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Program for Tod Dickow & Charged Particles

Friday, July 9, 2021 at 8 pm

Download a copy of the program here.

Tod Dickow & Charged Particles
play the music of Michael Brecker

Tod Dickow, saxophone
Murray Low,
keyboards
Aaron Germain, acoustic & electric bass
Jon Krosnick, drums

Tonight’s program will be announced from the stage.

About the music

This concert is a heartfelt tribute to iconic tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker, who passed away on January 13, 2007 after a prolonged illness. In tackling Brecker’s imposing oeuvre, Charged Particles reveal the genius of his compositional prowess, a side of the multi-faceted Michael that was often overshadowed by his legendary chops. Fans, aficionados, and aspiring saxophonists all over the world still share YouTube clips of Michael Brecker going into “beast mode” — a rarefied zone where his sheer acceleration, incomparable speed and darting imagination on the instrument leave most other sax players well behind. Yet there is no attempt here to recreate Michael Brecker’s awesome technique — no transcriptions of his heroic solos, no slavish adherence to every nuance of his classic recordings. But the Bay Area based Charged Particles does capture the essence of Michael’s spirit in their faithful renditions of his tunes spanning three decades.

About Brecker’s music, Tod Dickow says: “These tunes are not your typical standard forms and chord progressions. There’ll be a complex melody, a kind of through-composed arrangement with a different set of chord changes for the solo sections, and just unusual kind of things all over the place. It’s difficult, unusual music.”

Jon Krosnick says: “Mike was a very thoughtful composer. One of the things he did was to write a piece that has a very predictable next place for the music to go. And then he very intentionally didn’t go there. He went to a different place. That’s what keeps listeners constantly engaged. At least it always keeps me engaged!   I see that most powerfully in Mike’s writing for Pilgrimage, where he intentionally tricks the listener over and over: setting up an expectation and then taking an unexpected twist.”

Krosnick, like Dickow, had seen numerous Michael Brecker live performances over the years, whether it was with Steps Ahead, The Brecker Brothers, leading his own groups, and in other people’s bands. Both had the occasion to chat with Michael after gigs, mostly at Yoshi’s in the Bay Area. Both found him to be uncommonly approachable and engaging for a bona fide super star. “When he got sick, I wrote him a letter,” Krosnick recalled, “telling him that his music has been the soundtrack of my life and how grateful I was to him. I feel like our new album is my way of saying thanks to him again, for so much happiness that his music has given to all of us over the years.”

Krosnick added, “In just 57 years, to do what he did, to give so many gifts, was more than any human should ever be expected to give or could ever give in a lifetime. The number of recordings and the number of smiles and everything else…you can’t say, ‘Oh, if only he had lived longer, he could’ve done more.’ If Mozart had lived longer, he would have done more, too. But Mozart gave plenty. And so did Michael Brecker.”

(notes adapted from Bill Milkowski’s liner notes for Charged Particles’ forthcoming recording Live at the Baked Potato!, which can be read in full here)

About the musicians

Based in the San Francisco Bay Area and soon celebrating their 30th anniversary, Charged Particles crosses stylistic boundaries and blends multiple traditions to create multifaceted jazz. Of the band, reviewers have said: “An electrifying, push-the-limits performance style… A tight and enormously talented trio” (Jazz Times Magazine), “Charged Particles is definitely dazzling” (Jazz and Blues Report), “Fresh, energized contemporary jazz that showcases the trio’s individual technical mastery as well as a cooperative, refined approach to the art form” (Jazz News Magazine), and “Tight interplay was the watchword as the threesome took difficult fusion themes and applied its own twists with spark and personal flair” (Los Angeles Times).

The band has appeared in such prestigious jazz clubs as Yoshi’s (San Francisco), Birdland (New York City), Blues Alley (Washington, DC), the Dakota Jazz Club (Minneapolis), the Deer Head Inn (Pennsylvania), the Falcon (New York), Nighttown (Cleveland), Jazz Forum Arts (New York), Motion Blue (Jakarta, Indonesia), Jazz Centrum (Surabaya, Indonesia), Yardbird Suite (Edmonton, Canada), Spin Jazz (Oxford, United Kingdom), Birmingham Jazz Club (Birmingham, United Kingdom), Parrjazz (Liverpool, United Kingdom), Band on the Wall (Manchester, United Kingdom), Jazz Hastings (Hastings, United Kingdom), Chorus (Lausanne, Switzerland), Jazz Club Ferrara (Ferrara, Italy), and many more.

They have headlined the Rochester International Jazz Festival (New York), the Stanford Jazz Festival (California), the San Luis Obispo Jazz Festival (California), the Eureka Springs Jazz Festival (Arkansas), Jazz at Pierson Park (New York), the Erie Blues and Jazz Festival (Pennsylvania), the Portola Vineyards Summer Jazz Concert Series (California), Jazz at the Lake (Lake George, NY), the Jazz Gunung Bromo Festival (Indonesia), the Ambleside Days Jazz Festival (United Kingdom), and the St. Ives Jazz Festival (United Kingdom).

Their theater appearances include the Musical Instrument Museum (Phoenix), the Chelmsford Center for the Arts (Massachusetts), the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre (Yellowknife, Canada), Franzk (Reutlingen, Germany), and the Soper Reese Theater (California), and the Cloverdale Performing Arts Center (Cloverdale, California)

Recent collaborations of the band have been with jazz superstar Paul McCandless (paulmccandless.com) playing his original music across the U.S. and internationally, and renowned guitarist Nguyen Le on the stage of Yoshi’s in San Francisco.

While studying music at the College of San Mateo in the late 70’s and with Don Haas and Gus Gustovson, tenor saxophonist Tod Dickow began playing gigs in the Bay Area with small groups and big bands, and he is a powerful voice on the Bay Area scene today.

His playing has been recognized by outstanding soloist awards at Jazz Festivals (Pacific Coast) and was awarded the Outstanding Soloist award by Down Beat Magazine.

He has appeared with numerous celebrated artists in many genres of music, including Ella Fitzgerald, Nancy Wilson, Joe Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson, Jackie & Roy, Harry Connick Jr, Steve Allen, Terry Gibbs, Frank Sinatra Jr., Dave Brubeck, and many more.

He appears regularly with the Al Molina Sextet, Walley Schnalle’s Bang, John Worley’s Miles of Blue (a “Kind of Blue” tribute band), and the Latin Jazz group Aryto, as well as an array of Bay Area big bands: the Full Faith & Credit Big Band, the Brilliant Corners Tentet, the Full Spectrum Big Band, the James Leary Big Band, and the Bay Area Jazz Composers Orchestra.

In addition to leading his own small groups, he has led the Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, a 16-piece big band, featuring top players from around the Bay Area.

As is true for so many other jazz tenor players, Tod’s playing and composing are powerfully influenced by Michael Brecker. But Tod is unique in having captured the essence of Michael’s spirit on the instrument, making Tod the perfect artist to perform Michael’s compositions with Charged Particles to honor the late-great superstar of the genre.

Murray Low is a veteran pianist of the Bay Area jazz scene and has been playing, composing, arranging, recording and teaching professionally for over thirty years. His fluency in all forms of jazz and its blending with other idioms has led to a multi-faceted career spanning a wide variety of musical contexts. Murray is best known for his contributions to Latin Jazz, Salsa and Afro-Cuban musical landscape. In his twenty-two years of involvement, he has established himself as one of the premier pianists in that genre, being nominated as 2008 Pianist of the Year by the Latin Jazz Corner and for a Grammy in 2004 as part of Machete Ensemble.

He is or has been the regular pianist/collaborator with several top Bay Area ensembles, including Wayne Wallace’s Quintet, John Calloway’s Diaspora, Jesus Diaz y su QBA, Pete Escovedo Orchestra, and John Santos’ Machete Ensemble. He has also collaborated with Latin Jazz giants Ray Vega, Tito Puente, Poncho Sanchez, Nestor Torres, and Andrea Brachfeld. In 2008, he performed with famous Cuban flautist Orlando Valle at the Monterey Jazz Festival as part of a specially commissioned project including Jon Benitez, David Sanchez, Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez, and Giovanni Hildalgo.

Murray is involved in many first-call Bay Area projects in other jazz idioms, including “straight ahead”, fusion, and free-form styles. He has performed with Bob Mintzer, Clark Terry, Benny Golson, John Patitucci, George Duke, Bob Sheppard, and John Handy. He has appeared at jazz festivals around the world, including the Playboy, Monterey, Russian River, San Jose, San Francisco, Mt. Hood, Juan Les Pins and Vienne Jazz festivals, and has appeared on the Vibe and Magic Hour late-night TV shows as well.

Murray is actively sought out as an accompanist for vocalists and is the musical director for world jazz vocalists Kat Parra and Alexa Weber Morales. He has collaborated with noted singer Kitty Margolis, Judy Wexler, Ellen Robinson, Jamie Davis, Lichi Fuentes, and Anna Estrada.

Murray has received accolades and awards throughout his career, including First Place in the Combo Division at the U.C. Berkeley Jazz Festival, a Grammy nomination for Best Latin Jazz Album, and a Piano Player of the Year nomination from Latin Jazz Corner website.

Murray teaches jazz piano and ensemble performance at Stanford University and taught jazz theory and improvisation at U.C. Santa Cruz from 2007–2009.

In 2021, Aaron Germain was recognized twice in the 42nd Annual Jazz Station Awards for his acoustic bass playing and his electric bass playing, along with other winners Ron Carter, Christian McBride, Dave Holland, John Patitucci, and Steve Swallow. Aaron has released three CDs as a leader: Before You Go, Chance (which features world-renowned guitarist Nguyen Le and award-winning Dan T’rung player Van-Anh Vo), and most recently, Bell Projections (which features flutist Nestor Torres and Paul McCandless playing oboe and soprano saxophone).

About Aaron’s playing and recordings, reviewers have said: “impressive chops” (Bassplayer Magazine), “his showmanship on electric bass often steals the show” (Bassplayer Magazine), “a fixture in the San Francisco Bay Area scene” (Something Else), “a beautifully balanced recording” (All About Jazz), “perfect sonic color” (Bassplayer Magazine), and “one of the Bay Area’s most in demand bassists” (Bass Musician).

Spending 20 years as a busy “hired gun” bass player, Aaron has traveled the world and learned from the masters. Growing up in Massachusetts, he cut his teeth playing upright and electric bass in bands playing styles ranging from jazz to blues, funk, reggae, Senegalese mbalax, and more while traveling all around the northeast. Since moving to the Bay Area in 2000, his calendar has always been full, and he’s expanded his repertoire to include salsa and Afro-Cuban music, Brazilian forro music, Caribbean steel pan music, Indian kathak dance, calypso, and dense odd-meter jazz.

Aaron has performed with such artists as Yusef Lateef, Stanley Jordon, Andy Narell, Michael Wolff, Tommy Igoe, Bonnie Raitt, Francisco Aquabella, Nguyen Le, Paul McCandless, Scott Hamilton, Tommy Igoe, Alex de Grassi, John Handy, Melba Moore, Mary Wilson, Paula West, Jason Samuel Smith, Tom Coster, Gary Meek, Gene Jackson, Kendra Shank, Gary Versace, John Stowell, Jacqui Naylor, Barry Finnerty, Calvin Keyes, Jeff Massanari, Michael Zilber, Dwight Trible, Eddie Marshal, Art Khu, Dave Ellis, Babatunde Lea, Gordon Stone, Kenny Washington, Josh Jones, Akira Tana, Jamie Davis, and Royal Hartigan.

Jon Krosnick’s formal musical training was at the famed National Music Camp in Interlochen, Michigan, where he studied classical percussion and jazz drumming and performed with orchestras, concert bands, percussion ensembles, jazz bands, and back-up bands for musical theater performances. He was awarded the NMC Jazz Scholarship, won the High School Division’s Concerto Competition, and won the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Concerto Competition and performed as a soloist with the orchestra.

While in college, Jon performed with the Harvard Orchestra and the Bach Society Orchestra and as the principal percussionist with the M.I.T. Symphony Orchestra. He traveled with the Harvard Orchestra to Germany to play in the Herbert von Karajan Orchestra Competition and toured and recorded with the M.I.T. Symphony.

As a jazz drummer, Jon has performed with Chick Corea, John Patitucci, Bill O’Connell, Lincoln Goines, Bob Hope, Doc Severinsen, Bradley Sowash (appearing on his CD Out West), and in a series of small groups, including the New Jazz Sextet, Silver Sax, the Ferric Fang Quartet, Brasswind, State of Mind, and Pangea.

Most notable is his membership in the Lunar Octet, an award-winning Latin/jazz ensemble that has appeared on TV and radio broadcasts, released five recordings, and reunited in 2014 for a 30th anniversary concert for a sold-out house. In 2021, the band has released its newest CD, Convergence, on Summit Records to critical acclaim.

Jon also led the Jon Krosnick Quintet, which featured Ron Brooks (who played bass with Bob James), Bill Lucas (now in the trumpet section of the Detroit Symphony), Larry Fuller (pianist with Ray Brown, Jeff Hamilton, John Pizzarelli, and many others), Ned Mann (former bassist with Michel Camilo, Tania Maria, and many others), and David Mann (who has performed with Tower of Power, James Taylor, and Paul Simon).

Recently, Jon has served as artistic advisor to the Portola Vineyards Summer Jazz Concert Series, the Domenico Winery Winter Jazz Concert Series called Jazz Uncorked, and the Connect the Dots Conference at Stanford University, as well as Provinance Vineyards. He also envisioned and created the annual 7 Mile House Jazz Festival.