The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
As the date of KCSM’s annual jazz festival approaches, several musicians from far and wide are preparing to pack their bags and head to the College of San Mateo campus to join Bay Area musicians and music lovers.
This year’s Jazz on the Hill will feature a variety of musicians who differ in background, age and musical careers converging for the sake of their love for jazz music and their desire to share it with the public. In addition to some fresh faces, prolific blues musician Charlie Musselwhite will return to headline, having performed at the event in years prior.
“It’s an educated crowd that knows good music,” Musselwhite said.
The event will also feature younger performers from closer to home in the form of the SFJAZZ High School All Stars Combo, who will be the first act on stage to kick off the event at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 4, and the San Francisco Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble, who will be the final performers of the day at 5:30 p.m.
Trumpeter and bandleader Etienne Charles will follow the High School All Stars Combo at 12:45 p.m. to perform his personal take on jazz that infuses the style with Afro-Caribbean influence. Charles, originally from Trinidad, came to the United States to study jazz, which he now teaches at Michigan State University.
“I played in rock bands and dance bands, salsa bands different kinds of groups,” Charles said. “I discovered jazz pretty late in the game and got pretty into it and it became my vehicle of choice.”
At 1:45 p.m. following Charles and before Musselwhite takes the stage at 3:30 p.m., several independent performers will join forces for an act geared at all music lovers, not just jazz fans.
“When we play we really want to reach the audience and engage them and tell musical stories,” pianist Lynne Ariale said.
Ariale and Charenee Wade, both renowned performers and educators, will perform with 23-year-old saxophonist Grace Kelly. The trio will showcase works from well-known artists like Joni Mitchell, Nina Simone and Abbey Lincoln.
“Basically the idea is celebrating great women singers, songwriters and composers, finding great repertoire that we all love and doing our own spin on those songs,” Kelly said.
In addition to the performances, the free event will offer art and food vendors as well as information booths from local nonprofits highlighting their work and upcoming events and a gift basket giveaway from KCSM. Musselwhite will be available for free autographs and said even those not seeking autographs should come say hi.
“We’re going to have a really good time,” Musselwhite said. “Bring your dancing shoes.”
Jazz On The Hill takes place 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, June 4. The stage will be located at the lower mezzanine on the College of San Mateo campus in front of the library. For more information call (650) 524-6921.