Generations Band, featuring Jimmy Cobb and Eric Alexander, returns to Yoshi’s SF Tonight and Tomorrow

ICA Generations Jazz Band

Editor’s Note: Trumpeter Jeremy Pelt will be replacing Terrell Stafford tonight.

Generations Band, featuring Jimmy Cobb and Eric Alexander, returns to Yoshi’s SF on Wednesday and Thursday, May 6 & 7
Two sets Wednesday night and “Battle of the Combos” Competition Finals on Thursday

April 3, 2009–For immediate release
Media contact: Jerry Karp at (707) 895-2799 or jerry@rocketwords.com

(San Francisco, CA) The Generations Band, an all-star sextet featuring Jimmy Cobb, Eric Alexander, Andrew Speight, Terrell Stafford, David Hazeltine and Ray Drummond, will make its return to Yoshi’s San Francisco for two nights of special event concerts on Wednesday and Thursday, May 6 and 7, 2009. On Wednesday night, the Generations Band will offer two full-length sets of extraordinary jazz. On Thursday night, they will perform along with the two finalist bands of the second annual Generations Jazz Program International Competition for Emerging Jazz Combos in a dramatic “Battle of the Combos” to determine the winner of this unique competition.

Two sets by dynamic, all-star Generations ensemble on Wednesday night, May 6

A multi-generational, power-laden group, the Generations Band has been performing together on a semi-regular basis for over a year. Brought together to serve as ambassadors and teachers for the International Center for the Arts at San Francisco State University’s Generations Jazz mentorship program, the Generations Band quickly coalesced into a fluid yet hard-hitting post-bop ensemble. In 2008 they released their first CD, Tough Guys, on the ICA label. The band was in San Francisco this past February for a series of workshops on college and high school campuses across the Bay Area. If their performance at Knuth Hall on the SF State campus that week gives any indication, their two-set Wednesday night show at Yoshi’s SF is going to throw off sparks aplenty. There will be two sets, at 8:00 and 10:00 pm. Tickets are $20.00 per set.

Two young bands square off in “Battle of the Combos” on Thursday night, May 7

The Generations Jazz Program got off the ground last year at Yoshi’s San Francisco in rousing fashion, as the New York City-based Nial Djuliarso Quartet won the first annual Generations Fellowship in an on-stage dual over the sextet Meaningtone, from Purchase, New York. The Generations Band opened with a short set, then each finalist band played three numbers, with a fellowship riding on their performance. The standing room only crowd, fully won over by the Djuliarso Quartet’s rousing performance, rose to cheer the announcement of their victory. The following jam session, with all hands on deck from the Generations Band and both finalist groups, provided a stirring conclusion to a very special night. That same energy is bound to be replicated when this year’s finalists square off on the Yoshi’s stage to see who will earn the prestigious Generations Fellowship. Once again, the Generations Band will open the show and join the young musicians on-stage for a jam session finale. This great show will be produced as a single night-long program. Tickets are $15.00 for the entire evening.

A hard-hitting CD makes a strong impression

The Generations CD, Tough Guys, was welcomed warmly by jazz fans and radio programmers, breaking the JazzWeek Top 20 and gaining radio airplay across the country. Dick Bogle of the Portland Scanner said of the CD and the Generations Band, “All these men are deeply rooted in the jazz tradition and here together demonstrate what swinging is all about.” Ashante Infantry of the Toronto Star wrote, “They’re serving up smoking interpretations of Cole Porter, Thelonious Monk and Antonio Carlos Jobim gems.” And Village Voice contributor Ken Franckling listed Tough Guys among his “10 Best of 2008.”

Tough Guys features the band’s original lineup, with Ronnie Mathews on piano and Marcus Belgrave on trumpet. Sadly, Ronnie passed away last year. But the Generations piano chair has been filled in extraordinary fashion by David Hazeltine, of whom famed jazz writer Ira Gitler says, “It is obvious to me that the hip-without-fanfare Hazeltine is a standout.” At the same time, rising trumpet star Terrell Stafford came on board, replacing Belgrave. None other than McCoy Tyner calls Stafford, “One of the great players of our time.” In December this new lineup gathered in New York’s historic Clinton Recording Studio to lay down tracks for their second CD, which is scheduled for an early May release.


A ground-breaking education program focuses on the band setting

The Generations Jazz Competition and Mentorship Program began in 2008 under the guidance and inspiration of SF State School of Music and Dance faculty member Andrew Speight and Dr. Jeffrey Babcock, founding executive director of the ICA. The program is designed to help re-emphasize the historical importance of the jazz combo as a critical feature of jazz education and musical innovation. Speight says that the competition’s focus on ensembles rather than individual instrumentalists makes the project unique in the jazz world.

“Academic jazz training focuses so much on individual technique,” he explains, “but establishing a high-quality ensemble sound is the most challenging aspect of jazz. Andrew and I both wanted to provide in-depth mentorship for young ensembles poised to launch careers, so we created a competition specifically designed for career-entry level bands. And we assembled a group of renowned, veteran musicians to provide a real-world laboratory for the winning combo. For a young band, there’s no substitute for this kind of comprehensive, intensive learning and performing experience.”

And while pianist Nial Djuliarso left the fellowship-winning combo during the year, to be replaced by pianist Adam Birnbaum, the current members of the band, known for the time being simply as the Generations Fellowship Quartet, are more than willing to testify to the legitimacy and value of the Generations concept. “Having the opportunity to be around great jazz veterans and educators like Jimmy Cobb, Ray Drummond and Andrew Speight has made an immense difference to our understanding, not just of the music itself but of what it takes to be a professional musician and a band,” says Bruce Harris, the quartet’s trumpeter. “We all feel extremely lucky to have had this chance, and we feel like we’ve made the most of it.” In addition to Harris and Birnbaum, the Generations Fellowship Quartet includes bassist Yasushi Nakamura and drummer Carmen Intorre. During the same December sessions at which the Generations Band recorded their upcoming CD, the Fellowship Quartet recorded an album of their own, due out late spring or early summer of 2009.

About the International Center for the Arts

The International Center for the Arts is a creative, research and producing organization that operates within the College of Creative Arts at San Francisco State University. Founded in 2005 with a generous grant from SF State Alumni George and Judy Marcus, the ICA is focused on the future of the arts with an emphasis on providing incubator experiences for gifted artists in the performing, media, and visual arts and through interdisciplinary projects that link the arts to their creative counterparts in the humanities, sciences, education and social sciences.

For more information and tickets

For more information about the Generations Ensemble and the Generations Jazz Program, or to arrange interviews, please contact Jerry Karp at (707) 895-2799 or jerry@rocketwords.com. To read more about the Generations Jazz Project online, please go to http://www.creativearts.sfsu.edu/ica/Generations_Jazz_Project. To purchase tickets to one or both Generations Jazz concerts at Yoshi’s San Francisco, please visit www.yoshis.com.

Photo of Generation Jazz Band at Knutz Hall @ San Francisco State University on 2/26/09 by James Knox.

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