Sacramento has never been particularly generous with its jazz musicians, to the point where it seems they've all moved to greener pastures. But it's not true.
Since this spring, Capitol Garage, headquarters for Sactown's alternative rock scene during much of the '90s, inaugurated a "jazz jam" on Tuesday nights. Show up with your horn, your bass, your drum sticks, and bop to your heart's content. But you'd better be good - these guys are serious.
On the recommendation of guitarist Ross Hammond, Green Josh Daniels and I rode our bikes down to 15th and K Streets on a wonderfully damp evening and found about 20 people, many of them players, acting as a very cool but appreciative audience, and awaiting their turns, horns on laps, to take the stage. All told, it was quite an impressive group of jazzmen.
Players like Paul Klempau on standup bass, the dazzling Jesus Vega on drums, Arlin Anderson on guitar - these guys are GOOD, and they're YOUNG. As Gerry Pineda, a downtown bass player with great chops, said, "The level of playing here is great - and these guys are playing pro bono!"
But these guys are so good - blasting through some Thelonious Monk here, a little somethin' else there - they don't always play for free. Vega and Anderson will be joining Pineda in backing up Sacramento's human beat box sensation, Antoinette "Butterscotch" Clinton, who made her name nationally on NBC's "America's Got Talent", when she plays the Mondavi Center at UC Davis on Oct. 29. That'd be worth seeing. But if you're lucky, you can see these guys for FREE on Tuesday nights at the Capitol Garage, 15th and K Streets in the Grid.