Spring Student Recitals

Join us for our annual end-of-year recitals.

Tentative Schedule (subject to change as program develops)

11-12 am  Our youngest Students Perform

12-01 pm Upper Elementary Grades

01-02 pm Grades 4+ plus advanced young students

02-03 pm Choirs


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“Collaborations!” A Series of Student Performances

Join us for our annual “Collaborations” event where all student perform with at least one other student.

Tentative Schedule (subject to change as program develops)

11-12 am  Our youngest Students Perform

12-01 pm Upper Elementary Grades

01-02 pm Grades 4+ plus advanced young students

02-03 pm Choirs

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June Student Recitals

Students demonstrate all of the skills and knowledge they have gained in their musical studies thus far. These fantastic events feature students of all ages and abilities.

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FREE Event!!! Celebrating Sun Ra’s 103rd Birthday with A Joyful Noise!

For our second Sun Ra birthday event at Musically Minded Academy, we’ll be hosting a free party, that will include from 6-8 PM:

In The Moment Concert and Radio Producer Jim Bennett, spinning Sun Ra vinyl, and playing back live performances of Sun Ra material from last year’s birthday celebration, featuring The Stray Horns, led by David Slusser. Refreshments will include Sun Ra’s recipe for Moon Stew, and an out of this world concoction tentatively named Saturn Punch

At 8PM, we will show the film Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise.

Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise is a 1980 jazz film by Robert Mugge documenting performances by Sun Ra and his Arkestra in Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Baltimore, and also including interviews and rehearsal footage. Light years ahead of his time, composer, keyboard player, bandleader, poet, and philosopher Sun Ra coupled images of outer space with those of ancient Egypt, acoustic instruments with electronic ones, and modern American musical genres (jazz, soul, gospel, blues, swing) with the sounds of Africa and the Caribbean. He also combined his music with dance, poetry, colorful costumes and backdrops, and pure theatricality, influencing other innovative musical ensembles as diverse as the Art Ensemble of Chicago, George Clinton’s Parliament Funkadelic, and Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, and he was among the first musicians to use electronic keyboards and portable synthesizers in public performance. For his one-hour documentary, Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise, Robert Mugge spent two years shooting Sun Ra and members of his  jazz Arkestra in a wide variety of situations. Ensemble performances were filmed at Baltimore’s Famous Ballroom, at Danny’s Hollywood Palace in Philadelphia, and on the roof of Philadelphia’s International House on the edge of the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. Sun Ra’s poetry and mythological pronouncements were filmed in the Egyptian Room of the University of Pennsylvania’s anthropology museum, in a sculpture garden in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park, in front of the White House in Washington, D.C., and inside and outside of the house he shared with key band members in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. Interviews with band members were filmed inside and outside of the house, as well as inside their nearby Pharaoh’s Den food store, and a band rehearsal and a solo keyboard performance were filmed in the house as well. Transferred to HD from the original 16mm film and lovingly restored for the best possible viewing experience. Songs performed in the film include such Sun Ra classics as “Astro Black,” “Mister Mystery,” “We Travel the Spaceways,” “Along Came Ra/The Living Myth,” “Spaceship Earth (Destination Unknown), “Requiem for Trevor Johnson,” and many more.

At 9PM, more DJ spinning, our second annual Space Is The Place Cake, poetry, dancers and other surprises

Donations are welcome at the door or for refreshments. These funds will be divided between Musically Minded’s moving fund, and Jim Bennett’s In The Moment Concert Series and Radio Show. 

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Celebrating Duke’s Birthday Part 2: Clarinet Thing plays Ellington

On Duke Ellington’s 118th birthday, Clarinet Thing concludes our two week celebration of his musical legacy, as part of the In The Moment Concert Series at Musically Minded Academy in Oakland.

Sheldon Brown, clarinets
Beth Custer, clarinets
Ben Goldberg, clarinets
Harvey Wainapel, clarinets

Clarinet Thing is a quartet of renowned jazz clarinetists featuring Sheldon Brown, Beth Custer, Ben Goldberg, Harvey Wainapel. Clarinet Thing performs arrangements of unusual jazz works and originals on the entire family of clarinets, from the small Eb clarinet up to the large contra alto clarinet. Clarinet and jazz enthusiasts of all ages abound at their concerts. All members have been regaled in the press and in 2011, Goldberg was named the ‘#1 Rising Star Clarinetist’ by the Downbeat Magazine’s Critic’s Poll.

Founded by Beth Custer in 1989, Clarinet Thing has amassed a large repertoire in it’s twenty-six years of performing including tunes by Herbie Nichols,Carla Bley, Jimmy Giuffre, Thelonious Monk, Eubie Blake, Abdullah Ibrahim, Alexandre Stellio, Duke Ellington, John Carter, and many others. Original compositions by band members are also performed.

Recent engagements include Berkeley Hillside Club, Berkeley City Club, Yoshi’s, Old First Concerts, Freight & Salvage, and countless other venues.

“Clarinet Thing’s first CD Agony Pipes and Misery Sticks was chosen the Top 10 CDs of Bay Area Jazz Artists: Features 16 lush and woody tracks the startlingly beautiful music is pithy and expansive like a great collection of short stories.”
—Andrew Gilbert, SF Chronicle

“Clarinet Thing is a killer quartet that plays a rich woody lend of original music, Ellingtonia, Brazilian choro…and other pieces that pop and sway with the pregnant sound of an improvising clarinet choir.” 
—Jesse Hamlin, San Francisco Chronicle


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Celebrating Duke’s Birthday Part 1: Stray Horns play Ellington

Named for Duke Ellington’s protege and intimate collaborator Billy Strayhorn, this little big band will explore corners of the ducal canon that still resonate in modern music. Trends like Exotica and the Bebop revolution will be shown to have clear precedent in the repertoire of the great Ellington Orchestra. Duke’s unique mastery of song form will be displayed in mash-ups, straight readings and updated approaches.

David Slusser – arranger, conductor, soprano and baritone saxophone
Annelise Zamula – alto saxophone
Sheldon Brown – clarinet, tenor saxophone
Mara Fox – trombone
Peter Anastos – trumpet
Joe McKinley – bass
Greg German – drums

David Slusser is a musician and sound artist active in the bay area since 1977. He was a founding member of the musical groups Jive Soup, Avant Gardeners, Pluto, Rubber City,Lost Planet and the Stray Horns. Through work with the ROVA saxophone quartet, he began an association with composer John Zorn in the mid eighties that led to touring and recording, and continues in the present. Through Zorn he met vocalist Mike Patton, who included him in a trio with drummer Han Bennink at the 1996 Saafelden Jazz Festival in Austria, and a large ensemble at the 2010 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. Zorn also introduced him to trumpeter Dave Douglas, in whose group he performed at Stanford in 2014. Writing for big band since high school, Slusser received two prizes in the 1999 Julius Hemphill Composition Awards, including first prize for jazz orchestra. He has also composed for film documentaries and public radio.

David Slusser’s “day job” has been doing sound for film or broadcast, starting with PBS in Cleveland in 1975, to his current position at Skywalker Sound in Marin County. Along the way, he worked often as music editor for directors George Lucas, Francis Coppola, and David Lynch, with whom he has co-composed music for his films. He received an Emmy award for sound editing in 1993 for the Young Indiana Jones television series, and two commercials he sound designed and mixed won Clio awards for advertising in 1993 and 1994. He also contributed sound design to James Cameron’s Terminator 2. This aspect of his work parallels his interest in musique concrete and electronic music. Slusser’s sound design is in the collections of both the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. What was supposed to be a short job at Pixar Animation Studios in 1996 lasted through 2013, where he helped to develop scores and sound design for their projects. 


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A Tribute to Helen Merrill with Vocalist Suzanna Smith

Suzanna Smith, vocals
Ian Carey, trumpet
Lee Bloom, piano
Adam Gay, bass
Jon Arkin, drums

Vocalist Suzanna Smith and her band celebrate the work of Helen Merrill, giving special focus to Merrill’s debut classic ‘Helen Merrill with Clifford Brown.’ Arranged and produced by Quincy Jones and released in 1955, the album features a fine collaboration between Merrill and Brown. The album had a direct influence on Smith’s early repertoire, as did Merrill’s warmth of timbre, acute sense of phrasing and soulful quality on Smith’s vocal style. For this concert, Suzanna Smith and her band will perform compositions from this recording as well as representative samples from the wide spectrum of Merrill’s discography.

The San Francisco Examiner calls Suzanna Smith “a jazz singer with sass and style to spare.” Her outstanding debut ‘Halfway Between Heaven & Love’, released by her label (Ink Pen Records) and co-produced by Kitty Margolis, highlights her sage treatments of standards and her talent for crafting successful original compositions and new lyrics to instrumental songs. Contemporary influences include jazz vocalists (as well as friends and mentors) Karrin Allyson and Kitty Margolis and her partner, the esteemed jazz vocalist Kenny Washington. Smith is also a creative force behind The Sound Room in Oakland and her newest project, The Peggy Lee Project, features an ongoing exploration of the work of Peggy Lee, with special emphasis on Ms. Lee’s original compositions.


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A Tribute to Kenny Kirkland with The Anne Sajdera Quintet

Harvey Wainapel, sax
Anne Sajdera, piano
Gary Brown, bass
Deszon Claiborne, drums
Ami Molinelli Hart, percussion

Though he only recorded one album as leader (1991), Kenny Kirkland’s genre-spanning work with major modern artists such as Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Miroslav Vitous, & Sting among others, gives him a uniquely honored place in the world of jazz and music in general. In this concert, pianist/composer Anne Sajdera and her Quintet will perform compositions from his 1991 recording as well as representative samples from the wide spectrum of Kirkland’s discography as a sideman. The quintet will also play a pair of Sajdera’s original compositions inspired particularly by Kirkland’s genius & creativity.

Pianist/composer Anne Sajdera has long been an invaluable part of the San Francisco Bay Area music scene—as leader of her own trio and performing with artists such as Alexa Weber Morales, Terrence Brewer and Sandy Cressman. Her outstanding debut Azul (JAZZIZ Magazine 2012 Top Ten Critic’s Poll, Latin Jazz Corner’s Great Latin Jazz Albums from 2012, number 5 for best new talent 2012 Jazz Station blog), released by her label (Bijuri Records) and co-produced by Ray Obiedo, highlights her exquisite touch, rhythmic acuity, and melodic resourcefulness. Sajdera’s newest project, a 10-piece jazz orchestra with strings and horns, weave together her roots in American and Brazilian jazz and her European and Hindustani classical training to create a unique musical tapestry.


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Student “Collaborations” Performances

Academy students perform with one another in duos, trios, quartets and more.

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Pianist Erika Oba Presents the Music of Carla Bley

This performance is the first of three in March featuring women in Jazz, as part of Jim Bennett’s In The Moment Concert Series. Jazz in the Neighborhood is pleased to announce that the musicians at this event will be paid in part through the Guaranteed Fair Wages Fund, a pilot program being undertaken by Mario Guarneri to ensure that performers receive guaranteed compensation regardless of ticket sales (and with no tip jar!)

Pianist Erika Oba will be joined by electric bassist Ariane Cap and tenor saxophonist Eli Maliwan to present an evening of music exploring the sonic possibilities of a drummer-less trio. They will pay tribute to Carla Bley and present arrangements and interpretations of selections from her vast body of work. Additionally, the trio will present original compositions and exploratory improvisations.

Erika Oba is a composer, pianist/flutist, and educator based in the SF Bay Area. As a composer she has written works commissioned by the Montclair Women’s Big Band, and Frances Feldon and the Galax Quartet. As a performer she is a member of the Montclair Women’s Big Band, Mara Performance Collective, Ends Meat’ Catastrophe Jazz Ensemble, electro-jazz duo Rice Kings, and The Sl(e)ight Ensemble. She is currently on faculty with the Jazzschool Community Music School’s youth program, as well as their annual Women’s Jazz and Blues camp and Girls’ Jazz and Blues camp. She has worked as a dance accompanist for Berkeley Ballet Theater, and as a music director for Berkeley Playhouse’s youth program. She received her BM in Jazz Piano Performance from Oberlin Conservatory and her MA in Music Composition from Mills College.

Tickets available at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/pianist-erika-oba-presents-the-music-of-carla-bley-tickets-31740946024

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