Tag Archives: Erik Jekabson

Paul Hanson: Bringing the Bass(oon) to Berkeley Friday

Oon with Paul Hanson and Ariane Cap
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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 »

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Smith Dobson V, Friends with Benefits, play Berkeley

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Contrary to what it might seem, the Roman numeral in Smith Dobson V’s name doesn’t mean there are five guys with the same moniker playing music around the region.

Rather, his daunting facility on drums, vibes, and alto and tenor saxophones means he can be found in any number of situations, including Friday at the California Jazz Conservatory (formerly the Jazzschool) with Friends with Benefits, a collective quartet featuring the masterly Berkeley clarinetist Ben Goldberg, bassist Doug Stuart and pianist Michael Coleman. For that band Dobson plays alto and tenor sax.

Dobson holds down a regular Tuesday night gig at Club Deluxe in the Haight playing tenor with a formidable quartet, and then returns on Wednesdays as a drummer with top-shelf saxophonist/composer Patrick Wolff. On May 10 he’ll be holding down the drum chair at the Sound Room with Berkeley-raised trumpeter Erik Jekabson’s New Orleans Quintet, a different band than the one featured on Jekabson’s album Live at the Hillside Club with the superlative rhythm section of Dobson, bassist John Wiitala, and percussion great John Santos. … Continue reading »

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Erik Jekabson Quintet in Berkeley: Let the good times roll

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Normally, lightning striking twice in the Berkeley Hills would be a cause for concern, but when trumpeter Erik Jekabson is the force responsible for the conflagration, it’s an invitation to let the good times roll.

The Berkeley High alum wasn’t expecting to record a live album when he brought his talent-laden quintet featuring percussion star John Santos to the Hillside Club back in 2011. Thrilled at the opportunity to collaborate with Santos, he wrote and arranged a passel of new music, and when he listened to the recording of the concert months later he was so pleased that decided to make it available on the CD Live at the Hillside Club.

Featuring bassist John Wiitala, drummer Smith Dobson V, and pianist Grant Levin, Jekabson’s quintet returns to the intimate venue Saturday to celebrate the new album’s release (the group also plays the Jazzschool on April 18).

A grant from San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music helped Jekabson pay the musicians a recording session rate, but he hails the Hillside Club’s music director Bruce Koball with making the CD possible by putting in many hours of post-production work. … Continue reading »

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Erik and Erika: Berkeley High returnees are home to play

Erik Jekabson
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The Berkeley High jazz program is the gift that keeps on giving. Hardly a year goes by without at least a handful of excellent young musicians emerging from its ranks, and, while many head east to attend elite conservatories and music schools, Berkeley’s oversized gravitational pull often brings them back home.

Pianist Erika Oba and trumpeter Erik Jekabson hail from different Berkeley High generations, but they’ve made many of the same moves and have both recently released highly personal albums.

Oba, a member of the talent-laden class of 2004, performs Friday (tonight) at the Jazzschool, celebrating the release of her alluring new duo project with bassist Chris Bastian, “Carry On.” One of the finest trumpeters in the Bay Area, Jekabson, class of 1991, performs Tuesday at Freight & Salvage, focusing on music from his ambitious new album “Anti-Mass,” a stellar project inspired by artwork at the DeYoung Museum.

On her debut album Oba displays a gift for crafting memorable melodies and a savvy sense of space, letting her notes breath and ring. As an interactive duo with both musicians inhabiting the foreground she and Bastian engage in a series of graceful pas de deux rather than extended solos with accompaniment. They each contribute four original pieces to “Carry On,” and Oba’s music hints at her primary compositional influence, Thelonious Monk, while her keyboard touch evidences an affinity for the lustrous tone of Bill Evans. … Continue reading »

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In Berkeley: Trumpeter Erik Jekabson, singer “El Cigala”

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Trumpeter Erik Jekabson isn’t among the Berkeley High Jazz Band’s best known alumni, but that says more about program’s glittering roster of graduates and Jekabson’s far-ranging musical interests than any deficit in talent or imagination.

Since graduating in 1991, Jekabson has collected several degrees from conservatories (Oberlin and San Francisco Conservatory of Music) and extensive first-hand knowledge from veteran masters in New Orleans and New York City. Equally comfortable composing chamber music or West African-inflected funk, he possesses a lustrous, singing tone and an expansive rhythmic vocabulary. He also has a knack for assembling interesting ensembles.

Jekabson performs on Friday at Berkeley’s Hillside Club (a venue with a fascinating story itself), accompanied by largely the same cast featured on his impressive 2010 CD, “Crescent Boulevard”, which he released on his own label: Jekab’s Music. Featuring ace bassist John Wiitala, pianist Grant Levin, drummer Smith Dobson V, and special guest John Santos on percussion, the band is focusing on new Jekabson pieces conceived specifically for these players. … Continue reading »

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