Jazz ConneXion brings its groove to the festival

Courtesy of Dale Nesbitt
Dale Nesbitt leads the Los Altos-based Jazz ConneXion.

Los Altos-based Jazz ConneXion is set to perform at the Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival for the first time, taking over the Community Plaza Stage 10-11:30 a.m. Saturday.

The group was established 19 years ago, and since then, Dale Nesbitt, John Sylvester and a few other musicians have provided live music for restaurants and events across the Bay Area.

"We play jazz right out of the Great American Songbook," Nesbitt said. "Vocal, instrumental. ... I think we’re pretty good at what we do, which is not rock n roll, it’s not rap - it’s just right straight solid American music."

Nesbitt added that not enough Americans seek out music that’s outside the mainstream, and his band aims to make less ubiquitous jazz tunes more accessible.

  "You come to our concert, you’ll have fun," he said. "We play a lot of songs that people don’t know. Old songs. Do you know songs from the ’30s? When you hear them, you’ll go, That’s terrific!"

While attendees may not find comfort in a familiar melody, Nesbitt hopes they feel the group’s consistently strong rhythm and pace throughout each song. This "groove" makes music a humanizing concept, according to Nesbitt.

"The groove is like leprosy - when you’re out of the groove, you’re sick, you’re scratching," he said. "Oh, God, it’s horrible. When you’re in the groove, ah … you’re relaxed."

Nesbitt noted that the groove is also present when he solves math problems; he is an economics professor at Stanford University. When he has an unsolved math problem at hand, the Los Altos Hills resident feels that he is out of the groove. When he elucidates the messiness and sees the logic, he is in the groove.

It typically requires discipline to adhere to a rigid metronome-like beat - in music, in math or even just in life - but the possibilities that a person has to fill the silence in between the ticks appear endless. Nesbitt encourages festival visitors to reflect on this pervasive relationship in the human experience, that between a strict rhythm and limitless creativity, while Jazz ConneXion performs.

  "You’re so deep in the groove that you can’t see over the edge, right down in the bottom of the ditch at the same pace with the same harmonic ideas," he said. "Because when we are in the rhythmical sync, there’s a human collaboration that’s ridiculous. You can feel it."

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