SFJAZZ Spring Season picks

As I mentioned earlier, SFJAZZ's Spring Season is an embarrassment of musical riches. With 46 concerts to choose from, it's difficult to narrow it down to a dozen or so and I would happily attend at least 30 of these shows. It's like having to choose between a date with Sophia Loren or Marilyn Monroe and not even getting the chance to think about choosing Elizabeth Taylor instead.

However, after careful deliberation, below are ten I wouldn't want to miss. Hard choices to be sure, but the criteria basically involved the opportunity to see and hear something rare, unique, and different. With the exception of Rickie Lee Jones and Marcus Roberts, who are too good to pass up,  I decided I would leave out any performers I've seen before, which will account for the absence of what many would consider obvious first choices.

My 10 picks:

Marcus Roberts Trio  3/17  Roberts is one today's best pianists and his trio recently released New Orleans meets Harlem. They'll likely hit it hard and hit it smart.

Yasmin Levy  03/20  SFJAZZ brings some of the most arresting international performers to the Bay Area- these shows are usually my favorites. Levy "melds Ladino melodies with vibrant cadences of flamenco, a style with shared roots in Spain’s Moorish past."

Madeleine Peyroux  04/08  Peyroux evokes an ineluctable place somewhere between Billie Holiday and Rickie Lee Jones.

Max Raabe & Palast Orchester  04/09   The Weimar Republic is alive, well and will be present on the stage of the Paramount Theatre.

Gabriela Montero  05/01 Jazz intersects with Classical on solo piano, with improv. As an admirer of Jacques Loussier, I think this show looks really promising.

CéU 05/06 Brazil's latest intriguing singer has a sound that brings samba to places it hasn't been before.

Lionel Loueke Trio  05/20 Guitarist Loueke brings a distinct West African influence to highly intricate arrangements, blurring the line between traditional and adverturous.

Rickie Lee Jones   05/27 She'll be performing her eponymous debut album and Pirates in their entirety for this show. Enough said.

A Night in Treme  06/10 A musical portrait of New Orleans featuring musicians who have appeared on the acclaimed show.

Ana Moura  06/25 Portuguese Fado. Another gig which promises to transport the audience to another place.

Tickets are now on sale.