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  • Jazz superstar Diana Krall performs before a sold-out audience Sunday at the Mondavi Center.

  • Shannon Brinkman

    The Preservation Hall Jazz Band plays at the Crest Wednesday.

  • Nick Suttle

    Guitarist and composer John Scofield, second from left, brings his Überjam Band to the Mondavi on Saturday night.

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    John Scofield

       From the beginning of his career, guitarist and composer John Scofield has shown a great ability to credibly move between genres and sub-genres in modern jazz. From early sessions with Chet Baker and Gerry Mulligan to his time with Miles Davis’ mid-period electric band, Scofield has maintained a more or less equal footing in jazz, rock and funk variations.

       Here with his Überjam Band – featuring Andy Hess, Avi Bortnick and Tony Mason – Scofield caters to the surprisingly consistent jam-band fan base. They’ll perform with the Joshua Light Show, which will likely have Jackson Hall feeling like the Fillmore East circa 1969. No doubt “Sco” can pull some Hendrix out of his trick bag for the occasion. 8 p.m. Saturday; Jackson Hall, Mondavi Center (1 Shields Ave., Davis); $37-$49;; (530) 754-5000.


    Diana Krall

       You might think it unbecoming or perhaps a little desperate for a nearly 50-year-old woman to pose on a record cover in lingerie. The popular Canadian singer and pianist Diana Krall did just that and elegantly made it work on her 2012 release “Glad Rag Doll.”

       The cover look was inspired by Alfred Cheney Johnston’s pictures of Ziegfeld Follies girls taken in the 1920s. The album and her current tour are based in music from the same period. Krall’s ultra-cool vocals and air-brushed image have always been a hit with audiences, and her unimpeachable jazz chops and stellar bands keep the critics on her side as well.

       Krall’s 2003 marriage to Elvis Costello has added a creative spark to her already booming career with the pair writing original songs for her 2004 album “Girl in the Other Room.” On “Glad Rag Doll,” Krall worked with frequent Costello collaborator T-Bone Burnett as her producer, and her husband performs on the record, calling himself Howard Coward.

       Showing Costello’s eclectic influence, Krall might cover Tom Waits or Bob Dylan as well as Cole Porter or Irving Berling. She’s even played Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.” 7 p.m. Sunday; Jackson Hall, Mondavi Center. The show is sold out.


    Bill Alkire tribute

       Locally based saxophonist Jeff Clayton mostly keeps a low profile in Sacramento despite his deep résumé – he’s played behind the likes of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Ella Fitzgerald and Lionel Hampton. He also has a professional familiarity with Diana Krall, having played on her “Christmas Songs” album.

       Sunday, Clayton will host a tribute of the late musician and educator Dr. Bill Alkire. The show will be a jam session with a rhythm section of Tim Metz on drums, Joe Gilman on piano and Buca Necak on bass. Invited guests will join on stage to play and tell stories about the popular band leader who maintained a career in both public-school service and jazz. Alkire, saxophonist, clarinetist and leader of the swing band Jazzmin, played music across region until his death in February. 5 p.m. Sunday; JB’s Lounge (inside the Clarion Inn, 1401 Arden Way, Sacramento); $10 general, $5 for kids 10 and under; Call ( 916) 723-5517 or email for reservations.

       One of the performers will be Alkire’s son Jeff, also a jazz educator and noted alto saxophonist. Alkire hosts and books Third Thursday Jazz Night at Beatnik Studios, which has picked up its own loyal following. At 7 p.m April 17, the wide-ranging ensemble of instrumentalists Cave Women are set to perform. Beatnik Studios (723 S St., Sacramento);

Preservation Hall, Diana Krall liven Sacramento jazz scene

Published: Friday, Apr. 11, 2014 - 12:00 am
Last Modified: Friday, Apr. 11, 2014 - 5:32 pm

Listen closely and you’ll hear the steady hum of Sacramento’s jazz and improvisational music scene.

Vivian Lee’s long-running Sunday-night series at JB’s Lounge has steadily mixed local, regional and national acts in a strongly programmed, broad-based series with a loyal following.

Similarly, Ross Hammond’s Nebraska Mondays at Luna’s has settled in with an audience seeking more edgy, experimental fare. The Shady Lady Saloon also regularly hosts solid mainstream players who perform with no cover charge.

Recently, Jeff Alkire added a monthly series at Beatnik Studios that features local bands. The larger venues are also doing their part, with the Mondavi Center and Harris Center both bringing strong national touring acts into the region.

This week, midtown’s Crest Theatre swings back into musical action with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band bringing its new-world take on decidedly old-school jazz, and there are several other worthwhile shows on tap as well. Here’s a look:

Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Ben Jaffe lives tradition in a way few people do. As creative director for the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Jaffe runs the group his parents created, which plays music passed down for generations. He takes his gig seriously.

“Yeah I was literally born into it, but everybody in the band was born into the music,” said Jaffe, 42.

The band’s home is Preservation Hall – an old art gallery converted into a music venue – in New Orleans’ French Quarter, and its musicians are all from NOLA (New Orleans, La.), historically considered the birthplace of jazz.

Musicians such as Louis Armstrong, King Oliver and Jellyroll Morton grew up and began their careers in the Big Easy, creating the first American-born art form in the process. Many of the eight-man PHJB draw direct lines to family members who played with those jazz originators.

“A lot of the repertoire we perform, we inherited,” Jaffe said. He’s referencing tunes such as “Tiger Rag,” “Careless Love,” “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” and true New Orleans classics such as “Basin Street Blues,” “St. James Infirmary” and even “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

“They’re sort of heritage songs,” Jaffe said, “songs that have been a part of the New Orleans canon for 100 years, and what we do is interpret them in our own way.”

The group, which plays Saramento’s Crest Theatre on Wednesday, includes band leader and trumpeter Mark Braud, Charlie Gabriel on clarinet and saxophone, Ronell Johnson on tuba, Joseph Lastie Jr. on drums, Freddie Lonzo on trombone, Clint Maedgen on tenor saxophone and Rickie Monie on piano. Jaffe plays tuba just as his father, Allan, did.

Jaffe’s parents weren’t from NOLA; they were from Philadelphia. But they loved and appreciated New Orleans’ culture and acted to preserve it. The Jaffes were inspired by the folk music revival that was happening in coffeehouses around the country at the time. Sandra Jaffe used her journalism skills learned at Bryn Mawr to help promote and market the hall and its band. Allan Jaffe, who died in 1987 at 51, ran the group and is still widely credited for the international revival of traditional New Orleans jazz.

“When my parents came here, they created something that didn’t exist,” Ben Jaffe said. “Sometimes it takes outsiders to kick-start something that’s progressive or to acknowledge how amazing your natural culture actually is.”

In 1961, they turned an art gallery on St. Peter Street into Preservation Hall – a rare move at that time – creating an integrated music venue that hosted old-time musicians who had played the music since its early origins.

“When this music was in its heyday, during the time of Louis Armstrong in the ’20s, the venues were parties and restaurants and bars and brothels, houses of ill repute,” Jaffe said. “There were no jazz clubs or jazz venues, so it’s amazing that a thing like Preservation Hall was even considered or conceptualized.”

In 1963, Allan Jaffe organized the first Preservation Hall Jazz Band that would tour to make sure the music stayed alive and vital by exposing it all around the country.

The band’s personnel has turned over numerous times but Jaffe said it’s not hard to find people who can play with them.

“The PHJB and New Orleans music is a cultural phenomenon,” Jaffe said. “There is a community of musicians and part of our responsibility – and my responsibility – is being informed about that community and participating in that community and nurturing and nourishing that community,” he said.

“That’s really what Preservation Hall is about,” he continued. “It’s not just about our band and continuing our traditions, and making new traditions, but it’s also about nourishing not just the generation after us but three, four, five generations down the road.

When it’s time for me to lay my head down, I hope there will have been several generations of musicians that I’ve hired.”

7:30 p.m. Wednesday; Crest Theatre (1013 K St., Sacramento); $29-$49;; (800) 225-2277.

Call The Bee’s Marcus Crowder, (916) 321-1120.

Read more articles by Marcus Crowder

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