From Berkeley to Berklee, from the three Bs to B-boys, Oakland’s Kat Ouano passes through walls of genre and style like they were open windows. As the official keyboard sorcerer for live-band hip-hop sensation Crown City Rockers, she floats over the rhythm section’s vicious funk with Rhodes and Moog work that can float, strut, snarl, pounce, and shriek in equal measure, delivering the melody without stomping on the groove’s toes. Originally a Midwestern devotee of classical and jazz, she ran afoul of her future bandmates and their crates of hip-hop classics at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, before CCR drifted out here in ’98 and got serious. Now she is the secret weapon of the Bay Area’s preeminent live hip-hop extravaganza, in addition to tickling the faux-ivories on numerous projects launched by like-minded SF label Wide Hive. Hunt down the Rockers’ ’04 CD Earthtones and bow down to Oaktown’s very own Herbie Hancock — just a little shorter and sweeter.
Garrick O’Connor, the Orange Apples