November’s Best Jazz and Beyond Around the Bay Area

Andrew Gilbert on November 1, 2018
Chase Jackson plays the Black Cat Nov. 23–25 | Credit: Chase Jackson

As our designated season for gratitude and thankfulness, November offers a smorgasbord of sounds from around the world, providing a welcome reminder that beauty and humanity persist, even in the most trying times.

Vadalma | Nov. 10

San Francisco vocalist and song sleuth Zina Bozzay is positively evangelical when it comes to spreading Hungarian culture, and spending a little time with her trio Vadalma is likely to make you a believer. Performing her original arrangements of haunting village folk songs gleaned from Transylvania, Moldva, Transdanubia, and other Carpathian basin territories, Vadalma (which means wild apple) features violinist Matthew Szemela and cellist Misha Khalikulov (who also perform with Rupa and the April Fishes). The Ashkenaz concert celebrating the release the trio’s debut album Music of Elderflowers comes at the end of a series of Hungarian folk arts workshops. The klezmer power trio Veretski Pass, which focuses on music from the Carpathian Mountains, performs a set after Vadalma (which also plays a house concert in Santa Cruz on Nov. 8).  

Geoffrey Keezer Trio with Gillian Margot | Nov. 16

One of the most celebrated pianists of his generation, Geoffrey Keezer first gained attention as a teenager with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, though he’s been keeping a relatively low profile since settling in San Diego about a decade ago. These days he spends much of his time working as a composer, and usually performs in the Bay Area working as an accompanist for masterly jazz vocalists such as Dianne Reeves, Denise Donatelli, and Oakland’s Kenny Washington. Keezer returns to the California Jazz Conservatory on Nov. 16 celebrating the release of his first album in five years, the trio session On My Way to You. For his Berkeley date he performs with the ace Bay Area rhythm section tandem of bassist Dan Feiszli and drummer Alan Hall, and his wife, the exceptional vocalist Gillian Margot (Keezer returns to the Bay Area March 15 for a piano duo show with Taylor Eigsti and Piedmont Piano, and March 17 at SFJAZZ with the Tenor Summit featuring Joe Lovano, Joshua Redman, and Ravi Coltrane.

Matt Small’s Crushing Spiral Ensemble | Nov. 17

Matt Small's Crushing Spiral | Credit: Noah Berger

Back around the turn of the century, bassist/composer Matt Small’s Crushing Spiral Ensemble was one of the most exciting group’s in the Bay Area navigating rambunctious improvisation and detailed, highly kinetic through-composed passages. In recent years he’s been concentrating on other projects, particularly various commissions, making this rare Crushing performance particularly welcome. Focusing on new music at the ODC Theater in the Mission District, the band features a roster of heavyweights, including ROVA saxophonist Steve Adams, multireed expert Sheldon Brown, trumpeter Chris Grady, pianist/keyboardist Steve Blum, and drummer Michael Pinkham.

Denise Perrier Fundraiser | Nov. 18

Championed early in her career by Louis Armstrong, Denise Perrier spent her early decades performing abroad. A sultry jazz vocalist and accomplished blues singer, she’s a beloved figure on the Bay Area music scene, where her impeccable taste and easy-going good humor serve as a model for younger vocalists. While she’s in recovery from recent open-heart surgery, the music community is rallying to her aid, and this Nov. 18 fundraiser at San Francisco’s Royal Cuckoo Organ Lounge features a brilliant array of Perrier’s peers, including vocalists Kim Nalley, Lavay Smith, Rhonda Benin, Pamela Rose, Marina Crouse, Reneé Wilson, Derek Lassiter, and Liza Silva, pianists Tammy Hall and Chris Siebert, guitarist Pat Wilder, and drummer Daria Johnson.

Chase Jackson Trio and Groove Collective | Nov. 23–25

Berkeley-reared vibraphonist/composer Chase Jackson lives in Los Angeles, but you wouldn’t guess that by his itinerary. For the past few years he’s been a mainstay at the Black Cat, checking in regularly for the kind of multinight runs available at precious few other venues. A gifted composer and melodically inventive improvisor, he’s doing double duty during this engagement at the swanky Tenderloin nightspot, opening with his trio featuring bassist Owen Clapp and drummer Isaac Schwartz, and following with his Groove Collective, which adds alto saxophonist John Palowitch, pianist/keyboardist Ian McArdle, and various special guests into the mix.  

Erik Deutsch | Nov. 30

Erik Deutsch

Coming of age on the Boulder, Colorado music scene, pianist Erik Deutsch found an ideal mentor in the inveterately inventive pianist Art Lande. Based in Brooklyn since 2005, he’s a highly versatile player who spends a good deal of every year on the road with the jam band Leftover Salmon. He’s also collaborated extensively with country artist Shooter Jennings. On his own, Deutsch is a tuneful composer with a knack for writing catchy melodies set to sinewy grooves. He celebrates the release of his new album Falling Flowers at Oakland’s Piedmont Piano with a nonpareil California cast including violinist Jenny Scheinman, bassist Marcus Shelby, drummer Scott Amendola, and Brooklyn vocalist Victoria Reed.

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