By Delency Parham & Maya Cueva
Scanning the February music listings it seems like Berkeley has become the western-most neighborhood of Brooklyn, with a steady stream of exceptional improvisational ensembles performing in intimate settings.
The Berkeley Public Library might seem like unpromising territory to develop a thriving practice as a jazz trombonist, concert presenter, and all-around East Bay mover and shaker, but Pat Mullan is an expert at creating spaces for the culture she loves. She spent a quarter century ensconced at the downtown branch, where she found numerous ways to bring jazz into the stacks. But since retiring seven years ago, Mullan has poured her energy into the hard swinging 19-piece Junius Courtney Big Band, which performs a program focusing on the music of Thelonious Monk tonight at Yoshi’s with powerhouse guest vocalist Zoe Ellis (Berkeley High class of ‘88). On Friday, Mullan brings her unusual trombone quartet Trombonga to the Westside Café on Ninth Street.
Let us now praise soulful women. Linda Tillery and Faye Carol aren’t merely charismatic singers with an encyclopedic command of African American musical idioms. They’re activists who have devoted their lives to tending the roots so that rising generations can draw spiritual sustenance from that same gloriously rich culture.
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