White Crate — Feb 12, 2021
Deep house from Moto Tembo for your weekend romance, honoring Black History Month with Gunna Goes Global, and a personal reflection on legendary jazz pianist Chick Corea
A glimmer of good news for the SF music scene this week:
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday, Feb. 9, to create a San Francisco Music and Entertainment Venue Recovery Fund to provide grants to venues affected by the pandemic.
It’s a small step and it’s perhaps taken too long, but it’s still some bright news in an otherwise dark 11 months for bars, restaurants, music venues, and their employees. Here’s my tally on local venues we’ve lost so far:
Saddle Rack (Fremont) — The 44-year-old country music bar announced in May it won’t be reopening, to be replaced by a new housing apartment complex
Slim’s (SF) — Closed at the beginning of the pandemic (due to pre-COVID reasons) but, now owned by a couple guys who run Pure Nightclub in downtown Sunnyvale, will eventually reopen as a Top 40 EDM club called YOLO
Starline Social Club (Oakland) — Announced it was up for sale in October, though it’s possible the new buyer would reopen the venue
Stork Club (Oakland) — Closed in May but the owner is reportedly looking to reopen one day at a new location
Stud (SF) — Closed in May but the owners are reportedly looking to eventually reopen at a new location
Uptown Nightclub (Oakland) — Announced in September that it was closing for good
How much longer can the rest hold on? I’d prefer not to find out.
THAT NEW NEW
Oakland funky house producer (and my good friend) Moto Tembo released Love Jamz Vol. 1 just in time for Valentine’s Day: an edit of George Benson’s “Love X Love” and Shanice’s “I Love Your Smile.”
SF hip hop producer Baghead released Dedicated To Those Who, his newest album on Audio Vandals. A short film accompanying the film drops Feb 26.
Brijean (of Poolside and Toro y Moi) released “Hey Boy”, the fourth dreamy pop single from Feelings, her upcoming full-length debut on Ghostly International.
Tomorrow (Sat Feb 13) “artists up and down the West Coast, like Starover Blue, MAITA, Young Elk, and Mothers Worry” will perform virtually in tribute to San Jose indie artist Dominic Miranda, who died in October. Read more on the Bay Bridged.
West Oakland-raised rapper Guapdad 4000 released “How Many” in collaboration with Brooklyn producer !llmind.
The Reds, Pinks & Purples—an indie pop project by SF’s Glenn Donaldson (of Skygreen Leopards and Art Museums)—is releasing new LP Uncommon Weather this April on Slumberland (US) and Tough Love (UK). Check out the first single “Don't Ever Pray in the Church on My Street” and preorder the limited edition blue vinyl on Bandcamp.
Richmond rapper White Dave released “Appraise” with a feature from Hit-Boy. The song appears alongside tracks by Jay-Z, Nipsey Hussle, H.E.R., and more on Judas and the Black Messiah: The Inspired Album, the soundtrack to the new film Judas and the Black Messiah.
SF’s Lips & Rhythm Records released Field Reports: Chile, a six-track collection of deep house from Santiago and the first in a series from the label showcasing underground dance from around the world. This edition includes Noon Do, DJ Producer, Gordalo, DJ CC, Santi Fernandez, and Forero.
As if you needed more proof that we keep losing our best musicians: Rightnowish, a KQED podcast all about life in the Bay Area, today wrapped up a special series on musicians with ties to the region. After covering Nappy Nina (East Oakland-raised, Brooklyn-based), YMTK (East Oakland-raised, LA-based), and Jada Imani (Missouri-born, Bay Area-raised, Hawaii-based), the last episode finally highlights someone still here: Oakland rapper Champ Green.
Jada Imani on Vibing with Hawaiian Frogs and Riffing Off Mac Dre
Bay Area Rapper Champ Green Isn’t Stingy with the Rhythm or the Wisdom
It’s Black History Month, so check out Gunna Goes Global’s new video for “Blue Klux Klan”, referencing the historically close relationship between police and white supremacists while making a call to action for some things it will take—prison reform, education funding, media representation for black folks—to fix our broken society.
In December, Oakland rapper Ally Cocaine released “Boss Type”, featuring Richmond rapper 10 Piece Tone and a classic piano-driven west coast beat.
Fake Fruit—“distilling Pink Flag-era Wire, Pylon, and Mazzy Star to expound on the absurdity of modern life”—released “No Mutuals”, the first single from their upcoming self-titled debut album on SF’s Rocks in Your Head Records.
In October, Mexico City record label Infinite Machine released DXE, a collaborative album by Oakland rapper DÆMON and London DJ/producer Endgame. Check out the video for “Eye Teeth”, which with its demonic techno vibe will definitely earn some comparisons to Jasmine Infiniti.
Last month Oakland R&B group Jax the Band, made up of three Haitian-American siblings, released a video for soulful “What If” from their 2020 album The Glo Up.
Last month Berkeley rapper Rexx Life Raj released a video for “Bad Bad Bad” from his 2020 album California Poppy 2.
REST IN PEACE
We lost another legend yesterday: Jazz piano innovator Chick Corea. As far as I know, he had no major ties to the Bay Area, but he’s one of those figures so immense that his music transcends place and time.
If you’ve never listened to Corea before, the most obvious places to start are his 1972/1973 jazz fusion classics Return to Forever and Light as a Feather. The latter of these includes perhaps Corea’s most well-known song, “Spain”, inspired by the famous guitar concerto Concierto de Aranjuez by Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo.
But a huge part of Chick Corea’s magic could only be experienced live. In fact, part of what’s so tough about losing him now is that, like many other musicians, he had been regularly hosting casual live streams throughout the pandemic, with his most recent upload posted less than a month ago. This video my friend Rich shared is from a couple years ago, but it demonstrates Corea’s mind-blowing improvisational skills alongside another master of music, Bobby McFerrin.
I feel incredibly privileged to have seen Chick Corea play at Davies Symphony Hall in SF in 2019. With a program titled “From Mozart to Monk,” Corea played the grand piano in only the way he could, effortlessly exploring the connections between classical music (Mozart, Scriabin, Scarlatti) and jazz (Art Tatum, Bill Evans, Antônio Carlos Jobim). We knew it was a special evening at the time because he told us right at the beginning of the show that it was his only solo piano performance of the year, but none of us knew then that it would be his last performance in SF—and one of his last public performances ever.
Two days after the show, my nephew and godson Julian was born, and I made a playlist at the time featuring all the pieces performed by Corea at that show. They ended up being some of the first sounds Julian heard in his first few days of life. And so, Chick Corea’s music will always hold deep personal meaning for me.
Today we mourn him, but I’ll always remember his music as a celebration of life.