The Cuenca Bollenback Blades Trio Comes to Bird & Beckett

by on May 12, 2016

Sylvia Cuenca, one of the Bay Area’s best drummers returns from NYC with yet another stellar trio, featuring acclaimed guitarist Paul Bollenback, and local favorite, organist Wil Blades. This Saturday night, Cuenca and her trio will roll into Bird & Beckett in Glen Park, as part of her annual series of wonderful west coast performances, university concerts and clinics.

Long time fans will know that Cuenca performed for 17 years with trumpet legend Clark Terry at venues such as the Village Vanguard and Blue Note in New York City. She toured internationally for 4 years with saxophonist Joe Henderson, including trio settings with Henderson and bassists Charlie Haden or George Mraz.

I’ve actually known guitarist Paul Bollenback for more decades than I care to count; Suffice it to say, he’s one of my personal favorites. Bollenback’s first solo effort received the blessing of none other than the legendary guitarist John McLaughlin, and made his major recording debut on saxophonist Gary Thomas’s “Seventh Quadrant” album (Enja). Following his performance the the late, great saxophonist Stanley Turrentine, he established a working relationship with organ legend Joey DeFrancesco in 1990, an association that continues to this day, and has produced eighteen recordings. One such album, “Live at Voce” featured DeFrancesco, Bollenback, drummer Steve Gadd and saxophonist Ronnie Cuber, and saw the group in fine form when they came to Yoshi’s.

Blades is one of the busiest organists I’ve ever seen, performing with a virtual who’s who of legends and locals; His duo album “Shimmy” with Billy Martin of Modeski Martin and Wood, is still among my favorites. Blades has performed with John Lee Hooker, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Melvin Sparks, Idris Muhammad, Donald Harrison, Nicholas Payton, Charlie Hunter, the aforementioned Martin, Jason Marsalis, Eddie Marshall, and John Scofield. If you missed him at SFJazz, The Madrone Lounge, The Boom Boom Room, Duende or Terrapin Crossroads with many of the aforementioned luminaries, now’s your chance.

I’ve seen each of these musicians in a wide variety of musical settings over the years; but never in this configuration. This is a rare opportunity to see a fabulous organ trio in a truly intimate setting. You won’t want to miss it!

The Cuenca Bollenback Blades Trio
Saturday, May 14th @ 7:30 pm
Bird & Beckett Books & Records
653 Chenery Street
San Francisco, CA 94131

E. ”Doc” Smith

E. "Doc" Smith is a musician, producer and recording artist with Edgetone Records, who has worked with the likes of Brian Eno, Madonna, Mickey Hart and many others. He is also the inventor of the musical instrument, the Drummstick and makes his home in San Francisco.

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