The Electric Squeezebox Orchestra Is Sure to Impress

In the midst of a long run of Sunday afternoon performances, the band celebrates the release of its third album joined by the special guests featured on the project.


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The Electric Squeezebox Orchestra plays regularly at the CJC.

Photo courtesy Electric Squeezebox Orchestra.

Every time the Electric Squeezebox Orchestra assembles at the California Jazz Conservatory is a special occasion. The 17-piece ensemble brings together an extraordinary array of players, arrangers, and composers who use the band as a proving ground for new ideas and pieces.

Directed by El Cerrito trumpeter Erik Jekabson, the ESO held down a Sunday night residency at Doc’s Lab in North Beach for several years, a gig the band parlayed into national recognition with the release of 2015’s Cheap Rent.

More than five dozen musicians have participated in the orchestra since its inception, and its regular cast includes heavyweights like saxophonists Sheldon Brown, Larry De La Cruz, Mike Zilber, Marcus Stephens, and Charlie Gurke. Many of the players are drawn by the opportunity to write for a strong ensemble with a weekly gig.

Since finding a home as artists-in-residence at Berkeley’s California Jazz Conservatory, the ESO has continued to hone impressive new material, tunes documented on last year’s critically hailed second album, The Falling Dream (which earned a coveted four-and-a-half star review from the venerable jazz magazine Downbeat). In the midst of another long run of Sunday afternoon performances, the band celebrates the release of its third album, A Matter, joined by all of the special guests featured on the project.

Over the past few years, poet/percussionist Avotcja, and vocalists Sandy Cressman, Madeline Eastman, Kenny Washington, and Kalil Wilson have all joined the band to perform arrangements written specifically for them, songs they’ll reprise at the CJC Sunday. Much like the ESO itself, the singers represent the depth and striking originality of the Bay Area’s jazz talent pool.

The Electric Squeezebox Orchestra, 5:30 p.m., Sun. June 30, $25, California Jazz Conservatory’s Rendon Hall, Berkeley.

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