"Jazz musician hitting stride as two groups play Yoshi's."

- Andy Gilbert (Contra Costa Times)

Maintaining one distinctive band is an impressive feat for a jazz musician Developing two simultaneous projects that boast signature sounds and repertoires is the mark of a player hitting his or her stride as a creative force. Which is why I'm going to catch East Bay drummer Jeremy Steinkoler when he sprints into Yoshi's on Aug. 25, leading two of the most exciting small acoustic combos on the scene. The concert opens with the J. Steinkoler Quartet, featuring Jim Peterson on alto sax, guitarist Andre Bush and bassist Sam Bevan. With a mix of Steinkoler originals and well-chosen covers, including pieces by film composer Ennio Morricone, guitarist Pat Metheny, Shawn Colvin and Neil Young ("Only Love Can Break Your Heart"), the group's book covers a vast emotional terrain, from moody ballads to ebullient funk. For the second set, Steinkoler presents his powerhouse trio Mo'Fone, with Peterson on saxophones and bass clarinet and Larry De La Cruz on saxophones, clarinet, flute and percussion. On its debut album "Surf's Up," released earlier this summer on Evander Music, the trio found ingenious ways to create a dense, multitextured, hard-swinging sound while exploring a spectacular array of material, all driven by Steinkoler's expansive rhythmic palette. "Mo'Fone's more in your face," Steinkoler said, comparing his two bands. There's something that's consistent about all the Mo'Fone material. The quartet does some moodier pieces, and all your musical ingredients are covered -- harmony, bass and rhythm. We have the more standard instrumentation, and the question is, where are we going to explore from there? In Mo'Fone, everything we do is going to be unique because of how we end up filling space. The process is the product."

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