Friday, March 9th – 5:30-8:00 pm
Grant Levin Quartet
featuring Francis Vanek, Chris Amberger and Rodney Ruckus
jazz in the bookshop every Friday since October 2002
$10-20 suggested donation; students $5

Francis Vanek, saxophone;
Grant Levin, piano;
Chris Amberger, bass; 
Rodney Ruckus, drums.

This quartet reflects a web of personal and musical connections that is both immediate (Chris and Grant started working with Ruckus just a few short months ago) and long-term (Chris and Francis go way back).

In the solid midrange, Chris (a veteran player who was present at the birth of free jazz in Oakland in 1967/68, toured with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in the U.S. and Europe in 1976 and then toured the U.S. and Canada with pianist George Shearing) was instrumental in recognizing Grant’s potential while Grant was still a college student in Reno and did a lot to facilitate Grant’s entry into the San Francisco jazz scene a decade ago.

Since then, it’s been jazz history in the making!

A little more on Chris Amberger, from a profile in Northside magazine a few years back:

After receiving his music performance degree in 1973 from Berklee School of Music [where he had a full four-year scholarship from Downbeat Magazine], Amberger did as many college grads do and set off to travel. What made his experience unique was he traveled the world with a plethora of world-class musicians: Tunisia, Libya, France, and the Netherlands with the Latin-funk fusion group, Bombolè; Latin America with Cal Tjader and Rosemary Clooney; Western Europe with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers (their performance at the June 1976 Ljubljana Jazz Festival in Slovenia was recorded and produced); and the United States and Canada with the George Shearing Quintet.

A stop in Tabarka, Tunisia was the most memorable: “The town where we were performing was high up on this mountaintop near the Algerian border … Ravi Shankar, Joan Baez, Kenny Clark were all there. It was surreal and the crowd was wild, like a riot.”

Between tours, Amberger was the house bassist at the legendary North Beach jazz spot, Keystone Korner, where he played and recorded with countless jazz luminaries, among them Dexter Gordon, Art Pepper, Gabor Szabo, Red Garland, Sam Rivers, Ted Curson, Bobby Hutcherson, and Eddie Henderson. He also worked with Sammy Davis Jr., Bobby McFerrin, Odetta, and Dionne Warwick.

Throughout the years, he has ceaselessly continued to create, play and record music. He has his own group, Chris Amberger and the Hot Dogs featuring the Young Brats, and he is also working on a solo project. “I write my own stuff. You know, I’ve been writing for 30, 40 years, so I have a lot of songs,” he says. “I’m currently looking for a singer.”

Read the whole article here: