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Bill Frisell twangfest highlights Bay Area jazz week

Bill Frisell
Bill Frisell
David Becker

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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