Jazz fans can have a rare opportunity to enjoy the stylings of vocalist Kitty Margolis at Yoshi’s on Friday night. The fact that Margolis lives in The City but has not performed here in several years is an irony she’s noted.
“You know how your trajectory of life takes you in different directions?” she says. “I’ve been touring and I’ve also been involved in a series of creativity workshops with my husband here and in Europe.”
She’s also just become a national trustee for the Grammys.
The impetus for making this show happen is a visit by Allison Miller, whom Margolis calls “my favorite drummer.”
“She’s fantastic,” Margolis says. “She tours with people like Brandi Carlile, Natalie Merchant and Ani DiFranco.”
The pair recorded a critically acclaimed live album in 2004 and are always ready to jam when the opportunity arises.
“She’s coming through town,” Margolis says, “so I got the best room in town and we’re going to party with our friends and fans.”
For Margolis, whose style embraces the improvisational, drums are a critical component to a gig.
“We have a really good connection,” she says of Miller. “Every instrument is important, but drums are critical to what I think of as the musical conversation of performing.
A fourth-generation Californian, Margolis considers herself a “groove-based” singer.
“The arrangements I do are quite different from other singers,” she says. “There’s a lot of communication through eye contact and body language, and there are lots of open spaces built into each song.
“Jazz is really about creating music in the moment, so it’s different every time. The most important thing is to have musicians who are good conversationalists and who inspire each other and surprise each other.”
Margolis says she has that with Miller, and with pianist Murray Low and bassist John Shifflett.
“They’re really world-class players,” Margolis says.
Her focus on improvisation carries over into the work she does with husband Alfonso Montuori, both here and in his native Italy.
“We do a lot of workshops on creativity and innovation,” Margolis says. “As individuals, we improvise all the time; we just don’t necessarily think of ourselves that way. Jazz can offer insights that are applicable.
“I feel lucky to have come up in the Bay Area when there were no genres in music really. We’d go the Fillmore and hear Miles Davis on the same bill as Santana and John Lee Hooker. It never occurred to me that they belong to different categories. I guess I’m kind of an eclectic thinker. Jazz gives you a certain focus for that.”
IF YOU GO
Where: Yoshi’s, 1330 Fillmore St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Contact: (415) 655-5600, www.yoshis.com