By Dave Pehling
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — SFJAZZ continues with a packed schedule for the second week of the 35th Annual San Francisco Jazz Festival as the eclectic, 13-day party hosts a wide variety of musicians through its June 18th close.
Founded in 1983 as a two-day event that was originally called the Jazz in the City Festival, the San Francisco Jazz Festival has established itself as a globally renowned institution presenting some of the world’s greatest jazz artists including such legends as pianist McCoy Tyner, singer Tony Bennett, and saxophone greats like Sonny Rollins and the late Ornette Coleman.
This week, SFJAZZ will host concerts at multiple venues at the Center on Franklin Street in the main Miner Auditorium and the more intimate Joe Henderson Lab. On Monday night, Snarky Puppy keyboardist Cory Henry and his band the Funk Apostles deliver hard-grooving tunes from the Miner Auditorium stage, kicking off a week of programming that focuses on the electric side of jazz. Derrick Hodge, who plays bass in the genre-busting Robert Glasper Experiment, has toured and recorded with a who’s who of modern soul and hip-hop figures including Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild, Common and Mos Def. He brings his group with young monster drummer Mike Mitchell to the Joe Henderson Lab for two nights through June 13, playing songs from his new album on Blue Note Records.
On Tuesday, the festival turns back to acoustic sounds with a saxophone summit featuring renowned player Chris Potter and his quartet as well rising young star Melissa Aldana. Potter, a talented player with a career dating back to the 1980s, has played with an array of jazz greats including such masters as guitarist Pat Metheny, bassist Dave Holland and piano legend Herbie Hancock. He also toured as featured soloist for jazzy rock outfit Steely Dan. Aldana rose to fame after winning the 2013 Thelonious Monk Competition and releasing her breakthrough album Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio the following year. She and Potter share the stage in Miner Auditorium on June 13.
On Wednesday, the SFJAZZ Center welcomes legendary bass player Stanley Clarke to the Miner Auditorium for his SFJAZZ debut. One of the most prodigiously talented on the instrument to emerge during the ’70s. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Clarke moved to New York after graduating from the Philadelphia Musical Academy, playing with an array of established jazz greats including Horace Silver, Art Blakey, Dave Brubeck, Joe Henderson, Pharoah Sanders, Stan Getz and Chick Corea.
While recognized as a gifted young bass player, Clarke would rise to star status as part of Corea’s fusion band Return to Forever, broadening the vocabulary of the electric bass with his groundbreaking slap-and-pop technique borrowed from Sly and the Family Stone innovator Larry Graham. Clarke would stay busy during the decade with his simultaneous solo career and extensive collaborations with players like guitar hero Jeff Beck and keyboard player George Duke.
Later Clarke would become a respected soundtrack composer, but he has remained an important jazz figure with regular tours. He performs with his current quartet featuring dual keyboard players. Also on Wednesday, celebrated Oakland-based trumpet player Ambrose Akinmusire brings his four-piece acoustic band to play songs from their recent live double album A Rift In Decorum in the Joe Henderson Lab for the first of two nights.
On Thursday, Miner Auditorium hosts a forward-thinking double bill featuring two cutting-edge young jazz groups. The Donny McCaslin Quartet led by Santa Cruz product McCaslin on tenor saxophone, was already building a reputation around New York for it’s embrace of electronic sound and stunning live performances at clubs when the band came into the orbit of David Bowie. The rock great would recruit the band to back him on his remarkable last album Blackstar, whis was released only days before the singer’s passing.
Drummer Antonio Sánchez, best know for his work with Pat Metheny and as the soundtrack composer to the Academy Award winning film Birdman, brings his group expansive electric quintet Migration featuring vocalist Thana Alexa and keyboard phenom John Escreet to the Miner Auditorium Stage. For more on the San Francisco Jazz Festival and ticket information, please visit the SFJAZZ website.