SFJAZZ starts 2021 as it means to go on – with a fabulous line-up of stars in its weekly Fridays at Five series. Every Friday afternoon, from 5.00 to 6.00 pm (PT), SFJAZZ streams a performance from its vast library of concerts recorded live at the SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco.
This Friday features the world’s top-selling jazz instrumentalist, trumpeter Chris Botti. As skilled in the presentation of jazz as in pop, with several Gold, Platinum and Grammy Awards to his name, Chris Botti has appeared with stars such as Sting, Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Yo-Yo Ma, Michael Bublé, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Joshua Bell, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and even Frank Sinatra.
On his most recent album Impressions – for which he was awarded a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album – he is joined by Andrea Bocelli, Vince Gill, Herbie Hancock, Mark Knopfler and David Foster. Botti has performed with many of the finest symphonies and in some of the world’s most prestigious venues, including Carnegie Hall, San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, the Sydney Opera House and Italy’s Teatro Real di San Carlo.
This Fridays at Five performance – to be streamed on January 8th – was recorded during Chris Botti’s sold-out run at SFJAZZ a year ago, in which he appeared with his nine-piece band, featuring saxophonist Andy Snitzer, violin virtuoso Anastasiia Mazurok, and vocalist Sy Smith.
Alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett is regarded as one of the foremost of his generation. A versatile artist – he is equally happy playing classic blues, R&B, classic jazz and fusion – Garrett is also a bandleader and composer. He has performed with names such as the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Freddy Hubbard, Woody Shaw, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers and Miles Davis, and was a member of the all-star Five Peace Band which featured Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Christian McBride and Vinnie Colaiuta, an ensemble which won the Grammy for Best Jazz Instrumental Album in January 2010.
In this performance by the Kenny Garrett Quintet – recorded at SFJAZZ in June 2019 – Garrett is joined by pianist Vernell Brown, bassist Corcoran Holt, drummer Samuel Laviso, and percussionist Rudy Bird. The concert streams in the SFJAZZ Fridays at Five session on January 15th.
The Fridays at Five session on January 22nd streams a concert by multi award-winning vocalist Catherine Russell. Featuring music from her latest album, Alone Together, the concert was recorded live at SFJAZZ in September 2019. This album – her seventh, released in March of that year, and exploring the music of the Swing Era – held the #1 position on the JazzWeek 2019 Year End chart for national airplay and won Catherine Russell her second Grammy® Nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Album.
Her first Grammy nomination was for her 6th solo album, Harlem On My Mind – released in 2016 and featuring songs from the Great African American Songbook – which was nominated for Best Jazz Vocal Album. In 2012 Catherine Russell received a Grammy Award as the featured artist on the soundtrack album for the HBO-TV series, Boardwalk Empire.
Catherine Russell has been a hit at major Jazz Festivals including Monterey, Newport, North Sea, JazzAscona, Montreal, Bern, Rochester International, Panama, Tanglewood, and also at sold out venues like The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, SFJAZZ and Pasadena Pops in Los Angeles. She has recorded, and shared the stage with, artists including David Bowie, Steely Dan, Michael Feinstein, Paul Simon and Rosanne Cash.
When an artist described by the New York Times as “One of the greatest musicians in jazz” – Gonzalo Rubalcaba – teams up with “An incomparable performer” – Pedrito Martinez (the NYT again), the result is bound to be something really special, and this duo are the stars of the SFJAZZ Fridays at Five session on January 29th. In a concert recorded at SFJAZZ in September 2017, Rubalcaba and Martinez take their audience right to the heart of the heady beat of Cuban rhythm.
Rubalcaba – regarded as the most celebrated Cuban pianist of his generation – was described by Sir Simon Rattle as “the most gifted pianist on the planet”, and was said by Dizzy Gillespie to be “…the greatest pianist I’ve heard in the last 10 years”. Fellow countryman, drummer and percussionist, Pedrito Martinez, has played an important part in the inclusion of Afro-Cuban rhythms into American music since settling in New York City in 1998. He has recorded or performed with Paul Simon, Paquito D’Rivera, Chucho Valdez, Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Palmieri, Dave Matthews, Jackson Browne, Elton John, Sting and Wynton Marsalis who said of him: “Pedrito is a genius…working with him has been a revelation to me.” Martinez has also contributed to well over 100 albums.
For just $5 a month (or $60 annually) you can participate in the SFJAZZ Fridays at Five sessions, or gift a digital membership and enjoy the online concerts with your friends. Proceeds from these digital sessions will help the SFJAZZ team prepare to reopen the SFJAZZ Center and enable them to continue to provide the caliber of performance for which the Center is famed.
Fridays at Five is streamed on the SFJAZZ website every Friday at 5.00 pm (PT).
Information sourced from:
SF JAZZ program notes