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Arts & Culture

Balcones Heights Jazz Festival Starts July 11 At Wonderland Mall

The Balcones Heights Jazz Festival will soon kick off.

“The Balcones Heights Jazz Festival runs this year for four consecutive Friday nights: July 11, 18, 25, and August 1," said Balcones Heights Director of Community Initiatives Lorenzo Nastasi.

“The venue is really remarkable -- at Wonderland of the Americas around that wonderful reflecting pool, the amphitheater setting, the grassy hillside.”  

And then there’s the music. It's all Jazz, but jazz features a lot of iterations.

“The concentration is on smooth jazz, but this year we have a particularly interesting lineup,” said Nastasi.

Part of that lineup is Steve Oliver, whose style of jazz is hard to classify.

“I’m like a hybrid. [My music] has jazz, it has pop, it has Latin, it has R&B, it has world music," said Oliver. "Plus I’m a singer, so I sing and use my voice as an instrument, like Bobby McFerrin, Al Jareau."

But that’s not all. He's a guitar player, but not just any kind of guitar playing.

“And then with my guitar I play synth guitar, so I’m triggering keyboard sounds, stuff from the guitar,” Oliver said.

I asked him what people who don’t listen to jazz are missing.

“A lot actually, bcause there’s so much to listen for," Oliver said. "When you start figuring it out -- Wow! there’s all this percussion sounds, and there’s different rhythm elements, and world elements. It’s just so diverse. And it’s feel-good music, too."

Oliver is one of eight acts on four separate nights of the jazz fest.

“The music’s great, so it’s a great time,” he said.

Watch a video with Steve Oliver: