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Jimi Hendrix

Last night the legendary Buddy Guy played Davies Symphony Hall as part of the SF Jazz summer series. Born in Louisiana, he moved to Chicago in 1957 and became a staff guitarist for Chess Records, playing on recordings with Junior Wells, Muddy Waters, Howling' Wolf, Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, and Koko Taylor. As an architecht of the second generation of Chicago electric blues guitar style, he is, along with B.B. King, the most influential guitarist to all blues and rock guitar players. (Albert and Freddie King must of course also be mentioned.) While obscure in the US until the early 90's, he influenced Mike Bloomfield, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton (The Cream was Clapton's idea based on the powerful Buddy Guy Trio) Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck, to name a few. With complete command of all blues idioms, he can sweep from rural delta blues to psychedelic wail in seconds. Dynamics is often missing even in great players, but Buddy delights in a wide pallet, from a whisper to a roar, and back again. His vocals are always intense, and riveting. At 79, he is the most supple being at that age I have ever seen. (Even Ravi Shankar would get a little stiffer physically each year, though it never affected his playing). Toward the end of the set he walked around the auditorium, and as he came within a few feet of me, playing screaming guitar, I realized how light his right hand attack was - the massive amps doing the heavy lifting. "Buddy Guy is by far and without a doubt the best guitar player alive. " — Eric Clapton
Last night the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performed as part of a weeklong engagement at Cal Performances. They have appeared anually since 1968. The first piece, Odetta, was dedicated to the great singer and guitarist. A fitting tribute, with powerful ensemble dance and music from Odetta recordings. The power of her voice, and guitar, on spirituals, field hollers, gospel, prison songs and traditional folk songs intimidated the likes of Bob Dylan, David Crosby, Roger McGuinn and other young folkies in the Greenwich Village scene. The second piece, Bad Blood, with recordings by Peter Gabriel and Laurie Anderson, showcased the amazing athleticism for which the company is known. Caught was a solo dance, with music by Robert Fripp, using strobe lighting to freeze poses in mid air. The company always closes with Revelations, by the Master Alvin Ailey. Apparently audiences demand it, and while brilliant, there are many other pieces of his that go neglected. 25 years after his passing, Ailey's vision of a racially diverse, powerful expression of the American experience remains vital. Unlike most great artists (Ellington, Parker, Picasso) who go into some decline for a period after their passing, Ailey has remained at the forefront of his art. Hendrix comes to mind, having also never slipped into neglect.
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