Tag Archives: Hillside Club

Aoife O’Donovan: Off the crooked path

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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.

From Yo-Yo Ma’s Grammy Award-winning Goat Rodeo Sessions, and jazz trumpeter Dave Douglas’s album of hymns and folk songs Be Still, to the recent PBS broadcast Transatlantic Sessions featuring top artists from Nashville, Scotland and Ireland, O’Donovan stands out no matter what company she keeps. But she’s at her most unfettered leading her own band, which performs Friday at Freight & Salvage (award-winning Nashville singer/songwriter Liz Longley opens the show). … Continue reading »

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Events

The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Yiddish singer Anthony Russell
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CONVERGENCE One of the highlights of this year’s Jewish Music Festival will be Sunday night’s performance of Convergence by Anthony Mordechai Tzvi Russell, together with Bay Area klezmer trio Veretski Pass. “I knew no precedent of a Yiddish song organically growing out of a Negro Spiritual, but inside my own head — and I hesitate to say this, but in my heart — I felt I didn’t particularly need a precedent,” explains Russell. Convergence combines diverse strains of traditional Jewish and African-American music to explore exile, spirituality, hope and redemption. The performance includes animation work by San Francisco-based artist Meredith Leich. Tickets ($25, $22 for students, seniors and JCC East Bay members) are available from Brown Paper Tickets. 7 p.m. Sunday, March 23, JCC East Bay, 1414 Walnut St.  … Continue reading »

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Saxophonist Steve Heckman gets off the Trane track

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For much of his career, Oakland saxophonist Steve Heckman has worshipped at the altar of John Coltrane, with every gig a veritable quest to attain the spiritually charged intensity that defined Trane’s epochal recordings of the early 1960s. He left no doubt about his mission with first two albums, 2003’s With John In Mind and 2005’s Live at Yoshi’s. But his new CD, Born To Be Blue, finds Heckman in a more lyrical state of mind, focusing on American Songbook standards like Berlin’s “How Deep Is the Ocean,” Van Heusen’s “I Thought About You,” and Schwartz’s “Alone Together.”

He celebrates the album’s release Saturday at the Jazzschool with a stellar Bay Area band featuring guitarist Terrence Brewer, bassist Aaron Germain, drummer Bryan Bowman, and tenor saxophonist Rob Roth. Heckman credits his new direction on Born To Be Blue to his collaboration with guitar ace Howard Alden, which evolved out of a casual evening of jamming after a dinner party at a friend’s house in New York. When Alden came through the Bay Area several months later for a series of gigs they cemented the budding friendship at Fantasy Studios, with the guitarist’s beautifully calibrated phrasing inspiring a more lithe and relaxed sound from Heckman. … Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

A sample from one of the past annual sketchcrawls. Image: www.sketchcrawl.com
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1ST ANNUAL WEST COAST URBAN SKETCHERS’ SKETCHCRAWL  The inaugural Sketchcrawl started in San Francisco in 2004, but in its nine years of global expansion – from France to South Korea to Texas – this is the first time that an organized Sketchcrawl has touched down in Berkeley. The creator, Enrico Casarosa, is a Pixar story artist who came up with the idea after doing a bar crawl along the N Judah line in San Francisco. The event gathers artists from around the world to travel throughout the day and sketch everything they see. Sketchers share their drawings on the sketchcrawl website. The West Coast Urban Sketcher’s Sketchcrawl will gather at 5 p.m. on Friday July 12 to have dinner at Picante in West Berkeley, though the organizers suggest arriving early, around 3 p.m., to sketch the neighborhood. From there, the sketchcrawl will span across the Bay, touching down in San Francisco and Oakland throughout the weekend. Begins Friday July 12 at Picante, 1328 Sixth St. Free. … Continue reading »

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Brazil in Berkeley: The Ricardo Peixoto Group

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Rio de Janeiro native Ricardo Peixoto has spent almost his entire adult life in the United States, but his music is still steeped in the luscious melodies and insinuating rhythms of Brazil. The Oakland-based guitarist joins forces with another Brazilian master, pianist Marcos Silva, Saturday at the Hillside Club, performing his original music with flutist Bob Afifi and bassist Aaron Germain in various duo, trio and quartet configurations.

“It’s all Brazilian-based in terms of rhythm and harmonic vocabulary, but it always includes improvisation,” Peixoto says. “My tunes reflect my background, which is classical guitar, jazz, and a whole bunch of Brazilian rhythms: choro, baião, samba. I usually don’t like the term Brazilian jazz because it brings up associations I don’t particularly care for. I think of music as music, and I’m not particularly faithful to any tradition.” … Continue reading »

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Sheldon Brown to honor overlooked genius Herbie Nichols

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When it comes to jazz and new music, the Bay Area is a medium-sized pond that sustains a dazzling array of small, often intermingled scenes. It’s an ecosystem in which a tropical profusion of players has found a niche, and among the most versatile and gifted is reed master Sheldon Brown, who is equally accomplished on an array of clarinets and saxophones.

The Eureka native moved down to San Francisco in 1979, and he’s been turning up in some of the region’s most interesting ensembles ever since, from Club Foot Orchestra, which revived the art of composing and performing scores for silent films, to Berkeley’s Klezmorim, the band that helped spark the revival of Ashkenazi Jewry’s party music.

He’s toured and recorded widely with Cuban pianist Omar Sosa’s expansive ensemble. And he’s played a key role in Clarinet Thing, the all-clarinet ensemble led by Beth Custer, and Hemispheres, a world jazz combo led by percussionist Ian Dogole. … 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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Events

Out in Berkeley: Ian Dogole pays tribute to Wayne Shorter

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Ian Dogole has a knack for assembling singular, talent-laden bands. A percussionist with a global vision and a truckload of instruments from far-flung lands, he’s turned his attention to the vast and wondrous world of Wayne Shorter, the saxophonist and composer who has shaped jazz ever since joining Art Blakey’s Jazz Messenger in the late 1950s.

The Marin-based Dogole presents his Shorter Moments project Friday at the Hillside Club, introducing a quintet featuring rhythmically supple bassist Dan Feiszli, supremely versatile pianist Frank Martin, and inventive reed players Dave Tidball and Mike Zilber.

Supported by a grant from San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music, Shorter Moments encompasses the saxophonist’s entire career, from his early recordings for VeeJay and his epochal run with Miles Davis in the mid-1960s through his hugely influential Blue Note albums and Weather Report, the trailblazing fusion supergroup he founded with Joe Zawinul in 1970. … Continue reading »

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‘Mostly I just make cups’: Artist highlights impact of war

Tool at work on one of his cups
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By Susan Anglin

Berkeley ceramicist Ehren Tool is less concerned with our position on war, than with making sure that all non-veterans are made very aware of its consequences.

Tool’s vehicle for achieving this end are the thousands upon thousands of clay cups he has thrown, decorated and fired over more than a decade.

Tool has experienced war first-hand. He served as a Marine during Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1991, leaving the Corps in 1994.

His art … Continue reading »

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Capacity crowd turns up to hear “tiger mom” Amy Chua

Amy Chua sold out
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Chua’s views on parenting have triggered an explosion of heated debate internationally after the Wall Street Journal ran a provocative excerpt of her book on January 8 titled “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior” (a headline she does not approve of). A number of people who had booked tickets online to see Chua in Berkeley were turned away after Brown Paper Tickets oversold the event.

More than 200 people, roughly half of whom were Asian, made it into the Hillside Club, several choosing to stand to hear Chua being interviewed for over an hour and a half by KPFA’s Aimee Allison. Chua, who has local roots in that her father, Leon O. Chua, teaches at UC Berkeley’s College of Engineering and she attended El Cerrito High School, spoke breathlessly about her memoir which, she said, had been misrepresented as a parenting guide. … Continue reading »

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