As I have noted often in previous posts, intimacy is among jazz’s chief characteristics. The music thrives best in close quarters, said proximity enabling audiences to truly experience the artists’ energy and expression and empowering them to return it in kind. Suffice it to say, the house concert format is ideally suited to facilitate that exchange. The relaxed, no-frills approach cannot help but focus everyone’s attention on the creative process.
I posted an item in April regarding the house concert series at Chez Hanny in San Francisco. Billed as a “Sunday afternoon jazz salon,” Hanny’s vibe is decidedly egalitarian, with seating available on a first-come, first-served basis and the musicians divvying up the money collected. Audience members are urged to bring their own food and drink to share at the set-break potluck. If you haven’t hit Hanny yet, consider doing so Sunday, when Bill Gerhardt performs.
If you’re partial to East Bay locations, let me call your attention to Avonova in Oakland. Here’s some background, via its website.
Avonova is, most days of the week, the home of me, Jimmy Pedersen. It is where I live, sing, play, write, listen, farm, invent and make art. It is my castle and I enjoy my realm, a tight and cohesive neighborhood in Rockridge/Temescal, North Oakland, California. On weekends, however, it has become a destination for hearing live music, primarily jazz-based, and most often made by local musicians.
My original concept was to offer the venue as a space for amateur musicians needing performance experience. As a regular attendee at Jazz Camp West in La Honda, I knew a lot of emerging musicians. In fact, many jazz campers have come to Avonova to see shows or to stage them.
What I didn’t expect was that Avonova would appeal to established artists. The first of these was Harvey Wainapel, the accomplished Bay Area multi-reed player. I had met him when he taught at Jazz Camp and I knew he lived in my neighborhood. He is an approachable guy so I invited him over to see the place. The minute he saw the room, he asked if he could perform there. He asked Carlos Oliviera to join him and they attracted an audience of about 40 people. Everyone loved it, and I began to see the potential. Since then, word has slowly seeped out into the local musical community. Such diverse artists as Judi Silvano, Jovino Santos Neto, John Santos, Art Lande, Holly Near, Ben Goldberg, Keith Terry and Ricardo Peixoto have performed at Avonova.
Now is the time to get your reservations for two summer shows. On August 8, Avonova hosts the Danny Green Trio with guest Harvey Wainapel to be followed August 22 by guitarist John Stowell.