Live Jazz: Ariana Savalas at Herb Alpert’s Vibrato Grill, Jazz…etc.

April 11, 2014

By Don Heckman

Bel Air, CA. Ariana Savalas. The name may have a familiar ring to it. Especially the surname “Savalas” which will be familiar to most fans of television and movies. And especially familiar when a first name is also included, adding up to “Telly Savalas,” the late actor best known for playing the title role in the ’70s crime drama Kojak and numerous villains in dozens of films.

Ariana Savalas

Ariana Savalas

Ariana Savalas is Telly Savalas’ daughter (the youngest of six siblings), and a rapidly emerging actress and musical star in her own right. Her performance at Vibrato on Thursday night – one of her too rare appearances in the Southland – was an impressive display of her creative skills. Not only is Ariana a musical artist who delivered her songs with the gripping qualities of a born musical story-teller. She also engaged her audiences between songs with a warm blend of wit and humor.

Backed by the stellar ensemble of Joe Bagg, Andy Senasi and Steve Venz, Ariana made the most of a program of songs reaching from standards to her own originals. Kicking off her set with the Yiddish classic, “Bei Mir Bistu Shein,” she opened with a dynamic interpretation, clearly pleasing the overflow crowd.

Ariana Savalas and her band

Ariana Savalas and her band

Ariana followed with one appealing standard after another: “You and the Night and the Music,” “I Get A Kick Out of You,” “I See Your Face Before Me,” “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” “Sophisticated Lady,” “Making Whoopie” and more. Each was interpreted with her unique creative view.

Corky Hale

Corky Hale

Some of the additional intriguing moments of the evening took place when veteran singer/pianist/harpist Corky Hale – who has been an avid supporter of Ariana’s rising star – moved from her seat in the audience on stage to the piano bench. Backing Ariana’s intimate renderings of several tunes, Corky also added a brief but appealing vocal interpretation of her own.

Ariana followed with an expanded display of her versatility, singing several of her original songs, as well as  the intriguing “Mechanical Man,” and accompanying herself on both piano and ukulele.

Ariana Savalas

Ariana Savalas

No wonder the restless audience insisted upon warming up in the glow of Ariana Savalas’ musical artistry, asking for as many encores as she would provide. The result was another of the many nights to remember at Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. Let’s hope that, in future weeks and months, there’ll be more frequent performances by this gifted young talent.

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Photos by Faith Frenz. 

 


Live Music: Steve Tyrell at Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.

March 29, 2014

By Don Heckman

Bel Air.  Mention an area of the music world and Steve Tyrell has been there and done that. Whether it’s from a business perspective, running a record company or producing albums by major artists, or if it’s in the creative arena, clearly establishing his own identity as a performer Tyrell knows how to do it.

On Wednesday night at Herb Alpert’s Bel Air club – Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. – Tyrell displayed the vocal artistry he has developed as a master interpreter of the Great American Songbook.

The Songbook, of course, with its extraordinary collection of works reaching from Gershwin, Berlin, Porter, Kern and beyond, has been the foundation for the careers of numerous singers. But Tyrell’s far-reaching interpretive skills have brought new perspectives to this rich catalog of material.

Performing with the skillful backing of a stellar band of players, Tyrell was at his best.

Steve Tyrell and his Band at Vibrato Grill Jazz...etc.

Steve Tyrell and his Band at Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.

Among the rich list of songs he sang, every selection was memorable. Starting with “I’ll Take Romance,” “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” he proceeded with classics such as “I Can’t Get Started,” “I Get A Kick Out of You” “Come Rain Or Come Shine,” “This Guy’s In Love With You” and a climactic “Stand By Me.”

He introduced most of the songs with a few insightful comments about the songwriters. On some, he often included the usually omitted verses of the songs. And he frequently added fascinating anecdotes providing intriguing insight into a song’s history.

Steve Tyrell

Steve Tyrell

But the real evaluation of Tyrell’s performance has to mention what he brought to both the music and the lyrics of every song he sang. Tyrell is often praised for the appeal of his warm, Texas accent, brisk rhythmic swing and easygoing on stage manner.

Add to that, however, his innate skills as a musical story teller. In song after song, he blended his jazz-driven phrasing with a thoughtful interpretive ability. The result was the opportunity to experience a musical poet in action, finding the most gripping lyrical moments in every song he touched.

So call it an evening showcasing the best of American song, rendered with complete creative authenticity. And listening to Steve Tyrell’s performance one couldn’t help but imagine how delighted the legion of American Songbook composers might have been to hear their musical brilliance evoked with such care and enthusiasm.

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Photos by Faith Frenz.

 

 


Live Music: Blood, Sweat & Tears at the Saban Theatre.

March 23, 2014

By Don Heckman

Beverly Hills. They’re back. That’s right. Blood, Sweat & Tears, one of American popular music’s great iconic ensembles of the ’60s, ’70s and beyond.

After decades of uncertainty about B,S&T’s future, the new millenium did not initially appear to offer high visibility for a band who, in the late ’60s and early ’70s, was one of the most popular, best selling musical acts in the world.

Bobby Colomby

Bobby Colomby

Enter Bobby Colomby. As one of the original founders of Blood, Sweat & Tears, as well as the band’s drummer and producer in its early, high visibility years, he felt that it was time for the New Blood, Sweat & Tears to make an appearance. And, last Saturday night at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, Colomby introduced Los Angelenos to a brand new version of the band designed to play a visible and vital role in the 21st century.

“We’re not trying to target just one generation,” says Colomby.,. “That would be a mistake. With this updated version, I want to gain a wider audience. I want people of all ages to come and say, ‘Next time I’m bringing more friends to the show; they gotta see this band.”

Blood, Sweat & Tears

Blood, Sweat & Tears

And that’s pretty much what Colomby and the gifted players of the New Blood Sweat & Tears offered in their Saturday night show.

Most pop music acts who have reached beyond their prime years often depend completely upon their greatest hits, or similarly crafted material, to carry them through a performance. Which is not surprising. But Colomby’s wide pop music experience and creative devotion to the band he founded have always led him to more imaginative ambitions.

“We’re not just looking for songs that sound like they’d be good for Blood, Sweat & Tears,” he says, “but looking for really great songs. Period. The original B,S&T,” he continues, “was designed to introduce jazz elements to pop music. That was my passion… it still is. Always, of course, done in an entertaining way.”

And there was no lack of Colomby’s view of the band’s entertainment capacity in their high energy Saturday night performance at the Saban Theatre. And it was especially valuable as an opportunity for the overflow crowd to meet the stellar instrumental sound richly reminiscent of B,S &T’s most memorable jazz big band qualities.

The band, man for man, pound for pound, is better than the original B, S & T.,” says Colomby. “Without a doubt.They’re a ridiculously talented bunch,The drummer’s better than I am, or was.”

Bo Bice

Bo Bice

Equally important, maybe even more so, new lead singer Bo Bice provided captivating performances, calling up images of David Clayton-Thomas’s B,S &T’s hard driving vocals at their best. No one can really top David C-T, but Colomby’s discovery of Bice’s impressive singing added the final touch that the new Blood, Sweat and Tears needed to establish its relevance as a pop music act with a potential similar to the successes of the band’s ’60s and ’70s’ accomplishments.

So let’s call the band’s Saturday night performance a captivating introduction to a band that combines the memory of a brilliant musical past with a wide open potential for a brand new future.

Don’t forget the name: Blood, Sweat & Tears.

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Full Disclosure: For what it’s worth as a reference point, I co-produced the last big Blood, Sweat & Tears album, “B,S&T 4” with Bobby Colomby and engineer Roy Halee.


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.


Live Jazz: The 60th Anniversary of Jazz at Massey Hall and the Newport Jazz Festival at Disney Hall

March 16, 2014

By Don Heckman

A pair of memorable jazz celebrations filled Disney Hall Saturday night with an enthusiastic crowd of listeners. Both segments of the performance were dedicated to 60th anniversaries. The first was a rare musical re-imagining of the 1953 Massey Hall (Toronto) performance that featured the brilliantly iconic quintet of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus and Max Roach.

That’s as classic a bebop ensemble as has ever been heard, anywhere. And the challenge facing anyone attempting to simulate the classic Massey Hall performance (which is available on recordings) was to recall the original without falling into mimickry.

Jon Faddis

Jon Faddis

To the credit of the Massey Hall-revisited band at Disney – trumpeter Jon Faddis, alto saxophonist Jesse Davis, pianist Bill Charlap, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington – they performed a dynamic set of numbers vividly bringing the bebop era to life.

Faddis’ long-time relationship with Gillespie was present in everything he played. There were passages in which Faddis, like Gillespie, explored the trumpet’s full range of pitch and expressionism, often dominating the stage with ear-tingling high notes and storm clouds of fast-fingered riffing.

Saxophonist Davis brought both an affection for Charlie Parker, as well as a similarity of sound and phrasing, to his full-toned improvisations. Standing side by side with Faddis, ripping through such bebop classics as “Groovin’ High,” “Salt Peanuts,” “All the Things You Are,” “Hot House,” “Night In Tunisia” and more, propulsively driven by the strong rhythm team, he partnered in an effective recalling of one of contemporary jazz’s most memorable musical excursions.

Anat Cohen

Anat Cohen

The second half of the bill celebrated the 60th anniversary of the start of the Newport Jazz Festival. This ensemble, with saxophonist/clarinetist Anat Cohen serving as musical director, offered an equally appealing array of players: Cohen, pianist Peter Martin, trumpeter Randy Brecker, singer Karrin Allyson, guitarist Mark Whitfield, bassist Ben Allison and drummer Clarence Penn.

Here, however, there was no special effort to offer contemporized versions of the bebop past. Instead, the ensemble, in its natural diversity, recalled the ever-appealing range of music that has always been an essential element in the colorful history of the Newport Festival.

The first numbers showcased the trumpet virtuosity of Brecker, ably supported by the band’s dynamic rhythm team.

Karrin Allyson

Karrin Allyson

But as the program continued, a different musical direction took over, guided imaginatively by the two women in the ensemble: Cohen and Allyson.  Always as improvisationally expansive as an instrumentalist, Allyson was at her best in a performance of “’Round Midnight” that showcased the full range of her expressive powers.

The highlight of the set, however, as well as the entire evening, was a reading of “La Vie En Rose” featuring Allyson’s lush-toned voice in tandem with the emotionally rich clarinet of Cohen. Singing and playing with expansive creative intensity, often moving with the subtle gestures of dancers, both brought a rarely heard feminine jazz expressiveness to the French classic — and the balance of the program.

In sum, there was a vital appropriateness in the qualities that were constantly present in the efforts of Cohen and Allyson, beautifully enlivening the transformative gender qualities that have become part of the jazz lexicon over the past 60 years.


Live Jazz: The Gerald Wilson Big Band at Catalina Bar & Grill

March 14, 2014

(Editor’s note)  Jazz critic, author and historian Scott Yanow joins the International Review of Music reviewing staff with this characteristically thoughtful commentary.  We look forward to more posts and essays from Scott’s thoughtful perspective.

By Scott Yanow

Gerald Wilson probably does not know it but he is the last survivor. The 95-year old bandleader-arranger-composer first recorded in 1939 when he was a 20-year old trumpeter with the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra. Although a few other living performers preceded him onto records (including singer Herb Jeffries who is now 100, violinist Svend Asmussen and singer Kay Starr), they have all retired. Wilson stands alone as the only active jazz musician to have recorded before 1940. He outlasted everyone else.

Gerald Wilson

Gerald Wilson

At Catalina Bar & Grill, Wilson led his 17-piece orchestra through a long set of his arrangements. While Gerald Wilson’s recounting of his familiar stories to the audience found him occasionally forgetting names and details, he looked pretty healthy and, amazingly enough for someone in his mid-nineties, he did not sit down once during the entire two-hour set.

Inspired by his presence, Wilson’s big band played at their very best throughout the night. “Blues For The Count” had many solos including one from violinist Yvette Devereaux, who always adds a lot to the band’s power and ensemble sound.

Carl Saunders

“Blues For Yna Yna” included four choruses full of musical miracles from trumpeter Carl Saunders (who consistently plays the impossible flawlessly), and some enjoyable Stanley Turrentine moments from the soulful tenor-saxophonist Louis Van Taylor. Taylor and altoist Randall Willis starred on “Perdido” while many soloists (including the fine high note trumpeter Winston Byrd) were featured on a driving “Milestones.” John Coltrane’s “Equinox” was intense and had strong spots for Devereaux and tenor-saxophonist Kamasi Washington.  Other selections including “Viva Tirado,” the majestic “Carlos” (with Carl Saunders in the spotlight), and a closing medium-tempo blues.

Gerald Wilson

Gerald Wilson

Throughout the night, the Gerald Wilson Orchestra was inspired. Kamasi Washington on tenor was consistently fiery and inventive, creating his own version of sheets of sound. The trumpet section, led by Winston Byrd’s stratospheric notes, never let up, the trombonists (with Les Benedict often having the solos) had a unified sound, and the rhythm section, which included Wilson’s long-time pianist Brian O’Rourke, kept the music swinging.

Gerald Wilson’s last few recordings have found him leading an all-star group of East Coasters through some of his classic charts, but he should really document his real band, particularly after this recent performance. They kept him smiling and youthful for the full two hours.

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Scott Yanow (www.scottyanow.com) is the author of 11 books on jazz and over 750 liner notes. He can be reached at scottyanowjazz@yahoo.com.


Live Jazz: Fred Hersch and Julian Lage at UCLA’s Schoenberg Hall

March 12, 2014

By Don Heckman

There were only two musicians on stage Saturday night in a CAP UCLA performance at the University’s cozy Schoenberg Hall. But no more were needed. The musical encounter between pianist Fred Hersch and guitarist Julian Lage offered a definitive display of jazz improvisation at its finest.

Fred Hersch

Fred Hersch

Hersch’s long, musically rich career has showcased him in a far ranging array of settings. He is a prime improviser, a superb vocal accompanist, an intriguing composer and a master of various jazz genres. It’s not surprising that Vanity Fair described him as “The most restlessly innovative pianist in jazz over the past decade or so.”

Lage is more than a generation younger than Hersch. But the 26 year old guitarist is also a musical adventurer, open to new ideas, with a similarly inventive approach to improvisation.

Julian Lage

Their performance together at Schoenberg produced an evening of memorable musical delights. Playing material that reached from a group of compelling original works by Hersch to various jazz and songbook items, the duo played with the sort of creative intimacy one recalls from the duo performances of Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter.

The 90 minute program glowed with one highlight after another. Hersch opened the performance with some originals, including a piece dedicated to his mother. Standards on the bill included an especially imaginative rendering of “You and the Night and the Music.” And the interaction between Hersch and Lage was especially responsive to jazz works by Thelonious Monk, Fats Waller and Egberto Gismonti, as well as a captivating dedication to the late Jim Hall..

It was also fascinating to observe the interactive presence of the audience. Responding to every number enthusiastically, they were linked to each of the Hersch/Lage excursions in a rare example of what can happen, at its best, between performers and listeners.

CAP UCLA”s /Executive and Artistic Director Kristy Edmunds – who is responsible for Saturday’s performance, along with an upcoming season of similarly compelling events – has best described how events such as the memorable Hersch/Lage performance fit into the broad concept of her programming philosophy:

“We are all part of a collaborative essentialness in the art of performance,” writes Edmunds, “involved in expanding dialogues that inform our unique experiences.”

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Photos courtesy of CAP UCLA


Live Jazz: Betty Bryant at Vibrato Jazz…etc.

March 8, 2014

By Don Heckman

Bel Air CA. There was music in the air Thursday night at Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. Not that it was especially unusual to hear an engaging program of songs at Herb Alpert’s elegant Bel Air jazz club. But on this evening, with singer/pianist Betty Bryant displaying the full range of her remarkable skills, backed by the stellar support of bassist Pat Senatore and drummer Ramon Banda, every note was memorable.

Betty Bryant

Betty Bryant

Start with Bryant’s far reaching piano playing. Suffice to say that she is a superb master of the Great American songbook, both as an accompanist (for her vocals) and as an appealing instrumental soloist.

In piece after piece, she punched out piano lines propulsively driven by her bop articulations, blues grooves and crisp, imaginative improvising. Senatore and Banda, world class rhythm section players, provided Bryant with every bit of creative support a soloist could desire.

But it was when Bryant was combining her inimitable blend of vocals and piano backing that she displayed the highlights in this musically gripping performance.

A veteran artist, Bryant was preceeded in the singer/pianist genre by the likes of Nina Simone, Shirley Horn, Carmen McRae, among many others. And like those illustrious predecessors, Bryant used her instrumental skills to provide the perfect settings for her vocals.

Throughout the program, Bryant demonstrated imaginative creative versatility, moving easily and convincingly from bossa nova and the blues to Songbook standards, while displaying her gift for finding the intimate story within a song.

Betty Bryant and Pat Senatore

Betty Bryant and Pat Senatore

Urged forward by Senatore and Banda, she was fully in touch with bossa nova subtleties in her renderings of “The Girl From Ipanema” and “Corcovado.” And her love for the blues was fully apparent in the way she blended instrumental riffs with pointed vocalizing on “My Man Don’t Love Me” and an especially captivating “St. Louis Blues.”

Add to that Bryant’s equally effective readings of such Songbook classics as “I Thought About You,” “Squeeze Me,” Easy Living” and “I Got Rhythm.” In effective contrast, she offered instrumental versions of “Some Other Time” and “I’ll Remember April.”

And in a performance filled with high points, Bryant was especially effective with a climactic “Something Cool,” a song long associated with June Christy. In Bryant’s hands (and voice), the Billy Barnes’ classic was presented with the musical story telling qualities that are at the heart of her musical art.

Call it a rare evening of song, performed with musical alacrity. It’s worth keeping in mind that Betty Bryant doesn’t have a high volume of performances in L.A. So don’t miss any opportunity to hear her in action.

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Photos by Faith Frenz.


Picks of the Week: March 5 – 9

March 5, 2014

By Don Heckman

 Los Angeles

Betty Bryant

Betty Bryant

- March 6. (Thurs.) Betty Bryant. Singer/pianist Bryant’s engaging style recalls an era of briskly swinging, warmly interpretive jazz cabaret. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

Savion Glover

Savion Glover

- March 7. (Fri.) Savion Glover’s StePz. Tap dancer Glover has brought more jazz qualities to contemporary tap dancing than anyone since Fred Astaire. Valley Performing Arts Center. (818) 677-3000.

- Mar. 7 & 8. (Fri. & Sat.) West Side Story. The Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim classic musical rendering of the Romeo and Juliet story in a Nuyorican setting is a memorable theatre piece that should be seen by everyone – at least once or more. The Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.  (562) 916-8500.

Les Ballets De Monte Carlo

Les Ballets De Monte Carlo

- March 7 – 9. (Fri. – Sun.) Les Ballets de Monte Carlo. The highly praised Monte Carlo ensemble returns to Segerstrom after their acclaimed 2011 debut. This time, they perform Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. Segerstrom Center for the Arts.  (714) 556-2787.

- March 8. (Sat.) “The Marvelous Music Box.” Young Musicians Foundation 59th Benefit Gala. Some of the Southland’s finest young classical musicians assemble for a benefit program featuring the music of Bach, Saint-Saens, Bernstein, Stravinsky and more. CAP UCLA at Royce Hall. .  (310) 825-4401.

Gerald Wilson

- March 9. (Sun.) Gerald Wilson Big Band. At 95, arranger/composer/bandleader brings irresistible musical vitality to every performance with his hard swinging big band. Catalina Bar & Grill (223) 466-2210.

- March 9. (Sun.) Fred Hersch and Julian Lage. Innovative jazz pianist Hersch, always in search of new creative ventures, finds an intriguing young musical partner in highly praised young guitarist Lage. Schoenberg Hall. A CAP UCLA event.  (310) 825-4401.

San Francisco

- March 6 – 9. (Thurs. – Sun.) Lavay Smith. Bay area songstress Smith offers a four night survey of songs associated with Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Etta James and Sarah Vaughan. An SFJAZZ event at the Joe Henderson Lab.  (866) 920-5299.

Seattle

- March 6 – 9 . (Thurs. – Sun.) Sergio Mendes and Brazil 2014. Half a century after he arrived on the music scene with Brazil ’66, Mendes reforms the vocal/instrumental Brazilian format that first brought Brazilian sambas and bossa novas to an international audience. Jazz Alley.  (206) 441-9729.

- March 6 – 9. (Thurs. – Sun.) Lee Ritenour. Versatile guitarist Ritenour showcases his articulate ease with jazz genres reaching from straight ahead swing to contemporary grooves. Blues Alley.  (202) 337-4141.

New York City

Eliane Elias

- March 5 – 9. (Wed. – Sun.) Eliane Elias and her Trio. After a four night run drawing overflow audiences to Catalina Bar & Grill, Brazil-born Elias takes her irresistibly appealing piano stylings and intimate vocalizing to Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.   (212) 258-9595.  To read an earlier iRoM review of Elias’ L.A. Performance, click HERE.

- March 6 & 7. (Thurs. & Fri.) Jimmy Webb. Singer/songwriter Webb is understandably on everyone’s Hall of Fame list. Songs such as “Wichita Line Man,” “By the Time I Get To Phoenix” and “MacArthur Park” (to name only a few) have become Songbook Classics. Here’s a rare chance to hear him perform in a club setting. Iridium. (212) 582-2121.

London

- March 5 & 6. (Wed. & Thurs.) Claire Martin. Alert fans of jazz singing view Martin (with good reason) as one of England’s finest jazz artists. Ronnie Scott’s+44 (0)20 7439 0747.

Copenhagen

Benny Green

- March 5 & 6. (Wed. & Thurs.) Benny Green Trio. The fast-fingered, hard-swinging Oscar Peterson style is vividly alive in the technically adept, improvisationally inventive hands of Green. Jazzhus Montmartre.  +45 31 72 34 94.

Moscow

- March 5. (Wed.) Igor Butman Quartet. Saxophonist/band leader/club owner Butman takes a break from his big band to lead a propulsively hard driving quartet in his own club. Igor Butman Jazz Club.  (+7 495) 632-92-64.

Milan

- Mar 5 – 7. (Wed. – Fri.) Paolo Fresu Quintet. Highly regarded jazz trumpeter Fresu leads a quintet of stellar players, underscoring the lyrical qualities Italian artists have always brought to their jazz interpretations. +39 02 6901 6888.  Blue Note Milano. 

* * * * * * * *

Eliane Elias photo by Bonnie Perkinson.

Benny Green photo by Ron Hudson.


Live Jazz: Eliane Elias and Her Trio at Catalina Bar & Grill

February 28, 2014

By Don Heckman

Eliane Elias’ memorable performance at Catalina Bar & Grill last night was an impressive reminder of the creative interpretations that the Brazilian-born pianist/singer brings to every song she touches.

It recalled the first time I heard Eliane in action, several decades ago at the original Catalina Bar & Grill, when it was still at a location on Cahuenga. She was a relatively unknown young artist at that time. But when she sat down at the piano and delivered a gripping solo rendering of “Body and Soul” she immediately established the fact that she would be one of the most imaginative jazz artists of her generation.

Graham Dechter, Marc Johnson, Eliane Elias and Mauricio Zottarelli

Last night, working with her regular trio – bassist Marc Johnson, guitarist Graham Dechter and drummer Mauricio Zottarelli – Eliane delivered a collection of tunes thoroughly illustrating the maturity that has continued to grow within her work.

Eliiane Elias

Eliiane Elias

Any performance by Eliane is rich with Brazilian authenticity. Born in Sao Paulo, she was still a teenager when she began performing with such iconic figures as composer Antonio Carlos Jobim and lyricist/poet Vinicius de Moraes, while equally fascinated by American jazz.

And this time out she covered both areas, singing such bossa nova classics as “Chega de Saudade,” “Rosa Morena,” “So Danco Samba”and “Desafinado.”

Eliane Elias

Add to that some Great American songbook selections from her latest album, I Thought About You, inspired by and dedicated to Chet Baker. Here, she brought intimate lyricism and brightly swinging rhythmic emphasis to, among others, “This Can’t Be Love,” the title track, “I Thought About You” and “Embraceable You.”

Eliane Elias

Eliane Elias

Early in her career, Eliane was reluctant to showcase herself as a singer, preferring to emphasize her abilities as a jazz pianist. But as she’s matured, applying her warm tone and convincing musical story telling qualities, she’s released her hesitance to emphasize her always mesmerizing vocal interpretations. And the results, fully on display in this captivating appearance, were constantly appealing.

Eliane has two more performances scheduled at Catalina Bar & Grill, tonight and tomorrow (Saturday) night. They should be seen and enjoyed by all fans of the jazz vocal art, which Eliane has mastered, blending her exquisite singing and irresistible piano jazz.

Don’t miss these last two opportunities to hear Eliane Elias highlight the pleasures of vocal jazz at its finest.

* * * * * * * *

Photos by Bonnie Perkinson.


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