John Brothers Piano Firm are of their factor enjoying on the nook of Allston and MLK Saturday and Sunday afternoon as a part of the Bay Space Ebook Pageant. Picture: Courtesy artists
If you end up inexorably drawn to 4 guys making some uproarious music when you’re wandering round Civic Heart through the Bay Space Ebook Pageant this weekend, nicely, seizing the eye of passersby is a ability that John Brothers Piano Firm has perfected.
The quartet can be ensconced on the nook of Allston and MLK from 2-Four p.m. on Saturday and Sunday enjoying their splendidly idiosyncratic mix of polyphonic jazz. Whereas the group can typically be discovered enjoying indoors as of late at spots just like the SFJAZZ Heart, Nice American Music Corridor, the Fonda Theatre, and Regency Ballroom, the JBPC honed its attention-seizing act busking at BART stations.
Slightly than hustling for gigs, a number of enterprising Cal grads who loved making music collectively determined to affix their buddy John Morgan enjoying on the road in 2011. “He discovered he may deliver an upright piano to the BART station and make nice cash,” says Berkeley native Arlo Perlstein, a trumpeter who like nearly of the unique JBPC members doubles on piano.
Specializing in closely foot-trafficked stations close to Union Sq., they shortly gained consideration, together with a function within the San Francisco Chronicle. Additionally they began touchdown affords for gigs, like a year-long wee-hours Saturday morning stint at a San Francisco speakeasy. “It didn’t have a reputation, and ultimately it acquired shut down by metropolis,” Perlstein says. “However I’ve acquired to present the proprietor credit score. He wished that Prohibition sound, and as a substitute of getting a DJ he discovered a band that would simulate that 1930s musical expertise.”
The common gig gave the band an opportunity to work out music, often by way of the course of the evening, improvising with riffs till a chunk took form. Very like once they have been busking, the need of holding the eye of the listeners fueled their rhythmic invention. “The creation was in a efficiency setting with an viewers there,” Perlstein says. “It wanted to have that energetic high quality.”
Whereas there’s been some personnel modifications over time, the band nonetheless options three authentic members with Perlstein, John Thatcher Boomer on piano and clarinet, and Jimi Marks on drums and piano. Dustin Smurthwaite just lately took over the bass chair, and whereas he doesn’t play piano he’s an achieved trombonist and should add a 3rd horn into the combination.
A part of what makes John Brothers Piano Firm such partaking performers is the abrupt shifts in texture and power between and through songs because the gamers change devices. Perlstein describes the choreography as “a cheerful accident” that advanced after John Morgan left the band early on. They tried out one other pianist however shortly determined that everybody ought to have a hand on the piano chair.
“What was meant to be a spot holder grew to become the defining facet of the band,” Perlstein says. “Folks actually beloved it. Everybody performs very in another way from one another so that you get this actual selection. Normally the best way we make the most of the switching is so we will have each of the horns enjoying collectively or one after one other.”
Over the previous seven years John Brothers Piano Firm has turn into a daily presence at Oakland and Berkeley gatherings produced by Coronary heart of the City Occasions (just like the Bay Space Ebook Pageant) . “We do eight avenue gala’s and festivals in Oakland and Berkeley and I rent them as typically as I can,” says Samee Roberts, president of Coronary heart of the City and managing director of the Ebook Pageant. “Folks completely love them. They’re clearly supremely gifted musicians however they nonetheless have this excellent avenue performer power. Each time we deliver them into an occasion, crowds collect round. After we get suggestions in our surveys, individuals at all times says deliver again John Brothers.”
The one Berkeley-raised member of the ensemble, Perlstein attended Le Conte, Willard and graduated from Berkeley Excessive in 2007. Folks typically assume he performed within the vaunted Berkeley Excessive jazz band, however he adopted his personal path. Smitten with Afro-Cuban music as a young person he studied on the Jazzschool with veteran Latin jazz bassist David Belove. At Cal he majored in philosophy.
“I didn’t examine music,” he says. “I’m principally self-taught. After school some pals I’d lived with figured we may make a residing doing this factor we beloved and that led to John Brothers. In hindsight I want I had performed within the Berkeley Excessive band. All my pals who did got here out such stellar musicians.”
Whereas John Brothers Piano Firm is the one act that’ll be enjoying on the streets through the Ebook Pageant, there are a number of different music associated occasions. The Berkeley Symphony and Bay Space Ebook Pageant current the world premiere of 4 authentic works by composers Ursula Kwong-Brown, Aiyana Braun, Peter Shin, and Tristan Koster, deciphering musically the work of 4 poets Saturday three:15-Four:45 p.m. on the Florence Schwimley Little Theater. Readings by Genny Lim, Innosanto Nagara, and Rachel Richardson (on behalf of Brenda Hillman) can be adopted by the premieres.
Additionally on Saturday, How the Songs Work: The Poetry of Bob Dylan options UC Berkeley professor Timothy Hampton in dialog with famend cultural critic Greil Marcus, creator of 2005’s Like a Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan on the Crossroads. Ramona Naddaff moderates the session at The Marsh 1:30- 2:45 p.m. And San Francisco Chronicle popular culture critic Peter Hartlaub interviews the musician, singer, songwriter, producer Moby about his new memoir about Then It Fell Aside, Four:30- 5:45 p.m. on the San Francisco Chronicle Stage within the Park.
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