Charles with Molly celebrates the release of a new EP Friday at the Back Room, a concert conceived as a fundraiser for the Berkeley High jazz program.
As a child of divorced parents, singer Lilan Kane came to dread the holidays. Even before the recent spate of aggressively dispiriting news, she planned to produce a concert offering a celebratory space for everyone who might feel conflicted about celebration in the midst of woe. Now more than ever her “All We Need Is Love” concert 7:30 p.m. Sunday night at the Marsh Theater offers a balm for all us who are more than ready to kick this annus horribilis to the curb. Kane is donating a portion of the evening’s proceeds to support the families of people lost in the Ghost Ship fire.
Though Theresa Hak Kyung Cha spent her formative years in Berkeley, the innovative Korean-American artist is most often associated with New York City. It’s where she made an indelible impression as a polyglot writer in the early 1980s, and where her life was so cruelly cut short by a depraved rapist.
Kronos Quartet lives in the vanguard. The celebrated San Francisco string ensemble returns to Zellerbach Hall Saturday for a Cal Performances concert with three new works from Fifty for the Future, a program that turbo charges the group’s longtime practice of commissioning and presenting music by young composers.
FM radio was an obscure broadcasting technology when Phil Elwood started sending out jazz over the airwaves on KPFA, a station that was just three years old when he came on board in 1952.
No one expected the Berkeley Arts Festival space to last as long as it did. The storefront venue, at 2133 University Ave., opened in the summer of 2011, the latest in a string of found spaces procured by Bonnie Hughes that have enlivened Berkeley’s arts scene with a steady flow of musical performances, classes, theater and dance.
As a rambunctious child with a precocious feel for rhythm, Ruthie Price saw any available surface as a potential piece of percussion
Oakland pianist Alex Conde isn’t the first musician to uncover the kindred roots linking jazz and flamenco. Born of diaspora, longing and communal celebration, the traditions share African lineage and an improvisational imperative. On the American side, jazz and flamenco first came together memorably on Charles Mingus’s uproarious 1957 masterpiece Tijuana Moods, and Miles Davis hugely popular 1960 collaboration with Gil Evans Sketches of Spain (which is more a moody evocation of Spanish folklore than a flamenco-infused project). Spanish saxophonist Pedro Iturralde and rising guitar legend Paco de Lucía offered an unprecedented synthesis with 1968’s Jazz Flamenco, a session more talked about than heard.
At 75, Mahmoud Ahmed doesn’t jump as high or shake as ecstatically as he once did, but the Ethiopian superstar is still a magnificent entertainer with a vast treasure trove of songs set to infectiously rippling grooves. A vocalist and composer who defined the cosmopolitan Addis Ababa scene when its thrumming energy made it an East African counterpart to swinging London, Mahmoud has survived the fall of an emperor and a long reign of Marxist terror, a calamitous famine and bloody civil war. He arrives at Zellerbach Friday for the Cal Performances double bill “Afropop Spectacular” as a singular, unifying figure for his ancient, ethnically riven nation, a status he maintains through his indefatigable generosity as a performer (Mali’s Trio Da Kali opens the concert).
Sofia Rei, a singer and multi-instrumentalist born and raised in Buenos Aires, remembers the rising feeling of indignation when a New England Conservatory classmate asked her sing a nueva canción standard at a concert. She had grown up hearing her mother’s Mercedes Sosa albums, “but I never had any interest in performing that music,” says Rei, who makes her Berkeley debut Friday at La Peña with two New York colleagues, Peruvian bassist Jorge Roeder and Colombian percussionist Tupac Mantilla.
Starting a record label in the 21st century might seem like a fool’s errand, what with collapsing CD sales and streaming services that offer less than a pittance per thousands of plays. But jazz bassist/vocalist Jeff Denson offers an object lesson in the power of a savvy and well-curated outlet. Over the past year, his new label Ridgeway Records has released a series of stellar recordings introducing some of the region’s most promising young artists, like Berkeley-reared guitarist/composer Ian Faquini’s Metal Na Madeira.
Sufi mystic and Berkeley Recreation aquatics specialist, master of traditional North African instruments, storyteller, and pioneering jazz improviser, Yassir Chadly contains multitudes. Over the years he’s recorded with jazz luminaries such as Randy Weston, Pharoah Sanders, and Omar Sosa, but musically he’s been sticking close to home since the 2012 death of trumpeter Khalil Shaheed. Together, they founded the Mo’Rockin Project, a band that fused traditional Moroccan songs with jazz and R&B, a repertoire Chadly hopes to revisit someday. Until he locates the right partner the Casablanca-born multi-instrumentalist can be found playing traditional music, as when he returns to Ashkenaz Friday with a group of East Bay Moroccan musicians including percussionist Mostafa Raiss El Fenni, who owns Sahara Import on Piedmont Avenue.
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