Once lumped in with buddy Wynton Marsalis and other neo-traditionalists, Terence Blanchard has gone on over the past few decades to establish a strong identity all his own. As a performer, the trumpeter remains a master of refined technique, most notably his ability to subtly shape sustained notes. As a composer, few of his generation can match him for grace or versatility, as evidenced in works ranging from the soundtrack for the New Orleans lament "A Take of God's Will" to the fusion-y excursions on his new CD, "Magnetic." As a utility player, he's without peer, enriching the sound of artists from Stevie Wonder to Art Blakey.
Blanchard recruited a couple of big-name, big-talent friends -- saxophonist Ravi Coltrane and guitarist Lionel Loueke -- for "Magnetic," and they'll be joining him for four nights of performances this week as the SFJAZZ Center kicks off its second season. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday, with tickets from $25 to $60.
Also worth noting on the Bay Area jazz scene this week:
- High-octane singer Claudia Villela casts a Brazilian spell, 8 p.m. Monday at Yoshi's Oakland. $19
- Saxophonist and Miles Davis protege Bill Evans gets his ya-yas out with jam band hero Steve Kimock in Soulgrass, performing 8 and 10 p.m. Friday at Yoshi's Oakland. $19-$25
- Brazilian guitarist Ricardo Peixoto weaves tropical magic, 8 p.m. Saturday at Berkeley's Jazzschool. $12-$15
- Bassist/composer/hardest working man in show business Marcus Shelby premieres yet another sweeping and intelligent extended work -- "Blues and the Pursuit of Freedom," a meditation on the role of blues in the civil rights movements -- with a 15-piece orchestra in a free performance 1 p.m. Saturday at Yerba Buena Gardens.
- Sax men Tony Exum, Jr., and Dee Lucas play funky favorites by Art Porter and George Howard, 7 p.m. Sunday at Yoshi's San Francisco. $21-$25
- Consummate piano pro Dick Hindman and his trio make the standards sing, 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Berkeley's Jazzschool. $12-$15
- Live-wire young saxophonist Grace Kelly performs with her quintet, 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society near Half Moon Bay. $35
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