San Jose Jazz Winter Fest: Sundra Manning set to sizzle at B-3 organ spotlight

Sundra Manning spends most of her time as a keyboardist making other musicians sound good.

She’s recorded with gospel legend James Cleveland, toured the world with MC Hammer, and played an essential role in Ledisi’s rise from Bay Area phenomenon to international soul star.

But the Oakland native doesn’t often take high-profile gigs under her own name, which is one reason why the 3rd Annual Organ Extravaganza at Café Stritch on Friday is a highlight of the San Jose Jazz Winter Fest.

Co-presented by Pete Fallico’s Jazz Organ Fellowship, the Hammond B-3 showcase features Manning as the undercard on a double bill with headliner Ronnie Foster, whose classic 1970s soul jazz sessions for Blue Note provided many of the riffs and grooves sampled by acid jazz DJs and rappers decades later.

Manning got a chance to hang out with Foster last year when he played at Yoshi’s, a concert “that was just mesmerizing,” she says. “It’s such an honor to be on this concert with him.”

When she puts together her own band, Manning draws on an extensive web of musical relationships touching on jazz, funk, gospel and soul music. Oakland drummer Darian Grey can often be found touring with organ great Booker T. Jones, and the dynamic trumpeter and vocalist Geechi Taylor has performed numerous times at Cafe Stritch leading his own hard-bop oriented jazz combos.

Anchoring the quartet is Oakland-native Aneesa Strings, a rapidly rising triple threat as a bassist, songwriter and singer who also works with Manning in a new all-female band called Herstory. She says it’s a good bet that at least one of the players will get a chance to sing.

“I love vocals and I love playing behind vocals,” she says. “Whatever I do, it’s gotta be fun and something I really feel. I want to make someone feel joy, happiness, …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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