Sunday, April 18, 2010

Jazz Rock Guitar Geek Rapture #1: T.J. Kirk Live At The Up And Down Club, 1994

Once upon a time in the early and mid-1990's, some amazing music was being played in San Francisco clubs on a regular basis. It was the closest thing to the heady days when giants from several musical eras and genres, the majority lacking U.S. recording contracts, were performing in Bay Area venues from Keystone Korner to the Mabuhay Gardens to Kimball's (San Francisco) and, later, Yoshi's and Koncepts Cultural Gallery, proving that both jazz and rock were alive and blazing if you knew exactly where to find it.

Here are a couple of excerpts from a set at The Up And Down Club by a remarkable group that was tearing it up in those San Francisco clubs, at times more than twice a week. Their original name was James T. Kirk, as they performed cross-pollinations of music by James Brown, Thelonious Monk and Rahsaan Roland Kirk, three of the aforementioned music giants. I don't remember specifically whether the lawyers of Paramount Pictures ("Star Trek" owners) complained, but the band subsequently (and soon) changed their name to "T.J. Kirk" - thus also recalling William Shatner's uber-cheesy 1980's cop show.

The band members - guitarists Charlie Hunter, Will Bernard, and John Schott, plus the equally creative and propulsive drummer Scott Amendola - all headed other stellar ensembles and still do, but truly wonderful things happened when the four hit that happy zone together onstage. I consider myself fortunate to have caught some of that magic in person.

For more, check out the liner notes for the last T.J. Kirk recording.

The spirits of Rahsaan Roland Kirk, James Brown, Thelonious Monk - and Jimi Hendrix - are smiling.

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