Michael Aragon Jazz Quartet, Blue Monday at Sausalito Cruising Club, Wendy DeWitt, Joe Tate and Jeromeo at the No Name Bar
Michael Aragon has been playing Jazz at the No Name Bar in Sausalito every Friday night for the past 28 years. Probably the longest running jazz gig in the Bay Area. Starting in 1983 with Dick Conte on piano and Chuck Sher on Bass, the group has evolved over many years. Vince Wallace, a master of the tenor sax, joined the group between 1986 and 1991. During the 90s, Jackie King provided his incredible guitar. In this configuration, they cut an album with Willie Nelson.
Yolanda Nickel, a protege’ of Vince Wallace, also worked these Friday night sessions for many years.
Today the group consists of Casey Filson on piano, Rob Roth on saxophone, Pierre Archain on Bass and Michael Aragon on Drums. Progressive jazz is the main bag but, Aragon often has guest singers and other players who may perform old standards, R&B or blues. For Bay Area jazz, this is as good as it gets.
Michael Aragon was born in the old town section of Sausalito where his parents owned a considerable amount of land. Sally Stanford often would baby sit with him when he was little. Aragon was spared the burden of wealth because his parents gave their entire fortune to charity.
He gained his love of music from the singing of his mother, who remarkably, had memorized the entire Bible. It was jazz that captivated him later on, though he dabbled in many other styles including some standup vocal work.
His playing is reminiscent of Elvin Jones, a figure he has always admired.
Rob Roth came to California from Philadelphia in 1999 and started with Aragon in 2000. He graduated from Temple University where he majored in Jazz Performance.
Rob turns in some smokin’ hot solos on stuff like Bailing Out or Bud Powell. Sounding like his hero, Dexter Gordon, Roth has complete control of the tenor saxophone. It is a pleasure to hear his renditions of the Antonio Carlos Jobim bossa novas.
Casey Filson has been doing the piano chores here for about three years. Living in the East Bay, he grew up in Richmond and teaches at Saint Mary’s College High School in Berkeley.
Filson’s excellent playing gives the perfect framework for the Quartet’s extensive playlist. The piano is the department of chord progressions and they flow from his hands in an unbroken stream.
Pierre Archain plays a strong rhythmic bass style that insistently drives the music while meshing with the profusion of chords. He has held down the bass position here since the 1980s.
Archain was born in the south of France where he grew up in Montpellier and Toulouse as well as Nice. He came to New york in 1979 but ended up in San Francisco.
If you like jazz, you’ll love the Michael Aragon Jazz Quartet. They are at the No Name bar in Sausalito, CA every Friday night starting at 9 PM.
The No Name Bar has been here since 1958. The owners who opened it then couldn’t decide on a name. During the remodeling of the bar, they wrote various trial names on the wall. These can still be seen if one peeks behind the bar.
In addition to friday Jazz, the No Name Bar has music every night of the week. To see the schedule go to
The June 6, Blue Monday jam session at the Sausalito Cruising Club was powered by 19 jammers including Steve Gannon, a founder of the Monday night sessions at SCC. Led by pianist Billy Dunn, his R&B quartet with keyboard, bass, drums and guitar played by Gannon, held forth every Monday here for many years. Gannon, who recently overcame cancer, was warmly received by all the many folks here who knew him.
There were many of the regular jammers in attendance along with some new people who were invited to the stage including Shima Moore. She joined Gannon and sang a few oldies including When Will I Be Loved, made famous originally by the Everly Brothers and later by Linda Ronstadt.
The house band is now Joe Tate, Willie Riser and Donny Kountz on guitar, bass and drums respectively. They performed an opening set old R&B, New Orleans, and rock music.
Tate opened the stage for jammers at about 8:00 PM. First up was John “Coyote” Egan and his guitar students. Numbering six in all, this took a huge chunk out of the waiting cue. They played really well and the dance floor came alive.
Slowly, through various rotations, almost everyone got to play or sing including Daylight Again, a trio of singers who laid down some tight harmony on old standards and whatnot. Beautiful to listen to though.
Great performances were also turned in by Paul Bohan, Gabe Navarre and Miss Suzie Q.
Gannon and Tate performed the finale’ with Roosevelt Blues, a compelling sort of historical review of American presidents. You can see Joe Tate perform Roosevelt Blues at
To learn more about the Sausalito Cruising Club go to
Joe Tate appears every Saturday evening at the No Name Bar in Sausalito with Various Artists. On June 4, he was joined by Miss Wendy DeWitt and Kirk Harwood who was substituting for Lonnie Walter.
DeWitt is an incredible performer, combining piano virtuosity with strong vocals covering the blues, standards and a healthy dose of boogie woogie .
Tate adds his own charm to the ensemble with a powerful baritone voice that is well matched to stuff like Minnie The Moocher, of Cab Calloway fame.
The following week, on June 11, Jeromeo shared the stage with Tate and the resurrected Lonnie Walter. Just as with DeWitt, Tate doesn’t have to work very hard with Jeromeo on account of having the bass lines and chord rhythms supplied by their excellent keyboard work.
To learn more about Wendy DeWitt go to http://www.wendydewitt.com/
To learn more about Joe Tate go to http://fwd4.me/02ts
The No Name Bar schedule is at http://localmusicvibe.com/venue/no-name-bar