Live Music: Brian Wilson and Jeff Beck at the Greek Theatre

October 24, 2013

By Mike Finkelstein

Man, oh man, oh man!  When I first saw that Jeff Beck and Brian Wilson were going to tour and share the stage together on Sunday night at the Greek Theatre, I knew this promised to be one very special show. Much anticipation was in the air for this gig.  We’re not often fortunate enough to see a pair of talents like these two interact live.

You might say that Brian Wilson and Jeff Beck were getting after the same vision of Americana from different angles, back in the mid- to late-sixties.  It was a vision centering on simple innocent pleasures like driving old Ford hot rods and being at the beach with girls galore.   In about 1966, Wilson and the Beach Boys were making the beach and surfing into an iconic notion in song.   Meanwhile, Jeff Beck, like many similar English blokes of his time, was learning the ins and outs of stylized hot-rodded electric guitar in the epic British blues/pop band the Yardbirds.  But he was listening to Beach Boys albums, too.

In 1966 the Beach Boys released the tremendously influential album Pet Sounds.  People like the Beatles raved about it and the bar was raised for innovative recording techniques and pushing the limit with bizarre but imaginative ideas in the studio.   Though it never got above Number 10 in the U.S., Pet Sounds was a big hit in the U.K. and particularly with the Beatles.

Save for a few greatest hits before and after, Brian Wilson’s set centered on playing Pet Sounds in its entirety.   Back in the day, bands didn’t really try to recreate the studio polish and effects.  But these are different times and Wilson has been performing with the Wondermints for several years now.   The nine of them were nothing short of amazing, as they proceeded to account for every vocal nuance, every English horn, glockenspiel, banjo, 12-string guitar, theremin, baritone guitar, or bass harmonica part that was necessary to sound just like the record.  The vocal precision was scary.  I can only imagine what it must sound like to Wilson himself when he hears the Wondermints reproducing his late brothers’ (Carl and Dennis) vocal parts.

Wilson, who has a history of coming in and out of the onstage moment, seemed to be all there for this huge show.   Sitting at a big white Steinway grand piano he was present the whole way Sunday, thanked the audience warmly and kept the show moving at a nice brisk clip.  This was a back to the roots show for Wilson.  Original Beach Boy David Marks was there (he sang on “Sloop John B”), as were Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin (he sang “Sail on Sailor,” and “Wild Honey”).

Brian Wilson

Brian Wilson

Pet Sounds is a most interesting set of songs.  Though it’s a classic album, it isn’t a big-sounding, anthemic production.  The songs are often introspective, subdued, and detached lyrically.  The instrumentals don’t feature the bravado one usually expects from surf music.  Instead they go into jazzy minor modes that slow things down and turn them inside out.  The subtlety and movement away from the unexpected is the charm of Pet Sounds.   Songs like “Caroline, No,” “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times,” “That’s Not Me,” “Don’t Talk, Put Your Head on My Shoulder,” “I Know There’s an Answer,” and “I’m Waiting For The Day,” go far out of the realm of pop songs.  In their time, they gave other prominent pop artists a license to deal with deeper issues.  To call it influential would be an understatement.

Of course, Pet Sounds also features a bundle of the most popular Beach Boys favorites ever like “California Girls,” “Good Vibrations,” “God Only Knows Where I’d Be Without You,” “Sloop John B,” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice?”   To hear all of this so beautifully recreated at the Greek was a little bit of magic and the crowd ate it up gleefully, giving Wilson a standing ovation at the end. After a brief string of four Beach Boys hits, “Good Vibrations,” “Help Me Rhonda,” “I Get Around” and “Fun, Fun, Fun,” it was intermission.

Jeff Beck and the Beach Boys

Suffice it to say that Jeff Beck walks an original line through popular music.   Having been through pop stardom, then rock stardom, he is now privileged (and self-effacingly admits it) to play with the cream of the musical crop and still sounds utterly unto himself.  And doing it at age 69(!).   He still has the same basic jet-black shag hairstyle, and he showed up in shiny black pants with a rhinestone wristband and sleeveless shirt/vest.

On Sunday, Beck’s band featured a lovely young violinist, Maggie Ball, and beautiful young bassist named Rhonda Smith, as well as guitarist Nicholas Meyer, and drummer Jonathon Joseph. Usually, Beck performs with a keyboardist as a foil.  Because he has been exploring some very lush guitar tones of late, the violin and second guitar were actually a wise choice to lend a lot of atmosphere to the mix.

Just playing his jazz/rock fusion style isn’t the whole story.  Yes, his bands are comprised of top-notch players, but they are all somewhere around half his age and often they are beautiful young women.  It’s clever to find and enlist such beauty and musicianship into the band.  You bet it draws an audience in!  Then, the talent proceeds to sell the idea on a very high level.

Beck’s playing is flashy but in a very musical way.  The flashiness always augments but never overtakes the focus of his instrumental voice.  His approach is to squeeze every sound he can hear in his head out of his guitar.  A Fender Stratocaster is his usual ax of choice, as he loves to wrestle with the vibrato arm.  On Sunday, we could hear all the strings wrenching dynamically, one string at a time.  With a distorted signal and in the sweet spot of sustained overdrive, he had the Strat screaming, squealing, pinging, roaring, and doing all of this on a dime.   It’s a processed sound but it’s also quite unique.  Nobody sounds close to him now.

Jeff Beck

Jeff Beck

Jeff Beck’s setlists are getting more varied.  For this show he opened with “Eternity’s Breath/Stratus,” in a classic jazz/rock groove.  He soon covered Jimi Hendrix’ “Little Wing,” with a flamenco flavored intro, as well as the tantalizing plodding classic, “You Know, You Know,” by the Mahavishnu Orchestra.  He also gave us his signature instrumental version of the Beatles’ “A Day In The Life.”   Beck’s more recent “Yemin,” shined with Nicolas Meyer and violinist Lizzie Ball adding a lot of desert atmosphere in the evening air.

About halfway through Beck’s set there came a series of videotaped clips of Beck showing us his beautifully garaged collection of hot rods and taking them out for a spin.   You just knew this was leading to the moment we were anticipating, when Brian Wilson (the guy who wrote “Little Deuce Coupe”) came on stage, accompanied by five of the Wondermints.   Would you believe they proceeded to lead off with “Our Prayer,” perfectly nailing all of the soaring harmonic beauty of the recording?   Many of us would never have expected to see it done live.  This led into the legendary “Surf’s Up” getting the Beck instrumental treatment.

Perhaps the highlight of the show came when Beck, a rather mercurial player in the context of a simple gig, got right into the moment on “Surfin’ USA.”   Words cannot adequately describe how this one concise guitar solo put the whole thing into context.  The song was just too close to Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen” in its day, and it got the Beach Boys successfully sued by CB.  But it has always been quintessential beach music, and the guitar solo on the original was a bit ordinary, also derivative of Chuck Berry.

Beck took it into the ozone on Sunday night with a hot-rod solo of epic proportions.  He redefined the guitar break of that song, brought it into the new millennium.  The solo didn’t last long but Beck put his seal on it like few could hope to do.   A panting, wheezing, spinning, screaming, and ecstatic runaway freight train of a solo it was.  He was obviously giddy to get the chance to nail it like that right next to Brian Wilson.

In the end Brian and Jeff only shared the stage for about 20 minutes but it was truly something special.   And, for those 12 bars they ascended the heights we all knew they could reach. Not too shabby at all, from two guys whose average age is 70.   This was a great night of seminal Americana, from both sides of the Atlantic.   Fun, fun, fun.

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Photos by Bonnie Perkinson

To read more reviews and posts by Mike Finkelstein click HERE.


Picks of the Week: Oct. 14 – 20

October 15, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Josh Nelson

- Oct. 17. (Thurs.) All Star Quartet. Pat Senatore, bass, Josh Nelson, piano, Larry Koonse, guitar, Mark Ferber, drums. “All Star” is the right label for this quartet of four of the Southland’s finest players. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- Oct. 17 – 20. (Thurs. – Sun. Steve Gadd Band. Drummer Gadd has played with everyone from pop and rock stars to jazz headliners. This time he’s backed by the equally stellar ensemble of Michael Landau, Larry Goldings, Walt Fowler, & Jimmy Johnson). Catalina Bar & Grill (223) 466-2210.

- Oct. 18 – 20. (Fri. – Sun.) Disney Hall 10th Anniversary Celebration. Esa-Pekka Salonen returns to a familiar podium to conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a celebratory program of Debussy, Bartok and Lindberg, with cello soloist Anssi Karttunen and the women of the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Disney Hall.  (323) 850-2000.

Carol Welsman

Carol Welsman

- Oct. 19. (Sat.) Carol Welsman. “Reflections of Peggy Lee and Benny Goodman.” Pianist/singer Welsman applies her many talents to a program of Swing band classics. She’s joined by versatile saxophonist/vocalist Don Shelton. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- Oct. 19 (Sat.) Eva Ayllon. Multiple Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter, one of Peru’s most honored musicians, makes a rare L.A. Appearance. CAP UCLA at Royce Hall.  (310) 825-.2101.

- Oct. 19. (Sat.) Bernadette Peters. Musical theatre star Peters’ many talents reach from film and television to the stage, where her many starring roles include Mack and Mabel, Annie Get Your Gun, Gypsy, Into the Woods and more. Valley Performing Arts Center.  (818) 677-8800.

- Oct. 20 (Sun.) The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Jeffrey Kahane conducts the LACO in works by Britten, Haydn, Mozart and Bruce Adolphe, featuring cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras. CAP UCLA at Royce Hall.  (310) 825.2101.

Brian Wilson

- Oct. 20. (Sun.) Brian Wilson and Jeff Beck. It’s a rare combination of pop music greats, joining with Wilson’s former bandmates, Al Jardine and David Marks in a program that includes a great deal of the Beach Boys classic catalog of songs. The Greek Theatre.  (323) 665-5857.

San Francisco

- Oct. 19 & 20 (Sat. & Sun.) Michel Camilo, solo. The Dominican Republic’s gift to jazz piano playing performs a rare solo display of his rich improvisational skills. An SFJAZZ concert at Miner Auditorium. (866) 920-5299.

Seattle

- Oct. 17 – 20. (Thurs. – Sun.) Fourplay. Together for more than two decades, the members of Fourplay – Bob James, Nathan East, Harvey Mason and Chuck Loeb continue to lead the way in finding the roots of contemporary jazz. Jazz Alley. (206) 441-9729.

Chicago

Russell Malone

- Oct. 17 – 20. (Thurs. – Sun.) Russell Malone Quartet. Guitarist Malone has demonstrated his considerable versatility with the likes of Diana Krall, Harry Connick, Jr. and Jimmy Smith, and he continues to be a player adept with all seasons of jazz styles. Jazz Showcase.  (312) 360-0234.

New York City

- Oct. 15 & 16. (Tues. & Wed.) Phil Woods Quintet. Still one of the definitive bebop players, veteran alto saxophonist Woods is one of the trune jazz originals. Here he’s joined by the world class backing of Brian Lynch, trumpet, Bill Charlap, piano, Bill Goodwin, drums, Steve Gilmore, bass. The Blue Note. (212) 475-8592.

London

- Oct. 16 – 19. (Wed. – Sun.) Wayne Henderson’s Jazz Crusaders. Trombonist Henderson works hard to keep the classic jazz/funk/soul of the Crusaders alive and well. Ronnie Scott’s+44 (0)20 7439 0747.

Milan

Monty Alexander

Monty Alexander

- Oct. 15. (Tues.) Monty Alexander Trio. Jamaican-born pianist Alexander successfully manages to blend the sounds and rhythms of Jamaica with his extraordinary, Oscar Peterson-influenced jazz stylings. Blue Note Milano.  +39 02 6901 6888.

Tokyo

- Oct. 20 – 22. (Sun. – Tues.) John Scofield’s “Uberjam.” Always in search of new creative ideas, veteran jazz guitarist Scofield’s Uberjam band explores linkages with contemporary pop styles. Blue Note Tokyo. Tokyo Blue Note.  +81 3-5485-0088.


Live Pop Music: The Rascals “Once Upon A Dream” at the Greek Theatre

October 13, 2013

By Mike Finkelstein

On a brisk Thursday evening none other than the Rascals presented their autobiographical stage show, Once Upon a Dream, at the Greek Theatre. It comes as a pleasant and uplifting surprise to know that all the original members are alive and well, and sounding quite good, indeed. With a strong push from longtime fan, New Jersey disciple, and powerful shaker and mover, Steve Van Zandt, the Rascals have pieced together a fast-paced and engaging narrative centered on their stay at the top of the pop charts. Their career absolutely flourished during the craziest and most turbulent times the mid/late sixties had to offer.

It has been 40 years plus since the Rascals were in their heyday, but on Thursday the music was intact. It was tight and crisp. The guys have aged, of course, and all but Brigati wore hats for this show. Brigati, has put on a fair amount of girth and no longer resembles the striking picture of youth he once was. Who could? But to watch him sing and sway with two tambourines was to see the connection with the past.

For OUAD the entire back wall of the Greek was outfitted with a huge projection screen. Silhouetted in front of the screen were the Rascals, with Cornish and Brigati standing in front, and Cavalliere and Danelli on cool circular risers. This vivid and enormous look delivered a vibe that appropriately evoked a 60’s TV show, perhaps Ed Sullivan.

The Rascals in Action

The Rascals in Action

The key to the success of OUAD lies in its pacing. None of the songs included goes much beyond three minutes and many are less than that. Because their material was tailored to the AM radio-friendly format, very little of it needed to be pared down. The show contained 30 songs over a course of two hours. Spliced with topical footage of the times (psychedelic Sgt Pepper-ish images, plenty of shots of hippie youth communing) and the narrative pieces, the presentation presses a great many memory buttons as it rolls along at a light but very entertaining clip. The shots of Central Park for “Groovin’,” were perfect, just as I had always pictured it.

The show plays up the band’s east coast New York/New Jersey roots skillfully, cutting together the live tunes with vignettes of the band and their accomplices recounting how it all came together and went down. Each member of the group sits on a chair and reminisces. In heavy accents, they told us short but intriguing stories that move the show along. Then the band played another song or two. At other times, younger actors reenacted key moments in the band’s history. The story of the count-in to “Good Lovin’,” was winsome, “Why don’t all three of youse count it in?” But, the long view is that The Rascals’ development began as an amazing covers band, moving into interpreting songs written just for them, and finally testing their wings writing their own tunes with huge success.

We learned that Felix Cavaliere had already been a college student when he hit the east coast bar band club circuit, that guitarist Gene Cornish was hugely influenced by rockabilly cats like Carl Perkins, Scotty Moore and James Burton. Drummer Dino Danelli winsomely recalls how, at age fifteen, he would sneak into clubs and watch drumming legends like Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich. He was actually allowed to live at one of these clubs for a while. And we also learn of singer Eddie Brigati’s bizarre route into the Rascals, including singing on a hit record with his brother Dave in Joey Dee and the Starliters, being shot by his brother Dave as a kid, routinely upstaging other singers on the circuit by singing convincingly “black,” and entering a three day coma after a traffic accident – as legend has it, all he remembered was how to sing the Rascals repertoire of covers.  We even learned that in 1963 the Beatles opened for them in Sweden, when both bands were in the business of playing “blue-eyed soul” (white guys playing black music-soul and R&B).

The Rascals in Rehearsal

The Rascals in Rehearsal

On Thursday night you couldn’t help but be impressed with how many of these songs were just instantly recognizable. If any band provided a running soundtrack to American popular culture between 1965 and 1970, it would have to be the Rascals as they became a prominent voice of the Love Generation. They were four enormously talented guys making great music and developing as young men in some of the more intense times this country has seen.

The band’s songs were ubiquitous on the radio then, on a level with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. In fact, the show points out that the Rascals were not finished off by the British Invasion.  The Brits’ success with their own music actually opened the door for bands like the Rascals to do the same.

Many of the most memorable songs were ones that they wrote. Gems like “Lonely Too Long,” “You Better Run,” “See,” “Groovin’,” “How Can I Be Sure,” “It’s A Beautiful Morning,” and “People got to Be Free,” transported us all back to where we were when they were current. The footage was icing on the cake.

Though they were classified as blue-eyed soul, it was not that simple with the Rascals. They looked white but they were first generation Americans of Italian descent. As kids, they and their families had experienced the humiliation and injustice that come with the prejudice often directed at immigrants. This was nothing like Pat Boone covering Little Richard. They had a large black and white fan base, and it was band policy to make sure that their shows also featured top-notch black acts from the local area of each gig.

If you try to put your finger on what it is about any Rascals’ tune that gets you, it’s hard to narrow it down to one thing. Vocally, Brigati and Cavaliere had something tremendously unique, and combined with the Hammond organ sound it was usually perfection. Cornish’s guitar parts were deceptively great, serving up power and subtle dynamics in the right measures for hit after hit. Danelli’s drumming, busy as it may get at times, is remarkable for the expression and clarity he gets from a light touch. It’s never cluttered.  He certainly learned from watching the masters.

Once Upon A Dream confirms that The Rascals’ music was and still is a truly special blend of the best elements of soul singing, gospel, rock ‘n roll, and pop. Their MO was to capture a vibe and build it into a 3-minute radio-ready send-up that would become timeless. When you hear their songs, you still remember to listen for those special hooks. Uncanny.

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To read more reviews and posts by Mike Finkelstein click HERE.


Live Music: Furthur, with Bob Weir and Phil Lesh, Celebrate the Music of the Grateful Dead at the Greek Theatre

October 7, 2013

By Mike Finkelstein

It’s rather phenomenal, the way the Grateful Dead tradition continues to thrive. On Saturday evening, Furthur, featuring two original G.D. smembers — rhythm guitarist Bob Weir and bassist Phil Lesh – hosted the second night of a sold out, jam-packed, three-night weekend stint in perfect evening weather at the Greek Theatre. Last year they did two nights at the Greek, this year they did three. So it seems that their popularity is increasing.

It was nothing short of a tribal gathering as the ceremony commenced in the parking lot with friends meeting, reconnecting, and sharing set lists in the familiar haze of weed, tie-dye and patchouli oil.

Further

Further

In the wake of lead guitarist and spiritual leader Jerry Garcia’s death more than 18 years ago, Furthur (Bob Weir/guitars,vocals, Phil Lesh/bass, John Kadlecik/guitar,vocals, Jeff Chimenti/keyboards, Joe Russon/drums, Sunshine Becker/backing vocals, Jeff Pehrson/backing vocals) is the most popular lineup to carry the G.D. torch. The name was cleverly lifted from the placard atop the psychedelic bus driven by Merry Prankster Neal Cassady during the legendary Acid Tests of the mid-1960’s. After all, the Grateful Dead were actually on that bus as the house band for the festivities.

The Furthur format is a proven winner: play lots of fan favorite Grateful Dead songs; throw in tasty covers; have guests who get the psychedelic mindset sit in(they will know the vibe and the tunes, and love playing them); change the set list each night, relax and jam. The tribe will certainly take care of the rest.

Further

Further

Many superb musicians started out as Dead fans themselves, and as they came up, they learned by listening to tapes, and going to the shows, to improvise in that style. This was a simple labor of love. From the beginning the band was very friendly and supportive to their listeners about everything audience-related. (In fact, this approach has served as a model for similar Dead-inspired bands like String Cheese Incident and Phish in building their lasting audience bonds.) The Dead always encouraged and enabled their fans to participate in taping their shows. It follows that there is a whole lot of live audio in circulation for people to learn from in depth. With Jerry Garcia dearly departed, there is essentially a giant hole in the surviving sound, right up there on stage, that can be filled by a baker’s dozen of very talented Dead fans from other bands.

Lead guitarist Jon Kadlecik’s route into Furthur is worth noting because he was recruited from his own renowned Dead tribute band, Dark Star Orchestra. If Bob Weir and Phil Lesh want you to. leave your tribute band to join them, of course you’ve gotta go for it. Kadlecik’s voice and guitar do sound hauntingly like Garcia ‘s and it’s not at all hard to see why they would want him in the lineup.

The Further Bus

The Further Bus

Saturday’s guests were guitarists Jonathon Wilson and Neil Casal, neither of whom are in tribute bands. Both are established in their own right, but are fans and totally get the G.D. vibe and the esthetic. They fit right in and Casal, in particular, sounded great singing over the band as though he, too, had always been there. He did a winsome job with “Scarlet Begonias” to start the second set and, later, a transcendent version of the Beatles’ “Across the Universe.”

Saturday’s show began with the usual noodling warm-up, out of which inevitably creeps a recognizable phrase from one or another G.D. tunes. Once the phrase surfaces, a ripple of recognition seems to spread across the crowd. Tonight the opening tune was “Feel Like A Stranger,” which was followed by an invigorated version of “Friend of the Devil.” By the time they were ready to launch into a crowd pleasing “Bertha,” special guest Jonathon Wilson had plugged in his Stratocaster and played lead guitar in the pocket between Bob Weir and John Kadlecik. He stayed on stage for three more tunes till the end of the first set and sounded like he was always part of the band. “New Speedway Boogie,” from Workingman’s Dead sounded particularly upbeat, powered by the three guitars and a fine vocal from Weir.

Phil Lesh and Bob Weir

Watching Bob Weir and Phil Lesh play the Furthur material does turn attention to the fact that both guys have a very unique approach to their instrument. There is a signature sound between the drums, bass and lead guitar that these two have always provided. It still sounds remarkably unique, yet completely familiar to Dead fans.

For any chord progression the band may be following, Weir rarely uses basic chords during the jam section. Instead, it’s all about setting up a rhythm guitar part that is as interesting yet unobtrusive as possible. He usually has several alternative chord routes through the song using inversions and playing off of the percussion. The general effect is to open up a rhythmically enticing space for the soloists to groove upon…and not step on anyone else’s musical feet in the process. What Weir does with the possibilities for rhythm guitar is art. And on Saturday, Weir even stepped up several times to play harmony leads with Kadlecik.

Phil Lesh has always been one of the more unorthodox sounding bass players in rock circles. His style is busy and bouncy, much like the motion of boiling water. It’s always fun to focus on his bass lines because he takes some odd angles. It often sounds like he’s experimenting as he goes and the tension draws us in. For this show, he looked positively jazzed as he ran up and down his six string bass. Two more strings means all the more possibilities for Phil to explore and he was certainly running with it.

Saturday night featured a savory version of “Terrapin Station,” nearly twenty minutes of structured, melodic jazz and progressive rock interplay. This is what the G.D. were up to in about 1977. The crowd dug it immensely and pieces of music like this one are what still drive the Grateful Dead mystique.

In the end, Furthur is the direct connection to the Grateful Dead tradition. Though Jerry Garcia is gone, Jon Kalecik maintained his place in the sound masterfully. Moreover, Weir and Lesh, two of the very unique elements that made up the band’s sound, remain as musically recognizable as ever. The whole thing works perhaps on a higher level than the Dead were on towards the end, but it isn’t completely the Dead. Still, the sound is revitalized. The tribe thrives and they are showing up.

That being said, Furthur will be on hiatus during 2014 and Lesh is 73 with a transplanted liver. So, catch ’em while you can.

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To read more reviews and posts by Mike Finkelstein click HERE.


Picks of the Week: October 2 – 6

October 2, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Diane Hubka

Diane Hubka

- Oct. 2. (Wed.) Diane Hubka. Singer/guitarist Hubka celebrates the release of her new CD, West Coast Strings. She’ll be backed by a prime group of players: Guitarists John Pisano, Barry Zweig & David Eastlee, organist Bobby Pierce, bassist Jeff D’Angelo and drummer Kendall Kay. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Oct. 2. (Wed.) Teka & New Bossa. Brazilian singer/guitarist Teka displays her authentic view of Brazilian music, backed by Quinn Johnson on piano, Kevin Winard on percussion, Doug Webb on saxophone and Randy Tico on bass. Vitello’s (818) 769-0905.

Christian McBride

Christian McBride

- Oct. 3 – 6. (Thurs. – Sun. Christian McBride Trio. Bassist Christian McBride, every leader’s first call for a world class rhythm section, plays selections from his album Out There with pianist Christian Sands and drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr,. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Oct. 4. (Fri.) Lucy Guerin Inc. Weather. Australia’s much-honored choreographer presents a new work that “embodies human patterns within those of the elements.” CAP UCLA at Royce Hall.  (310) 825.2101.

Anat Cohen

Anat Cohen

- Oct. 4 – 6. (Fri. – Sun.) The 6th Annual Angel City Jazz Festival begins with a weekend brim full of musical activity. On Fri.: Free concert at LACMA with the Zach Ramacier Group and Nicole Mitchell Sun Dial Ensemble. On Sat: Dave Holland Prism and the John Scofield Uberjam Band. CAP UCLA at Royce Hall. On Sun: Richard Sears group, Albert Tootie Heath, Kneebody, Yosvany Terry Quintet, Greg Osby Group with special guest Anat Cohen. Ford Amphitheatre. The Angel City Jazz Festival.

- Oct. 5. (Sat.) Sandi Patty. One of the major stars of Christian music, Patty is a uniquely talented singer whose work is not limited by her popularity in the Christian music genre. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.  (562) 916-8501

- Oct. 6. (Sun.) Carol Duboc. Versatile Duboc, a singer/composer and actress, celebrates the release of her latest album, Smile, in the musical companionship of Jeff Lorber, keyboards, and Jimmy Haslip, bass. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

San Francisco

Miguel Zenon

Miguel Zenon

- Oct. 5. (Sat.) SFJAZZ Collective Jam Session. The SFJAZZ Collective has thoroughly established itself as one of the irresistiblly appealing contemporary jazz ensembles. The gifted players include Miguel Zenón alto saxophone, David Sánchez tenor saxophone, Warren Wolf vibraphone, Edward Simon piano, Matt Penman bass, and Obed Calvaire, drums. An SFJAZZ event at the Joe Henderson Lab. (866) 920-5299.

Seattle

- Oct. 3 – 6. (Thurs. – Sun.) Karrin Allyson. Grammy-nominated jazz singer Allyson continually reveals a musical curiosity that has taken her from bossa nova and the blues to John Coltrane. Jazz Alley.  (206) 441-9729

Chicago

- Oct. 3 – 6. (Thurs. – Sun.) Bobby Watson Quartet. Eclectic alto saxophonist Watson has moved convincingly from bebop and hard bop to cutting edge contemporary jazz. Jazz Showcase.  (312) 360-0234.

New York City

Donald Harrison

Donald Harrison

- Oct. 3 – 6. (Wed. – Sun.) The Messenger Legacy Celebrating Blakey. Drummer Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers legacy is celebrated by Brian Lynch, trumpet, Donald Harrison and Billy Pierce, saxophones, Donald Brown, piano, Reggie Workman, bass, Ralph Peterson, drums. Jazz Standard.  (212) 576-2232.

- Oct. 4 & 5. ( Fri. & Sat.) John Mayall and Friends. The influential English blues artist, whose influence reaches from Eric Clapton to Mick Fleetwood and beyond, celebrates his 80th birthday. The Iridium. h ( 212) 582-2121.

Copenhagen

- Oct. 3. (Thurs.) Soren Kristiansen. Pianist Kristiansen, largely viewed as one of Denmark’s finest, most imaginative jazz artist, displays influence from Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans and Art Tatum in a stellar evening of solo piano jazz improvisations. Jazzhus Montmartre.  +45 31 72 34 94.

Milan

- Oct. 3. (Thurs.) Nicholas Payton. Trumpeter Payton, a world class, Grammy-winning product of New Orleans music, is always a pleasure to hear in action. Blue Note Milano.  +39 02 6901 6888.


Picks of the Week: Sept. 18 – 22

September 18, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Gina Saputo

Gina Saputo

- Sept. 18. (Wed.) Gina Saputo. Emerging young jazz vocal star Saputo shares the stage with a talented group of L.A.’s finest singers — Courtney Lemmon, Dave Damiani and Mark Christian Miller. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Sept. 18. (Wed.) The Sammy Cahn-cert. Vocalist Kurt Reichenbach sings the marvelous far-ranging tunes from the Sammy Cahn songbook. Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- Sept. 18. (Wed.) Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club. It’s been nearly two decades since the Orquesta Buenta players began to enlighten the world about the great music of Cuba. And they’re still at it. Valley Performing Arts Center.  (818) 677-8800.

Annie Trousseau

Annie Trousseau

- Sept. 19. (Thurs.) Annie Trousseau. Multi-lingual singer Trousseau sings in Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian and English, enlivening the tradition of international cabaret styles. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- Sept. 20. (Fri.) The Bob McChesney Quartet. McChesney’s superb trombone playing has thoroughly established him as one of the instrument’s great jazz masters. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- Sept. 20. (Fri.) The Bob Sheppard Group. He’s everyone’s first call saxophone and woodwind player and with good reason. Here’s a chance to hear him in action with the stellar aid of guitarist Larry Koonse, bassist Mike Valerio and drummer Steve Kass. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

Ann Hampton Callaway and Liz Callaway

Ann Hampton Callaway and Liz Callaway

- Sept. 20 & 21. (Fri. & Sat.) Ann Hampton Callaway and Liz Callaway. The talented Callaway sisters get together to display talents reaching from jazz and pop to Broadway classics. Catalina Bar & Grill.  466-2210.

- Sept. 21 (Sat.) Sing-a-long Sound of Music. It’s an annual event, inviting enthusiastic audiences to sing along with the memorable songs from the Rogers & Hammerstein musical. The Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- Sept. 21. (Sat.) Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Swing music is still alive and well in the hard jiving hands of the Voodoo Daddys. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.  (562) 916-8501.

Jeffrey Kahane

Jeffrey Kahane

- Sept. 21 & 22. (Sat. & Sun.) Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. The gifted players of the LACO begin their season with Jeffrey Kahane conducting a program of Beethoven, Mozart, Lutoslawski and Kodaly. Featured soloist is young violinist Benjamin Beilman. Sat: the Ambassador Auditorium; Sun. Royce Hall. The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.  (213) 622-7001.

- Sept. 22. (Sun.) Los Angeles Master Chorale. The extraordinary singers of the LAMC celebrate the ensemble’s 50th anniversary with a retrospective look at the highlights in their remarkable performance history. Disney Hall. (323) 850-2000.

San Francisco

- Sept. 19. (Thurs.) Amjad Ali Khan and Sons. Classical Indian master of the sarod, Khan has passed his skills on to a generation of gifted offpsring. SFJAZZ. Miner Auditorium. -(866) 920-5299.

Chicago

- Sept. 19 – 22 (Thurs. – Sun.) Miguel Zenon and Rhythm Collective. Alto saxophonist and winner of a MacArthur “genius:” award Zenon reveals the far-reaching range of his improvisational skills. Jazz Showcase.  (312) 360-0234.

New York City

Steve Kuhn

Steve Kuhn

- Sept, 18 – 21. (Wed. – Sat.) Coltrane Revisited. Steve Kuhn, a veteran performer with Coltrane, leads a talented band of young players in a revisit to the Coltrane legacy. Birdland.  212) 581-3080.

London

- Sept. 18 – 19. Wed. & Thurs. Remembering Oscar Peterson. With pianists James Pearson and Dave Newton, Featuring selections from Peterson’s Canadiana Suite. Ronnie Scott’s+44 (0)20 7439 0747 .

Copenhagen

- Sept. 18 – 21. (Wed. – Sat.) French Jazz Festival. Denmark celebrates the high quality of French jazz artists. Among the featured performers: violinist Didier Lockwood, guitarist Michael Felderbaum and saxophonist Lionel Belmondo. Jazzhus Montmartre.  +45 31 72 34 94.

Tokyo

- Sept. 20. (Fri.) Jonathan Butler. South African singer Butler has been blending the music of his roots with a gift for crossing over into international pop, soul and blues. Blue Note Tokyo.  +81 3-5485-0088.


Live Music: Peter Frampton’s Guitar Circus at the Greek Theatre

September 8, 2013

By Mike Finkelstein

Sometimes life can be so poetic. In 1980, as Peter Frampton’s career was at a low ebb, he lost his most prized possession. He lost his Les Paul black beauty. This was his main axe and a huge, iconic part of his musical identity. It’s the one he played on Humble Pie’s Rockin’ the Fillmore and on Frampton Comes Alive. The guitar wasn’t stolen from him. It actually went down off the coast of Venezuela in a fiery airplane crash. The pilot died and the plane sank with all of Frampton’s gear including his prized and simply one of kind Les Paul black beauty.

Well, apparently the guitar was rescued quickly and was actually played by a local musician in Curacao for decades, with no idea of the instrument’s history. A local guitar repairman there, with the help of a Dutch Frampton fan helped get the ax back to Pete in 2011. Now at age 62, Frampton’s career and his guitar playing have been on a wonderfully climbing arc since that time. He actually played the black Les Paul in all of its battered, matted glory in late August, when he brought his Guitar Circus into the Greek Theatre before a full house.

And what about this Guitar Circus? The Guitar Circus format calls for different well known artists in each city to come onstage and play with Pete and his band. It’s a return to featured jamming and it’s quite entertaining. While the bill also features BB King and Sonny Landreth, there is nightly anticipation about who will be PF’s guests onstage. This is because guests on previous nights have included talents as diverse as Roger McGuinn, Steve Cropper, Robert Cray, and Leslie West.

Frampton’s Greek Theatre set featured a sampling of his tunes from the ’70’s and 2000’s along with a tasty array of covers that served to showcase his enormous guitar prowess. His solo material has aged quite well. Songs like “Lines on My Face,” “I’ll Give you Money,” “ Show Me the Way ,” and “Do You Feel Like I Do,” were as familiar, vibrant and balanced as ever. He can go from an appealingly light pop song such as “Baby I Love Your Way,” to a cover of a crunching alternative metal tune like “Black Hole Sun,” by Soundgarden,…and they both sound as though they belong to be heard back to back. Crossing genres and eras is something that Frampton has mastered. The songs sound fresh and vibrant in his hands.

In terms of guitar playing, it’s not that Frampton plays blindingly fast, though at times at the Greek he most certainly did. It’s his tone, which is basically second to none. He lives in the sweet spot of every guitar sound he uses. His tone is a pure, clean, mid range. It’s bright but not shrill, cool and airy but fat too, when he wants it to be.

To watch Frampton and his band (Dan Wojciechowski-Drums, Rob Arthur- keys, guitar, harmony vocals , Adam Lester- Guitar, and Stanley Sheldon – bass) lay it down is to watch a clinic on letting dynamics and strategic restraint do great work for you. Another thing was obvious too, that it never hurts the effort to be heard when you have a Fender Rhodes keyboard in the mix.

Frampton and co. always found the open space for the guitar’s purest tones to shine in. But the bottom line is that he can just flat out rip it up on guitar. Having a band that sets the table so well is icing on the cake. He looked so satisfied plunging into song after song and laying down each line, obviously knowing how sweet it would sound. Remarkable.

The first guest of the night was Dean De Leo of Stone Temple Pilots. He came on and led the band through “Interstate Love Affair,” and “Vaseline,” doing all the solos himself and with Peter’s son Julian doing the singing. Frampton and the guys clearly enjoyed a chance to back someone else and step outside of themselves for a bit.

Next on was no less than Andy Summers of the Police carrying his familiar red Stratocaster. He piloted the band through “Message in a Bottle” as rhythm guitarist Adam Lester did a fine job delivering the Sting vocals. Summers played his rear end off on this tune, much more vigorously than with the Police. Brilliant! Next, they did a jam on “Synchronicity I” where Pete and Andy exchanged composed yet frenzied leads. No doubt about it, Andy Summers came to play.

The encore turned out to be a great version of the Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Frampton, DeLeo (through a wah wah pedal), and Summers all took solos in a heavy but clear send up for the evening.

BB King was second billed and at the age of 87 rapidly approaching 88 next month he did do a lot of sitting and kibitzing onstage like a lovable grandpa. He did not tickle his black Gibson semi-hollow body, Lucille that often … but she did have a lot of sustain behind her. Towards the end of the set, Frampton came out, sat down next to BB and while listening to the stories, grinning ear to ear, snuck in a devastating run or two or three.

At his age BB has earned the right to play a little less. He sounded good when he did play but he did far more talking. He even looked downright impressed as he looked across and checked out PF laying down the blues over his band.

Sonny Landreth and his trio from New Orleans got the evening going with a short set before the sun went down. He plays in a uniquely arpeggiated style, combining slide guitar and fretted leads. It seemed that it shouldn’t sound that intricate when his fingers actually didn’t look the least bit busy. His right hand is a big part of this sound. He often passes on a plectrum and attacks the strings with his fingers extended much like a bassist.

All in all this was an extraordinary night of music at the Greek. To see Frampton making that same battle-scarred black Les Paul sing again looked and sounded like destiny. I hope there is more to come.

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To read more reviews and posts by Mike Finkelstein click HERE.


Brian Arsenault Takes On: Trash

September 6, 2013

By Brian Arsenault

Trash is the new norm. How else to explain anything on Bravo and Miley Cyrus.

Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus

It seems to me, though, that all the phony outrage over Miley is just that, phony. She was simply playing “one up” (no pun meant) on all the strip acts as art efforts that have danced through the VMAs for years.

Why not get honest and have real strippers really naked. They won’t have any less musical talent and they might have more rhythm.

In an era when “ass” is the funniest word on sitcoms and “housewives” do girl talk about the latest BJ on their latest “husband” what Miley did was at about the same taste level.

I have a friend who claims that Ulysses, the great work by James Joyce, won’t be in print in twenty years. There will be no one to read it.

The first time I heard him say that I thought, “Nah, can’t be true.” Then I went home and ran through the cable dial.

The crawl on the cable news networks and the local news is just full of terrible misspellings, erroneous verb tenses and grammatical errors. The movie channels are loaded with promotions for toys and video games for badolescents in the guise of “hit movies.”

How may superheroes does it take to rot your brain? Can you hear the pitch to the studio? “And this time the Hulk will fall in love but she’ll be killed and then he’ll really go crazy. The destruction will be sublime.”

But wait, wait, there’s a raging controversy over Ben Affleck playing Batman, just when I thought he might be a grownup director. Oops, Spiderman’s on Broadway or has he swung off?

Justin Timberlake gets a “lifetime achievement award” at the MTV Video Music Awards. Alert, alert: there is no such thing as “video music.” I guess Justin does deserve the award, though, as he took things to a new level some years back by exposing a Jackson breast at the SupeBowl. The signal: anything goes. Except real music.

There’s nothing really to complain about with Miley, is there?. Except all Disney kid performers apparently should be euthanized by their teen years. Maybe sooner if we want to ever again raise literate kids with musical taste.

 Biggest comeback of the year: The Smurfs.

Chris Matthews of Hardball infamy will now take questions, how very faux populist of him. Only if they’re tweeted, though. Wouldn’t want to have a full paragraph or anything. Someone might actually make a coherent point in their query.

Still, we can follow the latest Brown or Bieber punk behavior and, oh look, one of the Kardashian’s husbands of the month was picked up for drunk driving. Really, though, can you blame him. Was he driving north by Northwest?

Remember those halcyon days when we worried about how young girls can develop a strong positive self image in the shadow of Hollywood titties. Well, it’s been realized on all those Housewives shows. The preteen girls can simply dye their hair blond, pretend they have a singing career and get plastic surgery everywhere. Problem solved.

Who knew that Jack Warner would seem an artistic icon all these years later. Maybe because we now have Ryan Seacrest.

Americans used to be offended that the French and other Europeans considered us uncultured boors. Or is it boobs? So we’ve spent the last ten or twenty years proving them right. That’ll show ‘em. Except for the fact that they trek mindlessly to the latest zombie movies too.

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


Picks of the Week: Sept. 4 – 8

September 4, 2013

By Don Heckman

It’s a light, holiday week, with 100-plus temperatures here in L.A.  But there’s still some very fine music to hear in various parts of the world.

Los Angeles

Roy Hargrove

Roy Hargrove

- Sept. 4 – 8. (Wed. – Sun.) The Roy Hargrove Quintet. Trumpeter Hargrove has appeared frequently with his big band lately. But this time he fronts a straight-ahead quintet, showcasing his fine solo work. Catalina Bar and Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Sept. 4. (Wed.) Bruce Forman Quartet. Guitarist, novelist and educator Forman, a true multi-hyphenate, takes a break from his many activities to do a live performance. Don’t miss it. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- Sept. 6. (Fri.) Richie Cole Quartet. Bebop is always on the loose when alto saxophonist is in the room. And especially so when he’s backed by the propulsive backing of pianist Lou Forestieri, bassist Chris Colangelo and drummer Dick Weller. Jazz at the Radisson Hotel.

Blue Man Group

Blue Man Group

- Sept. 6 & 7. (Fri.& Sat.) The Blue Man Group. The musically and visually eccentric members of the Blue Man Group have brought a new supply of unique instruments to an evening of new music with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- Sept. 8. (Sun.) ABBA Fest. A non-stop evening of music by the hit-making Swedish band. First, via a competition of collegiate a cappella Abba groups; second via a performance by the great tribute band ABBA, the Concert. Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

ABBA Fest

ABBA Fest

San Francisco

- Sept. 5 – 8. (Thurs. – Sun.). Terence Blanchard is always in search of new musical adventures. This time out, his Sextet features saxophonist Ravi Coltrane and and African jazz guitarist Lionel Loueke. SFJAZZ. The SFJAZZ Center, Miner Auditorium.  (415) 398-5655.

Seattle

- Sept. 5 – 8. (Thurs., – Sun.) Larry Coryell and the Eleventh House Reunion Band. Guitarist Coryell revives the music of the fusion band he led in the’70s. Jazz Alley.  (206) 441-9729.

Washington, D.C.

- Sept. 6 – 8. (Fri. – Sun.) Patricia Barber. Singer/pianist Barber continues her quest to find new creative ways to approach the songs of the Great American Songbook. Blues Alley.  (202) 337-4141.

New York City

- Sept. 4. (Wed.) J.D. Walter. Jazz Standard. Walter is a singer who prefers to take adventurous musical pathways… which may explain why he hasn’t yet received the attention his singing deserves. The Jazz Standard.  (212) 576-2232.

Cassandra Wilson- Sept. 5 – 8. (Thurs. – Sun.) Cassandra Wilson. The jazz vocal genre has largely been dominated lately by fast-arriving young female artists. But Wilson continues to be a pathfinder with her own inimitable style. The Blue Note. (212) 475-8592.

- Sept. 7. (Sat.) Barbara Carroll. She was described in 1947 by Leonard Feather as the “first girl to play bebop piano.” And, at 88, she’s still going strong, performing here in duo with bassist Jay Leonhart. Birdland. http://www.birdlandjazz.com/event/350551-barbara-carroll-new-york (212) 581-3080.

Berlin

- Sept. 4 – 7. (Wed. – Sat.) Sommerwochenkonzert. Don Grusin and Chuck Loeb. Keyboardist Grusin and guitarist Loeb display their easygoing blend of mainstream and crossover jazz genres.. A-Trane.  +49 30 3132 ext. 550.

Copenhagen

- Sept. 6 – 7. (Fri. & Sat.) Dado Moroni, Reuben Rodgers, Alex Riel. The Art of the Trio. Italian jazz pianist Moroni has been delivering his authentic jazz perspectives since the ’80s. He’s backed here by American bassist Rodgers and Danish drummer Alex Riel. Jazzhus Montmartre.  +45 31 72 34 94.

Tokyo

- Sept. 3 – 5. (Tues. – Thurs.) Bob James & David Sanborn. James and Sanborn have pioneered their swinging versions of contemporary jazz fusion and crossover for decades – and doing it in memorable fashion. They’re accompanied on this tour by the equally imaginative drummer Steve Gadd and bassist James Genus. Blue Note Tokyo.  03 5485 0088.

Gregory Porter

.

- Sept. 6. (Fri.) Gregory Porter. At a time when the distaff side has been dominating most of the newly released jazz recordings, the warm baritone of Porter has been bringing impressive new interpretations to the the world of jazz vocalizing. Blue Note Tokyo.  03 5485 0088.


Live Music: Heart and Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience at the Greek Theatre

August 29, 2013

By Mike Finkelstein

Los Angeles, CA.  Last Friday night at the Greek Theatre, Heart and Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience shared the bill and the stage with the looming presence of Led Zeppelin in absentia. There actually were more Led Zeppelin songs played this evening than those of anyone else.   Friday’s show saw Heart do their crunching melodic ’70’s tunes, the power ballads of the mid ’80’s, and then tighten up their Led Zep connection with John Bonham’s son Jason.

Heart’s two remaining original members are the talented and charismatic Wilson sisters, Ann and Nancy Wilson. In the mid/early 70’s the Wilsons helped form Heart and developed a unique, attractive sound that combined folk harmonies, melodies, and instrumentation with heavy power chording and nifty riffing. They also developed a strong visual esthetic revolving around the roving gypsy notion of touring rock musicians (Little Queen). The fact that the Wilson sisters were romantically entwined with their fellow band mates only added to the effect.

Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart

Folk music and blues/rock proved to be a mere entry point for what would follow in Zeppelin’s career. It’s also no secret that the Wilson sisters and many other developing musical minds of that period revered and studied Led Zeppelin’s combination of different styles with magical results.

Fusing folk and heavy rock, Heart hit it big in 1976. They became rock icons, mainstays at the top of the charts and people knew their albums inside out for the remainder of the decade. On Friday night they trotted out the hits in their rock ‘n’ roll glory. “Magic Man,” “Even It Up,” “Barracuda,” “Kick It Out,” all satisfied the crowd mightily. And they should. These are songs that featured the pretty ladies rocking as hard and writing as well as the very talented dudes in the band. When Heart released a new single you just knew there were going to be several guitar breaks worth sitting down to learn and perk up for when it came onto the radio.

On Friday, at age 59, Nancy Wilson still riffed, swayed, kicked, and rocked like the true lil’ rocker she is. Perhaps the most compelling moments came when she played acoustic guitar. She gets a lot of cleanly articulated arpeggios out of her strumming and chord-wise, she was right there on songs like “Mistral Wind” and, particularly, on Zeppelin’s “The Rain Song.” “Crazy on You” was one of their very first hits and it started with a short but sweet montage of acoustic guitar styling from Nancy Wilson. She gave us what we were waiting for and some extra on that intro. Including Elton John’s tender ballad “I Need You to Turn to,” was also a nice nod to the 70’s aesthetic.

Heart had a huge ’80’s rebirth as they pioneered the power ballad genre. Weepy, overblown, contrived, flashy, silly power ballads came to define a rather insipid chapter in the general decline of rock ‘n’ roll. Not long after power ballads had taken over the radio, Nirvana’s alternative Nevermind blew the doors off the scene. It was all over for the purveyors of power ballads.

On Friday, Heart’s power ballads were stripped of the over-the-top frills and recognizable as better songs than we tend to remember them. Ann Wilson’s voice carried these songs so impressively. Though I hate to admit it, I heard the angst and tension in songs like “What About Love,” and “Alone” much more clearly than years ago.

Jason Bonham and Led Zeppelin Experience

Jason Bonham and Led Zeppelin Experience

The most intriguing part of the evening centered around Jason Bonham joining Heart onstage for a Led Zeppelin mini-set encore. The Heart connection with Led Zeppelin began last year at the Kennedy Center Awards ceremony. At this event Heart played a transcendent version of “Stairway to Heaven,” one that Plant, Page, and Jones were seen to profoundly enjoy on YouTube. That is bona fide validation.

With Bonham, Heart covered a lot of different musical entries from the LZ catalogue. Beginning with one of the best covers you’ll ever hear of “Battle of Evermore,” the Wilson sisters on mandolin and guitar channeled Sandy Denny and Robert Plant simultaneously. Fantastic rendition. They brought out members of Bonham’s band for “The Song Remains the Same,” “The Immigrant Song(!)” “The Rain Song,” “Kashmir,” and of course “Stairway to Heaven.” Bonham played his dad’s parts effortlessly.  He had all the bass heavy tone we were listening for and his combination of finesse and buff, wrist-rooted power drumming was impressive.

The Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience band walks a fine line between being a top-notch tribute band and keeping the family name alive. JB is known mostly for reproducing his dad’s style and sound. The JBLZE also feature two of the more impressive Zeppelin impersonators you will ever see.

Tony Catania had all the Jimmy Page LZ studio guitar sounds nailed on a cherry sunburst Les Paul and got them across intact to our ears in the open night air of the Greek. That’s an impressive feat. He wasn’t satisfied to just copy the studio solos and played around with the Page sound, which must be like getting the keys to a classic old muscle car with a full tank of gas.

James Dylan was right on the money with the Robert Plant parts. In particular, he not only hit the high, heavy parts but in songs like “What Is and What Should Never Be,” he actually did the soft nearly spoken parts sounding just like Plant. He had the whole spectrum of Plant’s voice down pat.

Still, all of this is what it is…yet another opportunity to vicariously revisit the Led Zeppelin legacy.

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To read more reviews and posts by Mike Finkelstein click HERE.


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