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Bill Frisell twangfest highlights Bay Area jazz week

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Yes, this space has been perplexed at times by guitar hero Bill Frisell adamant refusal to recognize any distinction between highbrow and lowbrow culture, treating Nashville "chicken-picking" as an equal ground for artistry with serious jazz. But put Frisell and a few like-minded cohorts together with a repertoire heavy on Duane Eddy, Link Wray, Merle Travis, The Ventures and other genre-spanning pickers of the 1950s and 1960s? Damn the categories; we're there, daddy-o!

The neo-nostalgic ramble is part of a Frisell's characteristically broad-based mini-residency this week at SFJAZZ Center, starting Thursday with a reprise of his chamber-musically Big Sur Quintet. The 1950s twangathon happens Friday, while Saturday is an anything-goes solo outing. Frisell winds it up by recruiting Craig Taborn for some electro-jazz experimentation Sunday. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 4 p.m. Sunday, and tickets are $25-$55.

Also worth noting on the Bay Area jazz scene this week:

  • San Jose drummer Joe DeRose teams up with agile guitarist Hristo Vitchev and others buddies for a neo-fusion throwdown, 8 p.m. Monday at Yoshi's Oakland. $16
  • Top local and international practitioners of jazz manouche pay tribute to the masters this week as Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse in Berkeley hosts the "Esprit de Django et Stephane Festival." The hoedown begins Thursday with the Western-tinged Hot Club of Cowtown, welcomes master mandolinist David Grisman and his sextet on Friday, brings in the genre-busting Turtle Island Quartet on Saturday and closes out Sunday with ace guitarist George Cole. Shows are at 8 p.m. each night. $25-$40
  • Trailblazing pianist Myra Melford performs with Ben Goldberg, Mary Oliver and other bracingly free spirits, 9 p.m. Thursday and 9:30 p.m. Friday at Duende in Oakland. $15
  • Brazilian percussionist Airto Moreira, a longtime explorer of the fertile midlands between fusion and Latin jazz, cuts loose with his band Eyedentity, 8 p.m. Thursday at Yoshi's San Francisco. $22-$24
  • Nicolas Bearde, a seasoned jazz singer with a big voice and a ton of soul, performs 8 p.m. Friday at Fenix in San Rafael. $15-$20
  • Singer/pianist Peter Eldridge and bassist Matt Aronoff mix reimagined standards with original tunes as Foolish Hearts, performing 8 p.m. Saturday at Berkeley's Jazzschool. $15-$18
  • Marin iconoclast Dan Hicks gooses the standards with his Bayside Jazz combo, performing 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society near Half Moon Bay. $45

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