Todd Barkan named 2018 NEA Jazz Master

Very thankful. I’m very moved and honored by this recognition from my peers to be included with heroes Dianne Reeves, Pat Metheny, and​ ​Joanne Brackeen as one of the four 2018 NEA​ ​Jazz Masters. It’s been a lifelong blessing to have personally worked​ with​ most of the NEA Jazz​ ​Masters since I began this unlikely journey in our music in the mid 1960s. A real privilege beyond​ ​words to be able to provide ​an​ opportunity and space to these indispensable artists to swing and create together. As Bobby Hutcherson told me quite a few times, and even wrote on the wall of the Keystone Korner:​ “True love asks nothing in return.” –Todd Barkan

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KQED: Todd Barkan, Who Ran the Keystone Korner, to Receive National Honor


Photo: John Abbott

Todd Barkan, who ran San Francisco’s legendary jazz nightclub the Keystone Korner, will receive the nation’s highest honor for jazz artists, the National Endowment for the Arts’ (NEA) Jazz Master fellowship.

Barkan, pianist Joanne Brackeen, guitarist Pat Metheny and vocalist Diane Reeves are the 2018 recipients of the Jazz Master fellowships, which were announced at a concert Monday night at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., where Metheny performed. Each of the winners will receive $25,000, and will be honored at a concert at the Kennedy Center next April.

Barkan, 70, will receive the A.B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship for Jazz Advocacy for his decades as a Grammy-winning producer and for his time at the Keystone, the North Beach club that pianist Mary Lou Williams once called “the Birdland of the ’70s.”

“It’s been a privilege beyond words to be able to provide some opportunity and space for these indispensable artists to swing and create together,” Barkan wrote on Facebook. “As Bobby Hutcherson told me quite a few times, and even wrote on the wall of the Keystone Korner, ‘True love asks nothing in return.’”

Born in Nebraska and raised in Ohio, Barkan says he discovered jazz at the age of 13 and swiftly became obsessed with the music, taking 1,000 jazz records with him instead of clothes when he left for college. In 1967, Barkan moved to San Francisco, and by the early ’70s he was working as a pianist in two groups, and looking for clubs to play. When he stopped into the Keystone Korner to ask then-owner Freddie Herrera for a gig, the Korner was primarily a rock club known for hosting guitar gods like Mike Bloomfield, Elvin Bishop, and Jerry Garcia.

“I went to him and asked, ‘Why don’t you hire my band?’” Barkan said in a recent interview with JazzTimes. “I gave him the press kit and demo, but he came back with, ‘I hate jazz. Can’t stand it. It doesn’t sell. But I’m opening a big rock club in Berkeley, the Keystone Berkeley. Why don’t you buy this joint and maybe you can turn it into something, do something with it?’”

As the owner of the Keystone, a tiny 200-seat venue on Vallejo Street, Barkan helped bring jazz back to San Francisco. The city had been resplendent with jazz clubs in the ’50s, but by the time Barkan bought the club for just $12,500, there were little to none. As soon as the club was up and running, Barkan brought big names that hadn’t been back to San Francisco for several years, like Art Blakey and Sonny Rollins.

Barkan also created a haven for jazz artists fighting to stay relevant when rock ruled the radio and the road. Several standout artists recorded albums at the Keystone, including Dexter Gordon, McCoy Tyner, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk, who was Barkan’s mentor as a teenager. The club gained such a reputation that artists who could fill much bigger venues, like Miles Davis and Stan Getz, frequently graced its stage. Its liquor license was paid for with a fundraiser in Oakland that featured Kirk, Tyner, and Elvin Jones, and another fundraiser featuring George Benson and Grover Washington Jr. paid for the club’s kitchen.

“Keystone Korner was — much like Bradley’s back in New York City — an absolutely indispensable part of the true jazz community,” bassist Ray Drummond, who used to play at the Keystone, said in a statement. “All kinds of musicians from all over the world looked forward to playing there.”

Barkan became known for his catchphrase, “Take care of the music and the music will take care of you.” But by 1983, jazz wasn’t taking care of the Keystone’s bills. After a Bill Graham-produced benefit at the Warfield raised only $1,500 — barely a dent in Barkan’s $50,000 tax bill — Barkan closed the club and left for New York. He came back to the Bay Area a few years later as a talent buyer for Yoshi’s in Oakland, but returned to New York in 1993 after an “unfriendly split” with Yoshi’s owners.

Barkan went on to produce hundreds of records for labels such as Fantasy/Milestone, HighNote and 32 Records. He also continued to promote live jazz, becoming the director of programming for Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center for eight years. But Barkan seems at his proudest when he talks about running the Keystone, still remembered today as one of “best jazz clubs in the world.”

“The Keystone was really a labor of love to the very last day it was open. And I tried to have the best music in the world there every night,” Barkan said in 2011.

For this year’s 45th anniversary of the opening of the Keystone, Barkan will host a series of shows in the Bay Area on July 7 and 8. The concerts — held in Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay and San Francisco — feature artists such as Charles McPherson, Gary Bartz and Denny Zeitlin. (Barkan has more information about the shows on his website, toddbarkan.com.)

— Kevin L. Jones, KQED

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Keystone Korner 45th Anniversary Celebration in San Francisco Bay Area on Friday & Saturday, July 7-8, 2017

Press Release by Terri Hinte about Keystone Korner 45th Anniversary Concerts in Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay, and San Francisco, California, July 7 & 8.


Keystone Korner Slide Show with live music from the club in 1976 by Dexter Gordon, Max Roach, Bobby Hutcherson, George Cables.

High resolution photo of Keystone Korner from 1977 by Brian McMillen

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45TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION OF KEYSTONE KORNER

We are very happy to be celebrating the 
45TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION OF KEYSTONE KORNER on JULY 7-8, 2017, with Charles McPherson, Gary Bartz, Eddie Henderson, Denny Zeitlin, Benito Gonzalez, Mel Martin, Ray Drummond, Juini Booth,  Calvin Keys, Kenneth Nash, et al. Todd Barkan, MC.
 
KUUMBWA JAZZ CENTER, SANTA CRUZ, CA.
FRIDAY, JULY 7, 7 pm.  www.kuumbwajazz.org
 
BACH DANCING & DYNAMITE SOCIETY
HALF MOON BAY, CALIFORNIA
SATURDAY, JULY 8, 2-4 pm www.bachddsoc.org
 
PIER 23 CAFE, EMBARCADERO, SAN FRANCISCO, SATURDAY, JULY 8, 7-12 pm
 
​KEYSTONE KORNER MARQUEE AFTER CLOSING, 1983:​
OPENING NIGHTS AT KEYSTONE KORNER:
JULY 7 & 8, 1972 with MICHAEL WHITE, 
RAY DRUMMOND, ED KELLY, KENNETH NASH
JULY 8TH, 2017, AT BACH DANCING &
DYNAMITE SOCIETY, HALF MOON BAY,
CALIFORNIA, CELEBRATION OF 45th
ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION OF KEYSTONE
KORNER:
GARY BARTZ, NOW & THEN (1972)
 

Jazz saxophonist Gary Bartz

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Cape Bank Jazz Festival

capemay

http://southjerseyjazz.org/keystone-korner-tribute-celebration-hosted-by-todd-barkan/

Keystone Korner Tribute Celebration hosted by Todd Barkan

by SPJazz on March 22, 2016 in Festival, News

Keystone-Exterior

Thursday, May 12th
7:30 P.M. – Sandi Point Ballroom

Opening Festival — Keystone Korner Tribute Celebration hosted by Todd Barkan

The Legendary Todd Barkan will host both Thursday and Saturday. He will be honored by The Jazz Gallery at their New York Gala in May with their Contribution to the Arts Award.

Celebrating Keystone Korner, the legendary Jazz club in San Francisco’s vibrant Jazz scene of the ‘70s and ‘80s, with the Music of Freddie Hubbard, Bobby Hutcherson, George Cables and Eddie Henderson.

The George Cables Trio featuring Victor Lewis and Essiet Essiet, with guests Eddie Henderson & Steve Nelson. This extraordinary group of musicians, all legendary in their own right, pay tribute to the legends such as Freddie Hubbard and Bobby Hutcherson, who graced the Keystone Korner’s stage.

Headlining artists are the George Cables Trio featuring Essiet Okun Essiet and Victor Lewis with special guests Steve Nelson and Eddie Henderson, and the Cookers with Donald Harrison and Cecil Mcbee, and the Chico Freeman Plus+Tet.

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