Great shows this weekend, right through Valentine’s Day on Sunday! Friday, it’s trombonist Rick Brown’s quartet featuring pianist Sharman Duran, with terrific colleagues Carl Herder on bass and Pepe Jacobo on drums — a really marvelous aggregation of musicians sure to offer up a fascinating 90 minutes of jazz collaboration. And then on Saturday, remarkable guitarist Kai Lyons works with the bassist Giulio Cetto and drummer Genius Wesley — these three musicians, and young and younger still, have been setting jazz audiences buzzing for the past several years. If you haven’t heard any one of them yet, you’ll want to tune in. If you already know their work, then you know you’ll want to tune in. Hope you can!
Then, on Valentine’s Day, Bird & Beckett plays host via our live stream to a five-hour benefit (3-8pm) featuring three small combos live streamed from our stage interspersed with three pre-recorded shows from other venues — San Jose’s Art Boutiki, the Oakland Public Conservatory and the Healdsburg Jazz Festival! All viewed on Bird & Beckett’s YouTube channel and its Facebook page. It’s a benefit, so come prepared to send some love we can distribute to the Bay Area’s jazz community through the Independent Musician’s Alliance.
The benefit is being waged to fund, first off, guaranteed “fair” wages to the live performers and, importantly, a reuse fee to the musicians featured in the pre-recorded segments; and to provide the IMA with a bank to do its work of forging solidarity among the Bay Area’s gigging jazz musicians in pursuit of solid wages, benefits and working conditions as we “come back better” from the current health crisis. Solidarity, Advocacy & Progress are our watchwords today and going forward!!
This love letter to the area’s jazz artists will kick off live from the Bird & Beckett stage at 3pm when our Diamond Heights neighbor, the illustrious jazz pianist Simon Rowe is joined in a trio by saxophone titan Lyle Link and drummer Brian Kendrick. Simon and Brian have enjoyed a collaborative history in Simon’s latin quintet for a decade. Simon arrived in town five years ago to create, launch and direct the SF Conservatory’s jazz bachelor of music degree program, giving that august institution a foothold in jazz – America’s true classical music, with African roots and international branches!! A mighty forest of musical tradition and future vision!
After the set by Simon’s trio, we’ll cut away to a pre-recorded segment from the Art Boutiki down in San Jose featuring Dillon Vado’s Table Trio. Vibes player (and drummer) Dillon — son of the Art Boutiki’s founder & director — is one of the young lions/lionesses of jazz that have gained the Bay Area worldwide jazz fame. If we listed all the great young players around here, we’d use up way too many cyberlines… trust us, he’s among ’em! And for the date, he’s working with guitarist Jeff Denson and drummer Hamir Atwal, fabulous and widely admired musicians, both!
By 4:30, we’ll bring you back to Bird & Beckett for a live-in-the-moment set with Tammy Lynne Hall, a magnificent royal presence at the piano working with bassist John Wiitala and drummer Akira Tana. Few, especially among Bird & Beckett regulars and anyone who’s been a jazz fan in the region for the last thirty years, need to be told what important and great musicians these are!Next up, from the Oakland Public Conservatory, vocalist Azure McCall performing with a combo comprising some of the Bay Area’s best. Azure McCall — Berkeley-born, world traveled and known for four decades as Hawaii’s First Lady of Jazz — has thrilled audiences with her work in the tradition of Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald and Carmen McCrae.
Then it’s back to Bird & Beckett at 6:15, where we’re proud to host, live and direct, Mario Guarneri’s quartet known as tbd. That’s right, that’s tbd… you parse it! The quartet on this outing will feature Erik Jekabson on trumpet and flugelhorn, alongside fellow trumpet player Mario plus bassist John Wiitala and drummer Akira Tana! Mario is a fabulous trumpet player, educator and activist with six decades-plus in the business from the time he joined the musicians union in Los Angeles as a young teenager.
Mario is also the visionary creative force, co-founder and chief bottle washer of the Independent Musicians Alliance. To most of you, he’s justly acclaimed as the founder and force behind the organization called Jazz in the Neighborhood — JitN, as it’s fondly known!
If you don’t know about JitN, then you should! For starters, get out to Washington Square Park this weekend, where JitN is financing Omar Aran’s Bay Area Jazz Mobile presentations of two groups starting at 11 a.m., hard by what used to be Cafe Divine — where Mario first planted the seeds of what’s become JitN — or possibly in front of the church of Saints Peter & Paul, soon to be renamed Peter, Paul & Mario. From the Jazz Mobile, you’ll hear more great Bay Area jazz musicians plying their trade for a guaranteed fair wage — JitN’s trademark and crucial concept — including Rob Reich’s trio with Daniel Fabricant and Elizabeth Goodfellow plus Deszon Claiborne’s trio with Tammy Hall and Gary Brown! Each musician is paid $150, plus there’s a leader’s fee. This is the way it should be, and what the IMA is rallying musicians to agitate for as the professional live music revives post-pandemic! This is why we’re raising money today! Get your checkbook out now and find a pen, ’cause you’re gonna want to be in on this campaign!
To wrap things up for this Valentine’s Day, it’s hard to imagine what could fit the bill better than an exquisite set we’ve solicited from vocalist Kenny Washington’s performance live streamed once-upon-a-valentine, from the Healdsburg Jazz Festival, fronting a trio comprising pianist Adam Shulman, bassist Ron Belcher and Jeff Marrs! Preview it here, then hear it again at the conclusion of our five-hour livestream this Valentine’s Day!
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Hungry to hear some of Bird & Beckett’s past live streams? Scroll down to read the posts for the shows we’ve mounted in the past seven-plus months, since the pandemic lock-down began. Every time you see the “load more” button, go ahead. It’ll stop offering you that option once you’ve arrived at the first show of the current period, back on March 12th.
The March 12th show that signaled the shift was a Thursday evening performance by two New York saxophonists, Jessica and Tony Jones, both alumni of the Berkeley High jazz program, with NYC bassist Stomu Takeishi and local hero Deszon X. Claiborne on drums. Their date at the Backroom across the Bay for the night before had been cancelled. A few hardy individuals showed up as audience. It was great music but few heard it, though the audio recording exists still. The March 12th show has no video; that capability was pioneered by our own Angela Bennett the next evening, Friday, March 13th, using her smartphone to capture two tunes, streamed live over facebook, by saxophonist Michael Zilber’s trio (Jason Lewis on drums and the bassist Tyler Harlow in his Bird & Beckett debut). We had to cancel the Saturday show over concerns about health risks to the audience we expected to assemble for Akira Tana’s Otonowa group. A few folks were in the audience the next day for a Brazilian outing by flautist Rebecca Kleinman and guitarist Julio Lemos.
After that, the era of livestreams with no audiences whatsoever began. Pianist Gaea Schell and bassist John Wiitala in duo got it rolling, and we’ve never since stopped.
Little by little through the months, the live streamed shows have grown more robust as we’ve improved the technology and have found our footing; in the past few months, beginning with the watershed Javier Santiago/Giulio X. Cetto duo date on May 29th and a return of the duo on July 24th, the technical level has stepped up considerably. Nicolas Mesa brought his sound engineering skills to bear on those dates and has helped us immensely in the ensuing months to bring our technical capabilities and skills up to a level that does justice to the artistry of the musicians.
Over time we’ll add bits of the videos from the individual shows to each of the posts below, but for the time being you can find them in all their rough glory by visiting the videos tab on our facebook page. Use this link: https://www.facebook.com/pg/bird.and.beckett/videos/?ref=page_internal. The past few months of shows can also be found on our YouTube channel. Going forward, you can expect live streams every Thursday and Friday on facebook and Youtube, at 7:30pm.
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