Tag Archives: Erika Oba

Traveling to Jupiter with Planet Loop

Carrie Jahde and Michael Schaller (photo by Kathy Sloane)
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For the average patron the music at Jupiter might seem like an afterthought. Most people show up to dine and drink with no foreknowledge of who’ll be performing underneath the towering redwood at the back of the patio. But the restaurant’s longtime music policy provides an essential anchor for many East Bay musicians, giving them a friendly and easily accessible forum at home. Jupiter’s gravitational pull can even attract artists from far beyond the local constellation, like Planet Loop, who return to the patio on Saturday night.

The band’s sound has evolved considerably since the first Jupiter gig in 2008 as a duo featuring Michael Schaller on bass and Carrie Jahde on drums. Based in Boston and looking to move to the West Coast, the couple cold-called Alain Grissette, who has booked the venue since 1993, and he gave them a shot.

“I always like to get touring bands a date if I can make it happen,” Grissette says. “I think I dug the sound they were able to produce as a duo, which wasn’t the typical coffee-shop jazz.” … Continue reading »

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Eddie Marshall: More than a drummer

Eddie Marshall. Photo: California Jazz Conservatory
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Some three years after the death of the beloved San Francisco drum maestro Eddie Marshall the loss still stings. Whether serving as a sideman or leading his own inventive combo, Marshall made the trap set purr and roar, generating tremendous swing with a minimum of fuss. His presence in the Bay Area felt particularly felicitous as he moved west after establishing himself as a top-shelf New York player, known for his work with Toshiko Akiyoshi, Stan Getz, and Sam Rivers. As the house drummer at Keystone Korner in North Beach, he provided impeccable rhythmic support to steady rotation of masters, while generously mentoring several generations of young Bay Area musicians.

“Eddie was one of the great drummers in the world,” says New York saxophonist/trumpeter Peck Allmond, who graduated from Berkeley High in 1980 and leads a tribute to Marshall at the California Jazz Conservatory on Friday at 8 p.m. “Eddie chose to live in the Bay Area after a long time in New York so he could have a family, go camping, ride his bicycle. In addition to his drumming, he was a great composer. We just had a rehearsal, and every time we play his tunes we find new stuff. They make so much sense and sound so great.” … 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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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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