Whether he’s expanding on the Wes Montgomery tradition or internalizing Southern gospel styles (as he did on his recent “Piety Street” album), guitarist John Scofield has always had a distinct and engaging voice and a fertile improvisational imagintation. SFJAZZ is throwing him a new challenge this week by placing him amid the lofty confines of Grace Cathedral on Nob Hill. The accoustics in the buildiung produe a 7-second reverb effect, so even though Socfield will playing solo, he’ll have plenty of supporting sound to play around with. The concert starts at 8 p.m., and tickets are $22 to $50.
Also big on the San Francisco jazz scene this week:
- The Valence Project, comprised of players whose credits range from Guns N’ Roses to John McLaughlin, offer a trippy, digiitized update on fusion, 8 p.m. Tuesday at Yoshi’s San Francisco. $16-$20
- Some of the Bay Area’s most talented young string-benders — Hristo Vitchev, Rick Vandivier and Neil Kelly — team up for Guitar Fest, 8 p.m. Thursday at Club Fox in Redwood City. $14-$16
- Davell Crawford, a dazzling piano player who’s soaked up jazz, gospel and R&B traditions from his native New Orleans — holds forth 8 and 10 p.m. Thursday at Yoshi’s Oakland. $10-$16.
- Trumpeters Mario Guarneri and Erik Jekabson mix West Coast cool jazz and classical influences in the TBD Quartet, performing 8 p.m. Saturday at Berkeley’s Jazzschool. $15
- Local treasure Lavay Smith, best known for her jump jazz work fronting the Red Hot Skillet Lickers, shifts he gaze to Nashville for an SFJAZZ tribute to iconic country chanteuse Patsy Cline, 8 p.m. Saturday at Yerba Buena Center. $20-$35
- Rachelle Ferrell, an imaginative singer and pianist who continually blurs perceived boundaries between straight jazz, R&B and “smooth jazz,” continues to do her own thing, which she’ll offer up in shows at 8 and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 7 and 9 p.m. Sunday at Yoshi’s Oakland. $26-$30.
- Master pianist Mark Levine plays hard-driving bop with a quintet that includes ace saxophonoist Dave Ellis, 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Berkeley’s Jazzschool. $15.
- Pianist Gabriela Montero — perhaps best know for her performance with Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma and others at Pres. Obama’s inauguration — is on a convincing campaign to restore the lost art of improvisation to classical performance. Her variations on Bach, Handel and more are breathtaking and whisper of jazz and folk influences. SFJAZZ presents her in a solo performance 2 p.m. Sunday at the Legion of Honor. $25-$40
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