As stunning as the lineup for SF Jazz’s 11th annual spring season may be, what’s especially notable is the number of artists whose music expands beyond the jazz category.
From Tinariwen of Mali’s unique North African/Western blues/psychedelic rock amalgam (Feb. 21, Palace of Fine Arts Theatre) to Ana Moura of Portugal’s intoxicating fado (April 24, Palace of Fine Arts) and Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s impeccably tuned vocals (March 11, Sherith Israel), SF Jazz is poised to showcase the diversity of international inspiration that feeds today’s cutting-edge jazz scene.
All in all, eight of the five-month season’s 40 concerts are reserved for “Global Village” performers from other musical disciplines.
Add in jazz performers from other countries, including Poland’s Tomasz Stanko Quintet (April 11, Legion of Honor), Scandinavia’s Tord Gustavsen Ensemble (March 28, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts), Japan’s Hiromi with the Robert Glasper Quaret (March 20, Herbst Theater), Spain’s Chano Domínguez with the Flamenco Jazz Quartet featuring Tomasito (April 30, Palace of Fine Arts) and Cuba’s Issac Delgado (opening the season Friday at Bimbo’s 365 Club), and an indefinable vocal improviser of the magnitude of Bobby McFerrin (April 10, Nob Hill Masonic Center), and the circle widens still more.
SF Jazz’s ECM Series is a special turn-on.
The five concerts, scheduled in honor of the label’s 40th anniversary, feature Keith Jarrett solo (March 19, Davies Hall), Ralph Towner with Paolo Fresu (March 27, YBCA), Tord Gustavsen Ensemble, Tomasz Stanko Quintet, and the Charles Lloyd New Quartet with Jason Moran, Reuben Rogers and Eric Harland (April 26, Palace of Fine Arts). The diversity in styles alone is a testament to the genius of ECM’s founder and producer, Manfred Eicher.
No jazz series worth its bass player would be complete without music from some of the giants of jazz still amongst us.
Pharoah Sanders leads the pack with a “Sacred Space” concert in Grace Cathedral (April 16). Hot on his heels comes bebop and soul-jazz alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson (May 29, Herbst Theatre), fabulous vocalist Kurt Elling revisiting standard repertoire with the Count Basie Orchestra (May 30, Davies Hall), and electric bassist Marcus Miller grooving to the music of Miles Davis (June 11, Herbst Theatre).
Among SF Jazz’s other categories are the sonic explorers of the Leading Edge; a host of great pianists, string players and singers; and the Deep Groove series scheduled for Bimbo’s dance floor.
Weaving their way through the series are a number of great local performers, including Joshua Redman (Feb. 26, Grace Cathedral), Faye Carol (May 23, S.F. Conservatory of Music Hall) and Mads Tolling (with Regina Carter, May 28, Herbst Theatre).
Odd man out amongst the bunch is the sole performer in Oakland, the fabulous Max Raabe & his Palast Orchester (Saturday), who bring an authentic slice of some of the music popular in German’s Weimar Republic and across the Atlantic in the United States to the glorious Paramount Theatre.