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Yoshi's Oakland

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Dining Reservations

Student Discounts

Dinner:
Monday-Wednesday
5:30pm to 9:00pm

Thursday-Saturday
5:30pm to 10:00pm

Sunday
5:00PM to 9:00PM
*Open 2 hours before the show

Happy Hour:
Mon-Sat
4:30-6pm



Yoshi's Oakland
510 Embarcadero West
Jack London Square
Oakland, CA 94607
Phone: 510.238.9200


press reviews

Yoshi's new S.F. site wins accolades from both sides of the stage
by Jesse Hamlin
San Francisco Chronicle

Dennis Hartelius was happy to drop a C-note to get into the grand opening of Yoshi's in San Francisco Wednesday night, when a blazing septet led by the great drummer Roy Haynes christened the elegant new Fillmore Street club at the heart of the city's emerging Fillmore Jazz Preservation District.

"Some people go to church. This is our church," said Hartelius, 60, a commercial photographer from Lafayette who made the opening-night scene with his brother-in-law, fellow jazz freak Marty Duggan. They're regulars at the slightly smaller Yoshi's in Oakland - they were the first in line when that Jack London Square club opened its doors a decade ago - and snapped up a pair of tickets to the first set of the sold-out San Francisco opener.

"We had to come," said Hartelius, who raved about the all-star band Yoshi's put together for the occasion - Haynes' Birds of a Feather band augmented by vibraphonist Gary Burton and tenor saxophonist Ravi Coltrane - and gave a thumb's up to the sound and feeling of the 420-seat room. His brother-in-law was equally high on the music but not completely sold on the space, which he compared to the Oakland Yoshi's.

"It's not as intimate," Duggan said.

Perhaps not, but it's close. The new $10 million nightclub and restaurant, which occupies the ground floor of the new 12-story Fillmore Heritage Center that houses condos and a planned jazz museum, looks and feels a lot like its graceful East Bay sister. Designed by the same architectural firm, Morimoto Matano Kang Architects, the high-ceilinged space has curving walls, wave-like soffits and a mix of light and dark woods. The club itself, washed in pale lavender light glowing from inside Plexiglas entry panels, is a two-story fan-shaped amphitheater with a semi-circular stage and seating for about 100 in the mezzanine. There are no poles blocking anybody's view of the stage.

"I love it," Burton said between sets. "Everybody can see. And the acoustics seem fine. When you're onstage, the audience is right there, all around you. It felt intimate."

A longtime Haynes associate who featured the exhilarating drummer in his 1960s group, Burton was clearly enjoying himself Wednesday night. Riding on Haynes' crisp, dancing percussion, the vibraphonist improvised flowing ribbons of melody and ringing long tones hammered out with four mallets, two in each hand.

Haynes, a vital 82-year-old who has made music with an extraordinary range of artists - Louis Armstrong, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Stan Getz, John Coltrane and Pat Metheny among them - lit a fire under the other soloists, too: trumpeter Nicholas Payton, alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett, pianist David Kikoski, bassist John Patitucci and Ravi Coltrane (son of the late saxophone giant).

They poured out bracing bop-rooted solos on tunes drawn primarily from Haynes' 2001 Charlie Parker tribute CD, "Birds of a Feather." They hit the ground swinging with a popping ride through Parker's "Diverse" and closed the first show with a crackling-fast take on Dizzy Gillespie's "Blue 'n' Boogie." In between came the rhapsodic Pat Metheny waltz "Question and Answer," with Payton and Garrett harmonizing the melody and riffing brilliantly off each other, and an intriguing version of "My Heart Belongs to Daddy," built on a sidling six-beat groove Haynes tapped out on his hi-hat. A melodic drummer with an elastic sense of time, he subtly shifted meter and tempo as the piece took shape, coloring the sound with splashing cymbals, a sudden crack of the snare, a deep tom-tom rumble and the clack of stick on stick.

Coltrane took the spotlight for a tender account of Thelonious Monk's lovely ballad "Ask Me Now" before the full band returned for the roaring Gillespie blues. The crowd stood and cheered after the musicians left the stage, but the hoped-for encore was not forthcoming. The band had only a short break before the house was turned for the sold-out late show.

Thursday night, Haynes' Birds of a Feather Band, minus guests Burton and Coltrane, opened a four-night run at Yoshi's Oakland. Tonight through Sunday, Taj Mahal & the Phantom Blues Band performs at the San Francisco club; Thursday through Dec. 8, Taj's trio plus guests play the Oakland venue. The idea is to showcase the same artist in varied musical settings, drawing different audiences to clubs on both sides of the bay. That's why Yoshi's artistic director Peter Williams has booked Chick Corea's acoustic Freedom Band at the San Francisco club from Tuesday through Dec. 9 and the pianist's Electrik Band into Yoshi's Oakland the following week.

The club's owners, Kaz Kajimura and his ex-wife, Yoshi Akiba, who started Yoshi's about 30 years ago in a cozy little spot on Oakland's Claremont Avenue, are betting the jazz audience here is big enough to support two major clubs. Roy Wheaton hopes they can pull it off. He lives in the Richmond District and loves the idea of not having to go to Oakland all the time to hear major artists.

"This is Yoshi's - great jazz," said Wheaton, 64, a high-tech headhunter with a long, silver pony tail and a trim mustache. "Opening night is always exciting," added Wheaton, who thinks the room's sound balance needs tweaking - he couldn't hear the piano clearly from his corner seat - but was otherwise delighted. "The band was incredible," he said. "It was worth five times what I paid."

 

Roy Haynes' Birds of a Feather Band:

8 and 10 tonight and Saturday, 7 and 9 p.m. Sunday. Yoshi's in Oakland, 510 Embarcadero West. Tickets: $16-$28. (510) 238-9200. Taj Mahal & the Phantom Blues Band. 8 and 10 tonight and Saturday, 7 and 9 p.m. Sunday. Yoshi's San Francisco, 1330 Fillmore St. Tickets: $32-$36. (415) 655-5600. www.yoshis.com.

E-mail Jesse Hamlin at jhamlin@sfchronicle.com.

This article appeared on page E - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle


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