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KSDS Jazz 88 kicks off their summer "Jazz Live" concert series with a premier performance on June 11, by the Steph Johnson Trio, closely on the heels of Johnson's latest CD -release Nature Girl.

Johnson has been on a tear lately, headlining at the Tijuana Jazz & Blues Festival and gigging up and down the county with regular gigs at Croce's in the Gaslamp, and the Hotel Indigo in Del Mar.

"I've been playing four and five nights a week," said Johnson by phone. "And the material is getting tighter and tighter. I'm kind of nervous about the show next week, because of all of the exposure, but Rob Thorsen reminded me that we've been playing these tunes a lot, so I'm really excited too."

Johnson's trio with bass veteran Thorsen and young drum phenomenon Fernando Gomez have a raw, primal thing going with the stripped-down vibe of guitar/bass/drums supporting the leader's huge, soulful voice.

In addition to next week's Jazz Live show at the acoustically pristine Saville Theatre, Johnson is busy planning a West Coast Tour beginning late Summer.

"We've got gigs booked in Arizona and Colorado," says Johnson. "And I've been getting airplay all over the country, which I'm super-stoked about."

The Saville Theatre seats about 275, so early reservations are recommended. Call 619 388-3037 to secure your seat. Concert begins at 8:00 pm, doors open at 7:30

Photo by Tom Harten

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