Wednesday, July 25th – 7:30-10:00 pm
Aaron Johnson/Smith Dobson Quintet
$20 cover; $10 for students & musicians
 

Traveling out of New York City,
multi-instrumentalist Aaron Johnson (sax, clarinet, flute) joins San Francisco’s own Smith Dobson, a multi-instrumentalist himself (reeds, drums, vibes). On this date, Dobson will go head to head with Johnson on tenor and soprano sax.

The rhythm section will comprise NY-based bassist Hans Glawischnig and local heroes Keith Saunders on piano and James Gallagher on drums.

Johnson considers himself a member of a new generation of mainstream jazz musicians that’s embracing older styles of jazz and the great American songbook. At the same time, he’s an adventurous multi-instrumentalist who has freelanced extensively in the commercial and classical music worlds, immersed himself in the avant-garde and lectured on the history of jazz at renowned institutions such Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York University and the College of William and Mary.

Aaron leads his own working quartet in New York, and can be found performing frequently with Slide Hampton, Dick Hyman, Benny Benack III, Ken Peplowski, John Colianni, Jon Erik Kellso, Joe Cohn, Veronica Swift and Art Garfunkel, as a member of the Slide Hampton Big Band, and as associate principal clarinet/bass clarinet with the Siletz Bay Festival Orchestra on the Oregon Coast. Aaron was a student of Matt Utal and Connie Crothers.

Smith Dobson V has been a major presence on the San Francisco jazz scene for a couple of decades — several decades, if you count his early years coming up within his family’s jazz orbit. Smith’s father, Smith Dobson IV, was a major West Coast jazz pianist who created and sustained the jazz scene at the San Jose club, Garden City — all the while working with the likes of Woody Shaw, Joe Henderson, Bobby Hutchinson and Art Pepper. He died prematurely in 1960, driving home late one night from Garden City. Smith’s mother is Gail Dobson, a jazz vocalist whose career started in the 1960s and who continues as a vibrant presence in Bay Area jazz as a performer and teacher. “Gail Dobson keeps the jazz fire burning,” says jazz journalist Andrew Gilbert.

Smith Dobson V has recorded with Ben Goldberg, Graham Connah, Vijay Anderson, John Finkbeiner and others, and he’s performed in the bands of such major artists as Bobby Hutcherson, Red Rodney, John Handy, Sheila Jordan, Red Holloway, Hal Stein and Noel Jewkes. Smith made his Monterey Jazz Festival debut at the age of 11 in the Dobson Family Band, and led his own group there at age 15. He’s a fixture at the Club Deluxe on Haight Street, San Jose’s Cafe Stritch and many other major Bay Area venues.

Bassist Hans Glawischnig, born in Austria in 1970, has been a major presence on the New York jazz scene since the mid-1990s. Pianist Keith Saunders came up in L.A., then spent 25 years on the NY jazz scene, working there with the likes of Richie Cole, Hank Crawford, Mickey Roker, Frank Wess and others, and leading the NY HardBop Quintet for eight years, recording four CDs with that group. In 2010, Keith moved to the Bay Area where he’s been a first-call sideman ever since. Drummer James Gallagher grew up in Mendocino where he studied with pianist Kent Glenn and others, and for years now he’s been in the top echelon of the Bay Area’s professional jazz musicians.

We’ll let Andrew Gilbert have the last word:

“Smith is a musician’s musician…
a beautiful player who just keeps getting better and deeper…”