653 Chenery Street
in San Francisco's Glen Park neighborhood

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Friday, March 8th – 6-8pm
Eric & the In Crowd
play tunes from the pens of
Mal Waldron & Jimmy Van Heusen


Join us at our weekly Friday evening Jazz Happy Hour, 6-8pm!
BYOB and a twenty for the trio. Kids are free. Students & teens, how about $10?

The second Friday of each month in 2024, you’ll be regaled by Eric & the In Crowd, celebrating the tunesmiths who wrote the standards that jazz musicians have taught us to know and love. Pianist Eric Shifrin, bassist Ari Munkres and drummer Mark Lee will regale you this time around with compositions from the pens of Mal Waldron and Jimmy Van Heusen.

Mal Waldron, born in 1925, spent the 1950s leading his own small combos while playing in the bands of Charles Mingus, Jackie McLean, John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy and composing for all of them, most famously the tune “Soul Eyes” that Coltrane played so memorably. Waldron was Billie Holiday’s accompanist from the spring of 1957 until her death in 1959, and wrote the music to her lyric for the song “Left Alone.” Though Lady Day never had a chance to record it, Abbey Lincoln made this beautiful version, with Waldron on piano, in 1961.

Jimmy Van Heusen was another kettle of fish. Born in 1913, he had a long career writing for films, TV and the stage, songs like “Darn That Dream,” with lyricist Eddie DeLange, which Mildred Bailey sang with Benny Goodman in 1940, the same year Tommy Dorsey hit #16 on the charts with it. In 1950, Miles Davis did it with his monumental “Birth of the Cool” nontet, arranged by Gerry Mulligan. It’s been covered by jazz musicians countless times, heard on records by Dinah Washington (1954), Dexter Gordon (1955), Thelonious Monk (1956), Ahmad Jamal (1956), Billie Holiday (1957), Sarah Vaughn (1959), Ella Fitzgerald (1961), Maxine Sullivan (1970) and Nancy Wilson (1971). We can be reasonably sure that Mal Waldron played it many, many times in his own career.

Van Heusen broke into the business when Harold Arlen, the older brother of a college friend, coached him as he wrote tunes for the Cotton Club Revue in the mid-1930s. In the 40’s he was staff pianist for some music publishers on Tin Pan Alley, then he and lyricist Johnny Burke moved to Hollywood where they crafted songs prolifically for the movie biz, scoring hits with Bing Crosby’s version of “Swinging on a Star” and many others. With lyricist Sammy Cahn, he kept going through the mid-’50s and ’60s, a partnership that wrote Frank Sinatra signature tunes like “All the Way,” “Come Fly with Me” and “My Kind of Town.”

In the jazz realm, after “Darn That Dream,” it’s likely “Polka Dots and Moonbeams” that matters most. Van Heusen wrote it with Johnny Burke in 1940, and it became Sinatra’s first hit–as the vocalist for Tommy Dorsey’s orchestra. It’s the recording by Bud Powell in the rough year of 1953 that really hits home, among so many great versions by the likes of Bill Evans, Chet Baker, Blue Mitchell, Wes Montgomery, Sarah Vaughan, Lester Young, Gerry Mulligan, Lou Donaldson and Dexter Gordon. Again, Mal Waldron was surely no stranger to the tune.


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The Bird & Beckett Cultural Legacy Project

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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The Independent Musicians Alliance

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

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