Jazz at the Chimes Series Returns, Kicks Off New Season Jan. 15

Vocalist Ed Reed, a DownBeat magazine "rising star" at age 82, will open the 2012 series

, a series that features Bay Area musicians, is returning to Piedmont Avenue after a three-year hiatus.

The new season kicks off Sunday, Jan. 15, with a performance by Ed Reed, 82, a jazz vocalist who recorded his first CD in 2007 after a lifetime of singing at venues that have ranged from the Warden's Band at San Quentin Prison to Yoshi's in Oakland and San Francisco to Marian's Jazzroom in Bern, Switzerland.

The jazz series at the, 4499 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, ran from 2006 to 2009, when it fell victim to budget cuts. The series has been revived by Northstar, the new owner of the Chapel, according to a press release.

Reed, who will turn 83 in February, is calling this his “Birthday Concert” and will be joined on this date by two other jazz musicians who also have roots in the Bay Area, Anton Schwartz on saxophone and Randy Porter on piano.

The concert will begin at 2 p.m. on Jan. 15. Free parking is available. The concert will be followed by a reception where the public can meet the artists and purchase CDs.

Tickets, available at the door (cash only), are $15 general; $10 seniors (60+) and students for the concert and reception. Kids under 12 are free. Ticket sales begin at 12:30 p.m.; doors open 1:30 p.m.

According to his biography, Reed was born in Cleveland, Ohio, relocating with his family at age 7 to Los Angeles, where his father worked as a waiter on the Southern Pacific Railroad and was active in the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.

"Ed Reed fell in love with jazz on the radio and, at age 11, learned how to sing to chord changes from Charles Mingus, his then-teenage neighbor," the biography says.

"He began using heroin while in the army and, after being kicked out, returned to Los Angeles and tried to launch a singing career that was quickly undermined by his addiction. He was in and out of prison during much of the ’50s and ’60s, yet managed to continue singing. During his last of his three stretches at San Quentin, he performed with the Warden’s Band, a 17-piece jazz orchestra that also included saxophonist Art Pepper.

"Clean and sober for the past 25 years, Ed Reed works with addicts, alcoholics, and their families as a health educator. In the early 1990s, he started to sing again in public at San Francisco Bay Area restaurants and clubs.

"Since the release of his debut disc, Reed has appeared at a number of the world’s most prominent jazz venues, including Yoshi’s in Oakland and San Francisco, the Brasserie Jazz Lounge in Los Angeles, Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley in Seattle, the Jazz Standard in New York City, Scullers Jazz Club in Boston, and Marian's Jazzroom in Bern, Switzerland.

"He was the featured guest on Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz hour-long National Public Radio program in 2008 and the subject of a Wall Street Journal article by Nat Hentoff in 2009."

Reed's recently released Born to Be Blue was a DownBeat Editors Pick in July 2011.

For more information on Reed, see his website and this JazzWest feature.

For more about the series, see Jazz at the Chimes on Facebook.

The Chapel of the Chimes, a columbarium/mausoleum designed by architect Julia Morgan, is a designated City of Oakland Landmark.


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