A new Netflix series of stand-up comedy performances enables Bill Cosby to extend and deepen his connection to SFJAZZ.
The Los Gatos-based subscription Internet channel has announced a five-program series of stand-up performances getting under way August 29 with a Jim Jeffries show taped live in Boston. The series includes "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" star Chelsea Peretti at the Palace of Fine Arts (November 14) and "Bill Cosby 77" (November 28) taped on the comedian’s 77th birthday at the SFJAZZ Center.
The performance kicked off the current SFJAZZ season; Cosby also served as master of ceremonies at the Hayes Valley venue’s grand opening. The comedian chose to record “77” at SFJAZZ because “it is a wonderful place for music, has great sound, there is not a bad seat in the house, and represents the cultural center of San Francisco.”
In reviewing that performances – and, in a way, previewing the Netflix program – the Mercury News focused on Cosby’s long affiliation with jazz.
His night of stand-up was a benefit for SFJAZZ and the kick-off event for that organization's fall season. So one might have expected jazz stories from Cosby, who grew up among musicians in Philadelphia and used to feature famous friends (Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie) on "The Cosby Show." Yet aside from a couple of Miles Davis references – one involved the Venus-like Bernadette Johnson, an unattainable teenage crush, who loved the trumpeter far more than the bumbling future comedian – Monday's session was jazz-free.
On the other hand, Cosby's stories – several of which stretched on for about 30 minutes – felt like jazz solos, expanding and detouring, skirting chaos and then, out of the blue, flying home to the punch line. Bada bing.
Like the best jazz musicians, Cosby has a "voice" that's his own. For one thing, he is a master of timing, the strategic pause. Then there are his crazily mumbled phrases (Clark Terry), his weird accelerations and oddly accented syllables (bebop, generally), not to mention that mischievous way he has of rolling his eyes (Gillespie). And after blowing his chances with Bernadette Johnson – even six decades later, he's still got the blues over that episode.
Want to keep up with the best in Bay Area jazz and blues?
Subscribe to me: Have our jazz and blues Examiner columns sent to your inbox. Click the SUBSCRIBE button on this page. It's free. (And I won't spam you or give out your information.) Bookmark me: http://www.examiner.com/jazz-music-in-oakland/brian-mccoy. CONTACT ME FOR YOUR JAZZ AND ARTS GRANT WRITING NEEDS