SFJAZZ winds up its Summer Sessions this week with an eclectic set of concerts, over four nights, staged by a group which goes by the name of UnderCover Presents. This collective – which has been in existence since 2010 – hit upon the brilliant idea of bringing together musicians from all round the Bay Area to “celebrate the influence of classic albums”, as they describe it.
The aim is to present a series of performances, each one featuring the music of a legendary artist, with each number being performed by a different band. The bands are given free rein to put their own interpretation, sound or personality on the song that they’ve chosen, resulting in a series of concerts reflecting the wide range of musical genres that abound in the Bay Area. It’s a fascinating concept.
The first of the performances takes place on Thursday, with The Music of Ray Charles, the legend known as the “Genius of Soul” who made such a huge contribution to American music in over 50 years of writing, performing and recording. Featuring KATDELIC (with Ronkat Spearman, former member of Parliament Funkadelic), Bang Data and Cosa Nostra Strings (with Trance Thompson, The Dynamic Miss Faye Carol, and Noah Kibreab and the Arkiteks), Charles’ songs will be reinterpreted in styles such as funk, cumbia, hip-hop and acoustic chamber music.
For more information and tickets, visit the SFJAZZ website.
Friday features the music of singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger and civil rights activist Nina Simone. With songs from over 40 albums to choose from, curating this selection will have been quite the task, nevertheless what seems like the impossible has been achieved, and the carefully selected numbers will be presented by Jazz Mafia’s experimental Realistic Orchestra, by MoeTar, Zakiya Harris and Sólás Burke-Lalgee of the Afro-eclectic soul ensemble Elephantine, and by Vocal Rush, the a capella group of Oakland School for the Arts.
This performance is sold out, but it’ll be worth checking for returns on the day – see the SFJAZZ website.
Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew is the album selected for Saturday evening. Influenced by rock, with electric instrumentation and advanced production techniques, this recording was ”thought by many to be among the most revolutionary albums in jazz history”, according to AllMusic, and is credited with launching an age of experimentation in jazz. At their SFJAZZ performance, Broun Fellinis, PC Muñoz, Kev Choice, and Alligator Spacewalk will present their reworked versions of the original recordings, each group re-imagining one side of this double-disk album.
Tickets and further details can be found on the SFJAZZ website.
Sunday sees Kid Beyond, Kendra McKinley, The Stone Foxes and Mino Yanci (with Vadia Rhodes) pay tribute to the four musicians who founded the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama in the 1960s. Known affectionately as The Swampers, this group was formally known as the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, who developed their own Muscle Shoals sound, adapting it to fit the massive number of recordings made at the Studio – the music of artists such as Aretha Franklin, the Rolling Stones, Wilson Pickett and Clarence Carter, among many more.
To find out more about the Music of Muscle Shoals, and for tickets, visit the SFJAZZ website.
All four of these concerts take place in the Miner Auditorium at SFJAZZ, between August 17 and 20.
SFJAZZ program notes