Marcus Crowder

The big throwdown

John Zorn finds a home for his wide musical range at Yoshi's SF
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For someone notoriously press-shy, composer and band leader John Zorn is really a friendly, chatty mensch. Read more »

Another pass

Bassist and bandleader Dave Holland's latest happenings
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Distinguished bassist and bandleader Dave Holland plays as much as he wants, which tends to be a lot. Still, he's catching his breath after an extensive tour with old friend Herbie Hancock following the success of Hancock's Grammy-winning tribute to Joni Mitchell, River: The Joni Letters (Verve, 2007). Tour dates multiplied exponentially after the disc was surprisingly named Album of the Year by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Now after a short break, Holland hits the road again, this time leading a new band of his own. Read more »

Seasonal cool

"Just the drummer" Brian Blade finds his way working in fellowship
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Brian Blade will say he's just the drummer in the band. But Blade isn't just any player, having credits ranging from Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell along with Joshua Redman and Wayne Shorter. His understatement neatly fits the carefully nuanced improvisation on his new record with the Fellowship Band, Season of Changes (Verve). Group founders-leaders Blade and pianist Jon Cowherd wrote all the material on the new record, which they'll feature in performance at the Monterey Jazz Festival Sept. 21 and at Yoshi's SF Sept. Read more »

Spunk, funk, fusion

Return to Forever returns
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Pianist Chick Corea's band Return to Forever was the last of the fusion fruit to drop from the tree of Miles Davis' Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1970). From its early-1970s start, RTF followed the Joe Zawinul/Wayne Shorter–led Weather Report and John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra into the critically thorny but audience-friendly avenues of rhythm-based electric jazz. Read more »

Nuclear fusings

Jazz players meld the sounds 'round the corner with those 'round the world
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Jazz has always been about fusing rather than fusion. But there's a new generation of improvisational players from around the world who are effortlessly blending wide-ranging cultural and generational ideas in their music. These artists are equally conversant in Ben Webster, Kanye West, and Fela Kuti. They might cover Coltrane and Radiohead, but using contemporary Western instruments. Read more »

Big "Footprints"

New members, new songbooks for SFJAZZ
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Since its inception in 2004, the SFJAZZ Collective has changed out six of its eight original members. But now in the midst of its fifth season, the band sounds and, more importantly, interacts more cohesively than ever.

"All the people we've had, have been very beneficial to the band," says pianist and original member Renee Rosnes, during a recent rehearsal at the Masonic Auditorium. Read more »

A band apart

Gonzalo Rubalcaba finds his match
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There's never been any doubt pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba could play. The 44-year-old Cuban émigré has been a highly favored sideman to top-shelf jazz leaders since landing in the United States some 15 years ago. He's also had a steady recording contract with Blue Note and leads his own trios, which he dominates with an imposing virtuosity, an exacting sense of Cuban musical history, and a tense, brooding personality.

Now Rubalcaba has an exciting new quintet with a striking potential for challenging even his outsize talent. Read more »

Holly Cole

If voice has a color, Holly Cole's gleams like burnished copper
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PREVIEW If voice has a color, Holly Cole's gleams like rich, burnished copper. A jazzy postmodern chanteuse with a sensual, sultry bent, the Canadian performer stops into Yoshi's San Francisco during her first United States tour in six years. Her current trio includes longtime pianist Aaron Davis, bassist Marc Rogers, and saxophonist John Johnson.

Cole has a stylish new self-titled album (Koch) in tow, recorded in New York with a nonet headed by bassist and coproducer Greg Cohen. Read more »

Love on the road -- and on the page

The backstage passes and musings of Dean and Britta
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Dean Wareham mainly remembers his last San Francisco performance for a "botched guitar solo." Though the alleged incident was hardly a blip during the seductive show he and wife Britta Phillips delivered with their band, he promises on the phone from New York City, "It won't happen again."

We'll see. Read more »

Pick up the beat

Yoshi's arrival in San Francisco raises questions about whether jazz can revive the Fillmore
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Bop City. The Blackhawk. The Jazz Workshop. The Both/And. Keystone Korner. Kimball's.

San Francisco's world-renowned jazz club heritage has always been a part of the city's matchless cultural identity. But the je ne sais quoi's been missing for decades, because there hasn't been a jazz club regularly booking national and international touring musicians into the city for more than 20 years.

That all changes this month with the Nov. 28 opening of Yoshi's San Francisco. Read more »