Last year, pianist and composer Omar Sosa rattled Dizzy’s jazz club on his debut performance with his native rhythms of Cuba and ancestral sounds of West Africa, Brazil, and Central America. From September 15–17, Sosa returns with an extended repertoire that will once again keep his audience in a festive dance mode and hand-clapping to Afro Cuban beats. 

Sosa appears with his trusted ensemble Quarteto Americanos, featuring Bay Area artists drummer Josh Jones; saxophonist and percussionist Peter Apfelbaum; and bassist Ernesto Mazar Kindelan, with special guest tenor and soprano saxophonist/bass clarinetist Sheldon Brown (September 17, 5 p.m. set only).

Sosa’s music reflects a multi-layered texture of acoustic and electronic elements, and a deep well of creativity draws on a fresh buoyancy rooted in the spiritual-ness of Santeria to his intense piano chords that become percussive melodies bringing out the groove and soul of it all. 

“This band is more free—we have room to interact with more conversation and that’s what jazz is all about. For the show, we will play many of my original compositions.”  

For reservations, visit

All jazz clubs have great music—an obvious prerequisite for any live music venue—but the Jazz Gallery (1160 Broadway) has proved to be more than a mere performance-driven venue. Since its founding in 2002, the nonprofit organization has introduced and presented some of the most imaginative aspiring and established musicians to New York City. To complement the Jazz Gallery’s invigorating stage performances, they introduced TJG Vinyl Listening Series in 2018, a unique opportunity to participate in a curated listening experience hosted by musicians and jazz luminaries in an informal and ambient setting (it is one of the very few jazz clubs that boasts a beautiful and comfortable waiting space). 

On September 18, TJG Vinyl Series will present the exciting piano voyagers David Virelles & Craig Taborn; on October 18, guitarist Bill Frisell and award-winning jazz writer/author Ashley Kahn; and on November 6, two generations of drummers: Billy Hart and Nasheet Waits. Wine and cheese will be available, along with music and insightful conversation. Each event is $50, members $45. A subscription for all three series is $105/$100 for members. For more info, visit

Langston Hughes wrote many poems about the blues: “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” “Blue Monday,” “Down and Out,” and “The Weary Blues,” one of his memorable poems that became the title of his first book of poetry in 1925.

But what happened to the blues in this 21st century, or even in the 20th century? Well, at least during those days, the blues were larger than life, with Big Joe Turner, B.B. and Albert King, John Hurt, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Bessie Smith, and Alberta Hunter; these blues singers were belting out big-deal notes in music halls throughout America. You could hear their distinct voices vibrating jukeboxes from the Mississippi Delta and Detroit to Harlem. 

The blues were bum-rushed, highjacked, misappropriated, taken over by patriarchal pretenders. Hughes described it best in his poem “Note on Commercial Theatre”: ‘You’ve taken my blues and gone/You sing’em on Broadway/And you sing’em in Hollywood Bowl/And you mixed ’em up with symphonies /and you fixed ’em/so they don’t sound like me,” even though the Black roots of the blues are based on rhythms from Africa, a sound reflected in the shouts, howls, hollas, grunts, and call and response coming from the ancestors toiling in the burning sun of slavery. 

Most recently, award-winning novelist, poet, pianist, and playwright Ishmael Reed was wondering what happened to the Oakland Blues, in his essay “The Thrill is Gone.” After his fiery essay, Reed took to the studio, recording his own blues statement CD titled “Blues Lyrics” with the West Coast Blues Caravan of All Stars, featuring saxophonist marvel David Murray and blues guitarist Ronnie Stewart. 

“The blues may be close to extinction,” said Reed. “I raised money to produce this CD and asked Ronnie Stewart to assemble some of Oakland’s finest blues musicians to back up the readings of my original blues lyrics.” 

The band consists of lead guitarist Stewart, trombonist Art Hafen, keyboardist Michael Robinson, bassist Gregory “Gman” Simmons, and drummer Michael Simmons. Stewart is a music historian and advocate for the Bay Area Blues Society.   

“Blues Lyrics” contains six tracks swimming in the blues pond, hot as tabasco sauce on collard greens and cornbread with pigs’ feet in vinegar. “She hurt me so bad on Christmas Eve, I cried all Christmas Day” are lyrics to the opening track, “Christmas Day Blues.” 

Now, Reed isn’t belting out his blues tunes like Big Joe Turner—his timbre is more smooth and mellow, but his rhythmic melody is all blues deep down in your gut. But damn, that Stewart on guitar is hurtin’. Murray’s solos are blistering—Murray usually drops some blues in his original works, but here he’s all in. The blues ain’t dead, it’s survivin’, it’s still livin’ and shoutin’, fightin’ like I’m writin’. Damn—check that track, “Middle Class Blues.” 

Six explosive tracks, a blues band full of combustive notes with Reed’s lyrical blues leading the charge. Best blues band I’ve heard in years, dancing in 21st-century swing.  

“Yep, you done taken my blues and gone. But someday somebody’ll/Stand up and talk about me/black and beautiful/and sing about me!/ I reckon it’ll be me/Me myself!/Yes, it’ll be me.” 

Yep, Langston’s words are right: “someday somebody’ll /Stand up and talk about me”—that day is here. Look around, your blues ain’t gone, we still holdin on, Black and beautiful. Your blues is on Blues Lyrics by Ishmael Reed, recorded on his label Konch Records, online at Bandcamp and CD Baby.

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