Theater on San Pedro Square
29 North San Pedro Street, San Jose
Tickets: $35 ($30 San Jose Jazz Members) General Admission
It would be difficult to find two more intriguing young Jazz artists than Ambrose Akinmusire and Gerald Clayton. Put them together—in an artist-driven collaboration—and you’re guaranteed a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The discovery of Ambrose Akinmusire has been a slow and steady process. Born and raised in Oakland, California, it was as a member of the Berkeley High School Jazz Ensemble that Akinmusire first caught the attention of Saxophonist Steve Coleman, who hired him as a member of his Five Elements band for an extensive European tour when Akinmusire was just 19. In 2007, he won the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition from a panel of judges that included Quincy Jones, Clark Terry and Roy Hargrove, and was signed to Blue Note Records. The result was 2011’s When The Heart Emerges Glistening, a recording that earned a spot on umpteen “Top Ten” lists and cemented Akinmusire’s reputation as a startlingly fresh young talent with a distinctive voice. In a rave four-star review, DownBeat exclaimed that “clearly something very special and personal is at work here, a vision of jazz that’s bigger than camps, broader and more intellectually restless than blowing sessions.” Akinmusire’s recent engagements have included four nights at the Jazz Standard in New York, a 12-date run in Europe and an appearance at the Playboy Jazz Festival.
A quarter of the age of Jazz, Gerald Clayton stakes his claim in the history and the present of this vital music with the following words, “Tradition and innovation can peacefully coexist.” His dynamic and award-winning sound has been praised in print by the Jazz Times and Los Angeles Times. The New York Times has saluted his “Oscar-Peterson like style” and “huge, authoritative presence” and DownBeat Magazine’s 2008 Readers’ Poll named him one of the top up-and-coming pianists to watch. As a composer, his work has been commissioned by the Jazz Gallery in New York City and performed overseas by the BBC Orchestra. The young pianist has recorded and performed with some of the most established names in Jazz such as Lewis Nash, Al Foster, Terrell Stafford, Diana Krall, Roy Hargrove, and Clark Terry. Duo piano concerts with Clayton have featured artists as celebrated and diverse as Hank Jones, Benny Green, Kenny Barron, Mulgrew Miller and Tamir Hendelman. He also relishes playing with Jazz’s next generation of innovators, such as Dayna Stephens, Kendrick Scott, Gretchen Parlato, and 2011 Summer Fest artist Miguel Zenón. With his Trio, Clayton recently released Bond: The Paris Sessions, containing his own compositions and fearless interpretations of Jazz standards.