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Top attraction this weekend: Alfredo Rodriguez

Saturday night’s Treasures from the Archives presentation by Mark Cantor of rare, fascinating jazz film clips was, as expected, another memorable occasion. This was no tiny, peripheral jazz society splitting hairs over minutiae and obscure musicians lost to history; Cantor’s presentation was informative, fun, and, above all, well-attended! The screening occurred in Kanbar Hall in The Jewish Community Center of San Francisco with an appreciative audience of probably 300 fans applauding each clip whether it was Buddy Paige’s orchestra or Count Basie’s. Among the many standouts was the John Coltrane Quartet playing the old Billy Eckstine standard “I Want To Talk About You” from a 1962 concert in Sweden. You can see a dark, grainy version of this rarity on youtube here, but those of us who made it to the JCCSF were blessed to view Cantor’s superior print of the film on the big screen. It was like catching Trane and his group from the cheap balcony seats! Thank you Mr. Cantor for a great evening!

So that was last weekend… what do Bay Area jazz fans have to look forward to this weekend? You are on your own for Friday and Saturday, but set Sunday aside for Alfredo Rodriguez‘s Trio at Hertz Hall on the campus of UC Berkeley. Presented by Cal Performances, the 25-year old jazz pianist is making his local debut and giving us a taste of what New Yorkers and Jazz Festival audiences have known about for awhile – this young musician is one of the outstanding talents in today’s jazz landscape.

Hailing from Havana, Cuba, Rodriguez made news three years ago when he left his family and country behind to pursue a performing career in the United States. He has benefited from the support and guidance of Quincy Jones since his arrival, but the young pianist has opened many doors on his own through tremendous performances. For an introduction to Rodriguez’s music and story, check out NYC jazz beat reporter, Brian Pace of The Pace Report, as he catches Rodriguez in performance and off-stage at Manhattan’s Jazz Standard in a clip here.

For his January 29 Cal Performances appearance, Rodriguez will be joined by bassist Peter Slavov and drummer Francisco Mela. Showtime is 7:00 and tickets ($32.00) can be purchased on CP’s website or through the ticket office at 516-642-9988. See you there!