie Fiona, Luke James, and Angelique Kidjo.
Tammy Lynne Hall began playing the piano at age four, in Dallas, Texas. She has with worked award-winning cabaret singer and actress, Connie Champagne, the Supreme Mary Wilson, chanteuse and actress Debbie De Coudreaux, The Montclair Women’s Big Band, Houston Person, the late David ‘Fathead Newman’, jazz violinists Regina Carter, Jeremy Cohen, Mads Tolling, orchestra leader and bassist Marcus Shelby, vocalists Kim Nalley, Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir, Holly Near, Lynne Asher, Melba Moore, Lady Mem’fis, Diane Witherspoon, Queen Esther Marrow, Ernestine Anderson, Derek Lassiter, Nicolas Bearde, Kenny Washington, the late Etta Jones and many others.
Tammy has traveled and performed extensively in Japan, Europe and Mexico, including a 30-city tour with Queen Esther Marrow and the Harlem Gospel Singers throughout Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Other venues and festivals of note include Kennedy Center (Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival), Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, Sala Filharmonica (Trento, ITALY), Herbst Theatre, Monterey Jazz Festival, San Jose Jazz Festival, SFJazz Center, Yoshi's Oakland and San Francisco and Kuumbwa Jazz in Santa Cruz, CA.
Marcus Anthony Shelby is a bandleader, composer, arranger, bassist, educator, and activist. Over the past 25 years he has built a diverse biography as a composer. His work and music has focused on sharing the history, present, and future of African American lives, on social movements in the United States of America, and on early childhood music education. In 1990, Marcus Shelby received the Charles Mingus Scholarship to attend Cal Arts and study composition with James Newton and bass with Charlie Haden. From 1990-1996, Shelby was bandleader of Columbia Records and GRP Impulse! Recording Artists Black/Note. Currently, Shelby is an artist in residence with the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival and the Artistic Director of the Marcus Shelby Orchestra. In 2013, Shelby received a MAP Fund Award and commission from the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival to compose “Beyond the Blues: A Prison Oratorio” an original composition for big band orchestra about the“Prison Industrial Complex,” which premiered in September 2015. Shelby was awarded a 2009 Black Metropolis Research Consortium Fellowship in Chicago for Summer 2009 to conduct research for his commission to compose “Soul of the Movement”—a musical suite on MLK and the Civil Rights Movement. Shelby was also a 2006 Fellow in the Resident Dialogues Program of the Committee for Black Performing Arts at Stanford University to conduct research for his commission to compose “Harriet Tubman”
NYC-based drummer/composer/teacher Allison Miller gathers inspiration from a wide array of genres. Coming from the Jazz tradition, she engages her deep roots in improvisation as a vehicle to explore all music. Described by critics as a charismatic and rhythmically propulsive drummer with melodic sensibility, Miller has been named “Rising Star Drummer” and “Top 20 Jazz Drummers” in Downbeat Magazine’s acclaimed Critics Poll. Her band, Boom Tic Boom, is a 2014 recipient of Chamber Music America’s “Presenter Consortium for Jazz Grant” and is proudly sponsored by Mid- Atlantic Arts Foundation.
Boom Tic Boom, featuring pianist Myra Melford, violinist Jenny Scheinman, clarinetist Ben Goldberg, cornet player Kirk Knuffke, bassist Todd Sickafoose, and Miller on drums and composition, is currently celebrating it’s fourth release, Otis was a Polar Bear (2016, RPF). The New York Times says, “(Otis was a Polar Bear) is a smart, engaging new album.”
Previous releases include 5am Stroll (2005), Boom Tic Boom (2010), Live at Willisau (2012), and No Morphine No Lilies (2013) -“No Morphine No Lilies demonstrates that her (Allison Miller) craftiness as a percussionist is met by her ingenuity as a composer and group conceptualist.” -The New Yorker.
Adam Theis is a multi-instrumentalist, producer, bandleader and composer based in Oakland, CA who plays trombone, trumpet, tuba, bass, keyboards and anything/everything else he can get his hands on. In 2000, Theis co-founded Jazz Mafia - an eclectic artist collective of some of the most forward thinking and accomplished players in the fields of Electro, Hip-Hop, World, Classical and of course, Jazz. As Jazz Mafia’s director, Adam has assembled over 100 different live projects over the past 17 years and led/co-led dozens of acclaimed bands. He is also the Director of SFJAZZ's Monday Night Band, Director of the Truckee Jazz Camp, and winner of the Gerbode-Hewlett Foundation’s “Emerging Composer” Grant.
Philip Van Vleck, writing for Billboard, states "(Brewer's) guitar work is fluent, and his feel for the groove is unerring..." Bill Milkowski, writing for JazzTimes proclaims, "(Brewer is) A melodic improviser with an exquisite tone and an abundance of soul...", and the Philadelphia Daily News gave Groovin' Wes an "A".
In addition to the Monterey Jazz Festival, Brewer played to standing ovations at the Russian River Jazz Festival, SFJazz Festival, Fillmore Jazz Festival, and many others. In addition to headlining his own shows, Brewer has worked with vocalist/pianist Diana Krall, Michael McDonald (Doobie Brothers), Mary Wilson (The Supremes), Gerald Albright, Dr. Anthony Brown, Pete Escovedo, Dave Ellis, Calvin Keyes, and has studied with the likes of Charlie Hunter, Duck Baker, Tom Patitucci, Mark Levine, and others.
Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir
Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, under the Musical Direction of Terrence Kelly, was originally founded by Living Jazz in 1986. In 1991, OIGC splintered off to form an independent corporation and has been, since that time, performing, touring and recording. The award-winning Choir’s exquisite harmonies and stirring gospel repertoire have led to performances with a wide variety of esteemed groups, such as Joshua Nelson, the Prince of Kosher Gospel; the Five Blind Boys of Alabama; and the Duke Ellington Orchestra. The Choir also appears on Grammy-winning albums by Linda Ronstadt, MC Hammer, Tramaine Hawkins, and others. The 70-voice choir is a six-time winner of the Gospel Academy Award for Best Community Choir of the Year, and recipient of the Gold Award at the International Music Festival in Sydney, Australia, a California Music Award of Special Recognition for Excellence, and a City of Oakland Key to Creativity.
Living Jazz Children’s Project
The Living Jazz Children’s Project is a music education program provided free of charge by Living Jazz to Title One Oakland public elementary schools with little or no access to the arts. This season, we are proud to serve over 300 children from Cleveland, Glenview and Carl B. Munk elementary schools. Schools are selected because of the diversity of the population and the lack of funding for cultural programming. The MLK Tribute event will showcase the culmination of the children’s work under the musical direction of Terrence Kelly and accompanist Ben Heveroh. LJCP provides a number of important services for underserved children: access to a high quality music fundamental program, exposure to the teachings of Dr. King, and an exciting opportunity to showcase their accomplishments by performing at a high profile public event alongside professional artists.