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SFJAZZ Festival opens this week

Juan de Marcos & the Afro-Cuban All Stars
Juan de Marcos & the Afro-Cuban All Stars
Michael OShea

This is the week in which the 32nd Annual San Francisco Jazz Festival opens. Described as “a nonstop celebration of jazz and world music”, it runs at the SFJAZZ Center until June 22, with a program of artists so popular that the concerts - in both the Miner Auditorium and the Joe Henderson Lab - are selling fast.

Let’s take a quick look at this week's line-up, starting with performances in the Miner Auditorium.

From June 11 to 14, Juan de Marcos & the Afro-Cuban All Stars present Buena Vista Social Club Revisited. Founder of the original Buena Vista Social Club, tres master de Marcos created the Afro-Cuban All Stars to showcase Cuba’s most impressive young musicians - exponents of classic Cuban styles and contemporary dance rhythms, creating, he says, “.... a bridge between contemporary and traditional Cuban music”. More details on the SFJAZZ website.

Dianne Reeves celebrates the release of her album, Beautiful Life, in a one-night, members-only performance on June 15. Described as “a glorious singer with a sumptuous sound”, this four-time Grammy winner presents a session which combines R&B, Latin jazz and pop. More information on the SFJAZZ website.

The Joe Henderson Lab is likely to be packed for the duration of the week as well. First off is the Jeff Ballard Trio on June 11 - "The most exciting trio to emerge in recent memory," says All About Jazz - featuring Jeff Ballard on percussion and drums, guitarist and vocalist Lionel Loueke, and alto saxonophonist Miguel Zenón. Find out more on the SFJAZZ website.

Aldo López-Gavilán, the Havana-born pianist and composer, is renowned for his mastery of both Afro-Cuban jazz and the classical repertoire. Described by The Times in London as “a formidable virtuoso”, he makes two Festival appearances - on June 12 and 13 - further details available via this link.

In the first of two sets of Saturday Micro Concerts, Jacob Nissly takes the stage on the afternoon of June 14 for an exciting performance of solo percussion music. Currently Principal Percussionist for the San Francisco Symphony, Nissly has also appeared with the Detroit, New World and Chicago Symphonies, and the St Paul Chamber Orchestra. Find out more on the SFJAZZ website.

In an evening performance on June 14, Latin singer, songwriter and guitarist Diana Gameros presents her songs of love, longing and hope. With her “soaring vocals, impressive musicianship and captivating stage presence”, she’s accompanied by Patrick Wolff on tenor sax and clarinet, bassist Thomas Edler, and Hamir Atwal on drums. Follow this link for more details.

Sheldon Brown, Bay Area saxophonist and composer, presents the world premiere of his new work, Blood of the Air, on June 15. Based on the work of San Francisco surrealist poet, Philip Lamantia, it features recordings of the poet reading his own work, readings by poet Andrew Joron, and interpretations of Lamantia’s speech melodies by vocalist Lorin Benedict. Further details to be found on this page of the SFJAZZ website.

Also on June 15, Adam Theis - multi-instrumentalist bandleader/composer/producer, and founder of Jazz Mafia - presents Solo Sacred Space at the Church of the Advent. This unique event features what's described as “startling new ways” of using brass, bass and electronics. Find out more on the SFJAZZ website.

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