Page 18 - Delta Living Magazine_october2012

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here are many joys of living in
East County: affordable homes,
small town lifestyle, nearby
farms, orchards and the Delta.
But one of the drawbacks is
that the musical entertainment
options are limited. Outside of the various
festivals and summer concert series, there are
just a handful of places to regularly hear live
music year round. Perhaps the two biggest are
Bases Loaded restaurant in Antioch and E.J.
Phair Brewing Company in Pittsburg, which
provide quality rock bands on the weekend.
But if your musical tastes favor softer,
more nuanced music like classical or jazz,
the pickings are even slimmer. The classical
offerings are limited to occasional Contra
Costa Chamber Orchestra concerts at Los
Medanos College and occasional organ
recitals at St. Ignatius Church in Antioch.
The only place to hear live jazz is Scottie’s
Shutters Brasserie restaurant in Brentwood.
That’s where I play piano with the Delta Jazz
Trio every Friday and Saturday from 7 to 9
p.m. Outside of the world famous Yoshi’s jazz
club in Oakland, Scottie’s restaurant is one
of the few venues in the East Bay to hear live
jazz. Although it’s been called America’s only
indigenous art form, jazz has fallen on hard
times in this country, and actually has been
much more popular in Europe and Japan for
half a century.
That wasn’t always the case. The 1920s
were dubbed “The Jazz Age,” and big bands
ruled popular music in the 1930s and ’40s.
They played songs written for Broadway
shows and Hollywood films written by great
songwriters like George and Ira Gershwin,
Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, Cole
Porter, Irving Berlin, Harold Arlen, Hoagy
Carmichael and on and on. Tunes like “As
Time Goes By,” which is featured in the
classic film “Casablanca,” “Somewhere Over
the Rainbow” from “The Wizard of Oz” and
“My Funny Valentine” are still familiar to
many people today.
But jazz took a detour in the late 1940s
with the advent of bebop. This was
instrumental music without hummable
melodies, straightforward harmony was
replaced by complex chord changes, and the
focus was no longer on dancing or singing
but on showing off the virtuosity of soloists.
The audience was no longer front and center
on the dance floor, but now reduced to
passive listening while cool cats blew, some
of them, like Miles Davis, turning their backs
on the audience as they did so.
As a result, most people drifted away,
especially once Elvis and rock took hold in
the mid-’50s. Then after The Beatles’ English
invasion in 1963, it was pretty much all
over for jazz. Many musicians hung up their
horns while others tried to adapt, playing
jazzy versions of pop hits that too often
sounded like elevator music. Although there
was a revival of interest in the ’80s and ’90s,
bringing back some of the jazz legends now
past their prime, jazz never recovered and it
has sunk into a niche music.
As the last of the jazz greats die off, it
seems that jazz itself is following. The
Sacramento Jazz Jubilee, which was once
one of the largest in the country featuring
traditional jazz from the 1920s (also known
as Dixieland), is now the generic Sacramento
Music Festival. Yoshi’s is no longer an
exclusively jazz house, now needing to book
rock, funk, blues and world music acts to
stay alive, particularly in its San Francisco
the Great
location. An exception is the Monterey Jazz
Festival, which appears to still be going strong
after 55 years.
Jazz education has been popular in
community colleges and the Berkeley Jazz
School. But after the students graduate,
there are few places where they can play.
Most musicians can’t even find a part-time
gig anywhere, and fewer than 1 percent are
talented or lucky enough to make a living
playing jazz. The Diana Kralls are quite the
Jazz music will live on, of course, on
records. But recorded music, as great as it is,
has a museum-like aspect about it. For jazz
to really come alive, it must be played and
listened to live.
Which is why Scottie’s Shutters Brasserie
restaurant is so special. Not only does it
serve excellent food (check out the Yelp
reviews), but it’s also a small oasis of jazz in
East County. The Delta Jazz Trio makes no
claim of being one of the great piano-bass-
drum trios, but we enjoy what we do and we
prefer those wonderful tunes from The Great
American Songbook with hummable melodies
and witty, intelligent lyrics.
Come by and check it out sometime.
Scottie’s restaurant is on Sunset Road at
Elkins Way in Brentwood. The website is and you can make
reservations by calling 925-516-4131.
by Dave Roberts
The Delta Jazz Trio (Gary Chulla-drums, Zander Fierros-
bass, Dave Roberts-piano) performing with guest saxa-
phonist Roy Henderson at Trilogy at the Vineyards in
Brentwood. The trio plays every Friday and Saturday night
at Scottie’s Shutters Brasserie restaurant in Brentwood.
“The only place to hear
live jazz is at Scottie’s
Shutters Brasserie in