From Camper to Headliner

2022 Stanford Jazz Festival Showcases SJW Alumni in Concert

One of the hallmarks of Stanford Jazz Workshop over the organization’s 50-year history is the tradition of our alumni “coming full circle”: young Jazz Campers come to campus and learn firsthand from jazz masters by day, then experience their instructors in concert as Stanford Jazz Festival headliners by night. And in a few years, as SJW alumni, a number of these same young musicians go on to become SJW faculty and Festival performers themselves.

As SJW founder and Artistic Director Jim Nadel told pianist Taylor Eigsti (who’s a perfect example of the SJW full-circle effect) in a recent interview conducted for our 50th Anniversary program book, “It’s deeply satisfying to me that students and musicians who I admire want to come back and participate and be part of this community, time and again.”

Throughout this summer’s 2022 Festival, we’ve been showcasing an abundance of headline artists who once spent their summers learning from the masters in Braun Music Center and later became members of the SJW faculty themselves. Such artists to date have included Jaz Sawyer, Sasha Berliner, Bennett Paster, Joshua Thurston-Milgrom, Christina Galisatus, Valerie Troutt, Lynn Speakman, Steven Lugerner, and Victor Lin. Now here’s a rundown of “campers-turned-headliners” from tonight through the close of the Festival:

Dayna Stephens: JUL 21, 7:30PM, Dinkelspiel Auditorium

A Jazz Camp student back in the mid-’90s, saxophonist Dayna Stephens returned to SJW as a seasoned professional in 2009, both performing and serving an educational residency—the first of several. He went on to take first-place honors in the 2019 DownBeat Critics Poll for “Rising Star—Tenor Saxophone.” NPR said of his sound, “Dayna Stephens can cry and rip it up on tenor, but at heart, he’s a streamlined melodic player…. His horn sings.” Dayna takes the Dinkelspiel stage tonight, leading an ace quartet featuring pianist and fellow SJW alum James Francies (see below).

Yosvany Terry: JUL 23, 8:00PM, Dinkelspiel Auditorium

Although Cuban-born sax virtuoso Yosvany Terry isn’t a former camper, he goes way back with SJW as a performer and educator, having first come to the Workshop in his mid-20s back in 1995. It was at Stanford that year that he met fellow saxophonist Steve Coleman, launching a life-changing collaboration for both artists. Yosvany continued to teach every year at SJW through 2015, when he joined the Harvard University Music Department faculty as Senior Lecturer and Director of Jazz Ensembles. He’s still at Harvard and still a frequent and welcome presence at SJW.

James Francies: JUL 24, 8:00PM, Dinkelspiel Auditorium

One of the most talked-about and admired young pianists in jazz today, James Francies first came to SJW as a teenage camper in 2012. He’s come a long way since then, releasing multiple acclaimed recordings on Blue Note as a leader and excelling in sideman gigs with artists ranging from jazz greats Pat Metheny, Stefon Harris, and Chris Potter to high-profile hip-hop and R&B talents like Ms. Lauryn Hill, Common, and Childish Gambino. This summer, he’s joined the SJW faculty for the first time, and his band on the 24th features a veteran SJW camper/performer/educator, bassist Larry Grenadier.

Charles Altura: JUL 26, 8:00PM, Dinkelspiel Auditorium

Hailed by the New York Times as “a blazingly precise young guitarist,” Charles Altura first attended SJW as a camper back in the ’90s, when he connected with fellow future pros like Taylor Eigsti, Ambrose Akinmusire, and Thomas Pridgen. He’s since gone on to play with the likes of Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Terence Blanchard, Tom Harrell, and many other luminaries. On the 26th, he co-leads the Guitar Night double-bill with Peter Bernstein, with fellow SJW alums Eigsti and Larry Grenadier also performing.

Taylor Eigsti (with Ms. Lisa Fischer): JUL 27, 8:00PM, Dinkelspiel Auditorium

Having taken his first SJW classes at age 9, become a faculty member at age 14, and maintained a steady schedule of SJW performances and educational residencies ever since, pianist and 2022 Grammy-winner Taylor Eigsti is a true SJW “lifer.” On the 27th, he takes the stage with Ms. Lisa Fischer—famed for her work with the Rolling Stones and Sting—harking back to an unforgettable SJW duo performance in 2017. For this new performance, Fischer and Eigsti expand the format into a quartet featuring Ben Williams and Eric Harland.

SJW Alumni Bonus: All-Star Sets!

After all the headliner appearances above, there are still two more chances to catch SJW alumni in action this Festival, in two one-time-only all-star formations. This year’s SJW All-Star Jam (JUL 29, 8:00PM, Dinkelspiel Auditorium) features a host of onetime SJW campers and longtime resident artists. And, opening our Jazz Under the Stars Festival finale (JUL 30, 7:30PM, Frost Amphitheater), we present the all-star SJW 50th Anniversary Band, featuring onetime campers (and present-day jazz “A-Listers”) Ambrose Akinmusire, Joshua Redman, Yosvany Terry, Taylor Eigsti, and Larry Grenadier, plus longtime SJW performer/educator Eric Harland. And as if that were not enough stars on one bill, the evening also features vocal legend and NEA Jazz Master Dianne Reeves, fronting both a quintet and orchestra. Join us!