Jason Brock presents his fifth annual Holiday show with special guest, Paula West! They'll be singing all of your favorite holiday songs, along with a few more obscure ones. It's going to be fun, funny, and warm your heart (and body if you're drinking). SFSU Jazz Dept Founder and esteemed composer/performer, Dee Spencer, will be on the piano.
Jason Brock is a television, film and stage star. He was seen in homes all over the world as a finalist on X-Factor singing songs like Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind.” Jason also starred in the film, “Love is not Enough,” which played at global film festivals, including the Frameline Film Festival in San Francisco. Jason is well-known as a cabaret star and performs original shows regularly. He has been voted “Best Male Cabaret Singer” for the last three years by the readers of the Bay Area Reporter. He has also done a fair amount of theatre. Some of his roles include: Hedwig in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” at the Boxcar Theatre, a demented flower girl in Taylor Mac’s “The Lily’s Revenge” at Magic Theatre, and “Peachy Gale” in Peaches Christ’s “The Wizard of Odd” at Castro Theatre. Jason is currently working on an album of original music. His original songs, “Cornbread,” “You’ve got the Love” and Miguel Migs’ “Sail On” can be purchased or streamed on most music services today
Paula West has performed nationally and internationally at prestigious venues including Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Maison de la Musique and the White House. She has released four CDs and won three New York Nightlife Awards for "Outstanding Female Jazz Vocalist."
West was born and raised in the San Diego, California area, the daughter of a Marine Corps family. As a child she wasn’t exposed to very much jazz music, as her father preferred classical music. She only started to explore jazz and jazz vocal music during college; these explorations became more serious and focussed when she moved to San Francisco after graduating from college. She has also been at some pains in the past to note that “I never sang in church”.
She arrived in San Francisco around 1988-89 and worked as a waitress (indeed, she held one job or another waiting tables for many years until her singing career was well established). During this time, she gradually started to appear at open mike jam sessions, during the course of which she met pianist Ken Muir, who would eventually become her long-time accompanist. She also undertook a program of serious vocal study while continuing to appear at local lounges.
As word spread through the Bay Area, West started to get one- and two-week residencies at San Francisco hotel lounges, most notably the Ritz-Carlton. During this period she started to refine the distinctive elements of her approach to the expectations placed upon jazz singer/cabaret performers: a careful attention to the lyrics of the songs (“I sing the verses,” she was once quoted, “not just the chorus.”), an ability to sustain notes without use of vibrato, a sparing reliance on the hoary chestnuts of the genre, a willingness to re-imagine the standards that she does perform, and an eagerness to identify worthy songs not usually found within the jazz/cabaret repertoire.
As an illustration of the last point, she has performed or recorded such non-standard songs as Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and “Mr. Tambourine Man”, “If I Only Had A Brain” from The Wizard of Oz, The Beatles’ “Fixin’ A Hole”, Ella Mae Morse’s “Cow Cow Boogie”, “Who Will Buy” from Oliver!, Bert Williams’ turn of the (20th) century classic “Nobody”, and Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues”, as well as “Danny Boy”, to name but a few.
West performed predominately in clubs in San Francisco and New York, with occasional performances in Europe. For ten years she held a one-month residency at the Empire Plush Room at the York Hotel in San Francisco (since closed). She also had recurring engagements at the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel in New York. Paula is one of the contributors on BBC World News’ The Real… talking about her favorite places in San Francisco.
During her run at the Algonquin Hotel’s Oak Room in 2001, West was considered by numerous jazz labels including Verve and Columbia. West has carved a niche for herself in NYC and in San Francisco.
Dianthe Dee Spencer is a Professor and Chair of Music in the School of Music at San Francisco State University where she founded the jazz studies undergraduate degree program in 1990. She earned and Ed.D from the University of San Francisco; M.M. from Washington University in St. Louis; and a B.S. from Florida A&M University. Dee served on the piano faculty at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. Dee served on the governing boards of the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE) and the SF Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS). She currently serves on the board of the Community Music Center. She is past director of the Clifford Brown/Stan Getz Fellowship Award combo for the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts (NFAA), GRAMMY All-Star National High School Jazz Combo and the SFJAZZ All-Star High School Ensemble. This ensemble competed at the Essentially Ellington Competition for Jazz at Lincoln Center in 2002 and 2003. She was musical director/conductor for the TheaterWorks production of RAISIN'. Dee was a performer and adjudicator/clinician at Walt Disney World's 2010 Jazz Celebration. As a keyboardist, Dee has recorded with former Tower of Power vocalist Lenny Williams and Aretha Franklins favorite drummer Bernard Pretty Perdie. She was a featured performer at the Beijing, Cork, Tasmanian, and Dresden International Jazz Festivals. In various settings, Dee has performed with jazz greats Jimmy Scott, Louis Bellson, Clark Terry, Branford Marsalis, John Handy, Greg Osby, Jeff Tain Watts, Regina Carter and R&B sensation LEDISI. Dees debut CD, Vintage School was released in 2002. She recently composed the score for the musical "Goodnight, Gorilla." In May 2015, Dee worked with Wynton Marsalis as a judge for the annual Jazz at Lincoln Center's Essentially Ellington Competition.