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MJF66, Sept. 22-24, 2023


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  • Grounds Artist
Jazz, Funk United States
  • Friday, September 23 5:30 pm - 6:00 pm Courtyard Stage
  • Friday, September 23 7:00 pm - 7:30 pm Courtyard Stage
  • Friday, September 23 8:30 pm - 9:00 pm Courtyard Stage

With its surprising and highly combustible lineup of two saxmen and one drummer, the Oakland-based group Mo’Fone has thrilled audiences with some of the funkiest jazz — and jazziest funk — being played today. Powering its way through inventive high-energy original compositions, Mo’Fone explores the sonic landscape of its unique instrumentation with a relentless adventurousness, creating a huge sound that belies its compact size.

Combining serious musicianship with an infectious sense of fun onstage, Mo’Fone also manages to groove with abandon while keeping miraculously in balance, as each member of the band pushes his instruments well beyond its role in a more traditional trio. What’s more, Mo’Fone delivers adventurous riffs and grooves, while achieving a sound that’s not only accessible, but instantly addictive. Their groovy improvisations and original concept have twice earned them the award for Best Jazz Group in the 2008 & 2012 East Bay Express Readers’ Poll, and secured them repeated slots at the Monterey, San Francisco, and Sonoma jazz festivals, in addition to the gigs at the Bay Area’s premier live music rooms. The group was also nominated for Best Funk Band in the 2008 SF Weekly Music Awards.

“I was hooked from this first track,” wrote the Contra Costa Times of the band’s debut disc, Surf’s Up (Evander Music, 2003). “Mo’Fone proves it’s biggest little band on the scene. On each piece, the trio finds ingenious ways of creating a full, multitextured, hard grooving sound.”

A healthy portion of that driving sound comes from the mighty baritone sax and bass clarinet of Jim Peterson, alternating seamlessly between funky bass lines and powerful melodic riffs. A stalwart of the Bay Area scene for more than 20 years, Jim is a veteran of leading bands like Mitch Woods and His Rocket 88, Indigo Swing, and Motordude Zydeco. Soaring overhead on alto sax, clarinet and flute is Larry De La Cruz, whose own impressive resume includes stints with Phil Woods, Bobby Hutcherson, the Temptations, Boca do Rio, and Doc Severinsen. Completing the Mo’Fone magic is drummer Jeremy Steinkoler, “a master of second line syncopation” (SF Bay Guardian) whose orchestral approach to percussion drives the trio’s turn-on-a-dime dynamics and gives Mo’Fone its third ceaselessly inventive solo voice.

As summed up the group’s exhilarating and cohesive sound: “The jazz trio is a powerhouse to be reckoned with…. If Mo’Fone doesn’t blow your socks off, you’re not paying attention.”