A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Jimmy Kraft is eager to return after a five year retreat in the Central Valley of California, where Stockton was his home away from home. In the burgeoning jazz scene of the Miracle Mile and beyond, demand was high for his presence. Showgoers were likely to catch him at Take 5 jazz club with Brian Kendrick’s “Little” Big Band or leading his neo-soul project Mr. Kit at a house party or local haunt. His jazz quintet, the Original Jambassadors, pumped soul into coffee shops, fundraisers, celebrations, and social gatherings throughout the Stockton area. Between gigs, he immersed himself in a musical, educational, and social lifestyle at the University of the Pacific as a jazz studies and composition student.
There, he poured himself into one musical endeavor after another. He performed important roles in university ensembles, founded and arranged for an a cappella group of twenty voices, earned top prize with his quartet at the 2015 Seattle Jazz Experience, and composed a five-movement orchestral jazz suite inspired by an original tune his father played for him growing up. He secured an annual role as alto saxophonist in the Mendocino Music Festival Big Band, arranged a public discussion with Wynton Marsalis on music and leadership as part of the 2013 Brubeck Jazz Festival, and worked closely with colleagues to record a number of original releases, most recently an album featuring eight original works. The time he didn’t spend onstage, at the studio, or in the woodshed was devoted to discussing, sharing, and embracing the power of music in its myriad forms.
This half a decade of exploration in an uplifting and challenging community of artists has prepared him to unleash his musical soul upon the world.
Although originally devoted to saxophone, Jimmy has chosen to expand himself and indulge his singer-songwriter side. But there’s something different about him. Maybe it’s the surprisingly soulful voice, or influences from his background in jazz. It could be his experience as a horn player, or his study of compositional technique. Certainly, all that Stevie Wonder he listened to in college didn’t hurt. Whatever it is, Jimmy Kraft is bringing something new to the table. Take a listen.