With jazz giants Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner and Ahmad Jamal, guitar legends Jim Hall and Pat Metheny, dance virtuoso Savion Glover, irreverent singer, composer, pianist Mose Allison, and even the mad Slavic spectacle of Goran Bregovic and his Wedding and Funeral Orchestra, the 29th Annual San Francisco Jazz Festival promises another brilliant, exciting and passionate musical season.
Performers from Brazil to Bollywood to Berkeley take the stage at elegant San Francisco venues like the Herbst Theatre with its beaux-arts murals, the intimate Florence Gould Theatre at the Legion of Honor and the historic Palace of Fine Arts Theatre. Across the bay, Oakland’s splendid art deco Paramount Theatre will be the showcase par excellence.
A living legend at 78, Wayne Shorter continues to blaze new musical trails that no serious jazz fan will want to miss. Considered the greatest living jazz composer — a worthy peer of Ellington and Monk — he is also one of history’s most influential saxophonists. From Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers to Miles Davis’ definitive quintet of the early 60s to Weather Report, the pioneering fusion group which transformed the soundtrack of the 70s, Shorter has been a revolutionary and inspirational force in the evolution of jazz. The Wayne Shorter Quartet, with pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade, plays October 2 at Herbst Theatre.
Another jazz giant who has shaped the evolution of jazz since the early 1960s, McCoy Tyner plays “the gentle side of John Coltrane” Oct. 16 at Herbst Theatre. One of the brilliant pianists of our time, Tyner revisits the classic 1963 Impulse! Album John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman with tenor player Chris Potter and vocalist José James paying tribute to the late sax master and baritone crooner. The evening is likely to prove transcendental.
Of Ahmad Jamal, Miles Davis wrote in his autobiography, “He knocked me out with his concept of space, his lightness of touch, his understatement.” Named as an NEA Jazz Master and a Kennedy Center Living Jazz Legend, the 81-year old living legend has inspired young jazz pianists like Benny Green, Eric Reed and Jacky Terrasson. My advice: grab the chance to catch the performance of a living legend anytime it’s possible. Ahmad Jamal plays Herbst Theatre December 10.
SFJAZZ categorizes Mose Allison as one of this year’s five jazz giants. On the cusp of 84, Allison’s voice remains original, his satire and social critique vital, and his Delta blues style still swingin’. His show on October 27 at YBCA Forum may well be a sellout.
Those are the old timers, ever pushing the boundaries. Then there are the young luminaries: pianist Eldar Djangirov, a 24-year old genius who plays October 2, Benny Green who plays Monk’s birthday bash October 10, Joshua Redman and Brad Mehldau, who pair up October 22 in the Art of the Duo.
There are many more greats on tap at the 29th Annual San Francisco JAZZ Festival through December 18. In fact, the festival concludes with the soaring falsetto sounds of Aaron Neville at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, an early but sure to be soulful Christmas concert.
Check out the website now at http://www.sfjazz.org/. It’s great reading, with mouth-watering choices to be made.
My post on the Divas of SF Jazz continues my focus on the amazing female performers featured each year at the festival.
To buy tickets, click here or visit:
SFJAZZ Box Office & Retail Store
Three Embarcadero Center, Lobby Level
San Francisco, CA 94111
No service charge: Mon-Fri 11AM-5:30PM