Keeping up with the rising young jazz musicians who emerge yearly from Berkeley High is almost a full-time job. Saxophonist Dayna Sean Stephens recently played Lincoln Center with piano master Kenny Barron. Big-toned tenor saxophonist Hitomi Oba can be heard around town, including a gig last month at the Jazzschool, and trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson is featured in next week's 2005 prestigious Festival of New Trumpet Music in New York City. Closer to home, Ambrose Akinmusire, who shared trumpet section duties with Finlayson in the late-'90s incarnation of the Berkeley High Jazz Band, plays Oakland's @17th Bar and Lounge this week as part of the venue's ongoing Friday jazz series. A formidable player with a big crackling tone, Akinmusire is performing with a cast of regular collaborators, including pianist David Michel-Ruddy, another Berkeley High alum worth keeping an eye on; bassist David Ewell, best known for his work in the combustible Indo-free-jazz ensemble the Supplicants; and drummer Darrell Green, who has quickly become an indispensable member of the Bay Area music scene.
Even when Akinmusire was off in New York, getting a degree from the Manhattan School of Music, the Oakland native maintained a presence on the Bay Area scene, for instance making an impressive guest appearance at Yoshi's in the summer of 2003 with altoist Greg Osby, jazz's most incisive talent scout. The trumpeter has toured Europe with the influential alto saxophonist and conceptualist Steve Coleman, a rigorous bandleader who requires tremendous rhythmic sophistication from his sidemen. He has performed with influential pianist and composer Vijay Iyer and multi-instrumentalist (and Berkeley High grad) Peter Apfelbaum, who describes him as "a really brilliant young trumpeter." Apfelbaum noted that Akinmusire recently subbed on a gig with another, even younger Berkeley High alum, drummer Justin Brown: "He's phenomenal too. It's good to see there are still great musicians coming up from Berkeley."
Akinmusire cites Roy Hargrove as his first major source of inspiration, not so much for his hard-bop sound as for his honesty and openness. For the @17th show, it's a safe bet that Akinmusire will be unveiling some new pieces. An inveterate composer who is always writing pieces specifically geared for the cats in his band, he is a restlessly creative player who seems to grow each time you hear him. Friday at 7 p.m., @17th Bar and Lounge, 510 17th St., Oakland, $5, 510-433-0577. At17th.com -- Andrew Gilbert
In the Cut
Let's face it
Plastic surgery is one of the most intriguing pop-cultural trends of our time, but something is missing from TV shows like Nip/Tuck. Ever wonder what really goes on under the knife? Surgical-tech-turned-author Troi Martin knows, and she's ready to dish up all the juicy details of the lucrative yet ethically questionable industry. Martin reads from her book Behind the Cosmetic and Plastic Surgeon's Mask Saturday at 1 p.m. at Borders in San Ramon -- she'll tell you what you need to ask. Info: 925-830-1190. -- Eric K. Arnold
Trail of the Little Tramp
Like any self-respecting art zone, Fremont's Niles district is in the habit of organizing regular events to call attention to itself, as with the monthly Friday-evening Art Walks. This Friday's edition features pen-and-ink-with-watercolor renderings by Donna Sanson, of such Niles landmarks as Joe's Corner and Iron Horse Lane, along with a few sketches of Charlie Chaplin (who once made movies in Niles). Dave Dunlap's paintings of city scenes are also highlighted, at the Fremont Art Association Gallery, 37659 Niles Blvd. The Arts Walk happens from 5 to 8 p.m. along Niles Boulevard, and includes crafts as well as fine arts. Pick up a map at 37683 Niles Blvd. -- Kelly Vance
Doggin' U Out
N'Sync? Out of time. 98 Degrees? Lukewarm. Bow Wow? Still kicking up dust. No longer Lil', the rapper and actor, now eighteen, is an industry veteran who released his first album at thirteen, after being named by none other than Snoop Dog. His fourth album, Wanted, delivers all the crunk radio-ready beats fans fiend for, while "Bow-Weezy" shows a new maturity in his rhymes that suggests he's just getting started. He'll be exciting the TRL set Saturday at the Oakland Arena, headlining the Scream IV tour. $31.25-$50.75, 510-625-TXS. -- Eric K. Arnold
What the Fork - February 15, 2:00 PM
Culture Spy - February 15, 10:30 AM
Culture Spy - February 12, 5:45 PM
What the Fork - February 8, 3:57 PM
What the Fork - February 7, 11:35 AM