Live Music: Eliane Elias, Lee Ritenour and Dave Grusin, and Boz Scaggs at the Hollywood Bowl.

July 18, 2014

By Don Heckman

lt usually takes a while before a performer can generate enough dynamic energy to begin to steal the show. But at the Hollywood Bowl Wednesday night, the opening act – Brazilian pianist/singer Eliane Elias – claimed a large chunk of the evening’s creative territory before her relatively brief half hour set was concluded.

That’s not to minimize the effectiveness of the other major musical acts on the bill: the duo of guitarist Lee Ritenour and keyboardist/composer Dave Grusin (and their band); and veteran rock star Boz Scaggs.

Eliane Elias

Eliane Elias

And we’ll get to them. But let’s get back to Eliane.

I first heard her three decades ago at Catalina Bar & Grill. Barely into her twenties, she was not a singing performer at the time. Her emphasis was on her jazz piano work, which was extraordinary. I can still recall a stunning, piano solo rendering of “Body and Soul” that breathed remarkable new creative life into an often overdone standard.

In the intervening years, Eliane added vocals to her arsenal of musical skills, as well as a warmly engaging performance style that invited her listeners into the intimacy of her playing.

As she did at the Bowl on Wednesday.

Backed by the sterling rhythm of guitarist Graham Dechter, bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Rafael Barata, Eliane cruised with masterful ease from the classic bossa nova at her roots to the jazz that has become an equally vital element in her musical artistry. Her singing on Brazilian classics such as “Chega de Saudade” was balanced perfectly by her interpretations of standards from the American songbook – notably “And I Thought About You” from her memorable album tribute to Chet Baker.

And her piano work, driven by irresistible musical spontaneity, charged the enthusiastic audience with excitement, building to a climactic sequence of robust exchanges with drummer Barata.

As I noted above, everything Eliane did, from beginning to end was enough to establish her set as the most singular event, the centerpiece of a high intensity musical evening.

Lee Ritenour and Dave Grusin

Lee Ritenour and Dave Grusin

Ritenour and Grusin sustained much of Eliane’s jazz excitement when they dug into their set, a rapid fire sequence of works. Backed by the potent rhythm section of bassist Abraham Laboriel and drummer Chris Coleman, the two leaders focused most of the music on the fusion, funk and smooth jazz that has enlivened much of Ritenour’s busy career. And let’s not overlook the melodic appeal of Grusin’s compositions, as well as the spontaneous arrangements that he brought to many of the tunes via his line up of electronic keyboards.

Add to that the always entertaining presence of bassist Laboriel, who danced, hummed and snapped his electric instrument with non-stop verve, enhancing virtually every tune with injections of his unique, high velocity style.

The Ritenour/Grusin set finished with a surprising climax – a rendering of “Happy Birthday” to acknowledgment of Grusin’s recent 80th birthday, which took place on June 26. Appropriately, Grusin was the principal soloist in the performance, offering a delightfully imaginative set of variations to underscore his own birthday celebration.

Boz Scaggs

The final set of the evening featured the veteran rocker, guitarist and singer/songwriter Boz Scaggs. Although he, too, celebrated a birthday in June (his 70th), there was no repeat offering of “Happy Birthday.”

Scaggs instead laid down a familiar line up of hits from the ’70s and ’80s, some written by Scaggs, some by others, among them: “What Can I Say?” “Miss Sun,” “Lowdown,” “Lido Shuffle.”

The most appealing part of the set reached beyond the tunes, into Scaggs’ sheer pleasure in what he was doing. Playing impressive rock guitar from time to time, he and his band recalled the sheer foot-tapping, body-moving pleasures of ’70s and ’80s rock. And the high point arrived at the close in a joyously spirited duet between Scaggs and his back up singer, Conesha Owens.

Vastly different from what Eliane Elias had offered, Scaggs nonetheless clearly delighted the many who had come to the Bowl to hear him recall the music of their youth.

And for those whose view of jazz is illuminated by funk, fusion and smooth jazz, Ritenour and Grusin also provided plenty of musical highlights.

Finally, recalling the program’s extraordinary opening set, with its authentic blending of jazz and Brazilian music, the only element missing from this eclectic musical evening was an additional half hour of music from Eliane Elias and her players. Maybe next time.

 


Picks of the Week: July 15 – July 20. (Tues. – Sun.) in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, London and Paris.

July 15, 2014

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Dave Grusin and Lee Ritenour

Dave Grusin and Lee Ritenour

- July 16. (Wed.) Lee Ritenour and Dave Grusin, Boz Scaggs, Eliane Elias. It’s a line-up filled with masters of far-reaching jazz genres (and beyond). Expect an evening of jazz for every taste. Look for an iRoM review later this week. The Hollywood Bowl. (323) 850-2000. .

- July 16. (Wed.) Gina Saputo. She still hasn’t been recognized for her rapidly growing skills as a new jazz vocal star. See Saputo now and join her growing cadre of fans. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (223) 466-2210.

- July 16. (Wed.) The Ron Eschete Trio. Veteran guitarist Eschete displays his impressive mastery of the seven-string instrument. Don’t miss him in action. Steamer’s.  (714) 871-8800.

Tatiana Parra

Tatiana Parra

- July 17. (Thurs.) Tatiana Parra with the Vardan Ovsepian Trio. Her name may not yet be as familiar to American audiences as it should be. But Parra is a remarkable talent, fully capable of blending the best qualities of jazz and Brazilian music. Click HERE to read an iRoM review of a recent album by Tatiana. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- July 17. (Thurs.) Sara Gazarek and Josh Nelson. Singer Gazarak and pianist Nelson have become an impressive musical team, interacting with intuitive creativity. The Blue Whale. (213) 620-0908.

Pat Senatore

Pat Senatore

- July 18. (Fri.) Pat Senatore Trio. Bassist Senatore’s remarkable versatility is on display almost every night at Vibrato with a variety of artists. This time out he leads his own masterful trio, with Josh Nelson, piano, and Mark Ferber, drums. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- July 18. (Fri.) Nutty. You may not have heard of Nutty, but you’ll never forget them after you experience their enhancement of classic rock tunes with swinging jazz settings. Vitello’s  (818) 769-0905.

- July 18 & 19. (Fri. & Sat.) Dreamworks Animation in Concert. Actor Jack Black hosts an evening celebrating 20 Years of Dreamworks animation shows. Thomas Wilkins conducts the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. The Hollywood Bowl. (323) 850-2000. http://www.hollywoodbowl.com/tickets/calendar.

- July 18 & 19. (Fri. & Sat.) Denise Morgan. Completely at ease with gospel, classical, jazz and beyond, Morgan is an impressively eclectic vocal artist. The Gardenia.  (323) 467-7444.

Carol Welsman

Carol Welsman

- July 20. (Sun.) Carol Welsman. Singer/pianist Welsman offers her first Sunday Vespers appearance with her trio — bassist Chris Colangelo and drummer Dave Tull.  Welsman’s richly interpretive vocals and briskly swinging piano work are a pleasure to hear under any circumstances.  And this performance offers, as she says “a unique experience of jazz and spiritual reflection.”  All Saints Church, 132 N. Euclid Ave., Pasadena, CA. (626) 583-2725. (Admission is free.)

- July 20. (Sun.) Midnight Caravan. Actress/singer Linda Purl celebrates ‘The Great Ladies of the Glamorous Nightclub Era. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (223) 466-2210.

San Francisco

Benny Green

Benny Green

- July 17 – 20. (Thurs. – Sun.) The Benny Green Trio. Pianist Green has sustained, in stellar creative manner, the Oscar Peterson jazz piano legacy. An SFJAZZ event in Joe Henderson Lab.  (866) 920-5299.

New York City

- July 15 & 16. (Tues. & Wed.) Julian Lage Trio. A prodigy as a young guitarist, Lage has matured into an impressive new jazz star. The Jazz Standard. (212) 576-2232,

London

Leny Andrade

Leny Andrade

- July 15 & 16. (Tues. & Wed.) Leny Andrade. She’s arguably Brazil’s most convincing jazz-based vocal artist. Don’t miss this chance to hear her live. Ronnie Scott’s.  +14(0)20 7439 00747.

- July 19. (Sat.). (Fri. & Sat.) Take 6. There’s no vocal group quite like Take 6, with its blend of irresistible rhythms, lush harmonies and far- ranging vocal imagination. Ronnie Scott’s. +14 (0) 20 7439 00747.

Paris

- July 16. (Tues.) Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet. Trumpeter Akinmusire has been embraced, with good reason, as one of the new jazz stars of his generation. Paris New Morning.  +33 1 45 23 51 41
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Picks of the Week: June 24 – 29

June 24, 2014

By Don Heckman

Summer has arrived, with all its distractions, and many of the music venues — in the U.S., Europe and beyond — are either closed or booking with reduced schedules.  But there’s still good music to be heard.

Los Angeles

Annie Trousseau

Annie Trousseau

- June 25. (Wed.) Annie Trousseau. Multi-lingual singer Trousseau is described in her press material as offering “some impressive musical reminders of Edith Piaf and Marlene Dietrich.” Which should make for an evening of eminently fascinating music. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- June 26. (Thurs.) “Tenors For Two” Tenor saxophonists Tom Peterson and Roger Neumann recall the jazz glory days of the “battling tenors.” Expect these two fine players to stretch the limits. Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- June 26. (Thurs.) Heartbeat Brazil. They may be Los Angeles-based, but Heartbeat Brazil approaches classic Brazilian music with a convincingly authentic approach to bossa nova, samba, etc. And the highlight of the night may well be the presence of guest singer, Jason Gould, Barbra Streisand’s son. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

Jack Jones

Jack Jones

- June 27 & 28. (Fri. & Sat.) Jack Jones. Jones’ mellow, baritone voice carried the torch for traditional pop music during the rock ‘n’ roll sixties. And the Grammy winner is still going strong, still recalling the glories of the Great American Songbook. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (223) 466-2210.

- June 27 & 28: (Fri.,  & Sat.)  Andrea Marcovicci. Actress, singer, and “Queen of Cabaret,” Marcovicci’s resume reaches from the White House and Carnegie Hall to films and television.  She returns to celebrate her 29th Anniversary at The Gardenia with a program of torch songs titled “Let’s Get Lost.”  The Gardenia.

- June 28. (Sat.) KJAZZ Summer Benefit Concert. Aways one of the most memorable musical experiences of the year, the annual KJAZZ Benefit concert features Steve Tyrell, Jane Monheit, Jason Moran and David Benoit. Don’t miss this one. Disney Hall.  (562) 985-2999.

- June 29. (Sun.) Moulin Russe. Cabaret meets jazz when the Moulin Russe performers bring the delights of traditional French music, in all its glories, to Los Angeles. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (223) 466-2210.

San Francisco

Rickie Lee Jones

Rickie Lee Jones

- June 27 & 28. (Fri. & Sat,) Rickie Lee Jones. Crossing comfortably from jazz to pop in the ’70s and ’80s, identifying herself as a high visibility star and winning Grammys along the way, Jones was one of the most signigicant artists of her generation. Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655-5600.

Boston

- June 26. (Thurs.) Sadao Watanabe. One of the rare Japanese to break into the national jazz arena, Watanabe thoroughly established himself as a significant player; and he’s still going strong at 80. Regatta Bar.  (617) 661-5000.

New York City

Tierney Sutton

Tierney Sutton

- June 24 – 28. (Tues. – Sat.) The Tierney Sutton Quartet. “After Blue: The Joni Mitchell Project.” Sutton and her band have been creating some of the most impressive vocal jazz of the past decade. The stunning versions of Joni Mitchell classics featured on her most recent CD will provide the centerpiece for her current tour. Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.

- June 25 – 28. (Wed. – Sat.) Stanley Jordan. Famous for his unique method of playing the guitar with a string tapping technique, Jordan creates some of the jazz world’s most appealing sounds. Iridium.  (212) 582-2121.

London

- June 24 – 28. (Tues. – Sat.) Curtis Stigers. Singer/saxophonist continues to establish himself as one of the rare male jazz vocal artists on the current scene. Ronnie Scott’s.  (0)20 7439 0747.

Tokyo

- June 28 – 30. (Sat. – Mon.) Pete Escovedo Latin Jazz Orchestra. Featuring Sheila E. It’s always family time when the Escovedos get together on stage. And anyone who hears them in action leaves with significant musical memories. The Blue Note Tokyo.  +81 3-5485-0088.

 

 

 


Picks of the Week: June 10 – 15

June 9, 2014

By Don Heckman

Summer is upon us, and the live performance schedules around the world are largely dominated by the irresistible big venue festivals. But there’s still a lot of compelling music to be heard in smaller venues, as well.

Los Angeles

Strunz & Farah

Strunz & Farah

- June 10. (Tues.) Strunz and Farah. Jorge Strunz, born in Costa Rica and Ardeshir Farah, from Iran, has been exploring every imaginable area of guitar duo music since they first got together in 1980. Constantly in search of new improvisational territory, they’re always a pleasure to hear. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- June 10. (Tues.) John Pisano’s Guitar Night. It’s one of the musically dependable picks of every week. And this week, once again, offers some memorable guitar jazz, with Pisano hosting Howard Alden and John BelzaguyViva Cantina. (818) 845-2425.

- June 12 & 13. (Thurs. & Fri.) Taylor Eigsti. A jazz prodigy as a teen-ager, pianist Eigsti has matured into a world-class musical artist. He performs solo on Thurs., with his trio on Fri. The Blue Whale.  (213) 620-0908.

- June 12 – 14. (Thurs. – Sat.) Jane Monheit Duo. Musically versatile singer Monheit is a pleasure to hear regardless of the setting. This time out, she performs songs of Frank Wildhorn with Clint Holmes. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (223) 466-2210.

Gina Saputo

Gina Saputo

- June 13. (Fri.) Gina Saputo. Still emerging as a gifted young jazz vocalist, Saputo is just beginning to reach the enthusiastic audience that her impressive talents deserve. Steamer’s.  (714) 871-8800.

- June 13. (Fri.) Allison Adams Tucker. She likes to describe her vocal style as “World Jazz,” and her far-ranging programs – emphasizing her mastery of languages and her fascination with various world musics transform her performances into memorable experiences. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

Mark Copeland

Mark Copeland

- June 14. (Sat.) Mark Copland. At a time when Frank Sinatra-inspired male singers are surfacing in venues across the country, it’s good to hear – among the Sinatra wannabes – a vocalist who brings authenticity and enthusiasm to his fondness for Old Blue Eyes. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- June 14 & 15. The Playboy Jazz Festival. Always the jazz event that kicks off the summer season, this year’s Playboy Jazz Festival continues its quest to provide two days of non-stop, hard swinging, imaginative jazz.

Al Jarreau

Al Jarreau

Among the headliners: Al Jarreau, Arturo Sandoval, Kenny Barron, Dianne Reeves, Dr. Lonnie Smith, George Benson, Earl Klugh, James Cotton, Jose James, as well as a tribute to George Duke. George Lopez is once again the Master of Ceremonies. Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850.2000.

- June 15. 21st Annual Brazilian Summer Festival. The annual Brazilian festivals produced by Brazilian Nites are always compelling events. This year, the performances celebrate the 2014 FIFA World Cup competition currently taking place in Brazil. The Ford Amphitheatre (323) 461-3673.

New York City

- June 10 – 14. (Tues. – Sat.) Stacey Kent. Grammy-nominated jazz vocalist Kent has been living in the U.K., building a dedicated English fan base. She selebrates the release of her new, Brazilian-tinged album, The Changing Lights. Birdland. (212) 581-3080/.

Anat Cohen

Anat Cohen

- June 10 – 15, (Tues. – Sun.) Anat Cohen Trio. The gorgeous, Israel-born Cohen has thoroughly established herself as one of the most imaginative jazz instrumentalists of her generation, while returning the clarinet to the top echelon of jazz expressiveness. Her trio also includes Martin Wind, bass, and Matt Wilson, drums. The Village Vanguard.  (212) 255-4037.

Boston

- June 13. (Fri.,) Diane Schuur. “Deedles,” as she is known to friends and fans alike, continues to enliven the soaring, lyrical vocal style first established by Sarah Vaughn, now the trademark of Deedle’s imaginative singing. The Regatta Bar.
(617) 661-5000.

London

Courtney Pine

Courtney Pine

- June 11 – 13. (Wed. – Fri.) Courtney Pine. Saxophonist and multi-woodwind player Pine’s adventurous playing has taken him to the top of the English jazz world and beyond, playing a blend of styles embracing merengue, ska, calypso with a solid jazz imagination. Ronnie Scott’s.  +44 (0) 20 7439 0747.

Tokyo

- June 11 – 15 (Wed. – Sun.) Tak Matsumoto. A Grammy-winning guitarist/composer/singer/producer and more, Matsumoto moves freely and convincingly across musical genres of every hue. The Blue Note Tokyo.  03-5485-0088.

 

 

 

 


Picks of the Week: May 27 – June 1

May 27, 2014

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Pat Senatore

Pat Senatore

- May 27. (Tues.) Pat Senatore Trio. The stellar Senatore trio – bassist Senatore with pianist Josh Nelson and drummer Mark Ferber have been carrying the torch for solid jazz at its best for years. And their new recording, Ascensione, is a superb display of their effectiveness as a world class jazz trio. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- May 29. (Thurs.) Peter Smith. “Too Marvelous For Words: The Music of Nat “King’ Cole.” Singer/pianist Smith revives one of the most appealing jazz catalogs of song. Don’t miss it. Vitellos.  (818) 769-0905.

- May 30. (Fri.) Angela Parrish. Pianist/singer/songwrier Parrish has been soloing in Vitello’s dining room. But her appealing musical qualities will be on full display when she performs in the club’s warm and engaging upstairs music room. Vitello’s  (818) 769-0905.

Gustavo Dudamel

Gustavo Dudamel

- May 30. (Fri.) The Los Angeles Philharmonic. A Casual Friday concert with Gustavo Dudamel conducting Mozart’s Symphony No.36 and Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G, with Helene Grimaud as piano soloist. Disney Hall. (323) 850-2000.

- May 30 & 31. (Fri. & Sat.) Tom Culver’s “Cole Porter Uncorked explores some of the classic items in the Great American Songbook in a program backed by the Rick Hils Trio and directed by Marilyn Maye. The Gardenia. (323) 467-7444.

- May 31. (Sat.) LA Ballet “La Sylphide.” An irresistible evening of ballet at its finest. In addition to La Sylphide, the program features George Balanchine‘s “Serenade..” Valley Performing Arts Center.  (818) 677-8800.

Miki Howard

Miki Howard

- May 30 & 31. (Fri. & Sat.) Miki Howard. Comfortably expressive in jazz, r&b and pop, Howard had a string of hits in the ’80s and ’90s, and she’s still going strong. Expect to hear some catchy, appealingly familiar melodies. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (223) 466-2210.

- June 1. (Sun.) Seth MacFarlane with the Ron Jones Jazz Influence Orchestra. Multi-hyphenate MacFarlane balances his successful efforts as an actor, producer, director and comedian with his appealing efforts as a singer. He’ll be at his best with Jones’ briskly swinging Jazz Influence Orchestra. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

San Francisco

- May 29 – June 1 (Thurs. – Sun.) Marc Ribot. Guitarist/composer Ribot displays his affection for film in a fascinating score for Charlie Chaplin‘s film, The Kid. An SFJAZZ concert at Miner Auditorium.  (866) 920-5299

Washington D.C.

- May 27 (Tues.) Nicole Henry. Comfortably expressing herself in soul/jazz/pop/r&b stylings, Henry’s charismatic qualities are present in every song she sings. Blues Alley (202) 337-4141.

New York City

Jane Monheit and John Pizzarelli

- May 30 & 31. (Fri. & Sat.) John Pizzarelli and Jane Monheit with the Al Jackson Quintet. Among the most gifted of the younger generation interpreters of the Great American Songbook, Pizzarelli and Monheit are even better when they’re performing as a captivating vocal duo. Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.(212) 258-9595.

- May 27 – 31. (Tues. – Sat.) BossaBrazil. A pair of Brazil’s finest musical artists – Marcos Valle and Roberto Menescal – team up to showcase some of the finest blends of jazz and Brazilian rhythms. Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.

London

- May 30 & 31. Jean Luc Ponty & His Band.  Violinist Ponty, one of the leaders in the early stages of jazz fusion, continue to be one of the most intriguing of contemporary jazz performers. Ronnie Scott’s. +44 (0)20 7439 0747

Berlin

- May 27. (Tues.) Billy Hart Quartet. Always an appealing performer, drummer Hart is so popular in Berlin that this booking has been described as “Wegen Des Grossen Andrangs (“Back By Public Demand). A-Trane. 030 / 313 25 50.

Milan

Mayra Andrade

Mayra Andrade

- May 28. (Wed.) Mayra Andrade. Lovely Difficult A native of the musically rich environment of the Cape Verde isands, Andrade – who lives in Paris – has built an impressive career combining her Cape Verde roots with appealing touches of French music and American pop. The Blue Note Milano. +39 02 6901 6888.

Tokyo

- May 27 & 28. (Tues. & Wed.) Harvey Mason and “Chameleon.” Hard swinging drummer Mason, leads an especially appealing ensemble in “Chameleon,” featuring the unique musical gifts of Chris Turner, John Beasley, Philip Woo, Kamasi Washington and Jimmy Haslip. The Blue Note Tokyo. +81 3-5485-0088.

 

 

 


Live Music: Teka And The New Bossa Trio At The Gardenia Restaurant and Lounge

May 1, 2014

 By Devon Wendell

Hollywood, CA. Today many Bossa Nova acts just phone it in and the romantically poetic aspects of the music are lost amidst an array of overly subdued and pedestrian vocals and redundant arrangements. This was not this case with Teka and her New Bossa Trio (featuring Chris Judge on guitar and Ruben Martinez on flute and percussion) as they performed a dynamic set of both Brazilian and American standards, as well as new material from her latest album So Many Stars at The Gardenia Wednesday evening.

This was also a rare Los Angeles appearance by the Brazilian born Teka and her group, who have made Santa Barbara their home base. The Gardenia’s small and warm ambiance was the perfect fit for this music.

Teka smile spotlight Gardenia 2 FH

The trio opened with many Antonio Carlos Jobim classics such as “So Danco Samba,”, “Aguas De Marco” and “Ela E Carioca.” The sensually hypnotic mood was set from the first note on Teka’s acoustic guitar. Her right hand comping was delicate and on par with a master jazz guitarist. Her rich vocal vibrato and tender yet powerful phrasing brought to mind some of the great instrumentalists in jazz history. Hearing Teka’s voice, I wondered how much better Stan Getz would have played if he had lived to hear her.

Chris Judge’s melodic, jazz influenced guitar leads and Ruben Martinez’s beautifully sparse percussion and angular flute solos gelled sweetly with each thoughtful nuance performed by Teka.

Performances such as Ivan Lins’ “Comecar De Novo” and Marcos Valle’s “Summer Samba” were mesmerizing. Martinez’s percussion was at just a slightly lower volume level than both Teka and Chris Judge’s guitar which created an ethereal dreamlike effect and accompanied the music tightly and melodically.

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There’s a stark yet wonderfully haunting quality to Teka’s vocals and the overall sound of the trio that is totally original. She and the band know how to extract and communicate the dark romanticism which lies beneath the surface of every composition they chose to tackle.

This was certainly the case in one of the most mournfully powerful renditions of the Kurt Weil/Ogden Nash standard “Speak Low” that I’ve ever heard. Martinez’s solo weaved in and out of the melody line with grace and skill. Judge’s bluesy arpeggios accentuated Teka’s masterful chord comping and pleading vocals.

Teka’s ability to alter melodies and arrangements to fit her unique Bossa style was jaw dropping.

Her arrangement of the Nacio Herb Brown/Gus Kahn standard “You Stepped Out Of A Dream” (which is featured on her CD “So Many Stars”) exemplified Teka’s gift in covering a song and making it her own. Her chromatic breaks, gracefully played on her guitar, were among the night’s many highlights.

Teka would also fearlessly sing in both Portuguese and English on most of the performances. This was quite an impressive feat as she was equally engaging as an artist and performer in both languages. Jobim often wrote in both Portuguese and English and the sincerity of Jobim’s lyrics were felt on her reading of “Once I Loved,” which also had Chris Judge playing some Wes Montgomery flavored guitar octaves atop Teka’s sweet yet commanding vocals.

Teka final shot

Although most of the set was comprised of ballads such as a playful cover of Burt Bacharach’s ‘The Look Of Love:” and a melancholic version of Djavan Caetana Viana’s “Flor De Lis,” it was Teka and her band’s up-tempo explorations that were often the most fascinating. “April Child” from her new album displayed Teka’s more percussive guitar chops and her often mature sultry vocals had a dash of childhood wonder to them. Martinez played his most lyrical flute solo of the night on this number.

Teka And the band closed with Hermeto Pascoal’s familiar instrumental “Valle De Ribeila.” Chris Judge got to show off more of his jazz licks as Teka sang the song’s melody along with the song’s changes. Martinez’s tasteful percussion flourishes gave both Teka and Judge room to improvise. This was pure jazz in its spirit and in its exploratory fashion.

As the final notes faded away, Teka and her New Bossa Trio released us from their spell, hopefully only for a short time. She and her band are truly brilliant artists that everyone should keep their ears and eyes on and they are deserving of a much wider audience. I can’t think of a better way to have celebrated International Jazz Day.

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Photos by Faith Frenz.

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

 


More Picks of the Week: April 30 – May 4

April 28, 2014

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- April 29. (Tues.) Nouveau Stride. Lorraine Feather and Stephanie Trick. Singer/songwriter Feather and stride pianist Trick combine their considerable talents for an evening inspired by the music of Fats Waller, James P. Johnson and Dick Hyman. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- April 29. (Tues.) Chamber Music Society: All Mozart. Members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic combine in an appealing program of Mozart classics, including the Flute Quartet in D, the String Quartet No. 19, the Wind Serenade in C minor and the String Quartet in D. A guaranteed performance to remember for all Mozart fans. Disney Hall.  (323) 850-2000.

- April 29. (Tues.) Eric Reed Quartet. Pianist Reed first became familiar to jazz audiences via his remarkable jazz talents when he was still a teen-ager.  Since then he has matured into one of the most significant jazz artists of his generation. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (223) 466-2210.

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Teka

Teka

HIGHLIGHT EVENT

- April 30. (Wed,) Teka. Born in Brazil, singer/guitarist Teka’s music blends a fusion of the sensual rhythms and harmonies of Brazil with the sophistication and improvisation of jazz – a fascinating musical blend she calls New Bossa. She currently does most of her performing in Santa Barbara and the Central Coast. So don’t miss this opportunity to hear Teka’s impressive vocal and instrumental skills in action. And be sure to click HERE to check out iRoM’s review of her latest CD.   The Gardenia (323) 467-7444.

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- May 3. (Sat.) Tuck & Patti. The team of guitarist Tuck and singer Patti, partners in music and in life have been producing memorable performances together for several decades. Click HERE to read a previous iRoM review of the dynamic duo.  Catalina Bar & Grill. (223) 466-2210.

Deana Martin

Deana Martin

- May 4. (Sun.) Deana Martin. She’s Dean Martin’s daughter, and the creative acorn didn’t fall far from the tree. But Deana, in addition to her familiarity with the classic songs favored by her Dad, has throughly established herself as a significant talent in her own right.  Click HERE to read a previous iRoM review of Deana Martin.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

Seattle

- April 29 & 30. (Tues. & Wed.) The Fred Hersch Trio. Pianist Hersch is not only a veteran jazz performer, he’s also an improvising artist who brings uniquely imaginative ideas to every thing he plays.Click HERE to read a previous iRoM review of Fred Hersch.  Jazz Alley (206) 441-9729.

Chicago

- May 1 – 4. (Thurs. – Sun,) Cyrus Chestnut Trio. Pianist Chestnut displays his belief in the gospel and soul roots of jazz in compelling fashion. Jazz Showcase 312) 360-0234.

Washington D.C.

- May 1 – 4. (Thurs. – Sun.) John Pizzarelli. He sings and plays the guitar with the same kind of creative blend one recalls from the work of Nat “King” Cole. But he does so with his own inventive expressiveness. Blues Alley (202) 337-4141.

Steve Kuhn

Steve Kuhn

New York City

- May 1 – April 29 – May 4. (Tues,. – Sun.) Steve Kuhn Trio. With bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Joey Baron. Kuhn’s long, impressive career reaches from the new ideas of the ’60s (when he played with John Coltrane) to his equally imaginative work in the new millenium. Birdland (212) 581-3080.

London

- April 30 – May 3. (Wed. – Sat.) Frank Sinatra Jr.“Sinatra Sings Sinatra.”Yes, it really is “Sinatra Sings Sinatra,” but Junior does it with more authenticity than any of the current Sinatra wannabes. Ronnie Scott’s. +44 (0)20 7439 0747.

Sine Eeg

Copenhagen

- May 2 & 3. (Fri. & Sat.) Sinne Eeg. Denmark’s gift to jazz singing, Sinne is a major talent, who still has not received the accolades and recognition that her remarkable abilities deserve. To read a previous iRoM review of Sinne click HERE. Jazzhus Montmartre. (+45) 70 263 267.

Tokyo

- May 2 – 4. (Fri. – Sun.) Dee Dee Bridgewater. Grammy and Tony award winning singer Bridgewater has been displaying her considerable vocal talents since the early ’70s, and she’s still going strong. Don’t miss her; she’s the real deal. Blue Note Tokyo. +81 3-5485-0088.

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Deana Martin photo by Faith Frenz.

 


Live Jazz: Janis Mann at The Gardenia

April 27, 2014

By Don Heckman

Any night at The Gardenia is a musical night to remember.

The West Hollywood supper club at the corner of LaBrea and Santa Monica has been one of the Southland’s rare cabaret destinations for three decades. Showcasing sophisticated musical artists reaching from musical theatre to jazz and the Great American songbook, The Gardenia – in any given performance – offers memorable music in a warm, intimate setting.

Which is exactly what happened on Saturday night with the appearance of jazz vocalist Janis Mann and the trio of pianist Raymond DeFelitta (including bassist Jim DiJulio and drummer Dick Weller).

Janis Mann with Dick Weller, Raymond DeFelitta and Jim DiJulio at The Gardenia

The blending of Mann’s convincing jazz singing — rich with imaginative interpretations buoyed by a lithe sense of swing — and The Gardenia’s warm and intimate setting made for an irresistible combination.

Janis Mann

Janis Mann

Mann’s selection of material was perfect, embracing such classic Songbook items as “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” “The Man I Love,” “Honeysuckle Rose,” “That Old Devil Moon” and more. Add to that her captivating rendering of Abby Lincoln’s “Throw It Away” and her occasional scat passages in tunes such as “That Old Devil Moon.”

 

Janis Mann

Janis Mann

Each was offered with the enthralling qualities of a gifted musical story teller. And Mann further mesmerized her enthusiastic listeners with whimsical between-songs patter that virtually transformed the Gardenia into the environs of a living room performance.

Seated at the rear of the room, Tom Rolla, the founder and entrepreneur of The Gardenia watched Mann’s set with a warm, approving gaze. Once a performer in Broadway musicals himself, Rolla handles his bookings at The Gardenia with an insistence upon finding and presenting the highest quality musical talent.

As he did with Janis Mann’s superb set.

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Janis Mann, a jazz artist who should be heard at every opportunity, can next he seen and heard at The Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach on May 18.

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The next major event at Tom Rolla’s Gardenia takes place on Wednesday, April 30, with the performance of the brilliant Brazilian singer/guitarist Teka and her group, New Bossa. Don’t miss this one.

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Photos by Faith Frenz.

 

 


Photo Review: Bianca Rossini at Vibrato Grill Jazz etc…

April 6, 2014

By Don Heckman

Photos By Faith Frenz

Bel Air, CA. Bianca Rossini brought a colorful touch of Brazil to Vibrato Grill Jazz..etc. Thursday night. The busy actress/singer/songwriter and author makes rare live performances. But when she does, they showcase all of her many skills, enlivened by the rich, emotional Brazilian roots that are at the heart of her art.

Most of her selections, chosen from Rossini’s growing collection of original songs, were sung with the solid backing of keyboardist Yuko Tamura, guitarist Capital Violao Guitarra, bassist Sezin Ahmet Turkmenoglu and drummer Aaron Rafael Serfaty.

The songs covered everything from captivating bossa novas to ballads and rhythm tunes. Understandably, the often uneven aspects of the material reflected the fact that Rossini works with a range of writing partners. But it was her dark-toned voice and dramatic presentation that brought all the music together into one engaging interpretation after another.

Since Rossini’s performance was so visually oriented, emphasizing her lithe and expressive skills as a dancer and actress, it seemed appropriate to call in our stellar photographer, Faith Frenz, to provide a colorful photo essay of Bianca Rossini in action.

Bianca Rossini and her band

Bianca Rossini and her band

Bianca Rossini

Bianca Rossini

 

Bianca Rossini

Bianca Rossini

 

Bianca Rossini

Bianca Rossini

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Live Jazz: Herb Alpert and Lani Hall at Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.

March 20, 2014

By Don Heckman

Herb Alpert

Herb Alpert

Bel Air, CA. It was another rare performance to remember Tuesday night at Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. On stage, veteran jazz trumpeter, band leader and club owner Herb Alpert and his wife, singer Lani Hall, were backed by their fine rhythm team: pianist/keyboardist Bill Cantos, bassist Hussain Jiffry and drummer Michael Shapiro.

Lani Hall and Herb Alpert

Lani Hall and Herb Alpert

Offering a program reaching from jazz classics and Songbook standards to a medley of tunes from the hit recordings of Alpert’s Tijuana Brass, the performance took place at the center of the rich, colorful environment Alpert has been creating for Vibrato since he first bought the Bel Air club and transformed it into his perspective of what a fine jazz club/restaurant can be. In the process, his paintings and sculptures – abstract but visually gripping – combined with the re-designing of the room to provide the perfect setting for his always-engaging music.

There were no real surprises in the program for anyone who’s heard Herb and Lani in their recent performances at Vibrato. But no worries there. Whether Herb was playing “A Taste of Honey” or singing “This Guy’s in Love with You”; whether Lani was singing Van Morrison’s “Moon Dance” or the bossa nova delight “O Pato,” the results were always fascinating.

Lani Hall and Herb Alpert

Lani Hall and Herb Alpert

Hearing repetitions of familiar songs can be less than appealing from artists who basically play their “hits” like living juke boxes. With Herb and Lani, however, hearing them perform over the years –singing and playing together — has provided unique opportunities to experience a pair of gifted artists bring new interpretive perspectives to everything they played and sang. As they did on this memorable evening.

Herb has always had a gift for melodic paraphrasing in his solos, and recent years have seen him find even more expressiveness in his improvising, often suggesting the sort of clear-cut, lyrical melody-making long associated with Miles Davis.

Lani Hall

Lani Hall

Lani has been a fine musical story teller since the release of her first album Sundown Lady in the ’70s. In reviewing that album for the New York Times, I referred to her “mix of drama, song, soul and universal emotion that uncovers the real pathos in the lyrics of a song.” Which is precisely what she did in this performance with a deeply emotional interpretation of “Fly Me To The Moon.”

Add to that the superb support of the rhythm section of Cantos, Jiffry and Shapiro, creating a warm setting for Herb and Lani, with Cantos contributing a briskly rhythmic scat version of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and Jiffry offering some guitar-like bossa nova backing on his bass.

In sum, call it a mesmerizing musical offering performed with dynamic creativity. No wonder that the overflow audience responded enthusiastically to every song, demanding and getting encores, and wishing for more.

Photos by Faith Frenz.


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