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Best Night of Jazz San Francisco 2002 - Monday, Jazz at Pearl's

The hot and cool sounds that once kept North Beach and its Beatnik brethren bopping are practically nonexistent these days, but Pearl's is keeping the tradition alive with its regular schedule of live and lively jazz. On Monday nights at 8 p.m. the 19-piece Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, the only bebop big band in San Francisco, takes the stage and for the next six hours treats its lucky audience to the blissful sounds of classic, swingin', Diz-era jazz. Alex Budman leads the group, singers Duane Lawrence and Kim Nalley contribute a vocal now and then, and the admission -- no cover, two-drink minimum -- is a pittance. Pearl's, run by nightclub vet Pearl Wong and drummer Sonny Buxton, is creamy and elegant and steeped in the traditions of jazz, offering such apropos cocktails as the Manteca, the Lush Life, and the Harlem Nocturne along with egg rolls, fried chicken, burgers, and ribs.

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