Live Jazz: Celebrating Miles at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida

February 27, 2011

By Fernando Gonzalez

Almost by definition, tribute concerts are safe gambits.  The honored figure provides a brand name, a ready-made repertoire, and a marketing narrative. Feature in the bill artists who were part of the honoree’ s career or were influenced by the master, stir and sell out the hall.

Consider Celebrating Miles, the entertaining show at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, FL, Friday. The first part of the concert featured a sterling group  led by trumpeter Wallace Roney,  with saxophonists Javon Jackson and Donald Harrison, pianist Billy Childs, bassist Ron Carter, drummer Al Foster.  The music was acoustic and focused on Miles’ repertory from the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. The second half, featuring bassist Marcus Miller and a group comprising trumpeter Christian Scott, saxophonist Alex Han,  pianist Federico Gonzalez Pena  and drummer Louis Cato,  focused on Tutu, the 1986 album co-produced, and mostly written and played, by Miller.

The Wallace Roney Sextet

It was a smart set up, but Miles Davis can be as elusive and contentious in memory as he was in life. When celebrating Miles, what are we celebrating? He was an inimitable player, but not a memorable composer. His best material was mostly either standards, or pieces by his collaborators.  He was an exceptional leader. By hook or by crook he coaxed the best out of his sidemen, both playing and writing. But this is not a talent that lends itself to tributes. And celebrating leadership without the leader suggests something akin to setting up a game of basketball without a ball.

A certain group sound? An approach? Which? Miles had many of both. An attitude? How? His never-look-back approach is contradicted by the very idea of a tribute.  Celebrating Miles addressed some of these questions, shrugged off others, and, with some reservations, it worked.

Wallace Roney

Roney is an exceptional player, who probably will never get his due because of his association with Miles. He has ideas, a beautiful, lustrous full sound, and a goldsmith’s control of tone and phrasing. In spots, he even suggested a might-have-been, fleet fingered, technically better version of Miles. Jackson and Harrison played their roles well without ever trying to evoke Cannonball or Coltrane. Childs showed an arranger’s ear in the framing and development of his parts and his solos, making the most of his chances.  Carter and Foster dutifully, impeccably anchored the music in pieces such as “So What,” “All Blues,” and “Seven Steps to Heaven.”

The arranging was minimal, consisting basically of head and solos. The exception was a long Carter intro feature. But it was all well-done rather than inspiring. At times, Wallace and company suggested museum curators bringing out the prized artifacts for a look – from a distance, through a glass, for a timed viewing – before they would take it all back to the vault without a word.

Marcus Miller

Miller had a better idea. Because Miles’ much maligned late period has not been yet bronzed, and because the composer of much of the music being celebrated was at hand, there was an opportunity to take liberties, stretch out, and have fun.  And Miller & Co. took it and ran with it.

Both trumpeter Scott, saddled with Miles’ role, and especially saxophonist Han, a player to watch, were healthily irreverent while probing the material from different angles. (Han even added some dance moves and a friendly challenge to the boss that actually felt spontaneous.) Songs like “Tomaas,” “Portia,”  or “Backyard Ritual,” will likely never be considered on par with “Round Midnight,”  “Stella By Starlight,” or “Nefertiti,” perhaps because — not in spite of it — they were thoroughly enjoyable. Even “Tutu,” the class of this field, got a shake-and-bake reading that included double time swing and variations rather than a respectful reconstruction of the original.

Now, that was something Miles might have approved.

Photos by Rodrigo Gaya.


Quotation of the Week: Quincy Jones

February 25, 2011

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“They doubted me on Michael  for Thriller. I found the power in being underestimated.  It’s the greatest place to be.

- Quincy Jones

 

From an “Esquire” interview with writer Cal Fussman.


Picks of the Week: Feb. 22 – 27

February 22, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Anthony Wilson

- Feb. 22. (Tues.)  Anthony Wilson Quartet.  Wilson’s skills reach well beyond his impressive guitar chops and into his primo abilities as a composer and arranger. Diana Krall’s been lucky to have him in her band for the last few years.  Here he is in the spotlight. Vibrato Jazz Grill…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- Feb. 24. (Thurs.)  Terry Trotter and Chuck Berghofer.  The Dynamic Duo of pianist Trotter and bassist Berghofer combine decades of jazz experience and far reaching improvisational imagination in everything they play.  Charlie O’s. (818) 914-3058.

- Feb. 24 – 26. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Joey DeFrancesco.  The master of the Hammond B-3 has been Down Beat’s top jazz organist every year since 2003.  Listen to the first tune he plays and you’ll know why.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Feb. 25. (Fri.) Phil Ranelin Jazz Ensemble.  Trumpeter Marcus Belgrave is a special guest with trombonist Ranelin’s always-energized ensemble.  The performance celebrates Black History Month as well as the release of the new Ranelin CD, Perserverance. Culver’s Club for Jazz in the Radisson LA Westside Hotel.   (310) 649-1776 Ext. 4137.

Joyce Cooling

- Feb. 26. (Sat.)  Joyce Cooling and Earl Klugh.  A pair of smooth jazz/fusion/crossover guitarists are featured in a double evening of hard-swinging, melodically lyrical and groove-oriented music.  Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.   (800) 300-4345.

- Feb. 26. (Sat.) Betty Buckley and Marvin Hamlisch.  Broadway star Buckley (Cats, Triumph of Love, Sunset Blvd. etc.) teams up with pianist/songwriter Hamlisch.  Expect to hear one memorable hit after another.  Valley Performing Arts Center.  http://www.valleyperformingartscenter.org (818) 677-8800.

- Feb. 26. (Sat.)  Helen Sung and the David Benoit Trio.  Pianist Sung performs a diverse program of jazz, classical and pop with the Benoit Quartet and members of the Asia America Youth Orchestra.  The award-winning composer/pianist’s Southland appearances are rare, so don’t miss this especially intriguing performance.   Norris Pavilion, Rolling Hills Estates.

San Francisco

- Feb. 24 & 25. (Thurs. & Fri.) PSP.  The international jazz trio of pianist Philippe Saisse, bassist Pino Palladino and drummer Simon Phillips – in demand players as individuals – come together with an imaginative musicality affirming the truly global reach of jazz.  Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

- Feb. 27. (Sun.)  Women in Jazz.  Featuring Ruth Davies, Roberta Donnay, Brenda Wong Aoki and Destiny Muhammad.  A stellar line up of the Bay area’s fine distaff jazz artists perform a benefit concert for the Jazz Heritage Center.  Yoshi’s San Francisco. (415) 655-5600.

New York

Dave Liebman

- Feb. 22 – 26. (Tues. – Sat.) Quest.  All-Star is the appropriate phrase to use when describing this impressive jazz collective, whose members include saxophonist Dave Liebman, pianist Richie Beirach, bassist Ron McClure and drummer Billy HartBirdland.   (212) 581-3080.

- Feb. 23 – 27. (Wed. – Sun.)  Monk’s Dream: Fifty Years Fresh.  The Music of Thelonious Monk & the Expanding Universe of Bebop.  It’s a long title, but the music makes it worthwhile, as pianist Benny Green explores Monk’s ever-vital music in the company of Jesse Davis, alto saxophone, Peter Washington, bass and Kenny Washington, drums. Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.   (212) 258-9800.

Lionel Loueke

- Feb. 24 – 27. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Lionel Loueke Trio with special guest Jason Moran.  Anticipate a remarkable evening of world class music with this group.  Loueke is one of the most versatile guitarists of recent memory, pianist Moran last year received a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant, and bassist Massimo Biolcati and drummer Ferenc Nemeth are a dynamic rhythm team.  The Jazz Standard.   (212) 576-2232.


Live Jazz: Larry Goldings, Peter Bernstein and Bill Stewart at Vitello’s

February 20, 2011

By Don Heckman

Larry Goldings, Peter Bernstein and Bill Stewart have been working together for more than two decades.  Given the fact that they’re all in their early forties, that’s nearly half a lifetime of musical compatibility – more than the longevity of many marriages.

Larry Goldings

That compatibility was on far-reaching display Saturday night at Vitello’s where — despite the rain, the cold and the wind — a full house audience was on hand to hear the stellar trio’s second night at the cozy Studio City venue.

An organ trio, by its very instrumentation – guitar, B-3 organ and drums – demands an almost intuitive interaction between the players, with the organ bass lines in sync with the drums, and the guitar comping in a similarly passionate embrace with the organ’s backings.  But when it’s happening – as it was with this trio from the very beginning – the results can be impressive.

Peter Bernstein

The highlights were many.  Bernstein stepped to the foreground, showcasing his articulate style in a lovely rendering of John Lewis’s Baroque-oriented “Django.” The irresistible groove Stewart generated on Stevie Wonder’s “Big Brother,” enhanced by Golding’s crisp accents, was a definitive display of the kind of irresistible, body-moving rhythms that can be produced by a world class jazz organ trio.

A richly, melodic take on the classic standard, “How Deep Is the Ocean,” was a reminder of Lester Young’s assertion that jazz players should only play ballads if  they know the words of the song.  I have no proof that either Goldings, Bernstein or Stewart could actually have sung the words, but their interpretation was as much about the message of the lyrics as it was about the arching flow of the melody.

Bill Stewart

Golding’s original line, “The Acrobat,” has been played by the trio, he said, almost since they first got together.  And again, it showed.  Stewart’s spotlight drum solo revealed his rare capacity to create rich, percussive tapestries without – as so many drummers do – taking all the air out of the room.

At the center of all the music, Goldings was both the leader and the partner.  In his adroit hands, the organ was more than the electric groove instrument it too often becomes.  Instead, he employed it as a kind of mini-orchestra, using all its timbral possibilities at the service of the consistently engaging, improvisational flow.

The set came to a close when an overhead leak began to drip water toward the organ keyboard.  But nothing could dilute the fine playing of this long standing trio of gifted musical pals.


Quotation of the Week: Esperanza Spalding

February 18, 2011

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“They can market me however they want.  If they want to put us in the pop rack or market us with Beyonce, I don’t care.  Because I’m pretty sure that sincere music will cut through any setting.   Plus, I have the confidence that, no matter where they put me, I won’t lose the integrity of what I do.”

Esperanza Spalding (winner of the Best New Artist Award at the 2011 Grammy Awards – the first jazz artist to do so).

Photo by Tony Gieske.

To view more Quotations of the Week click HERE.

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Live Blues: A Mississippi Music Celebration with Homemade Jamz, Shannon McNally and Jimbo Mathus at the Grammy Museum

February 15, 2011

By Devon Wendell

Mississippi is a birthplace of the blues, rock ‘n’ roll and some of the most influential gospel, country, and folk music. The Recording Academy, quite correctly if not belatedly, finally decided to pay homage to the great music from this state last Thursday with its Mississippi Music Celebration —  a program at the Grammy Museum featuring  artists such as Homemade Jamz, Shannon McNally, and Jimbo Mathus.

The focus that night (which also happened to be the birthday of Robert Johnson) was on Mississippi music history, concentrating on Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, B.B. King, “Pops” Staples, Howlin’ Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson, and a list of the faces that would appear on the Mount Rushmore of the blues.  Though there was a lot of talk from the podium in the Museum’s Clive Davis Theater from distinguished members of the Recording Academy, it was the music that spoke the loudest.

Homemade Jamz

Kicking off the show was Tupelo, Mississippi’s Homemade Jamz, a young (in their late teens) electric blues band with plenty of fire in its belly, featuring Ryan Perry on guitar and vocals, Kyle Perry on bass, and Taya Perry on drums.  This aggressively soulful power trio of two brothers and a younger sister were joined by their father Renaud Perry on harmonica.  Their sound was a cross between the hypnotic, one-chord blues of the Mississippi hill country stylings of Junior Kimbrough and R.L.Burnside. combined with the more brash sound that Mississippi Delta blues would have when it became electrified in Chicago by icons such as Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters.

Ryan Perry’s guitar style was a louder combination of Magic Sam and Albert King.  But on numbers like “Burned Down House” and “Mississippi Hill Country,” it was evident that there was equal power amongst the band members. Kyle’s thick and muddy bass thumping jelled perfectly with Taya’s hard but dynamic drumming.  For a late teen, Ryan’s vocals seemed far beyond his age with their roughness and grittiness. His finest vocal performance was on the minor key “Got A Bad Bad Feeling.”  His guitar work on this song was also close to fellow Mississippi native Otis Rush, with its weeping string bends and slow vibrato.

Homemade Jamz’ set also contained funky juke joint shuffles on “Washing Clothes” and “People Don’t,” which explores the idea that, musically and culturally, the times they are a’changin’.  During this final number, Ryan walked out into the audience mid–solo and played guitar behind his head, which would have made Charlie Patton (the father of the Mississippi Delta blues) proud, though I got the impression that Ryan had more Hendrix on his mind than Patton, who was known to display such stage antics as early as the turn of the 20th century.

Renaud, the Perrys’ father, played a nice subordinate role, standing in the back, and never allowing his James Cotton style harp comping to overblow any of his kids.   It was refreshing to see a family – including such young players — who truly knew the history of the blues from their home state and played it with pride and conviction.

Shannon McNally (photo by Ron Baker)

Up next was Shannon McNally, solo with her acoustic guitar.  Even though she was born on Long Island, New York, McNally’s stripped down, wonderfully under-produced country style shone on Jimmy Rodgers’ classic “The Mississippi And You.” McNally had Rodgers’s yodeling style down flawlessly and her Southern-accented, soft and  haunting vocals had a down home sincerity.  The sad minor key ballad “The Bohemian Wedding Prayer” (originally produced by Jim Dickinson) displayed some gentle vocal phrasing and pensive guitar picking that harmoniously took the listener across the Delta cotton fields.

McNally summed up her music perfectly when the great Mississippi producer Dickinson asked her what she wanted for her album. She responded “I don’t want to pander,” and she never did during her brief set.

McNally certainly didn’t “pander,” even on a song about childbirth called “Thunderhead,” which was no-frills country music at its purest with clear and beautifully imagistic lyrics.  Her natural beauty is a perfect match with her music. This was evident on the romantic ballad “Lovely,” which revealed a warm charm and vulnerability all at once.

Jimbo Mathus may best be known for founding the Squirrel Nut Zippers, but Mathus also has been one of the most sought after musicians and producers over the past decade. This Clarksdale native has worked with Buddy Guy, The North Mississippi Allstars, and the South Memphis String Band, to name a few.

Jimbo Mathus

At this Grammy tribute to Mississippi, Mathus came to represent his beloved state with humor and passion.  He took the stage with an acoustic guitar with an electric pickup and harmonica and opened with the perfect number, “Home Sweet Home.”  And there was a gleam in his eyes as he sang it.  And I’m betting that Bob Dylan and Neil Young would be inspired to work a little harder if they heard Mathus’s masterful guitar playing, with vocals that are both mournful and joyous, and lyrics that are poignant without being pompous.

Only a true Southern artist with homegrown dedication could pull off a cover of Gus Cannon’s 1928 classic, “Money Never Runs Out.” This ragtime-feeling jug band anthem was one of the highlights of the evening. Mathus’s voice and banjo playing eerily sounded like Cannon’s.  And his major diatonic harmonica work was beautifully simple, punctuating each chord change.

Next, Mathus switched to electric and was joined by Squirrel Nut Zipper Chris Philips, plus local musicians Jon Flaugher on bass and Jason Borger on keyboards.  They launched into “Let Me Be Your Rocker,” which was a wonderfully loose Southern rock song that displayed all the soulful nuances that The Stones and all of the English bands missed completely.   Mathus said it best. “All of these English bands and musicians are being knighted for music they we invented in Mississippi.  So you Grammy people, please hire us Mississippians, we’re still in abject poverty and will work for cheap.”

The boot stompin’, backyard barbecue soul of “Cling To You Roots” and “Jimmy The Kid” from Mathus’s latest CD Confederate Buddha were relaxed and fun.  Mathus got to show off his own Little Milton flavored blues leads.  Mathus’s and his band’s last number was a straight twelve bar blues entitled “Mule Plow Line,” centered around a true Mississippi, Howlin’ Wolf-esque guitar motif.  The only problem arose when Mathus got wilder in his playing and the piece started too feel a bit too self-indulgent.

After a brief pause, Mathus was joined by Shannon McNally and Homemade Jamz for a jam on the Robert Johnson classic “Crossroads.”  McNally came equipped with an electric guitar and played better here than either Mathus or Ryan Perry. While they relied on some stock blues licks, McNally’s Strat tone and phrasing were unique.  Her vocals were also outstanding, and the fact that a woman has never tackled this Delta Blues masterpiece made McNally’s presence all the more intriguing.  The arrangement of “Crossroads” here felt as if these musicians were taking back this song from Eric Clapton and delivering it back to Mississippi, U.S.A.   Each band member got to sing a few verses, swap some licks, and have fun, which is one of the important things that the blues and Mississippi roots music are all about.

The evening’s performances underscored the fact that the musical influence and the contributions of Mississippi should have been honored 40 years earlier.  Especially so, considering the many plagiarist rock musicians who’ve won countless awards and made billions of dollars profiting from the music of the state’s great pioneers.  Nonetheless, the Mississippi Music Celebration was the best kind of acknowledgement — a heart felt evening full of diverse music performed by authentic musicians who know and love their Mississippi home.


Picks of the Week: Feb. 15 – 20

February 15, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra

- Feb. 15. (Tues.)  Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. The JLCO under Marsalis has firmly established itself as the definitive jazz repertory big band, performing programs that keep the spirit of large ensemble jazz – from Duke Ellington and Fletcher Henderson to the present – alive and kicking.   Disney Hall.  Disney Hall.  (323) 850-2000.

- Feb. 15. (Tues.) Strunz and Farah. The dangerous duo of high powered guitar playing, Strunz and Farah match their fast fingered virtuosity with spirit and imagination.  Click HERE to read an earlier iRoM review of Strunz and Farah.   Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- Feb. 15. (Tues.)  Matisyahu.  Every performance by Matisyahu is a banquet of international styles, from reggae and Judaic hymns to Middle Eastern rhythms and American pop.  Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza.   (805) 449-2787.

Gregory Porter

- Feb. 16. (Wed.)  Gregory Porter.  The rapidly rising, Grammy-nominated  jazz vocal star makes a rare Southland appearance.  Check him out now, while his star is in the ascendancy.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Feb. 17. (Thurs.)  CJS Quintet“A Dexter Gordon Tribute” Saxophonist Chuck Johnson and trumpeter James Smith lead their quartet in a tribute to the music of the dynamic tenor saxophonist.  LAX Jazz Club at the Crown Plaza LAX.  (310) 258-1333.

- Feb. 17 – 20. (Thurs. – Sun.) Newport Beach Jazz Party.  It’s a cornucopia of traditional and mainstream jazz.  Highlight artists include Anat Cohen, Bill Cunliffe, Ron Eschete, Benny Green, John Clayton, Tamir Hendelman, Bob Mintzer, Lewis Nash, Ken Peplowski, Houston Person, Jack Sheldon, Barbara Morrison, Tom Rainier, Eric Reed and a lot more.  Along with a rare appearance by songwriter/singer Alan Bergman.  Newport Beach Jazz Party.   (949)759-5003.

- Feb. 18. (Fri.) The Borodin Quartet, the Red Quartet and Dwight Trible. The Los Angeles Concert Seasons Series debuts with an extraordinary musical encounter between the Russian classical Borodin String Quartet, the off-beat Red Quartet (a combination of cello, violin, guitar and vocals), the idiosyncratic but fascinating vocal improvisations of Trible and eclectic sounds of DJ Mando Fever.  Santa Monica Bay Women’s Club.

Larry Goldings

- Feb. 18 & 19. (Fri. & Sat.)  Larry Goldings Organ Trio.  Goldings plays anything with a keyboard impressively.  But he’s especially gripping when he’s digging into a Hammond B-3, and even more so when he’s backed by the stellar playing of Peter Bernstein, guitar and Bill Stewart, drums.   Vitello’s\ (818) 769-0905.

- Feb. 19. (Sat.)  Frank Marocco Quartet.  Accordionist Marocco, who celebrated his 80th birthday in January, performs selections from his new CD with alto saxophonist Jon Whinnery (back in action after a bout with cancer), bassist  John Gianelli and drummer Kendall KayGiannelli Square of Northridge. (818) 772-1722.

- Feb. 19. (Sat.)  Bobby Rodriguez with The John Heard Trio.  Dr. Bobby takes a break from his academic chores to display his dynamic trumpet playing.  Charlie O’s\ (818) 994-3058.

- Feb. 19. (Sat.)  Jazz and the Orchestra.  Pianist/composer/arranger John Beasley and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Joshua Weilerstein in an original concert production illustrating jazz in small ensemble and large orchestral settings, as well as the subtleties of scatting and improvisation.  11 a.m. Pre-concert workshops for children at 10 a.m.  The program is repeated on Sat., Feb. 26.  Disney Hall.\ (323) 850-2000.

- Feb. 20. (Sun.)  Alan Broadbent/Pat Senatore Duo.  The rumor is out that Broadbent, one of the Southland’s most gifted pianists (and arrangers) may be moving to another area.  So don’t miss this chance to hear him in an intimate musical setting, accompanied only by bassist Senatore.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400. \

Barbara Morrison

- Feb. 20. (Sun.) “A Tribute To Billie Holiday Barbara Morrison, Corky Hale and Tricia Tahara. Pianist/harpist Hale brings the solid accompaniment style she used in her gigs with Holiday to a set of Lady Day songs performed with versatile vocalists Morrison and Tahara. The Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center.    (310) 330-0178.

- Feb. 20. (Sun.)  Phil Norman Tentet.  Norman’s big little band revives the cool, inner-moving musical groove of the West Coast jazz of the ‘50s, spicing it with a few contemporary seasonings as well. Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Feb. 20. (Sun.)  Fred Katz.  Skirball Center.  Cellist and master musician Katz returns to the Skirball after his performance last summer – his first in more than two decades.  He will be joined by his son, flutist Hyman Katz, bassist Richard Simon, plus special guests the Flying Pisanos — guitarist John Pisano and vocalist Jeanne PisanoThe Skirball Center.  (310) 440-4500.

- Feb. 20. (Sun.)  Sing! Sing! Sing!  “Academy Award Winning Songs: The Early Years” There’ll be plenty of memories coursing through the room at this week’s singalong, with a collection of songs harking back to the days when Academy Award winning songs really were songs to remember.  Sing!Sing!Sing! at Keyboard Concepts .  (310) 990-2405.

Al Di Meola

- Feb. 20. (Sun.)  Al Di Meola and World Sinfonia.  Guitarist Di Meola and his ensemble kick off their 2011 tour with familiar items from his catalog as well as selections from his upcoming album Pursuit of Radical Rhapsody. The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano (949)  496-8930.

San Francisco

- Feb. 15. (Tues.)  Anat Fort.  New York based, Israel-born pianist Fort is finally beginning to attract some much deserved attention beyond her Manhattan base.  She and her trio will be playing selections from her highly praised, recently released album, And if. Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

- Feb. 16 & 17. (Wed. & Thurs.)  Bill Frisell and Vinicius Cantuaria.  An unlikely pair of guitarists – featuring Frisell’s jazz Americana and Cantuaria’s percussively exciting Brazilian style — get together for what should be a pair of unpredictable but utterly compelling evenings of music. Yoshi’s Oakland. (510) 238-9200.

New York

McCoy Tyner

- Feb. 15 – 17. (Tues. – Thurs.) McCoy Tyner Trio with vocalist Jose James.  Together they revisit the classic musical partnership of John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman.  The Blue Note.  http://www.bluenote.net/newyork/schedule/index.shtml (212) 475-8592.

- Feb. 15 – 19.  (Tues. – Sat.) Oregon.  It’s hard to believe, but true, that Oregon is now celebrating its 40th year.  And the music on their new album, In Stride, affirms that their blend of classical, jazz and world music elements is as intriguing as ever.  Birdland.   (212) 581-3080.

- Feb. 15 – 19. (Tues. – Sat.)  Eric Gillett“Widescreen: Songs From & About the Movies” Gillett’s warm baritone and emotive style have the power as well as the subtlety to fill a cabaret room.  This time out, his show combines movie songs with music from theater and contemporary pop.  Feinstein’s at the Regency.  (212) 339-4095.

- Feb. 17. (Thurs.)  Roscoe Mitchell 70th Birthday concert.  The veteran avant-gardist woodwind artist celebrates, first via a duo improvisation with electronic music pioneer David Wessel, then with his own quartet, featuring pianist Dave Burrell, bassist Henry Grimes and drummer Tani Tabbal. Roulette (Concert Space).     (212) 219-8242.

Portland, Oregon

- Feb. 18 – 27.  The Portland Jazz Festival. The ten day Portland Jazz Festival is a true city event, with more than 120 programs taking place at locations around town.  Leading the stellar line up of featured artists is bassist/singer Esperanza Spalding, (right) winner of this year’s Best New Artist Grammy.  She is  the first jazz artist to receive the coveted award.

The balance of the program reaches impressively across genres and generations.  Among the highlights: the SF JAZZ Collective, Regina Carter, Joshua Redman,  Dave Frishberg, Don Byron, Nik Bartsch, Randy Weston, The Three Cohens (Anat, Avishai and Yval), as well as a round up of fine jazz talent from Portland and the Northwest…. and much, much more.  The Portland Jazz Festival. (503) 228-5299.

Wynton Marsalis and Esperanza Spalding photos by Tony Gieske.


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