Cy and David's Picks: Tribute to a Vibraphonist, Unraveling a Hard Problem, and What is Beauty

Wallpaper design by Studio Job included in the show 'Beauty' at the SJ Museum of Art (Photo: Studio Job for NLXL courtesy of SJ Museum of Art)

KQED's Cy Musiker and David Wiegand share their picks for great events around the Bay Area this week.

It's another full week with tough choices at the Do List. We had room for just a shoutout to Oakland band The Seshen's new album and record-release concert on Saturday, Oct. 22 at the UC Theatre (such heartfelt R&B) with our friends Bells Atlas opening; and a shoutout for Brava Theatre's presentation of On the Hill, I Am Alex Nieto (Oct. 27–30) about the young man killed by San Francisco police. (See our KQED Arts video here). Plus please take The Do List Survey, and help us make our show better. Enough. It's a great list, so read (or listen) on.

Oct. 23: The late Bobby Hutcherson played vibraphones with warmth even in his most experimental work (check Out to Lunch with Eric Dolphy). Over six decades, he led bands and worked with greats like Dolphy, Jackie McLean, McCoy Tyner, Billy Higgins, Joe Chambers, and Herbie Hancock. He was an inaugural member of the SFJAZZ Collective, and on Oct. 23, SFJAZZ honors him with a concert featuring former collaborators like McCoy Tyner, George Cables, Hubert Laws, John Handy and more. Hutcherson died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease -- he always had an oxygen tank onstage during his final performances -- and proceeds will go to pay for medical expenses for the Hutcherson family. Details are here.

Work by the LA based furnishing makers Nikolai and Simon Haas, part of the show 'Beauty' at the San Jose Museum of Art
Work by the LA based furnishing makers Nikolai and Simon Haas, part of the show 'Beauty' at the San Jose Museum of Art (Photo: Joe Kramm/R & Company and SJ Museum of Art)

Continuing through Feb. 19: What is beauty? You’ll find a few good theories at the show Beauty that’s now running at the San Jose Museum of Art. This is the design triennial curated by the Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York City, and a perfect match for
Silicon Valley, since there are more digital and tech-product designers working in the Bay Area than anywhere else in the world.
The exhibit features everything from experimental prototypes and interactive games to tech, fashion and architecture. I love this definition for beauty from the designer Hechizoo (who’s in the show): “When you see beauty, you have this moment of silence, of stillness.” Details are here. 

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Oct. 26 and Oct. 30: Tabla master and Bay Area resident Zakir Hussain’s fingers fly on the tabla (Indian drums similar to bongo drums), but it's always in the service of telling a story. He loves collaborating with younger performers, and on this tour, Hussain is working with sitarist Niladri Kumar, whose father Hussain played with years ago. Playing with younger musicians, Hussain said recently, “stokes the fire under me and gets me going more.” Hussain is a longtime Deadhead, and he and Kumar will be joined at the Cal Performances show by former Grateful Dead drummer Micky Hart as a guest. Details for their Zellerbach Hall show on Oct. 26 are here, and for their their Oct. 30 show at the Green Music Center here.

Brenda Meaney and Vandit Bhatt in Tom Stoppard's 'The Hard Problem' continues at the American Conservatory Theater through Nov. 13
Brenda Meaney and Vandit Bhatt in Tom Stoppard's 'The Hard Problem' continues at the American Conservatory Theater through Nov. 13 (Photo: Kevin Berne/ACT)

Continuing through Nov. 13: Tom Stoppard writes dense, smart plays chock full of ideas. His newest is no exception. The Hard Problem is about a young scientist, a psychologist, exploring the nature of consciousness and altruism -- of goodness. This is Stoppard’s 11th time working with director Carey Perloff, artistic director for American Conservatory Theater, and Stoppard told me they make a terrific team. “The great thing about Carey," said Stoppard during a break in rehearsal, "is she never puts a fence up around herself. She likes her writer to be involved. And above all, she likes my kind of theater. She’s in love with words and ideas. And we just blend very well.” The plays can demand that audiences drink more coffee than cocktails at intermission, but Stoppard is often deft at storytelling too. In this case, there’s a plot involving a lost baby and a wealthy hedge-fund manager. And Stoppard was most flattering about San Francisco audiences and how keen they are to be challenged. “There are cities, no doubt, where some of the audience might say: 'Listen, you lost me, goodbye.' In San Francisco, they might say: 'Listen, you lost me. I’ll come again.'” Details for the show are here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgqAmZHkkTg
Oct. 21 and 22: You can see Kishi Bashi in his one-man band, live-looping like crazy in the NPR Tiny Desk Concert show above. But he worked more collaboratively (with producer Chris Taylor, engineer Pat Dillet, and drummer Matt Chamberlain) on his new album Sonderlust, that is “straight from my soul." The new work is still trademark Kishi Bashi, with lush synths and strings, but with an edge of sadness and loss that sneaks up on you. Kishi Bashi says the songs are about heartbreak, after his success and touring schedule put strains on his marriage. Details for Kishi Bashi's shows at the Fillmore tonight are here and his show at Catalyst in Santa Cruz here.

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