World traveled San Francisco Jazz Ambassador John Handy’s recent Sunday afternoon 80th Birthday Tribute bash, at Yoshi’s, was off the hook! The San Francisco Club was the perfect spot - intimate and familiar!

BRAVO, to CHRISTINE HARRIS, Director, Jazz Heritage Center (JHC) who organized the event in celebration of JHC’s 5th Anniversary, and Salute to a Living Jazz Legend! JHC, a multi- space complex, located between Yoshi’s and 1300 Restaurant on Fillmore, that include the Lush Life Gallery. Harris is doing a wonderful job in keeping the Center filled with lively creative activities, booking artists and occasional live jazz performances. The John Handy exhibit , curated by Nancy Hom, is on display in the JHC Koret Heritage Lobby through April 28, and is free and open daily to the public.


Such a wooonderful opportunity to party with the legendary saxophonist, and stellar longtime Bay Area musicians who came out to perform - swinging vocalists Jamie Davis (opened with “Night and Day,” Johnny Heartman’s “The Very Thought of You,’ soulful “My Funny Valentine”), and lovely songbird Denise Perrier whose mesmerizing!

Rhythm section comprised of Glen Pearson on piano, a fine drummer from out of town (shame on me - didn’t get his name), guitarist Calvin Keys, Ron Belcher on bass, and Robert Stewart sitting in on sax (John was his mentor) until it was time for the STAR to join the band midway through the concert. Handy received a standing ovation, applause, and the singing of Happy Birthday. The afternoon set kicked off with “Red Top”. Jazz Guru Sonny Buxton emceed .

The celebration started at 2 p.m. Prior to the music tribute, a VIP Champagne Reception was held in the Lush Life Gallery, lively with excitement of the afternoon, conversations abound, photo opts with Handy, handsome in blue suit , dark shades, looking nothing like 80! His charming wife Del Anderson, stunning in red suit and matching heels.

Guests included: SFJAZZ Randall Kline and lovely wife; former TV anchor Barbara Rodgers introduced me to her handsome date; statuesque Carla Staples Thomas, Society reporter for the S.F./Oakland Post Newspapers, covered the event; Maxwell and Frankie Gillette; Perry Lang, of Rafiki ; AfroSolo’s Thomas Robert Simpson; Carol Tatum, Jo-Elias Jackson; handsome William Weathers of L.A., fabulous sculptress Marguerite Browne - her beautiful works often on display in the Gallery;...

There with a big smile, retired Oakland Judge Horace Wheatley - so happy to reunite with DA JUDGE! ; Marie Womack-McCallum, longtime SFJAZZ volunteer; Philip Alley (son and nephew of San Francisco icons -drummer Eddie Alley, and bassist Vernon Alley - both deceased!).

My awareness of Handy date back to his early days performing on the jazz scene in San Francisco, and a time when his big commercial hit “Hard Work,” jumped off the R&B charts in mid-70s. The original (if you can find a copy) still sounds good! Handy gigged and recorded with awesome Charles Mingus Band; rave reviews under his leadership at the Monterey Jazz Festival in mid-60s. John Handy is a phenomenal musician, composer, arranger, teacher and leader - one of the greats of this music we call JAZZ!

HEY, IT’S NICE TO BE NICE AND TO ALL OF YOU OUT THERE...LOOK FOR ME...I’LL BE THERE...
E-mail Rochelle at iheard@earthlink.net