Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Legends in Our Midst

Last night's intimate master class for our SFJAZZ High School All-Stars with legendary pianist/composer and bandleader Chucho Valdés gave participants a glimpse at the magnitude of his artistic trajectory, not to mention the amazing personal stories and influences that shaped his five decade-long career. After witnessing another magnificent concert Monday night by his Afro Cuban Messengers, I had the great honor once again to sit down with the Maestro and share with our audience his extraordinary wealth of knowledge on all things Cuban jazz.

Imagine sitting in your living room discussing jazz history with someone of the caliber of Monk or Miles - this is on par with what Chucho represents to the Cuban music and Latin jazz worlds. A consummate musician, prolific composer/arranger and advocate for the preservation of jazz performance and education in Cuba - despite years of roadblocks and political wrangling - Valdés epitomizes the wealth of Cuban culture across the generations, and is one of the most commanding and virtuosic pianists of any era. We were fortunate to have him back in the Bay Area for two sold-out performances and several educational opportunities, and I relish the chance to welcome him back soon!

And now on to yet another genius, and one more opportunity for SFJAZZ audiences to get up close and personal with a young lion in our midst: the extraordinary drummer/composer Eric Harland, who will close out our fabulous Discover Jazz series at the Jewish Community Center tomorrow night, Thursday February 23 from 7-9pm. For those of you in the know, Harland is a member of an extraordinary lineage of musicians to emerge from the Houston High School for the Visual and Performing Arts and has graced the SFJAZZ Collective in addition to working with a Who's Who of jazz greats. Participants at Discover Jazz are treated to live performance along with lecture, multi-media presentation and Q&A, so don't miss this rare opportunity to experience Eric Harland in person this Thursday!
-- Rebeca

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