The World According to Keitho

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Posts Tagged ‘SF Jazz’

Keystone Korner

Posted by keithosaunders on July 10, 2017

This past weekend I took part in a 45th anniversary of the great, long-gone San Francisco jazz club called Keystone Korner.  The North Beach club was in existence from 1972 until 1985 – not terribly long by jazz club standards – but long enough to make an indelible imprint on the Bay Area jazz scene.  During its time it played host to the greatest names in jazz – from McCoy Tyner to Stan Getz, Elvin Jones, Art Blakey, Sonny Stitt, Dexter Gordon, and Horace Silver.

This weekend’s celebration featured such luminaries as Azar Lawrence, Gary Bartz, and Charles MacPherson, all of whom still sound great.  I played in the host band, led by tenor saxophonist, Mel Martin.

It was a bittersweet weekend.  I realized that the era of local jazz clubs hosting top touring musicians for six night stints (at affordable prices) is long gone. Sure, New York still has the Village Vanguard, but you would have to practically float a loan to attend it more than once a month.

Furthermore, the Vanguard is very much the exception.  Many cities, San Francisco being one of them, no longer have clubs devoted exclusively to jazz.  Corporate arts centers such as SF Jazz and Lincoln Center help, but do little to foster the sense of a local jazz community.   Not only that, they will rarely host an act for more than a couple of nights.

We have to enjoy our few remaining jazz clubs while we have them.  One day we’ll only have youtube and our memories.

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A spate of nice gigs followed by stress

Posted by keithosaunders on April 25, 2016

Being a jazz musician requires paying a great deal of dues.  For a pianist it means playing the majority of your gigs in noisy bars on inferior instruments for [often] indifferent audiences.  The word, ‘audience,’ I use loosely since it would be more accurate to describe them as patrons of the bar – customers.

Last week I had a couple of nice gigs with great musicians that were artistically, as well as monetarily rewarding.  On Thursday night I played a concert with saxophonist, Mel Martin, at SF Jazz.  We performed a tribute to the late, great saxophonist Joe Henderson’s 1966 album, Mode For Joe.   The music is challenging, containing thorny, angular chord progressions over catchy, inventive melodies.

On Saturday I played with another great sax player, Ernie Krivda, who lives in Cleveland and was on the west coast playing a few gigs.  We played at a concert series in Fort Bragg, which is just north of Mendocino, about 160 miles north of San Francisco.  The promoters put us up in a quaint hotel overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

I spent a rare Saturday afternoon relaxing in my hotel room as well as going for a run on the beach, taking in the spectacular scenery.  The gig, at the Tap Room of the North Coast Brewery, consisted of one 90 minute set and was over by 9pm.

Both venues gave me marvelous, in-tune pianos to play, had outstanding sound systems, and provided a delicious dinner.  Rarely do a pair of such ideal gigs happen in a three month period, let alone three days!

I have returned, however, to the grind.  I came home to discover a malfunctioning key on my keyboard which I’m going to need by Saturday for a gig.  Unlike cars, keyboards rarely get fixed in one day.  You must bring them to fusty, temperamental repair men, prostrate yourself before them and pray for expedited (and costly) service.  And why do things always break on the weekend?

Onward.

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