Live Music: “The Philharmonic Dances” — The Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Opening Night Concert and Gala

September 30, 2012

By Don Heckman

Gustavo Dudamel

The Los Angeles Philharmonic and Music Director Gustavo Dudamel opened the new season at Walt Disney Hall Thursday night with a smartly conceived and beautifully performed program titled The Philharmonic Dances.  Opening nights at Disney have become stellar events over the past few years – musically and socially.  And this one was no exception.

There was the usual fund raising gala, of course, an important destination for L.A.’s social and entertainment elite, with plenty of familiar (and not so familiar, depending upon one’s orientation) celebrities strolling across a red carpet strategically positioned at the Grand Ave. entrance for convenient media access.

But the most intriguing aspect of the night was what took place on the Disney stage.  From the audience perspective, it was a rarely seen Disney Hall vista.  The orchestra was spread out in all its instrumental glory, the players occupying all the far-reaching space that had been designed, specifically, for them.  The broad riser behind them, however, showcased several selections by dancers.  Their presence, closely viewable from every seat, high or low, made for a remarkable music and dance tableau.

The opening work – The Chairman Dances (Foxtrot for Orchestra)–  was a gripping, musical visualization by composer John Adams — inspired by his opera, Nixon in China—in which he imagines Chairman Mao dancing with his mistress, Chiang Ch’ing.  Newly commissioned (by the L.A. Philharmonic) choreography by Barak Marshall, rigorously executed by the ten dancers of BODYTRAFFIC, had an appropriately collective quality.

Veronika Part and Roberto Bolle

Selections by Stravinsky (Variation d’Apollon) and Saint-Saens (The Dying Swan) followed, the former danced by soloist Roberto Bolle, the latter by Veronika Part.  Both dancers then joined together for selections from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. Whether dancing as soloists or together, Bolle and Part were exquisite interpreters as well as masters of their craft, especially in the Swan Lake Pas de deux, with choreography modeled on the classic interpretation by Marius Petipa..  The Philharmonic, guided by Gustavo Dudamel, provided a setting as intimate as it was embracing.

The climactic selection from Leonard Bernstein – “Three Dance Episodes” from On the Town – started as a tour de force for Dudamel and the Philharmonic, shimmering with urban rhythms and an undercurrent of jazz accents.  Josh Rhodes’ choreography (commissioned by the L.A, Phil.)  featured four dancers – Sam Cahn, Marty Lawson, Andy Millis and Christopher Vo – garbed in sailor’s outfits.  Their high energy, often acrobatic routines clearly recalled the similar sailors’ dancing from the original On the Town production.

An impressive evening of music and dance.  Most of the headlines and photos emphasize the celebrity presence at the opening night gala.  But the real pleasures of the evening traced to the utterly superb, creatively empathic efforts of Gustavo Dudamel, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and a stageful of gifted dancers (along with a little help from Adams, Stravinsky, Saint-Saens, Tchaikovsky and Bernstein).

All of which bodes well for the 2012-13 season at Disney Hall.

Gustavo Dudamel photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.


Pop CD Review: Shemekia Copeland’s “33 1/3″

September 28, 2012

 Shemekia Copeland

33 1/3 (Telarc)

By Devon Wendell

Shemekia Copeland has proven to be one of the most important and vital forces in the world of modern blues since she began recording and touring, as well as opening up shows for her father, the legendary late great Texas bluesman Johnny “Clyde” Copeland over 15 years ago.

Her tough yet vulnerable vocal style can fit in any genre of American music, from blues to rock, gospel, r&b, country to pop. Copeland is also a poignant and imaginative lyricist. All of these aspects of her talent are prevalent on her latest album 33 1/3 (Telarc).

Copeland is backed by the album’s producer, Oliver Wood of The Woody Brothers, on guitar, Ted Pecchio on bass, and Gary Hansen on drums.

Although there are many covers on the album, it’s Copeland’s own material that shines a light on her profound lyric writing. This is the case on the album’s opener, “Lemon Pie.” which is an angry one-two punch rocker about the greedy rich and those living in abject poverty.

Copeland belts out her blues about the haves and the have- nots.

 “Lemon pie for the poor,

that’s what we’re working for.

I hope you weren’t expecting more

than lemon pie for the poor.”

Randy Weeks’ “Can’t Let Go” was a big hit for Lucinda Williams. Copeland slows down the tempo of Williams’ version, takes the country music elements out of the tune and turns it into her own funky blues. Her ferocity and aggressive vocal delivery along with Wood’s slashing slide guitar make this one of the album’s many highlights.

Copeland tackles domestic violence (both physical and emotional) on the slow and haunting “Ain’t Gonna Be Your Tattoo.” Copeland’s lyrics are full of dark yet clear imagery of a woman trying to get out of a dangerous relationship.

“They say 30’s young but I’m feeling old,

I guess that’s when the night got even cold.

Ain’t gonna be your tattoo, faded and blue.”

Buddy Guy appears on guitar with his unique out-of-phase Stratocaster screaming guitar leads which make the song even more menacing.

“Somebody Else’s Jesus” is a gospel flavor rock number about so many dishonest preachers who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.

The slow country ballad “A Woman” is a masterpiece. Wood’s slide guitar shadows each verse about how a woman really wants to be treated by a man. Copeland’s lead vocals and backing harmonies combine country, blues, and gospel in a way that is completely unique. This is one of the most powerful vocal performances recorded in years.

“I’ll Sing The Blues” has that slow, and wonderfully sexy feel, reminiscent of the late Etta James. Though this song is gritty and powerful, it lacks the intimacy and intensity of the rest of the album’s material.

“Mississippi Mud” is a raw blues-funk tune.  J.J. Grey guests on vocals. The interplay between the band members is stellar, and mixed perfectly without sounding polished.  In “Don’t you get stuck in that Mississippi Mud,” Copeland warns people about the perils of one way thinking and resting on one’s laurels.

Copeland also covers her father’s slow minor key blues “One More Time.” Her phrasing is frighteningly close to her dad’s gravely vocals on the original.  The band’s muddy and bleak sound is similar to something heard on one of Bob Dylan’s latest albums.

So many artists have covered Sam Cooke’s “Ain’t That Good News”, and Copeland’s version is nothing special, but it’s the album’s only weak point. The vocals are strong but the arrangement falls flat.

“Hangin’ Up” has a country-rock feel, especially the song’s chorus and layered guitar harmonies. Copeland’s vocals are totally sincere and filled with a pain and vulnerability.  Producer Wood’s guitar work stands out once again.

Copeland’s vocal range from rough and tough to angelic and sweet is perfectly exemplified on a beautiful and delicate reading of Bob Dylan’s “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight,” which closes the album. Of the thousands of Dylan covers over the last 50 years, this is one of the greatest to date. The band plays at level of a whisper behind Copeland’s childlike yet eerie vocals.

Shemekia Copeland’s 33 1/3 is not only her finest album, but one of the most original, compelling, and powerful blues albums released in a long time. Copeland is a blues singer and a poet, which is rare to find today. This recording is destined to get a lot of well deserved attention.

To read more reviews and posts by Devon Wendell click HERE.


Brian Arsenault’s Short Takes: CDs from Jesse Cook, Melvin Taylor and Saul Zonana

September 27, 2012

 Of Cooking, Burning and Breaking

By Brian Arsenault

Jesse Cook

The Blue Guitar Sessions (Entertainment One Music)

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

When I decided to review three guitar-based albums, I didn’t expect Jesse Cook’s The Blue Guitar Sessions to be my favorite.  I listened to it last, half expecting to largely dismiss it with a few lukewarm lines. Thus are prejudices to be avoided.

It is a remarkable album, I think, softly buffeting against a world perhaps too noisy for it.

To hear Cook’s acoustic, nylon stringed guitar supported and complemented by cello,  accordion, violin and piano, separately at times and in combination at others, is to be invited into a secret world with its own language.  The classic Miles Davis jazz album, Kinda Blue — to which it is a distant homage — did that. The best of Enya does that.

Here we are transported to guitar and accordion (Tom Szczesniak) buskers playing on the streets of  an imaginary Paris in “Witching Hour” and later a West Bank café, “Ne Me Quitte Pas” sung by Emma-Lee.  Cook spent his early years in Paris, of course, and Lee and he share a hometown of Toronto.

Emma-Lee also provides the vocal on the marvelous lead tune, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ recast “I Put A Spell on You.” Think it can’t be done soft and sultry? Give a listen.

Of course, I was prejudiced (there’s that word again) in favor right away since Cook chose a song with the immortal line: “I don’t care if you want me, I’m yours.”

“Broken Moon” is a moody night with Amy Laing’s dark cello perfectly complementing Cook’s guitar. “Miles Shorter,” with guitar and piano keeping company, reaches long into something deep. “Ocean Blue” in my estimation could be played in a classical program with wide acceptance. And “You,” well, it’s beautiful.

Most of the playing here is soft; linked by mood, themes, emotion. But it is not understated.  It is softly stated. Lyrical. Poetic. Ours is a harsh age but you may remember. Or yearn.

 Melvin Taylor

Beyond the Burning Guitar (TK)

Maybe Melvin Taylor shouldn’t have gone beyond. What is left is not a burning tour de force. Instead, it’s a two disc sampling of various styles and techniques and I‘m not sure which are his.

Maybe the problem is being compared to Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana when you’re really doing more of a jazz guitar album.  You can say, hey, that’s not his fault but that’s what’s on the album jacket and in the press packet.

Are those comparisons supposed to encourage “cross over” listeners.  They are more likely to set up the disciples of those rock guitar gods for disappointment.

Oh, it’s not that Taylor isn’t accomplished. It’s that he’s mostly playing jazz here and it’s probably jazz you have heard elsewhere.  The rock and blues numbers, not so many in number, seem thrown in to say, see, don’t forget I can play like that too.

Well done but who is he? He’s not terribly distinctive jazz like Graham Dechter, though really very good. He’s not living rock n roll like Stevie Ray or Jimi. So I’m left somewhere in the middle.

 Saul Zonana

Fix the Broken (TK)

Saul Zonana has a certain charm about him with a stripped down, neatly produced (and not the dreaded overproduced) album.  It seems largely like a collection of singles for radio during the era when it played three minute hits. Maybe a couple of country headliners will do some  hit-making with the songs here, now that he’s moved from New York to Nashville.

On his own, the problem may lie in the line “How do I get you to notice me?” from the CD’s first song, “Notice.”  Could be he’s asking all of us.

No doubt a strong road musician in a variety of bands and plenty good in the studio backing up whomever; he may not be broken, just not pushing the limits hard enough to get our attention.

There’s some Beatles harmonies on “The Music” and there’s a bit of Lennon later on. “Abandoned Sky” even sounds like a Lennon title. Zonana can slow it down on “A Kiss When I’m Gone”. Show his new Nashville base on “Fly”.

As he says on “I Don’t Either,” there’s “no need to apologize”.  It’s honest, even earnest, workmanlike. But it’s not inspired.

To read more reviews, posts and columns by Brian Arsenault click HERE.


CD/DVD Review: The Blues Broads; Dorothy Morrison, Tracy Nelson, Angela Strehli, and Annie Sampson

September 26, 2012

The Blues Broads (Delta Groove)

 By Devon Wendell

In a world where the blues is dominated by male, six stringing show offs, four reigning queens of blues (Dorothy Morrison, Tracy Nelson, Angela Stehli, and Annie Sampson) have joined forces to celebrate the soulful joy and rich harmonies of not only the blues but also gospel, rock n’ roll, and R&B.

The Blues Broads

Backed by a no-frills, no-nonsense blues band (Steve Ehrmann: bass, Paul Revelli: drums, Gary Vogensen: guitar, and Mike Emerson on keyboards. with special guest Deanna Bogart on vocals and keyboards.), these four legendary ladies perform a live set of originals and covers recorded live at The Throckmorton Theater in Mill Valley California, on November 4th, 2011. The CD also comes with a DVD of the show which includes a few extra highlights.

Tracy Nelson

Former Mother Earth front-woman Tracy Nelson leads the band through the Texas shuffle of “Livin’ The Blues.”  Although Nelson is a more than competent vocalist, her voice is often flat throughout this number; but the backing vocals of Strehli, Morrison, and Sampson make up for this distraction.  Nelson’s vibrato is rich, even, and totally original.

Annie Sampson

Forming member of Stoneground and longtime session giant Annie Sampson performs her original composition “Bring Me Your Love.”  Sampson’s confidence and vocal control make her one of the standout members of the “Broads” from her very first phrase. Sampson brings her unique blend of rock and gospel to this fiery number.

Angeli Strehli

Angela Strehli’s name has been synonymous with Texas blues for decades. She sings about discovering the blues of Muddy Waters, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Reed, and Eddie Taylor on the radio and how it transformed her life in her autobiographical song, “Two Bit Texas Town.” The band’s groove here is similar to Koko Taylor’s arrangement of Willie Dixon’s “Wang Dang Doodle,” and Strehli’s vocals share some similarities to that of Taylor’s, especially when she growls.

Most of the set consists of covers which are easily the highlights of the album.  Nelson’s greatest vocal performance is on the Anne Peebles’ classic slow blues “Walk Away” which is stunning in its intensity, with a tasty Chicago blues lead guitar solo by Gary Vogensen. What’s more powerful even than the lead vocals are the collective gospel background harmonies created by the ladies.  It’s true of this song and most of the material such as “Blue Highway” (lead by Dorothy Morrison) and J. Leslie McFarland’s gospel anthem “It Won’t Be Long.” The latter features special guest Deanna Bogart playing some jaw-dropping syncopated boogie-woogie piano and swapping vocals with Nelson.

The finest cover is a slow Memphis, churchified ballad rendition of Bob Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now /Baby Blue” by Annie Sampson alone with the rhythm section. Sampson’s phrasing is perfect and she creates and even darker mood than on the original. This performance is only on the DVD but is easily one of the standout moments of the show.

Dorothy Morrison

The wonderful Dorothy Morrison (the legendary lead vocalist for The Edwin Hawkins Singers) sounds younger and stronger than ever on the Spinners’ “Mighty Love.”  Though the rhythm arrangement is the same as the original recording, Morrison owns this soul classic with her tough tenor voice and sassy, boundless confidence.

It just wouldn’t be right to feature Dorothy Morrison and not have her perform the song that she made a hit all over the world with the Edwin Hawkins Singers, “Oh Happy Day.”

On this night, it feels as if her electrifying power is challenging the other band members and each of them rise to that challenge, belting out their best gospel chops. This joyful performance is the perfect way to end the set.

The ladies also did an acapella performance of the gospel standard “Jesus, I’ll Never Forget.” Each member gives every drawn out-phrase everything they’ve got as they all share the spotlight.

“The Blues Broads” act isn’t overproduced and doesn’t feature celebrity guests to win over a pop-oriented audience. These are four ladies who don’t need any of that. Throughout this recording, it sounds like these women have been singing together all of their lives, especially in the backing harmonies. Hopefully this is only one of many projects by the “Broads.”

To read an iRoM review of the Blues Broads’ performance at the Monterey Jazz Festival click HERE.

To read more reviews and posts by Devon Wendell click HERE


Live Music: Gershwins With A Groove: SING! SING! SING! at Keyboard Concepts

September 26, 2012

By Norton Wright

Judy Wolman

It was another extraordinary afternoon on Sunday with SING! SING! SING!, the unique 9-person group of rehearsed singers led by Artistic Director Judy Wolman.  Sprightly swinging on piano with Chris Conner on bass, Jack LeCompte on drums, Wolman and raconteur Howard Lewis melded the history of composer George Gershwin and lyricist Ira Gershwin with performances of twenty of their most remarkable songs.And invited the audience to sing along.

Why is a performance so special with the SING! SING! SING! group  (6 women and 3 men, including the multi-talented host, Howard Lewis)?  It’s because the singers have such a good time with the tunes that their enjoyment is happily infectious, and soon the whole audience is singing and sharing in the groovy toe-tapping.

Howard Lewis

And memory, too, plays a big role in the experience as SING! SING! SING!’s sparkling renditions of the Gershwins’ songs also led us to fondly recall Sarah Vaughan’s jazz take on “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” Chet Baker singing “But Not For Me,” Diane Schuur’s “The Man I Love,” Shirley Horn’s “Isn’t It a Pity,” and Louis and Ella on “Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off.” The myriad ways that the Gershwin Songbook can be rendered demonstrates why we regard that songbook as so great.

For those who have not experienced SING! SING! SING!, it should be noted that the group’s performance is much more than a “follow-the-bouncing ball” sing-along. There is something intensely touching in the sound of an audience, essentially of strangers, moved to sing together, to join the SING! SING! SING! performers in what emerges as a kind of surprise bonding, a rare coming-together, a veritable musical communion of performers and audience.

Facilitating that performer-audience interaction in Keyboard Concepts’ mini-theater on Sunday, lyric sheets were given to all audience members, and the sheets designed by Artistic Director Wolman not only clarified the oft confused definitions of “verse,” “refrain,” “chorus,” “bridge” and “release,” but also graphically indicated to the audience how a jazz vibe on the Gershwin tunes can be achieved by rhythmic pauses in the lyrics.

For Example:  “Someone To Watch Over Me” (1926) Words by Ira Gershwin.

Verse:

There’s a saying old, Says that love is blind, ____ Still we’re often told,
“Seek and ye shall find.” ____ So I’m going to seek a certain lad I’ve had____ in mind. ____
Looking ev’rywhere, Haven’t found him yet; He’s the big affair I cannot forget.____
Only man I ever think of with regret. _____
I’d __ like _ to add his initial to my monogram. ___
Tell __me, __ Where is the shepherd for this __ lost ___ lamb? ____

Refrain:
There’s a somebody I’m longing to see. __ I hope that he __ turns out to be __
Someone who’ll watch ___ over _ me. ______
(etc., etc.)

The audience participation on Sunday was robust and reminded one of those show biz evenings of old on NYC’s West End Avenue where Broadway folk would casually gather round an apartment’s piano and sing the night away. And there were some cool surprises from the SING! SING! SING! group as Ruth Davis stepped forward on stage to solo in a wise and dramatic rendition of “He Loves And She Loves.”  Later, Judy Wolman and Howard Lewis drew Chuck Marso from the audience to sing the Gershwin brothers’ rarely heard but oh so optimistic “Beginner’s Luck,.

Susan Watson

For a  guest finale, invited up from the audience was Susan Watson — fresh from her year-long run in “Follies” at Washington’s Kennedy Center, on Broadway, and at the Ahmanson Theater here in Los Angeles — to sing a touching rendition of “Someone To Watch Over Me.”

Though the individual singers of SING! SING! SING! may not have jazz star names like “Deedles,, “Sassy,” “Dizzy,” or “Zoot,” they delivered a musical powerhouse performance and merit star recognition  as follows — Tina Appel, David Beraru, Gloria Birnkrant, Ruth Davis, Pamela Jackson, Jackie Manfredi, Anita Royal, Judith Farber Weissman, Jerry Weissman.  

Bottom line — for a unique and emotionally-moving musical experience, keep your internet eyes out for the monthly programs and venues of SING! SING! SING! You’ll have a wonderful time!


Picks of the Week: Sept. 25 – 30

September 25, 2012

By Don Heckman

 Los Angeles

John Pisano

- Sept. 25. (Tues.)  John Pisano’s Guitar Night.  It’s an all-star congregation, with John Pisano celebrating the 15th anniversary of his always-entertaining Guitar Nights. Expect to see and hear a stage full of the Southland’s finest 6-stringers.  Lucy’s 51.    (818) 763-5200.

- Sept. 27. (Thurs.)  The Los Angeles PhilharmonicThe Philharmonic DancesOpening Night Concert and Gala.  The 2012-2013 Los Angeles Philharmonic season opens with a spectacular evening celebrating the long creative alliance between orchestral music and dance.  Gustavao Dudamel conducts the Philharmonic Disney Hall in a program reaching Saint-Saens and Stravinsky to Adams and Bernstein, with dancers from the American Ballet Theatre, from Broadway, and from BODYTRAFFIC.  Disney Hall.    (323) 850-2000.

- Sept. 27. (Thurs.)  Cirque Chinois.  If you were impressed by Cirque du Soleil, you’ll be at least that delighted – and probably more — by China’s Cirque Chinois, a gifted assemblage of acrobats, jugglers and contortionists who have been influencing circuses in the West for decades The Valley Performing Arts Center.

Cirque Chinois

- Sept. 27. (Thurs.)  Andrea Marcelli Quartet. Italian drummer/composer Marcelli impressive track record includes working with Wayne Shorter, Dave Liebman, Bob Mintzer and more.  And his compositions can be heard on nearly 200 CDs.  This time out, he’s working with bassist Pat Senatore, pianist Mitchell Forman, and saxophonist Bob Sheppard.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.    (310) 474-9400.

- Sept. 27. (Thurs.)  Sascha’s Bloc Band.  The richly entertaining, mostly Russian,  Bloc Band moves easily through funk, jazz, blues and r&b with an impressive degree of jazz authenticity. How good are they? Click HERE to read a recent review of a Bloc Band performance.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Sept. 28. (Fri.)  Miles Davis House @ Dim Mak Studios.  A celebration of the life and music of Miles Davis on the 21st anniversary of his passing.  The event — described in its announcement as “a genre-bending odyssey, the ultimate jam session — is hosted by Davis son, Erin Davis, and his nephew, Vince Wilburn, Jr.  Performers include Alexandra & the Starlight Band, David & Devine, Gabriel Johnson and Steven Roth.  There will also be DJ sets by Clifton Weaver AKA Soft Touch and Miles Tackett, and a Miles Davis shop with T-shirts, giveaways, etc.  Dim Mak Studios.  8 p.m. – 1:30 a.m.  1643 Cosmo St., Hollywood.

Bebel Gilberto

- Sept. 28. (Fri.)  Bebel Gilberto.  The singer/songwriter daughter of the iconic Joao Gilberto, Bebel has created, in her own right, a starry career in Brazil as well as the rest of the world.  She’ll perform some numbers with special guests “Forro in the Dark.”  A CAP UCLA program at Royce Hall.  (310) 825-2101.

- Sept. 28 & 29.  Fri. & Sat.  Vardan Ovsepian Chamber Ensemble.  Armenian born pianist/composer Ovsepian displays his far-reaching creative versatility with his Chamber ensemble.  The Blue Whale.   (213) 620-0908.

- Sept. 28 – 30. (Fri. – Sun.)  Los Angeles Philharmonic.  Gustav Dudamel showcases his first performance of Stravisky’s Rite of Spring with the Philharmonic.  Also on the program: Ravel’s Pavane pour une infante defunt and the world premiere of Steven Stuckey’s Symphony Disney Hall.    (323) 850-2000.

Bill Cunliffe

- Sept. 29. (Sat.)  Bill Cunliffe Big Band.  Pianist/composer/leader Cunliffe takes a break from his numerous small group outings to spotlight his versatile big band writing, performed by an aggregation of Southland first-call players. Upstairs at Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- Sept. 30. (Sun.) Wilco.  Grammy Award-winning alternative rock band Wilco close the summer season with their first appearance at the Hollywood Bowl.  They’ll be joined by singer/songwriter/harpist Joanna NewsomHollywood Bowl.    (323) 850-2000.

San Diego

- Sept. 29. (Sat.)  Nikhil Korula Band.  Jazz, rock and reggae are on the bill whenever Nikhil Korula and his musically adventurous six piece band step on stage.  Expect to hear some of Korula’s new compositions from his latest CD, Music of the New DayLongboard’s Grill.   (858) 270-4030.

San Francisco

Paula West

- Sept. 26 & 27. (Wed. & Thurs.)  Paula West.  The remarkable blend of rhythmic swing and emotionally touching phrasing, expressed via her warm honey voice, make West one of the finest individualist in today’s crowded category of female jazz singers.  Don’t miss a chance to hear her live.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 615-5600.

New York

- Sept. 25 – 30. (Tues. – Sun.) Gerald Clayton  Sextet.  Pianist/composer Clayton is completely familiar to Los Angeles jazz fans, who have experienced his remarkable creative growth since he was a teen-ager.  Now a new star, nationally and beyond, he performs an almost week-long with a four-horn sextet.  Jazz Standard.    (212) 576-2561.

Toots Thielemans

- Sept. 29. (Sat.)  Toots Thielemans: Celebrating 90 Years.  He’s the definitive jazz harmonica player, a fine guitarist and an amazing whistler.  And Thielemans has been entertaining and exciting jazz audiences with versatility for decades.  And still at it.  The performance also includes Eliane Elias, Dori Caymmi, Kenny Werner, Oscar Castro-Neves and more.  The Rose Theatre, Jazz at Lincoln Center.  (212) 258-9800.

London

- Sept. 28 & 29. (Fri. & Sat.)  Ian Shaw with the Phil Ware Trio.  Arguably one of the U.K.’s finest male jazz singers, Shaw’s eclectic musical view embraces everything from the Great Standards to Ray Charles, Joni Mitchell and Burt Bacharach.  Ronnie Scott’s

Milan

- Sept. 27 – 29.  (Thurs – Sat.)  Sarah Jane Morris.  English-born singer/songwriter moves easily from pop, jazz and rock to r&b, doing it all with convincing authenticity.  Blue Note Milan.   02.690 16888.

Tokyo

Rickie Lee Jones

- Sept. 27 – 28. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Rickie Lee Jones. Singer and songwriter of styles beyond definition, Jones – approaching 60 – may not have the visibility she once did, but she nevertheless continues to be one of pop music’s most intriguing performers. Blue Note Tokyo.    03.5485.0088.


Live Jazz: The Carol Robbins Sextet Upstairs at Vitello’s

September 24, 2012

By Don Heckman

Among the many instruments listed in jazz polls as “miscellaneous,” the harp is surely one of the most rare participants. As unlikely an actual jazz voice as it may seem, however, the instrument has been played in strikingly innovative fashion by the likes of Alice Coltrane, Dorothy Ashby, Corky Hale and Betty Glamann (among a very few others).

Carol Robbins

Add Carol Robbins to that list.

A busy L. A. studio player whose resume embraces everything from film, television and recordings to celebrity weddings, she has also gradually positioned herself as an intriguing jazz harpist, composer and band leader. On Sunday night at Vitello’s, all those skills were on full display in a performance celebrating the release of her new CD, Moraga.

Her six piece ensemble was a congregation of state of the art Southland players including – in addition to Robbins – guitarist Larry Koonse, pianist Billy Childs, saxophonist Rob Lockart, bassist Darek Oles and drummer Dan Schnelle. Childs, Koonse and Oles are on the recording. And most of the evening’s generous, two hour program was devoted to selections from Moraga.

Billy Childs and Larry Koonse

Starting the evening with four original works, Robbins introduced the essence of her style, as composer, player and leader. Each piece was articulately conceived, ranging from crisp jazz lines to lush, floating impressionist harmonies.

Darek Oles and Rob Lockart

Soloing was intrinsic to each work. Childs was the principal soloist in the first two, his far reaching dissonances and surging rhythms providing gripping counterpoint to the layered emotions of Robbins’ writing.

Dan Schnelle

For the balance of the program, the close wedding of composition and improvisation was essential to Robbins’ compositional perspective. And with soloists such as Lockart, Koonse and Oles, strongly supported by Schnelle’s propulsive – but never intrusive, drumming – the music unfolded like the mesmerizing chapters of a much loved novel.

Among the high points: The intimate dueting between Koonse (especially on acoustic guitar) and Robbins, the blending textures of their strings and the lyrical interplay of their solo lines on pieces such as “Dolore” and “Mojave.” Robbins’ exquisite rendering of the Cole Porter classic, “Every Time We Say Goodbye,” her instrumental expressions perfectly recalling the poignant lyrics.

Equally remarkable was the way in which she brought Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Caminhos Cruzados” to life, playing the clustered harmonies of the Joao Gilberto guitar style on her harp. The ease with which she outlined one bebop phrase after another – a seemingly near-impossible task on her large, many-stringed instrument.

Larry Koonse and Carol Robbins

And, perhaps most important of all, the intrinsic blend of rich musicality, inventive soloing and warm creative comradeship that is intrinsic to Robbins’ art.

After hearing her generate an evening of such immensely entertaining music with her harp in the central role, it was hard to imagine anyone ever referring to Carol Robbins’ grand-looking, beautiful-sounding instrument as “miscellaneous.”

All photos by Bonnie Perkinson.


Live Jazz: Monterey Jazz Festival Notebook; Day 3

September 24, 2012

By Michael Katz

It is Monday morning, and a layer of fog has settled over Monterey Bay. The 55th Monterey Jazz Festival is now an empty fairgrounds. Places with names like Dizzy’s Den and the Nightclub are now bland outbuildings connected by an empty midway. But if you close your eyes, you can still imagine a magical place, where a high school flutist can say she followed Ambrose Akinmusire on the stage of the Jimmy Lyons Arena, or a young singer can say she stood in front of a big band on the same stage and was the hottest thing going. And that was just a prelude to the concluding day, which brought Esperanza Spalding, Pat Metheny and an All-Star MJF combo to conclude one of MJF’s best festivals.

Next Generation Jazz Orchestra

The Next Generation Jazz Orchestra led by Paul Contos kicked things off with some terrific arrangements, including a knockout version of “Harlem Nocturne.” A few of the highlights included the winning composition, “Something Small,” by Christopher McCarthy, and vocalist Laila Smith, who shone on “Only You” and an upbeat arrangement of “Smile.” Artist-in-Residence Ambrose Akinmusire made his first Arena appearance of the festival with a couple of numbers that featured his searing horn. You can only imagine the confidence director Contos had in Elena Pinderhughes to have her follow Akinmusire’s extended riff with a zesty flute solo of her own, and trumpeter Adam O’Farrill, who shared the stand with Akinmusire for his final tune.

Esperanza Spalding

Esperanza Spalding had to be the perfect choice to anchor the Sunday afternoon show. She has the crossover creds to draw a young audience into the Arena, yet her jazz chops endear her to the Monterey faithful. She brought a solid eleven piece ensemble to the Arena in support of her current hit CD, Radio Music, that included rising tenor star Tia Fuller and Chris Turner on supporting vocals. Emerging in a flowing white gown and trademark Afro, she led her band through a jam session that won over the audience from the start.  If there was one unavoidable timing glitch, it was having a lovely ballad set in the midst of what turned out to be the flyover of Thunderbird F-16s from the nearby Salinas Air Show, but by then crowd knew what was coming and waited patiently for the jets to finish, while Spalding adapted with panache.

It’s possible that Esperanza had a little case of Trombone Shorty-itis, as she tried to get a crowd going that was still suffering a bit of an emotional hangover from the day before. Her style is gentler, her voice at its best wafts sweetly over her bass tones. Her finale, an extended rendition of the Radio Music theme, brought home her point about falling in love with music through the radio, but it seemed to leave the set a tad on the short side. One more smaller, more dramatic vocal (and let the crowd take care of itself) might have been more fulfilling.

Mads Tolling

The mid-afternoon sets at the Garden Stage are always some of my favorite moments. They are a chance to wind down from what tends to be a raucous atmosphere in the Arena and set the stage for the evening’s jazz headliners. Danish violinist Mads Tolling was a wonderful example of this Sunday. The Turtle Island veteran led a quartet that featured sterling guitar work from Michael Abraham and support from bassist George Ben-Weiss and drummer Eric Garland. Together they exploited every aspect of Tollings’ instrument, from Danish folksongs to jazz standards to extended flights in homage to Jean Luc Ponty. My favorites included the opener, “Danish Dessert,” which began with some nice counter plucking between violin and guitar, “Take Off Blues” by Danish legend Svend Asmussen and Chick Corea’s “Armando’s Rumba.”  Tollings had a gorgeous extended solo in “Beatrice,” then brought the group back for another Jean Luc tribute, “Pontification.”

Pat Metheny

There was plenty of activity going on throughout the festival as the curtain went down Sunday night, but by that time I was content to stay at the Arena for what turned out to be a superb evening. Pat Metheny returned to the stage with his Unity Band quartet, featuring Chris Potter on reeds, Antonio Sanchez on percussion and upcoming bass star Ben Williams. Metheny remains something of a mad scientist, with his “Orchestrion” lurking in the background like some sort of cross between a super computer and an alien spaceship. This was all linked to something resembling an apothecary shelf at the right of the stage, filled with bottles and beakers that lit up like Christmas lights  throughout the show.

Chris Potter

Metheny started with a type of combination guitar/harp known as the Pikasso. He was joined by Potter on bass clarinet in a lovely pairing that was augmented by some terrific bass lines by Williams. The band went through material from the new Unity album; like most everything Metheny does, it is hard to categorize. If you are a jazz purist you tend to love his full sound and wandering melodies. You sometimes cringe at the more rock-style riffs, but there was relatively little of that Sunday night, and it was kept earthbound by the fine work of Potter, whose soprano matched Metheny’s occasional trips into the stratosphere.

There were times when I felt a little sympathy for Antonio Sanchez, whose masterful rhythms seemed to be competing against the bells and chimes of the Orchestrion. Once or twice I thought I’d stumbled into a soundtrack for the nearby Monterey Bay Aquarium. But as the show went on Sanchez had plenty of room to stretch out. And the final moments of the ninety-minute set, when Potter doubled on flute and did a lovely duet with Metheny, brought the audience to its feet.

Christian McBride

The final performance at the Arena would have highlighted any night, but it was a perfect coda to MJF 55. The MJF Jazz Festival on Tour started out with Dee Dee Bridgewater and Christian McBride sharing the stage, with an inspired version of “Do What You Want To Do.” Bridgewater teased the audience as she synched with McBride’s bass, the two of them interweaving riffs.  The rest of the band followed: pianist Bennie Green; Chris Potter doing double duty, bridging the gap between avant garde and straight ahead; trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire and drummer Lewis Nash.  Bridgewater led a spirited version of Horace Silver’s “Filthy McNasty” and Akinmusire stretched out on McBride’s composition “Shade of The Cedar Tree.”

In recent years MJF has shifted the Sunday show to two 90 minute performances, and this works perfectly for the All-Star groups. In the past, with only an hour, it seemed like they were just warming up when the curtain fell. And the fact that the group had played Saturday night at Dizzy’s Den gave the Arena crowd the benefit of their additional time together. If there’s one player who ought to especially benefit from the extended tour, which will begin in January, it is Akinmusire, who will surely get some added recognition from his presence, as well as the opportunity to test his compositions against this stellar group.

Dee Dee Bridgewater

But there were plenty of highlights from everyone, including wonderful brushwork by Lewis Nash with the group reduced to a trio for Dizzy Gillespie’s “Tanga.”   Bobby Hutcherson’s “Highway One,” featured Akinmusire and Potter, and Chris shone in his composition “Salome’s Dance.” Still, if there was a first among equals it had to be Dee Dee Bridgewater.  She mesmerized the crowd with “Don’t Explain,” and later closed the show leading the band in “All of Me.” It is impossible to compare any singer with prior eras, where a national spotlight shone on Sarah and Ellie and Billie, but Dee Dee Bridgewater, at this stage of her career, belongs in the conversation.

As the MJF Touring all-stars finished “All of Me” to a standing ovation, from a crowd that had braved yet another chilly night, there were a few wistful remarks about the paucity of “real jazz” on the Arena schedule. While that may be a narrow definition, I can understand the sentiment. But the umbrella of jazz has spread wide, and there were nearly countless opportunities on the various stages to see jazz of every fashion.  The venues played to near capacity crowds almost everywhere.  It was sad to see the closing curtain fall, as it meant farewell to friends seen too seldom, and a spirit of art and friendship unmatched anywhere in the world.

See you next year, Monterey.

Photos courtesy  of the Monterey Jazz Festival.

To read more iRoM reviews and posts by Michael Katz, click HERE.

To visit Michael Katz’s personal blog, “Katz of the Day,” click HERE.


Live Jazz: Monterey Jazz Festival Notebook; Day #2

September 23, 2012

By Michael Katz

Saturday at the Monterey Jazz Festival is an Olympian feast, with just about everything you can imagine, from the blasting steel pedal of Robert Randolph to the nuanced guitar of Mimi Fox, the cult-like dominance of Trombone Shorty to the indomitable Tony Bennett. Not to mention the ear-splitting Thunderbirds flyover, courtesy of the nearby Salinas Air Show.

Robert Randolph

There was a chill in the air Saturday morning – you would think after so many years at this festival I wouldn’t be fooled, though it should have served as a reminder that the evenings can get downright cold. Once into the Arena, the sun was searing as usual – and so were Robert Randolph and his Family Band. The blues, for years the staple of the Saturday afternoon shows, has taken a back seat lately to the Treme-inspired New Orleans gumbo/funk, but Randolph played with a fury, cutting through the afternoon heat on his steel pedal guitar. He occasionally eased into a soulful funk of his own, but mainly he was sending stratospheric riffs into the autumn air.  This is a treat if that’s your kind of blues, but after about a half hour I sought some refuge, as well as the typical Saturday afternoon fun at the Garden Stage.

The Blues Broads

There are few things that beat the ambience of standing under the shade of California live oaks, feeling a breeze float through the air as the crowd occupies every nook and cranny of the Garden Stage’s small amphitheatre. The Blues Broads, who are everything that the name implies, were belting out Texas blues with panache. Tracy Nelson, Angela Strehli, Dorothy Morrison and Annie Sampson supplied the vocals from the Austin-based group, and the band was pushed by a two-keyboard combination of Mike Emerson and Deanna Bogart, who doubled on tenor sax. Under normal circumstances I might have been content to stretch out in the shade and take in the remainder of their ninety-minute show, but I was drawn to the Night Club venue for an event I’d been looking forward to since the schedule came out.

Ali Ryerson and Mimi Fox

It may seem counter-intuitive to be seeking quietude on the one afternoon that the MJF is bursting with fervor; I suppose Tim Jackson could have scheduled the duo of flutist Ali Ryerson and guitarist Mimi Fox at some other time. Perhaps the crowd might have been a little larger – by the end it probably was around 60% of capacity at a festival where crowded venues were the norm – but those who were there couldn’t have been more appreciative.  Mimi Fox is a splendid player – she has an air of confidence, like a tennis player striking one well-placed rally after another, never a false step or a wasted note. She isn’t recorded nearly enough – her Perpetually Hip double CD of 2006 is the latest. And she found a perfect duet partner in Ryerson, who has worked in many formats, alternating between the standard flute and the alto. Fox set a bluesy tone in the opening, her composition “Blues For Two,” and from there Ryerson picked up the alto for a sparkling “Summertime.”  Their interweaving on “Alone Together” brought memories of the famous Jim Hall/Ron Carter duo. Fox alluded to some personal challenges in her composition “This Bird Still Flies,” and you could only hope they had waned – certainly her playing still shines. Ryerson took the lead on a stunning “My One And Only Love,” punctuated by the Thunderbirds F-16 flyover.  Most of the crowd knew this was coming, but by the sixth one, it took the consummate grace of Ryerson and Fox to rescue the intimacy of the moment. They closed with Jobim’s “Triste,” with Fox artfully tapping chordal backdrops to Ryerson’s melodic riffs.

Trombone Shorty

So I missed the first half of Trombone Shorty’s triumphant return to the Arena, where he had laid waste to the entire festival two years ago, starting a campaign that ended at the Garden Stage far into the afternoon. He was feted with Caesarian affection by the packed arena. When I walked in he was in the midst of an extended visit to “St. James Infirmary,” leading his band, featuring guitarist Pete Murano and bassist Mike Ballard. Combined with the horns of Mike McFatter and Dan Ostreicher, it is an awe-inspiring combination of funk and showmanship. Shorty, aka Troy Andrews, played a piercing trumpet solo as he segued into Ray Charles’ “I Got A Woman,” which had some great tenor work by McFatter. But mostly it was supreme showmanship, with Shorty out front and drummer Joey Peebles maintaining the groove.  If the Monterey Jazz Festival was a small country, Trombone Shorty could be Emperor without much trouble. (We should keep him away from Kurt Vonnegut novels).

Judi Roberts

A short interlude before the evening performances brought me to the tiny Courtyard Stage, where pianist/vocalist Judy Roberts and tenor/flutist Greg Fishman held forth for a series of half-hour performances. If you are a Chicagoan wondering where your fellow country-people have been, stop by because they all show up for Judy.  I am admittedly biased here, but listening to her and Greg’s spirited version of “Centerpiece,” or her wonderful interpretation of “Night Moves,” brings back memories of the Backroom, and the non-Chicagoans shared in the delight.

Michael Wolff

The evening brought three much anticipated performances, and apologies to Bill Frisell, whose commissioned piece I missed. But I have been a huge Cal Tjader fan from the first time I heard his rich vibes tone incorporating the Afro-Cuban and Latin rhythms of Dizzy Gillespie and Mongo Santamaria. When Tjader died suddenly in 1982, the music seemed to go with him, despite a nice legacy album from conguero Poncho Sanchez. So when superb pianist Michael Wolff, who played with Tjader at the age of 19 in the early 70’s, got the go ahead to put together a Cal Tjader Tribute Band, I knew it would be something special. The band was superb, with a rhythm section of John Santos and Pete Escovedo on congas and timbales, Vince Lateano on percussion and Robb Fisher on bass. Warren Wolf took the Tjader chair on vibes and did a terrific job. No one can really imitate Cal Tjader – if it was that easy, someone would have done it by now.  Wolf’s style is slightly more percussive, but he has the zest and passion for the music that comes out with every stroke of the mallets. The group began with Ray Bryant’s “Cuban Fantasy,” with Wolff and Escovedo trading solos in back of Warren Wolf’s bright melodic line.  So much of this material is treasured by Tjader fans that you simply sit back and listen to this group take off and fly with it. Warren Wolf shone on Mongo’s “Afro-Blue,” and Michael Wolff took the lead on his own combination “Sad Eyes,” from the Tambu album with Charlie Byrd.  Wolf’s vibes are clearly the dominant force in a Tjaderized setting, but Michael Wolff’s piano was bubbling throughout. Everything shone in this set – the classic “A Night In Tunisia” featured a blazing crescendo by Warren Wolf. At about this time I realized time was fleeting, and the group wouldn’t get through the entire agenda. They closed with Tjader’s classic “Soul Sauce,” Michael Wolff slipping over to the Fender Rhodes for a Joe Zawinul-inspired solo before handing the baton back to Warren Wolff for the familiar vibes roll that became Cal’s signature. It was clearly an unforgettable set.

Jac DeJohnette

I moved back to the Arena for the last two sets of the evening, which were both triumphant in their own way. Jack DeJohnette led (if that’s the word) a trio with Pat Metheny and Christian McBride. The three of them explored rhythms and melodies – no titles were announced — and by this time my mind overloaded as I tried to sort out familiar lines. It was improvisational jazz at its best, kind of an acoustic avant-garde, wandering off here and there but never inaccessible. DeJohnette has a crisp style that keeps your attention, and Metheny has a unique presentation. Even when he is not playing any of his well-known pieces, his presence is clearly felt. McBride, of course, is the perfect foil, pulsating from behind, and then moving in front when the mood strikes. The one tune I could put a label on was Miles Davis’ “Solar,” which they wove into an expressive piece that Miles would surely have appreciated (though that is always assuming a lot).

Tony Bennett

Tony Bennett closed the show and all I can say is, Google “sublime” and you ought to get his name for the first ten pages. At 86 he makes few concessions to age – he speaks a few lyrics that he used to croon, that’s about it – but his interpretive powers and rich tone haven’t diminished. The standards seem fresh as the Monterey breeze (albeit there was a distinct chill in the air).  You can reel them off as he did: “They All Laughed,” “The Best Is Yet To Come,” “The Shadow Of Your Smile,” just to name a few.  Lee Musiker is a terrific pianist and Musical Director, the great Harold Jones was on drums, Marshall Wood on bass and Gary Sargent on guitar was wonderful as the featured soloist. Bennett kept the songs mostly short with the occasional bow to his sidemen. The audience was adoring, and when he closed the set with Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile,” and “Fly Me To The Moon,” he had accomplished much the same as Trombone Shorty, and if it wasn’t the exact same crowd, there was plenty in common.

Photos courtesy  of the Monterey Jazz Festival.

To read more iRoM reviews and posts by Michael Katz, click HERE.

To visit Michael Katz’s personal blog, “Katz of the Day,” click HERE.


Live Jazz: Monterey Jazz Festival Notebook; Day #1

September 22, 2012

By Michael Katz

At about a quarter to eight last night, a line snaked down the midway at the Monterey Fairgrounds leading to the Coffee House, the smallest of the grounds venues at the Monterey Jazz Festival. I have been attending this festival since the mid-nineties, and as much as I love the sound and feel of the small combos that are staged there, I can’t remember such a line for the Coffee House opener.  Then again, Mulgrew Miller had never fronted a trio there before.

Mulgrew Miller

Miller commanded the stage from the opening notes. There was an undercurrent of blues in his crisp, clear tones, as he launched into a standard, “If I Should Lose You.” It was more evident in the next number, one of his own  compositions, “When I Got There.” Not recognizing the tune, I could sense a Monkish spirit, with a little bit of Fats Waller oozing out. The trio, with Ivan Taylor on bass and Rodney Green on drums, was tight throughout, bouncing between Jobim’s “O Grande Amor” and Thelonious Monk’s “Monk’s Dream.” It was just classic piano trio music, a perfect way to kick off the festival. An homage to Charlie Parker, “Relaxin’ At Camarillo” finished off the set, and then it was back off into the evening.

Tammi Brown

And it was a chilly evening. Layers came on as early as the opening set at the Garden Stage, where Santa Cruz singer Tammi Brown kicked off MJF 55 with a soulful set, fronting a group full of Bay Area musicians, leading off with her version of a couple of Hal David/Burt Bacharach tunes, “What The World Needs Now” and “Look of Love,” before wowing the early arrivals with an extended jam session. In the backdrop was a gorgeous Monterey sunset, the clouds turning a deep pink behind Brown and her group.

Jack DeJohnette

Every MJF presents strategic options, given the four basic grounds venues and the main Arena show.  Last night I spent little time with the headliners, which is not to slight the Arena line-up. I heard the Big Phat Band was great, but I’ve seen them plenty in LA. After the Mulgrew Miller set, I dropped in for about twenty minutes of Jack DeJohnette’s eclectic group featuring Rudresh Mahanthappa on alto and David Fiuczinski on guitar. I caught most of an extended flight into Shorter-like territory, noteworthy for DeJohnette’s spatial patter on the drum set. It was thoroughly enjoyable, but I’ll catch the drummer at least once more over the weekend; I was eager to hear Gregoire Maret’s set across the way at the Night Club, so off I went.

Gregoire Maret

To say that harmonica player Maret’s sound bears a resemblance to Toot’s Thielemans makes it distinctly different than anyone else. It’s a haunting sound, full within the limited confines of the instrument. You can close your eyes and imagine yourself in a small club in Paris, the sound wafting into a summer’s night. At first I thought Maret had trouble making the sound heard above his quartet, with Matt Brewer starting on electric bass and Clarence Penn on drums.  I sensed a little uncertainty from the audience as well. Maret was the least-known performer of anyone I heard Friday, and the venue was only about half full to start. But as the set progressed, the sound balance was solved, and Maret seemed to find his audience – more people were sifting in, and more people were staying than leaving.

I thought the quartet worked best when pianist Shedrick Mitchell was given some room to stretch out. The harmonica is a small instrument; even Toots doubles on guitar (and he whistles, too). Stevie Wonder, whose “Secret Life of Plants” was the second number, sings and plays keyboards, among other things. So the more Mitchell expounded, the more Maret had to riff against. You could see the quartet working better on “The Man I Love,” and things really started cooking on the last two numbers. Brewer had switched to acoustic bass, and Penn had an effective drum solo on the penultimate number, with Maret soaring now, splashing riff after riff towards the growing audience. I don’t know what it would have been like to see Toots when he was in his twenties, but I surely got a sense that Maret was someone who will be a dominating voice on jazz harmonica for years to come.

Gregory Porter

I thought I would settle nicely into Eddie Palmieri’s closing set at the Arena, given the reports I’d heard from his concert at the Hollywood Bowl. He had a terrific band that included trumpeter Brian Lynch and trombonist Conrad Herwig. But somehow I just felt restless, or maybe I just needed to hear something new and different. A little voice inside was saying, “You really ought to hear Gregory Porter.” Now I am of an age where hearing little voices is not necessarily a good thing.  But I wanted to find out what the fuss about Porter was all about – I’d heard him a little on the radio, mostly ballads that had a Johnny Hartman feel to them. But I was in for a revelation, if only for the last third of a set. I walked into a packed Night Club to hear him finish a rousing version of “Skylark.” Wearing what is apparently a trademark cap with earflaps, Porter has a vocal timbre that is somewhere between Hartman and Joe Williams. He had complete command of the audience, and he performed with a soulful funkiness that brought to mind Les McCann. His closing number was a recall of the Detroit riots, “1960 What” – yes, definitely a McCann influence here – which had the audience on its feet. There was no way they were going to let him leave, so back he came with a soulful “Water,” from his most recent CD.

That concluded a wonderful first night. More tomorrow with Trombone Shorty,  Michael Wolff’s Cal Tjader band, Pat Metheny, Tony Bennett and more.

Photos courtesy  of the Monterey Jazz Festival.

To read more iRoM reviews and posts by Michael Katz, click HERE.

To visit Michael Katz’s personal blog, “Katz of the Day,” click HERE.


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