Tag Archives: Jupiter

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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Dianne Reeves, a regal figure in jazz world, plays Berkeley

Dianne Reeves plays Cal Performances xxxx. Photo: Christian Lantry
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It’s been at least two generations since jazz stars took on aristocratic titles, otherwise Dianne Reeves would surely be known as The Queen. The gorgeous singer with an even more glorious voice is one of jazz’s most regal figures, an artist who embodies the music’s enduring values of elegance, class and improvisational poise (which isn’t to say that she can’t get earthy when the music requires a little grit).

She’s a performer with a gift for transforming any space she inhabits into her living room, where she spins evocative tails for her listeners. Over the years I’ve seen her tear the roof off little theaters and mesmerize the Hollywood Bowl, where she put together events for several years as the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s first head of jazz programming.

“Small, large, it doesn’t make a difference,” says Reeves, 55, who plays Friday at Zellerbach Hall for Cal Performances with her longtime pianist and music direcotr Peter Martin, bassist Reginald Veal, drummer Terreon Gully, and Brazilian guitar master Romero Lubambo. “No matter where you are, it’s all the same place when it comes to communicating with an audience.” … Continue reading »

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Out in Berkeley: The highly talented BHS Jazz Ensemble

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Living in Berkeley, it’s easy to take the Berkeley High jazz program for granted. Every few years, a new generation of ambitious students emerges from the jazz ensemble and heads off to music programs in New York, Boston and Los Angeles.

Since the mid 1970s, no high school in the United States has produced more world-class jazz talent than Berkeley High.

A short, and by no means complete, list of major artists who describe their BHJB experience as essential to … Continue reading »

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Out in Berkeley: Disappear Incompletely plays Jupiter

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Rob Ewing belongs to a long, honorable and frustrating lineage of Bay Area musicians whose consistently inspired creative output is matched by a seeming indifference to self-promotion.

A passionately expressive trombonist, skilled bassist, effective drummer and often brilliant arranger, Ewing has forged enduring ties with a fascinating community of musicians, artists steeped in jazz, but unconcerned about traditionalist notions of “the canon.”

On Saturday, Ewing performs at Jupiter with his band Disappear Incompletely, an ensemble that explores … Continue reading »

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Where do you get the best pizza in Berkeley? You tell us

Cheeseboard Pizza straight from the oven. All photos: Christina Diaz
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Today this space is all about cheese. And crust. And toppings.

Got opinions about who turns out the best pizza in town? We know you do. So here’s your chance to share your pie picks with fellow readers.

That’s right folks, today, the Friday food column takes a break from regularly scheduled programming to poll readers about their pizza preferences. (The first in an occasional series where residents weigh in on their favorite foods found close to home.)

We know that for every die-hard devotee of Cheese Board pizza there’s an equally loyal Gioia fan to be found.

There’s pizza for all palates and pocketbooks here, whether you favor California-style, wood-fired pies pioneered by the  Chez Panisse crew (foraged greens and artisan goat cheese, anyone?), Brooklyn-inspired bites with trademark thin crusts and judicious use of ingredients, or the sloppy cheese slices popular among the campus crowd. … Continue reading »

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Jam maker turns hobby into thriving local business

Dafna Kory at Local 123 Cafe./Photo: Sarah Henry
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Dafna Kory discovered the delights of jalapeňo jam during pre-dinner nibbles at a Thanksgiving gathering. She went out to buy a jar, couldn’t find the mighty spicy condiment anywhere, so she began experimenting with making her own. It became an instant hit among her posse.

At first, the self-taught preserver thought her D.I.Y. hobby would just make nice gifts for friends and family. The she moved from San Francisco to South Berkeley, saw the abundance of plums, apples, and lemons growing in her new backyard, and a jamming business was born.

Kory foraged fruit in a hyper-local fashion. She made batches of jam in her home kitchen. She personally delivered by bike. Demand for her jams grew by word-of-mouth.

Friends who had friends who owned stores began encouraging her to branch out beyond her inner circle. So she started shopping INNA jam (the name is, indeed, a playful pun) to places like Local 123, Summer Kitchen, Rick and Ann’s Restaurant and The Gardener.

About a year ago, with orders coming in a steady stream, it became clear that Kory, now 28, needed to either gear up and focus on turning her after-hours pastime into a fully fledged business or scale back and remain a hobbyist. She decided to take the plunge.

A freelance commercial video editor, Kory hasn’t looked back. She began working in a commercial kitchen in North Berkeley, selling her pickles and preserves at events like ForageSF’s Underground Market and the Eat Real Festival, and offering workshops for other D.I.Y.ers.

The UC Berkeley graduate now spends nine months of the year working full-time on her budding food business, and supplements her income in the winter months with editing gigs.

In a year, she hopes to devote 100% of her work day to INNA jam. Kory also pickles though that product line is on hiatus while she ratchets up production to meet demand for her increasingly popular jams. She delivers locally by bike, ships interstate, and offers an annual, seasonal subscription (a 10-ounce jar retails for $12). … Continue reading »

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Nosh

The 10 p.m. ‘I’m hungry’ dilemma

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On Friday evening, after seeing the excellent Up in the Air, we were eager to get a bite to eat. Our problem: it was after 10 o’clock.

As much as I love the many food choices in Berkeley, it’s a decidedly early town. It’s mystifying to me that there are people happy to go to good restaurants at 5:30 in the afternoon. Even 7 p.m. feels early to me, but I’ve adapted to local mores. It may be … Continue reading »

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