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.
Many local restaurants have been allowing dogs to join diners outdoors, although it was illegal. That changes in January.
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.
Downtown Berkeley has seen a major revival in recent years, with a profusion of new restaurants and much more. We round up reader favorites here.
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.
Having dinner with kids on a patio rather than indoors has its advantages: for one thing, the screaming is more dissipated!
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.
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.
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 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).
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.
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.