Sunday, October 23, 2005

Miles Davis Quintet at the Blackhawk, SF

I googled "miles at the blackhawk" and found this 1957 poster from the old San Francisco club on All That Jazz.

Dave Douglas and Keystone

Trumpeter Dave Douglas, working with the Paramount Center for the Performing Arts in Peekskill, NY, who received a National Endowment for the Arts grant to score silent films will perform to the movie's of Fatty Arbuckle. Read about "Fatty" and Dave in today's SF Chronicle's Datebook section.

A 30 minute talk about Silent Films and Jazz precedes the performance.

Douglas' Keystone band consists of Marcus Strickland on saxophones, Jamie Saft on Wurlitzer keyboard, Brad Jones on bass, Gene Lake on drums and DJ Olive on turntables. Drawing from jazz, drum 'n' bass, electronica and the early '70s funk jazz of Miles Davis, "Keystone" is a haunting, formidably original creation that certainly sounds like no other music ever scored to a silent film. Douglas says he knew he had to come up with a fresh approach after he saw Arbuckle's work.

"The acting and all that's happening is so well choreographed that it would have been redundant to make the kind of sound effects that you generally hear on film scores," he says. "Instead, I tried to create themes that apply a counterpoint that underlines the movies' themes, that gives an alternative meaning.

"And as I kept manipulating the sounds, I started to feel I had a comradeship with Arbuckle because he was experimenting every day. You can see him think, 'How am I going to capture this gag?'

Dave Douglas and Keystone: Scores performed live to silent films directed by and starring Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, 3301 Lyon St., San Francisco. $22-$32. (415) 776-1999. For complete San Francisco Jazz Festival schedule, go to

SF Chonicle article
SF Jazz Festival article
Dave Douglas web site

Mose Allison

Today's San Francisco Chronicle's Datebook section has 2 interesting articles on music from the ongoing SF Jazz Festival, one, an interview with Mose Allison who plays this Thursday with bassist Bill Douglas and drummer Pete Magadini.

"I don't know what I've got going," Allison said from his Long Island home, his soothing Mississippi drawl still in evidence. "I used to tell a joke. Mose the singer and Mose the songwriter got together and said if we could just get rid of this piano player we can make some serious money. The fact is that I try to play jazz piano, and I keep at it, but nobody knows what my classification is. They ask me if I'm a blues person or a jazz person, but I don't consider myself anything. That's up to other people. I've never seen me, you know?"

Mose Allison performs with drummer Pete Magadini and bass player Bill Douglas at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco. $24-$44. (415) 788-7353,

Jello Scale Model of San Francisco

Elizabeth Hickock has created a gigantic jello sculpture of the city of San Francisco, including the Bay Bridge. The photos are just amazing -- especially the video of the whole city shaking like a bowl full of jello. via BoingBoing

Sunday, October 16, 2005

23rd SF Jazz Festival

The 23rd annual San Francisco Jazz Festival begins this Wednesday evening. This is not a weekend event but a series of top of the line concerts that last through November 6.

The first 2 shows are of particular note. The opening night concert with Abbey Lincoln on Wednesday October 19 is typically a private party for patrons and members but this year is open to the public as a Katrina Relief Benefit with proceeds going to directly to the in need New Orleans Musician's Clinic.

This fund goes directly to sustain our NOMC-in-Exile operations until January 2006 and to provide direct assistance to musicians ( from purchasing gasoline to school uniforms for their children and everything in between.)

The New Orleans Musicians' Clinic (NOMC) is an innovative not-for-profit occupational medicine and wellness partnership offering comprehensive health care to our community's most precious resource: our musicians. Our sponsors are the Daughters of Charity Services of New Orleans, The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, and the LSU Health Care Network. Dedicated on May 2, 1998, NOMC became the first such health initiative in the United States, addressing the health care needs of musicians and their families, an under-served segment of the population. To date our dedicated consortium of service providers has treated more than 1000 local musicians.

On Thursday at the Great American Music Hall, the World Saxophone Quartet (with rhythm section) plays Jimi Hendrix. I have always loved the WSQ and their themed works.

This fall, as heard on the group's acclaimed 2004 CD, Experience, the ever-vital WSQ breathes new fire into the repertoire of rock icon Jimi Hendrix...

The group takes the stage in San Francisco as a supercharged septet, with its namesake saxmen founding members David Murray, Oliver Lake, and Hamiet Bluiett plus newcomer Bruce Williams joined by trombonist Craig Harris, bassist Matthew Garrison, and drummer Lee Pearson.

There is lots more with Montara's own Bobby Hutcherson sitting in with George Cables, the Denny Zeitlin Trio and Ornette Coleman too. Check them out at

Jazz coming to Fillmore District

A new Yoshi's club and a jazz heritage museum are coming to Fillmore and Eddy streets along with condos, restaurants and parking. There is an interview and article with developer Michael Johnson who broke ground on the long awaited project last week in today's San Francisco Chronicle's Real Estate section. Article here.

When completed in 2007, the $68 million development at Fillmore and Eddy streets will have 80 condominiums, a new Yoshi's music club, a jazz heritage museum, a new restaurant and two parking garages for more than 200 cars...

Peter Fitzsimmons, who will run the 6,000-square-foot heritage museum, said the neighborhood's jazz history will thrive in the new center.

"The Fillmore was an amazing stage for the kids of our city, including my dad," said Fitzsimmons, the son of Smith and late community activist Pat Nacey. "They would meet and play and jam with the greats, and sometimes get their careers launched."

Old-timers especially remember the years after World War II, when San Francisco was still a segregated city, and traveling jazz bands would congregate after hours at Fillmore hot spots like the Havana Club, Elsie's Breakfast Club and Jimbo's Bop City.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

John Shifflett's fan mail

I was just checking out John Shifflett's barebones website and I found this funny as hell fanmail. I'll have to skip the spell checker this time. Nelson, if you happen to read this, do have have more letters out there?

Coincidently, I just received the following message in this morning's email. Unusual, to say the least - we certainly seem to attract an eclectic audience! He didn't leave his mailing address, so looks like we've lost a big sale. I'll try an email reply, but it appears to be via a Radio Shack store in North Carolina, so don't hold your
breath... JS

-------- Forwarded Message --------

Hello Mr. Shifflett hower you doing. Me an my dog was lisening to the radio yestiday and the most funny sounding song come on. Now that dog dint howl like he normaly duz when I put my records on so I figgered his ears was confewzd. But then my old lady comes in and sez lookithat animule's keeping time with his tail. Blest if I know how he herd the beat cuz I sure cudnot but there you are. So then the radio man sez you are playing the bass and I herd some of them licks you let off and I figger you got a nice Nashville bass with 4 strings cuz I play me a 1 string gutbukit with Pete And The Big Pickers on frydays over in Ridgetown. And I dont bleeve nobody can play that many notes on a gutbukit. So anyways I had this fella at radioshak find out about you on his computr with his ww progam and you all seem like nice boys and my old lady sez to send 17 records COD cuz shes got some long hares on her side what she wants to givem fer Crismus.

Yor musicul comrad

Nelson H. Littleton

ps Pete dont have no record but if you make a fonecall to Billys Inn in Ridgetown any fryday nite tell old Billy to hold the fone up in the air for a wile and Im the one on the gutbukit and singing the slow songs.

-------- End Forwarded Message --------

Eye on Kristen Strom

The Eye Entertainment Guide of the San Jose Mercury News has a very nice article / interview on Bay Area Saxophonist Kristen Strom.

The San Jose saxophonist has been a mainstay on the Bay Area music scene for nearly two decades, and her new album, "Intention'' (Open Path Music), reveals an artist whose musical world is predicated upon the primacy of beautifully rendered melodies.

"The project is melody-based,'' says Strom, who celebrates the release of "Intention'' on Saturday at Boas Club Elite in Cupertino. "I wanted the beauty of melody and tone, to capture all the instruments with the best sound possible.''

She performs with the group featured on the album, including her husband, guitarist Scott Sorkin, and Adam Shulman on keyboards, drummer Jason Lewis and
bassist John Shifflett. A number of guest musicians will also be on hand, including Pruitt.

The news article is here and Kristen's personal website is here.

Friday, October 14, 2005

New Gryphon Strings T-Shirt

Gryphon Stringed Instruments of Palo Alto, CA has a new T-Shirt designed by underground cartoonist, Robert Armstrong.

Much as we love the old Gryphon T-shirt design, after over 25 years of looking at the same logo everybody around here was ready for something different. The “Robot Johnson” design is of course from Robert Armstrong, famed underground cartoonist and founding member of the Cheap Suit Serenaders. If you’ve logged onto our website ( you’re already familiar with Bob’s somewhat twisted sense of humor. We’ve run the design shown here a couple of times as ads in Acoustic Guitar Magazine, and people have called and emailed suggesting we issue a T-shirt, so we did. Leave it to Bob to combine all the hoopla about blues legend Robert Johnson, and the new fad for robots, into one character, Robot Johnson, complete with handy oil can and mechanical mascot. And any self-respecting robot would have to play a metal National guitar, don’t you agree?

via BoingBoing

Katrina: Branford and Harry on Fresh Air

The Katrina Hurricane has brought new attention to the music of New Orleans and Jazz in general. I am hearing more these days about Louis Armstrong and Dr. John. On Wednesday, I listened to this great interview with Branford Marsalis and Harry Connick Jr. on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross. Listen to it here.

They explore their musical history and childhood friendship, exactly the stuff I like to hear.

Fresh Air from WHYY, October 12, 2005 · Musicians Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis, two New Orleans natives, have been friends for years -- back to the days when Connick took piano lessons from Marsalis' father, Ellis.

And when their hometown was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, Marsalis and Connick sought to help any way they could. Marsalis' brother Wynton organized a benefit concert in New York. And Branford's label, Marsalis Music, is releasing a benefit CD, Celebration of New Orleans Music to Benefit the Musicares Hurricane Relief.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Pumpkin Festival

The Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival is on this weekend. It is our little piece of Americana. The prize winning pumpkin at Monday's weigh off totaled 1229 pounds. The festival brings lots of music to town, very little of it jazz ( the Emerson Growiser Band is your best bet) and mostly classic rock and country. I can hear the bands from my house, 2 miles from downtown. You will find several stages and small groups on every corner and in between. That pan flute band, the steel drum people and that guy that plays the stick guitar are always there along with some local kids that play some mean blues. It also brings lots of crafts and people (100,000) and traffic. The trick is to come early and leave early if you don't want to sit in your car all day. Web site is here. See you there.

The Dead Kenny G's

The Dead Kenny G's played Yoshi's just before we left for vacation. I tried to write about them then but the PC crashed and I just gave up. I know virtually nothing about them accept what I read on their web site, I just love the name. Check them out. There is lots of interesting reading.

This trio of shape shifting musicians shatters musical paradigms by melding elements of jazz, classical, and eastern music over the soundtrack of a punk rock life.

Back from vacation

Well, we took a break from it all and went hiking in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, no phone service, no internet and no music. There is no flat ground there either so all the hiking is steep and strenuous. Don't drop something round because, if it doesn't hit a tree, it will roll all the way to Fresno. The pictures show some big freekin trees and some rock stacking exercises.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Katrina: WWOZ in Exile

The New Orleans radio station WWOZ web site remains one of the best places for musicians to check for news and assistance and they are streaming over the net. The home page is here and the help page is here.

Check out the picture gallery of some of the local clubs and what's left of their homes and radio station.

Katrina: All that Jazz Hurricane Survivor Quilt

Here, a group of quilters have started a jazz and New Orleans inspired survivor quilt to raise money for Katrina relief. Patches are displayed as they are built. Check out the blog sponsering the project here.

All that Jazz is a fundraiser for survivors of the Katrina disaster. The aim is produce a gem of crazy quilt or quilts to be auctioned in March on the six month anniversary of the disaster. They will be sold on Ebay in the United States with the money going to American Red Cross.