Six Jazz Stars, Under the Stars

SJW 50th Anniversary Band showcases Eigsti, Redman, other longtime SJW luminaries in Festival finale with Dianne Reeves

There’s an embarrassment of jazz riches coming up in our “Jazz Under the Stars” festival finale on July 30 at Frost Amphitheater. Not only is the evening headlined by vocal legend and NEA Jazz Master Dianne Reeves (fronting both a quintet and a full orchestra), but leading off the event is the SJW 50th Anniversary Band, a sextet of today’s most accomplished and in-demand artists—all with connections to SJW that go back decades. Here’s a rundown on the all-stars taking the stage, and on how they’ve been involved with the Workshop over the years:

Taylor Eigsti

Pianist Taylor Eigsti takes the prize in this band for largest percentage of his life spent in the SJW family. A Bay Area native and onetime child prodigy, he first started taking classes at SJW at the tender age of nine, and at 14 became our youngest-ever faculty member. Over more than a quarter-century of ongoing SJW involvement, he’s appeared on our stages dozens of times and mentored hundreds (if not thousands) of students. He’s also a firmly established star on the international jazz scene, recently garnering the 2022 Grammy Award for “Best Contemporary Instrumental Album” for his recording Tree Falls. As Variety wrote of his artistry: “Eigsti exudes fearlessness and joy, secure in the belief that he can make music with anyone.” Eigsti appears again in the 2022 Festival on Guitar Night (July 26), with singer Ms. Lisa Fischer (July 27), and in the SJW All-Star Jam (July 29). Also, be sure to read his informative 50th Anniversary interview with SJW founder Jim Nadel here.

Joshua Redman

Before becoming one of the world’s foremost jazz saxophonists, with a string of acclaimed albums and nine Grammy nominations to his name, Joshua Redman was a member of the nationally renowned Berkeley High Jazz Ensemble who first came to SJW as a teen summer camper in 1984. After earning a B.A. in social studies from Harvard and being accepted into Yale Law School, he won the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Saxophone Competition and switched gears in his career, following in the footsteps of his father, sax legend Dewey Redman, to become a pro jazz musician. A longtime member of the SJW faculty, he is also a Lecturer in the Stanford University Department of Music. He also appears on July 29 in the SJW All-Star Jam.

Yosvany Terry

In the words of the New York Times, Cuban-born saxophonist Yosvany Terry has “has helped redefine Latin jazz as a complex new idiom.” He made his U.S. debut in an SJW performance and teaching residency back in 1995, continuing on the faculty through today. In that auspicious year, he also earned a prestigious Doris Duke Artist Award and joined the Harvard University faculty as Senior Lecturer and Director of Jazz Ensembles in the Department of Music. He headlines another Festival concert this season, leading his ensemble at Dinkelspiel on July 23.

Ambrose Akinmusire

With “a chameleonic tone that can sigh, flutter or soar” (Los Angeles Times), trumpeter and Blue Note recording artist Ambrose Akinmusire is one of the most innovative and eclectic artists in jazz today, infusing the music with currents ranging from hip-hop to classical. Another onetime Berkeley High Jazz Ensemble member and SJW teen camper, he was tapped at the tender age of 19 to tour with saxophonist Steve Coleman’s Five Elements band before completing a degree at Manhattan School of Music and a subsequent master’s at the University of Southern California. He’s appeared multiple times at the Stanford Jazz Festival and is a perennial SJW favorite.

Larry Grenadier

The member of this all-star ensemble with the longest association with SJW, having first arrived as a teen camper in 1984, bassist Larry Grenadier is one of the modern-day giants of his instrument. A solo artist (as on his 2019 solo bass release on ECM, The Gleaners) and a member (with saxophonist Mark Turner and drummer Jeff Ballard) of the cooperative trio Fly, he’s also been a sideman with the likes of saxophonists Stan Getz and Joe Henderson (two collaborations launched at SJW), guitarist Pat Metheny, and pianist Brad Mehldau, among many other luminaries. A longtime SJW faculty member, he also appears in this year’s Festival on Piano Night (July 24) and Guitar Night (July 26) and in the SJW All-Star Jam (July 29).

Eric Harland

Although drummer Eric Harland didn’t attend SJW as a camper, he did take part as a young artist in one of jazz’s most storied “finishing schools”: jazz vocal legend Betty Carter’s band. As he told Modern Drummer magazine of the experience, “She encouraged me to be myself no matter what the musical situation…. She watched me grow. I still feel her presence around me.” Harland has gone on to become one of the most highly regarded—and busiest—drummers in jazz, collaborating with the likes of Joe Henderson, Greg Osby, Dave Holland, Terence Blanchard, and many more jazz icons. A current SJW faculty member who made his Workshop debut in concert and residency back in 2010, Harland also appears in the 2022 Festival on Piano Night (July 24) and Guitar Night (July 26) and with Ms. Lisa Fischer (July 27).

Jazz Under the Stars!

Saturday, July 30, 7:30 p.m.

Frost Amphitheater

Tickets start at $34 for SJW members/$40 for non-members

Food/beverages and VIP reserved-table packages available for purchase