Recent Stories

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

    COACHING FOR LITERACY EVENT Coaching for Literacy has partnered with Cal Bears basketball to offer an “all-access” fan experience to raise funds for literacy work during the Saturday Feb. 6 Stanford game in Haas Pavilion. The Golden Bears join 17 other NCAA institutions and the Washington Wizards as a member of Coaching for Literacy’s 2015-16 Assistant Coach Program schedule. The initiative is to raise valuable awareness about the problem of illiteracy in America. Currently, 19% of high-school graduates in America are functionally illiterate. Financial support will also be raised and directed to literacy efforts in the Bay Area through The Re(a)d Zone – an initiative of the 50 Fund, the legacy initiative of the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee. Details at CalBears.
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  • The utopian vision of the Ben Goldberg School

    Interviewing choreographer Twyla Tharp for an upcoming story about her 50th anniversary tour I was struck by her description of her new dance “Preludes and Fugues” set to J.S. Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier as belonging to a utopian streak long at the center of her work. “You take a huge responsibility in imagining the world as it should be,” she said.

  • New music in Berkeley: Leaping into unexpected realms

    There’s something irresistible about experiencing a composition at its premiere, about the possibility of witnessing an imaginative leap into unexpected musical realms. On Friday, East Bay trumpeter Ian Carey reprises his new work Interview Music: A Suite for Quintet + 1 at the Hillside Club, where he’ll be recording the suite with his talent-laden ensemble. And on Sunday, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players (SFCMP) launch Project TenFourteen at Hertz Hall, an unprecedented season-long collaboration with Cal Performances featuring 10 newly commissioned works premiering over the course of four concerts.

  • Aoife O’Donovan: Off the crooked path

    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.

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

    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.  (more…)

  • Saxophonist Steve Heckman gets off the Trane track

    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.”

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

    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. (more…)

  • Brazil in Berkeley: The Ricardo Peixoto Group

    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.

  • Sheldon Brown to honor overlooked genius Herbie Nichols

    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.