This year, KKSF’s free Earth Day concert was celebrated at Plaza de Cesar Chavez in San Jose amid a sea of umbrellas, with headlining talents saxophonist Gerald Albright, pianist Jeff Lorber, and singer Donny Osmond, as well as local talents, saxophonist Ric Alexander, and Mills alum and floutist Kymberly Jackson, who opened the show performing several original songs from her upcoming album and closed with her rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Do I Do.”
“It was a lot of fun,” said Jackson. “I was very grateful and honored to be on the stage with Ric Alexander, who I have worked with before. And, of course, it was a thrill to be on stage with such great talents and legends like Gerald Albright and Jeff Lorber. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity and I am especially grateful to Wanda Cornelius, at KKSF, for inviting me to perform.”
The day started with sprinklings of raindrops from above, but halfway through the show, the rain dried up and the sun came out, making the trip to San Jose well worth it for many.
“The rain didn’t matter — I got to sit up close so it was great and the music was awesome,” said Union City resident Brian Arter.
Many of the artists seemed unphased by the weather, seemingly more pleased with the turnout and the fact that they had the pleasure of performing for the event.
“I have always supported these events as an audience member,” said Alexander. “Now I can contribute as an artist. It’s great to be playing in my own backyard and it’s a good way to get myself known.”
Osmond, a popular artist from the ’70s more commonly known for his rock and roll, was happy to be a part of the event as well. Osmond, who has had 54 albums produced and has been performing primarily in the U.K. over the years, said it was because of KKSF that smooth jazz is playing his music.
“I was the KKSF mystery artist after coming out with my latest single “Soldier of Love” but I’m not the mystery artist anymore,” said Osmond.
His latest album What I Meant to Say (Decca, 2005) was written and produced by Osmond and contains a variety of styles and sentiments. Osmond performed a jazzy tune titled Breeze on By, and then took his adoring fans back to the ’70s with his rendition of Puppy Love.
Keyboardist Lorber, who has been playing since he was four and is now 52, had a rough time arriving at the event due to a flight delay but arrived just in time to wow the audience, playing several favorites from previous albums and a few from his latest album Flipside. His set had fans clapping their hands and tapping their feet under their umbrellas. He said he was elated that the rain had stopped and the sun came out during his performance, and was honored to be a part of something as important as Earth Day.
“I’m glad to see San Jose is out celebrating Earth Day and what it represents. [This day] is something you don’t hear much about with this president [George W. Bush],” said Lorber.
Albright, who has been playing since he was nine, said, “I feel like I’m one of their [KKSF’s] favorites. I haven’t heard that officially, but unofficially I guess I am.”
When asked if he had any advice for fledgling artists, Albright said, “be as creative as possible, find your own sound, listen to the masters and learn the business side of the music industry. Learn how to read contracts, get a lawyer and know your stuff — stay close to God.”
Albright first made a name for himself in the music industry during the ’80s, when he became a highly sought after studio session musician. His revered reputation resulted in a solo contract with Altantic Records. His first album for the label, Just Between Us, introduced him to the masses in 1987. He too performed several familiar favorites and had the audience on their feet doing the “electric slide.”
The event, overall, was a success even with the rain and had several KKSF insiders pleased with the audience turnout and artists performances.
To find out more information on this and other free KKSF events, go to www.kksf.com.