Just before departing for NAMM back in January, we had the opportunity to attend the SFJAZZ Gala honoring Zakih Hussain with a lifetime achievement award.
One of the unexpected guests of the evening was a torrential rain that peaked just as we were arriving. This video from our Instagram gives a small taste.
But inside it was warm, the drinks were flowing, the music was as expected. We had seats in the bleachers which provided an excellent view of the stage. And the backs of the musicians, including the maestro himself.
You can see a much better view of Zakir Hussain performing with saxophonist John Handy is the Instagram photo from SFJAZZ.
It was a sweet and delightfully simple jam, which capped an evening of performances featuring the SFJazz Collective, saxophonists Joe Lovano and Joshua Redman, guitarist Bill Frisell, vocalist Mary Stallings, trumpeter Terence Blanchard, and drummer Cindy Blackman-Santana.
The award presentation itself was preceded by a tribute video made by Hussain’s daughters, which highlighted his genius as a musician and rhythmic master as well as his good humor and down-to-earth nature as a person. This was also apparent in his remarks upon accepting the award. (The same could not be said for the verbose and pretentious introduction by Mickey Hart.)
After the presentation, it was time to party, with more music and dancing filling the hall.
We didn’t stay too late because I was off to NAMM the next morning, but I am glad to have braved the storm to celebrate a great musician.