Museum-Quality Jazz

The de Young Museum launches its 2008 Cultural Encounters: Friday Nights at the de Young program in style, teaming up with Intersection for the Arts to present an ambitious showcase for eight commissioned compositions from an impressive range of local jazz band leaders. First appearing last fall in an exemplary concert series in the museum's Sculpture Garden, the featured players include veteran composer-improvisers (African percussionist Babatunde Lea, avant-garde clarinetist Ben Goldberg), next-generation visionaries (Ellington-steeped bassist Marcus Shelby, virtuosic multi-instrumentalist Mitch Marcus), a distinguished youth educator (trombonist Angela Wellman), and buzz-worthy up-and-comers (trumpeter Erik Jekabson and saxophonists Howard Wiley and Kasey Knudsen). This jumbo variety-style program is notable not only for the breadth of its musical content, but for bridging communities across all lines: age, race, gender, cultural affiliation, and even class (the show is free). The new scores, inspired by artworks in the museum's permanent collection (and one piece from a traveling exhibit), run the gamut. Jekabson and his mood-rich “West Coast” Quartet + Strings channels the energy of Cornelia Parker's Anti-Mass, a large-scale installation culled from the charred remains of a church felled by an arsonist. Wiley brings his deep-soul Afrocentric grooves to Cotton Picker, a somber portrait by Robert Gwathmey. And Goldberg bends his melodic abstractions to match the vibrant color and off-kilter perspective of Marsden Hartley's A Bermuda Window in a Semi-Tropic Character. Cultural Encounters affirms the cross-pollinating nature of local jazz.
Fridays, 6:30 p.m., 2008

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