Donna Kimura

Donna Kimura

A single label can’t confine Claire Ritter. She’s a pianist and a composer and a teacher. Her music isn’t strictly jazz, nor is it purely classical. It’s her own 'Ritter'ary style.

While most artists are satisfied with releasing their CDs one at a time, Ritter goes against convention and gives us two. She recently released both "River of Joy," a largely solo piano project, and "Castles in the Air," an ambitious multi-instrumental recording, featuring bassist Steve Swallow among others.

B …

Diane Schuur stands as one of jazz music’s top vocalists, her competition being no less than divas Carmen McRae, Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald. Since being discovered by Stan Getz at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1979, Schuur has built an impressive and inspiring career, including winning two Grammy Awards. Blinded at birth in a hospital accident, Schuur also received the prestigious Helen Keller Personal Achievement Award in 2000.

For many of her fans, a highlight in her career is the s …

On her new CD, singer Kitty Margolis draws listeners into her world.

"Left Coast Life" (Mad-Kat Records) is Margolis’ fourth recording and her most personal to date. Using a mix of original songs, pop standards and unconventional covers, the San Francisco-based vocalist illuminates and celebrates the attitudes and characters found out West. "Jaded poseur modern cool," she writes in "You Just Might Get It. "Style over substance is the cardinal rule."

Each song - whether its Frank Loesser’ …

The audience applauds. The band jumps into a song, and then Mary Stallings effortlessly joins in. "I love the east, I love the west," she sings in a voice that's as warm and true as a convertible ride through the heart of spring. "I love the north and south, they're the best, only go there as a guest, cause I love being here with you."

More than just the opening of Stallings' latest CD "Live at the Village Vanguard," it's a fitting declaration from a critically acclaimed singer, who's b …

Paula West

Published in Jazz Artist Interviews
Ask a music fan in San Francisco where to go and you’ll be spending the night at the elegant Plush Room, where rising star Paula West regularly performs.

With the recent release of her third CD, West is poised to capture a nationwide audience of jazz fans. The new CD, "Come What May," is earning strong reviews, and she’s about to take her lush voice and exquisite song list to New York’s Algonquin Hotel for a five-week run, beginning Oct. 30. During her stay, she’ll be backed by some of …
Jacqui Naylor journeyed to all points on her rich musical landscape during a recent show at Yoshi’s in Oakland, Calif.

Back in her native Bay Area after extensive touring, Naylor was loose and confident, kicking off the show with the Talking Heads’ "Once in a Lifetime." Her smoky vocals made the song soar as her band smoothly melded the music of Weather Report’s "Birdland" behind her.

The song is an example of Naylor's "acoustic smashing," her process of blending a rock song with a jazz tu


Wilson Heats Up S.F.

Published in Concert Reviews
Cassandra Wilson stood on stage and confessed that she wanted to sing in one place for a year.

The audience answered by making the case for San Francisco to be just the spot to realize that wish.

The acclaimed singer had the crowd from her opening tune, "Caravan." Known for her adventurous repertoire, Wilson performed a stellar, although short, set that stretched from jazz standards to an old blues number. The show was part of Wilson’s six-night run at the splashy new Yoshi’s in San Franci

Only in Nellie McKay's world does Cole Porter's "Don't Fence Me In" become a song about illegal immigration.

"Give me land, lots of land under starry skies above," she sang, gently strumming a ukulele. "Don't fence me in."

That's McKay in a nutshell. She's an uncommon blend of bite and sentiment. She's both wise and a wiseass.

The young pop-jazz singer performed at San Francisco’s The Independent on the heels of the release of her fine third CD, Obligatory Villager

On a damp Chicago night that had the first feel of fall, Patricia Barber showed that she is one of jazz music’s top artists.

The singer-pianist performed a solid, sometimes daring, two-set show that featured instrumental and vocal numbers, originals and covers.

Barber performed with her stunning quartet, which includes longtime bassist Michael Arnopol, guitarist Neal Alger and drummer Eric Montzka. Each musician is given room to stretch and take off on flights of improvisation before bring

Singer-songwriter Nellie McKay revealed to a San Francisco audience that she has received her share of hate mail.

But don’t be alarmed, she said, continuing the story after performing several songs. Most of the messages came from people she knows.

That’s McKay fearless and funny. It’s a combination that graces her thoroughly original music.

McKay is a piano playing, cursing, rapping, jazz singing, cultural reference dropping, politically outspoken chanteuse who has released one of the y