Tag Archives: Berkeley High Jazz
In jazz, timing is critical, and the Berkeley High jazz program has long demonstrated a gift for landing on just the right beat. When Fourth Street merchants decided to end its annual Jazz on Fourth event, a cornerstone of the jazz program’s annual fundraising efforts, the Berkeley Music Group’s newly opened The UC Theatre stepped into the breach. On Friday, the Berkeley High Jazz Ensemble plays an opening set at the UC Theatre for the Pacific Mambo Orchestra, which shocked the Latin music scene in 2014 by winning the Grammy Award for Best Latin Tropical Album.
“The Fourth Street merchants felt like shutting down the street was too disruptive,” said trombonist Sarah Cline, who’s finishing her fifth year as director of Berkeley High’s jazz program. “We so grateful for their support. They did Jazz on Fourth for 20 years, raised more than $200,000 over that time, and they’re still supporting us. Abrams/Millikan is one of the corporate sponsors of the UC Theatre concert, and we’re looking for more.” … Continue reading »
Ask Spencer Stevens how he became so musically inclined and he’ll probably give you a modest response. Something like: “I don’t know, I’m just blessed,” or “A lot of time and effort.” Whatever humble answer the 22-year-old Berkeley High graduate chooses, he’s downplaying the truth. That truth is that Spencer Stevens is just flat-out talented, and he seems to possess a clear understanding of most aspects of music. The work he’s done as a producer, engineer, manager and DJ has put him in the position of being one of the hottest rising stars in the Bay Area’s underground music scene.
With the success he’s had managing up and coming Oakland artist Legendvry, and playing the role of lead man for his DJ collective, Wavbros, Stevens has made himself a familiar face around the Bay. It seems there isn’t a musical event you can go to in the Bay Area where Stevens isn’t in attendance, and you can bet that each time he’s doing something different. … Continue reading »
On any given night one can find a handful of jazz gigs in Berkeley interesting enough to coax even a casual fan out of the house. But this Sunday offers something altogether rare with a convergence of two events that auger well for the future of the scene.
From noon to 5 p.m., the Berkeley High jazz program’s 20th annual Jazz on Fourth Street fundraiser turns the shopping district into a music-filled street party. And at the David Brower Center from 2-5 p.m., Jazz in the Neighborhood celebrates its second anniversary with a fundraiser and concert featuring the lustrous vocalist Clairdee, pianist Ken French, bassist Marcus Shelby, trumpeter (and Berkeley High alum) Erik Jekabson, pianist Glen Pearson, saxophonist/flutist Mary Fettig, trombonist Wayne Wallace, and drummer Hamir Atwal. … Continue reading »
Paul Hanson has spent much of his life taking the bassoon into realms where the horn has never before traveled. From world jazz and klezmer to funk and rock, the Berkeley native refuses to be bounded by the irascible double-reed’s traditional symphonic role. Based in American Canyon since the end of a four-year stint with Cirque du Soleil in Japan, he returns to town for a California Jazz Conservatory performance at 8 p.m. Friday with the duo Oon featuring the inventive electric bassist Ariane Cap.
Pronounced like the last syllable of Hanson’s instrument (“just subtract the bass from bassoon,” he says), the duo released a debut album Polaris in 2013, and they’ve continued to refine and expand a surprisingly varied array of material. While the album focuses on original material by both musicians (Cap often composes with Austrian multi-instrumentalist Wolf Wein, the album’s co-producer), they’ve also devised striking arrangements of familiar songs, such as “Stella By Starlight” and “Dear Prudence.” … Continue reading »
BERKELEY HIGH JAZZ ALUMNI CONCERT The “father” of Berkeley High’s acclaimed jazz program will be commemorated on Sunday at the third annual Berkeley High Jazz Alumni Concert. Musicians, spanning decades of Berkeley High jazz, will celebrate Wong’s life. Performers will include multi-instrumentalist Peter Apfelbaum, saxophonists BEnnett Friedman and Hitomi Oba, bassoonist Paul Hanson, percussionist Josh Jones, trombonist Sarah Cline (the current director of the program), and surprise guests. Charles Hamilton, who led the jazz program for 28 years to 2009, will be the day’s music director, and KCSM DJ Jesse “Chuy” Varela will emcee the day. Wong was principal of Washington Elementary in the ’60s, and was an early advocate for jazz education. The City of Berkeley will present a posthumous award honoring Wong’s inspiration to generations of Berkeley students. Sunday, June 1, 2-5 p.m., Coventry Grove, Kensington. Tickets are $20 at the door or through advance purchase on Eventbrite (recommended). Children under 5 are free. The concert benefits Berkeley High’s jazz programs. Doors open at 1 p.m. … Continue reading »
There’s nothing like free music in a public space to bring people together, and there’s no better line up on tap in town this season than the 19th Annual Jazz on Fourth, which runs this Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
A festival supporting the Berkeley High School Jazz Program, the event features powerhouse blues belter Sista Monica Parker, the dance-inducing Afro-Cuban grooves of Tito Y Su Son De Cuba, and the stylish jazz balladeer Ed Reed, whose remarkable late-blooming career has brought him international renown in his 80s. Of course, the festival is also a student showcase with performances by the award-winning Berkeley High School Combo A and the full 22-piece Berkeley High School Ensemble, directed by Sarah Cline. … Continue reading »
Herb Wong, the founding father of the pioneering jazz program at Berkeley’s schools, died on Sunday April 20, 2014. He was 88.
In an obituary published today on Berkeleyside, Sarah Cline, Jazz Program Director at Berkeley High School, remembers the visionary principal of Washington Elementary School who believed in jazz education for young children — as music education, as a part of the civil rights movement, and as a way of propagating a democratic and artistic spirit — and who brought famous jazz musicians, including Duke Ellington and Oscar Peterson, to give concerts at the school. … Continue reading »
By Sarah Cline, Jazz Program Director at Berkeley High School
We at Berkeley High School and in BUSD Jazz lost our founding father this Easter. Dr. Herb Wong passed early in the morning Sunday April 20. He was 88.
Wong was the visionary principal of Washington Elementary School who was responsible for hiring Phil Hardymon, Dick Wittington and Bob Chaconas to teach jazz to little kids in the Berkeley Unified School District, way back in the late 1960s. At the time, Wong was one of a … Continue reading »
The 18th annual Jazz on Fourth Street Festival kicks off on Sunday, May 19 at noon. The free festival supports the renowned jazz programs at Berkeley High.
“School districts around the country have trouble keeping their arts and music programs thriving,” said Marshall Lamm, who helps organize the festival. “Berkeley High’s jazz program has been a source of pride for the community for so long. It takes a community and it takes concerned citizens to support the kids. Every bit helps.”
Sunday’s program includes Dixieland from Mal Sharpe’s Big Money in Jazz Band, blues from Mark Hummel and the Blues Survivors, and Latin jazz from drummer and BHS alumnus Josh Jones and his Latin Jazz Group. The full 22-piece Berkeley High School Ensemble, directed by Sarah Cline, will provide the festival’s finale. … Continue reading »
Even rockers and rappers grow up and have kids. Two Berkeley High alums, both musicians, have collaborated on a music video that, while being upbeat and funny, also makes a candid stab at exploring the peculiar transition that happens when you segue from carefree youth into parenthood.
DJ Dave, aka David Wittman, will be known to Berkeleyside readers as the creator, via his company Fog and Smog, of the popular “Whole Foods Parking Lot” video, and the “Berkeley Enough” follow-up he put out with local performer LaeCharles Lawrence. Wittman met Sam Dorman at Berkeley High, although Dorman graduated in 1994, two years behind Witman. The pair got to know each other well when they both lived in Los Angeles. … Continue reading »
On a sunny day, Berkeley offers few better venues than the corner of Fourth Street in front of Peet’s Coffee. Prime real estate for buskers, the unregulated spot seems to attract an unusually accomplished array of performers, from Berkeley High jazz combos and string bands to soul outfits and lone fingerstyle guitarists.
Hanging out there last year with my toddling daughter led to my first encounter with Foxtails Brigade, a captivating chamber pop band created by Oakland guitarist/vocalist Laura Weinbach. While she launched Foxtails in 2006 with violinist Sivan Sadeh, by the time I caught up with her she had recreated the duo with violinist Anton Patzner, a highly sympathetic accompanist who’s also a founding member of the East Bay string metal trio Judgment Day. … Continue reading »
Trumpeter Ellen Seeling and saxophonist Jean Fineberg have never been the types to sit around and moan about injustice. When they got frustrated by the dearth of opportunities for women in Bay Area jazz orchestras, they went ahead and launched their own rip-roaring combo, the Montclair Women’s Big Band, which has earned a devoted following on the strength of its tight ensemble work and improvisational firepower.
Two years ago, they struck another blow for female players by creating a summer Girls’ Jazz & Blues Camp, a program produced with the Jazzschool in downtown Berkeley. And this weekend, Seeling and Fineberg introduce another showcase for the region’s impressive array of women instrumentalists, the First Annual Women in Jazz Festival. … Continue reading »