Tag Archives: Erika Oba

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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For REALM students, it’s been a jazzy summer

Kaila Cherry has learned to play jazz on her guitar at the REALM music program. Photo: REALM
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If you happen to be on 4th Street this afternoon between 2-4 pm take a few minutes to check out the jam session in front of Peet’s Coffee. The kids are students at REALM, Berkeley’s first charter school, and most of them attended the school’s summer jazz camp. The camp was organized by saxophonist/bassist Peter Hargreaves, a Berkeley High grad (class of 2004) who was hired to run the new school’s music program. The jam session is part of his effort to collect instruments for REALM’s music program (they need saxophones, trumpets, trombones, violins, cellos, keyboards and pianos).

“Another thing is it’s an opportunity for the students, especially those at the summer camp, to have something to keep practicing for throughout the summer,” says Hargreaves, who notes that some friends from his Berkeley High Jazz Band days will be dropping by to sit in. “It’s a chance to play and interact with older musicians. On the other side, it would be great to have a few more instruments.”

In looking to raise awareness about REALM, Hargreaves aims to start building a parent support group for the music program like the one that has sustained jazz at Berkeley High for decades. During the year he tapped into Berkeley High’s extensive network of jazz band alumni, recruiting drummer Josh Jones to teach a percussion class. The summer music camp drew on the same vast pool of talent. … Continue reading »

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