Best Bets: Free Cabanijazz at Oakland Museum, ‘Hangmen,’ Hiromi, Steven Isserlis, ‘Cunning Little Vixen’  

Grammy-winning percussionist, composer and bandleader Javier Cabanillas brings his band Cabanijazz Project to the Oakland Museum of California Friday for a free performance. (Courtesy Javier Cabanillas)


Freebie of the week: The Oakland Museum of California’s series of free Friday performances promises a particularly lively time this week. Headlining is Grammy-winning Bay Area percussionist, composer and bandleader Javier Cabanillas and his group Cabanijazz Project. Cabanillas developed his musical chops busking on the streets of Tijuana before relocating to the Bay Area and teaming up with the Pacific Mambo Orchestra. In 2014, the band won a Grammy for best Latin Tropical Album (beating out Marc Anthony in the process) for its self-titled debut album. Cabinillas —who has collaborated with Sheila E., Arturo Sandoval and members of Santana and Tower of Power — has described his “mambo sonic” sound as a unique blend of various Latin sounds and Afro-Caribbean rhythms.

The Friday night fun begins at 5:30 p.m. with a performance by dancer Shadji Simone Correia in the Gallery of California Art; followed by Cabanillas and his band from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on the Garden Stage, followed by DJ music until 8:45 p.m.

Food trucks will be in the area, and beer, wine and a wide variety of drinks will be available as well. The OMCA Garden will have picnic tables, blankets and lawn and table games at the ready.

Note: The free party doesn’t include admission to the museum, but the exhibition of social justice posters by Chicano artist Malaquias Montoya is worth the price of entry. More information is at

Will Springhorn Jr. plays an unemployed executioner in Martin McDonagh’s “Hangmen,” playing at San Jose Stage. (Courtesy San Jose Stage Company)

End of his rope: Pity Harry, the poor protagonist in Martin McDonagh’s 2016 play “Hangmen.” He’s paid his dues, kept his nose to the grindstone and done his job admirably and diligently over the years until he’s widely recognized as the No. 2 hangman in all of Britain. Then comes the terrifying news that Britain has done away with hanging people. Poor Harry retreats to the saloon he runs with his wife, which is now being overrun with journalists and other ne’er-do-wells who want to see how he is dealing with his sudden unemployment. Being that this is a play by the guy who created “The Pillowman,” “The Cripple of Inishmaan” and the Oscar-nominated film “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” one can expect “Hangmen” to be a slippery concoction of suspense, surrealness, dark humor and an unflinching examination of such themes as the nature of justice and propriety.

San Jose Stage Company is presenting the two-hour work, directed by James Reese and starring Will Springhorn Jr. as the noble Harry. Performances are through April 28 at the San Jose Stage, 490 S. First St., San Jose.

Tickets are $34-$74; go to 

Piano star Hiromi brings a new quartet to SFJAZZ Center for concerts April 11-14. (Courtesy Hiromi)

Here’s to Hiromi: Japan-born jazz pianist Hiromi Uehara, better known by her stage name Hiromi, is such an engaging performer, full of passion and panache. A child prodigy who started playing jazz in earnest at age 8, she was eventually mentored by such legends as Chick Corea and Ahmad Jamal. She’s known not just for her technical prowess, but also for her eagerness to incorporate everything from rock and pop to metal in her soundtrack. Hiromi returns to the Bay Area this week for a weekend set at SFJAZZ Center with her star-studded new quartet Sonicwonder, featuring trumpeter Adam O’Farrill, bassist Hadrien Feraud and drummer Gene Coye.

Spotlighting the 2023 Telarc release “Sonicwonderland,” Hiromi and her quartet perform at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday in Miner Auditorium, 201 Franklin St., Tickets are $30-$119 at

British cellist Steven Isserlis will be featured in an afternoon recital Sunday in San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre. (Courtesy Joanna Bergin)

A cello fellow well met: Great Britain’s Steven Isserlis, a consummate artist at the cello and one of the only two living experts on that instrument in the Gramophone Hall of Fame, has won respect in recital halls around the world and as a soloist with orchestras from the Vienna Philharmonic to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and been praised for his “fiery dexterity and swashbuckling vivacity” by the New York Times. He returns to San Francisco Sunday afternoon under the auspices of Chamber Music San Francisco to perform a recital at the Herbst Theatre. On his program are the Poulenc Sonata, the Fauré Sonata No. 1, Bloch’s “Pieces from Jewish Life,” Schubert’s “Arpeggione” Sonata and Busoni’s “Kultaselle” Variations on a Finnish Folk Song. His accompanist is Canadian pianist Connie Shih, with whom he has recorded an upcoming album with a First World War theme that includes a piece on a cello that was played in its trenches.

The performance time is 3 p.m.; tickets, $50-$70, half-price for those under 30, are available at

For a preview, see the Youtube video of his and her performance of a different piece by Fauré, the Berceuse, Op. 16.  

Soprano Amy Foote is SharpEars, and baritone Spencer Dodd is the Forester in Pocket Opera’s production of “Cunning Little Vixen.” (Courtesy Vero Kherian/Pocket Opera)

Into the forest: San Francisco’s spry and plucky little company Pocket Opera is embarking on something new this weekend. Although the late founder Donald Pippin, famed for his clever translations of opera librettos into English, came up with one for “The Cunning Little Vixen” by Czech composer Leoš Janáček as far back as 2001, the company has never mounted a production of that delicious little fable until now. That all changes Sunday at 2 p.m., when the Hillside Club in Berkeley hosts the opening of a three-performance run. Set in the forests and a village inn near Brno, the opera follows the misadventures and subsequent romance and marriage of SharpEars, the foxy lady of the title, who is captured by the Gamekeeper (or the Forester, as he is called here), but manages to escape back into the woods. By turns comic, romantic and heavily nostalgic, the opera is populated, in addition to its human characters, by all sorts of critters (a frog, a mosquito, a bunny, a bunch of hens and their rooster), all given the inclination to burst into song. Soprano Amy Foote sings the title role, alongside baritone Spencer Dodd as the Forester, in a production directed by Nicolas A. Garcia and choreographed by Lissa Resnick, with music director Jonathan Khuner leading the small orchestra.

Find tickets, $30-$79, at Subsequent performances are at 2:30 p.m. April 21 at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts and 2 p.m. April 28 at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. 

The post Best Bets: Free Cabanijazz at Oakland Museum, ‘Hangmen,’ Hiromi, Steven Isserlis, ‘Cunning Little Vixen’   appeared first on Local News Matters.

Comments are closed.