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Blue Sky Notes 

Free Outdoor Music!

Wednesday, May 3 2000
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The prospect of free outdoor summer concerts in San Francisco conjures an image of fog-swept and chilly Sunday afternoons huddled among the masses in Stern Grove. With that in mind, perhaps, the organizers of Saturday's "Mother Jones/Blue Note Jazz San Francisco" outdoor concert in Yerba Buena Gardens cherish the advantage of the pre-summer weather and SOMA's sunnier microclimate.

Vibraphonist Stefon Harris arrives with a catalog of compositions that mine the African, Latin, and Caribbean rhythms of warmer places. Recruited by one-time Berkeley resident Charlie Hunter (who also plays today) for Hunter's Return of the Candyman project, Harris has been making steady inroads as one of jazz's young lions. His 1998 debut album A Cloud of Red Dust revealed both his classical training and his talents as a composer and performer. Last year's Black Action Figure begins with some of the same straight-ahead chops, then veers into slower, more soberly textured pieces. Already earning comparison to legendary vibes players like Lionel Hampton and Bobby Hutcherson, Harris is well on his way to earning his own niche in the jazz pantheon.

Also infrequently seen on the local landscape, Chicago singer/songwriter/pianist Patricia Barber brings her jazz-steeped postmodern brew to the table. A regular fixture in Chi-town's Green Mill club, Barber borrowed the venue's intimate atmosphere for 1999's live Companion, an album that showcases Barber in all her forms, from rocking bop epics to B-3 organ interludes to soulful pop covers (Sonny & Cher's "The Beat Goes On" and Santana's "Black Magic Woman" among them). Barber's voice lies somewhere between Joni Mitchell and Cowboy Junkies' Margo Timmins, even as she conjures sounds of jazz singers of old.

Rounding out the lineup is local avant-jazz group Tin Hat Trio. The concert is Saturday from 12:30 to 5 p.m. at Yerba Buena Gardens, Third & Mission streets, S.F. Admission is free; call Mother Jones at 665-6637.

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Todd Dayton

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