Stellar line-up for SFJAZZ ‘Fridays at Five’ October broadcasts

The SFJAZZ Fridays at Five online sessions are proving hugely popular for jazz enthusiasts to share their love of the music, virtually bringing them to San Francisco from around the world, to enjoy an hour of stellar performances each week, to ‘meet’ the musicians, and also to support musicians in need.

During the month of October SFJAZZ will stream five concerts – each recorded during an actual performance at the JAZZ Center in San Francisco – featuring stars such as Bobi Céspedes with John Santos, Joanne Brackeen, Kris Davis and Helen Sung, Mary Stallings with the Bill Charlap Trio, the Taj Mahal Quartet and Lila Downs.

Bay Area vocalist, composer, band leader and educator, Bobi Céspedes, has been a leading figure in Cuban music both at home and internationally for the past 40 years. In June 2019 she presented a program of new songs in a world premiere staged at the JAZZ Center, joined by guest percussionist John Santos. This concert, to be streamed in Fridays at Five on October 2nd, celebrates both Céspedes’ new material, and her quarter-century collaboration with Santos.

Three jazz pianists joined forces at SFJAZZ in October 2018 to celebrate what would have been Thelonius Monk’s 101st birthday. NEA Jazz Master Joanne Brackeen, Kris Davis and Helen Sung represented two generations of piano virtuosity, honoring this celebrated artist and his substantial legacy of enduring compositions.

Joanne Brackeen – the recipient of numerous honors from educational institutions such as the Berklee College of Music and the International Association for Jazz Education – was the first and only female member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in 1969, and also appeared extensively with Joe Henderson and the Stan Getz Quartet.

Kris Davis, Downbeat magazine’s 2017 Rising Star Pianist, and 2018 Rising Star Artist, continued in winning vein last year when her next album, Diatom Ribbons – also featuring drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and percussionist Val Jeanty – was named the Best Jazz Album of 2019 by the New York Times. Following these successes, she is the 2020 winner the Jazz Journalists Association award for Composer & Pianist of the Year.

Helen Sung, a graduate of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance and winner of the Mary Lou Williams Jazz Piano Competition, has appeared with stars such as Wayne Shorter, Terri Lyne Carrington, Wynton Marsalis, MacArthur Fellow Regina Carter, and Cecile McLorin Salvant. Between European tours, her recent engagements include debut appearances at the London Jazz Festival, Jazz at Lincoln Center Shanghai, Blue Note Beijing and the Sydney International Women’s Jazz Festival.

The Thelonius Monk Birthday Celebration will be streamed by SFJAZZ on October 9th.

The following week, SFJAZZ streams the concert given by Mary Stallings and pianist Bill Charlap in March 2018 – during her week-long residency as SFJAZZ Artistic Director.

Regarded by the New York Times as “The best jazz singer alive today”, Mary Stallings has appeared with luminaries such as Cal Tjader, Dizzy Gillespie and the Count Basie Orchestra. Among her many achievements was her appearance at the Prague National Theatre in December 2011 – the first jazz artist to have performed at the home of classical music, opera and ballet since its construction in 1881. During her long association with SFJAZZ, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2011 Gala, and was the first performer in the historic Opening Night concert at the SFJAZZ Center in 2013.

Grammy award winning pianist Bill Charlap has appeared with some of the finest artists of our time, and leads one of the foremost groups in jazz – the trio he formed with bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington. Having celebrated his 15th year as Artistic Director of New York City’s Jazz in July Festival at 92Y in 2019, he has also produced concerts for Jazz at Lincoln Center, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Chicago Symphony Center and the Hollywood Bowl.

Mary Stallings and Bill Charlap will appear in the Fridays at Five program on October 16th.

“What inspires me most about my career,” says Grammy-winning blues artist Taj Mahal, “is that I’ve been able to make a living playing the music that I always loved and wanted to play since the early 50s. And the fact that I still am involved in enjoying an exciting career at this point in time is truly priceless.” Join Taj and his quartet online on October 23 when SFJAZZ streams the concert in which he appeared in February of this year – one of the last performances before the JAZZ Center had to close its doors due to the pandemic. It’ll be a spirited affair from this long-time Berkeley resident, whose work embraces early jazz, rhythm and blues and soul music, combining the rhythms of West Africa, with those of New Orleans and the Caribbean.

The Taj Mahal Quartet are the star turn in the SFJAZZ Fridays at Five program on October 23.

Grammy winner Lila Downs is one of the most influential artists in Latin America, with her unique voice and charismatic performances, and her own compositions which combine Mexican rancheras and corridos, boleros, jazz standards, hip-hop, cumbia and popular American music. With a career bridging cultures and languages – as a musician and also a social activist – she is a multiple Latin Grammy winner, and celebrated the release of her Sony Music album, Salón, Lágrimas y Deseo (Salon, Tears and Desire) at a concert recorded at SFJAZZ in May 2019. It’s this performance which will be streamed in the October 30 session of Fridays at Five.

Fridays at Five is the SFJAZZ online concert series of weekly pre-recorded performances which can be viewed for just $5 a month ($60 annually). The concerts take place from 5.00 – 6.00 pm PT (8.00 – 9.00 pm ET, 1.00 – 2.00 am in London and 2.00 – 3.00 am in Paris), and proceeds will directly support SFJAZZ and the artists featured in these performances. Visit the SFJAZZ website for more details.

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