Guitar Lion Calvin Keys to play weekend set at Jazz at Pearl's, December 15-17


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Soul/Jazz Master takes the Pearl's stage in San Francisco's historic North Beach District

Soul, funk, jazz, virtuosity, depth of experience, lightness of touch and intensity of spirit. Seasoned, yet young at heart. The words and phrases one could use to describe guitarist Calvin Keys barely seem to scratch the surface of what this great musician has to offer jazz audiences. Keys has had a 40-year career in music, yet plays with the freshness and power of constant discovery. His 2006 CD, Vertical Clearance, is a stirring hard bop tour de force featuring cohorts like Sonny Fortune, Roger Glenn and Babatunde Lea. In fact, the album has been named one of the Best Records of 2006 by the East Bay Express.

Eric K. Arnold of the same publication described a recent performance by the jazz/blues legend thusly: “Monday night found Keys and friends traversing blues and jazz territory with equal finesse. At times, his fluid finger picking threatened to free itself completely from its rhythmic moorings and escape the building into the night sky."

Keys' life in jazz and blues reads like a roadmap of 20th century American music history. Born in Omaha, Keys went to Kansas City with his father, a jazz drummer, got early work in Kansas City blues bands, then began a string of tenures with the great organ trios of Frank Edwards, Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Jack McDuff and Groove Holmes. It's no wonder the blues and funk fly from his fingers as he plays. In the early 70's, at around the same time he was recording his first album as a leader on the BLACKJAZZ label, Keys toured Europe with the Ray Charles Big Band. In 1973, while continuing to record and release albums under his own name, Keys began a 7-year tenure with the great pianist Ahmad Jamal.

By 1975, Keys had relocated in the San Francisco Bay Area. He became an avid participant in the local jazz community, working with John Handy, Bobby Hutcherson, Eddie Marshall, Ed Kelley, Eddie Duran, Bruce Forman and others on a regular basis. Over the year's he's performed with big name players like Sonny Stitt, Pharoah Saunders, Joe Henderson, and Tony Bennett whenever they hit town.

Over the years, the depth and virtuosity of Calvin Keys' style and sound have continued to grow. His contributions to Bay Area jazz were recognized by the Monterrey Jazz Festival when, in 2003, he was honored along with Eddie Duran and Bruce Forman with a special tribute concert to great Bay Area guitarists.

Keys will bring his soulful guitar to the intimate Jazz at Pearl's nightclub stage on Friday through Sunday, December 15-17, with shows starting at 8:00 and 10:00 p.m. each night (doors open at 7:30). For more information or tickets please visit http://www.jazzatpearls.com/ jazz/index.html or call 1-800-838-3006. Jazz at Pearl's is an “all ages" venue.

Please note that the Jazz at Pearl's/All About Jazz 2-for-1 Discount applies for the Friday night and Sunday night Calvin Keys shows. Simply write “All About Jazz discount" in the information field when purchasing tickets online at the Jazz at Pearl's website, or ask for the discount when purchasing tickets at the door. All members of your party will be admitted for half off the $15.00 ticket price.

This story appears courtesy of Rocket Words.
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