Feb 27: The R&B band The Suffers begins every show by thrusting their arms in the air, and then they earn that championship gesture with great shows. These are 10 very good musicians who've been kicking around the Houston music scene for years, but something special clicked when co-founders Adam Castaneda and Pat Kelly hooked up with Kam Franklin, a singer with a vivid voice and presence.They're opening for Lake Street Dive at the Masonic Saturday night.
March 1-13: Cinequest kicks off next week in San Jose, a festival that for 26 years has been exploring the links between technology and the movies, the original virtual reality. Co-founders Halfan Hussey and Kathleen Powell have scheduled a perfect opening night film, Eye in the Sky, about drones, state assassinations and moral dilemmas, with a killer cast (sorry for the pun) in Helen Mirren (The Queen), Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad), and the late Alan Rickman (Harry Potter). Cinequest's own Maverick Studio is screening a work in progress, Mr. Invincible, which uses a new three-screen format. Also worth a look: Friends Effing Friends Effing Friends, directed by Quincy Rose, Woody Allen’s godson, and James Franco’s new film, The Adderall Diaries. Franco and Berkeley's Rita Moreno get the festival's Maverick Spirit awards this year. Details here.
March 3: This next item is a tribute to a female jazz pioneer, the great trombonist and arranger Melba Liston. She was one of the few women to play with the big bands in the 1940's. She wrote a lot of music and wrote hundreds of arrangements for bands including those led by Quincy Jones, Dizzy Gillespie and Randy Weston. Now the young Bay Area raised trombonist Natalie Cressman is doing a tribute to Liston. She told us she's been writing out Liston's arrangement by listening to Liston’s old recordings, because very few of her charts are available. Cressman says she's in awe of the the detail in the charts.
"Because she came up playing not the lead part but in the section," Cressman says, "that kind of gave her this perspective of wanting to make every single part beautiful. Because she found herself being bored sometimes playing those stock arrangements, she wanted to make all the parts free and special. Cressman and her band play the Joe Henderson Lab at SFJAZZ Thursday night.
March 10-12: We’re looking a little bit ahead now with a FAR-OUT! selection — a show you should get tickets for early, or risk a sellout. It's the annual visit to the Bay Area by the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. They’re doing a YBCA co-commission, a piece based on an oral history Jones did with Dora Amelan, a French Jewish nurse and social worker who somehow survived World War II. Details here.
Continuing through April 3: There’s been something great in every show I’ve seen at Word for Word — that’s the company that puts short stories on the stage, word for word from the original text, and makes it work as great drama. The company is opening a new show, a pair of stories: one by Emma Donoghue and one by Colm Tóibín. There’s a surprising Academy Awards connection for these two authors. Toibin wrote the novel Brooklyn, and Donoghue wrote Room — both nominated for best picture awards. Here are the details for Word for Word's Stories by Emma Donoghue and Colm Tóibín.
Feb 26: Kid Cudi is a Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven. At least that's the name of his newest album and current tour. This avatar of trippy hip-hop is embracing positivity, and his own quirks with half sung, half chanted lyrics like “I’m what you made, God / F--- yes, I’m so odd.” We like odd here at The Do List. Details here.