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Ink Notes – 2008

Golden Bough Winter
Nucleus Jazz Quartet
The Curios
Skyline Concert Choir
Marin Chamber Players
Lavay Smith
Damien Masterson Ensemble
Molly’s Revenge
Richard Smith
San Francisco Sound Wave Chorus
       Kugelplex
Daniel Glover
High Country
Trio Arcadia
Daniel Castro
Bobbe Norris & Larry Dunlap
Kim Angelis
Shanna Carlson & Cathi Walkup
Jérôme Malaval
Camogie
       Larry Vuckovich
Golden Bough Summer
Morning & Jim Nichols
Matthew Edwards
Wesla Whitfield
Jamie Laval & Ashley Broder
Bella Sorella
Broceliande
Josh Workman
Verismo Opera, La Bohéme
       Di Wu
Wayne Wallace
Rhonda Benin
Tango No. 9
Los Boleros
Ed Johnson
Bud E. Luv
Edelmann, Rust and Breheda

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Ink Notes

Hush and splendor, Golden Bough live at Pacifica Performances

December 21, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


Golden Bough: Margie Butler, Paul Espinoza and Kathy Sierra
Photo by Shari Cohen

Lovely, tight, beautifully woven a cappella harmonies began the Golden Bough winter concert with the song, A’ Soalin’.  It was an immediate entrance into what makes Golden Bough, concert performers worthy of as many listens as possible.  With Margie Butler on Celtic harp, penny whistle, recorder, bodhran and guitar, her husband Paul Espinoza on guitar, accordion and octave-mandolin and Kathy Sierra on violin and viola – strong singers all – there is no clock watching when the trio performs.  There is only the extraordinary of now.  They gave us winter carols and songs of wrens, hornpipes, reels and Celtic serenity.  We heard Margie Butler’s evocative soprano, and Paul Espinoza’s excellent tenor and the fire-lit stir of Kathy Sierra’s soprano.  With their rich, soaring journey of songs (and even their wonderful silliness) Golden Bough rocked its audience like a cradle.  (www.goldenboughmusic.com)

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Making the holidays tingle just right, the Nucleus Jazz Quartet plays the Sanchez

December 20, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


Nucleus Jazz Quartet: Steve Cassinelli, Ruben Salcido,
Kevin McAuliffe and Alex Bootzin

Want to hear Santa laughing with a ‘Hidehidehidehi’?  Then you better pick up what he’s got playing in his sleigh ride jukebox and that would be “Yuletide Jazz” by the Nucleus Jazz Quartet.  Members of the quartet are: Alex Bootzin on piano, Steve Cassinelli on electric bass, Kevin McAuliffe on drums and Ruben Salcido on flute and saxophone.  They played their holiday sweet makers, Saturday night at Pacifica Performances Sanchez Concert Hall.  They gave us such songs as: “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “Carol of the Bells,” “It Came Upon The Midnight Clear,” “It Don’t Mean A Thing/We Three Kings of Orient Are” in finger-snap cool arrangements by Bootzin or Cassinelli.  They also tossed in a little Hancock, Corea, Jarrett and Davis so that their audience could settle in, café style, to jazz waltzes, ballads, bebop, blues and swing. An evening of holiday standards plus more, played by long-time musicians who know how to blend the smooth and contemporary with the poetic and the sigh, this was seasonal music on the hip side of right. (www.nucleusjazz.com)

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The Curios – Winter of Ought Eight “Pacifica”

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


Nancy Hall

On December 13, 2008, musician, singer-songwriter, arranger Nancy Hall and musician, composer, arranger and engineer Lee Parvin, aka The Curios, stepped into Pacifica Performances Sanchez Concert Hall and made community.  Through their lyrical and melody pens they gave their listeners songs with social relevance, crazy love, heartache and celebration in genres which included at a minimum: pirate oom pah, gypsy waltz, bubblegum Middle-Eastern rock, bayou folk, Appalachian gospel and sexy congregational Salvation Army.  Parvin who played piano, mighty Wurlitzer, accordion and provided vocal backup and occasional lead – and Hall who sang lead and played, guitar, percussion, dulcimer and glockenspiel were joined by sizeable talents.  Mike Tyler (Bartron Tyler Group) played electric guitar, Jim Kerwin (David Grisman Quintet) played electric and standup bass, Marc Games played guitar and banjo and Larry Arndt played drums.  Hall also conducts a women’s vocal group “Soularia” and when they climbed on stage to backup Hall on Paul Simon’s “Love Me Like A Rock” the already hand-pounding audience whistled themselves into a near frenzy.  Every last seat taken and most of the wall space claimed as well, the audience leaned into the night’s music like a blessing from some dear old friends.  Leave it to the Curios to bring joy times through music in the winter of Ought Eight.

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The Skyline Concert Choir ~
Songs to Warm the Holiday Cold

December 7, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


Skyline Concert Choir

Conductor Dr. Jude Navari brought the Skyline Concert Choir to Pacifica Performances Sunday afternoon in a program titled “Elizabethan Holiday.”  The performance featured pianist Elizabeth Ingber, the SDQ Recorder Ensemble and soloists Amanda Williford, Bryan Ross, Alberta Mussati and Barbara Daley.  The first half of the program was an extraordinary blend of Choir, soloists and instrumentalists traveling a reflective and transformative Medieval, Renaissance listening experience.  The second half of the program dipped into the more secular with John Rutter’s “When Icicles Hang,” P.D.Q. Bach’s “Good King Kong Looked Out” and an “English Carol Medley.”  Tremendous harmonies by the choir and lovely sparse piano by Ingber delivered the Rutter piece in near embraceable form.  The Bach piece with its inclusive kazoos was beaming with appropriate silliness and the carol medley was richly layered in phrasing and dynamics.  Navari is always an interesting and thoughtful choir director, allowing both his performers and his audience to explore the heart behind the human voice.

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Bridges to light, the music of the Marin Chamber Players

November 30, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


Marin Chamber Players clockwise from top left: Judiyaba,
Roy Zajac, Marilyn Thompson and Beni Shinohara

Rich lively tones and precision momentum began Sunday afternoon’s concert at Pacifica Performances.  The piece was Beethoven’s “Trio in E-flat for Piano, Violin and Cello, Op. 1, No. 1.”  It featured three of the members of the Marin Chamber Players: Beni Shinohara on violin, Judiyaba on cello and Marilyn Thompson on piano.  Whether at high speed or in sensitive balance, the performers shared and produced a wonderful empathy for the Beethoven score.  The fourth member of the Marin Chamber Players, clarinetist Roy Zajac, joined pianist Thompson and cellist Judiyaba for the next piece, Paul Juon’s “Four Trio Miniatures.”  These are exquisite, romantic miniatures beginning with reflection and traveling full into fantasy.  The instruments worked together because pianist Thompson did not take advantage of the piano’s natural power, but instead bowed to the tranquility of cello and clarinet.  The performance was magic.  “Quartet For The End Of Time” (Olivier Messiaen) was the second half of the program. Performed in honor of the centenary of Messiaen’s birth, the piece is complicated, modern, moody and fabulously interesting.  Written by the French composer at the end of 1940 while he was imprisoned in Stalag VIIIA, “Quartet For The End Of Time” takes a leap off the pages of classical and sweeps straight into the heart of humanity.  The piece requires the utmost skill from each of its musician and something more, the ability to play beams of light.  Virtuosic performances by Shinohara, Judiyaba, Thompson and Zajac made this piece a powerful tribute to history and the connections of faith.  Bravo!

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Making art for the ready and willing, singer Lavay Smith delivers the gold

November 22, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


Lavay Smith

Let’s see, molten lava or singer Lavay Smith – that would be Lavay Smith taking home that thermostat award.  The lady sang Saturday night at Pacifica Performances with her Red Hot Skillet Lickers.  Taking charge of a band that would make Count Basie whistle, Smith dazzled her audience with one vocal magic spell after another.  “Romance in the Dark,” “Blue Skies,” “All Of Me,” “Walk Right In,” “Miss Brown To You” and “Sunny Side Of The Street,” – these were just a few of her Big Band treats that kept the butts bouncing and the hands clapping in her audience.  With note perfect pianist, arranger and bandleader Chris Siebert not taking one moment to put joy on hold, this is the kind of concert that would have worn another groove in the dance floor back in the day of the Lindy-hoppers at the Savoy Ballroom.  But in this day, Lavay Smith and her Red Hot Skillet Lickers are about as much musical fun you can have without paying a fine. (www.lavaysmith.com)

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The harmonica according to Damien Masterson

November 15, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


Damien Masterson, Allison Lovejoy, Julio Reyes

The chromatic harmonica may just be one of the coolest instruments around particularly in the hands of Damien Masterson.  Presenting “The Beauty of the Classical Harmonica” with text by director/producer Ken Malucelli for the Damien Masterson Ensemble – Masterson on harmonica, Allison Lovejoy on piano and Julio Reyes on guitar – lucky Pacifica Performances audiences members got to tune into a showcase of the harmonica as principal.  Song selections swung through a diverse jukebox featuring such composers as Handel, Albeniz, Beethoven, Joplin, Gershwin and more.  These three musicians, each an accomplished headliner, worked together to make this West Coast premier always interesting, even when a few of the pieces didn’t quite work with the instrumental trio, and extraordinary when the layers of sound blended and wove together in triumph.  The Ensemble’s take on Beethoven’s “Für Elise” absolutely soared and Saint-Saëns’ “Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix” was crafted by angels.  Joplin and Gershwin also met with a blend of classical (piano/guitar) and contemporary voice (harmonica) that just grooved with precision.  What happened throughout the performance is that while Masterson is quite capable of some serious blues sanctuary, he also knows how to slide eloquently straight to the heart of the pastoral soul.  So it was education at its most deeply satisfying. Several solo takes, Lovejoy’s beautifully complicated and dreamy “Pucciniana,” three Puccini arias arranged by Lovejoy, and Reyes’ technically sensual “Capriccio Catalan” (Albeniz) – nearly stole the show.  Except, the show was frequently stolen back by all the members of the Damien Masterson Ensemble, together.  This show is reason to celebrate the harmonica as leader of the band. (http://www.princesf.com/damien)

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A generous good time with Molly’s Revenge

November 1, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


Molly’s Revenge

Ever stand on the shores of Galway (Ireland), with the sky full of might in grey and the swans swimming on a gentle beat of blue?  One can hear that in their mind when they sit in on a session of the Celtic band, Molly’s Revenge.  There is a tumble and a stomp and a swim and a flow to their music which features: Pete Haworth on bouzouki and lead vocals; David Brewer on Scottish bagpipes, whistle, uillean pipes, bodhran and flutes; Stuart Mason on guitar and mandolin; and John Weed on fiddle.  They played Saturday night in Pacifica.  They played many a tune from their recently released CD, “The Western Shore.”  There were fiddling strathspeys and ground swelling pipes and mandolin tremolo and Irish jig bouzouki and plenty of silly stories.  This band makes their Celtic music look and sound as natural as a chat with old friends – and they have a time, as does their audience.  Pick up a CD and enter their modern magical land of Celts.  (www.mollysrevenge.com)

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When you got it, flaunt it — 6-string epiphany from guitarist Richard Smith

October 25, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


Richard Smith

Richard Smith likes to joke that had he not taken the stage (successfully) by storm with his guitar pickin’, he would have considered a career as a Doctor of Astrophysics.  Thankfully that doctor is not in because Smith has got all the right cures for any listener who wants 6 strings of auditory epiphany.  Smith played Pacifica Performances Saturday night.  He slid along the strings of his Kirk Sand guitar offering Travis picking and ragtime waltz, Brazilian classical and quite frequently train chugging Jerry Reed.  He’s got a whole trunk full of jukebox classics going back to the days of Mozart and Chopin and climbing up through the times of Sousa, Joplin, Reinhardt, Atkins, Reed, Lennon and McCartney.  Plus he can do down home blues and modern Celtic and toss in a round of gun slinging thumb picking and hire wire minuet.  It’s a gas to hear Mr. Smith on guitar – and that would be of the classical kind.

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It’s a grand night for singing with the San Francisco Sound Wave Chorus

October 11, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


San Francisco Sound Wave Chorus

As sweet as an ice-cream social and as fun as a hayride in October, the 29-member San Francisco Sound Wave Chorus, a northern California Region 12 chapter of Sweet Adelines International, rendered just right 4-part barbershop harmony to an audience who came out to have some fun on a Saturday night – and did!  Under the baton of Director Leslie Dalton, who knows how to swing a song, the Chorus took the American Songbook on a glorious spin.  Their evening song menu included: “Under The Boardwalk,” “Jeepers Creepers,” “At The Hop,” “Side By Side,” “You Are My Sunshine,” “Tuxedo Junction” and “Toot Toot Tootsie! (Goodbye).”  Extra kudos to the bass singers who really tweaked the beat with their groove.  The show aptly titled, “The Best Years of Our Lives,” was a model presentation on how to keep a song in one’s heart.  Old fashioned charm just the way we like it.

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Kugelplex – Dizzying display of folktale and belly laugh musical magic

October 4, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


Kugelplex

Tumbling, wildly precise notes from violin, accordion, mandolin, drums, bass and clarinet make the West Coast klezmer band Kugelplex an easy seduce for a great night on the town.  They played Saturday night at Pacifica Performances.  Members of Kugelplex are: Jason Ditzian on clarinet, David Rosenfeld on mandolin and violin, Eugene Warren on acoustic bass, Marguerite Ostro on violin and vocals, Aaron Kierbel on percussion and Isabel Douglass on accordion.  All superb musicians with an obvious desire to have and be a good time, Kugelplex invited special guest, zowie to the10th power vocalist Jewlia Eisenberg to help them raise the roof and remind all their listeners that really, it’s a beautiful life.  Fabulous intricate and raucous klezmer made for a fabulous night.

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Pianist Daniel Glover presents a troika of Russian composers

September 13, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


Daniel Glover

Cascading chords, involved textures, sweeps of intensity, pillowy simplicity (Sergei Rachmaninov); complex polyphonic layering (Nicolai Medtner); and mystical philosophy which explores the farthest reaches of harmony (Alexander Scriabin) – these three Russian composers/pianists were presented Saturday night at Pacifica Performances by concert narrator (conductor Robert Lappa) and concert pianist (Daniel Glover.)  Pieces played were: “Etude in C-sharp minor, Op. 2, No. 1” and “Prelude and Nocturne for the left hand alone, Op. 9” (Scriabin); “Improvisation in B-flat minor, Op. 31, No. 1,” “Funeral March in B minor, Op. 31, No. 2” and “Danza festiva in D major, Op. 38, No. 3 (Medtner); and “Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 36” (Rachmaninov).  Physically a daunting program, pianist Glover, looking calm at all times, was able to pull magnificent willingness from each note of the piano, communicating astounding technical skill with beautiful singing lines.  Before each piece was played, narrator Lappa directed us into the life of each composer with facts and bits of humor (and extremely readable and well-outlined slides) that gave each piece an awakening, a sharing of secrets.  Informative and at times startling brilliant, this performance lecture presented ample evidence in the support of the power of classical music.  Not a fault of the presenters, this program nevertheless would be better served by a Friday night or Sunday afternoon slot.  Too much classroom for a Saturday night on the town.

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High Country kicking up grins Saturday night in Pacifica

September 6, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


High Country

That banjo is sure good for a roll: right hand rolls, forward rolls, backward rolls, forward-reverse rolls.  Throw in a few chords, G, C and D, attach a pick to your thumb, index finger and middle finger and then add some pop, blues, country and Appalachian Celtic sensibilities plus – get a bunch of musicians that can do equal acrobatics on mandolin, guitar, standup bass, fiddle and dobro and make sure everybody can vocally charm and harmonize in a prairie yodel and you’ve got the bluegrass band High Country kicking up a lot of grins on the faces of their foot stomping crowd.  High Country played Pacifica Performances Saturday night.  High Country is: Butch Waller on mandolin, brother Bob Waller on guitar, Larry Cohea on banjo, Glenn Dauphin on bass, Tom Bekeny on fiddle and Jim Mintun on dobro (resonator guitar).  Precise, fresh, intensely musical, High Country shook out a musical barrel of sweets with songs such as: “When the Last Old Shovel Lay Down;” “Lonely Side Of Love;” “Cheyenne;” “Uncle Pen;” and “Mary And The Miles In Between.”  Singing heart-felt lyrics and capturing virtuosity on a string, man-oh-man these guys are a good time.

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Bassoon, clarinet and piano – Ah!

August 23, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


Trio Arcadia

There is not enough music written specifically for the trio combination of bassoon, clarinet and piano.  That will change as more people join the growing audience of Trio Arcadia.  Represented by Kathleen Johannessen on bassoon, Michael A. Kimbell on clarinet (or in his case: A, Bb, C and Eb clarinets), and Elizabeth Lee on piano – Trio Arcadia proves there is an extraordinary musical dialogue between the three instruments that is lithe and that is classical.  Trio Arcadia performed Saturday night at Pacifica Performances.  They presented “Trio, Op. 159 No. 3” (Carl Reinecke); “Sonata for Bassoon and Piano” and “Four Characteristic Pieces for Clarinet and Piano” (William Hurlstone); “Trio, Op. 61” (Heinrich von Herzogenberg); and “Rondino Scherzando” (Michael A. Kimbell.)  There was a singing tone between Kimbell on clarinet and Johannessen on bassoon as pianist Lee swept alongside of them with a fluent, playful lyricism.  Three instruments dancing in virtuosic air yet all riding on the same magical wind.  A quiet, enchanted performance, full of charm and not for those who like their classical on blast.  Ah!

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Electric guitarist Daniel Castro taking time to play the blues

August 2, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


Daniel Castro

Bending strings over a layer of sweet and edgy electric blues, Daniel Castro soared mighty rounds of satisfying notes from his Fender Telecaster – and he took his time.  While his audience bellowed their approval of his blistering guitar, Castro carried them along a ledge of sliding virtuosity where sometimes only a few notes told a whole bunch of story.  Castro’s got a good scratcher voice for the blues: articulate, kind and well lived in.  Playing Saturday night at Pacifica Performances, Castro was joined on stage by T. Moran on drums, Glade Ramussen on bass and Bill Hancock on keys.  Smart and inventive, these impeccably résuméd gentlemen, aka the Daniel Castro Band, poured out Albert King, B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Willie Dixon and more – like good men well acquainted with the ‘bad.’ Bringing every kind of shoe to their concert hall dance floor, these gutsy electric bluesmen simmered like a stewpot in the legendary halls of the great blues cookers.

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Beautiful song indeed – Bobbe Norris and Larry Dunlap

July 26, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


Larry Dunlap and Bobbe Norris

Beautiful nuanced phrasing in piano and vocal, inspired interpretation of when the world was (like) a song – you can give smoky contralto Bobbe Norris and her husband pianist, composer, arranger Larry Dunlap any old great jukebox tune from the 1930s on up through the early 60s and you’re going to hear plush and life in equal measure.  Norris and Dunlap let the audience rule their songbook when they opened up their Saturday night Pacifica Performance stage to requests.  A lot of song hopes came their way and they presented as many tunes as you can fit in two sets with an audience pounding time with applause.  Songs performed included: “Fly Me To The Moon;” “Moonlight In Vermont;” “Skylark;” “The Very Thought Of You;” “Anything Goes;” and “Bewitched, Bothered And Bewildered.”  Long-time married couple, Norris and Dunlap are about as elegant on vocal and piano that a listener is going to hear in the genre of jazz and pop, tender and playful romanticism.  Accompanied by a couple of the nation’s best traps and bull fiddle musicians (Jason Lewis on drums and Seward McCain on stand-up bass) – it is obvious that a love affair with really good music is still a musical valentine from these savvy song stylists.

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Come sit by the fire of Kim Angelis on violin

July 19, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


Kim Angelis

Tuck a violin under the chin of Kim Angelis and suddenly the ancient is in the now.  Fingers, strings and bow swirl great comfort notes of articulation filling the listener with wonder as musical stories pulsate their rhythms along some great ethereal highway.  Angelis, a classically trained violinist who literally sings each string like a gypsy poet, writes most of the music she performs.  Through breathtaking credenzas and tender passage this violinist creates great river lullabies, or the sound of soldiers marching, quiet walks beneath redwoods or tango born bright from the embers.  She played Saturday night at Pacifica Performances.  She was accompanied by her husband Josef Gault on classical guitar.  Though she wowed her audience with “Caprice 20, Opus 1” (Paganini) – it was her own composed music which constantly brought the audience to their feet because it is of earth and yet not.  It is no wonder her compositions have been heard all over the U.S., in Chile, Taiwan and additionally at the Olympics.  Visit the artist’s website at: www.skysong.com.

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Legendary ladies of jazz, Shanna Carlson and Cathi Walkup,
swing their story to music

July 12, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


Shanna Carlson
Photo courtesy of artist


Cathi Walkup
Photo courtesy of Robert Benstrom

Bay Area jazz greats Shanna Carlson and Cathi Walkup, with assistance from Tom Segal (who also directed), wrote a cozy little jazz musical called: “Almost Famous – Jazz With A Plot!” which they presented Saturday night at Pacifica Performances.  The story focuses on two vocalists, old friends, who meet up between their respective travels at a bistro in San Francisco.  The bistro comes equipped with two very talented musicians, Benny Watson on piano and Fred Randolph on standup bass, who are willing to backup the ladies whenever Carlson and Walkup feel the need to explain their life in song.  Like the singers they are representing, Carlson and Walkup are a couple of pros, each able to grasp hold of lyric and gift it out – nice and easy and full of good gravelly jazz bottom notes.  Carlson is equally at home on the piano, sitting down just once to offer up her natural polish and groove on the ivories.  Additionally like the singers they play, both ladies are willing to put up with the quirks of the business because quite simply they love music.  Many of the songs in the production are written by Carlson and Walkup and travel a rich gambit of jazz, including: bebop, ballad, swing, blues, bossa nova, samba, waltz and maybe even a little tango.  Their songs have clever lyrics and lend themselves well to swing and sway and finger-snap.  Their last song “The Music Is The Magic” by Abbey Lincoln is magic and needs to find its spot on the radio so it can rocket up the charts.  The problem however with “Almost Famous – Jazz With A Plot!” is it needs serious editing.  Explanatory dialogue between each song loses the audience and eighteen songs are probably four too many.  It could also use a bit of goosing with maybe a drum roll or a cymbal crashing, or piano/bass equivalent, to make the audience sit up and cheer over punch lines.  “Almost Famous – Jazz With A Plot!” has a lot of heart and a lot of talent with a little bit of work, it will be a showpiece.  (Websites: Shanna Carlson at www.shannacarlson.net, Cathi Walkup at www.cwalkup.com.)

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Guitarist Jérôme Malaval – great tone, beautiful fingerpicking, big fire

July 5, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


Jérôme Malaval

The extremely talented guitarist Jérôme Malaval has got that Chet Atkins classical finger-picking style down – thumb bopping out the rhythmic bass notes, three fingers steering through runs, arpeggios, double-stops and fire cracking licks to guitar symphonize a melody.  He played Pacifica Performances Saturday night with his special guest, the legendary Chet Atkins style guitarist Jim Nichols.  He offered in solo or in duet, extraordinary intricate versions of songs such as: “Autumn Leaves” (Joseph Kosma); “The Early Dawn” (Jerry Reed); and “Dark Eyes” (Ukrainian traditional).  Malaval was able to produce washboard-like guitar then switch right into a cool spray of tumbling strings.  The best version of Henry Mancini’s “Charade” yet to be recorded was played Saturday night by Malaval and Nichols – ditto Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now.”  Malaval is a triumph on guitar.  The musician however could take a rest between pieces – chat a little with his ticket buyers, introduce the next piece, make his audience feel less like they are at a fire and more like they are his invited guests.

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American rhythms on a Celtic stream – the music of Camogie

June 28, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


Left to right: Libby McLaren, Mary McLaughlin,
Robin Flower and Danny Carnahan

The individual members of the quartet Camogie could easily stand solo before a sold-out concert hall and lift the pulse of every ticket holder.  There is Libby McLaren on vocals, piano, accordion and occasional shaker.  Robin Flower sings as well and plays guitar, fiddle and mandolin.  Danny Carnahan offers his gifts of vocals, fiddle, octave mandolin and guitar.  Northern Ireland born Mary McLaughlin plays electric keyboard and sets her vocal sail to the skylark.  Songwriters all, Camogie throws life itself into their inspired lyrics, pristine harmonies and intoxicating, intricate musicianship.  They played Saturday night at Pacifica Performances.  They offered original tunes such as: ‘Níl Sé Na Lá’ ‘Steelhead in the Riffles,’ ‘Billy Tave’s Hornpipe,’ ‘Fly My Way,’ ‘Sue’s Delight,’ ‘The Weaver’ and ‘Kings of Kilfenora.’  Folk, barn stomping, R&B, starry night and sweet Appalachian Reinhardt – the quartet mixes it all in a lovely Celtic stream of mood and hope and reasons to dance.  If you are seeking to be dazzled by something new and rich in Celtic Americana fusion, but with all the elements of a Robert Burns lullaby, pull up your chair and your heart to the music of Camogie.  (www.camogie.us/band.html)

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Film noir dressed to the nines with piano jazz expressionist Larry Vuckovich<

June 21, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


Larry Vuckovich

Legendary Bay Area jazz pianist just released a little slice of seductive atmosphere called: High Wall: Real Life Film Noir.  It’s classic music like the film genre it represents – beautiful scores throwing their veil over the rough and tumble side of the human condition and Vuckovich plays it all in a highly representative finger-note articulation.

Vuckovich played music from this new CD Saturday night at Pacifica Performances.  He brought along musicians with their own impeccable sheets of credentials to add their talent to the groove.  There was Buca Necak on stand-up bass, Kent Bryson on drums, Hector Lugo on Latin percussion – and of course piano man Vuckovich himself swirling through all kinds of keyboard emotion and mood.  With a song list that included: “Ow!” (Dizzy Gillespie); “High Wall” (Bronislaw Kaper, from the movie of the same name); “View From Telegraph Hill” (Larry Vuckovich); and “Locomotion” (John Coltrane) – the audience was swept along wind-blown alleyways where noble and desperate themes of joy and rain played out like yesterday’s heart-held love affairs.

This music was pure satisfaction; delivered by the hands of pros.  Here’s looking at you, Mr. Vuckovich.  Check out more on this musical cat at: www.larryvuckovich.com.

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A walk through the emerald green with the music of Golden Bough

June 14, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


Golden Bough

You cannot always get to a place by plane or boat or car.  Sometimes all that is left of ‘what was’ is the call of its music.  Enter the trio Golden Bough, who played to a full house Saturday night at Pacifica Performances.  With lyric soprano Margie Butler on vocals, Celtic harp, penny whistle, recorder, bodhran and guitar; folk tenor Paul Espinoza on vocals, guitar, accordion and octave-mandolin; and folk soprano Kathy Sierra on vocals, violin and viola – the audience was taken along emerald valleys and water fed shores, through marriage promises, the escapades of a pirate queen and the hopes of a Highland Soldier as their music traveled the pages of the seven Celtic Nations.  There were tunes to kick and spin your heels by and tunes in step with a waltz – and the vocals were as plush and lovely as walk through O’Carolan’s green.  If you are one for enjoying a modern-day melodic tour of a magical history dream; then buy your ticket and take your seat when Golden Bough claims the stage.  Visit their website at: http://www.goldenboughmusic.com/.

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Morning and Jim Nichols complete a circle of stars

June 7, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


Morning & Jim Nichols

Silky vocalist Morning Nichols and Chet Atkins-style guitarist Jim Nichols are just plain damn good.  While Jim finger climbs through guitar maneuvers that have made the famous whistle (Chet Atkins was a fan), Morning serves up vocal morsels with a little layered icing and a deep well of richness.  They’ve got finesse and style and enough fans to burst a room.  This long-time married couple played Saturday night at Pacifica Performances and they invited a few seriously talented friends to join their stage.  Drummer David Rokeach who has played traps for Aretha Franklin, Patti Labelle, the late Ray Charles and other legends including the Nichols – played groove wise, technically virtuosic and personally loose for some serious rhythm poetry.  Grammy-nominated Michael Manring took the electric bass into rich and highly listenable astounding territories where no bassist has gone before.  Vocalist Nate Pruitt, a student of Carmen McRae, and an expert at sweet vocal tease, highlighted songs with his saucy, lovely articulation.  The show met with a lot of standing ovations while the Quintet, all at once, in solo, in duo, in trio or in quartet covered songs by such composers as: George Gershwin, Kurt Weill, Ira Gershwin, Jerry Reed, Sting, Paul Rice, Hoagy Carmichael, Eric Clapton, Buddy Johnson, George Harrison and Rudy Toombs (Chet Atkins style).  Fantastic performances throughout, extra whomping applause belong to Morning and Jim Nichols for highlighting their own shining stars with the high beams of others. Five stars!

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Pianist Matthew Edwards negotiates through intellectual and strange keyboard phenomenon

May 17, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


Matthew Edwards

Earth, air, water and fire show up in Alexander Scribian’s “Sonata No. 8” in all kinds of complex counterpoint and cascading double notes and desperate shadowy hand figurations of a composer trying to explain it all. “Sonata No. 9,” same composer, is an audience head dive into cleverly poisonous triplets and asylum tension.  The final Scriabin “Sonata No. 10” aka “The Trill Sonata” has at its heart a desire to lead the listener out of the darkness and into the vast peaceful explosiveness of the sun.  This was the first half of pianist Matthew Edwards program in Pacifica which while it proved the undeniable truth that Edwards can launch through Scriabian’s mystical-driven musical thought with obvious genius and a keyboard intimate alchemy – it was to my ear, a vigorous long-winded storm into the disquiet.  The second half of the program was Beethoven’s “Hammerklavier” which relies on stunning technical negotiations and enough inner strength to conquer all the demons of Beethoven. Pianist Edwards excelled because he is an impressive, informed, strong performer with a sweeping and majestic talent.  But oh, for a rubber chicken or a clown bike – anything to give us but a brief ride from the intensity of the smart music.

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There’s a kind of hush when Whitfield and Greensill put their spin on a song

May 10, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


Mike Greensill and Wesla Whitfield

She sings, he plays piano – he cuddles intimate with 88 keys and she embraces words then unwraps them one by one.  You might think you know what it is like to have songs speak to you as if the lyricist and composer came in for a spell and made you a warm fire.  My guess – if you haven’t heard song stylist Wesla Whitfield and pianist, composer, arranger Mike Greensill stroll out a little night music, you’ve been listening to something that blew in with the rain.  The married couple played Saturday night in Pacifica.  They were joined by standup bass phenomenon Dean Reilly who also weighed in with his legendary pocket trumpet.  Songs played were from that old American songbook still shining bright with gems and some of those songs can be found on the couple’s latest CD “Message from the Man in the Moon.”  All of the songs hushed right through the audience like a memory treat flying by; nice and easy.  They’re a good ticket, these musical muse friends.  Have a listen - www.weslawhitfield.com.

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Fiddling great old songs for a Celtic new world – Jamie Laval and Ashley Broder

May 3, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


Ashley and Jamie

If ever there were a sound to explain the spirited musical whispers of yore from Ireland, Scotland, Brittany and Québec it is clearly within the string talk of fiddler Jamie Laval and mandolinist and fiddler Ashley Broder (also plays cello.)  The two played Saturday night at Pacifica Performances.  They played music that moved feet and clicked fingers.  They offered pizzicato and staccato, Appalachian runs, jigs, reels, moonlight, Celtic blues, cartoon sliders, bagpipe tributes and finger dance agility across their respective instruments.  Their music traveled along a mountain path of string fiddle and rhythmic river mandolin.  They didn’t play too loudly or too softly and you could literally hear notes laughing; glad to be free and out there with all the rest of us – listening and loving it. Among the tunes played were: “The Fowl Set” (traditional), “Sir Archibald Grant of Moneymusk,” (traditional), “Staircase” (Broder) and “Bridge of Cally” (Laval).  It’s a seamless blend of discerning virtuosity, these magic musicians offer, wrapped in just the right amount of tradition and quirkiness.  Laval and Broder are a great old song for a Celtic new world.

For additional information on Jamie Laval and Ashley Broder visit www.jamielaval.com or www.ashleybroder.com.

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Beautiful journey, beautiful sound – the music of Bella Sorella

April 19, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


Bella Sorella

Bella Sorella (beautiful sister) performed Saturday night in Pacifica.  Causing prolonged bursts of enthused applause and receiving more than one standing ovation, Bella Sorella rocked like an auditory walk through paradise.  Recipients of the coveted 2007 Los Angeles Music Awards “Vocal Group of the Year,” Bella Sorella takes any perceived stuffiness out of the classics and puts all the best of it, which is considerable, right into their circle of joy.

The ensemble consists of real life sisters-in-law: coloratura soprano Nova Dague Jiménez and lyric soprano Susanna Uher Jiménez – and the sister-in-law’s “sister of the soul” pianist Shinobu Kameyama.  While virtuosic pianist Shinobu communicated and technically dazzled as intimate orchestra, soprano Nova and soprano Susanna vocally climbed wondrous textures with palpable warmth, clear-noted honesty, agility and absolute fun.  Through their individual voices as well as their breathtaking blending, Nova and Susanna explained that notes and rainbows are made of the same stuff.  Among the songs performed were: “Prenderò” (Mozart from the opera Cosi fan tutte), “The Prayer” (Sager/Foster from the movie Quest For Camelot); “Nella Fantasia” (Morricone/Ferrau from the movie The Mission) and the “Flower Duet” (Delibes from the opera Lakmé).  Only problem – no Bella Sorella concert can be long enough.

Bella Sorella – whose first television appearance in 2006 was on the noteworthy Bruce Latimer Show, ‘the longest running, most successful variety show in American television’ (quote from ABC7/KGO-TV) – are luminaries bound for glory.  If you have a willingness to have a full heart and a great time, pull up a chair to Bella Sorella. (www.bellasorella.net)

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Into the musical muse of spring with Brocelïande

April 12, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


Broceliande

Brocelïande’s music, Celtic and Early Music from the Middle Ages and Renaissance, expresses an old age harmony, seemingly rising like a mist from the very sword of King Arthur, to yield a sweetly crafted musical peace for today’s world.  The quartet played Saturday night in Pacifica.  Members of Brocelïande are: Margaret Davis on vocals, Celtic harp, flute and recorders; Karl Franzen on guitar, octave mandolin, vocals, whistle, melodeon and percussion; Kristoph Klover on vocals, guitars, octave mandolin and oboe; and Kris Yenney on cello, viola da gamba, Kamanche (an ancient, bowed Persian spike fiddle), vocals and percussion.  This is a smart, talented, highly listenable quartet.  Their vocal distributions and instrumental teamwork are a caravan of lush harmonies and technical wizardry, with the sonorous cello ever articulating the balance of this dream.  While pleasant enough as individual vocalists, Brocelïande’s strength is in its full quartet – for it is then you will hear an explanation of spring. (www.broceliande.org)

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Guitarist Josh Workman and his natural affinity for a full-course groove

April 5, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


Josh Workman

The place: Pacifica Performances Sanchez Concert Hall.  The musicians: the Josh Workman Quartet featuring Josh Workman on acoustic and electric guitars, Ben Stolorow on piano, Michael Zisman on standup bass and Kent Bryson on drums.  The music dipped into all kinds of stylistic treats, many by Workman.  There was blues, samba, Reinhardt, a jazz waltz, jump swing and sweet talkers.  There were beautiful melodies and smart harmonic structures.  You couldn’t help but bounce your butt to the bass man’s strings and the drummer cooked like a corn tub popping.  The pianist, while not as relaxed as the other musicians, still keyed out plenty of finery.  Every one of these musicians comes with a long sheet of impeccable jazz credentials – but, if you are looking to hear the vocabulary of a distinctive journey on guitar, effortlessly grounded in the grace and legacy of a full-course musical meal, then pull up an auditory seat to the magic of Workman.  (P.S. Workman tours with acclaimed singer-actress Lynda Carter – what a wonder that ticket that must be.)  Find out more about this guitar melody man at: www.joshworkman.com

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Ill-fated young lovers nearly seduce Death in small-town production of La Bohéme

March 30, 2008 – Pacifica Performnces

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


Coloratura soprano Jamie Bonetto

Okay Pacifica is not that small of a town (see article title) but when compared to the opera stages of San Francisco, New York and Chicago - it is definitely a venue for cheaper seats, scant props and a zero tolerance for an electronic libretto system.  However, that does not mean less of an aptitude for educated listeners and remarkable vocalists.  Sunday afternoon Verismo Opera, in association with California Opera, presented Puccini’s La Bohéme.  It starred: coloratura soprano Jamie Bonetto as Mimi; tenor Zachary Sheely as Rodolfo, baritone Christopher Wells as Marcello, coloratura soprano Deanne Reeder as Musetta; baritone John Minagro as Schaunard; and basso Roger Smith as Colline.  Accompanist was Gertrude Dubanski.  Conducted and stage-directed by the very likeable Fred Winthrop, the opera was stripped down to its essentials – a story of being young, finding one’s way as a starving artist and falling in love only to realize that even youth is no panacea to a knock from the Grim Reaper.  Bonetto (Mimi) dramatically conveyed an extraordinary disciplined restraint which heightened the poignancy of her dying character.  Her vocals, touching and supremely musical, soared.  Sheely (Rodolfo) quite simply has a secure and radiant tenor that is a triumph.  He and Bonetto believably lost themselves in doomed love; so much so that perhaps even Death was surprised it stood at their door.  Reader’s Musetta was loaded with vitality and flirty temperament and her vocals were clear and agile as she dazzled a trapeze of trills and thrills.  Wells (Marcello) is a natural on the stage, full of handsome vocals and sustained heat.  Smith was dramatically and vocally excellent as Colline; and Minagro (Schaunard) has a voice that can long capture a satisfied listener’s ear.  The women’s chorus was tremendous, the men’s was not.  That was the pity.  In such a small production, theatrical and vocal inexperience stands out.  Lack of super titles, which could have been displayed on the hall’s small screen, also kept on the reminder light that this was indeed budget opera.  The setting would have been given a great boost with just a little more effort into props.  Standing ovation to pianist Gertrude Dubanski who gave a thoroughly brava performance as orchestra and as vocal compass.

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Pianist Di Wu, leading the world of today and tomorrow – back to the classics

March 9, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


Di Wu

Classical pianist Di Wu performed Sunday afternoon in Pacifca.  Her technically commanding, highly listenable program was entitled “The Art of Transcription” and featured such works as: “Violin Partita No. 3 in E Major” (Bach, transcription by Rachmaninoff); “Scherzo from A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (Mendelssohn, transcription by Rachmaninoff); and “Fantasy on themes from The Marriage of Figaro” (Mozart, transcription by Liszt/Busoni.)

Wu, whose sound was as imaginative, articulate and expansive as the program she presented – played with unfathomable dexterity and expressivity over tumultuous and spiritual passage.  Her virtuosic ease with the keyboard allowed her to naturally orchestrate each piece with affection and vitality. And, despite her jaw-dropping résumé – Master of Music degree from The Julliard School, currently pursuing an Artist Diploma at Julliard under Joseph Kalichstein and Robert McDonald, various prestigious competition wins and performances at such world-class venues as Carnegie Hall (twice) – 23-year-old Wu introduced each piece and the reasons why she chose to perform it, with all the thrill of a big time fan.  In addition, she sincerely thanked her audience for coming.  With her aptitude for beautiful music and her welcome mat to the irresistible adventure of a time when Haydn was king, pianist Di Wu may well be the key to bringing audiences of all backgrounds and ages back into the arms of classical music.

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Brimming with technique, trombonist Wayne Wallace blows a steady stream of playtime

March 1, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor

Wayne Wallace with Trombone
Wayne Wallace

Wayne Wallace has a tremendous style on trombone.  He takes from his variety of musical contexts, which includes Latin-jazz and funk, and blows a steady stream of playtime.  He played Saturday night at Pacifica Performances.  He played with the members of his Quintet: Murray Low on piano, David Belove on bass, Paul Van Wageningen on drums and Michael Spiro on congas.  Together the Quintet was relaxed polish: keeping their music blazing whether it was humming or kicked up a notch in volume.  They played Miles Davis and Oscar Hammerstein, Sonny Rollins, Jovino Santos Neto, Wayne Wallace and more.  Solo voices headlined each number with a lot of instrumental maturity and smolder – then the band would fall in together to become a liquid rhythm plane.  Not an evening for much chat, from the stage or from the audience but the groove was irresistible. (www.walacomusic.com)

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Song stylist Rhonda Benin is a better day

February 23, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


Rhonda Benin

Rhonda Benin is right about a lot of things.  She is right that among the great songwriters of the 20th century, in this case specifically focusing on composers from 1960 on up, there are African American songwriters whose names belong on the top of that list: Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers and Sly Stone – and that’s the short list. Included on the Benin Saturday night right set were: “People Get Ready” (Mayfield); “Higher Ground” (Wonder); “Reach Out And Touch” (Ashford and Simpson), “What’s Going On” (Benson, Cleveland and Gaye); “Lean On Me” (Withers); and “Stand” (Stone.)

She is right when she told her Pacifica Performances audience that: “In our society we need to come up and focus on things like love and humanity and helping each other.  These songs, which everybody knows, have messages of love, peace and hope and a better tomorrow.”  Not to mention some honeyed grooves.

Accompanied by extraordinary musicians – Terry Scott on piano/keyboard, Ron Belcher on standup bass, Joey Truso on drums and Cedricke Dennis on guitar; Benin pulled her audience out of their seats and onto the dance floor with her energy, her obvious sense of sharing fun and the purr and the fireworks of a stirring vocal that knows how to wrap itself around a word and a note and send it right to the listener’s heart.

The thing that is really right about Rhonda Benin is she is so right to be singing.  She’s got a voice, a style and a presentation that is a better day.

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A revolutionary kiss for the soul, the music of Tango No. 9

February 9, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


Tango No. 9

The music rises.  It has an underbelly of elegance.  It is roots ballroom, passion, smoke, Paris salon and sensual Buenos Aires.  It is the music of Tango No. 9.

Tango No. 9 played Saturday night at Pacifica Performances.  They were accompanied on several of their numbers by dancers David and Nancy Mendoza who brought the art form of tango and milonga onto the dance floor, rich and classic.  Members of Tango No. 9 are: bandleader Catharine Clune on violin, Joshua Raoul Brody on piano, Isabel Douglass on accordion and bandoneón and Greg Stephens on trombone.

The music Tango No. 9 plays – from the time of Astor Piazzolla and further back to the turn of the century, then forward to today under the compositional pens of composers such as Stephens, Brody and Dmitri Matheny – awakens the heart to romance, the hips to relax and sway and the feet to move intricately, all beautifully blending like ribbons in a waltz.  Their music is parlor and sophisticate, virtuosic and fluent in all the languages where whisky is on the menu. Fun and extraordinarily gifted, this band which found its origins in the late night musings of classically trained violinist Clune is a revolutionary kiss for the soul.  (www.tangonumber9.com)

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Dream a dance, the music of Los Boleros

January 26, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


Los Boleros

Vibrant rhythms and elegant melodies sweep in memories of pre-revolutionary Havana. Elegant waltz, salsa and bolero – yesterday’s classics find a comfortable way to be in today’s contemporary music world.  This is the presentation of the eight-piece Afro-Cuban Latin ensemble Los Boleros; a band that inspires its audience to whisper, to dance, to romance. Los Boleros played Saturday night at Pacifica Performances Sanchez Concert Hall to a house full and attentive to each and every groove. Maybe even still you can hear the sound of satisfied sighs.

Members of Los Boleros are: band co-founder Ivan Chancay on lead vocals and rhythm guitar; band co-founder and leader Rudy Furlan on tres Cubano and back-up vocals; Jeannie McKenzie on violin, Dave Somers on tenor sax and flute, Dominic Cabrera and Jack Lawlor on percussion, Eugene Warren on upright bass and Zareen on lead vocals and percussion.  Songs included on their play list were: “Negra Tomasa,” “El Carretero,” “Como Fue” and “Cuarto de Tula.”

The band played dazzling ballads and smoky island colors.  Clave, tumbao and tres Cubano (guitar-like instrument with three double strings) circled and captured each song with their fire. Extraordinary sax and violin solos caused thrilled whistles and booming applause.  Their vocals invited listeners to relax and be embraced by the comfort of friends.  With Los Boleros there is always room for another moment, another song – and even time stops to listen.  Tune into the party at: www.losboleros.net.

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Earth rhythm party with guitarist Ed Johnson and his band Novo Tempo

January 19, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


Ed Johnson

There’s got to be some music that just makes Mother Earth sway a little in her axis – that music has got to be Ed Johnson and his band Novo Tempo.  They play samba like a wind breath and bossa nova like berries in a spray of fall.  What’s more Johnson can write songs that whisper Brazil back in the day when Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes were teaching cool jazz a new walk.

For many Bay Area listeners with an ear for what is smooth and what is hot, the mention of Bay Area guitarist, composer, vocalist and arranger Ed Johnson playing at a local venue is enough to vault out of the recliner and into the musical arms of Johnson in concert.  But look who Ed invited to be in his band.  There is Jennifer Scott on piano and vocals, John Worley on trumpet and flugelhorn, Kristen Strom on sax and flute and backup vocals, Scott Sorkin on guitar, Rene Worst on bass, Jason Lewis on drums and Michaelle Goerlitz on percussion.  This is like putting vinyl on the turntable when 8 out of 8 songs are gold; except of course, there’s that extra kicker of hearing gold, live.  Novo Tempo played Saturday night at Pacifica Performances.  They treated their full-house crowd to Johnson’s latest CD, “The Other Road” along with songs from Johnson’s 2004 release “Movimento.”  We also heard songs composed by Jobim, Scott Sorkin, Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster.  You could count the great songs of this concert on both hands and both feet, with no song out. Extra fanning on the Ed Johnson arranged “Certain Smile” featuring Johnson, Scott and Strom on 3-part harmony. Nice to know that real artists are still out there waiting to give everything for those so glad for the listen.

Ed Johnson and Novo Tempo.  http://www.edbjohnson.com/novotempo.html

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Bud E. Luv, Broadway’s beacon of beefcake croonaliciousness, detonates the Sanchez

January 12, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor


Bud E. in blue, Markey top center, Mikey bottom right

People thought Frank Sinatra, Gary Puckett, Jim Morrison and Sammy Davis, Jr. were the chipotle in the hot sauce, the sizzle in the barbecue, the nitro in the glycerin – but they are just fans to the flame when it comes to the megaton attraction of star blazing dynamo Mr. Bud Euripides Luvalopolis, aka Bud E. Luv.  He sang Saturday night at Pacifica Performances Sanchez Concert Hall.  He dished out his devil-may-care hunkatude with long-time band mates and three-alarm compadres, Michael Ludwig von Luvinsky (Mikey Luv) on backup vocals, keyboards and synthesizer and Marcus Aurelius Luvinowitz (Markey Luv) on backup vocals, guitar and saxophone.  Songs covered in Set One were the hits of the famous written by the fabulous Bud E.  Tunes by Elvis, Tony Orlando, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Louis Prima, Sammy Davis Jr., Gary Pucket, Chicago, Eddie Holman, Bobby Vinton, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, and Eddie Van Halen – poured forth like honey from the Gifted’s (that would be Mr. Luv) golden chords.  Set Two was six horns and a full rhythm section, Mr. Luv on heart stopping croon and special guest, Ms. Christina A. (or Desiree), snapping out vocal mastery with the vocal master himself.

And here’s the real sequined jacket cincher; underneath the absolute perfect pitch Las Vegas silliness, Bud E. Luv is a first rate entertainer who can sing gloriously and put on one heck of a show and Mikey and Markey are on the same virtuosic page.  Get yourself to a Luverly concert. Check out the man and the magic at www.budeluv.com.

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Symphonic universe with Edelmann, Rust and Breheda

January 5, 2008

By Jean Bartlett, Managing Editor

Friedrich Edelman and Rebecca Rust
Friedrich Edelmann and Rebecca Rust

Vera Breheda
Vera Breheda

Similar to the oboe, the bassoon has a wonderful other worldly sound.  It was played Saturday night at Pacifica Performances Sanchez Concert Hall.  Joined by cellist Rebecca Rust and pianist Vera Breheda, bassoonist Friedrich Edelmann presented the far too under represented bassoon like a beacon to classical composition.  His notes were inviting and supple, gracefully mellow and as needed charged with intricate festivity.

The first piece, written by Beethoven originally for bassoon and clarinet, was played by husband and wife Edelmann and Rust on bassoon and cello, respectively.  The two instruments blended and balanced with Rust ribboning through evocative baritone strings while Edelmann stole through expressive rapid movements.  Pianist Breheda and cellist Rust presented the next piece “12 Variations in G-Major for Cello and Piano on a theme of Handel’s opera: Judas Maccabaeus” (Beethoven).  Rust, a brilliant cellist, has a virtuosic tone and captivating control.  Pianist Breheda has the ability to immerse herself into the musical articulation of Beethoven with clarity and color and ease of phrasing.  Together they created a generous and thoughtful partnership and a beautiful Beethoven.

Piano and cello played sweet, intricate tones softly lapping, while bassoon wound its way below and between like a great deep river – denying thrilled listeners absolutely nothing in the performers’ chill-making presentation of “Trio Pathetique” for cello, bassoon and piano by Glinka.  In a program which also included “Black Swan for Cello and Piano” (Villa-Lobos) and “Sonata e-minor op. 38 for Cello and Piano” (Brahms) – these individual stars, bassoonist Edelmann, cellist Rust and pianist Breheda, collectively became a symphonic universe.

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