Smith Dobson was a key jazz pianist in these parts right up to his untimely death in a car accident in 2001 at the age of 54. Â The eminent jazz journalist Philip Elwood wrote, “The importance of Dobson’s more than 20 years on the South Bay jazz scene was indicated by the gathering of an estimated 2,000 people at the Oakwood Memorial Chapel in Santa Cruz. Â Dobson wasn’t only a pianist, singer and arranger. He was also a teacher and an inspiration.” Â For a considerable period, he was the go-to pianist for every major jazz artist passing through the Santa Cruz/San Jose/San Francisco area, and for years booked terrific jazz artists at the crucial Garden City venue in San Jose.
And what a pianist he was. Â Alto sax legend Art Pepper used Smith on piano at a memorable concert in 1976, and on the recording of that concert, Art cites Smith’s playing as one of the true joys of jazz.
Gail Dobson, a fine singer on the San Francisco scene in the late 1960s and 1970s — heard often at North Beach venues like the Purple Onion and the Hungry i, whose career continues strong to this day — met and married Smith in the early 1970s. Â Together they had two children, both terrific working musicians: son Smith (the fifth), a monstrously talented player on sax, drums and vibes, and daughter Sasha, a New York based drummer and vocalist who was just in town with a trio she co-leads with Norah Jones. Â Smith V leads the band on our 1st Saturday sessions each month, but has turned his January date over to his mom while he’s off romancing a Norwegian girl over there in her cold & snowy home country.
For her Bird & Beckett date in early January, Gail has recruited pianist Eddie Mendenhall, who studied with Smith Sr. and can uncannily inhabit his persona on the keys, as well as former Dobson associates Paul Cantos (sax), Jeff Chambers (bass) and Vince Lateano (drums) — fantastic musicians all — to bring the spirit of the great man to life in our day.
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