Archived Stories

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  • Audrey Martin: A dream fulfilled, plus more Berkeley gigs

    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.

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  • Amendola Vs. Blades play Berkeley — more great gigs

    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.

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  • Otonowa plays Berkeley: To Japan, With Love

    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.

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  • Joshi Marshall: A child of Berkeley is back in town

    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.

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  • Jazz at Jupiter: Hermann Lara’s integral rhythm

    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.

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  • Billy Buss: From Berkeley to New York via trumpet

    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.

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  • Sameer Gupta: North meets South

    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.

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