Jazz programmers love to pay homage to the music's golden past, a tendency that, if indulged too much or unwisely, can turn events into more museum pieces than concerts.
One way to keep the "tribute to" format fresh is to recruit young, sassy players whose style draws on modern influences as well as the jazz canon. That's what SFJAZZ has been doing for years with its Hotplate! series pairing up-and-coming players with the repertoire of one of their prime influences.
After a grand run at Valencia Street's Amnesia, the series moves into the new SFJAZZ Center this week with a quartet of shows in the intimate Joe Henderson Lab. Mitch Marcus starts off Thursday giving props to the new space's namesake, sax legend and Bay Area treasure Joe Henderson. Josh Jones steps in Friday to work with the tunes of Latin jazz giant Ray Barretto, while hot-cha singer Tiffany Austin channels Ella Fitzgerald on Saturday. Mile Olmos rounds it out Sunday with the tunes of Freddie Hubbard, the greatest of the post-bop trumpeters cursed to labor in Miles' shadow. Sets are at 7, 9 and 10:30 p.m. each night, and tickets are $10.
Also worth noting on the Bay Area jazz scene this week:
- Speaking of tributes, spunky New Orleans vocalist Renee Wilson assays tunes associated with the great Lena Horne, backed by the Marcus Shelby Trio, 8 p.m. Tuesday at Yoshi's San Francisco. $22
- Brick and Mortar Music Hall celebrates Mardis Gras on Tuesday with a 5:30 p.m. street parade featuring top Bay Area marching bands, followed by a 7:30 p.m. indoor throwdown featuring the Brass Mafia. $10-$15
- Vocalist Stephanie Bruce concentrates on her own multi-layered compositions for an 8 p.m. Saturday show at Berkeley's Jazzschool. $12-$15
- Vocal quartet Manhattan Transfer, keeping the grand art of vocalese alive and swinging, brings sweet harmony to Yoshi's Oakland for shows at 8 and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 6 and 8 p.m. Sunday. $35-$45
- The Dirty Dozen Brass Band reminds everyone it's Mardis Gras Time with stompin' New Orleans street music, 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Independent. $20-$22
- Hard-charging saxophonist Howard Wiley has his way with the music of Thelonious Monk, 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Berkeley's Jazzschool. $12-$15
- High-energy vocalist Ellen Robinson and her band, featuring sax ace Dave Ellis, swing it 8 p.m. Saturday at Oakland's Sound Room. $20
- East Bay vocalist Ed Reed, whose dusky tone belies solid blues roots and a lot of living, sings Nat "King" Cole tunes, backed by a quartet of A-list Bay Area instrumentalists, 3 p.m. Sunday at Piedmont Piano Company in Oakland. $20
- Bay Area musicians, including top players from the Brubeck Institute, pitch in to help saxophone wonder and educator Dayna Stephens pay the bills from dealing with a rare kidney disease. Phenomenal young pianist Taylor Eigsti and powerhouse drummer Eric Harland join Stephens for the 6:30 p.m. Sunday show at Piedmont Piano Company in Oakland. $25
- Tierney Sutton, a vocalist of remarkable depth and uncommon musicianship, teams up with pianist Mitchel Forman and bassist Kevin Axt for a 4:30 p.m. Sunday show at Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society near Half Moon Bay. $35
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