June 10 - Fil Lorenz and the Collective West Jazz Orchestra
This free jazz concert was sponsored by Empact Presents at my workplace. The eleven-member band (horns plus rhythm section) performed both standards and original tunes. Very enjoyable - I'm happy that Empact consistently books high-quality performers.
June 12 - Rich Kalman and Uncle Jazz
Rich Kalman was my jazz teacher at the Albany Adult School. We had a group of singers and instrumentalists who took his Jazz Jam class every term for over a year, so we got good enough to perform in public venues like the Berkeley Arts Festival and the Alameda County Fair. Now he, the trombonist from that class, and a bassist have formed a jazz trio, and they gave a free performance at The Cannery, in the same courtyard where boyziggy and I now do our farmer's market shopping. The standards they performed were good and mostly familiar to me. I did miss the rich vocal harmonies of his other group, Con Alma, though. We didn't stay for the whole show as we were originally headed to the Cannery to see Randy Darbonne (below).
June 12 - Randy Darbonne and Radio Soul
A co-worker invited me to see this band at Club Jazz Nouveau at The Cannery. I thought that he would be a rock or jazz/rock performer, but he ended up being pretty strictly R&B, which neither of us enjoy. Watching this skinny white boy dance around the stage crooning Marvin Gaye tunes, singing lines like "...all my friends were black and brown...", was nothing short of comical. My co-worker didn't show up, none of the food was vegan, the crowd was described by Ziggy as "very, very straight", and after several overpriced drinks we left 40 minutes into the set. It took a Tower Records shopping trip (I bought the excellent 25th Hour DVD on sale) and a late-night food run at Truly Mediterranean (amusingly voted "best burrito" by the SF Weekly editors) to partially recover.
June 13 - Tin Hat Trio and Regina Carter Quintet
A friend invited me to see this free concert at Stern Grove, where Ziggy and I had originally hoped to marry (they were booked). I got there an hour early and the meadow seating was already completely full. I had to hike up to the woods and sit on a steep slope, trying not to slide down the hill or be trampled by other people trying not to slide down the hill. I still had a great (though remote) view of the stage, the sound quality was excellent, and both bands were outstanding. I definitely want to get a Tin Hat Trio CD; their music was so creative, with an assortment of instruments including accordion and harp, and the accordion sounded nothing like Lawrence Welk or Weird Al. Carter's musicianship was outstanding; I don't enjoy violin music all that much, so when I do see a violinist, they have got to be one of the best, like Itzhak Perlman.
This Sunday I am headed back to Stern Grove, despite the crowds, because the San Francisco Symphony is performing one of my favorite pieces, Stravinsky's Firebird Suite. The finale of that suite is one of the most moving pieces of music I've ever heard. It's one of the few classical pieces I'll play at full blast, listening with rapt attention rather than just having it as background music. For those who may not be aware, that piece was also used to great effect in the finale of Fantasia 2000. I watched that animation with great satisfaction, thinking "if I were to have set that piece to animation, this is exactly how I would have done it."
In other musical news, last night I signed up for an Advanced Voice class at the Blue Bear School of Music. It's been over a year since I've had any formal training or performances, so I look forward to improving my technique. I wanted to take a songwriting class too, and possibly electric bass (I've had one mostly gathering dust since high school), but between the wedding coming up, the Mime Troupe summer season, and other concerns, I figured one class was plenty for now. This class meets on Monday nights so it shouldn't interfere with any other activities.