Picks of the Week: June 28 – July 4

June 28, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- June 28. (Tues.)  Satoko Fujii.  The envelope stretching music of pianist Fujii, a brilliant composer/improviser will be enhanced by the presence of the similarly adventurous trumpeter (and her husband) Natsuki TamuraThe Blue Whale.    (213) 620-0908.

Bob Sheppard

- June 29. (Wed.)  Bob Sheppard’s East West Band. Saxophonist-flutist Sheppard can always be counted on for a provocative evening of world class jazz.  This time out, he juxtaposes East Coast and West Coast, with Larry Koonse (L.A.), guitar. Anthony Pinciotti (N.Y.) drums, Ed Howard (N.Y.), bass.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- June 29. (Wed.)  Rene Marie.  She got a late start as a jazz singer, but Marie hasn’t wasted any time since she made her professional debut after she turned 40.  She’ll celebrate the release of her fascinating new CD, Voice of My Beautiful Country. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- June 30. (Thurs.)  Elliot Caine Quartet.  Music on the Main Jazz Series.   Trumpeter/eye doctor Caine and his players perform bebop driven jazz in what is surely one of the summer’s most appealing musical settings.  Descanso Gardens .  (818) 949-4200.

- June 30. (Thurs.)  Janis Mann Quartet. Singer Mann’s rich-toned voice and intimate way with a song affirm her status as one of the Southland’s finest jazz vocal artists. Charlie O’s.   (818) 994-3058.

Rondi Charleston

- June 30. (Thurs.) Rondi Charleston. A story teller at heart, Charleston applies her warm singing style to an exploration of the inner essence of a song.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- July 1. (Fri.)  Brian Scanlon Quartet.  Versatile saxophonist Scanlon’s resume reaches from solid jazz with Dizzy Gillespie to a stint with the NBC Orchestra and a busy schedule as a studio musician.  In his spare time he teaches jazz at Pepperdine.  But on this night, he’ll be doing it all his own way, backed by pianist Theo Saunders, bassist Pat Senatore and drummer Kendall KayVibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

Ballet Folclorico do Brasil

- July 2. (Sat.)  Ballet Folclorico do Brasil. Expect an evening of colorful, high energy, terpsichorean delights when the dancers, capoeiristas and musicians of the Folclorico take the stage with their far-reaching expressions of the rich pleasures of Brazilian culture. Ford Amphitheatre.    (323) 461-3673.

- July 2 – 4. ( Sat. – Mon.)  July 4th Spectacular with Hall & Oates. The pop hit-making duo of Daryl Hall and John Oates showcase an evening of their classics with Thomas Wilkins and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.  And don’t forget the always sensational July 4th fireworks.  The Hollywood Bowl. (323) 850-2000.  

San Francisco

- July 1 – 3. (Fri. – Sun.)  James Cotton’s Superharp Band.  The Fourth of July Weekend Blues Festival.  Blues legend Cotton has shared stages with everyone from the Rolling Stones and Janis Joplin to  B.B. King and Sam & Dave.  On this blues driven appearance, he’ll be trading licks with harpist Momo Buford and guitarist Hubert SumlinYoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.

- July 1 – 3. (Fri. – Sun.)  Ottmar Liebert & Luna Negra.  Multiple Grammy Award-nominated guitarist Liebert has been defining the nouveau flamenco style since the ‘90s.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.     (415) 655-5600.

Seattle

Milton Nascimento

- June 28 & 29. (Tues. & Wed.)  Milton Nascimento.  He’s one of the great Brazilian artists of song – as a performer and a writer.  Approaching 69, he is still a vibrant performer, his music reaching out to bring Brazilian roots and American jazz and rock into a warm embrace.  Jazz Alley.    (206) 441-9729.

Chicago

- June 30 – July 3. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Larry Coryell Trio.  Guitarist Coryell has been crossing over from rock to blues to jazz and beyond since the ‘60s.  Although he doesn’t often receive the credit he deserves, his impact on the fusion of the post bop era was vital.  Jazz Showcase.   (312) 360-0234.

New York

- June 28 – July 3. (Tues. – Sun.)  Django Reinhardt Festival, starring the Young Lions of Gypsy Jazz.  Featuring Samson Schmitt, guitar, Ludovic Beier, accordion, Pierre Blanchard, violin, Andreas Oberg, guitar, Brian Torff, bass.  With special guests Anat Cohen, James Carter, Joel Frahm, Edmar Castaneda, Claudio Roditi. Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

Jon Hendricks

Annie Ross

- June 28 & 29. (Tues. & Wed.) Jon Hendricks and Annie Ross.  Don’t miss this one.  Two of the great principals of the legendary Lambert, Hendricks & Ross trio get together for a stirring reunion.  The presence of the lively, teen-age jazz singer Nikki Yanofsky on Tuesday will undoubtedly spice things up even more.  The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

London

July 4 & 5. (Mon. & Tues.)  The Gary Burton Quartet.  Vibist Burton’s world class ensemble features his frequent musical companion, rising young guitarist Julian Lage, drummer Antonio Sanchez and bassist Jorge RoederRonnie Scott’s.    020 7439 0747.

Paris

Lee Ritenour

- July 30 (Wed.)  Lee Ritenour and Friends.  Guitarist Ritenour continues his European tour with a stop in France, displaying the far-ranging versatility and imagination that have made him one of the prime contemporary jazz practitioners of his art.  New Morning.    01 45 23 51 41.

Tokyo

- June 3 – 6. (Sun. – Wed.)  Sadao Watanabe.  Alto saxophonist Watanabe is one of Japan’s finest gifts to jazz.  Although his style is rooted in the complexities of bebop, he enhances it with a rich improvisational imagination of his own.  Blue Note Tokyo.   03-5485-0088.

Bob Sheppard and Annie Ross photos by Tony Gieske.


Live Rock: Deep Purple at the Greek Theatre

June 27, 2011

By Mike Finkelstein

On Friday night Deep Purple played to a huge, revved up crowd at the Greek Theater. Perhaps an indication that this was going to be a high-energy night of music was the larger than usual number of muscle cars in the parking lot. Not only were all the seats at the Greek occupied, but so was much of the stage as Deep Purple was joined by a 25 piece orchestra.

Deep Purple’s place in rock history is significant.  Having begun in 1968, the band was one of the first to use their impressive instrumental chops to blend the best elements of classical, swinging jazz, blues and crunching rock into each song.   Making the music into an ambitious amalgamation became the calling card of bands who play what is now referred to as progressive rock.   Crunching riffs, of course, are the calling card of hard rock, which eventually developed into what many now just call heavy metal for image based reasons.  Deep Purple blazed the earliest progressive and hard rock trails, merged the two for their sound, and distinguished themselves in this field with a great pop sensibility.   They could make hit records and FM favorites, when FM radio was still underground.  As excessive as they could be live and on record, they also evolved to reign themselves in and begin writing catchy radio-friendly songs like “Smoke on the Water,” “Space Truckin’,” and “Woman From Tokyo.”

All of these were received ecstatically on this Friday night in 2011.

Deep Purple hit the stage shortly after dusk to eager anticipation from the crowd, opening with “Highway Star,” and the show lurched into overdrive.  This song is one of the most representative of the band’s merging of — for lack of better terms — progressive rock with…let’s just call it hard rock.   The song chugs along, always gaining momentum but changing speeds and textures, musically evoking a really good high speed drive through some dramatic scenery.    The middle section features classically structured, fugue-inspired breaks from both keyboards and guitar.  To be sure, inserting this type of a break into a rock song about driving really was taking a chance in its day.  Today it still sounds clever and tasteful, as it allows the song to breathe and allows the band a chance to put the pedal to the metal for the close of the number.

The approach was streamlined, the extended jams were gone and it was fun to see what the band would decide to play next.   We were treated to several rather obscure tracks, including “No One Came,” “When a Blind Man Cries,” and “Hard Lovin’ Man” from In Rock  and “Maybe I’m a Leo” and “Lazy” from Machine Head.    This is not to say that there weren’t a lot of solos in the show — there were.   They were just concise.   And of course, they were not played by Ritchie Blackmore or Jon Lord, but by Steve Morse on guitar and Don Airey on keys.

A Deep Purple show wouldn’t be complete without “Smoke on the Water,”  about watching their on site recording studio go up in flames next to Lake Geneva in 1971.  On Friday, the intro to this classic riff included other classic riffs from AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, and Guns ‘n Roses.   SOTW is, was, and will always be as ubiquitous a guitar riff as any of these, and Deep Purple really doesn’t need to play a note from the other bands to make a point about their song.

Deep Purple grew to immense popularity between 1970 and 1973 when the band featured founding members keyboardist Jon Lord , guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, and drummer Ian Paice with Ian Gillan on lead vocals and Roger Glover on bass.   This Mach 2 lineup wrote and recorded four hugely successful albums together that much of the material for Saturday’s show was culled from.  In the early 70’s Deep Purple were into stretching certain songs into explorative jams for upwards of half an hour.  The players took chances to explore their musical ideas, and entire sides of vinyl records could became one long song.  For this reason the set lists were often short and not so imaginative — which meant that many of the fans’ favorite album tracks didn’t stand a chance of being played live.

Currently the Deep Purple lineup starts with longtime members drummer Ian Paice, singer Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover, along with newer keyboardist Don Airey and guitarist Steve Morse.  What originally put Deep Purple onto the radio to stay was their great songs, and the voice of most of their hits belonged to Gillan.   Possessed of one of the prototypical power voices in rock, his legendary recorded screams and howls were often woven together with soulful, restrained straight singing.   On Friday, at age 65, he looked a bit like a British pensioner, but he could still hit the high notes. Of course, he did not try to sustain them as he would have in 1972.    Sometimes the beginnings of his phrasing got a little delayed but he always compensated to get the rest of the phrase synched with the drums.

When name bands replace name players the best they can usually hope for is that the new guys will sound like the recorded tracks to get the band over.   Since Deep Purple’s sound and writing depended mostly on two guys no longer with the band, Morse and Airey had their work cut out for them.   But Morse and Airey are two very accomplished players in their own rights.

In replacing Jon Lord, Don Airey was responsible for some very unique signature keyboard parts that define songs like “Lazy” and “Highway Star.” He is a rock veteran and has played with outfits ranging from Jethro Tull to Whitesnake, Rainbow, and Ozzy Osbourne. He was basically spot on for everything.   His Hammond organ work was outstanding and once, when it was time to stretch out he interestingly began to evoke Tarkus vintage Emerson Lake and Palmer.

Steve Morse is a guitar player’s guitar player, having founded the legendary instrumental band, Dixie Dregs in the 70’s.  The Dregs were so good at fusing styles and talent that people always wondered what would happen if they could work singing into the format.   For Morse, playing in Deep Purple since 1994 appears to be a very comfortable fit and a walk in the park with his talent.   He’s mostly playing Deep Purple covers…in Deep Purple, next to Ian Gillan!   On Friday he powered through the changes and when it was time to solo he gravitated toward a mellower Strat sound much like what Blackmore used for many of the Purple solos.  Keeping the hooks and signature licks of every song, Morse still put his own stamp on everything and even had his own showcase song, “Well Dressed Guitar.”    His runs are beautifully picked and move in chromatic flurries.  He also is very skilled with his delay unit and guitar volume knob, impressively affecting organ chords as he has with the Dregs.  On Friday, he skillfully stayed true to the lines we all know and love while weaving something new into the old songs.   Kudos to Steve Morse, the baby of the band at 56.

To watch DP play live is to recognize just how important the rhythm section is to vaulting a rock band onto the top shelf.  Ian Paice and Roger Glover remain, over the years, one of the most influential rhythm sections in rock music. All developing rock musicians learn how Deep Purple’s back line got it done.  On Friday, Paice and Glover thundered through the evening with remarkable ease and stamina.  They did not overplay anything.  Paice hit hard and he drums left handed, which is rare.  Glover, smiling delightedly and looking quite like a pirate under his bandana, danced smoothly and euphorically around the stage as he chorded and walked his bass. But they both stayed within the song’s structure. If it added to the effect of a set of changes, making them catchier melodically or harmonically, then the two players embellished as they went.   They have been playing together in Deep Purple dating back to at least 1970 and they seem to be joined at the hip rhythmically.  The key to powering the DP songs may well be in the way Paice plays his snare and high hat, at times just a little skewed towards the decay of the down beat and it comes across as quite funky.  Glover is right there with him and the melodic punch of his bass lends the song a certain extra bounce.   It’s beautiful in its simplicity.

Between a powerful band like Deep Purple and an entire orchestra, there was so much sound in the open air of the Greek Theater that at times it was too much to control.  In fact, the middle registers of the orchestra were washed out.  Still, during Morse’s and Airey’s solo spots, there was some tasty and audible exchange with the orchestra.

Ernie and the Automatics, from Massachusetts, opened the show.  A six piece, generically named band featuring 2 guitars, sax and a keyboard-playing singer they cruised through a respectable but ordinary set of blues based songs.   Then the drummer recalled to the audience that he had played LA in 1979 on a bill with Black Sabbath and Van Halen.    OK…They then proceeded to begin a medley of songs by the band Boston, which seemed odd.   During “Foreplay/Longtime” as the lead guitar player went into one of the tastier recorded bits of hard rock guitar playing one could imagine, we began to realize that the guy playing it was actually Barry Goudreau — who really was in Boston and really did record the original.  He had the same hair and moustache and the same red Gibson SG as he played in Boston.   We just hadn’t made the connection.  As the song climaxed the singer asked us to give it up for their drummer Sib Hashian, the original drummer of Boston.   These two guys were incognito in Ernie and the Automatics!  Weird, indeed, but in a good way.

To read more iRoM reviews by Mike Finkelstein click HERE.


Live Jazz: Deborah Pearl sings her Benny Carter songs at Vitello’s

June 26, 2011

By Don Heckman

The vast accomplishments that made Benny Carter a jazz icon are far too numerous to mention here.  Suffice to say that he was a brilliant instrumentalist (on saxophone, trumpet and more), a gifted composer/arranger for everything from small jazz bands to symphonic orchestras, the creator of a string of Swing Era big band classics, the songwriter of such memorable songs as “Key Largo,” “Only Trust Your Heart,” “When Lights Are Low” and much, much more.

When singer/writer/actress Deborah Pearl became friends with Carter and his wife, Hilma, she realized that something was missing from the Carter catalog of accomplishments.  Despite the fact that he had written the hit songs noted above, his catalog of music was filled with dozens or rich, lyrical melodies, few of which had ever had lyrics written for them.

After Carter passed away, Pearl asked Helma for permission to write some lyrics for a Carter song.  Hilma agreed.  But the songwriting soon became more than a one-tune goal, building up to the 13 song folio included in Pearl’s new recording, Souvenir of You: New Lyrics to Benny Carter Classics.

Deborah Pearl

On Friday night at Vitello’s, Pearl — backed by the stellar ensemble of pianist/arranger Lou Forestieri, alto saxophonist/flutist Don Shelton, bassist Chris Colangelo and drummer Jimmy Branly — offered an impressive musical introduction to the new body of Carter songs included on the album.

Pearl was a quirky performer.  Wearing a dark beret, horn-rimmed glasses and a frequent smile, she introduced every song with an anecdote and, often, a laugh. Her goal in many of the pieces — especially songs such as  “Skydance For Two,” “Wonderland (Isle of Love)” and “People Time” — was to honor the long, loving relationship between Benny and Hilma Carter.

Hilma and Benny Carter, Lou Forestieri and Deborah Pearl

Other songs pursued different Carter goals: “Souvenir of You” was written as a tribute to Johnny Hodges, a theme that Pearl addresses in her lyrics; “An Elegy in Blue” memorializes a Japanese friend of Carters, and Pearl’s poignant lyrics evoke the sadness of a friend’s passing.

Although her prior background has been as a writer, actress, commercial singer, filmmaker and more, Pearl’s performance of the Carter songs resonated with jazz authenticity.  Occasionally scatting, or singing in tandem with Shelton via Forestieri’s hard swinging charts, she delivered each song with convincing believability – as a jazz vocalist and as a story teller.

She was immensely aided by the fiery alto saxophone and dynamic flute playing of Shelton, as well as the solid support of the rhythm trio of Forestieri, Shelton and Wild.

The recording, Souvenir of You: New Lyrics to Benny Carter Classics, is now available.  But one hopes that Pearl also does more live performances of the songs produced by her extraordinary partnership with Carter’s rich musical imagination.


Ballet: “Don Quixote” by the Ballet Nacional de Cuba at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

June 25, 2011

By Jane Rosenberg

There are some beguiling innovations in the Ballet Nacional de Cuba’s production of Don Quixote on view at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion through June 26.  Rather than setting the ballet in the time period of Cervantes’s classic, we open on nineteenth century Spain, after the country’s defeat by France (and closer to the creation of the original ballet by Marius Petipa).  Villagers gather around a statue of Don Quixote and his loyal squire, eternal symbols of justice, freedom, and love, as if looking to the Don for courage and inspiration. As Don Quixote and Sancho spring to life, the greatest Spanish novel of all time and one of the treasures of world literature is evoked.  A fitting opening for the ballet: itself one of the treasures of the classic repertory.

The narrative of the ballet follows three chapters from volume two of Cervantes’s novel, which tells of the romance of Basilio and Kitri and the Don’s role in helping the couple deceive her father in order to marry for true love.  The scenes in the book almost beg to be presented as ballet, describing farmers in their holiday finery, dancing young gallants wielding swords, beautiful maidens with agile feet, nymphs led by Cupid and accompanied by timbrel and flute, and a thousand musical instruments.  Petipa and the Russian ballet master Gorky (who reworked the original for more narrative coherence) took advantage of Cervantes’s material and created a ballet full of the flavors of Spain.

The Don, however, has a minor role in the ballet proceedings; and Alicia Alonso, the revered director of the Cuban company, along with Marta Garcia and Maria Llorente, set out to rectify that fact.  Though it seemed they were off to a good start, the Don, (danced on Thursday night by Leandro Pérez) appeared more like a young man of thirty than the cantankerous, deluded, and elderly Don Quixote the world has come to love.  This was partially the result of poor costuming that evoked the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz rather than the armor of a Knight Errant, and partially from the intent of Alonso’s choreography.

But the ballet is primarily about the love of Basilio and Kitri and their struggles to avoid her arranged marriage to Camacho, a rich Spanish nobleman and a fop with distinctly French manners.  Dressed in pseudo military regalia and looking every inch the vain Commedia dell’Arte Captain from a Jacques Callot engraving, Camacho was danced with humor by Ernesto Alvarez.  Fortunately, the evening’s production rested on the capable partnership of Dani Hernandez as Basilio and Annette Delgado as Kitri.  Joyful and exuberant in their first act pairing, Hernandez’s lyrical Basilio embodied the charm of youth, while Delgado’s Kitri had a flirtatious, playful quality that made the audience take her to their hearts.

Javier Sanchez as Sancho created the broad comedy we expect to see from the chubby, always hungry squire as he thrashed his legs and flailed his arms throughout his rough handling by the villagers.  The corps de ballet was strong, vibrant, and technically secure – the synchronized jetés of the bullfighters were notable.  The only disappointment was Espada and Mercedes danced by Alfredo Ibanez and Veronica Corveas, who seemed leaden in contrast to the spirited dancing around them.

In the second act when the lovers flee Kitri’s father and her intended husband, Camacho, Basilio’s character matures as he takes responsibility for Kitri.  Hernandez proved a tender, attentive protector – no longer the rash, arrogant youth.  Delgado, too, grew in stature, turning from girl to woman.  Fiery gypsy dancing followed, growing more passionate by degrees.  With the iconic windmill in the background, Don Quixote arrives.  More than ever, one longed for the captivating quirkiness of the timeless Don of the novel rather than the ennobled and somewhat stilted portrayal on view here.

After Don Quixote’s battle with the windmill, he collapses.  A beautiful rendering of his hallucination follows as another Don rises behind the sleeping Don and enters a dream world populated by Love and her nymphs.  Corps and soloists delighted the audience with their agile footwork and flowing line.  The merging of Dulcinea and Kitri in the Don’s mind as they dance back to back, is another innovation of this production that added dimension to Dulcinea as muse and Kitri as ennobled by her maturing love for Basilio.

The third act, set at the lavish outdoor wedding of Kitri and Camacho results in the tricking of Camacho by Basilio’s feigned suicide and the resulting marriage of the young lovers.  After this comedic event, executed with flair by Hernandez, the famed Act Three Pas de Deux begins, with its breathtaking choreography of fouettés and pirouettes that was handled admirably by our principals.

The orchestra, conducted by Giovanni Duarte, gave ample life to Minkus’s bouncy score: a blend of rollicking theatrics, Spanish rhythms, and lovely adagio passages.  The sets and costumes lacked the big budget lavishness of many productions, but conveyed the scenes through a muted abstraction.  One wished that the costumes for the corps went for a similar simplicity rather than an overabundance of ruffles and bows, which distracted from the dancing.

Characterizing the production, I ultimately felt it favored the acrobatic over the poetic.  Though the audience at the Dorothy Chandler seemed to revel in the circus act flavor of the evening, those rare glimmers of poetry could have been expanded to enhance the narrative flow of the ballet and draw us more completely into Cervantes’s world and the powerful lyricism of dance. Let us hope, however, with Alonso in her 90th year, the Ballet Nacional will continue to turn out the many wonderful Cuban dancers who join the ranks of ballet companies the world over.

Jane Rosenberg is the author and illustrator of DANCE ME A STORY: Twelve Tales from the Classic Ballets and SING ME A STORY: The Metropolitan Opera’s Book of Opera Stories for Children.

Illustrations ©1985 by Jane Rosenberg.


Live Jazz: Carol Welsman at Vitello’s

June 24, 2011

One of the many pleasures of reviewing music is the opportunity to hear gifted performers grow and evolve in their art.  And that’s exactly the feeling I had Wednesday night, when I heard singer/pianist Carol Welsman perform at Vitello’s.

I’ve been fond of her music since the first time I heard her a few years ago.  And I admired her work so much that when she asked me to write the liner notes for her album I Like Men, a tribute to Peggy Lee, I was delighted to do so.  I found her playing and singing on that album to be immensely entertaining.  Welsman honored Lee in the best possible way – not by simulating the Lee style, but by finding within it a powerful inspiration for her own creative vision.

Wednesday’s program took an entirely different tack, broadening the perspective and the repertoire of Welsman’s art.

Backed by regulars Rene Camacho on bass and Jimmy Branly on drums, with special guest Bob Sheppard on tenor and soprano saxophones and flute, she dipped into a far-ranging collection of songs, many having to do with travel.

Her opening tune, “Beyond the Sea,” happily eluded the influence of the Bobby Darin hit version, more reminiscent, instead, of the original – Charles Trenet’s “La Mer.”  Other, equally rich interpretations followed: a samba-driven take on “Come Fly With Me”; a reading of Jimmy Webb’s “By the Time I Get To Phoenix” that utterly captured the intimacy of the lyrics; and a romp through “Fly Me To The Moon” that opened space for Welsman and Sheppard to stretch their improvisational wings in briskly swinging fashion.

In mid-set, Welsman was joined by a special guest: television star, singer and actor Peter Marshall.  At 85, Marshall sang with an impressively youthful vigor, opening with a convincing reading of “That’s All” and dueting with Welsman on Henry Mancini’s poignant “Two For the Road.”

Welsman wrapped the show with a couple of captivating originals and a jaunty romp through “I Love Being Here With You.”  And from the audience’s point of view, the feelings were clearly mutual.  As she always does, Welsman gifted her listeners with a bouquet of songs as musically adventurous as they were lyrically engaging.  She’s one of a kind, and she just keeps getting better.


Live Jazz: Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl

June 24, 2011

By Tony Gieske

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra nestled under the royal purple proscenium of the Hollywood Bowl as if the two were meant for each other. And the band rang with delight like wedding bells.

The bandleader, Wynton Marsalis, stood up occasionally at his post in the trumpet section to announce a number, all of which were then played with unparalleled musicianship.  But otherwise, Marsalis remained seated, taking his turn there as a soloist, including some great growl trumpet.

Of course, no maestro would want to leave tacit the other three trumpeters, Ryan Kisor, Marcus Printup and Kenny Rampton, fellow Parnassians all.  Rampton started out with Ray Charles. Printup has recorded as a leader and with Betty Carter, Dianne Reeves and Madeline Peyroux. Kisor has played in the Mingus Big Band and the Gil Evans Orchestra.

The three trombonists, the five saxophonists and the three-man rhythm section were similarly well credentialed.

The most sox-knocking-off output the gentlemen of the ensemble came up with was called “Courthouse Bump,” and it was written by Jelly Roll Morton. Here the big band rocked and rolled through a New Orleans-drenched cavalcade that included several different tempos and rhythm patterns.  Marsalis did his growl thing on this one, and there were a bunch of great solos, the most memorable of which was by the English-born Elliot Mason, who uttered arrestingly innovative passages, one after another, in a memorable trombone outing.

What a night!

Among the many fruitful moments was the one Ted Nash and Victor Goines contributed: A soprano saxophone and flute duet on a pretty little piece in three-quarter time.

A tribute to the late James Moody occupied the last half of the program,  led by guest tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano, and illustrated by candid Moody snapshots projected on the Bowl’s junior giant TV screens.  The tribute began with Lovano recreating a version of Moody’s first recorded solo, on Dizzy Gillespie’s great big band blues “Emanon,” at the age of 21.

Here the Lincoln Center guys outdid the old Gillespie trumpet section — it had Quincy Jones in it — in the superspeed four-man breaks of the Gil Fuller chart. Tonight, all four sounded as one.  And the Marsalis band as a whole was a bit more together than Dizzy’s 1940s group, which nevertheless floored me as a kid when I heard it at the Howard Theater in Washington, D.C.

Lovano handled the solo recreation with his customary skill and spirit.  The classic “Moody’s Mood for Love” was a great success, complete with the jocular falsetto chorus from a member of the trombone section.

And it would be hard to find a jazz number more joyously and accurately recreated than the Lincoln Center band’s closing version of Dizzy’s immortal speedster  “Things to Come.”  ‎

I left feeling that they’ve arrived.

Photos by Tony Gieske.


Picks of the Week: June 21 – 26

June 21, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Misha Piatigorsky

June 21. (Tues.) Misha Piatigorsky with Sketchy Black Dog.  The winner of the 2004 Thelonious Monk Composers Competition, pianist Piatigorsky’s extraordinary skills reach from soundtrack composing for major films to collaborations with the likes of Wynton Marsalis, Jon Hendricks and Joe Lovano. His piano trio combines with a string quartet to create the ensemble Sketchy Black Dog.   Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- June 21 (Tues.)  Julian Lage. Guitarist Lage was a child prodigy, the subject of an Academy Award nominated documentary.  Now 23, he has established himself as one of the prime jazz artists of his generation. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- June 22 (Wed.) Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.  In addition to their world class jazz skills, Marsalis and the JLCO also offer an irresistible blend of new music and memorable jazz repertory. The Hollywood Bowl.    (323) 850-2040.

- June 22. (Wed.)  Carol Welsman.  Singer/pianist Welsman accomplishes the harder-than-it-looks task of blending her intimate vocalizing and her briskly swinging piano with a subtle ease reminiscent of the great Nat “King” Cole. Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Alan Chapman and Karen Benjamin

- June 22. (Wed.) CabarabiaMusic For A Midsummer’s Night: An Evening of Cabaret and Jazz”  The title tells it all.  And with a cast like this, expect great results: Karen Benjamin and Alan Chapman. Vocal group Fourplay.  Singers Lauren White and Karen G.  And introducing “Johnny Loves Maddie.”  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- June 23. (Thurs.)  Alison Kraus and Union Station.  With Jerry Douglas. Back together again, this triple Grammy winning combination returns with their matchless blend of country, rock, pop and Americana. The Greek Theatre.  (323) 554-5857.

- June 23. (Thurs.)  Theo Saunders Quartet.  The pianist/composer’s resume reaches from gigs with most of the major names in jazz, to music directing for theatre, to composing for dance, theatre, multi-media and beyond.  Here’s a chance to hear him up close and personal with his own quartet. Charlie O’s.   (818) 994-3058.

- June 24. (Fri.)  Deep Purple: The Songs That Built Rock.  The iconic English band, with three original members, makes its first North American tour in four years.  And, for the first time, they’ll perform with the stunning accompaniment of a symphony orchestra.  Blues-driven Ernie and the Automatics open the show. The Greek Theatre.  (323) 554-5857.

- June 24. (Fri.)  Deborah Pearl.  Writer/lyricist/singer Pearl features selections from her remarkable new album, Souvenir of You: New Lyrics to Benny Carter Classics. She’s backed by the sensitive, swinging support of the Lou Forestieri Trio with special guest Don Shelton on saxophone.   Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Melissa Manchester

- June 24 – 26. (Fri. – Sun.)  Melissa Manchester.  Singer/songwriter Manchester’s high flying career has zoomed from one hit to another.  Her successes with “Through the Eyes of Love,” “Don’t Cry Out Loud” and “Midnight Blue” thoroughly established her as an artist who knows how to transform a song into a classic.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

San Francisco

- June 24. (Fri.)  Kitty Margolis.  With Allison Miller on drums.  Margolis spends an unusual amount of time away from her Bay area home base.  But now, in a rare San Francisco appearance that should please all of her many local fans, she’s finally getting around to making her debut at Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

- June 24 & 25. (Fri. & Sat.)  Generations in JazzEldar Djangirov and Pat Martino.  Young pianist Djangirov and veteran guitarist Martino are, indeed, generations apart, but they find common ground in their jazz encounters. Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

- June 25. (Sat.)  Ana Moura.  A rich, dark voice combined with a mastery of deeply emotional musical story make Moura one of the world’s finest fado singers.  An SFJAZZ Spring Season event at the Herbst Theatre.    (866) 920-5299.

Chicago

Claudio Roditi

- June 23 – 26. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Claudio Roditi.  Veteran Brazilian trumpeter Roditi has affirmed his jazz creds via his work with the Dizzy Gillespie United Nations Orchestra as well the Grammy nomination s he’s received for his own work. The Jazz Showcase.   (312) 360-0234.

New York

- June 21 – 25.  (Tues. – Sat.)  The Mike Stern Band featuring Esperanza Spalding.  Guitarist Stern, always expanding his musical horizons, teams up with bassist/singer and rapidly emerging jazz star Spalding.  Iridium.    (212) 582-2121.

- June 21 – 26. (Tues. – Sun.)  Barbara Carroll. Her early career as a jazz pianist gradually morphed into Carroll’s later work as an impressive cabaret artist.  At 86, she’s still going strong, and should be in rare form with the backing of Ken Peplowski, Jay Leonhart and Alvin AtkinsonDizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.    (212) 258-9800.

- June 24. (Fri.)  Rez Abbasi Acoustic Quartet. Born in Pakistan, guitarist Abbasi has lived in New York for nearly two decades.  His music reflects both environments, a synthesis of straight ahead jazz and the improvisational traditions of his native land.  Cornelia St. Café.   (212) 989-9319.

Washington D.C.

Jon Faddis

- June 24 & 25. (Fri. & Sat.)  Jon Faddis.  Trumpeter Faddis takes a break from his busy schedule as educator, conductor and composer to display his virtuosic instrumental wares.  Blues Alley.     (202) 337-4141.

London

- June 26. (Sun.)  Darius Brubeck Quartet and Claude Deppa.  Eldest son of Dave Brubeck, pianist Darius spent more than 20 years in South Africa establishing jazz programs at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and finding intriguing linkages between African traditional music and jazz.  Trumpeter/composer Deppa roves easily across soul, funk, Afro-jazz and Afro-Cuban musics.  Ronnie Scott’s.    020 7439 0747.

Berlin

June 22 – 24. (Wed. – Fri.) Ramon Valle Trio.  Cuban pianist Valle is yet another extraordinary jazz keyboardist to emerge from the island nation.  He describes himself as a troubadour – “because I tell stories, stories without words.”  A-Trane.   49 30 313 25 50.


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