Charles McPherson, the great jazz saxophonist coming out of his first year, will play a concert on Saturday for his 82nd birthday
What happens when all of your European and North American concerts and tours fail due to the global coronavirus pandemic?
For the great alto saxophone Charles McPherson, there have been several answers. They include: winning two top national honors; online registration and teaching; perform the first drive-in jazz concert ever held in San Diego; and – seven days a week, without fail – practicing tirelessly.
“Like a lot of people, I lost a lot of work, but I haven’t lost an ounce of passion for music. It’s just as good for me now as it was when I was 22, ”said the longtime resident of Talmadge, whose 82nd anniversary sold-out concert takes place on Saturday at Queen Bee’s Art & Cultural Center in North Park.
“The phenomenon of playing music is still here for me.”
This claim was easily confirmed during his formidable duet concert broadcast live on May 17 with pianist Randy Porter at the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library in La Jolla.
It included selections from McPherson’s sublime 2020 album, “Jazz Dance Suites,” which was inspired and dedicated to his daughter, Camille, 28. She is a featured soloist with the San Diego Ballet, of which her father was the composer. -residence since 2015.
“Jazz Dance Suites” earned her the honors of Album of the Year and Artist of the Year in the Jazz Times Annual Readership Survey. Buzz is now preparing for a possible Grammy nomination.
The album features McPherson as both a composer, conductor, soloist and ensemble player whose artistic mastery and imagination grows year after year. This commission will be on display at Queen Bee’s, where he will lead a group consisting of 2021 Grammy Award winner John Beasley on piano and top San Diego artists including trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos, bassist Rob Thorsen and drummer Tyler Kreutel.
“I would like Pay play with Charles! said Los Angeles-based Beasley, whose 2020 Hollywood Bowl concert with McPherson failed due to the pandemic. The two perform together on Beasley’s upcoming big band album, “Bird Lives,” a Charlie Parker tribute to be released this fall.
“Charles is so intelligent and curious, and he continues to evolve,” continued the pianist. “It’s amazing to see the arc of his art from the 1960s to today. You can put it in any musical situation, and it will sound great.
“Charles is the definitive master of the alto saxophone,” admitted his alto colleague Charlie Arbelaez, director of music programming for Queen Bee. “I have taken lessons from him and he is so prolific and inspiring.”
In 2019, McPherson performed his 80th birthday concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. Although disappointed that he hadn’t been able to tour since the start of last year, he used the extra time to hone his skills by training tirelessly.
“You can approach it so that you can be the boss of the saxophone, not the saxophone the boss of you,” said McPherson, whose training regimen includes full solo concerts even though no audiences are present. .
“To be very successful you must have a high level of craftsmanship and artistry unimpeded by time, space or physics. This is what I try a lot to do, to be in this area, this area of free flowing consciousness ideas and being able to access it.
“It’s the ultimate for me – technique, head, heart, intuition, sensation, left brain, right brain – doing everything together as seamlessly as possible.”
Charles McPherson 82nd Birthday Celebration Concert
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Or: Queen Bee Arts and Culture Center, 3925 Ohio St., North Park
Tickets: Out of print
Call: (619) 255-5147