Tag Archives: Hillside Club

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

Cal basketball head coach
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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

Ben Goldberg - photo by Adam Goldberg
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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.

I haven’t asked him about it directly, but it seems that a similar vision animates Berkeley clarinetist/composer Ben Goldberg’s band Ben Goldberg School.

Featuring alto saxophonist Kasey Knudsen, Santana trombonist Jeff Cressman, Berkeley bassist David Ewell, drummer Hamir Atwal, and Rob Reich on accordion, the sextet performs 8 p.m. Saturday at the California Jazz Conservatory. Founded about three years ago, the ensemble wasn’t created as a vehicle to transmit information as much as to provide a forum for group revelation. Devoted to Goldberg’s melodically charged, blues-and-roots steeped tunes, School creates a rarified musical space in which some of the Bay Area’s most ardent improvisers can fully express themselves. … Continue reading »

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Christine Carter to talk about managing life’s complexities

Christine Carter. Photo: Blake Farrington
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By Jill Suttie

In 2009, Christine Carter felt like she had it all. Working her dream job at the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, she was helping further the study and dissemination of the science of happiness. She had two wonderful kids, a best-selling book called Raising Happiness, a popular blog, and frequent requests for speaking engagements.

Then she got sick. At first, it seemed like no big deal—just a little strep throat. But she took a round of antibiotics and didn’t recover; then she took more. Nine courses of antibiotics later, she still hadn’t healed. Instead, she ended up in a hospital with a severe kidney infection. The diagnosis?

“Exhaustion,” says Carter. “My body had basically lost the ability to heal itself.“

That’s when she realized something was really wrong. Her life had become completely out of whack, and it was taking its toll.

“Here I was, an expert on how to sustain high performance and be happy, and I could not get myself healthy, because I was overwhelmed and exhausted,” she says. “The irony was not lost on me.”

That’s when Carter began to chart a new course. Using her background in studying elite performance and productivity, as well as happiness, positive emotions, and well-being, she put together a plan to reinvent her life. That experience, as well as correspondence from her readers complaining that they felt overwhelmed, inspired her to write a book about her path to healing: the newly published The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work. … Continue reading »

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New music in Berkeley: Leaping into unexpected realms

Caption: Cal Performances and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players present Project TenFourteen, a series of four concerts featuring world premieres commissioned from 10 different composers.

Credit: Courtesy of San Francisco Contemporary Music Players
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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.

Sunday’s inaugural program looks auspicious indeed, with Mexican composer Gabriela Ortiz’s commission “Corpórea” for an orchestral nonet with a balance of strings and winds, and Elena Ruehr’s “It’s About Time” for a string oriented sextet. The program’s defining presence is 85-year-old éminence grise George Crumb, who’s represented by three works, including two premieres. The latest of his many settings of poetry by Federico García Lorca, “The Yellow Moon of Andalusia” features mezzo soprano Tony Arnold, Kate Campbell on amplified piano, and percussionists William Winant and Nick Woodbury, while “Yesteryear” is a radically reworked piece for Arnold and pianist Kate Campbell. … Continue reading »

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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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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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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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