About the San Joaquin Valley Jazz Festival:

The San Joaquin Valley Jazz Festival was founded in 1989 by Paul Shaghoian. After being held at the D&D Ranch in Madera, CA, it was moved to San Joaquin Memorial High School, and finally to Buchanan High School in 1992. During the festival’s 21 years in existence the central valley has seen some of the nation’s top musicians and jazz educators during it’s numerous two day runs in February. Such notables have included educators, Larry Sutherland, Gene Aitken, Neil Slater, George Stone, Aaron Lington and James Miley to name a few. The performance line-ups have been a virtual who’s who of performers throughout the state and nation and have included Bobby Shew, Frank Mantooth, Jim Snidero, Glenn Kostur, Jeff Uusitalo, Carl Saunders, Gary Hobbs, Dave Rickenburg, John Gove, Lanny Morgan, Tim Ries, Michael Davis, Brian Lynch, Peter Epstein, Terell Stafford and in 2009 David Binney. 

During the festival's 22 years in existence, the Central Valley has seen some of the nation's top musicians and jazz educators during its run. The festival has been anchored since its inception by Fresno native musicians Brian Hamada, Craig VonBerg and John Lauffenburger, as well as a long list of FSU alumni including Dale and Larry Engstrom, Michael Caldwell, Rick Helzer, Mike Dana, Larry Honda and former Fresnan Mark Anderson. We are extremely proud to present our featured Friday night concert this year Kneebody, in the newly completed Paul Shaghoian Concert Hall. The hall is a fitting tribute to a man who gave so much to jazz in the Central Valley. More info: 559-327-3225 or

Festival Map... (pdf)

About Kneebody:
Kneebody mixes up contemporary influences from hip hop, funk and rock with an advanced knowledge of jazz acquired while four of the five (Ben Wendel, saxophone, flute, bassoon; Shane Endsley, trumpet, pedals; Adam Benjamin, keyboards and Kaveh Rastegar, electric / acoustic bass, pedals) were students at the Eastman School in Rochester, NY (Nate Wood, drums, is an alumni of the California Institute of the Arts). Their material, composed by the group, begins as structured pieces that are learned as written, but then rapidly deviate from script: during performance, any member of the group can call from a series of cues that will instigate a change of key, orchestration, tempo, or other aspects—even starting a wholly different song! These cues, which the band terms “secret handshakes,” are embedded in the music, and are at the disposal of each player at any time, which is also intrinsic to the philosophy of the band, says Kneebody member Ben Wendel: “…anyone in the band can be the leader, we’re 100% democratic,” contrasting with some traditional jazz ensembles where the leader is essentially in charge of what happens onstage. Audiences may not realize that what appears to be an almost extra sensory ability of the band to change direction on a dime is in fact the implementation of a cue called by one of the band members, buried imperceptibly within the music itself.