PALLADE MUSICA A young early music quartet from Montreal will have its West Coast debut in a series of concerts by the San Francisco Early Music Society this weekend. Pallade Musica will play instrumental works from the 17th century, including compositions by Sweelinck, Castaldi and Buxtehude. The program “journeys from the beginnings of the Stile Moderno in the breathtaking sonatas of Dario Castello to the pinnacle of the Stylus Phantasticus with Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber’s ‘Mystery Sonatas’ for violin.” Pallade Musica will perform at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave., at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 17. Call the box office for ticket availability on 510-528-1725. (more…)
BHS JAZZ ALUMNI IN THE BAY AREA Alumni of Berkeley High’s renowned jazz program are returning to their native East Bay to ring in the new year at a couple different venues. Brooklyn-based Zongo Junction, an energetic Afrobeat ensemble founded by BHS grad Charles Ferguson, will play at Leo’s (5447 Telegraph in North Oakland) on Friday, Jan. 2. The $20 show is 18+ and starts at 9 p.m. Here in Berkeley on the same night, the Chase Jackson Quintet will play at the California Jazz Conservatory (formerly the Jazzschool) at 2087 Addison St. The eponymous vibraphone player, who now lives in LA, is an alum of the BHS jazz program, and is bringing to the stage with him several other young Bay Area musicians. The $12 acoustic jazz show starts at 8 p.m. (more…)
The southern Mexican state of Oaxaca is a realm where indigenous culture continues to thrive in the 21st century. Rather than closing themselves off to outside currents, the Mixtecs, Zapotecs and other peoples of the region are constantly integrating new information, evolution that’s evident in Pasatono Orquesta, a fascinating nine-piece ensemble that makes its Bay Area debut at Freight & Salvage on Wednesday on a double bill with Cascada de Flores.
While neuroscientists are busy trying to unravel the mysterious ties between music and memory, the women in True Life Trio are conducting their own investigation. A spin off of Kitka, TLT has expanded on that innovative all-women vocal ensemble’s powerfully evocative repertoire of traditional Eastern European and Balkan songs with finely crafted arrangements of Cajun, Appalachian and even Mexican standards. Singing gorgeous three-part harmonies, Leslie Bonnett (voice, fiddle, percussion), Briget Boyle (voice, guitar, percussion) and Juliana Graffagna (voice, bass, percussion) weave together disparate cultural currents to create an improvisation-laced sound that’s raucous, soulful and achingly beautiful.
Discussion, debate, insights, revelations, laughter and inspiration — all of these are a given at Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas which is happening on Friday Oct. 24 and Saturday Oct. 25 in downtown Berkeley. You wouldn’t expect anything less when participants engage with speakers like these.
You’ll rarely get an argument on the streets of Berkeley by disparaging Los Angeles. While oft-maligned as a cultural wasteland, LA actually boasts a vast, vibrant and well-entrenched cultural scene that continues to draw the East Bay’s sons and daughters, particularly standout players from Berkeley High’s vaunted jazz program. On Sunday, several recent BHS graduates return from the Southland to perform at Freight & Salvage with the UCLA Charles Mingus Ensemble under the direction of composer James Newton.
As a young gospel singer, Richmond-raised Dorothy Morrison was used to people catching the spirit in the pews. But nothing prepared her for the lightning strike of gospel’s biggest hit ever, “Oh Happy Day,” which she recorded in 1968 with the Edwin Hawkins Singers at Berkeley’s Ephesian Church of God in Christ. These days, she’s bringing sacred music to the rough-and-ready repertoire of the Blue Broads, the powerhouse foursome that returns Freight & Salvage Thursday June 26 featuring church-proven belter Annie Sampson, blues great Tracy Nelson, and Texas tornado Angela Strehli. (more…)
After a decade-long run as lead singer in Crooked Still, Aoife O’Donovan is taking full advantage of her unattached status. Since the popular Boston string band announced an amicable disbanding in 2012, O’Donovan seems to be popping up everywhere, lending her cool, silvery vocals to a fascinating array of settings.
Asked to name four or five of the most important Bay Area venues where musicians can try out new concepts and even savvy music fans are likely to overlook Berkeley’s Cheese Board Collective. But with two acts a day Tuesday through Saturday, the informal setting has proven to be an invaluable proving ground for acts like internationally acclaimed jazz crooner Ed Reed, the versatile blues combo Kickin’ The Mule, and most recently the incandescent Latin American songsters Cascada de Flores.
THE POSSIBLE CLOSING CEREMONY The closing ceremony for ‘The Possible,’ an exhibition at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, will begin this Friday, May 23, at 7:30 p.m. ‘The Possible’ re-imagines the museum as the locus of an ever-evolving artistic projects that connects the artists with the community. This final celebration of creative spirit will draw together artists from around the Bay Area. There will be music, dancing, and ceremonies honoring those who made the whole exhibition, well, possible. Tickets are $7. It should be noted that there will also be a free garden bazaar on Sunday, May 25, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., where the gallery will be ceremonially emptied. Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, 2626 Bancroft Way. (Read our review of ‘The Possible.’)
Downtown Berkeley has seen a major revival in recent years, with a profusion of new restaurants and much more. We round up reader favorites here.