Yoshi's relatively recent decision to widen its musical offerings stirred a lot of debate in the Bay Area jazz scene, which is known for its purist tendencies. Perhaps the impetus was financial, but nonetheless, we're rather impressed with the results. Just glance at the Oakland club's July calendar and you'll see George Clinton's Parliament/Funkadelic nestled alongside the Escovedo Family, Average White Band, eighty-year-old jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell, and soul singer Bettye LaVette. Some of the more adventurous bookings of 2011 have also included Cindy Blackman's tribute to fusion drummer Tony Williams, which featured Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid, and a guest performance by Blackman's husband, Carlos Santana. They played fusion in its original, hard jazz form — not the watered-down Eighties version that's become associated with the genre. You'd be hard-pressed to find artists of that caliber at any other Bay Area venue.
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