If you wonder about the future of the piano as a jazz instrument, this weekend is your chance to feel great, as two of the commanding and provocative keyboard talents to emerge over the last decade play Bay Area dates:
- Pianist Hiromi Uehara, who usually goes just by her first name, is remarkable both for the physicality of her playing and the infectious, tangible joy she takes in improvisation. Her local gig last year with the Stanley Clark Trio was one of the most amazing feats of ensemble communication I’ve ever witnessed. She’s performing solo this weekend, and it should be no less riveting to experience what kind of spontaneous creation she whips up with just her head and fingers to bounce around ideas. Shows are at 8 and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday at Yoshi’s Oakland. Tickets are $20, with kid discounts for the Sunday matinee.
- Vijay Iyer is a more cerebral pianist — he has a master’s in physics and has done doctorate level research on cognitive perception of music — but an equally commanding presence. Instead of chord changes, he’s taken a cue from pop music and grounded his compositions/improvisations on the groove, a persistent and insistent rhythmic figure that serves as a rock-solid foundation for creative exploration. Iyer and his well-oiled trio help round out this year’s San Francisco Jazz Festival with a 7 p.m. Sunday appearance at Yerba Buena Center. Tickets are $30 and $50, with a 25% discount for SFJAZZ members.
- Some of the Bay Area’s finest jazz vocalists — Faye Carol, Denise Perrier, Lady Mem’fis and Frankye Kelly — get together as Sepia to take on a broad swath of African-American music, starting at 8 p.m. Sunday at Yoshi’s San Francisco. $22.
- Saxophonist Charles Neville, of legendary New Orleans R&B combo The Neville Brothers, has teamed up with kora player Youssoupha Sidibe to explore the connecting threads between African music and New Orleans jazz/soul. They perform with the Mystic Rhythms Band at 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Coda in San Francisco. $15 and $17.
- Christian McBride, the go-to bassist for just about everyone who matters in jazz over the last few decades and a commanding solo performer, plays with his combo Inside Straight at 8 p.m. Saturday at Stanford University’s Dinkelspiel Auditorium. $19-$42.
- Marco Pereira and the Brasil Guitar Duo show amazing fingerwork and an impressive commands of Brazilian and classical guitar idioms in an 8 p.m. Friday performance at Herbst Theater. $24 and $38.
- Hear the next generation of jazz innovators as the SFJAZZ High School All-Stars perform at 8 p.m. Friday at the Jewish Community Center in San Francisco. $5-$15.
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