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Our Picks For The Best Northern California Jazz Fests Of The Summer

Courtesy / Facebook

Fillmore Jazz Festival, 2014

Courtesy / Facebook

June 10-14 - Brian Culbertson's Napa Valley Jazz Getaway - Napa, CA

Described as a five-day “luxury wine & jazz festival set in the heart of California's famous wine country,” this 4th annual event features a wide range of styles from smooth jazz to old school funk and R&B.

Founder and artistic director Culbertson will host a cross-generational lineup including Al Jarreau, Chaka Khan, Boney James, Mindi Abair, Eric Darius, Kenny Lattimore, Maysa, Spyro Gyra, Fred Wesley, The Family Stone and more.

June 10-21 - San Francisco Jazz Festival - San Francisco, CA

For 30 years, SFJAZZ presented the critically-acclaimed San Francisco Jazz Festival in venues around the Bay Area. Following the opening of the $63 million, three-story SFJAZZ Center in 2013, the festival is now concentrated in the Center and the surrounding neighborhood and offers more than 30 shows.

Festival headliners include: Snarky Puppy, Julian Lage and Chris Eldridge, Goapele, Shelby Lynne, Campbell Brothers, John Scofield Quartet with John Medeski, Robert Glasper Trio, Wil Blades & Dr. Lonnie Smith, Pedrito Martinez, Tribute to Ernesto Lecouno with Chucho Valdes, Gonzalo Rubalcaba & Michel Camilo.


June 19-Aug 8 - Stanford Jazz Festival - Stanford, CA.

The Stanford Jazz Festival attracts over 15,000 jazz fans every summer with artistic programming that represents the rich history of jazz, as well as the diversity and creative fertility of the contemporary jazz scene. This year’s lineup is no exception.

Headliners include: Charles Lloyd, Jimmy Cobb, Joshua Redman and James Farm, Eliane Elias, Regina Carter, Taylor Eigsti, Pete Escovedo, John Scofield, John Medeski, Lisa Fischer and Grand Baton, Yosvany Terry and Donny McCaslin, Lady Bianca, Akira Tana and Otonowa, Ruth Davies and Keb' Mo', Tommy Igoe Groove Conspiracy (which unites players from bands such as Tower of Power, the Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan) and more.

July 4-5 - Fillmore Jazz Festival - San Francisco, CA.

Three stages of continuous jazz performances, more than 300 artists’ booths, and international food courts with some of the best food and beverages that San Francisco has to offer... that's the Fillmore Jazz Festival.

Headliners this year: Grace Kelly, Mingus Amungus, Shayna Steele, California Jazz Conservatory Ensemble, Caili O’Doherty, Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, Kim Nalley, Blue Grazz featuring Mammina, Jungle Biskit, Jonah Smith, Sugar Pie DeSanto, Manny Moka and the Band on Fire, Americano Social Club.

Aug 7-9 - San Jose Jazz Summer Fest - San Jose, CA.

Started on one stage in 1990, Summer Fest has grown into an important music showcase, featuring 100+ performances of the best in jazz, blues, R&B, funk, New Orleans, zydeco and more on 12 stages. In recent years, the Fest has become renowned for its top-flight lineup Latin artists. The Jazz Beyond stage presents young jazz artists pushing the boundaries of the art form, many influenced by the hip-hop, R&B, neo-soul and electronic music.

Some of this year's performers include: Eddie Palmieri Latin Jazz Band, Etienne Charles & Creole Soul, Letieres Leite & Orkestra Rumpilezz, Glen David Andrews, Chihiro Yamanaka Trio, Villalobos Brothers, Davina and the Vagabonds, Sultans of String, Bombay Jazz, Plena Libre, Bria Skonberg, Adrianna Marie and Her Groovecutters, Legally Blue, Round Midnight, JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound, Zigaboo Modeliste, Charenee Wade Presents the Gil Scott-Heron Project, Oran Etkin: Re-Imaging Benny Goodman, Shai Maestro Trio, Zydeco Flames, Quinn Deveaux, Con Brio, Gail Dobson and the Dobson Family Band, Natalie Cressman, Sylvia Cuenca New York Quartet, Le Boeuf Brothers; Marina & The Kats, Tebo’s Howlin’ Wolf Review, Guitar Fest 2015 with Hristo Vitchev.

Sep 12-13 - Russian River Jazz and Blues Fest - Guerneville, CA.

Johnson’s Beach along the Russian River in Guerneville is the picturesque setting for this venerable music showcase. Now in its 39th year, the festival attracts music lovers who also can take part in water activities and camping.

Festival headliners this year include: Dave Koz & Friends, Kenny Lattimore, War, Kyle Eastwood, Buddy Guy, B. B. & The Blues Shacks, Taj Mahal Trio, Jackie Greene, The Rad Trads.

Sep 18-20 - 58th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival - Monterey, CA.

The longest-running jazz festival in the world continues its tradition of presenting diverse, burgeoning lineups this fall with more than 500 jazz artists performing on eight stages throughout the weekend. Always plenty of good eats as well.

Among the headliners and highlights this year:  Chick Corea, Dianne Reeves, Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Chris Botti, Ravi Coltrane, Geri Allen’s Erroll Garner Project, Jaco’s World Conducted by Vince Mendoza, Trombone Shorty, Ambrose Akinmusire, Snarky Puppy, Pete Escovedo and Sheila E.,  Cyrille Aimée, Lizz Wright, Kneebody and more.

Oct 16 - 17 - The Brubeck Festival - Stockton, CA.

After more than a decade of presenting concerts in the spring, the festival named in honor of jazz legend and University of the Pacific alum Dave Brubeck moves to the fall this year to coincide with Homecoming at UOP. While the festival will present just three headliners over two days, the performers are world class.

On Oct. 16 at the Stockton Civic Auditorium the Latin Grammy Award-winning Pacific Mambo Orchestra will perform. The West Coast’s premier Latin dance band boasts a lineup of veteran musicians performing stellar arrangements.

On Oct. 17 the SFJAZZ Collective performs at The Bob Hope Theatre. This all-star award-winning jazz ensemble is comprised of eight of the finest performers and composers at work in jazz today. Each year they perform their own original arrangements of tunes by a single composer. This year they explore the music of Michael Jackson and will surely turn the King of Pop’s music inside out.

Also appearing on Oct. 17, the four-time Grammy-nominated vocalist Karrin Allyson. Music lovers and critics around the world have praised Allyson, marveling at the range of this extraordinary musician who moves with such ease and authority while singing the songs of Gershwin and Porter, Ellington, Monk, Davis and Gillespie.

 music festivalfestival roundup

Paul Conley

Managing Editor, Music and Arts

Paul oversees CapRadio's music formats on our radio stations and digital streams. He also supervises the creation of music and arts content across departments and platforms, including capradio.org.  Read Full Bio 

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