Church jazz, business jazz and more

Jazz and gospel music often are perceived as polar opposites; the idea of someone like Miles Davis sitting down to sup with “the Reverend” Jerry Falwell does not sound like a forum for stimulating dialogue. But that’s an American conceit. Transferred to a European context, it wouldn’t be hard to fathom a conversation between, say, German theologian Martin Niemoeller and Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek.

So, when German saxophonist Jan von Klewitz (the grandson of Niemoeller) showed up in Sacramento to team up with erstwhile partner Markus Burger (the German jazz pianist and college instructor who now lives in Sacramento) at a Lutheran church last Monday, somehow it made perfect sense. European jazz often has a certain grace about it, a refined quality that emanates from its heritage of Baroque and classical music rather than the blues.

Burger and von Klewitz have recorded a pair of CDs in Germany, titled Spiritual Standards, volumes 1 and 2, which were released in Europe on the Jazzline label. If you missed the program at St. John’s Lutheran Church, they’ll be doing it again this Sunday, May 18, at the Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1300 N Street, at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. If you want to pay a cover charge, leave something in the collection plate.

The duo also is involved in a jazz workshop and concert that will be held on Saturday, May 17, at Sacramento City College (SCC), 3853 Freeport Boulevard, where Burger teaches. The improvisation workshop is free; it will commence at 11 a.m. and run until 3 p.m. Vocalists and instrumentalists are welcome. The 7 p.m. concert at SCC’s Little Theatre will feature student players along with Burger and von Klewitz, trumpeter Steve Roach, bassist Bill Douglas and drummer Mat Marucci. The cover charge for the concert is $10 general and $7 for students.

If you don’t mind pandemonium, Skip’s Music is holding its big 30th-anniversary celebration this weekend at the store, located at 2740 Auburn Boulevard. It runs Friday, May 16, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, May 17, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday, May 18, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. A few artists will be involved in musician “clinics.” These include the formerly local drummer Mike Urbano, who parlayed a gig with the 1980s group Bourgeois Tagg into drum stints with Todd Rundgren, John Hiatt, Sheryl Crow, Third Eye Blind and others; he currently keeps time for the San Jose band Smash Mouth. Other artists making the trip to hang at Skip’s this weekend include buttrock demigod Ronnie Montrose, fretboard speed demon Joe Satriani, drummer Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez (who’s worked with Carlos Santana and Steve Winwood), smooth-jazz bassist Kim Stone, smooth-jazz saxophonist Eric Marienthal and big-band trumpeter Mike Vax.