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. 

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Eliane Elias photo by Bonnie Perkinson.

Benny Green photo by Ron Hudson.


Picks of the Week: Feb. 18 – 23

February 18, 2014

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Brenna Whitaker

- Feb. 19. (Wed.) Brenna Whitaker. She’s a blonde beauty with a voice to remember. Michael Buble has called Whitaker “one of the finest singers of our generation. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- Feb. 20 – 23. (Thurs. – Sun.) ”TchaikovskyFest.” The Los Angeles Philharmonic celebrates Tchaikovsky with performances of his chamber music, as well as his Symphonies #1 and #6. Disney Hall.  (323) 850-2000.

Steve Tyrell

Steve Tyrell

- Feb. 20 – 23. (Thurs, – Sun.) Steve Tyrell. He’s back at Catalina’s again for another long weekend. So don’t miss this opportunity to experience Tyrell’s warm, interpretive, gently swinging way with the Great American Songbook. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (223) 466-2210.

- Feb. 22. (Sat.) Bob McChesney Quartet. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400. The Southland bandleaders’ first choice for their trombone section. McChesney is not just a master of his instrument, he also brings rich musical depths to everything he plays. Here, he’s out front, leading his own band. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- Feb. 23. (Sun.) Angela Parrish. Singer, songwriter and pianist Parrish showcases her engaging collection of original songs. Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- Feb. 23. (Sun.) “Guitar Passions.,” Call this a great evening of guitar mastery in a variety of appealing styles. Start with the classical guitar of Sharon Isbin, followed by her guests – Brazilian guitarist Romero Lubambo and the finger tapping stylings of Stanley Jordan. Valley Performing Arts Center.  (818) 677-8800.

San Francisco

Bobby Hutcherson

Bobby Hutcherson

- Feb. 20 – 23. (Thurs. – Sun.) Bobby Hutcherson, David Sanborn, Joey DeFrancesco and Billy Hart join forces in an assemblage of jazz all-stars. An SFJAZZ event at Miner Auditorium.  (866) 920-5299.

Portland OR

- Feb. 23 (Sun.) Dave Frishberg and Bob Dorough. “Who’s On First?” A rare opportunity to hear a tandem performance by a pair of the jazz world’s most gifted musical humorists. A PDX Jazz Event at the Winningstad Theatre.  (503) 228-5299.

New York City

- Feb. 20 (Thurs.) Portraits of Joni: Jessica Molaskey Sings Joni Mitchell. Musical theatre star Molaskey (and wife of John Pizzarelli) takes a break from the stage to explore the rich Mitchell song catalog. Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.  (212) 258-9595.

- Feb. 21 – 23. (Fri. – Sun.) Patricia Barber. Singer/pianist brings imagination, musicality and wit to her new interpretations of Songbook classics, as well as her own songs.The Blue Note.  (212) 475-8592.

Milan

Dee Dee Bridgewater

Dee Dee Bridgewater

- Feb. 19 – 22. (Wed. – Sat.) Dee Dee Bridgewater. The one and only Dee Dee offers her inimitable collection of vocal jazz renderings to Italy’s many jazz fans. Blue Note Milano.  +39 02 6901 6888.

Moscow

- Feb. 23. (Sun.) Lisa Henry. With the Igor Butman Trio. Blues and gospel specialist Henry is backed by saxophonist/bandleader and club owner Igor Butman. Igor Butman Jazz Club.  (+7 495) 632-92-64.

Warsaw

- Feb. 22. (Sat.) DISCO FEVER! Revisit the dance crazes of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s in a Polish evening to remember. Tygmont Live Club.  +48 22 828 34 09.

Tokyo

Roy Hargrove

Roy Hargrove

- Feb. 18 & 19. (Tues. & Wed.) Roy Hargrove Big Band. Trumpeter Hargrove continues his quest to keep big band jazz alive with his own stellar ensemble. Blue Note Tokyo.  +81 3-5485-0088.


Picks of the Weekend: Jan. 30 – Feb. 2

January 30, 2014

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Stanley Clarke

Stanley Clarke

- Jan. 30 – Feb. 1 (Thurs. – Sat.) Stanley Clarke Trio and the Harlem Quartet. Eclectic bassist and band leader Clarke blends his always-fascinating trio work with the unique sounds of the Harlem
Quartet. Catalina Bar & Grill (223) 466-2210.

- Jan. 30. (Thurs. Lauren Kinhan. A CD Release party for a young singer with a voice to remember. Vitello’s (818) 769-0905.

- Jan. 31. (Fri.) Billy Childs Electric Band. Pianist/composer Childs’ versatility runs the complete gamut of jazz genres. This time out, it’s all electric. The Blue Whale.  (213) 620-0908.

Hilary Hahn

Hilary Hahn

- Jan. 31. (Fri.) Hilary Hahn and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Russian conductor Andrey Boreyko leads violinist Hahn and the L.A. Phil in a program of Nordic music by Sibelius, Nielsen and Swedish composer Anders Hillborg. Disney Hall.  (323) 850-2000.

- Jan. 31. (Fri.) Gina Saputo. A rising star if there ever was one, Saputo’s vocals are the product of a compelling young talent. Steamer’s.  (714) 871-8800.

Gary Foster

Gary Foster

- Feb. 1. (Sat.) Gary Foster Quartet. Saxophonist Foster has been one of L.A.’s prime first call players for years. Here, he’s in action fronting his own band. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc (310) 474-9400.

- Feb. 2. (Sun.) The Webb All-Stars. All-Stars is an appropriate title for a band featuring Doug Webb, saxophones, Mitch Forman, keyboards, John Ziegler, guitar, Jimmy Earl, bass, Danny Carey, drums. The Baked Potato.  (818) 980-1615.

Seattle

Bill Frisell

Bill Frisell

- Jan. 30 – Feb. 2. (Thurs. – Sun.) Bill Frisell’s “Guitar in the Space Age.” Always on the crest of trying something new, Frisell’s latest effort features Greg Leisz, Tony Scherr and Kenny Wollesen. Jazz Alley,  (206) 441-9729.

Washington D.C.

- Jan. 29. (Wed.) Diane Marino. The warm and engaging voice of singer Marino offers a performance celebrating the relese of her latest CD, Loads of Love. Blues Alley.  (202) 337-4141.

New York City

John Abercrombie

John Abercrombie

- – Jan. 30 – Feb. 1. (Thurs. – Sat.) John Abercrombie Quartet. Guitarist Ambercrombie does a convincing job of blending fun, fusion and straight ahead bebop. The Jazz Standard.  (212) 447-7733.

Copenhagen

- Jan. 30 – 31. (Thurs & Fri.) Dado Moroni: “The Legacy of John Coltrane.” An international all-star jazz ensemble commemmorates the incomparable music of the great John Coltrane. Featuring pianist Moroni from Italy, vibist Joe Locke from the U.S., tenor saxophonist Max Ionata and bassist Marco Panascia from Italy, and drummer Morten Lund from Denmark. Jazzhus Montmartre.  +45 31 72 34 94.

Milano

Billy Cobham

Billy Cobham

= Jan. 30 – Feb. 1. (Thurs. – Sat.) Billy Cobham Spectrum 40. Drummer Cobham’s crisply rhythmic Spectrum features the guitar work of Dean Brown, the keyboards of Gary Husband and the bass of Ric Fierabracci. Blue Note Milano.  +39 02 6901 6888.


Picks of the Week: January 8 – 12

January 8, 2014

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Jan. 8. (Wed.) Jim Cox Trio. Pianist Cox has long been one of the Southland’s first call pianists and arrangers. Here he is, on his own, backed by bassist Domenic Genova and drummer John Ferraro. Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

Laura Benanti

Laura Benanti

- Jan. 8 & 9. (Wed. & Thurs.) Laura Benanti. Tony Award-winning Broadway star Benanti starred in last year’s NBC-TV production of The Sound of Music. This week, she celebrates the release of her album, In Search of the Right Kind of Attention. Catalina Bar & Grill (223) 466-2210.

- Jan. 9. (Thurs.) Frank Petrilli Quartet.The accordion is very much alive and swinging in the hands of the gifted Petrilli. He’s backed by the equally stellar playing of John Chiodini, guitar, Pat Senatore, bass and Enzo Todesco, drums. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

Tom Wopat

Tom Wopat

- Jan. 10. (Fri.) Jan. 10. (Fri.) Tom Wopat.  Actor/singer Wopat’s busy career reaches from his starring role in the hit TV series The Dukes of Hazard to prominent appearances in Broadway musicals such as Annie Get Your Gun.  But his warm baritone and buoyant rhythms are also well heard in recordings — most recently, I’ve Got Your Number – showcasing his jazz-tinged interpretations.  Rockwell Table and Stage.  (323) 669-1550.

- Jan. 10 – 12. (Fri. – Sun.) The Los Angeles Philharmonic performs a gripping program of Dvorak and Beethoven. Edo de Waart conducts Symphony No. 9 (New World) with violinist Augustin Hadelich soloing in the Beethoven Violin Concerto. Disney Hall (323) 850-2000.

Lee Ritenour

Lee Ritenour

- Jan. 10 – 12. (Fri. – Sun.) Lee Ritenour. He’s a guitarist for all seasons, earning Ritenour the nickname of “Captain Fingers. And in this three night run, he’s surrounded by a line up of all-star guests. On Friday and Sunday: Patrice Rushen, Abe Laboriel and Sonny Emory. And on Saturday: Dave Grusin, Ernie Watts and John Beasley. Catalina Bar & Grill. http://www.catalinajazzclub.com (223) 466-2210.

- Jan. 11. (Sat.) Jennifer Logan and Bryan Pezzone. “A Different Quiet.”The title should be right on target for this intriguing ensemble, with Bezzone, piano, Logan, electro-acoustics, Tim Emmons, bass and MB Gordy, percussion. Vitello’s (818) 769-0905.

- Jan. 11. (Sat.) Tom Peterson. Saxophonist/woodwind player Peterson, one of Minnesota’s many gifts to jazz, balances first rate playing with a busy career as a producer, educator, clinician and more. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

Lenore Raphael

Lenore Raphael

- Jan. 11. (Sat.)  Lenore Raphael Quartet. Pianist Raphael’s briskly rhythmic style has earned her the title of “Queen of Swing.”  And with Howard Alden, guitar, Chris Colangelo, bass and Roy McCurdy, drums, she’ll fully justify the label.  She’ll also play selections from the Oscar Peterson Songbook and share anecdotes about Peterson himself.   Jazz at the Radisson LAX.  (310) 670-9000.

San Francisco

- Jan. 10 – 12 (Fri. – Sun.) Tower of Power. The horn-driven funk, blues, soul and jazz of Tower of Power reach back to the ‘sixties, and they’re still going strong. Yoshi’s Oakland (510) 238-9200.

Seattle

Jeff Lorber

Jeff Lorber

- Jan 9 – 12. (Thurs. – Sun.) Jeff Lorber Fusion. Keyboardist Lorber, one of the innovative artists of the crossover and fusion era. His all star band includes bassist Brian Bromberg, saxophonist Patrick Lamb and drummer Gary Novak. Jazz Alley (206) 441-9729.

Washington D.C.

- Jan. 9 – 12. (Thurs. – Sun.) Gerald Albright. Blues Alley. http://www.bluesalley.com/events.cfm (202) 337-4141. Saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist Albright is a versatile master of styles reaching across the gamut of contemporary jazz styles. Blues Alley. (202) 337-4141

New York City

John Pizzarelli

John Pizzarelli

- Jan. 11 & 12. (Sat. & Sun.) The John Pizzarelli Quartet with special guest Jane Monheit. A pair of the contemporary jazz world’s finest vocalists team up for a scintillating tour through the pleasures of the Great American Songbook. The Blue Note (212) 475-8592.

Paris

- Jan. 10. (Fri.) Naturally 7. There’s nothing quite like the remarkable a cappella vocals of Naturally 7, who call their rich-textured, mesmerizing performances “Vocal Play.” New Morning +33 1 45 23 51 41.

Copenhagen

- Jan. 10 & 11. (Fri. & Sat.) The Steen Rasmussen Quartet Plays Jobim. Brazilian sounds at their finest come to Denmark in the capable hands of Steen Rasmussen, (piano), Josefine Cronholm (vocals), Fredrik Damsgaard (bass ) and Alfonso Corrêa, (drums, percussion). Jazzhus Montmartre +45 31 72 34 94.

Milan

Tania Maria

Tania Maria

Jan. 10 & 11. (Fri. & Sat.) Tania Maria Trio. Pianist/singer Maria is one of the world’s most engaging ambassadors of Brazilian music. Blue Note Milano +39 02 6901 6888.

Tokyo

- Jan.12. (Sun.) Edmar Castaneda and Gonzalo Rubalcaba. It’s a fascinating musical encounter, blending the far-ranging harp music of Castaneda and the stillunder-appreciated jazz piano of Rubalcaba. Blue Note Tokyo.  +81 3-5485-0088.


Live Jazz and World Music: the 9th Annual Filipino American Jazz & World Music Festival at Catalina Bar & Grill.

December 23, 2013

By Don Heckman

The room was filled with an enthusiastic crowd at Catalina Bar & Grill Friday night for the 9th Annual Filipino American Jazz & World Music Festival. And with good reason. A long sequence of performances in the Festival once again underscored both the quality and the quantity of first rate Filipino and Filipino-American musicians.

Many were unfamiliar to the non-Filipino members of the audience. But by the time the music wound to a close with a rendering of the Filipino national anthem, in which most of the participants joined Charmaine Clamor — singer and founder of the Festival — on stage for a climactic ending, any doubts about the quality of Filipino jazz artists had been thoroughly dismissed.

Charmaine Clamor and the Fil Am Jazz & World Music Festival

There were plenty of memorable performances. Among the highlights:’

Angela Vicente

- Singer Angela Vicente, singing the classic Duke Ellington standard “In A Mellow Tone” started with a properly laid back mellowness. But she soon shifted rhythmic gears into high speed scatting, improvising with the articulate, swinging expressiveness of a jazz instrumentalist. Although she’s not familiar to American jazz audiences, Vicente is a first rate candidate for a jazz album to bring wider attention to her impressive skills.

- The unusual band, Vanishing Tribe, was led by pianist Winston Raval. Mixing jazz textures and rhythms with the occasional tonal textures of Filipino instruments, the group made a convincing case for the blending of mainstream jazz with the fascinating sounds of rarely heard traditional instruments.

- Baritone saxophonist Edison Patrick Gregory Salvador demonstrated an impressive ability to balance his saxophone excursions with appealing vocals.

Jon Irabagon

Jon Irabagon

- And tenor saxophonist Jon Irabagon, winner of the Thelonious Monk Jazz Saxophone competition, revealed all the reasons why he has become one of the jazz world’s compelling new arrivals.

Call it an intriguing display of the fascinating results that can be produced by an interfacing of jazz and traditional musics. And give credit to Charmaine Clamor for leading the way in the development of what she calls Jazzipino music. If there was any flaw in the program, it was the absence of a full set by the gifted Clamor. One looks forward to hearing her again in a full evening of her fascinating jazz talents.

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Photos by Faith Frenz.


Picks of the Weekend: December 13 – 15

December 12, 2013

By Don Heckman

 Los Angeles

Mike Stern

Mike Stern

- Dec. 13 – 15. (Fri. – Sun.) Mike Stern Quartet. Guitarist Stern moves convincingly across jazz styles with ease. And he’s backed by a band – featuring Randy Brecker, Anthony Jackson and Dave Weckl – that is equally versatile – and swinging. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Dec. 13 – 15. (Fri. – Sun) “Christmas with Gustavo.” The Los Angeles Philharmonic plays the Nutcracker Suite (complete), under the celebratory baton of Musical Director Gustavo Dudamel. Disney Hall.  (323) 850-2000.

- Dec. 13. (Fri.) Don Menza Quartet. Saxophonist Menza is high on the list of first call players, regardless of style. This time out, she steps into his own musical spotlight. Vibrato. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- Dec. 13. (Fri.) The Oak Ridge Boys. Christmas Time’s A Comin’” with the iconic country group presenting their own warm and fuzzy Christmas celebration. Valley Performing Arts Center (818) 677-8800

April Williams

April Williams

- Dec. 15. (Sun.) The Ron Jones Influence Jazz Orchestra and April Williams. “It’s A Big Band Holiday.” Christmas music in a big jazz band setting, with Ron Jones 21 piece big band, featuring holiday classics sung by tuneful April Williams. Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

San Francisco

Sheila E.

Sheila E.

- Dec. 13 & 14. (Fri. & Sat.) Sheila E. Birthday Celebration. Singer/percussionist Sheila Escovedo is a compelling performer who is as musically gripping as she is entertaining. Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655-5600.

Chicago

- Dec. 13 – 15. (Fri. – Sun.) The Fred Hersch Trio. Pianist Hersch’s playing recalls the engaging aspects of the jazz piano trio style that reaches back to Bill Evans. The Jazz Showcase. (312) 360-0234.

 New York City

Fourplay

- Dec. 13 – 15. (Fri. – Sun) Fourplay. With Bob James, keyboards, Chuck Loeb, guitar, Harvey Mason, drums, Nathan East, bass, Fourplay continues to maintain its well-deserved reputation as a world class contemporary jazz ensemble. The Blue Note. (212) 475-8592.

 Copenhagen

- Dec. 15. (Sun.) Love & Peace. The Music of Horace Parlan. Bop piano stylist Parlan has had medical problems intruding on his playing in recent years. But his music is being keep alive in Copenhagen by the American/Danish ensemble of Bob Rockwell, tenor saxophone and Doug Raney, guitar, from the U.S. and Jesper Lundgaard, bass, Henrik Gunde, piano and Aage Tanggaard, drums, from Denmark. Jazzhus Montmartre. +45 31 72 34 94.

 Tokyo

Roberta Flack

Roberta Flack

- Dec. 14 & 15. (Sat. & Sun.) Roberta Flack. Singer/songwriter Flack may be in her mature years, but she’s still singing with the vitality of a gifted young artist. Hopefully she’ll include “Killing Me Softly” and ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” in her program. The Blue Note Tokyo.+81 3-5485-0088.


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 Jazz: EU Jazz at U.C.L.A.’s Schoenberg Hall

October 12, 2013

By Don Heckman

The global reach of jazz is on full display this weekend in EU Jazz at UCLA, which is presenting 11 jazz groups from 10 countries. The program, which began Thursday night at Schoenberg Hall, continues through tonight (Sunday).

Preceded by a cocktail party and buffet at the Istituto Italiano Di Cultura, the Thursday night concert featured the Janusz Prusinowski Group from Poland and the Emil Viklicky Trio from the Czech Republic.

And it was the far-ranging musical choices of these two ensembles that illustrated the stunningly creative impact that jazz has had, and continues to have, in countries around the world.

Start with the Prusinowski Group, a five-piece ensemble led by multi-instrumentalist Prusinowski, who sang and played violin, dulcimer and Polish accordion. The other players, who also displayed multiple instrumental skills, included Piotr Piszczatowski (baraban drum and frame drum), Szczepan Pospieszalski (trumpet), Piotr Zgorzelski (folk bass and dancing) and Michal Zak (wooden flutes, shawm and clarinet).

The Janusz Prusinowski Group

There were few moments in the Prusinowski set that drew directly from either the genre categories or the dialects of jazz. The linkages, instead, traced to the common ground of traditional roots, improvisational invention and rhythmic propulsion. The soloing of Pospieszalski and Zak occasionally verged toward phrases with blues-like intervals; the team of Piszczatowski and Zgorzelski kept the Polish dance rhythms alive; and the compositions – with titles that translated into phrases such as ”The Drum Was Knocking,” “Maria was Walking” and “Across the Woods, Lads” – reflected their Polish origins in the way they were written and the way they were played.

All these qualities were underscored by the Prusinowski group’s irresistible blend of musicality, imagination and enthusiasm, delivered with a dynamic spirit reminiscent of prime jazz creativity.

The second act on the bill – the Emil Viklicky Trio – took a very different path. Pianist Viklicky, backed by bassist Dustin Morgan and drummer Richard Weller, led a group deeply influenced and equally inspired by the jazz piano trio genre.

The Emil Viklicky Trio

Playing a selection of tunes reaching from traditional themes to originals by Viklicky, the Trio delivered everything in high energy fashion, largely driven by the drumming of Weller. And while one can’t fault Weller’s non-stop enthusiasm, the musical subtleties that are usually present in the piano jazz trio genre were largely overwhelmed by drumming that reduced many of the pieces to continuing repetitions of emotional excess.

That said, the overall program had many intriguing musical moments to offer. At its best, the concert gave an occasionally limited, but always fascinating view of the many varied attractions of EU jazz.

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Photos by Faith Frenz.

The EU Jazz at UCLA series finishes up tonight (Sunday) with afternoon performances by Hungary’s jazz vocalist Orsi Sapszon with pianist Balint Sapszon, Austria’s Georg Breinschmid’s Brein’s Cafe, and the Italian jazz trio of pianist Dado Moroni, bassist Marco Panascia and drummer Andrea Marcelli. For more information about Sunday’s EU at UCLA program, click HERE.


Live Jazz: Sunday at the Monterey Jazz Festival 56

September 26, 2013

Impressions from MJF 56, Sunday

By Michael Katz

Sunday brought its share of legendary virtuosos to the Monterey Fairgrounds, but before we go there, a word about the kids.

Jazz education is the mission of the MJF, and Sunday afternoon demonstrated how successful they have gotten at it. The Night Club had healthy audiences to see the winning high school jazz combos and vocal ensembles. The previous night, the Coffee House had turn-away crowds for the terrific Berklee Global Jazz Ambassadors. But the signature group is the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, and they put on a terrific show in the Arena Sunday afternoon. Paul Contos led the band through some fresh arrangements of standards like “Sunny Side of the Street” and Cole Porter’s “I Love You.” Soloists included a fine pair of tenor sax men, Julian Lee and Jyron Walls. Vocalist Brianna Rancour-Ibarra sang “Out of Nowhere,” with polish and verve.

Joe Lovano

Joe Lovano

It was great seeing Joe Lovano working in the context of a big band again, and his soloing on his own “Streets of Naples,” “The Peacocks” (with more lovely singing by Brianna) and “Birds Eye View” were worthy additions to his work as Artist-In-Resident. Elena Pinderhughes added some swinging flute work on “Got A Match.”

Peter Gabrielides

Peter Gabrielides

A special shout out to guitarist Peter Gabrielides, representing New Trier High School (Winnetka, IL) where this writer once stumbled through many a first period on the tenor sax. Gabrielides, who had several blazing solos, made all of us alums proud.

Bob James and David Sanborn were a perfect antidote for the typical Sunday afternoon heat. Teamed with drummer Steve Gadd and bassist James Genus, they led an acoustic quartet through a combination of previous hits and new compositions from their Quartet Humaine CD.

David Sanborn

David Sanborn

Sanborn has one of the more recognizable sounds; it crosses over from smooth to funky jazz and blues. During most of the show the group was pleasant, if not earthshaking, but there were surely some memorable moments. James’ composition, “You’d Better Not Go To College” was a delightful romp. Sanborn’s ballad “Sophia” gave James the opportunity for a sweet piano turn, Sanborn answering with a soulfully plaintive run on his alto. Marcus Miller’s “Maputo” was the source of one of Sanborn’s signature riffs, and “Follow Me” was James’ venture into complicated time signatures, a la the late Mr. Brubeck.

The “hammock” period between arena shows was an opportunity for sampling more from the cornucopia of talent on the grounds. I caught singer Judy Roberts and tenor man Greg Fishman in one of their eight sets from the Yamaha Courtyard stage. This one featured Judy in two of her favorite modes – Brazilian, with an inspired version of “Agua de Beber” (Fishman providing the Stan Getz-inspired accompaniment), and, a few minutes later, a take on Charlie Parker music, testing Roberts’ scatting ability with “Scrapple From The Apple” and a closing Parker vocal riff.

Meanwhile, back at the Garden Stage, the Minnesota group Davina and the Vagabonds, led by Davina Sowers, was tearing things up. Like the California Honeydrops the day before, they had a definite New Orleans sound. Davina is singer, pianist and provocateur, with a little bit of the Divine Miss M in her. Whether belting out a blues like “I’d Rather Go Blind,” or a good-time tune like “I Gotta New Baby,” she was full of life, and the Garden Stage crowd was on its feet for much of the 90 minute show.

MJF 56 was down to its last group of acts, now, and one could be forgiven for making one last trip to the food court and loading up on shrimp-ka-bobs and peach cobblers before they ran out. There were B-3 organs everywhere in the Grounds area, in various concoctions, and even though I was headed for the Arena, I had a vague feeling that I’d be back.

Wayne Shorter

Wayne Shorter

Wayne Shorter was leading an 80th Birthday celebration on the main stage, with an all-star group that featured Danilo Perez on piano, John Patitucci on bass and Brian Blades on drums. Shorter was playing soprano sax, and no one quite gets the lyrical sound out of that difficult instrument like him. With Perez dipping and dancing around him, it was like watching a pair of eagles soaring through the thermals.

Still, I was beginning to feel restless, and with the minutes ticking away from the festival clock, I decided to go back to the grounds and check out Jazz Master Lou Donaldson on his alto. I suppose I shouldn’t have considered that an unexpected treat. Donaldson, at 87, may not get around so easily, but the chops are still there, as is a delightfully raspy blues voice and a deft sense of humor. And what a group he had behind him – guitarist Randy Johnston is a leader in his own right, and Akiko Tsuruga added a lush layer on the B3 organ. When I walked in, Fukushi Tainaka was in the middle of a rousing drum solo; Donaldson then stepped up with a blues vocal, Johnston casually laying off one riff after another. Donaldson’s classic “Alligator Blues” followed, with Lou ripping off the main line and leaving plenty of room for the others. Then, a crack-up blues number, LD singing “It Was Just A Dream.” And finally, a delicious romp through “Cherokee.”

It was back to the Jimmy Lyons Stage for the curtain closer, an extended set with Diana Krall. Diana has had a magical relationship with Monterey, dating back to her debut there at MJF 40. Sunday night she had a new look. Gone was the standard trio, and gone also the full orchestra that had gotten a little stodgy. Her new group provided a fresh perspective, especially with fiddler Stuart Duncan, most recently heard with Yo Yo Ma on the Goat Rodeo sessions. He was a perfect fit for the material from Krall’s new CD, Glad Rag Doll and sparkled throughout.

Diana Krall

Diana Krall

Diana established the tone early with “We Just Couldn’t Say Goodbye.” She retains the ability to take nearly forgotten material from decades past and bring it to life, as she did a few minutes later with “Just Like A Butterfly Caught In The Rain.” But her diversity is startling, or would be if she didn’t pull it off so effortlessly. She did an extended version of Tom Waits’ “Tempation,” complete with reverb mic, and before the evening was out, would touch base with Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, The Band, Jimmie Rodgers and more.

There was a time when Krall was reticent to talk to the audience, but she has developed an easy rapport now, inviting the crowd in for some family patter and a little musical background. Best of all, she had a sizeable amount of solo time, just her voice and piano playing, which remains first rate. “Let’s Face The Music And Dance” had a freshly dramatic quality, separated from the symphonic background. Then there was the Dave Frishberg classic, “Peel Me A Grape.” When she first performed it here at MJF 40, Krall presented it with a delicious sex kitten mystique. But 16 years later, Diana smartly stepped back and sang it with the brisk irony that Frishberg (and Blossom Dearie) intended. “Frim Fram Sauce,” is still wonderfully saucy, and Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You,” didn’t need much adjustment. It is still the same heartbreaker, full of longing.

The quintet behind provided plenty of support. Aram Bajakian shone on guitar (and ukelele, on “Everything Made For Love”), Patrick Warren filled in the sound on keyboards, and the rhythm section was held down by Dennis Crouch on bass and the estimable Karriem Riggins on the drum set.

Meanwhile, Krall continued on with a remarkable tour through her own particular North American Songbook. There was Dylan’s “Simple Twist of Fate,” delivered with touching simplicity, and “Sunny Side of the Street,” with Duncan performing a lively jaunt on his fiddle. Another nod to Nat King Cole with “Just You, Just Me” (not to mention a nod to Bill Evans). And from there, a bluesy blast of The Band’s “Ophelia.”

It is hard to imagine another vocalist who has that kind of range today, and can do it all so movingly.

Finally, Krall shared with us the only song, or so she claims, that her 7 year old twin boys actually like. It was Jimmie Rogers’ “Prairie Lullaby,” delivered again with simplicity and grace. A perfect way to close the curtain. And that was it for MJF 56.

A few closing thoughts on the festival…It’s been noted by some that overall attendance was down a little, thanks mainly to a storm that rattled through the Bay Area Saturday, cutting down on some of the traditional walk-up gate. That’s too bad, because the Grounds line-up was diverse and outstanding from start to finish. There was plenty to like at the Arena, too, but it’s worth noting that practically every act had appeared in LA within the last six months, most of them this summer. Of course it is difficult to book 5 shows of headliners without dipping into the summer tours, but it would nice to have a few more “Made For Monterey” acts that traditionally make the Festival a can’t-miss event for us SoCal types.

The Monterey Shore

The Monterey Shore

So now I type these last words on a Tuesday morning from my B and B in Pacific Grove, where I hung on for an extra day. It seems empty – my friends that came up for the festival are gone. All those wonderful music fans and musicians who reunite the third weekend in September have dispersed, returning to far flung homes, or back on the road. The last chords of music echo from venues now reverted to fairgrounds out-buildings. The Hyatt Lounge is just another bar.

One last walk along the sea shore, listening to seals playfully barking, pelicans on the wing overhead.

See you next year, Monterey.

********

All photos, except Wayne Shorter, by Michael Katz.

Wayne Shorter photo by Tony Gieske.

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Don’t forget to check out Michael Katz’s new novel, Dearly Befuddled, available in paperback and E-book at Amazon.  And Read Mike’s Blog at Katz of the Day.

 


Picks of the Week: Sept. 25 – 29

September 25, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Joe Pass

Joe Pass

- Sept. 25. (Wed.)  A Joe Pass Tribute.  The great jazz guitarist’s life is celebrated with a screening of the jazzumentary, A Not So Average Joe, followed by a live performance featuring Frank Potenza, John Pisano, Jim Hughart and Colin BaileyCatalina Bar & Grill.

- Sept. 26. (Thurs.) Pat Senatore Trio. Veteran bassist Senatore plays with a different band almost every night at Vibrato. This time he applies his versatility to the jazz trio setting with Josh Nelson, piano and Mark Ferber, drums. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

Isabel Rose

Isabel Rose

- Sept. 26. (Thurs.) Isabel Rose. Jazz/cabaret singer Rose has been compared to everyone from Peggy Lee to Ann-Margret and Bette Midler. She’ll introduce some new songs from her album Trouble in Paradise. The Mint.  323) 954-9400.

- Sept. 26 – 29. (Thurs. – Sun.) Larry Goldings, Peter Bernstein and Bill Stewart. Expect a great jazz evening listening to this trio of world class players in action. Vitello’s.

- Sept. 27. (Fri.) Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell. Singer Harris and guitarist/songwriter Crowell first got together as musical associates in the mid-’70s. Here, they revive their long creative partnership. Valley Performing Arts Center. (818) 677-8800

- Sept. 28. (Sat.) Keith Jarrett, Jack DeJohnette, Gary Peacock. They’re one of jazz history’s great ensembles, continuing to bring imaginative ideas to the classic piano jazz trio. Royce Hall.  (310) 825-0768.

Gerald Wilson

Gerald Wilson

- Sept. 29. (Sun.) The Gerald Wilson Orchestra. Composer/arranger/bandleader Wilson may be 95 years old, but he’s still going strong, still a masterful model of jazz creativity. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Sept. 29. (Sun.) Symphonic Jazz Orchestra Free Family Concert. The far-reaching skills of the SJO are on full display in a free concert aimed at all ages. The Carpenter Performing Arts Center.  (310) 876-8130.

 San Francisco

- Sept. 26 – 29. (Thurs. – Sun,) Regina Carter. Jazz violinist Carter performs a four day sequence of far ranging music. On Thurs. with Jenny Scheinman and Sara Caswell. On Fri. with the Pablo RZiegler Quartet. On Sat. with Kenny Barron. And on Sun. with Carla Cook & SFJAZZ High School All-Stars. SFJAZZ Miner Auditorium.  (866) 920-5299.

 Seattle

Ravi Coltrane

Ravi Coltrane

- Sept. 26 – 29. (Thurs. – Sun.) Ravi Coltrane Quartet. Following in the footsteps of his father – John Coltrane – saxophonist Ravi has gradually, and successfully, begun to establish his own independent creative style. Jazz Alley.  (312) 360-0234.

 New York City

- Sept. 25 – 29. (Wed. – Sun.) Chick Corea and the Vigil. After seasoning his new band in an international tour, Chick showcases it for American audiences. The Blue Note.  (212) 475-8592.

- Sept. 26 – 29. (Thurs. – Sun.) Vinicius Cantuaria Quintet. Brazilian guitarist /singer Cantuaria started out as a percussionist, and his rhythmic skills continue to bring propulsive swing to his guitar work. The Jazz Standard. http://jazzstandard.net/red (212) 576-2232.

 London

- Sept. 27 & 28. (Fri. & Sat,.) The Rebirth Brass Band. Thirty years after they were founded, New Orleans’ Rebirth Brass Band continues to sustain the musical memories of the classic jazz brass band style. Ronnie Scott’s+44 (0)20 7439 0747.

Milan

Patti Austin

Patti Austin

- Sept. 27. (Fri.) Patti Austin. A protege of Quincy Jones, who was her godfather, the musically eclectic Austin brings imaginative perspectives to whatever style she’s singing.  Blue Note Milano. +39 02 6901 6888.

Copenhagen

- Sept. 28. (Sat.) Eddie Gomez Trio. Bassist Gomez, a prominent musical associate of Bill Evans in the ’60s and ’70s, sustains the piano jazz trio style on an international basis with Swedish pianist Stefan Karlsson and American drummer Billy Drummond. Jazzhus Montmartre.  +45 31 72 34 94.

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HIGHLIGHT EVENT OF THE WEEK

Alessandra Belloni’s Rhythm is the Cure Percussion Workshop

By Faith Frenz

Alessandra Belloni

Alessandra Belloni

Alessandra Belloni is an Italian shaman dancer, singer, performer and healer extraordinaire. This week, she’s in Los Angeles for one of her biannual visits. Among her various activities, she will share — by instruction and performance — her unique talent and understanding of the ancient rituals of the tarantella Spider Dance. Alessandra presents the chants and songs sung as devotion to the Black Madonna (tracing to the ancient rites for the Earth Goddess Cybele), an ancient female healing tradition which uses a powerful tambourine style combined with singing and dancing.

I had the pleasure of taking her brief workshop last week at the North Hollywood Remo Recreational Center, where she has her own line of signature series tambourines made by Remo. Alessandra is a small, intensely sensual and beautiful woman, devoted to her goal of sharing these ancient devotionals around the world for their healing gifts. She is a gifted teacher of a very challenging ritual which taps into the essence of femininity.

 Alessandra has a packed schedule here in Los Angeles with numerous opportunities to experience her passionate performance and healing energy. And I urge everyone who reads this to choose an opportunity to witness her up close and personal: 

– Sept. 27. (Fri.) Tarantata at the Goddess Temple Orange County.  (949)651-0564 or (714) 392-0558.

- Sept. 28 (Sat.) DAY OF THE DRUM, WATTS TOWERS FESTIVAL,11:30 a.m. Los Angeles Watts Towers.   213.847.4646

- Sept. 29. (Sun.)  Tarantata at Hollywood Feast of San Gennaro  12:00 p.m.

- Oct. 1. (Tues.) Rhythm is the Cure Percussion Workshop at CalArts.  (661) 255-1050

We will be doing an iRoM Q&A with Alessandra during her stay this week, so look for it in the next few days. There is so much to learn from this amazing woman.

For more information about Alessandra Belloni click HERE to check her website.

 


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