Kevin Lee

I Love This City's tasteful use of confetti, fog, and lighting

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When I first heard that the inaugural I Love This City festival was moved from AT&T Park to Mountain View’s Shoreline Amphitheater, I thought fate (or Live Nation) was twisting my arm. Read more »

Chucho Valdés and the Afro-Cuban Messengers score a standing ovation at Herbst Theatre

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Last week, Cuban pianist Chucho Valdés demonstrated a shared skill set with San Francisco 49er tight end Vernon Davis. Both are impressively big men whose physical presence belies a breathtaking agility. 

Performing in front of a packed Herbst Theatre last Monday evening, the 70-year-old Valdés spent the majority of the 90-minute concert alternating between Latin and jazz, delegating and allowing his Afro-Cuban Messengers to shine. Many of the tracks were off Valdés’ recent album Chucho’s Steps (Four Quarters Records), with the constant shifts of “Zawinul’s Mambo” and the cool, breezy “New Orleans” serving as highlights. Valdés, resplendent in a violet velvet sportcoat and purple tones, spoke little, allowing a gesture here and a glance there to guide his team.

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Madlib’s Medicine Show returns to SF

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The final album to Madlib’s 13-part Medicine Show is scheduled to be released this month, capping a series that may prove to be the producer’s magnum opus. Through 12 albums, already he has journeyed through genres – hip-hop, dub, soundtrack music, free jazz, soul, psychedelic rock. He sampled music from around the world – Brazil, Africa,
Jamaica. He culled work from different eras – records from the 1970s, his own unreleased tracks from the '90s, new productions from today. Read more »

Electric gospel

How did David Byrne get here?
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PREVIEW As I find myself in another part of the world, I ask myself, "How did I get here?" Then I realize everything's same as it ever was, and that I need to get this piece in at some sort of reasonable hour.

But seriously, Talking Heads' "Once in a Lifetime" was synthesizer rock glory. On NPR's "All Things Considered," the band recalled becoming "human samplers" while making "Once in a Lifetime," back when hip-hop was in its genesis and sampling wasn't even a method. Read more »

Fillmore Jazz Festival

Twenty-four years, 100,000 jazz lovers
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PREVIEW Known during the '40s and '50s as the "Harlem of the West," the Fillmore District once housed a spirited enclave of West Coast jazz culture. Over time the district has endured periods of struggle. The recently installed Fillmore branch of Yoshi's symbolizes the district's fight to respect its past while staying in step with the present.

The Fillmore Jazz Festival began after much of the current "urban renewal" (i.e., the construction of large apartment buildings) took hold. Read more »

Spundae 15-Year Anniversary

Standing firm as a distinctly American dance music bastion.
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PREVIEW When they founded Spundae in 1993, Peter Beckers and Guiv Naimi pioneered America's electronic superclub a full two years before New York's legendary (and sadly departed) Twilo. The duo managed to mix distinguished San Francisco talent — Jerry Bonham, Jondi and Spesh, Alain Octavo, Scott Carelli — with international superstars such as Pete Tong, Felix da Housecat, DJ Tiesto, Armin van Buuren, and Christopher Lawrence. Read more »

Paul van Dyk

The final bastion of trance music's golden age
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PREVIEW In the late '90s, Paul Oakenfold opted for pop stardom and Sasha and Digweed journeyed into the darker tones of progressive house, leaving Paul van Dyk as the final bastion of trance music's golden age. Some might argue that one of the Dutch contingency — Armin van Burren, Ferry Corsten, and the prominent DJ Tiesto — has wrested the mantle of trance king from the Berlin DJ and producer. The short answer is a defiant nein. Read more »