Arts & Events
If you yearn for the days when jazz was played on the streets of New Orleans for free, and all you had to do to join the second line was to get with it and dance to the beat, you will not want to miss hearing the top-rated artists who will be performing al fresco and without charge at the 12th annual Jazz on Fourth Street Festival this Sunday.
Public school jazz education began in Berkeley in 1966 when Herb Wong, the principal at Washington Elementary, offered a jazz class to his music students. It was not long before every school in the district had a jazz band.
When Phil Hardymon, who had worked with Wong at the grade school level, became band director at Berkeley High in 1975, he parlayed all the work that had gone on in the lower grades into the top-rated high school jazz education program in the country.
Berkeley High jazz bands and members regularly win state and national competitions and scholarships and have performed at the Monterey, North Sea and Montreux Jazz Festivals—and why not, when their alumni include such stellar players as David Murray, Craig Handy, Josh Redman, Benny Green and Peter Apfelbaum?
What Herb Wong started has become a multi-generational community of teachers, alumni and students that gives the Berkeley jazz community a depth and resonance often lacking elsewhere.
Unfortunately, major budget cuts are threatening this innovative and successful program. The proceeds from this festival, sponsored by KCSM/Jazz 91 and 4th Street Merchants, will benefit Berkeley High School Performing Arts to help ensure that the jazz program is able to continue.
This year’s festival kicks off with This Old Band, led by Bill Muccular (11:50 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.). They have come up with their own blend of early rock plus R&B, acoustic strings in harmony with vocals.
Trumpeter/educator Khalil Shaheed follows with his Quintet (1:15 to 2 p.m.) presenting jazz standards and their own contemporary originals. Shaheed is well known as the founder of the Oaktown Jazz Workshop and has spent the last three decades exploring and combining elements of jazz, blues, funk and rhythm and blues.
Oakland native E.C. Scott is up next (2:15 to 3 p.m.) presenting her personal song stylings. Masterpiece, her latest album and her third for Blind Pig Records, reveals her personal recipe for combining blues, soul and R&B.
Two-time Grammy nominated Afro-Latin percussionist John Santos follows with his quartet (3 to 3:45 p.m.). Santos is an educator and scholar as well as a major performer who has worked with Latin stars like Yma Sumac, Tito Puente, Patato Valdés, Armando Peraza, Lalo Schifrin, Santana, Cachao and Omar Sosa, as well as jazz masters like Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Art Farmer, Bobby Hutcherson, McCoy Tyner and John Faddis. His knowledge and experience of Afro-Latin percussion practice, rooted in family, community, tradition, study and meditation, is profound.
Various combinations of the highly esteemed Berkeley High Jazz Ensemble will be on hand to entertain you as well as to give you a taste of what can come from top flight musical pedagogy. The festival grand finale will be a performance by the full Berkeley High Jazz Orchestra. Besides the on-stage music, the Fourth Street merchants will get in the spirit of jazz by bringing their food and wares into the street and plaza. There will also be interactive displays and children’s activities including face painting. The whole afternoon promises to be an expansive, sunny, music-filled entertainment.
FOURTH STREET JAZZ FESTIVAL
This Old Band, the Khalil Shaheed Quintet, E. C. Scott, the John Santos Quintet and the Berkeley High Jazz Orchestra and combos perform at the Jazz on Fourth Street Festival from noon-5 p.m. Sunday on Fourth Street in Berkeley, between Hearst and Virginia streets. 526-6294. www.fourthstreet.com.