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Almost as good as being there

Michael Warren on electric guitar
Michael Warren on electric guitar
Photo: Jessica Levant

Immortalizing our local musicians

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The next time you go out to hear live music, there's something you should bring along: photographer Jessica Levant's “San Francisco Bay Area Jazz & Blusicians.” Jessica has done her homework like a student who loves the class, and her shots, taken on-site in local clubs, have a sense of immediacy that shines through on every page.

Since we're far from New York and New Orleans, it's easy to forget that we've got pro's here in the Bay Area who've played with the best – and are still playing with them when they come to town. Pick a name – Ella Fitzgerald, Katy Webster, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Boz Skaggs – and you'll find sidemen here. Pick a club – The Saloon in North Beach, Bop City, Keystone Korner, not to mention the Bay View Boat Club and the 7-Mile House – and you'll run into some regulars who have their own page in the book.

“Jazz & Blusicians” is somewhat oriented toward jazz players, but there are plenty of local blues stalwarts like Alvon Johnson, Bobby Webb and Carl Greene here – and most of the jazz players can undoubtedly hold their own in all sorts of styles. Some of my personal favorites, such as Jules Broussard and Nancy Wright, you're as likely to see at Biscuits & Blues as at Yoshi's.

In Bobby Bland's immortal words, Jessica knows the high-class joints, and she knows the low-class joints. She even knows the honky-tonks. And she's met the musicians. Fortunately for us, she brought her camera along.

“San Francisco Bay Area Jazz & Blusicians”
Jessica Levant
Available online at http://bayareajazzandbluesicians.com/
And at Bird & Beckett Books & Records, 653 Chenery Street, San Francisco