B-Free Live at the 8th Street
Performance Space

December 15, 2006

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Rob Woodworth, who some of you may know as the Director of The Jazz House. Rob is a huge supporter of jazz in the Bay Area and for several years operated out of a small space in Berkeley before losing his lease when his landlord sold the building (which turned out to be a real loss for the community). Besides putting on 20+ shows a month when he had his place in Berkeley, The Jazz House was also formed as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization run mostly by volunteers that provided youth with opportunities to learn through workshops, perform live, create and compose music, and share in a community-driven and family-friendly jazz environment with professional musicians offering guidance along the way.

Rob is a great guy, and despite the tragic loss of his lease two years ago, continues to sponsor events and live performances in the Bay Area whenever he can. Currently, Rob has organized a series of gigs dubbed Free-Jazz Fridays that take place at Scott Looney’s 8th Street Performance Space in his West Oakland studio space. After checking with the band beforehand, Rob invited me to come record and photograph the very first performance B-Free on what turned out to be a cold and rainy day that provided the perfect atmosphere to listen to live music in such a cozy and intimate underground jazz setting. The group featured Bill Crossman on piano, C. Schwartz on tenor and soprano sax, Nzingah Smith on flute and alto sax, and Akinyele Sadiq playing percussion. It was an adventurous free-jazz ride through improvisational pieces that spanned influences from world beat to jazz to avant-garde to classical and back again. It was truly a unique improvisational performance in a unique intimate underground venue — a combination that (for me) epitomizes what live music is all about.

So, I hope you enjoy these photographs and audio recordings from the night’s performance, and if you can find time in your busy schedules, make sure to check out the next Free-Jazz Fridays event put on by The Jazz House which will feature music inspired by the great Ornette Coleman. And, I’d also like to give a final shout out to the musicians of B-Free for putting on such a great show and for allowing me to share it with all of you!