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Two SFS Principals will perform in the 32nd Annual San Francisco Jazz Festival

Percussionist Jacob Nissley
Percussionist Jacob Nissleycourtesy of SFJAZZ

The 32nd Annual San Francisco Jazz Festival, organized every year by SFJAZZ, will take place next month between June 11 and June 22. All events will take place at the SFJAZZ Center, utilizing both the Miner Auditorium and the Joe Henderson Lab, with the exception of the two Sacred Space concerts, which will be held almost directly across the street at the Church of the Advent of Christ the King. In keeping with my ongoing conviction that jazz is “chamber music by other means,” this year’s Festival will feature solo performances by two of the section leaders of the San Francisco Symphony (SFS), Principal Percussionist Jacob Nissly and Principal Bass Scott Pingel. Each of them has prepared a 30-minute solo concert, which will be given three performances on a Saturday afternoon.

Nissly has prepared a program of four compositions. He will begin with “In a Landscape,” a piano solo that John Cage composed in 1948 for a dance by Louise Lippold, while he will play as a marimba solo. This will be followed by the second movement from “Reflections on the Nature of Water,” another composition for solo marimba, this time by Jacob Druckman. His next piece will be “Three Tambourines” (whose instrumentation should be obvious) by Rupert Kettle, whose background includes both classical and jazz and who studied privately with Cage. This piece will involve improvisation. He will then conclude with the “B” section of Iannis Xenakis’ “Rebonds” for solo percussion. Due to the unfamiliarity of most (all?) of this repertoire, Nissly is planning to talk a bit about the background of each of these pieces.

Pingel will also offer a program of composed works and improvisation. He will conclude with his own “Sebbi by Starlight,” which he describes as “a Bachian Fantasy” based on “Stella by Starlight,” which will involve improvisation. His program will open with “Motivy” by the Bulgarian Emil Tabakov, himself a bass player as well as a composer and a conductor. This will be followed by “Invocation” by the Czech composer Miroslav Gajdos. Before playing his own composition, Pingel will play music written for him by Mark Volkert, SFS Assistant Concertmaster. This will be “All her people sigh,” a movement from a larger work based on the first chapter from the Old Testament Book of Lamentations.

The three performances of these “micro-concerts” will take place at 3 p.m., 4 p.m., and 5 p.m. Nissly will perform on Saturday, June 14; and Pingel will perform a week later on Saturday, June 21. All performances will take place in the Joe Henderson Lab of the SFJAZZ Center at 201 Franklin Street, on the northwest corner of Fell Street. All tickets are $10. They are available online through the above hyperlinks attached to the performers’ names.