Michael Zilber, saxophone
Matt Clark, piano
Essiet Okon Essiet, bass
Sylvia Cuenca, drums
$20 cash cover charge at the door.
BYOB and a mask.
Michael Zilber writes prolifically and plays a great tenor saxophone. Fine quartet on this date! Do come and enjoy a fine night of small combo jazz music in your cozy neighborhood bookshop cum jazz club. If you can’t make it in person, you’ll find a live stream on Bird & Beckett Facebook page and YouTube channel.
In the autumn of 2021, Mike released the album “Mike Drop” on Sunnyside Records as co-leader with another Mike — the drummer Mike Clark. The album received rapturous reviews in Downbeat, All About Jazz and the New York Jazz Record. Matt Clark was the pianist and Peter Barshay the bassist on the album, which featured two Zilber originals and tunes by Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner, Duke Pearson and Thelonious Monk. Also Rodgers & Hart, and Lennon & McCartney!
All About Jazz noted that “(Mike) Clark is well known for his work with luminaries such as Herbie Hancock, Woody Shaw and Bobby Hutcherson. Zilber, though in many ways underappreciated, is a talent of that stratosphere in jazz.”Â Read the “Mike Drop” reviews here.
Mike co-led a band with drumming great Steve Smith for eight years, releasing the top 20 recording “Reimagined: Jazz Standards, Volume 1” in 2003. For the past decade, he has teamed up with guitar virtuoso John Stowell, most recently on 2016â€™s “Basement Blues” –Â All About Jazzâ€™s Dan McClenaghan, reviewing the album, enthused that the Zilber-Stowell outfit produced â€œa group sound as individualistic, and as modernistic and compelling, as any out there,â€ and hailed Zilber as â€œsoulful and flawless.â€ Zilber and Stowell’s 2015 Origin Records recording “Live Beauty,” made DownBeat’s best of the year list for 2015, as well as garnering rave reviews from JazzTimes and All About Jazz. This was a follow-up to the groupâ€™s “Shot Through With Beauty,” which NPR jazz critic Andrew Gilbert picked as a top 10 record of the year. Another Zilber outing, the album “Eleven On Turning Ten: The Billy Collins Project,” providing musical settings for the American Poet Laureateâ€™s poems, was hailed by famed jazz journalist Bill Milkowski as a â€œwork of art of the highest order.â€
More on Michael below, but first a pause for video of his recent outing at Bird & Beckett:
At Bird & Beckett, we effectively inaugurated the covid era with Michael Zilber’s trio on March 13, 2020 — it was the watershed that led to so much that’s preoccupied us these two long years. We had him back in June 2021 (as evidenced in the video above), at a more optimistic juncture, still a few days before live audiences came back to the bookshop. Now, it’s June 2022 and audiences have been back for a year, since June 18, 2021.
The full force of Michael Zilber’s creativity, informed by deep personal considerations, will assure what’s bound to be a concert at once exuberant and profound. Matt Clark is once again the pianist. Bassist Essiet Okon Essiet and drummer Sylvia Cuenca, the veritable rhythm foundation of Bay Area jazz at this moment in time, two musicians with long NYC-based resumes, fill out the quartet. Essiet was with Art Blakey in the two years leading up to the famed drummer’s passing, and Sylvia, born and raised in the Bay Area, traveled for many years with saxophonist Joe Henderson and trumpeter Clark Terry.
Michael was born and raised up in Vancouver, British Columbia. Transplanted to Massachusetts in his late teens, he was in NYC by his early twenties, soaking up all that NYC jazz had to offer. Coming up, he played with Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Stitt, Dave Liebman, Miroslav Vitous, Narada Michael Walden and a legion of other musicians of depth and stature.
Based in the Bay Area in recent years, he’s maintained his NY affiliations while also working with stellar West Coast talents like Peter Barshay, Matt Clark, John R. Burr, Erik Jekabson, Mike Olmos, John Shifflet, Jason Lewis, the aforementioned John Stowell and dozens more of the top cats that enrich the Bay Area jazz scene to this day. His 2019 album “East West — Music for Big Bands” showcases dozens of musicians in a pair of all-star recording sessions, one in SF and one in NYC, bringing Zilber’s compositions to life. As described by leading jazz journalist Andrew Gilbert, â€œ’East West â€“ Music for Big Bands’ embraces multiplicity. Itâ€™s not either/or, itâ€™s and/also. Itâ€™s beauty AND burn, intense swing AND sweet balladry, all united under Zilberâ€™s commanding and ever expanding creative purview.â€
Did we mention that one of his Owl-EMI records released during those early NY years, “Stranger in Brooklyn,” produced by and featuring saxophone great Dave Liebman, was named one of the top 30 CDs of all time by Jazzfusion.com?
Michael Zilber is an original and a master of the art of jazz.
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