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Recent Stories

  • Keeping up with the Joneses

    Two concerts will offer compelling takes on how musicians honor the artists from whom they draw creative sustenance. One honors Hank Jones, the other honors George Jones.

  • Roger Glenn, the world’s most interesting man

    If the actor who intones “stay thirsty my friends” ever gives up his Dos Equis gig, the brewery should look into hiring Roger Glenn as a pitchman. The veteran jazz musician could run ploymathic laps around that poseur who claims the title of “the world’s most interesting man.”

  • Bryan Bowman and the urge to record

    For the vast majority of musicians making an album is a money-losing proposition these days, a time-intensive undertaking that’s hard to justify looking at the bottom line. But the urge to make a statement, the call to document a particular program of music interpreted by a specific cadre of collaborators, is no less potent, which is why drummer/composer Bryan Bowman rounded up some of the region’s finest improvisers for his album Like Minds.

  • Susan Brand: Jazz in your head; Larry Ochs, Eric Van James

    At the age of 50, with her children safely out of the house and enrolled in college, Berkeley psychologist Susan Brand decided to pursue a longtime dream of learning to play jazz piano. She knew it wouldn’t be easy, “but I had no idea how difficult it was going to be,” she says. “It’s been a steep learning curve ever since then.”

  • Fred Randolph: Tales from a busy bassist

    A consummate musician who can be found playing jazz, salsa, samba, rock, fusion and any number of other styles, Fred Randolph is one of the busiest bassists in the Bay Area. The story of how he attained that enviable status is full of unlikely twists, with several instrumental detours along the way.

  • Jazz’s cool queen gets hot with Swing Fever

    Denise Perrier’s theme song could be “Travelin’ Light,” as the supremely stylish San Francisco jazz singer continues to follow her wanderlust to the wide corners of the world. Since she first lit out to tour Australia some five decades ago, Perrier has performed in more than two dozen countries, a tireless itinerary that means she’s often introducing herself to new generations of Bay Area jazz fans when she gets back home. You can catch her Saturday at the California Jazz Conservatory with Swing Fever, but then she’s off for San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, followed by her first trip to Cuba in December.

  • Ramona Kelley: A dancer grows in Berkeley

    The big bang of 20th-century ballet was detonated by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, a generative explosion that sent creative waves sweeping across the Americas, all the way to Berkeley. With Twyla Tharp in town for a Cal Performances residency to celebrate her fiftieth year as a choreographer on Oct. 16-18, Berkeley’s deep dance history is embodied Ramona Kelley (who connects with Ballet Russe by about three degrees of separation).

  • The utopian vision of the Ben Goldberg School

    Interviewing choreographer Twyla Tharp for an upcoming story about her 50th anniversary tour I was struck by her description of her new dance “Preludes and Fugues” set to J.S. Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier as belonging to a utopian streak long at the center of her work. “You take a huge responsibility in imagining the world as it should be,” she said.

  • Guitarist George Cotsirilos: A nighthawk flies in Berkeley

    Chicago-reared George Cotsirilos arrived in Berkeley in 1969 as an aspiring young guitarist deeply under the sway of the three blues Kings (B.B., Albert, and Freddie). In the midst of his undergrad studies at Cal he took some time off to play with a blues band in Ann Arbor, and when he re-enrolled to continue his sociology studies he came under the sway of legendary East Bay guitar teacher Warren Nunes, who turned his attention to jazz and “opened up other vistas,” Cotsirilos says.

  • The singing oncologist: Natalie Marshall in Berkeley

    Berkeley oncologist Natalie Marshall plunged into jazz vocals to scratch her own creative itch. But as she’s gained confidence, technique and musical knowledge, Marshall has found that singing can also have therapeutic applications.