Art WalkArt Walk
Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Jazz at the Athenaeum | Winter 2024

January 21 @ 7:30 pm

man playing guitar

Sunday, January 21, 7:30 PM—Linda May Han Oh Quintet

Sunday, January 28, 7:30 PM—Gilad Hekselman Trio

Sunday, February 4, 7:30 PM—James Francies Trio

Wednesday, February 28, 7:30 PM—Benjamin Lackner Quartet


Jazz returns to the Athenaeum for our annual series of winter concerts in the Joan & Irwin Jacobs Music Room (at 1008 Wall Street in La Jolla). This series features both Athenaeum favorites and debuts by internationally acclaimed artists. Seating is limited so order soon!

The winter series opens on Sunday, January 21, with the return of one of the most remarkable bassists on today’s jazz scene, Linda May Han Oh, at the lead of her Glass Hours quintet, featuring Sara Serpa on vocals, Greg Ward on alto saxophone, Fabian Almazan on piano and keyboard, and Mark Whitfield, Jr., on drums. Oh’s past Athenaeum appearances have been with her own quartet (2017), with her husband Fabian Almazan’s trio (2019), and with the Dave Douglas-Joe Lovano Soundprints band (2014). In addition to her work with Lovano and Douglas, Oh has performed with the likes of Steve Wilson, Vijay Iyer, Kenny Barron, Geri Allen, and Terri Lyne Carrington. She is currently the bassist with guitarist Pat Metheny. She is the recipient of the 2023 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts.

JazzTimes praised her as “a major bass voice,” and the Wall Street Journal called her “one of the most dynamic rising stars in jazz today.” The Village Voice wrote, “Her musicianship is extraordinary, with impeccable technique, articulation, and groove.” DownBeat wrote, “You focus on Oh because of the grace she brings to that very physical job. Her lines float in the air … [achieving a] chiseled balance between thrust and lyricism. You don’t realize how ardently these pieces are simmering until they’re actually boiling over.”

The series continues Sunday, January 28, with the San Diego debut of NYC-based jazz guitar phenomenon Gilad Hekselman, with bassist David Robaire and drummer JK Kim. Israeli-born Hekselman has shared the stage with some of the greatest artists in jazz, including John Scofield, Danilo Perez, Anat Cohen, and Esperanza Spalding. He has played all the major clubs in New York and has toured the world’s most noteworthy jazz festivals. In 2005, Gilad won the Gibson Montreux International Guitar Competition, opening for guitar legend Paco de Lucia at the Montreux Jazz Festival. In 2017, Gilad placed first in the Rising Star guitarist category in DownBeat magazine. In 2018 another guitar legend, Pat Metheny, invited Gilad to perform for his NEA Jazz Master Award ceremony at the Kennedy Center. In 2019 he led his own quartet for a week’s run at NYC’s legendary Village Vanguard, the world’s most prestigious jazz venue.

The New York Times wrote, “The feeling in a small club quickly grows intense when Gilad Hekselman steps up to improvise. Hekselman has set himself roughly up in the line of Pat Metheny and Kurt Rosenwinkel, with a warm and clean guitar tone, clear articulation, and crazily extended improvisational ideas.” JazzTimes commented, “Hekselman is clearly poised to reach the highest ranks on his instrument.”

Next up, on Sunday, February 4, is acclaimed pianist-keyboardist James Francies, making his San Diego debut as a leader with Mike Moreno on guitar and Damion Reid on drums. Since his debut album Flight on the legendary Blue Note Records label entranced listeners in 2018, Francies has expanded personal explorations of sound bending and orchestral approaches to the music. Collaborations across stylistic realms—including those with Childish Gambino, Pat Metheny, Chris Potter, Common, Eric Harland, Marcus Miller, DJ Dahi, and Lauryn Hill—have enhanced his development and refined his sound. In issuing Purest Form, his second Blue Note release, Francies accesses intimate chambers of his artistry, interpreting love, grief, frailty, and fortitude. Francies’ expression blooms across borders of genre and style. He nurtures a fascination with melody and texture.

The New York Times called him, “a pianist with liquid dynamism in his touch,” and DownBeat commented, “The pianist doesn’t so much compose music as conjure fascinating nebulae of sound.” WBGO wrote, “James Francies is an unusually precocious talent: a pianist and composer who has already become a regular fixture alongside artists like Pat Metheny and Chris Potter … Francies is setting his own coordinates.”

The series concludes Wednesday, February 28, with another local debut by the Berlin-based ECM Records artist, pianist Benjamin Lackner, with fellow ECM artist Oded Tzur on sax, Darek Oleszkiewicz on bass, and Mark Ferber on drums. Born in Berlin to an American father and a German mother, Lackner moved to California at age 13. He received a BFA from the California Institute of the Arts under the direction of Charlie Haden and David Roitstein, and from 1997 to 1998 he studied privately with his mentor, pianist Brad Mehldau. He has performed at numerous jazz festivals including North Sea, Montreux, and Monterey.

Thomas Conrad wrote in Stereophile, “ECM’s overarching identity encompasses distilled lyricism and an atmosphere of inwardness. What is noteworthy about Lackner is how his iteration of the aesthetic sounds so natural and instinctive. ECM released some fine albums in 2022 but few are more beautiful.” All About Jazz called Lackner’s music “spacious and deliberative, brimming with patiently articulated ruminations played out without flash or pretense as they explore the depths of time-stopping, enchanting loveliness.” Of his ECM label mate, Oded Tzur, All About Jazz wrote, “A thrilling new saxophone colossus … Exquisite, tender lyricism, composed and improvised, is punctuated by precisely articulated detonations of full-throated vocalized passion.”


January 21
7:30 pm
Event Category:


Athenaeum Music & Arts Library
1008 Wall Street
La Jolla, CA 92037 United States
+ Google Map
(858) 454-5872
View Venue Website