San Francisco Jazz Festival To Offer Array Of Sounds

McCoy Tyner, Cecil Taylor in lineup that encompasses avant-garde, fusion, blues and Cuban music.

From the popular appeal of vocalist Lou Rawls, to the pairing of avant-gardist Paul Bley and cool-jazz pioneer Lee Konitz, to the virtuosity of saxophonist Joe Lovano and pianists McCoy Tyner and Cecil Taylor, the lineup for the 18th Annual San Francisco Jazz Festival has something for many tastes.

Running Oct. 25 to Nov. 5 at a variety of Bay Area venues, the festival also plans a healthy offering of fusion, blues and Cuban flavors. Tickets for the performances, which number more than 20, go on sale to a general audience Aug. 5.

The shows begin Oct. 25 with the Abbey Lincoln 70th Birthday Celebration. Lincoln, a frequent collaborator and former wife of drummer Max Roach, will be joined by singer Jimmy Scott, who recently released Mood Indigo, and saxman Hank Crawford.

Another evening of jazz vocals is planned for Oct. 27, when soulful singers Lou Rawls and Ruth Brown, both winners of Grammy Awards, team up for the night.

On Oct. 27, experimental pianist Bley will join veteran saxman Konitz for an event called “Excursions on the Edge.” The two have worked together in the past, on songs such as “Longer Than You Know” (RealAudio excerpt), from 1977’s Pyramid. Opening for the duo is Trio 3, comprising alto saxophonist Oliver Lake, bassist Reggie Workman and drummer Andrew Cyrille.

Cuban jazz takes center stage Nov. 3, with a performance that teams Buena Vista Social Club guitarist Eliades Ochoa with Jesus Alemañy‘s Cubanismo and La Orquesta Aragòn. The latter is a Cuban group most known for charanga, a style of music using singers, percussion, flute, violins, piano and bass.

Canadian Jane Bunnett blends her improvisational flute and saxophone music with an Afro-Cuban sound, as she teams with Spirits of Havana in a free Oct. 28 show. “Joyful Noise” (RealAudio excerpt), from May’s Ritmo + Soul, features pianist Hilario Duran and bata master Pancho Quinto, who will back Bunnett in her performance.

Festival highlights will include a series of solo performances. Taylor, who came to the 1995 festival with a 40-piece orchestra, will perform solo piano Oct. 28. The following week (Nov. 4), Tyner, another piano great, will offer an unaccompanied performance.

Saxmen Lovano and Greg Osby will each perform solo on Oct. 29 in the expansive space of Grace Cathedral, then unite for a duet. The two performed together on last year’s Friendly Fire, on such songs as “Broadway Blues” and “Serene” (RealAudio excerpt).

Another highlight of the festival is the Nov. 2 all-star gathering for “A Salute to Eddie Marshall.” The Bay Area drummer will perform with his latest band, Holy Mischief. Vocalist Bobby McFerrin will be on hand, as will trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson. Fourth Way, Marshall’s pioneering late-’60s fusion band, will reunite to close out the evening.

Also slated for the festival are singers Celia Cruz and Paula West, the Russell Malone Quartet, the Bud Shank Sextet, harmonica master Toots Thielemans and bluesman Robert Cray.

Two weeks after the festival concludes, two additional performances will bring more big names to San Francisco.

The trio of Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette will perform Nov. 18. The three, who have released numerous albums together, recorded a live LP in Paris last year and are planning to release it this fall.

The following day, fusion guitarist John McLaughlin will reunite with tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain for “Remember Shakti,” offering a new version of their mid-’70s group that combined jazz and Indian music.