San Jose Jazz Summer Fest 2023 Announces Initial Headliners

Article Contributed by JP Cutler Media | Published on Thursday, April 13, 2023

Silicon Valley's premier annual music event, San Jose Jazz Summer Fest 2023 returns for its 33rd festival season from Friday, August 11 through Sunday, August 13 in and around Plaza de César Chavez Park in downtown San Jose, Calif. Renowned as one of North America's foremost music events with its dynamic three-day programming, San Jose Jazz presents a thrilling artist lineup for one of the summer's major San Francisco Bay Area outdoor music festivals. SJZ Summer Fest 2023 features 100 acts across eight indoor and outdoor stages with acclaimed headliners on The Sobrato Organization Main Stage including multi-GRAMMY Award-winner and Blue Note Records recording jazz artist Gregory Porterbringing his bone-deep baritone voice to San Jose for an incredible Main Stage Closing Night set as he performs music from his critically-acclaimed new album, All Rise. Renowned funk/jazz bassist and a UNESCO Artist for Peace, Marcus Miller graces the main stage on Saturday evening before GRAMMY-winner and platinum-selling Anthony Hamilton lays down a fiery R&B set as the Saturday night headliner. Friday night puts the spotlight on one of the most talked about bands on the live music circuit today, W.I.T.C.H., who are wowing audiences with their rock n' roll-inspired traditional African music. Eight-member brass sensation out of the Crescent City, The Soul Rebels take the stage for an unforgettable Friday night of powerhouse NOLA horn action. Additional main stage headliners will be announced soon.

San Jose Jazz Summer Fest 2023 also officially announces today additional confirmed festival artists including The Bad Plus, Grace Kelly, Veronica Swift, Marcus Shelby New Orchestra Featuring Tiffany Austin, Shayna Steele, Sunny War, Vanessa Collier, Patrice Rushen, Billy Childs, Vocal Gents of Jazz with Kenny Washington, Nicolas Bearde & Jamie Davis, Gabi Hartmann, Luca Stricagnoli, Halie Loren, Ronit Widmann-Levy & Angel Romero, Benny Benack III, Isaiah Collier & the Chosen Few, Soul Message Band, Maraca & Orquesta La Moderna Tradición, Lalin St. Juste, Basivibe, Stimulator Jones, Ian Santillano, Ensemble Contratiemple Afrovenezuelan Jazz, Journey Through Multicultural Jazz and Dance, Mr. Clifford's Young Jazz All Stars, and many more acts.

SJZ Summer Fest 2023 serves as a platform honoring the vibrancy of the jazz art form. For over three decades, the beloved festival has been celebrated for presenting marquee performances by lauded artists, as well as musicians on the verge of breaking into the mainstream, international artists from across the globe, regional gems including SJZ Jazz Aid Fund artists, and influential trendsetters pushing the genre into new territories. SJZ Summer Fest 2023 has something for everyone with its unbelievable value for a relatively low-ticket price. Three-day festival passes are now on sale at Advance Purchase prices at at four levels of access. The Priority Access level offers special seating with comfortable folding chairs at the front of the Main Stage with an exclusive attached bar, access to skipping lines at indoor venues and access to special events to be announced. VIP experiences are better than everwith up-close seating, exceptional food and drinks, shady viewing areas, exclusive bar and entrance gate, and "first-in" venue access. More info is available at

"San Jose Jazz Summer Fest 2023 reflects the heart of our flagship annual music event with some of today's best performers in jazz, R&B, Latin, salsa, global music, and beyond appearing on stages throughout downtown San Jose," says San Jose Jazz's Executive Director Brendan Rawson. "For 2023, we've looked closely at our role as a cultural organization and the responsibility we have to the residents of the greater South Bay. We are very passionate about providing top tier programming that's both international in scope as well as reflective of San Jose. We greatly look forward to presenting a Fest with all the elements music fans have come to love."

Artistic Director Bruce Labadie, one of the event's founders, programs the artists for SJZ Summer Fest with the help of locally based co-curators.

Labadie comments, "Attendees of SJZ Summer Fest 2023 can expect the same amazing experience as years past with a diverse array of outstanding artists performing across the three days. Live concerts will be centered around Plaza de César Chavez Park with our favorite vendors offering delicious foods and beverages, and creative crafts. With three outdoor stages and five indoor stages, there is excellent programming that will appeal to a wide variety of music fans."

San Jose Jazz's cultural collaborations with many longstanding partners of the festival continue in full force this year with The Sobrato Organization Main Stage presenting GRAMMY Award-winning artists and the Blues/Big Easy Stage in partnership with Jay Meduri of the Poor House Bistro featuring blues and New Orleans acts in the South portion of Plaza de César Chavez Park. SJMA Next Gen Stage puts the spotlight on emerging youth talent performing free shows on Saturday, Aug. 12 and Sunday, Aug. 13. The historic 1936 venue Montgomery Theater brings its elegant décor and great acoustics to SJZ Summer Fest as one of four premier indoor concert spaces for national and regional artists. Additional indoor venues include the Hammer Theatre, Tabard Theatre, and SJZ Break Room. Local curatorial and performance partners also include Mosaic America and others.

The Latin Tropical Stage remains a pillar of San Jose Jazz Summer Fest 2023 with Latin and salsa music lovers traveling to downtown San Jose from the far stretches of the West Coast for a chance to dance to incredible acts performing timba, son, mambo, and Jíbaro. San Jose Jazz Latin Music Coordinator and Latin Tropical Stage curator Betto Arcos is an expert on Latin American and global music, and is celebrated for his reporting on NPR, PRI "The World," and the BBC. Arcos curates the finest Latin and salsa acts with shows on August 12 & 13, 2023 (Latin Tropical Stage lineup will be announced in the coming weeks).

Housed on South 1st Street inside San Jose Jazz's downtown office with a multi-media digital video wall featuring the latest in HD technology, The SJZ Break Room hosts three days of indoor shows with all live performances projection-mapped with Ultra-Short Throw Projectors onto high-end projection fabric. The dynamic, immersive experience allows for attendees to see immensely talented artists on stage while also simultaneously witnessing creative details of the performance on screen.

Headliner Highlights @ San Jose Jazz Summer Fest 2023
Multi-GRAMMY Award-winner Gregory Porter fills the San Jose summer air with his bone-deep baritone voice for an unforgettable Sunday night Sobrato Organization Main Stage performance as he performs music from his latest for Blue Note Records, All Rise. His sixth studio album, All Rise, marks a return to Porter's beloved original songwriting -- heart-on-sleeve lyrics imbued with everyday philosophy and real-life detail, set to a stirring mix of jazz, soul, blues, and gospel. Produced by Troy Miller (Laura Mvula, Jamie Cullum, Emili Sandé), the album also represents the evolution of Porter's art to something even more emphatic, emotive, intimate, and universal. In the spirit of the ethos that music is medicine, All Rise brims with songs about irrepressible love, along with a little protest...because the road to healing is bumpy.

With dozens of movie scores and over 500 recording credits to his name, UNESCO Artist for Peace Marcus Miller continues to be a changemaker with his music and social justice projects. In 2020, Marcus created, musically produced, and posted the Lift Every Voice get out the vote event, which brought together political leaders and musical legends to encourage political participation. Miller is set to release his funk/R&B collaborative album, "Basement Party," in summer 2023 and he'll feature the return of Black Movie Music at the Hollywood Bowl, the fourth installment of the successful series (which he co-created, co-produces, arranges, and musically directs) that catalogs the rich history of music in Black film. Of note, Miller composed the score for the documentary film SIDNEY for Apple TV+, produced by Oprah Winfrey, which told the story of legendary actor, filmmaker and iconic civil rights activist, Sidney Poitier.

GRAMMY Award-winner Anthony Hamilton rose to fame with his platinum-selling second studio album Comin' from Where I'm From (2003), which featured the title track single "Comin' from Where I'm From" and the follow-up "Charlene." Nominated for 17 GRAMMY Awards and winning "Best Traditional R&B Performance" for "You've Got The Love I Need," Hamilton is renowned for the song "Freedom" from the soundtrack album of Django Unchained, co-written and sung as a duo with indie soul singer Elayna Boynton. In 2016, he released his sixth studio album What I'm Feelin' featuring guitarists Gary Clark, Jr. and Vince Gill. After one week, the album ranked #2 on the Billboard R&B chart, representing his highest career debut. Hamilton has been featured alongside D'Angelo, Jadakiss, RH Factor, Angie Stone, Buddy Guy, Robert Randolph, Dave Chappelle, Jill Scott, Nas, and Gorillaz, and has performed at the White House for former president Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. In 2020, Hamilton released his single "Back Together" featuring the late Rick James and is the first single off his 2021 album, Love is the New Black.

Brass sensation The Soul Rebels are riding high in 2023 after receiving national attention following the release of their latest album, Poetry In Motion. The eight-member collective appeared on Def Jam artist Dave East and Nas' "Godfather 4" single, Big Freedia and Icona Pop's "Pipe That", and reached fans with original singles "Greatness" featured as ESPN's official College Hoops theme anthem, and "Good Time" featured on Netflix's #BlackAF and Dad Stop Embarrassing Me! The Soul Rebels have impressed national audiences with two performances on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, a concert from NPR's Tiny Desk series with Wu Tang Clan frontman GZA, a headliner spot at the global TED Conference, and their appearance on the official soundtrack for Universal Pictures' hit comedy Girls Trip. On the heels of their new supergroup with The Wu Tang Clan, The Soul Rebels are wowing crowds with their eclectic live show that harnesses the power of horns and drums in a deep pocket funk party-like atmosphere.

W.I.T.C.H. (We Intend To Cause Havoc) was the biggest rock band in Zambia in the 1970s and spearheaded a new genre dubbed Zamrock, fusing influences of the Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath and James Brown and mixing them with traditional African rhythms and bush village songs. At the peak of their popularity, the band often needed police to keep fans at bay while their lead singer Jagari - whose name is an Africanisation of Mick Jagger's - riled up crowds by stage diving from balconies and dancing manically as the W.I.T.C.H.'s blend of psychedelic rock and African rhythms permeated the surrounding atmosphere. Jagari is the charismatic sole surviving original member of the band. Largely unknown outside of Africa, W.I.T.C.H. finally got the exposure they deserved when Now Again Records reissued their entire discography in 2012. This allowed Jagari to play outside Africa for the first time and a new generation of fans to discover his music. In 2016, W.I.T.C.H. started touring with Dutch musicians Jacco Gardner and Nic Mauskoviç, becoming one of the most talked about bands on the live music circuit.

The Bad Plus are the ultimate originals, a democratic unit with a clear vision and a refusal to conform to convention. For the past two decades the group has played with spirit and adventure, made its own rules, and done so with a bold sense of creativity and intent. Avoiding easy categorization, The Bad Plus has won critical acclaim and continues to push boundaries as founding members Reid Anderson (bass) and Dave King (drums) embark on a new piano-less incarnation of the band with Ben Monder (guitar) and Chris Speed (tenor saxophone) -- instigating a new wave of excitement and anticipation within the band that is re-energizing their sound and inspiration. The Bad Plus has constantly searched to bridge genres and techniques while exploring the infinite possibilities of exceptional musicians working in perfect sync. The Bad Plus is set to release their 15th studio recording and debut self-titled album as a dynamic new quartet via Edition Records on Friday, September 30th.

An unequivocal musical prodigy, singer-saxophonist-songwriter-composer and band leader Grace Kelly has rocked the jazz world with sold-out concerts, 14 acclaimed albums and a resume that includes performing at the Hollywood Bowl and as part of the house band for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert -- all before reaching her mid-twenties. Coming in 2023, Grace's next project, inspired by Charlie Parker with Strings, will be At The Movies: Grace Kelly with Strings. Grace will reimagine music from favorite classic and current movies with fresh arrangements and fully merge it into her young sound. The New York Timesnotes of Grace, her "...broad tone and tenacious flow on the alto saxophone, clearly in possession of virtuoso talents... impressive singing voice, flitting among a range of styles."

Veronica Swift is a Mack Avenue recording artist whose debut album, Confessions, was released in 2019. Her second release, This Bitter Earth (2021), earned her a five-star review in DownBeat magazine including the front cover on their November 2021 issue, the JazzTimes December cover, and L'academie du Jazz "Best Vocal Album" award in 2021. Having made her mark on the international jazz scene as one of the star vocalists of her era, Veronica Swift has now expanded her style, establishing herself as a skilled rock and soul singer as well as a dynamic performer. Her third album, TransGenre (2023), will venture into mixing jazz and classical with rock, soul, and funk paying homage to greats like Janis Joplin, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix and Duke Ellington. Veronica's ability to transcend different styles, and fully embody them with authenticity to tell a story makes her one of the most skillful singers in any genre, and displays her theatrical approach as a performer and artist. The Wall Street Journal says, "She has a miraculous voice, musical ability and technique, as well as an innate gift for entertaining a crowd."

Shayna Steele brings new meaning to diversity and grass-roots talent. Her natural ability to traverse musical genres has kept her on the A-List of in-demand singers in the industry. Shayna's effortless execution of both soul and jazz has grabbed the attention of audiences at venues globally such as the Vancouver Jazz Festival, the Blue Note or as a guest vocalist with the biggest symphonies throughout North America. Set to release her fourth studio album, Gold Dust, on April 21, 2023 on Ropeadope Records, Shayna's creative abilities explode with her original signature sound. Produced by David Cook (Billboard #1 Jazz album, Spectrum by Shoshana Bean), Gold Dust embodies a sound that has taken Shayna 20 years to perfect. The album features a fresh new cover of Cole Porter's "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To" featuring GRAMMY Award-nominated saxophonist Donny McCaslin. The album also highlights brand new original material such as the inspiring anthem "The Bloodline" celebrating her ancestors and the sultry, yet intimate "Behind Closed Doors" with jazz crooner Sachal Vasandani, but it's her explosive new arrangement of Stevie Nick's "Gold Dust Woman" that will leave every listener in awe of her remarkable vocals.

It's no secret that great art comes from the margins; from those who are either pushed to create from inner forces, or who create to show they deserve to be recognized. Los Angeles-based street singer, guitarist, and roots music revolutionary Sunny War has always been an outsider, feeling the drive to define her place in the world through music and songwriting. Her restless spirit, a byproduct of growing up semi-nomadic with a single mother, led her to Venice Beach, California, where she's been grinding the pavement for many years, making a name for her prodigious guitar work and incisive songwriting, which touches on everything from police violence to alcoholism to love found and lost. Rolling Stone touts, "Sunny War Is One of the Best New Voices in Roots Music."

Sponsors @ San Jose Jazz Summer Fest 2023
San Jose Jazz is excited to announce its season-long collaboration with Hunger at Home, a San Jose-based nonprofit organization delivering leading-edge solutions that build food security and self-sufficiency, paving the way for a healthier and more equitable Silicon Valley. San Jose Jazz partners with Hunger at Home and their Full Circle Catering & Events for delicious foods to be provided in SJZ Summer Fest’s VIP area and for the Summer Fest Kickoff Fundraiser in June 2023, as well as for meals and snacks for students at SJZ Summer Jazz Camp and Progressions Summer Camp.

Amidst the alarming reality that tens of thousands of pounds of excess food and surplus goods are discarded daily into our landfills in Silicon Valley, Hunger at Home was created to connect this food and goods to those in need. Hunger at Home runs Full Circle Catering & Events (FCCE), a social enterprise catering program directing all the earned revenue back into supporting Hunger at Home’s impactful work. FCCE is the official catering sponsor at San Jose Jazz Summer Fest 2023.

"We are incredibly excited to collaborate with San Jose Jazz Summer Fest in our mutual pursuit of a better, more sustainable community," says Michael Miller, Board President & Chair, Hunger at Home. "Our partnership will enable us to recover surplus food from each day of the event and redistribute it among the 36 nonprofit partners that we support. We also have the opportunity to showcase the amazing culinary talent of our team in the VIP area of the festival. This collaboration exhibits our goal for zero food waste at SJZ Summer Fest, and ultimately, puts food into the hands of the food insecure individuals and families in our community. This is truly a win-win for all!"

"Collaborating with Hunger at Home and Full Circle Catering is a perfect fit for us," says San Jose Jazz's Executive Director Brendan Rawson. "On multiple fronts the partnership just makes a ton of good sense. We will be able to support Hunger at Home's mission to improve food security and sustainability for families in our region and at the same time spotlight the tremendous food service of Full Circle Catering."

Additional sponsors for the SJZ Summer Fest 2023 include The Sobrato Organization, DownBeatMagazine, Urban Catalyst (sponsoring District 3 Opening Night Happy Hour), CEFCU (Club Crawl Sponsor), Visit San Jose, Gordon Biersch Brewery, City of San José Office of Cultural Affairs, and Castellano Family Foundation.

ACT NOW! Exclusive hotel deals close to the festival grounds are now available. Check out these great rates at Signia by Hilton San Jose, AC Hotel by Marriott, DoubleTree by Hilton, Four Points by Sheraton, Hilton, Holiday Inn, Hotel Clariana, Hotel De Anza, Hyatt Place, San Jose Marriott, and Westin. Book your reservations now at this LINK.

Additional acts and exciting new programs for SJZ Summer Fest 2023 will be announced soon.

33rd Annual San Jose Jazz Summer Fest 2023
When: August 11 - 13, 2023
Where: Plaza de César Chavez Park, San Jose, CA
More info:; 408.288.7557
Artist Lineup (Friday, August 11 - Sunday, August 13)

Gregory Porter, Marcus Miller, Anthony Hamilton, The Soul Rebels, W.I.T.C.H., The Bad Plus, Grace Kelly, Veronica Swift, Marcus Shelby New Orchestra Featuring Tiffany Austin, Shayna Steele, Sunny War, Vanessa Collier, Patrice Rushen, Billy Childs, Vocal Gents of Jazz with Kenny Washington, Nicolas Bearde & Jamie Davis, Gabi Hartmann, Luca Stricagnoli, Halie Loren, Ronit Widmann-Levy & Angel Romero, Benny Benack III, Isaiah Collier & the Chosen Few, Soul Message Band, Maraca & Orquesta La Moderna Tradición, Lalin St. Juste, Basivibe, Stimulator Jones, Ian Santillano, Ensemble Contratiemple Afrovenezuelan Jazz, Mosaic America: Journey Through Multicultural Jazz and Dance, Mr. Clifford's Young Jazz All Stars, and many more acts to be announced soon!