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Get ready for a carnival of musical delights.



Heading into this weekend and the next, an assortment of upcoming jazz related shows are set to take place at the Dakota. Get ready for a carnival of musical delights. Actually, it was trumpeter Russell Gunn who was to help kick things off at the Dakota last night, along with his quartet and vocalist Dionne Farris, but the gig was postponed. Farris and Gunn have a new live album, Dionne Get Your Gunn, which Farris released on her independent label, Free and Clear Records.  

One of my all-time Gunn favorites featuring him on electric trumpet and flugelhorn is his Live in Atlanta: Ethnomusicology, Vol. Continue Reading →

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José James and band awes Cedar crowd



José James didn’t just sing during his homecoming concert at the Cedar on January 29, he spoke his mind. And he delivered on the wish that most concertgoers have when they go to see a promising new artist perform. He took them on a journey. And the audience — among them, friends, family, and mentors who flocked in adoration — witnessed one of 2013’s greatest musical success stories in the making. James is a renegade artist in the tradition of Prince. Continue Reading →

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SFJAZZ’s new home, Bobby Z’s 2nd benefit, D’Angelo’s new music


Congrats to SFJAZZ. After presenting its first concerts in San Francisco 30 years ago, today the nonprofit organization SFJAZZ has built a home and performance venue of its own. Its grand opening occurred on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, January 21, 2013. According to a press release about the SFJAZZ opening, “The SFJAZZ Center can now efficiently integrate itself under one roof to present world-class artists in concert throughout the year, nurture young musicians’ development and promote music education.”

“After 30 years of presenting music in a variety of rented venues throughout the Bay, it is with great joy we announce our first season in our new home, the SFJAZZ Center,” said Randall Kline, the founder and executive artistic director of SFJAZZ. He also noted in the press release, “The center is the first free-standing building for jazz in the country — designed, from concept to concert hall, to create an enhanced setting for creating and experiencing what the esteemed jazz writer Whitney Balliett calls ‘the sound of surprise.’”

McCoy Tyner’s January 24 concert at SFJAZZ is already sold out. Continue Reading →

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Ravi Coltrane’s Blue Note debut arrives right on time




Saxophonist, composer and bandleader Ravi Coltrane’s debut recording for Blue Note Records, Spirit Fiction, was released on June 19. I believe that’s cause for celebration. You may recall reading the news about Coltrane’s historic Blue Note signing in a previous James on Jazz column. We also profiled Coltrane in a 2008 interview with the MSR.

Yes, let’s be honest: With this new recording, Coltrane may not receive pop star treatment, or see his face in full-page ads in Newsweek or Time magazines, but make no mistake — he will get noticed. Perhaps the best way to approach the new album isn’t so much with great anticipation and great expectations but with openness and appreciation. Continue Reading →

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