Among the less-heralded roles played by local presenters/educators SFJAZZ is that of a top-level scout. Take the case of saxophonist Miguel Zenon, a relatively obscure if spirited player when he was enrolled in the fledgling SFJAZZ Collective in 2004.
Since then, the Collective has gone on to establish a reputation as one of the most dynamic large ensembles in the business. And Zenon has proved himself to be a figure of global importance, reaching deep into jazz tradition and the native Caribbean music heard in his Puerto Rico homeland to create a spirited, original and deeply personal kind of jazz.
Zenon shows his stuff this week as he takes over programming at the new SFJAZZ Center, starting Thursday with his Rhythm Collective, a hard-driving quartet comprised of top Puerto Rican players. He expands his sound Friday by boosting his quartet with the Alma Adentro Ensemble, a 10-piece woodwind orchestra. On Saturday, he premiers “Identities: Tales from the Diaspora,” an ambitious big-band project examining the immigrant experience through music, video and spoken word. Zenon rounds it out Sunday with a program of duets featuring pianist Luis Perdomo and percussionist Paoli Mejias. All shows start at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $20 to $45.
Also worth noting on the Bay Area jazz scene this week:
- Sara Gazarek, a rising-star vocalist with chops well beyond her years, sings 8 p.m. Tuesday at Yoshi’s Oakland. $9-$17
- Sassy vocalist Pamela Rose pays tribute to Alberta Hunter, Peggy Lee and other vocal icons in “Wild Women of Song,” 8 p.m. Wednesday at Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse in Berkeley. $22.50-$24.50
- Drummer Billy Martin, of club jazz heroes Medeski, Martin & Wood, teams up with organ wonder Wil Blades and the Jazz Mafia Horns for some serious party jazz, 9:30 p.m. Thursday at the Boom Boom Room. $20
- Electro-jazz trailblazers The Kandinsky Effect bust boundaries, 9 p.m. Thursday at Duende in Oakland. $10
- Veteran jazz and session guitarist Anthony Wilson has recruited some of the best young pickers in the business — including Bay Area phenom Julian Lage — for the Season Guitar Quartet, performing 8 p.m. Friday at Berkeley’s Jazzschool. $18-$20
- Trumpeter Alexander Abreu and his band Havana D’Primera add modern flash to Cuban dance music tradition, 8 and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Yoshi’s San Francisco. $24-$32
- Enchanting singer Daria and her trio blend influences from bossa nova to Wes Montgomery, 8 p.m. Friday at Piedmont Piano Company in Oakland. $15
- Taylor Eigsti, the Jazz Mafia, Terrence Brewer and other local icons celebrate jazz radio giant KCSM at the free Jazz on the Hill festival, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday on the College of San Mateo campus.
- The Oakland East Bay Symphony celebrates the grand legacy of Dave Brubeck, with help from pianist Taylor Eigsti, singers Frederica von Stade and Wesla Whitfield, trombonist Chris Brubeck and more, 8 p.m. Saturday at the Paramount Theater in Oakland. $33-$78
- Bassist/composer Marcus Shelby turns his attention to the environmental movement with his latest large-ensemble piece, “Green & Blues,” presented in a free Union Square concert starting at 2 p.m. Sunday.
- The resilient and artistically committed Healdsburg Jazz Festival kicks off with a two-day salute to master bassist/composer Charlie Haden, who’ll perform with colleagues/admirers such as Carla Bley, Bill Frisell, Gonzalo Rubacalba and more. 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Jackson Theater in Santa Rosa. $45-$75
- Hipster, raconteur and all-around fun guy Dan Hicks convenes his Hot Licks to celebrate the release of a live CD culled from last year’s SFJAZZ birthday show, 6 and 8 p.m. Sunday at Yoshi’s San Francisco. $18-$25
- Consummate straightahead jazz pianist Dick Hindman plays with his trio, 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Berkeley’s Jazzschool. $12-$15
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