Picks of the Week: Oct. 25 – 31

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Oct. 25. (Mon.)  Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band.  Los Angeles has a full crop of big bands, performing with some (if still not enough) frequency.  And the Big Phat band is one of the best, collectively and individually.  Hearing them at Vitello’s is like having them perform for your own private party.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Oct. 26. (Tues.)  Kristin Korb.  Combining the seemingly incompatible skills of vocalizing and bass playing, Korb does so with ease, musicality and a rare quality of thoughtfulness in her musical story telling.  Charlie O’s.  (818) 994-3058.

Jason Marsalis

- Oct. 26. (Tues.)  Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet.  His older brothers have identified Jason as the most talented member of the Marsalis family.  And, whether true or not, there’s no doubting his ability.  A superb drummer, he’s been impressively exploring the vibes lately.  He performs with bassist Will Goble, pianist Austin Johnson and drummer David PotterVitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Oct. 27. (Wed.) Neil Sedaka. [This concert has been postponed due to illness.  It will be rescheduled to Tuesday, Dec. 7.  Original tickets for the Oct. 27 program will be valid on Dec. 7.] Singer/songwriter Sedaka was churning out hits just before the Beatles (and the British) arrived.  But he came back a decade later, and – at 71 – continues to entertain audiences with his familiar, and well-crafted songs. Disney Hall.   (323) 850-2000.

- Oct. 27. (Wed.) Larry Goldings Quartet.  With Harry Allen.  Keyboardist Goldings and saxophonist Allen – an eminently like-minded musical pair – offer a program featuring selections from their whimsically titled new album, When Larry Met Harry. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- Oct. 28 – 30 (Thurs. – Sat.)  Three Phantoms In Concert.  A perfect Halloween celebration: Craig Shulman, Kevin Gray and Brad Little, all of whom have played the title role in The Phantom of the Opera, perform selections from that classic musical, as well as memorable songs from Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, Guys and Dolls, Nine and more.  Segerstrom Concert Hall in the Orange County Performing Arts Center.  (714) 556-2787.

Cheryl Bentyne

- Oct. 29. (Fri.)  Cheryl Bentyne “The Gershwin Songbook” Bentyne’s crystal sound has enlivened the Manhattan Transfer for decades.  Her solo excursions are equally compelling, and even more so when applied to the irresistible songs of the brothers Gershwin.  Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- Oct. 29. (Fri.)  Moscow State Symphony.  Renowned for their interpretations of Russian classical music the Moscow State Symphony performs a diverse offering of great works.  On the program: Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio Italien, Op. 45,  Bruch’s Violin Concert No. 1 in g minor, Op. 26 with violinist Jennifer Koh, and the Mussorgsky/Ravel Pictures at an Exhibition. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.  (562) 916-8501.

- Oct. 29. (Fri.)  Bill Cantos Trio.  Pianist/singer/songwriter Cantos is a convincing musical hyphenate, bringing imagination, skill and swing to everything he plays. Hopefully he’ll play some of his own memorable songs.  Cantos will be joined by his equally versatile wife, singer/composer Mari FalconeThe Culver Club at the Radisson.   (310) 649-1776 ext. 4137.

Julie Esposito

- Oct. 29. (Fri.)  Julie Esposito.  She’s an eclectic singer, capable of bringing musical authenticity to a far-reaching range of styles.  And, as  if that’s not enough,  Esposito manages to have an extensive career in law in her spare time.  (Or is it vice versa?)  This time out, she sings a mini-tribute to her father, the fine Chicago-based jazz pianist/arranger Gene Esposito.  Esposito also shares the stage with singer Frank Messina in a group of Broadway tunes and American Songbook standards.  The Gardenia.  West Hollywood.  (323) 467-7444.

- Oct. 29. (Fri.)  Blame Sally. The San Francisco-based quartet is an all-female collective of singer-songwriters: Pam Delgado, Renee Harcourt, Jeri Jones and Monica Pasqual.  But their gender is less significant than their expressive musicality — and the fact that each is a talented writer/performer with something unique to say.  Different though they may be, they perform with the empathic togetherness of musicians who intuit and value the musical connections that exist between them.  Boulevard Music.  (310) 398-2583.

- Oct. 30. (Sat.)  Monica Mancini and Friends.  Mancini’s latest album, I Loved These Days, features her convincing readings of songs from the singer/songwriter era of the ‘60s and ‘70s, aided by the presence of the likes of Stevie Wonder, Brian Wilson and Jackson Brown.  Will they be among the “Friends” who appear with her?  Only one way to find out.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Oct. 30. (Sat.)  Tom Rotella Quartet.  Guitarist/composer Rotella has recorded with everyone from Cher and Frank Sinatra to Herbie Hancock and Luciano Pavarotti.  As well as writing and/or performing on soundtracks for Sex and the City, The Simpsons, The Tonight Show and more.  But he says he gets his greatest kicks performing live, which he’ll do with the Pat Senatore TrioVibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

Julie Kelly

- Oct. 30. (Sat.)  Julie Kelly’s Birthday Party.  Singer/guitarist Kelly brings a rare sense of joy to her songs – fully apparent on her new CD Everything I Love. She’ll be celebrating her birthday and the new album, backed by the John Heard Trio. Charlie O’s. (818) 994-3058.  And don’t forget that Julie appears regularly, concentrating on her love of Brazilian music in her Brazilian Hour Happy Hang, on Thursdays at Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Oct. 31. (Sun.)  John Daversa’s Contemporary Big Band.  Trumpeter Daversa brings in Halloween with his “scary big band.”  With a stage full of L.A.’s first team players performing Daversa’s unpredictable, the results should be supernatural.  Baked Potato.   (818) 980-1615.

San Francisco

- Oct. 25. (Mon.)  Karrin Allyson.  Female jazz singers have been arriving by the dozen, but Allyson continues to hold her own as a convincingly complete jazz artist.  Expect to hear, and enjoy, her range across repertoire from John Coltrane to Antonio Carlos Jobim.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

- Oct. 27. (Wed.)  Harvey Wainapel’s Alegritude.  Saxophonist/clarinetist Wainapel has spent more than a decade in Brazil.  His group Alegritude is the product of everything he learned during those years of immersion in bossa nova, samba and all the other rich elements of Brazilian music. Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

Leo Kottke

- Oct. 27 – 29. (Wed. – Fri.)  Leo Kottke.  Multiple Grammy-nominated Kottke achieved high visibility during the singer/songwriter years of the ‘70s.  But the roots of his music – then and now – have always been in his impressive acoustic guitar virtuosity.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

- Oct. 29. (Fri.)  Bitches Brew Revisited. The 40th anniversary year of Miles Davis’ iconic Bitches Brew is celebrated in contemporary fashion by the group of Graham Haynes, trumpet, Marco Benevento, keyboards, Antoine Roney, woodwinds, James “Blood” Ulmer, guitar, DJ Logic, turntables.  An SFJAZZ Festival event at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre. (866) 920-5299.

- Oct. 30. (Sat.)  Nellie McKay.  Quirky singer/songwriter/pianist McKay brings wit and a sardonic humor to songs that range from well targeted social activism to subtly engaging lyricism.  An SFJAZZ Festival event at the YCA Forum.   (866) 920-5299.

New York

- Oct. 26 – 30. (Tues. – Sat.)  Pat Martino Organ Quartet.  Guitarist Martino makes the most of the classic organ quartet format with a line-up that includes Tony Monaco, Hammond B-3 organ, Eric Alexander, tenor saxophone and Jason Brown, drums.  Birdland.   (212) 581-3080.

Gerald Clayton

- Oct. 26 – 31. (Tues. – Sun.) Gerald Clayton Trio.  L.A.’s Clayton – whose father John and uncle Jeff are two of the co-leaders of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra – is thoroughly establishing himself as one of New York’s rapidly rising young jazz piano talents. Village Vanguard.   (212) 929-4598.

- Oct. 28 – 31. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Houston Person Quartet. Tenor saxophonist Person’s muscular sound and expressive style spent years working with Etta Jones.  But he’s a powerful player in his own right, mixing bebop with a strong seasoning of soul.  Jazz Standard.   (212) 576-2232.

- Oct. 28 – 31. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Mike Clark’s Indigo Blue.  Clark’s drumming was one of the driving forces in Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters, and his funk drumming beats have been sampled by everyone from Prince to Janet Jackson.  But he’s been stepping out on his own lately, as he does here with the stellar ensemble of trumpet Nicholas Payton, alto saxophonist Donald Harrison and bassist Christian McBride Irididum.  (212) 582-2121.

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