California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

Filler ad

Jazz Buzz: Yoshi’s

Terrence Blanchard playing his trumpet.

Known as one of the best jazz clubs in the country, Yoshi’s Jazz Club in Oakland is a great place for Bay Area jazz fans to have a night out.

Now in its 14th year at the Jack London Square location, Yoshi features live jazz every night of the week and good quality sushi.

With ticket prices starting at $14, the affordability makes it easy to experience world-class musicians and the club is close to Bart, AC Transit, Amtrak and the Alameda/Oakland Ferry.

Yoshi’s began in 1973 as a small, north Berkeley sushi bar owned by a trio of struggling students.

Its founder and namesake, Yoshi Akiba, orphaned during World War II, came to the U.S. to study fine arts, dance and dance therapy.

She opened Yoshi’s Japanese Restaurant in North Oakland with her two best friends Kaz Kajimura, a journalist and carpenter, and Hiroyuki Hori, a painter and Japanese cook.

In 1997, the award-winning 330 seat jazz club setting opened its doors in Oakland’s Jack London Square.

Presenting the finest in jazz and latin jazz, as well as blues, neo-soul, afro-cuban and African music, the Yoshi’s experience is the ultimate delight in a classy, colorful and intimate setting.

Be prepared to let go of your personal space. The club gets packed, the tables are tiny, and everyone is friendly.

Most impressive is that the performance hall is so well insulated, guests can’t hear the freight and Amtrak trains as they periodically rumble down Embarcadero.

Jazz legends such as Betty Carter, Max Roach, Abbey Lincoln, Dizzy Gillespie and Oscar Peterson among hundreds of others are part of the Yoshi’s Oakland archival history that crowd the club’s walls.

Among the acts closing out this summer’s calendar was New Orleans born Terrence Blanchard, who at age eight played alongside childhood friend and fellow jazz star Wynton Marsalis in summer music camps.

Boasting over 50 scores and four Grammy awards to his name, Blanchard seduced audiences with his sleek post-bop sound.

Sharing the stage with Blanchard were saxophonist Brice Winston of Tucson, pianist Fabian Almazan of Havana, bassist Derrick Hodge of Los Angeles and drummer Kendrick Scott of Houston.

“My drummer is the most creative drummer I’ve ever met,” said Blanchard.  “When our eyes are closed, it means we’re counting our asses off.”

When recording companies refused to sign them, Scott and Hodge started their own recording label, World Culture Music, in New York City.

“The band hit with a lot of flavor,” said Lewis Williamson Nelson, a voice over actor in the audience.

Originally a straight-ahead jazz musician, Blanchard is making waves on the jazz scene as he sets new standards, infusing the crucible of catastrophe as it impels creative expression to new heights.

From his artistic responses to the 9/11 terrorist attacks to the war in Iraq to the pummeling of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Blanchard is taking his music to another level and changing the face of jazz.

“As a patron of jazz for many years, I didn’t hear anything that was familiar,” said Bobby Warren, 81, owner of Oakland’s King’s Gym.  “I loved the music even though I didn’t understand it at first.”

“As artists we document our social surroundings and give our impressions of events,” said Blanchard.  “Life is all about expansion and evolution. We make choices every day, none of which are right or wrong. They are simply choices that allow us to explore the variety of what’s before us.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Pioneer Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Activate Search
California State University East Bay
Jazz Buzz: Yoshi’s