The last Sunday of each month, veteran drummer Vince Lateano is at the center of a dynamic and easy going session at Bird & Beckett that attracts old hands and young pups alike, aided by bassist Peter Barshay and pianist Ben Stolorow.
Bird & Beckett’s Doggone Session is just the most recent iteration of sessions Vince has been renowned for over the decades at venues including Pier 23, the Dogpatch Saloon, the Seven Mile House (which Vince dubbed the Doghouse Jam) and Sweeties. And while some talents, characters and devotees show up pret’ near every time at these Bird & Beckett sessions, the churn and evolution is constant, and legendary players you’ve never heard of turn up with regularity, drawn by their history and friendship with Vince, a swinging force on the San Francisco jazz scene since he hit North Beach in the mid-1960s.
Born and raised in Sacramento, Vince was attracted to jazz young and dove in deep. Drafted into the military, he continued to develop as a musician & when he got out in 1966, he headed for San Francisco, quickly gaining a profile in his work with Vince Guaraldi and all manner of major players. The drummer John Markham, a key musician here for four decades from the 1950s through the 1990s, threw work Vince’s way whenever Markham went on the road, which was often, and Vince made his way with ease. His long tenure at Jazz at Pearl’s, the key San Francisco jazz club on Columbus at Broadway in North Beach from its beginnings in 1990 until its demise in 2003, cemented Vince’s position at the center of the San Francisco jazz world.
Pearl’s was a bridge from the historic cluster of North Beach jazz clubs of the 1950s and 1960s that included the Black Cat, Hungry I, Purple Onion, Jazz Workshop and El Matador, and then Keystone Korner in the 1970s to 1980s to its current rebirth with the recent opening of Keys.
Jazz at Pearl’s emerged on Columbus opposite City Lights from its roots as an after hours room beneath the Great Eastern Restaurant on Washington Street in adjacent Chinatown. At Pearl’s, owner Pearl Wong and impresario Sonny Buxton crafted a tiny but world class club that kept the jazz flowing and fixed the attention of fans and tourists alike on North Beach as a magnet for the best regional players playing on par with nationally and internationally acclaimed musicians. Pearl’s had a vibrant second life when vocalist Kim Nalley took it on for a number of years, but now the keys to North Beach’s jazz treasure chest have been passed to Keys around the corner, back on Broadway.
Meanwhile, out here in Glen Park, we’ve been tending the flickering flame and stoking the fire for two decades — a reserve against another rainy day. Â Thanks to Vince and his many superbly talented colleagues across the generations, San Francisco has remained at the forefront of jazz throughout the modern era that began with the end of World War II, and that grows still from its roots in San Francisco’s Barbary Coast dance halls of more than a century and a half ago.
Our events are put on under the umbrella of the nonprofit Bird & Beckett Cultural Legacy Project (the "BBCLP"). That's how we fund our ambitious schedule of 300 or so concerts and literary events every year.
The BBCLP is a 501(c)(3) non-profit...
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Gigging musicians! You have nothing to lose but your lack of a collective voice to achieve fair wages for your work!
The IMA can be a conduit for you, if you join in to make it work.
Read more here - Andy Gilbert's Feb 25 article about the IMA from KQED's site