Tag Archives: Jupiter

Howard Alden: Seven strings, will travel

Howard Alden - photo by Joseph Boggess
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Howard Alden makes a powerful impression, even when you can’t see him. In Woody Allen’s great 1999 film Sweet and Lowdown the veteran jazz guitarist supplied the beautiful fretwork delivered by Sean Penn’s fictional Emmet Ray, a tormented musician who describes himself as “the second greatest guitarist in the world” (topped only by the very real guitar legend Django Reinhardt). At the time, Alden wasn’t particularly associated with Reinhardt’s Gypsy swing sound, but he’s a highly versatile player who thrives in just about any setting.

In the next two weeks, Alden plays numerous gigs around the region, including a solo recital tonight at Schoenberg Guitars in Tiburon, and Tuesday at St. Albans Episcopal Church in Albany with members of the Berkeley Choro Ensemble and Grupo Falso Baiano (namely flutist Jane Lenoir, clarinetist Harvey Wainapel, guitarist Brian Moran, and percussionist Ami Molinelli Hart). … Continue reading »

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Alive! in Berkeley: All-women jazz combo comes to town

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Alive! wasn’t the first top-flight all-women combo in jazz. Going back to at least the 1940s, when the International Sweethearts of Rhythm earned the respect of their male peers and discerning audiences, excellent female musicians have come together to swing and improvise. But the women in Alive!, who mark the 40th anniversary of the band’s founding with a reunion concert Sunday at Freight & Salvage, boldly trod onto new territory when they came together in the mid-1970s.

Featuring vocalist Rhiannon, percussionist Carolyn Brandy, bassist/cellist Susanne DiVincenza, drummer Barbara Borden and the late pianist Janet Small (who passed away in 2010), Alive! captured jazz’s zeitgeist with a repertoire focusing on original compositions. Inspired by Brandy’s rapidly accelerating passion for Afro-Cuban rituals and rhythms, the band incorporated Cuban grooves at a time when more jazz musicians were exploring Caribbean cultural currents. The inimitable Tammy Hall, who can often be found accompanying the region’s best jazz singers, is the band’s new pianist. … Continue reading »

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The best bets for SF Beer Week in the East Bay

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SF Beer Week, which kicks off on Friday, is a monster of an event, with countless happenings hosted across the Bay Area over the course of ten days. Its online schedule is almost impossibly long, even when it filters out events outside of the East Bay. But don’t be discouraged — we’ve done the hard work for you and picked out our best bets for the week, including three Pliny the Younger sightings and an array of sweet (and less-so) events for Valentine’s Day.

TAP TAKEOVERS AND TASTINGS

“Lost in the Woods” at The Good Hop This New Belgium-sponsored tasting is your only opportunity to taste the 2015 La Foile, a Flanders-style sour brown ale, and the 2015 Transatlantique Kriek, a lambic produced in collaboration with Belgium’s Oud Beersel. They’ll also be pouring a third New Belgium barrel-aged sour one-off and will hold a web-toast with the different brewers. The $40 event includes three 5-ounce tastings, food pairings, a globe glass and one 22-ounce bottle of La Folie or Transatlantique Kriek to take home. Those not wishing to pay the ticket price can still taste the beers on their own, but they will be served at full price.
Saturday Feb. 7, 5 to 8 p.m. Tickets are available at Brown Paper Tickets. The Good Hop, 2421 Telegraph Ave., Oakland.Continue reading »

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Audrey Martin: A dream fulfilled, plus more Berkeley gigs

Audrey Gilbert. Photo:  Irene Young
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On her 40th birthday Audrey Martin decided to sing. As a marriage and family therapist, she had spent years helping other people work through traumas, resolve deep-seated conflicts, and discover their true selves. Along the way she had set aside her adolescent ambition for a life in music, a sublimated dream that resurfaced with her midlife milestone. Martin’s long and winding creative journey resulted in the captivating debut album Living Room (full disclosure: I wrote the liner notes). She celebrates the CD’s release Sunday afternoon at Berkeley’s California Jazz Conservatory, which played an essential role in her musical education.

“This is the culmination of 17 years of planning and effort at learning the art of jazz and bringing together music that I‘ve wanted to perform and record,” says Martin, a Berkeley resident since 1998. “It also represents an integration of my musical self and my life as a psychotherapist.” … Continue reading »

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Amendola Vs. Blades play Berkeley — more great gigs

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Berkeley fans of the Hammond B-3 organ don’t get many opportunities to experience the mighty instrument close to home. It’s a sad state of affairs for funk and soul jazz aficionados, especially considering that Wil Blades, the Bay Area’s most prodigious mid-career B-3 player, has long called Berkeley home. He returns to Jupiter on Friday with Oakland drum maestro Scott Amendola.

After a considerable hiatus their long-running duo Amendola Vs. Blades is swinging back into action with a series of gigs, playing two nights at Duende Oct. 23-24 on a round-robin triple bill with Hammond organist Joe Doria’s McTuff, and Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey where all three bands will be rotating seamlessly every song, and Oct. 25 at the Red Poppy Art House in San Francisco. Pushing the limits of the duo format to the very edge, Blades and Amendola have honed an ambitious repertoire, including a full-scale interpretation of The Far East Suite, a late-career masterpiece by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. … Continue reading »

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Take your dog to dinner: It’s now legal (within limits)

Bill and Sandra Weber, and their dog Annie, enjoy lunch on Picante's pet-friendly patio. Photo: Natalie Orenstein
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California is catching up with France: dogs will be allowed on restaurant patios and in other outdoor dining areas when a new law goes into effect January 1.

The change may be unnoticeable in Berkeley, where many restaurants have allowed dogs to join diners outdoors for years. The little-known prohibition was rarely enforced.

“We don’t get a lot of complaints, maybe three to five a year, so we would respond to those to enforce the state law if it was violated,” said Manuel Ramirez, director of Berkeley’s Environmental Health Division. … Continue reading »

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Otonowa plays Berkeley: To Japan, With Love

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What started as a one-off fundraiser for the people of northern Japan stricken by the devastating earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011 has turned into a musical mission of healing and remembrance. When drummer Akira Tana, bassist Ken Okada and flutist/saxophonist Masaru Koga first came together in the summer of 2011 at Fairfax’s Elsewhere Gallery, they brought in jazz arrangements of traditional Japanese songs, some dating back centuries. The music was so powerful that they ended up presenting it to stricken communities in Japan last year, and Sunday afternoon’s California Jazz Conservatory performance will raise funds for the trio’s return trip in July.

“We played in communities that aren’t there any more, at temporary shopping centers and housing units,” says the Palo Alto-raised Tana, whose father Daisho Tana led the Berkeley Buddhist Temple at 2121 Channing Way in the 1930s. “These songs hit home. You realize what a healing force for the spirit music can be, and it reminds me of why we got into doing this stuff.”  … Continue reading »

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Food, culture, campus: Downtown Berkeley’s best?

2012 Sunday Streets. Photo: Alan Tobey
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Downtown Berkeley has seen a major revival in recent years, with a profusion of new restaurants and extensive development planned. Not everyone is happy with the changes, and the future of downtown continues to be a controversial topic.

On a lark, Berkeleyside asked readers to share some of their favorite downtown spots on Facebook. And, given the penchant in this town to offer criticism or complaints as a means toward progress, it was a bit of a shock to see the immediate outpouring of excitement about places locals love downtown.

Within a few hours, we had nearly 50 comments. Ideas — totaling about 80 recommendations — continued to come in for days. By no means is this intended to be scientific or exhaustive, but our question certainly hit a nerve.

We’ve included all the suggestions, along with some highlights provided by readers, in the map below. Click the markers to learn more. … Continue reading »

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Joshi Marshall: A child of Berkeley is back in town

Berkeley boy Joshi Marshall is making two rare appearances in his hometown, the first Friday night at Jupiter. Photo: courtesy Joshi Marshall
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There’s nothing quite like having children to put your own upbringing in perspective. Looking back, saxophonist Joshi Marshall realizes that growing up in west Berkeley in the 1970s and 80s with two prominent musicians for parents provided a fabulously rich creative environment, albeit one with little of the structure that he provides for his two kids.

“There was no nighttime routine,” Marshall recalls. “There were real artists over playing music all the time and everything was about music and art. It was like, you sleep here and you sleep there, and you have to be part of our trip. It was such an unorthodox way of raising kids. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything, there was so much love.”

Best known as a founding member of Mingus Amungus, the pioneering jazz/hip hop combo directed by bassist and fellow Berkeley High alum Miles Perkins, Marshall has been a scarce presence on Bay Area stages in recent years as he’s thrown himself into teaching music. He makes two rare hometown appearances in the next few weeks, playing Friday at Jupiter with drummer Bryan Bowman and Lorenzo Farrell on Hammond B-3 organ, and Valentine’s Day at Chez Panisse.

The Jupiter combo is a new project that’s taken shape as bassist Lorenzo Farrell, a longtime member of the popular blues band Rick Estrin and the Night Cats, has increasingly concentrated on the organ. A Berkeley High grad who went on to earn a philosophy degree from Cal, Farrell brings his deep knowledge of the low end to the B-3, laying down supple bass lines with the instrument’s pedals.  … Continue reading »

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Long journey back for Berkeley bassist Kurt Ribak

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A reoccurring gig is rare enough to inspire a musician’s gratitude these days, but Berkeley bassist/composer Kurt Ribak feels particularly fortunate that he’s playing at Jupiter in downtown Berkeley every Tuesday in September.

Still on the mend after a cataclysmic car crash 14 months ago, he’s painstakingly toiled to regain full use of his left arm. The Jupiter residency offers an invaluable opportunity to put his reconstructed hand to work and to connect with some longtime collaborators before his ninth round of major surgery in October takes him off the scene again for some weeks.

“It’s been a real challenge,” says Ribak, who also performs Sept. 4 at the Berkeley Arts Festival performance space with the volatile Reckoning Quartet
, and Sept 14 at the Albatross with drummer Bryan Bowman, keyboardist Greg Sankovich and his Times 4 bandmate Lincoln Adler on tenor saxophone. “I want to do as much playing as I can for my spirit and to remind my body of what it can do.”

For his month-long Jupiter “Tuesday Jazzidency” Ribak is joined each week by Sankovich and Adler (except for Sept. 17, when Tom Griesser takes over the saxophone chair). Various drummers round out the quartet, including Rob Hart this Tuesday, Matt Willis on Sept. 10, and Randy Odell on Sept. 17 and 24. … Continue reading »

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Jazz at Jupiter: Hermann Lara’s integral rhythm

Hermann Lara
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When the grooves get fierce, Hermann Lara feels right at home. Since moving back to the Bay Area in 1998 after earning a degree at Berklee College of Music, the San Francisco-born saxophonist has played in a vast array of dance-inducing settings, from Cuban timba ensembles and merengue bands to salsa combos and funk orchestras.

This month he’s settling into Jupiter for a Tuesday night residency, opening on Aug. 7 with a trio featuring keyboardist Mark Davis and Berkeley electric bassist Scott Thompson (who plays with many leading Brazilian musicians). Toward the end of the month he presents his trio Organomix with the young Hammond B3 player Brian Ho and drummer Lorca Hart.

“Both groups are working with the same kind of music, a lot of originals and original arrangements,” says Lara, 40. “I really avoid playing standards, but when I pull one out I’ll do more than change the key. I change the harmony and rhythm and play it with say, a reggaeton feel or a songo beat.” … Continue reading »

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Billy Buss: From Berkeley to New York via trumpet

Billy Buss on trumpet
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For talented and ambitious young musicians, the Bay Area offers an almost overwhelming array of resources. Layafette-raised trumpeter Billy Buss, who graduated from Berkeley High in 2006, took advantage of just about every program available, and he’s joined the long list of Bay Area musicians who have taken their rigorous training to New York City.

Now based in Brooklyn, Buss makes his debut at Jupiter on Wednesday July 18th with a quartet featuring Berkeley tenor saxophonist Howard Wiley, keyboardist Mike Aaberg (known for his work with Goapele, The Coup, and Lalah Hathaway), and the exceptional 19-year-old Richmond drummer Malachi Whitson, who’s in his second year at the University of the Pacific’s Brubeck Institute.

“As soon as I started playing jazz, I got myself involved in as many extracurricular programs as I could,” Buss says. “I was very lucky to have parents who were extremely supportive, who gave up a lot to be able to afford lessons and summer camps.” … Continue reading »

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Sameer Gupta: North meets South

Tabla player Sameer Gupta
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Sameer Gupta is on a mission to bring classical Indian music into places where it rarely ventures. A percussionist who plays tabla and trap drums, Gupta was a mainstay in Bay Area creative music circles until his 2008 move to Brooklyn, where he’s helped kindle a thriving Indian music scene with a weekly jazz-style jam session in a Prospect Park cowboy bar. He returns to California this weekend for a performance Sunday at the Subterranean Art House with Rohan Krishnamurthy
, a master of mridangam, the drum that plays a central role in South Indian music.

“It’s a North Indian meets South Indian percussion concert,” Gupta says. “We want to present each drum on its own and show them together, trading the rhythmic languages back and forth. Both the tabla and the mridangam have amazing timbres and mathematics, so we’ll talk about that and where the instruments fit in the Hindustani and Carnatic traditions.”

You can listen to Gupta’s Aaye Na Balam here. … Continue reading »

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