653 Chenery Street
in San Francisco's Glen Park neighborhood

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Saturday, March 9th – 7:30-9:30pm
The Ray Skjelbred Trio

Ray Skjelbred is in town for a string of dates on the Peninsula and in San Francisco before heading back up to Seattle, which he calls home these days.

Ray is a unique pianist with a great feel for the piano masters of Chicago, the town where he was born and raised before moving with his family to Seattle. Early on he developed a great ear for the individualistic styles of Earl Hines, Jess Stacy, Joe Sullivan, Jimmy Yancey and Art Hodes as well as Mary Lou Williams, Thelonious Monk and Bill Evans and dozens of others. In the late ’50s, he gravitated to the Bay Area, where Burt Bales had set a standard beginning in the 1940s, when a trad jazz revival got underway with Lu Watters, Bob Scobey and Turk Murphy dominating the public perception.

Ray wrote, “I was 18 the first time I saw Burt Bales playing at Pier 23 in San Francisco. There was a small table just to the left of the piano where I could watch his hands, especially the way his left hand and wrist moved back and forth like a gentle sea wave. It would be several more years before I started playing, but I was getting the idea. I liked the humming, fat sound of 10ths in his left hand. I listened attentively to discover how he made round sounds by the way he touched the keys. At first I was interested in the Jelly Roll Morton and ragtime compositions that he played, but the biggest repertoire lesson I learned came from his interest in choosing standard ballads to allow his deepest self expression. I remember in the first days hearing songs like “The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi” and “Darkness on the Delta.”

Ray moved to the East Bay in the late ’60s and played steadily here for a couple of decades with colleagues that included Bob Mielke, Leon Oakley, Earl Scheelar, Jim Goodwin, Bill Napier, Jeff Hamilton, Richard Hadlock and countless others, often with Goodwin and friends in Port Costa at the Bull Valley Inn, in his own living room in Berkeley and in hotels, concert halls and congenial small venues throughout the region.

On March 9, 2024 Ray will return to Bird & Beckett with Clint Baker on trumpet and clarinet, and Jeff Hamilton on drums to play two sets for his local fans and some fresh ears.

$20 / byob. reservations, 415-586-3733

Like any good Chicagoan he always plays hard for right now – Richard Hadlock

He plays so good it scares me – Jess Stacy


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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.

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