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SFJAZZ offers some intriguing approaches to programming for 2014–15

A view of the Robert N. Miner Auditorium from the upper balcony
A view of the Robert N. Miner Auditorium from the upper balconyby Henrik Kam, courtesy of SFJAZZ

This morning Randall Kline, Founder and Executive Artistic Director of SFJAZZ, announced the full schedule of programs for the 2014–15 season at the SFJAZZ Center. The season will run from September 11 to May 31. Every season Kline finds the time to fit into his schedule a few events that some would call “boundary-crossing” and I prefer to call “chamber music by other means.” Since a Web page has now been created for the full schedule of the 2014–15 season, I wish to use this article to single out a few of those events that may attract and sustain the attention of those who take their classical music listening seriously.

Ironically, the first set of those events comes at the very beginning of the season. Brazilian-born pianist and singer Eliane Elias will give a series of four different concerts under the general title Bebop to Bossa Nova. Taken together these performances will survey the different influences under which Elias has formed her own distinctive style, leading to a diversity of recording projects including one particularly adventurous undertaking with her husband, bassist Marc Johnson, on ECM. The specific concerts are as follows:

  • Thursday, September 11, 7:30 p.m.: Tenor saxophonist Harry Allen will join Elias for a salute to the songs on the Getz/Gilberto album.
  • Friday, September 12, 7:30 p.m.: Trumpeter Ingrid Jensen will join Elias and her trio partners, Johnson and drummer Joe LaBarbera, for material based on her album I Thought About You (A Tribute to Chet Baker).
  • Saturday, September 13, 7:30 p.m.: Elias will celebrate the centennial birthday of Brazilian composer Dorival Caymmi with guitarist Romero Lubambo and percussionist Marivaldo Dos Santos.
  • Sunday, September 14, 7 p.m.: The Elias trio will perform a tribute to Bill Evans.

For those more interested in “real” chamber music, the Calder Quartet will visit the SFJAZZ to perform the complete string quartets of Béla Bartók over the course of three concerts. For this project they will be joined by two guest artists, the Czech avant-garde violinist Iva Bittová and jazz bassist Christian McBride. All three concerts will take place at 7:30 p.m. on the following dates:

  • Wednesday, September 24: Quartets 1 and 4 with McBride
  • Sunday, October 5: Quartets 2 and 3 with Bittová
  • Tuesday, November 11: Quartets 5 and 6

December will be a particularly historic month in the jazz calendar. John Coltrane recorded A Love Supreme with his quartet (Jimmy Garrison on bass, McCoy Tyner on piano, and Elvin Jones on drums) on December 9, 1964. Coltrane’s son Ravi, also a saxophonist, will curate a special series of events, including both concerts and a symposium, to honor this anniversary. This will include two full performances of A Love Supreme in two different settings. Both concerts will take place at 7:30 p.m. as follows:

  • Friday, December 12: A new quartet led by Ravi will perform with the Turtle Island String Quartet, currently consisting of veterans David Balakrishnan and Mark Summer and newcomers Mateusz Smoczynki and Benjamin von Gutzeit.
  • Saturday, December 13: Coltrane will assemble a far more diverse group of musical luminaries for a more explosive tribute to his father’s classic.

Back in the days before the SFJAZZ Center, SFJAZZ arranged a special series of concerts in celebration of the ECM recording label for its Spring Season 2010. That celebration will be revived, this time with four concerts in the SFJAZZ Center. Specifics are as follows:

  • Thursday, March 26, 7:30 p.m.: Saxophonist Chris Potter will perform with an expanded version of his Underground band augmented by a string quartet.
  • Friday, March 27, 7:30 p.m.: Vijay Iyer will perform with his trio of Stephan Crump on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums.
  • Saturday, March 28, 7:30 p.m.: Egberto Gismonti will give a solo concert alternating between guitar and piano.
  • Sunday, March 29, 7 p.m.: Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stańko will be the one artist who had appeared in the 2010 ECM series; he will be joined this time by David Virelles on piano, Reuben Rogers on bass, and Gerald Cleaver on drums.

Finally, wind player Charles Lloyd (who is also an ECM artist) will return for a series of four concerts that will continue several of the paths along which he is currently advancing:

  • Thursday, April 23, and Friday, April 24, 7:30 p.m.: These will be the United States premiere performances of Wild Man Suite. The movements of this suite amount to a continuation of the collaborative effort behind the concerts he gave at the Herod Atticus Odeon in Athens in June of 2010. Lloyd and the members of his New Quartet (Jason Moran on piano, Reuben Rogers on bass, and Eric Harland on drums) will be joined by Socratis Sinopoulos on lyra (who had played with him in Athens) and Miklos Lukacs on cimbalom.
  • Saturday, April 25, 7:30 p.m.: This will be just the Charles Lloyd New Quartet.
  • Sunday, April 26, 7 p.m.: All of the Wild Man Dance Suite musicians will be joined by guitarist Bill Frisell.

All of the above concerts will take place in the Robert N. Miner Auditorium, the major venue for SFJAZZ Center events. However, there will also be several events of equal interest taking place in the more intimate space of the Joe Henderson Lab. Many of these involve recognition of historical events and/or recordings. The following should be of particular interest:

  • Pianist Eric Reed has prepared a program organized around the tracks on Thelonious Monk Trio, Monk’s first album with Prestige, which he recorded with Gary Mapp on bass and different drummers on the two recording dates, Art Blakey (October 15, 1952) and Max Roach (December 18, 1952). Reed will give four performances. The first two will be at 8 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 9. The other two will take place on Friday, October 10, which would have been Monk’s 97th birthday, at 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
  • Pianist Adam Shulman, who gave the final Salon concert for San Francisco Performances last April, will present a similar “album concert,” this one based on the famous (some would say notorious) Blue Note album that bassist Charles Mingus arranged with pianist Duke Ellington and drummer Max Roach, Money Jungle; this will be given two performances on Thursday, January 8, ay 8 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
  • As part of a residency at the Joe Henderson Lab, Jazz Mafia pioneer Adam Theis will present the Ah Um Project, based on Mingus’ Ah Um album on Columbia, on Sunday, March 8, at 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.
  • The following week the Joe Henderson Lab will host a Miles Smiles Hotplate Festival. There will be four programs, each of which will honor one of the musicians on the Miles Smiles album: trumpeter Miles Davis, pianist Herbie Hancock, saxophonist Wayne Shorter, and drummer Tony Williams. (Only bassist Ron Carter will be neglected.) Two of these will be based on specific albums. Pianist Matt Clark will perform selections from Miles Smiles on Thursday, March 12, at 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. The series will then conclude with organist Wil Blades playing selections from Williams’ Emergency album.

Finally, SFJAZZ will host six free concerts as the season just begins to get under way. These will all take place on Wednesdays at noon at Levi’s Plaza, located at 1155 Battery Street, just off the Embarcadero. Specific performers will be as follows:

  • September 3: Mo ’Fone
  • September 10: Henry Hung Trio
  • September 17: Le Jazz Hot
  • September 24: Terry Disley
  • October 1: Ron Thompson and the Resisters
  • October 8: Beso Negro

Tickets are currently on sale only for SFJAZZ members. Tickets for the general public will go on sale on Wednesday, July 23. Tickets may be purchased on a concert-by-concert basis through hyperlinks on the 2014–15 Season Calendar Web page. The SFJAZZ Box Office is located in the lobby of the SFJAZZ Center at 201 Franklin Street on the northwest corner of Fell Street. The Box Office is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. It is also open 90 minutes prior to all shows. The Box Office telephone number for members is 415-788-7353. The telephone number for the general public is 866-920-5299.