L i v i n g in W a v e s
Being preoccupied with waves - especially of light and sound - has led Bert to collaborate on some great music, to travel the world with his camera, and even to develop some of the technologies people use everyday.
Life too comes in waves, and in the past few years Bert has been playing more music than ever, with a wide variety of shows in Northern and Southern CA celebrating guitarists, trumpeters and composers who've been major influences.
These aren't exactly shows, but Bert performs on trumpet, flugelhorn and occasional vocals every Weds eve at Max's of Burlingame with the Four Corners Jazz Ensemble, and the first Thurs of every month at the Ramp SF with Syd Williams' Midnite Flyte. He also frequently participates in jams led by Andrew Speight every Wednesday night at Burlingame's Broadway Grill, Tod Dickow every other Thursday night at Pacifica's Longboard Margarita Bar, and John Harris every other Sunday at Woodside's Pioneer Saloon.
This backyard festival on Sat Sep 10 in Woodside was more fun than any of us could possibly have imagined! And it was recorded! Mixing is in process.
For a huge retirement community in Monterey, Megan joined us on Aug 21 to perform "songs from every decade you can remember". The community includes centenarians, so we started with a tune from 1905!
Bert's Brew is a rotating roster of great musicians performing in multiple genres.
On Thursday June 9 we brought two very special sets to the Pioneer Saloon stage in Woodside: first at 8pm North Texas State saxophonist and composer Dave Dolengewicz led a quartet through his blistering jazz originals and some tasty standards, then from 9 to 11 I crooned my way through a preview our Park Lane concert.
Memorial Day weekend we were in Sonoma for a birthday party and Livermore for a wine festival. The setlist celebrated our fallen musical heroes, with some magic moments as Taylor Goss and I spent over ten minutes exploring where Duane and Gregg Allman took Dickey Betts' masterpiece "In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed". Here's a link to our recording. Then while we were vamping on Gregg's Sweet Melissa, somewhere around 3pm the trumpet found my hand for a stirring rendition of Taps.
On Thu Apr 21, also in Livermore, we did a whole night of originals - many that have not been performed since Take Me Home was released in 1979, and others that have never been heard! It was something of a career retrospective, with Charlie Channel, Spencer Gump, Tim Price, and John Triska! Plus young Stanford guitarist Taylor Goss sittin' in. Check out the video here
Then on Sat Apr 23, Bert's Brew provided 4 hours of space jams for Earth Day celebrants on San Francisco's Ocean Beach! Hope to do that again next year.
26yo drummer Drue Wilson has been kicking (b)ass on tunes twice his age. He certainly did this at the historic Pioneer Saloon in Woodside CA on Feb 26!
Mikel Bee's Four Corners Jazz Ensemble - anything but square - performed two nights at Max's of Burlingame. The recording and video are pretty nice too, tap the poster to listen:
Also at the Pioneer, last December we paid tribute to the man who reinvented electric blues.
American Songwriter podcaster Adam Lisicky interviewed Bert for Bringin' it Backwards. Bert's weave of tech and music is full of surprises, give it a listen:
Manhole Music is an independent record label formed on the Stanford campus in 1979 to release the first pressing of Take Me Home, Bert's vinyl now collected as a psychedelic folk classic. The label has grown to include a dozen artists in jazz, folk and psychedelic rock.
Latest release on Manhole Music: Circle back!
Rolling Stone Magazine chose a duo from this box set to premiere in April, and in May Relix premiered the FOBs backing Bob Weir on "Jack Playin' Jane" - a 28 minute weave of Bob's and Bert's guitars through Bob's compositions Jack Straw and Playin' in the Band, ending with Dylan's Queen Jane Approximately.
All 22 tracks are now streaming worldwide on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Pandora etc.
To find all the details plus high-quality downloads, visit ManholeMusic.com
Deep Dives by Bert & Izzy
A latin jazz quintet that Bert co-leads with esteemed Puerto Rican pianist/producer Izzy Tanenbaum has brought 8 entirely different shows to a dinner theater in Northern CA. With the energy of latin and the harmonic palette of jazz, they've honored songwriters ranging from Joan Baez to Stevie Wonder to Sting to Leon Russell to Izzy himself. Highlights have been collected into a live album available as CDs and downloads at ManholeMusic.com, and available for streaming on all major platforms.
Videos from Mar 6 2020 (our last Deep Dive concert before the pandemic)
Most people who know about Herb Alpert think of a kind of smooth mariachi he created in the early 60s, inspired by music he heard at a Tijuana bullfight. But he also created the most successful independent record label in history, with a roster that will blow your mind. Below you can hear our renditions of two tunes released on A&M Records (stands for Alpert and Moss).
Bert's Brew:Stanford and Psychedelia
There’s a current in music that arguably got its start on the Stanford campus in 1960, when Ken Kesey was a grad student there. This concert, performed to a packed Campbell Recital Hall on the Stanford campus in Oct 2019, laid out the evidence for that argument. The performance featured the work of amazing Stanford visual artists projected on the wall behind us. Tapping the photo opens to our mid-concert rendition of Strawberry Fields Forever, with the aerial photographs of Stanford classmate George Steinmetz.
Bert & Izzy's Deep Dive series:
The Wonder born Stevland
Stevie Wonder survived an incredibly difficult childhood to become one of the most successful songwriters of all time. So many of his tunes sound great in a latin style that Izzy and I had a hard time keeping the show under two hours. Stevie's vocal style is nearly untouchable, and Joan Baez who attended this show whispered to me it was a bit odd watching a white boy try to sing his songs. But what goes around comes around - the next night she went to the Stones concert where Mick Jagger was doing much the same. And the hit single Stevie wrote in 1965 - Uptight (Everything's Alright) - was inspired by Satisfaction!
Latin Jazz Standards
My latin jazz partner Izzy Tanenbaum has the deepest rolodex of latin artists that I know. For this performance of latin jazz standards, we were joined by Julius Melendez (from the Santana band) on trumpet, Carlos Ramirez on vocals and hand percussion, and Hazel Bermudez on vocals, along with the latin sax & flute specialist Tod Dickow (who our friend Smith Dobson was kind enough to introduce to us).
The Blue Note Catalog
Blue Note Records was started by two Ashkenazi Jews who escaped Berlin in the late 1930s and settled in New York City with the mission of finding the heart of jazz, which they found among African-Americans who were writing their own music. Starting in the late 40s with the great Thelonius Monk, they amassed a catalog of bebop, hard bop and post bop recordings that are still growing in popularity a half a century later. SmithDobson V, having recently performed an all-Monk show at SFJazz, was primed to join us for this show - tap here for three of the Monk tunes we performed
Another of our heroes who got his start in Tijuana, Carlos grew up playing a bit of mariachi fiddle and a lot of R&B guitar. After following his parents to Northern CA, he was discovered by Bill Graham and catapulted into worldwide fame with his band's unforgettable performance at Woodstock.
Latinbaum - Izzy's tree of latin jazz
Our first Latin Deep Dive focused on Izzy's own journey from Puerto Rico to Colombia and Boston and now - lucky for us - to the Bay Area. Featuring Charlie Channel on bass, Tio Pabon on congas, and the incredible Curt Moore on drums.
Bert's brew featuring Tommy Occhiuto
In 1959, tenor saxophonist Lester Young died from "alcohol use disorder". His bandmate Charles Mingus wrote an elegy, Goodbye Pork Pie Hat. Tommy blew our minds and got radio airplay with this beautiful rendition we performed at a place called SharePath. This live recording also features Chris Cortez on drums, Charlie Channel on bass, Jansen Verplank on keys, and yours truly on guitar.
Channeling Chet Baker
In 1950, a 20 year old Army Band trumpeter living in SF's Presidio and playing after hours in the tenderloin was asked by Charlie Parker to fill in for Miles Davis on Parker's west coast gigs. The rest is history.
Tap Doug Klein's photo to play video:
Dark Side of the Moon performed by a trio
2017's total solar eclipse inspired the trio of guitarist Bert Keely, drummer Larry Marcus, and pianist Roger Bourland to perform Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon from start to finish with nothing pre-recorded but an alarm clock and a cash register. Here's a sample of how it was done live at Angelica's Bistro in Redwood City CA.
Photo by Lex Passaris (from the Hollywood show)
In addition to albums released by various ensembles at manholemusic.com, you can find several solo recordings by Bert:
Cinema Paradiso (Main Theme)
Jimi Hendrix' Angel
Steely Dan's Black Cow
Bertseye - a photoblog
Bert dove into digital photography to capture the sights while making psychedelic sounds, touring the US as guitarist in the Flying Other Brothers. Eight coffee table books of Bert's photography are available at Blurb.com/user/bzbert.
For a short photoblog of familial moments, click here