Sunday, February 22, 2009

Club Deluxe (2009)

The missus and I stepped out last night for a drink or two and some offline social networking. Posed with the challenge of what to do with a Saturday night in San Francisco, I hit my usual web resources and saw that a friend was scheduled to play the Club Deluxe on Haight Street. I have performed at the small bar/nightclub off and on for the past 10 years or so, often holding down a residency gig there. It hasn't changed...much. Well to be fair (and to reveal one of it's more appealing attributes), Club Deluxe seemingly hasn't changed since it was opened in 1949. I first visited the club in early 1992 to see the Royal Crown Revue in one of their earliest San Francisco performances and it was my first introduction to "swank".

Well, the Deluxe is still swinging. The last couple of times I have been in the club I have spoken with it's owner who tells me crowds are good and steady these days. Live music (mostly jazz, mostly straight-ahead) is fairly consistent Thursday through Sunday nights and because of the the closure of several other notable jazz venues in the City you are just as likely to hear some local "A Listers" as you are to hear anyone else.

Spending a couple of hours there last night reminded me why I have frequented this bar for so long as well as keep returning to perform there, the latter of which I plan to do so again soon.

Now about those WPA-style murals on the walls...oh OK, another post for another time...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Hank Jones (2009)

I found the perfect tonic for the sadness of the recent passing of so many great artists: I got out and saw a living legend! Jazz pianist Hank Jones has been performing since the mid-1940s alongside so many other greats of the Modern Jazz Era. In addition to early stints with Jazz at the Philharmonic and associations with both Charlie Parker and Ella Fitzgerald, Jones held down something of "house pianist" chair at Savoy Records in the 1950s, while at the same time maintaining a staff job at CBS. Needless to say, he is on more great records than one can almost imagine (take a look through your stack to see for yourself).

Last week Jones showed himself to be the consummate trio pianist of that era, but in no way tied down by history. I am still savoring what he offered musical and to see him perform alongside Jon Clayton and Clayton Cameron was a rare treat. New Yorkers should be sure to keep their eyes on the Iridium calendar as he performer there March 11-15 with another top-notch group.

Here's a clip of a nice, intimate portrait of Jones taking about his early days and "bebop"...