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While the Bay Area was dealing with a rainy season that wouldn't end, the loss of a major jazz club in Pearl's, and a mass of anti-war protests, anti-anti-war protests, and protests against all the protesting, the jazz festival season sprang upon us like a startled cat. Here's a very brief look at the first wave of events, taking place between RIGHT NOW and early June...
SFJAZZ SPRING SEASON Now through June 13, San Francisco
Since kicking off in March, the SFJAZZ Spring Season has already presented Joshua Redman, Eddie Palmieri, Charlie Haden, Randy Weston, and Kenny Burrell at some of the city's finest concert halls. But there's much more to come.
Jason Moran and The Bad Plus will bring a taste of New York to Herbst Theatre on May 23, followed by Mark O'Connor's Hot Swing Trio in the same room on the following night. Martial Solal rounds out the weekend, appearing on a double-bill of French artists with the Moutin Reunion Quartet. On May 30, bassist Haden returns in a duet with guitarist Jim Hall at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
Haden makes yet another appearance on June 6, this time backing up a "Redman Reunion" of father Dewey and son Joshua that promises to blow the roof off of Herbst Theatre. The season wraps up on June 13 with a Masonic Auditorium performance by the mighty Dave Brubeck.
Also look for Brazilian great João Gilberto in two special summer shows at Masonic Auditorium on July 25 & 26.
SACRAMENTO JAZZ JUBILEE May 23-26, Sacramento
This 30th annual Memorial Day weekend event will take over Old Town Sacramento with well over 100 traditional, Dixieland, and swing bands scheduled for over 40 separate venues. Headliners include Pete Barbutti, Johnny Varro, The Jim Cullum Jazz Band, and Howard Alden's East Coast All-Stars. Also look for school and youth bands, barbershop quartets, and guests from across the U.S. and Europe.
KCSM'S JAZZ ON THE HILL June 7-8, San Mateo
The Bay Area's jazz radio station hosts this free annual event, with two stages set up on the College of San Mateo campus. Fans of modern jazz and blues alike will find good music here, with a lineup featuring Eric Alexander, Billy Childs, Lynne Arriale, and such local favorites as Bruce Forman, Jesus Diaz, and the Big Belly Blues Band. The music begins at 11:30 each day; get there early and don't forget your sunscreen.
HEALDSBURG JAZZ FESTIVAL June 1-8, Healdsburg
A trip to the wine country will reward intrepid jazz fans, as concerts on eight consecutive evenings bring Joe Lovano, Bobby Hutcherson, Abbey Lincoln, Ray Drummond, Mary Stallings, Khalil Shaheed and others to a series of venues in and around Healdsburg. A gala event on June 5 will benefit local jazz education efforts. This is the festival's fifth annual presentation, sponsored by the Healdsburg Arts Council.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.