Picks of the Week: Sept. 10 – 15

September 10, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

George Gershwin

George Gershwin

- Sept. 10 (Tues.) Rachmaninoff and Gershwin. “Romantic Favorites.” The Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Miguel Harth-Bedoya with piano soloist Daniil Trifonov, performs a program of richly colorful, early 20th century music. Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- Sept. 11. (Wed.) George Benson Inspiration Tour. A Tribute To Nat “King” Cole. Guitarist/singer Benson brings convincing life to the Cole song book. Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- Sept. 12 & 13. (Thurs. & Fri.) Joey DeFrancesco. Jazz organist DeFrancesco is joined by guitarist Steve Cotter and drummer Ramon Banda in a definitive display of jazz organ trio music. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

Roberta Gambarini

Roberta Gambarini

- Sept. 12 – 14. (Thurs. – Sat.) Roberta Gambarini.   Italian-born Gambarini continues to assert her musical aulthenticity as one of contemporary jazz’s finest vocalists. She’s joined by special guest, Kenny Burrell. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Sept. 13 & 14. (Fri. & Sat.) Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express. One of the most appealing pop/rock, jazz-influenced bands of the late ’60s, the Oblivion Express, in keyboardist Auger’s hands, still continues to produce exciting music. The Baked Potato.  (818) 980-1615.

- Sep. 13 – 15. (Fri. – Sun.) Fireworks Finale: Earth, Wind & Fire with Thomas Wilkins and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. It’s an attractive line-up of talent, enhanced by the usual spectacular fireworks, bringing the 2013 season to a pyrotechnic closure. Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- Sept. 14. (Sat.) Tom Peterson Quartet. 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. r (310) 474-9400.

Cheryl Bentyne and Mark Winkler

Cheryl Bentyne and Mark Winkler

- Sept. 15. (Sun.) Cheryl Bentyne and Mark Winkler. The Manhattan Transfer’s Bentyne teams up with jazz vocalist Winkler to celebrate the CD Release party for their new album, West Coast Cool. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- Sept. 15. (Sun.) John Proulx. Pianist/vocalist Proulx continues to display a warmly interpretive vocal style, backed by the solid support of his swinging piano work. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- Sept. 15. (Sun.) Julie Esposito. She’s an attorney/jazz singer, one of the more unlikely hyphenates in the L.A. music scene. And, somehow, Esposito handles both her skill sets with authority and complete authenticity. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

San Francisco

Randy Brecker

Randy Brecker

- Sept. 12. (Thurs.) The United Trumpet Summit. The title is exactly right, given the presence in the U.T.S. of a stellar line-up of world class trumpeters, including Randy Brecker, Dr. Eddie Henderson, Jeremy Pelt and Leon Jordan, Jr. Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655.5600.

Portland, Oregon

- Sept. 12. (Thurs.) Jacqui Naylor. She’s one of the contemporary jazz vocal world’s most versatile artists, moving easily from straight ahead jazz to folk rock and adult alternative genres. Hear her in action. Jimmy Mak’s.  (503) 295-6542.

Seattle

Nellie McCay

Nellie McCay

- Sept. 10 & 11. (Tues. & Wed.) Nellie McKay. Singer/actress/humorist MacKay balances a sardonic sense of humor with stunning musicality and an easy comfort with genres reaching from jazz to rap, funk and beyond. Jazz Alley.  (206) 441-9729.

New York City

- Sept. 10 & 11. (Tues. & Wed.) Dave Liebman Expansions Quintet. Always eager to explore new musical territory, saxophonist Liebman leads an adventurous new ensemble. Birdland. (212) 581-3080.

- Sept. 13 – 15. (Fri. – Sun.) Staney Jordan Trio. Guitarist Jordan’s unique, tapping style of playing has created virtual one-man-band sounds. But this time out he expands his possibilities in a trio setting. Iridium (212) 582-2121.

Washington D.C.

Gary Burton

Gary Burton

- Sept. 12 & 13. (Thurs. & Fri.) The New Gary Burton Quartet.70th Bday Tour.Vibist Burton, one of his instrument’s most gifted practitioners, celebrates his 70th birthday in the company of Julian Lage, guitar, Scott Colley, bass and Antonio Sanchez, drums. Blues Alley (202) 337-4141.

London

- Sept. 10 – 12. (Tues. – Thurs.) Jose Feliciano. Guitarist Feliciano has been a uniquely appealing singer/guitarist since his ’60s hit version of “Light My Fire.” And, at 67, he’s still going strong. Ronnie Scott’s. +44 (0) 7439 0747.

Milan

- Sept. 11. (Wed.) Big One – The European Pink Floyd Show “Biglietto Cumulativo.“ The music of the English art rock band of the ’60s continues to appeal to audiences around the world. Blue Note Milano. +39 02 6901 6888. 

Tokyo

Chick Corea

Chick Corea

- Sept. 10 & 11. (Tues. & Wed.) Chick Corea and The Vigil. The iconic keyboardist/composer has once again organized a new collective to express his ever-curious, creative musical adventures. The Vigil includes the gifted, youthful Tim Garland, Carlitos Del Puerto, Marcus Gilmore, Charles Altura and Luisito Quintero. Blue Note Tokyo. 03-5485-0088. 


Picks of the Week – Oct. 24 – 28

October 24, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Sally Kellerman

- Oct. 34 (Wed.)  Sally Kellerman.  Hot Lips herself, in action.  But Sally’s a one of a kind vocalist, too, bringing interpretive magic to everything she sings. Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Oct. 24. (Wed.)  Gabriel Johnson.  Emerging jazz trumpeter Johnson has been praised by Clint Eastwood and Chris Botti, and performed with everyone from Gladys Knight to Gerald Albright.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.     (310) 474-9400.

- Oct. 25. (Thurs.)  Robert Glasper Experiment.  Adventurous pianist Glasper has been pioneering the territory between jazz and contemporary pop.  His special guests include Jose James, Taylor McFerrin and Austin PeraltaCAP UCLA at Royce Hall.   (310) 825-2101

- Oct. 25. (Thurs.)  Ariana Savalas. Singer/songwriter/actress Savalas, the offspring of a show biz family, is making her own way as a rising vocalist.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.     (310) 474-9400.

- Oct. 25. (Thurs.)  Kathy Kosins.  “The Ladies of Cool.”  Singer Kosins celebrates the work of such West Coast-oriented jazz vocalists as June Christy, Julie London, Anita O’Day and Chris Connor.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Bob Dylan

- Oct. 26. (Fri.)  Bob Dylan and Mark Knopfler.  The legendary Dylan makes a rare appearance in Los Angeles in companionship with the British singer/songwriter/guitarist best known for his work with the band Dire Straits.  The Hollywood Bowl.     (323) 850-2000.

- Oct. 26 & 27. (Fri. & Sat.) Eddie Daniels.  The great clarinetist – and fine saxophonist, as well – makes his annual L.A. appearance, reminding us that the clarinet is still a great jazz instrument.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Oct. 26 – 28. (Fri. – Sun.)  Buster Williams Quartet.  Versatile bassist Williams leads a stellar group of Southland players — keyboardist Patrice Rushen, saxophonist Mark Gross and drummer Ndugu ChanclerCatalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Oct. 27. (Sat.)  Ron Carter Quartet.  Carter – for decades everyone’s first call bassist — has also offered some breakthrough music of his own. This time out he performs with the cutting edge musical ideas of the Robert Glasper TrioCAP at UCLA Royce Hall.  (310) 825-2101.

- Oct. 27. (Sat.) Michael Feinstein.  “The Sinatra Project.”  One of the champions of the Great American Songbook, singer/pianist Feinstein interprets a program of songs associated with Frank Sinatra.  Segerstrom Hall at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.    (714) 556-2746.

Leon Russell

San Francisco

- Oct. 24. (Wed.)  Leon Russell.  One of the vital singer/songwriters of the rock era, Russell, at 70 is still going strong.  Don’t miss this rare club appearance.  Yoshi’s Oakland.      (510) 238-9200.

New York

- Oct. 24 – 28. (Wed. – Sun.).  Jimmy Heath 86th Birthday Celebration.  NEA Jazz Master Heath goes back to his roots to celebrate his 86th birthday with the Jimmy Heath Big Band — an assemblage of New York’s stellar players.  The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

- Oct. 26. (Fri.)  Kendra Shank.  The ever-adventurous, always musically engaging  Shank performs the last Friday of every month at the 55 Bar.   (212) 929-9883.

London

- Oct. 26. (Fri.)  Steve Smith and Vital Information.  Smith has been voted #1 All-Around Drummer by Modern Drummer magazine five years in a row.  In addition to his far-ranging pop and rock activities, he also leads the high energy jazz group Vital Information  Ronnie Scott’s.   (0) 20 7439 0747.

Copenhagen

- Oct. 24 & 25. (Wed. & Thurs.)  Roditi/Ignatzek/Rassinfosse.  The remarkable trio of trumpeter Claudio Roditi, pianist Klaus Ignatzek and bassist Jean-Louis Rassinfosse have been performing together for 25 years, emphasizing the Brazilian songbook and the repertoire associated with Chet Baker.  Jazzhus Montmartre.    (+45) 70 15 65.

Milan

- Oct. 25. (Thurs.)  Kenny Werner.  Versatile pianist, composer and writer arrives in Italy with a world class ensemble: saxophonist David Sanchez, trumpeter Randy Brecker, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Antonio SanchezBlue Note Milan.    02. 69016888.

Tokyo

The Manhattan Transfer

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- Oct. 24 – 26. (Wed. – Fri.)  The Manhattan Transfer.  Nearly four decades in the jazz world spotlight, and the gifted members of the Transfer continue to produce music that brilliantly defines and expands the potential in vocal ensemble jazz.  Blue Note Tokyo.


Picks of the Week: Sept. 18 – 23

September 18, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Catharine Russell

- Sept 19. (Wed.) Catharine Russell.  Her resume includes gigs and recordings with the likes of Paul Simon, Steely Dan, David Bowie, Michael Feinstein.  But she’s very much the “real thing” according to critic Nat Hentoff.  And why not?  Her father, pianist Luis Russell, was Louis Armstrong’s music director.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Sept. 20. (Thurs.)  Stephanie Haynes & the Karen Hammack Trio. A decade or two ago Haynes was one of the Southland’s most admired jazz singers.  Now, after a too-long absence, she’s on the comeback trail, backed by the vocalist-friendly pianist Hammack and her trio.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Sept. 20. (Thurs.)  Gabriel Johnson.  Yet another trumpeter/vocalist, Johnson – highly praised by Clint Eastwood – celebrates the release of his new CD, Introducing Gabriel Johnson. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Sept. 21 & 22.  (Fri. & Sat.) Rhinoceros by Eugene Ionescu.  U.C.L.A.’s new performing arts entity – “Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA” – begins its debut season with Ionescu’s classic absurdist play, as performed by the Theatre de la Ville-Paris.  It’s done in French with English supertitles.   CAP UCLA.  Royce Hall.  (310) 825-2101.

Karrin Allyson

- Sept.21–23. (Fri. – Sun.)  Karrin Allyson. Admired by musicians as well as her enthusiastic audiences for her far reaching musicality, Allyson moves convincingly across stylistic lines while always maintaining her jazz roots.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Sept. 22. (Sat.) Larry Goldings, Peter Bernstein and Greg Hutchinson.  A classic jazz organ trio – with Goldings at the B-3, Bernstein on guitar and Hutchinson on drums – at its very best.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Sept. 22. (Sat.) Sing-A-Long Sound of Music. If you wake up on Sat. morning with an irresistible urge to sing some of the songs from Sound of Music, here’s the solution – the Bowl’s annual all-join-in event.  And don’t forget to wear your costume.  Hollywood Bowl.    (323) 850-2000.

- Sept. 22. (Sat.)  Gregory Porter.  It’s an L.A. week filled with impressive jazz vocal performances, and Porter’s warm, engaging voice and sturdy jazz vocalizing are among its major highlights. The Mint.   (323) 954-9400.

- Sept. 22. (Sat.)  Pianist Laurence Hobgood is rightly praised for his excellent work as an accompanist and arranger.  But there are other equally impressive aspects to his skills, and they’ll all be on display in this quartet performance with saxophonist Ernie Watts, bassist Hamilton Price and drummer Dan SchnelleThe Blue Whale.  (213) 620-0908.

Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard

- Sept. 22. Sat.) Merle Haggard and Kris Kristofferson.  “Legendary” is a word that actually makes sense when applied to these great folk and country music artists.  Hearing them together will be one of the memorable musical experiences of a lifetime  Click HERE to read a recent iRoM review of Haggard and Kristofferson in action. Valley Performing Arts Center. (818) 677- 3000.

- Sept. 22. (Sat.) Emil Richards Quartet.  Veteran vibist’s resume is covered with all-star performances.  But he’s at his best when he steps into the spotlight with equally stellar backing from the likes of Mike Lang, piano, Mike Valerio, bass and Ralph Humphrey, drums.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Sept. 23. (Sun.) Carol Robbins.  She’s everyone’s first call harpist, as well as one of the rare practitioners of jazz on her instrument.  Robbins will be celebrating the release of her new CD in the company of Billy Childs, Larry Koonse, Rob Lockart, Darek Oles and Dan SchnelleVitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

San Francisco

- Sept. 19 – 21. (Wed. – Fri.)  Pat Metheny Unity Band.  Always in search of challenging new musical settings, Metheny finds an exciting new musical environment with Chris Potter, Antonio Sanchez and Ben WilliamsYoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

Seattle

Jeff Lorber

- Sept. 20 – 23.  (Thurs. – Sun.)  Jeff Lorber Superband. The label is right on target.  Keyboardist Lorber’s led some impressive bands over the course of his long career.  Add this one to the list, with Brian Bromberg, bass, Everette Harp, saxophones, Gary Novak, drums.  Jazz Alley.  (206) 441-9729.

Chicago

- Sept. 20 – 23. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Fred Hersch Trio. With John Hebert, bass, Eric McPherson, drums. Pianist Hersch, a master of the jazz piano trio format, celebrates the release of his new album Live at the Vanguard.  The Jazz Showcase.   (212) 360-0234.

New York

- Sept. 18 – 22.  (Tues. – Sat.)  Coltrane Revisited. Pianist Steve Kuhn’s Coltrane credentials reach back to his early days on the jazz scene.  He makes the journey back in the company of trumpeter Tom Harrell, saxophonist Eric Alexander, drummer Andrew Cyrille and bassist Lonnie PlaxicoBirdland.    (212) 581-3080.

Anat Cohen

- Sept. 18 – 23. (Tues. – Sun.)  Anat Cohen Quartet. The lovely Anat Cohen isn’t just re-inventing the clarinet in contemporary jazz, she’s also a powerfully original tenor saxophonist, as well.  She performs with Jason Lindner, piano, Joe Martin, bass, Daniel Freedman, drums.  Village Vanguard.  (212) 255-4037.

London

- Sept. 18. (Tues.)  Patricia Barber.  Pianist/singer/songwriter Barber’s adventurous music – with her own works as well as the interpretations of others – is always a fascinating display of creative imagination.  Ronnie Scott’s.    (0) 020 7439 0747.

- Sept. 21 – 23. (Fri. – Sun.)  Mindi Abair. Smooth jazz saxophonist Abair finds intriguing areas of expression within the instrumental pop format.  Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho. 0845 6027 017.

Copenhagen

- Sept. 20 & 21. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Nicola Stilo Jazz & Latin Quartet. Versatile Italian musician Stilo (he plays adroitly on guitar, flute and piano) came to maturity as a regular with Chet Baker and Rahsaan Roland Kirk.   Jazzhus Montmartre.  http://www.jazzhusmontmartre.dk/home.html  (+45) 70 15 65 65.

Berlin


Chris Bennett

- Sept. 20 & 21. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Chris Bennett. Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter/pianist Bennett has proven her far-ranging skills with Tina Turner, Donna Summer and others.  But she’s also an impressive and imaginative jazz artist.  A Trane Jazz.  030/313 25 50.

Tokyo

- Sept. 21 & 22. (Fri. & Sat.)  Richard Galliano.  “Piazzolla Forever.”   French accordionist Galliano, a master of the instrument in his own right, honors the music of the great Argentine composer/accordionist. Blue Note Tokyo.    03.5485.0088.


Picks of the Week: Sept. 11 – 16

September 11, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Sarah Chang

- Sept. 11. (Tues.)  Sarah Chang. A gifted child prodigy, violinist Chang has matured into a superb interpretive artist. In this far-reaching program, she performs a suite from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story with the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Bramwell Tovey.  Also on the bill – works by Copland and Gershwin.  The Hollywood Bowl.    (323) 850-2000.

- Sept. 12. (Wed.)  Dave Matthews Band.  Hollywood Bowl. Twenty years after singer/songwriter/guitarist formed the Band, the Grammy-winning ensemble continues to produce fascinating music – most recently in the just released CD Away From the World.   The Hollywood Bowl.    (323) 850-2000.

- Sept. 13. (Thurs.)  Patrick Berrogain’s Hot Club Combo.  The hard swinging sounds and rhythms of Django Reinhardt’s gypsy jazz are alive and well in the hands of Berrogain’s Hot Club.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.    (310) 474-9400.

Itzhak Perlman

- Sept. 13. (Thurs.)  Itzhak Perlman plays Tchaikovsky. The final classical concert of the 2012 Bowl season climaxes, appropriately, with the incomparable Perlman, performing the irresistible Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Bramwell Tovey.  Call it a winning combination.  The Hollywood Bowl.  The Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

- Sept. 13. (Thurs.)  Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. “Music and Story” The LACO’s first “Westside Connection” of the new season features writer Mark Salzman in a musical narrative piece describing the way Bach’s Cello Suite No. 3 (here performed by Andrew Shulman) relieved his struggles with writers’ block.  The Broad Stage.  (213) 622-7001.

- Sept. 13. (Thurs.)  Sons of Etta.  A celebration of the life and music of the great Etta James.  Featured performers include Thelma Jones, saxophonist/harmonica player Jimmy Z and Donto James – the Grammy-winning son of James and the leader of her Roots Band. Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Sept. 14. (Fri.)  Sascha’s Bloc Band.  A stirring evening of music tinged with an Eastern European flavor, while reaching out to encompass gypsy jazz, contemporary jazz, flamenco, swing, blues and country.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Fiona Apple

- Sept. 14. (Fri.)  Fiona Apple. The Grammy winning singer/songwriter celebrates the release of The Idler Wheel…, her first album in seven years.  The Greek Theatre.    (323) 665-5857.

- Sept. 14. (Fri.)  Joe Bagg Organ 4.  Keyboardist Bagg brings some ear-opening new ideas to the traditional organ jazz trio, with the enthusiastic aid of trumpeter Ron Stout, guitarist Jamie Rosenn and drummer Ryan Doyle.  The eminently listenable duo of pianist Jeff Colella and pianist Putter Smith open the evening.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.    (310) 474-9400.

- Sept. 14 – 16. (Fri. – Sun.)  Brian Setzer OrchestraThe Fireworks Finale.  The Grammy winning rockabilly swingster leads his big band, aided by conductor Thomas Wilkins and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra in a glorious, season-topping grand finale.  The Hollywood Bowl. The Hollywood Bowl.    (323) 850-2000.

- Sept. 16. (Sun.)  Phil Norman Tentet.  Swinging West Coast jazz of the ‘50s is alive, well, and completely contemporary in the arrangements and the playing of Norman’s talented Tentet.  Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

San Francisco

- Sept 14 – 16. (Fri. – Sun.)  John Scofield Trio.  Guitarist Scofield’s eclectic musical path has now arrived at a classic musical encounter with a pair of gifted musical associates – bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Bill Stewart. Yoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.

Seattle

Pat Metheny

- Sept. 13 – 16. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Pat Metheny Unity Band.  Ever on the lookout for new ideas, guitarist Metheny now finds inspiration in an older instrumentation – the jazz quartet, with the stellar aid of Chris Potter, saxophones, Ben Williams, bass and Antonio Sanchez, drums.  Jazz Alley.  (206) 441-9729.

Chicago

- Sept. 13 – 16. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Mulgrew Miller Trio.  Everybody’s a-list pianist, Miller – active as a musician and an educator – steps into the spotlight to display his invigorating improvisational style.  Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

Boston

- Sept. 13 & 14. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Joe Lovano “Us Five.”  Saxophonist Lovano’s new band is overflowing with talent: Grammy-winning bassist/singer Esperanza Spalding, pianist James Weidman, and drummers Francisco Mela and Otis Brown IIIScullers.    (617) 562-4111.

New York

- Sept. 11. (Tues.)  Roz Corral and Judi Silvano.  A pair of the jazz vocal art’s most adventurous practitioners share the stage with equally venturesome accompanists – Alan Broadbent and Boris Kozlov with Corral, and Frank Kimbrough and Ben Allison with Silvano.  Expect to experience some compelling musical surprises.  Cornelia St. Cafe.   (212) 989-9319.

- Sept. 11 – 15.  (Tues. – Sat.)  The Dave Liebman Group. NEA Jazz Master Liebman continues to set the contemporary jazz pace on the soprano saxophone, while adding in some impressive flute and tenor saxophone playing, as well.  Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

Randy Brecker

- Sept. 11 – 16. (Tues. – Sun.)  The Brecker Brothers Band Reunion.  A revival of one of the jazz world’s great fraternal ensembles, in memory of the incomparable Michael Brecker.  With Randy Brecker, trumpet, Mike Stern, guitar, Rodney Holmes, drums, Ada Rovati, saxophone, George Whitty, keyboards, Will Lee, bass and Oli Rockberger, vocals and keyboards.  The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

- Sept. 13 – 16. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Oliver Lake.  The veteran alto saxophonist performs in three very different musical settings.  On Thurs. with the Oliver Lake Organ Quartet; on Fri. with the Oliver Lake Big Band; on Sat. and Sun. with the Oliver Lake Trio (with Reggie Workman, Andrew Cyrille and speial guest Geri Allen).  Jazz Standard.    (212) 576-2232.

London

Frank Sinatra Jr.

- Sept. 13 – 15. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Frank Sinatra, Jr.  The entertainment world is filled with Sinatra tributes and imitators.  But no one comes closer to the original than #1 son, Frank Sinatra, Jr.  Hearing his familiar vocal timbre and well-crafted phrasing in the Sinatra classics is an experience to remember.  Ronnie Scott’s.     (0) 20 7539 0747.

Milan

- Sept. 12. (Wed.)  Benny Golson. Saxophonist Golson has composed some memorable jazz classics, among them “I Remember Clifford,” “Killer Joe,” “Whisper Not,” “Along Came Betty” and more.  Here’s a chance to hear them from the originator. The Blue Note Milano.  02.69016888.

Tokyo

- Sept. 11 &o 12. (Tues. & Wed.)  Joe Sample.  Keyboardist and one of the founders of the Jazz Crusaders, performs selections from his new album, Creole Joe Band.  Blue Note Tokyo.    03-5485-0088.


Picks of the Week: March 27 – April 1

March 27, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Keith Jarrett

- Mar. 27. (Tues.)  Keith Jarrett Solo. It’s improvisation at its most illuminating whenever Jarrett takes one of his remarkable excursions into the world of total creative spontaneity. Disney Hall.  (323) 850-2000.  There will also be two additional solo dates as part of this Spring tour.  The first is Sunday, April 1,  at U.C. Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall.  The second is Wed., April 4 at Chicago’s Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center.

- Mar. 27. (Tues.) SFJAZZ Collective plays the music of Stevie Wonder.  The all-star SFJAZZ Collective finds the elusive links between jazz and the the unique Wonder catalog. Valley Performing Arts Center.  (818) 677-3000.

- Mar. 29. (Thurs.) Slumgum with the Bob Sheppard Trio. Cutting edge group Slumgum roves freely across territory reaching from jazz and classical to world music and wide open improvisation.  They share a stage with the equally adventurous saxophonist Sheppard. Curve Line Space.  (323) 478-9874.  www.slumgum.com

Larkin McLean

- Mar. 29. (Thurs.)  Larkin McLean.  She’s a singer/songwriter with a style, an imagination and a wicked sense of humor.  Click HERE to check out an iRoM review of McLean’s new CD, If You’re A Wild Girl, Say AyeGenghis Cohen  (323) 653-0640.

- Mar. 29. (Thurs.) Ute Lemper and the Vogler Quartet with Stefan Malzew.  Cabaret, reaching from the decadence of Weimar to the brand new decadence of century 21, is alive and well in the musically adept persona of the gorgeous Lemper.  A UCLA Live Event.  Royce Hall.  (310) 825-2102.

- Mar. 29 & 30 (Thurs. & Fri.)  Carmen Lundy,   Versatile Carmen Lundy is that rarity – an engaging jazz singer who also writes songs that often are as memorable as the standards she sings.  She celebrates release of her new CD, Changes. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905

- Mar. 29 – 31. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Robben Ford. His roots are firmly embedded in the blues, but guitarist Ford has also firmly established his versatility, moving comfortably across the various jazz fusion areas.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Mar. 30. (Fri.)  Don Menza Quartet. Saxophonist Menza is in the top echelon of everyone’s first-call list.  But it’s great to hear him up front and personal, on his own, as he will be here, backed by pianist Ed Czach, bassist Pat Senatore and drummer Kendall Kay. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

Billy Childs

- Mar. 31. (Fri.) Billy Childs Jazz Chamber Ensemble. With the Calder String Quartet. He’s one of the most creatively eclectic artists in the contemporary jazz world.  And Childs is especially fascinating when he displays his far-reaching compositions for his Chamber Jazz Ensemble and string quartet. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- Mar. 30. (Fri.)  National Children’s Chorus “Journey of Song,” The talented young voices of the National Childrens’ Chorus take on a combination of old and brand new classical works, reaching over five time periods and two world premieres.  The Broad Stage.   (310) 434-3200.

- Mar. 31. (Fri.) Chano Dominguez.  Spanish pianist Dominguez plays a fascinating blend of jazz and flamenco via selections from his new album, Flamenco Sketches.  He’s backed by Omer Avital, bass, Blas Cordoba, vocals and percussion and Dafnis Prieto, drums.   Zipper Hall.  A Jazz Bakery Movable Feast.  (310) 271-9039

- March 31 & April 1. (Sat. & Sun.)  The Los Angeles Master Chorale performs J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion. The LAMC is joined by the Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra in a performance designed to replicate Bach’s original conception.  Disney Hall.  (323) 850-2000.

Seattle

Hiromi

- Mar. 29 – April 1. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Hiromi and the Trio Project. After spending some time with Stanley Clarke, keyboardist is back on her own, showcasing her fabulous technique and free-flowing imagination, backed by bassist Anthony Jackson and drummer Simon PhillipsJazz Alley.  (206) 441-9729.

San Francisco

- Mar. 31 – April 1. (Sat. & Sun,)  Patrice Rushen & Friends. Expect a little bit of every kind of jazz from keyboardist Rushen and her friends, who navigate every area of the art with ease.  Ndugu Chancler, Doc Powell, Everette Harp, Freddie WashingtonYoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655-5600.

New York

- Mar. 27 – April 1. (Tues. – Sun.)  Enrico Pieranunzi Trio.  Veteran Italian jazz pianist Pieranunzi – who has played with everyone from Chet Baker to Charlie Haden (among dozens of others) — offers selections from his new CD,    Permutation, with Scott Colley, bass, Antonio Sanchez, drums.  The Village Vanguard. (212) 255-4037.

Andrea Wolper

Mar. 31. (Sat.)  Andrea Wolper Trio.  Still not as well known as she should be Wolper is a singer who brings songs to life, whatever their source, working in a milieu that begins with jazz and reaches out to embrace an expressive area that is uniquely her own. With long time partners Michael Howell, guitar and Ken Filiano, bass.  55 Bar.   (212) 929-9883.

- April 1. (Sun.)  Sara Serpa. Vocalist/composer Serpa has been described by pianist Ran Blake as “the magical voice” for a  style that is opening new areas in jazz vocal improvisation. The Cornelia St. Cafe.   (212) 989-9319.

- April 1. (Sun.)  The New York City Chamber Orchestra and Festival Choruses. The forces of two superb ensembles combine for an Easter week performance of the Mozart Requiem.  Carnegie Hall.  (212) 247-7800.


News: THE 2012 MONTEREY JAZZ FESTIVAL – FIRST LOOK

February 24, 2012

By Michael Katz

I’ve made it no secret over the years that I consider The Monterey Jazz Festival one of the world’s great musical weekends.  This morning MJF, celebrating its 55th anniversary September 21-23, released a preview of its program:  Pat Metheny, Esperanza Spaulding,  Trombone Shorty and a new edition of the Monterey All-Stars highlight an exciting list of performers. There had been some grumbling last year among season ticket holders that seats had to be renewed before the schedule was announced. I doubt anyone will be complaining this year.

With young trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire already announced as the featured artist and guitarist Bill Frisell as the comissioned artist, MJF needed some big names to complement such ambitious choices; they found them, and more. Pat Metheny is scheduled for a rare two performances on the main stage, the first on Saturday in a superb trio led by Jack DeJohnette with Christian McBride, then Sunday in a quartet with sax player Chris Potter, drummer Antonio Sanchez and bassist Ben Williams. That set will be followed by a duet featuring DeJohnette and Frisell.

Meanwhile, the new edition of the Monterey All Stars looks sensational.  Dee Dee Bridgewater, who gave a rousing late night performance two years ago with her band, headlines this group with Benny Green, McBride, Akinmusire, Potter and drummer Lewis Nash.

The two afternoon concerts should both be real crowd pleasers. Trombone Shorty, who laid waste to the festival two years ago, will be anchoring the Saturday afternoon blues/roots show. Emerging star Esperanza Spalding will take the main stage Sunday afternoon, following the award winning high school bands and the Next Generation Band.

There is, of course, much more to come, with five stages to fill, and the Friday night main stage show yet to be announced. But the backbone of the festival looks terrific. With Pat Metheny sure to bring his devoted following into town and Trombone Shorty and Esperanza Spalding drawing a younger crowd, ticket sales figure to be brisk for MJF’s 55th.

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

Click HERE to visit Michael Katz’s new personal blog, Katz of the Day.

 


Picks of the Week: Jan. 31 – Feb. 5

January 31, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Anthony Wilson

- Jan. 31. (Tues.)  Anthony Wilson.  He’s had a lot of visibility the past few years backing Diana Krall, but Wilson’s a certified jazz star in his own right – as a performer, a composer and a band leader.  This time out, he gets back to basics with guitarist and host John Pisano in the laid back format of  Guitar NightVitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Jan. 31. (Tues.)  Sheldon Reynolds’ “Elements of Fire.”  A guitarist and lead singer with Earth, Wind and Fire in the ’80s and ’90s, Reynolds revisits some of the Grammy-winning ensemble’s greatest hits.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Feb. 2 (Thurs.)  The Salzburg Chamber Soloists.  The critically praised members of the SCS reveal their musical versatility with a diverse program featuring works by Mozart, Ravel, Britten and Janacek.  The Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.    (562) 916-8501.

Windy Karigianes

- Feb. 2 (Thurs.)  Windy Karigianes.  Las Vegas singer Karigianes hasn’t had a lot of wide visibility yet, but the warmth of her sound, her briskly rhythmic style and evocative interpretations bode well for her future.  Saxophonist Brandon Fields will be her special guest.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Feb. 2. (Thurs.)  Doug MacDonald Organ Quartet.  Guitarist MacDonald dips into a deep groove with the vibrant assistance of organ playing and vocals of Bobby Pierce, the tenor saxophone of Clarence Webb and the drumming and vocals of Harold Acey.  The LAX Jazz Club at the Crowne Plaza.   (310) 258-1333.

- Feb. 2 – 4. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Bobby Caldwell. It’s a safe bet that Caldwell won’t get through the night without singing his 1978 hit, “What You Won’t Do For Love.”  But he’s got plenty of other past hits in his resume, as well as an easygoing, appealing way of dealing with everything from American Songbook classics to his own catalog of memorable originals.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

The Flying Karamazov Brothers

- Feb. 3. (Fri.)  The Flying Karamazov Brothers.  Juggling’s their game, and comedy’s a good part of their fame.  How could it be otherwise with a whimsical group of experts who juggle everything from apples and swords to fish and flaming torches.  There’s nothing quite like them.  Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.    (562) 916-8501.

- Feb. 3. (Fri.)  Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band.  Saxophonist/pianist/bandleader has accomplished the jazz world miracle of not only keeping a big band together, but doing so with an impressive display of engaging, hard swinging musicality.  No surprise that the Phat Band has a Grammy nomination this year.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Feb. 3. (Fri.)  Trio M.  With Myra Melford, piano, Mark Dresser, bass, Matt Wilson, drums.  The instrumentation may be the same as the classic jazz piano trio, but Trio M — Myra, Mark, Matt — has set no stylistic limits.  A true creative musical collective, each of its stellar members brings his or her artistic vision to the trio’s unbounded explorations.  The Musicians Institute Concert Center.  A Jazz Bakery Movable Feast.    (310) 271-9039.

- Feb. 3. (Fri.)  John Beasley and Dwight Trible.  “First Fridays Jazz Series.”  Pianist Beasley ands singer Trible, performing with stunning musical empathy, celebrate the release of their album, Duality, as a headliner event in the First Friday Jazz Series at Joe’s Restaurant.    (310) 399-5811.

- Feb. 3 & 4. (Fri. & Sat.)  Ben Wendel.  Grammy nominated multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer Wendel showcases his eclectic creative skills in a celebration of his new album, Frame. Blue Whale.  (213) 620-0908.

San Francisco

Peter Erskine

- Feb. 1 (Wed.)  The Peter Erskine New Trio.  Grammy-winning Peter Erskine has drummed with everyone from Stan Kenton to Pat Metheny, with all stops in between.  But one of the best ways to hear his subtle rhythms is with his own impressive new trio, featuring pianist Vardan Ovsepian and bassist (and nephew) Damian ErskineYoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

New York

- Jan. 31 – Feb. 4. (Tues. – Sat.)  David Sanchez Quartet.  Grammy-winning, and frequently Grammy-nominated Sanchez is one of the rare saxophonists who has found inspiration in John Coltrane, while continuing to explore the essentials of his own style and creativity.  He’s backed by drummer Antonio Sanchez, bassist Matt Brewer and guitarist Adam Rogers. Jazz Standardl.  (212) 576-2232.

Simone Dinnerstein

- Feb. 2 (Thurs.)  Simone DinnersteinBach and the Romantics.  Whether it’s baroque, classical or romantic, Dinnerstein approaches the piano with a transparency that takes the listener into the very origins of the music she plays.  This time she offers a program reaching from Bach through Schubert, Chopin and Brahms.  The Miller Theatre at the Columbia University School of the Arts.    (212) 854-7799.

- Feb. 3. (Fri.)  The Ben Monder, Theo Bleckmann Duo.  Guitarist Monder and vocalist Bleckmann, each an adventurous musical explorer in his own right, take on even more unusual creative territories when they come together as a team.  Cornelia St. Café.    (212) 989-9319.

London

- Jan. 31. (Tues.)  Mark Murphy. One of the great veterans of the jazz vocal art.  Approaching 80, he continues to offer definitive displays of his still potent, richly creative abilities. Ronnie Scott’s.   020 7439 0747

Berlin

- Feb. 5. (Sun.)  Becca Stevens. Singer, composer and multiple instrumentalist (guitar, ukulele and charango), Stevens also manages to find a way to embrace folk, classical and pop in her idiosyncratic, jazz-tinged music.   A-Trane.   030/313 25 50.  Critically acclaimed 2011 album, Weightless.

Peter Erskine photo by Tony Gieske


Picks of the Week: Dec. 6 – 11

December 6, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Sophie Milman

- Dec. 6 & 7. (Tues. & Wed.)  Sophie Milman.  The young Russian/Canadian singer has thoroughly established herself as one of the important new arrivals on the jazz scene.  She’ll hopefully do a few selections from her latest CD, In the Moonlight.  Catalina Bar & Grill   (323) 466-2210.

- Dec. 7. (Wed.)  Keb’ Mo’  It’s blues on the loose whenever Keb’ Mo’ is on stage.  This time out he’ll no doubt sprinkle some holiday selections among his acoustic repertoire. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.

- Dec. 8. (Thurs.)  Larry Koonse Quartet.  He’s a second generation all-star guitarist, but Larry Koonse has also established a style, an attitude and a visibility all his own.  He’s frequently seen in some one else’s rhythm section, so don’t miss this chance to see and hear him in the spotlight.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- Dec. 8 – 10. (Thurs. – Sat.)  The Four Seasons.  Amid all the holiday music of the season, it’ll a distinct alternative pleasure to hear Norwegian violinist/conductor Henning Kraggerud perform the always-engaging Vivaldi work – and especially the Winter segment — with the Pacific Symphony Segerstrom Center for the Arts.    (714) 556-2787.

Thomas Wilkins

- Dec. 8, 9 & 11. (Thurs., Fri. & Sun.)  “The Hollywood Sound.”  Thomas Wilkins conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic in an evening of memorable film music by the likes of Erich Korngold, Bernard Herrman, Elmer Bernstein, John Williams and more.  The performance is part of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time program.  Disney Hall.    (323) 850-2000.

- Dec. 9 – 11. (Fri. – Sun.)  Kenny Werner Band.  A pianist, composer and Guggenheim Fellowship winner, Werner leads a world-class jazz ensemble, featuring trumpeter Randy Brecker, saxophonist David Sanchez, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Antonio SanchezCatalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210..

- Dec. 9. (Fri.)  Holiday Pop!  The Glendale Pops Orchestra is conducted by Matt Catingub in a program of holiday classics.  Also featured: pianist David Benoit doing material from Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas  and Grammy winner Taylor Dayne adds her own Christmas favorites.  The Alex Theatre.    (818) 243-2611.

Peabo Bryson

- Dec. 10. (Sat.)  The Colors of Christmas. This always festive holiday program has been arriving every year for nearly a decade.  The current line up includes Grammy winners Peabo Bryson and Jennifer Holiday, Broadway star Lea Salonga and Tony award winner Ben VereenCerritos Center for the Performing Arts.    (562) 916-8501.

- Dec. 10 & 11. (Sat. & Sun.)  Reflection”  The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. The Southland’s most gifted and adventurous chamber ensemble brings a colorful array of music to the holiday season in a program of  Ravel, Tchaikovsky, Thomas Ades and Respighi.  Jeffrey Kahane conducts and cellist Ralph Kirshbaum solos.  Sat. The Alex Theatre. (818) 243-2539.   Sun.  Royce Hall.  (310) 825-2101.

- Dec. 10 & 11. (Sat. & Sun.)  Scarlet Stone.  A mixed-media (music/dance/animation) look at ancient Persian mythology, Scarlet Stone also portrays to the current struggles within Iran.  Freud Playhouse, U.C.L.A.    (310) 825-2101.

- Dec. 11(Sun.)  Rejoice: A Classical Christmas. Los Angeles Master Chorale. The gorgeous voices and articulate musicality of the LAMC are heard in a program of compelling Christmas compositions by Poulenc, Distler, Ferko and Lauridsen.  Disney Hall.    (323) 850-2000.

Otmaro Ruiz

- Dec. 11. (Sun.)  Otmaro Ruiz.  Sunday night piano and bass duos at Vibrato are always sure to produce intriguing music. Expect that and more with the creative interaction between the adventurous composer/pianist Ruiz and the versatile bassist Pat SenatoreVibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- Dec. 11. (Sun.) ASMAC 2011 Holiday Celebration.  The American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers celebrates the season with a Holiday Party, Silent Auction and More.  The John Clayton Holiday Quartet performs, with Clayton, bass, Tamir Hendelman, piano, Graham Dechter, guitar, Kevin Kanner, drums.  Brunch at 11:30 a.m.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

San Francisco

- Dec. 10. (Sat.)  Ahmad Jamal.  The pianist Miles Davis often cited as a master or rhythmic space and time, Jamal is still demonstrating the essentials of how to bring life to the beat and imagination to the music.   The Herbst Theatre.  An SFJAZZ concert.   (866) 920-5299.

Chicago

= Dec. 8 – 11. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Benny Golson Quartet. Veteran tenor saxophonist and composer of some of the most memorable works in the Great American Jazz songbook, Golson in live performance is always something to remember.  Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

New York

- Dec. 6 – 10. (Tues. – Sat.)  The Frank Wess Quintet.  Approaching his ninetieth birthday in January, multi-instrumentalist Wess continues to be one of the definitive jazz flutist as well as a superb saxophonist.  Birdland.   (212) 581-3080.

The Manhattan Transfer

- Dec. 8 – 11. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Manhattan Transfer.  For almost four decades the Transfer has been an incomparable model for jazz ensemble singing of every imaginable style, always done with impeccable musicality.   Amazingly, they’re still at their best.  Hear them at every opportunity. The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

- Dec. 8 – 11. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Trumpeter Dave Douglas displays his full range of jazz versatility via performances with four different groups:  Thurs.: the Key Motion Quintet. Fri.: So Percussion.  Sat.: Orange Afternoons Quintet.  Sun.: Brass Ecstasy.  The Jazz Standard.  (212) 576-2232.

London

- April 6 – 10. (Tues. – Sat.)  Motown Christmas Review.   Natalie Williams and her Soul Family Band celebrate the holiday season with the music of Smoky Robinson, Gladys Knight, Marvin Gaye, the Supremes, Michael Jackson and a lot more.  Ronnie Scott’s.    020 7439 0747.

Tokyo

- April 10 – 12.  (Sat. – Mon.)  Kyle Eastwood.   Bassist Eastwood has garnered a great deal of visibility as the son of jazz fan Clint Eastwood.  But Kyle is a solid talent on his own well on his way to a sterling career as a talented bassist. Blue Note Tokyo.    03–5485-0088.


A Guide to the 54th Monterey Jazz Festival

September 8, 2011

By Michael Katz

In 1995 I decided on a whim that it might be fun to drive up the coast and see the Monterey Jazz Festival. A bunch of my favorites were performing there: Chick Corea, Gene Harris, Toots Thielemans and John Scofield. I hadn’t been to the Monterey Peninsula since a family trip in high school. I didn’t have tickets. I didn’t know where to stay. By sheer luck I found a B & B just off Del Monte Beach, about a twenty minute walk from the Monterey County Fairgrounds, where the festival takes place. After a brief encounter with some friendly scalpers, I found myself sitting in the Arena on a lovely fall evening, listening to a Friday night program from the side boxes. I was in Jazz Heaven. Everybody around me loved jazz, breathed jazz, spoke jazz. As I moved from the main arena into the smaller venues on the grounds, I noticed a phenomenon unheard of on the club scene: people listened to the music. They knew the players, or if they didn’t,  were willing to give them a chance. I heard Stephane Grappelli play hot jazz on the violin. I heard Steve Turre play cool jazz on a conch shell.

For the next several years I was an on-again off-again attendee, making my plans around family events and other interventions of life. By 2003, I noticed that an empty feeling pervaded when I missed the festival. I’d made friends in the Arena, among the regulars who sold me their extra seats. I’d made friends kibitzing around the festival. Even the scalpers remembered me. I became a regular, and next week will mark my 12th MJF. For those of you who are going for the first time, or are thinking about it, this year presents a great opportunity. The lineup is terrific, the economy has left some tickets available. So here’s one man’s guide to getting the most out of one of the world’s great music events.

MJF 54 takes place September 16-18. You could analyze the festival by days or music styles or food groups, but I’m going to approach it by venues, starting out with the Arena, also known as the Jimmy Lyons Stage. An Arena ticket gets you into all the venues at the festival, though if you only have a ticket for Saturday or Sunday night, you can’t gain admission onto the grounds until 4 pm. A Grounds ticket gets you into everywhere but the Arena, and is good all day.

 THE ARENA

The Arena, located on the west end of the fairgrounds, is the original venue for the festival. It seats 6500 and the tickets are renewable;  the audience thus includes many long term festival goers, which is great for financial continuity, but presents challenges for Artistic Director Tim Jackson, who must satisfy a loyal but aging base, while continuing to pump new blood into the lineup.

Joshua Redman

The headliners you see on the ad banners   all appear in the Arena: Herbie Hancock, Sonny Rollins, Joshua Redman, though many of them appear on the grounds as well. There are five concert blocks, three evenings and two afternoons, with themes that run throughout the festival. Friday night has an international flavor, with Japanese virtuoso Hiromi opening the session on piano and Poncho Sanchez closing with a Cubano Bop salute to Chano Pozo and Dizzy Gillespie featuring festival favorite Terence Blanchard. In between is John Pizzerelli with his wife, Jessica Molaskey and his dad Bucky; don’t be surprised if they get in with the international spirit of things. Saturday afternoon is the blues/roots program. Last year Trombone Shorty tore up the place, and this year the New Orleans jazz/funk returns with “An Afternoon in Treme,” an all-star collection of musicians from the HBO series, with Huey Lewis and the News bravely following.

One tradition at the Arena is the commissioned piece. It’s a particular challenge for an artist to compose something for a single performance. I’ve always found it a hit or miss proposition — try and be too profound and you will lose the spontaneity that jazz requires. Some of my favorites over the years were Gerald Wilson’s 40th Anniversary “Theme For Monterey,” Carla Bley’s 2005 “Appearing Nightly At The Black Orchid” and Dave and Iola Brubeck’s “Cannery Row  Suite” in 2006.

Geri Allen and Timeline

This year Geri Allen and Timeline will present a tribute Saturday night to Sammy Davis with tap dancer Maurice Chestnut. Following them is the MJF’s  Artist-in-Residence Joshua Redman, who will appear with his band James Farm. Herbie Hancock closes out the program. ‘Nuff said.

Sunday afternoon is dedicated to the high school and college bands. It tends to be a harder sell to veteran audiences, but it’s lots of fun. The Next Generation Band, a touring all-star group, has young musicians that will make you wonder just what the heck you were doing in high school and college. Chipping in will be three of the band’s alumni, the aforementioned Redman, pianist Benny Green and saxophonist Donnie McCaslin.

The second part of the program is designed to bring younger audiences in, and traditionalists sometimes chafe at the programming. They are often delightfully surprised;   two years ago young Brit Jamie Cullen gave a thoroughly engaging performance and last year West Africa’s Angelique Kidjo lit up the audience with her world rhythms. This year features Israeli keyboardist Idan Raichel and vocalist India.Arie. Sunday night closes the festival with a re-creation of the Miles Davis/Gil Evans oeuvre featuring Terence Blanchard and Miles Evans, followed by the indomitable Sonny Rollins.

THE GARDEN STAGE

I’ve always felt that the soul of the festival can be found at the Garden Stage, a small amphitheatre with bench and bleacher seating. There’s plenty of room to recline on blankets or set up portable chairs – some folks even climb into the oaks that surround the bowl. The festival opens up there Friday with a 6:30 set.

Robert Glasper

Usually a local Monterey area artist has that spot, but this year Featured Artist pianist Robert Glasper performs with his trio. Glasper will present different combos each night on the Grounds and Friday provides a wonderful opportunity for Arena ticket holders to catch him. The Garden Stage rollicks on Saturday afternoon with the blues/roots line-up. It’s great fun all day long, highlighted by the Treme group coming over from the Arena at 5:30. Saturday night, Cameroonian bassist/singer Richard Bona and Columbian singer/guitarist Raul Midon are a must see (they also perform Friday in Dizzy’s Den). I’ve always loved the late afternoon Sunday shows at the Garden Stage. The Festival seems to catch a second wind, with creative and sometimes unusual groupings. This year guitarist Bruce Forman brings his western themed Cow Bop in at 4, followed by saxophonist Tia Fuller at 5:30. Steve Coleman, who has been turning a lot of heads with his self-described “Spontaneous” music, closes the Garden slate at 7:30.

 HELPFUL HINTS

FOR THE OUTDOOR VENUES

1. Bring a seat cushion. Both the Arena card chairs and the Garden benches are hard on the keister. There’s usually some freebies given out by sponsors or themed ones for sale, but if you are like me and tend to donate your cushion to the person who follows you, it helps to have extras.

2. Dress for excess. You may find the fairgrounds shrouded in fog upon arrival in the afternoon, but the sun can be intense when it burns through. Bring a hat, shades, sun tan lotion and light long sleeves. At night, it can get downright chilly. I usually bring light-weight polypro layers in a rucksack and a warm hat. Remember, if you have a grounds pass you may not be able to leave the fairgrounds and come back.

 DIZZY’S DEN & THE NIGHTCLUB

These two venues, located across from each other on the east end of the grounds, are spacious yet intimate compared to the arena. When Arena artists come over for their late set, it is like a second set at a club– loose and swinging. While the Arena sticks to it’s time limitations, these venues give them room to stretch out. A few years ago Dee Dee Bridgewater started late and went well into the night.

Hiromi

This year Hiromi and Joshua Redman will follow up their Arena performances with late sets at Dizzy’s Den, and the Pizzarelli family will also perform a Saturday night set there. Friday night has a Latin feel in the Night Club, kicked off by vocalist Carmen Souza. Vocalists tend to do better in the intimacy of these venues. Check out Pam Rose and her “Wild Women of Song” at the Night Club on Saturday. Earlier this year I saw adventurous drummer Antonio Sanchez with his Migration band featuring bassist Scott Colley and tenor player Donnie McCaslin put on a great show in LA. Saturday night at the Night Club, Sanchez plays under Colley’s leadership, with another MJF favorite, Chris Potter on tenor. Donnie McCaslin follows with his own group.

Sunday afternoon has the dynamite high school bands at the Night Club. I heartily recommend that you support these kids and urge you not to forget that music programs in the schools are in jeopardy everywhere. Once at the festival, you can help simply by purchasing a program, and you will hear about other ways as well.

There are some great pairings Sunday night. The traditional B-3 organ blowout is in Dizzy’s Den, starting with Will Blades and concluding with Joey DeFrancesco and  renowned vibist Bobby Hutcherson. Over at the Night Club, Benny Green leads a program of Monk tunes with Donald Harrison on the sax. The Robert Glasper Experiment concludes with Stokely Williams.

 THE COFFEE HOUSE

There may not be a better place to hear small combos than the Coffee House, located between the Arena and the Garden Stage, annexed to a photo gallery. The place is usually packed, the audiences cued in; you can hear a pin drop during the performances. Pianists are featured each night, playing multiple sets.

Helen Sung

Helen Sung, a native Houstonian who has been getting lots of attention in New York, brings her trio in Friday night, with the versatile Bill Carrothers leading a trio on Saturday night and former prodigy Eldar Djangirov, from K.C. via Kyrgyzstan, playing two solo sets Sunday night. There’s an eclectic assortment of music in the afternoon sessions, including this year’s Berklee College of Music group, a Flamenco quintet. If I have one regret at the festival’s end, it’s usually the failure to spend enough time at the Coffee House.

 COURTYARD STAGE

Known to us Chicago folk as the Backroom West, this small stage just off the main entrance features our favorite singer/pianist Judy Roberts playing seven sets over the course of the festival accompanied by Greg Fishman on sax. Judy is a delight whether singing or playing the Yamaha AvantGrand, so take your dinner to the nearby picnic tables and check her out.

 ESOTERICA

1. There’s all sorts of great food on the fairgrounds midway. I’m partial to barbecue and peach cobbler, but there’s everything from salads to Thai to kabobs. Eat ‘N Enjoy. Plenty of beer and wine, too.

2. There are also panel discussions and films shown mostly during the afternoon. Check the schedule for details.

3.  Amoeba Music has taken over the festival CD sales, so look for a dramatic improvement over the last couple of years when Best Buy had the concession.

4. If you want a tee shirt, get it Friday night, when all the sizes and colors are in stock.

5. It ain’t over til it’s over. If you’re coming out of the Arena, check out the grounds venues on your way out. Last year drummer Roy Haynes’ extended closing set provided a perfect coda to the festival.

 All the MJF information is available at: http://www.montereyjazzfestival.org/2011/home

Joshua Redman photo by Tony Gieske


Picks of the Week: June 28 – July 4

June 28, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- June 28. (Tues.)  Satoko Fujii.  The envelope stretching music of pianist Fujii, a brilliant composer/improviser will be enhanced by the presence of the similarly adventurous trumpeter (and her husband) Natsuki TamuraThe Blue Whale.    (213) 620-0908.

Bob Sheppard

- June 29. (Wed.)  Bob Sheppard’s East West Band. Saxophonist-flutist Sheppard can always be counted on for a provocative evening of world class jazz.  This time out, he juxtaposes East Coast and West Coast, with Larry Koonse (L.A.), guitar. Anthony Pinciotti (N.Y.) drums, Ed Howard (N.Y.), bass.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- June 29. (Wed.)  Rene Marie.  She got a late start as a jazz singer, but Marie hasn’t wasted any time since she made her professional debut after she turned 40.  She’ll celebrate the release of her fascinating new CD, Voice of My Beautiful Country. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- June 30. (Thurs.)  Elliot Caine Quartet.  Music on the Main Jazz Series.   Trumpeter/eye doctor Caine and his players perform bebop driven jazz in what is surely one of the summer’s most appealing musical settings.  Descanso Gardens .  (818) 949-4200.

- June 30. (Thurs.)  Janis Mann Quartet. Singer Mann’s rich-toned voice and intimate way with a song affirm her status as one of the Southland’s finest jazz vocal artists. Charlie O’s.   (818) 994-3058.

Rondi Charleston

- June 30. (Thurs.) Rondi Charleston. A story teller at heart, Charleston applies her warm singing style to an exploration of the inner essence of a song.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- July 1. (Fri.)  Brian Scanlon Quartet.  Versatile saxophonist Scanlon’s resume reaches from solid jazz with Dizzy Gillespie to a stint with the NBC Orchestra and a busy schedule as a studio musician.  In his spare time he teaches jazz at Pepperdine.  But on this night, he’ll be doing it all his own way, backed by pianist Theo Saunders, bassist Pat Senatore and drummer Kendall KayVibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

Ballet Folclorico do Brasil

- July 2. (Sat.)  Ballet Folclorico do Brasil. Expect an evening of colorful, high energy, terpsichorean delights when the dancers, capoeiristas and musicians of the Folclorico take the stage with their far-reaching expressions of the rich pleasures of Brazilian culture. Ford Amphitheatre.    (323) 461-3673.

- July 2 – 4. ( Sat. – Mon.)  July 4th Spectacular with Hall & Oates. The pop hit-making duo of Daryl Hall and John Oates showcase an evening of their classics with Thomas Wilkins and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.  And don’t forget the always sensational July 4th fireworks.  The Hollywood Bowl. (323) 850-2000.  

San Francisco

- July 1 – 3. (Fri. – Sun.)  James Cotton’s Superharp Band.  The Fourth of July Weekend Blues Festival.  Blues legend Cotton has shared stages with everyone from the Rolling Stones and Janis Joplin to  B.B. King and Sam & Dave.  On this blues driven appearance, he’ll be trading licks with harpist Momo Buford and guitarist Hubert SumlinYoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.

- July 1 – 3. (Fri. – Sun.)  Ottmar Liebert & Luna Negra.  Multiple Grammy Award-nominated guitarist Liebert has been defining the nouveau flamenco style since the ‘90s.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.     (415) 655-5600.

Seattle

Milton Nascimento

- June 28 & 29. (Tues. & Wed.)  Milton Nascimento.  He’s one of the great Brazilian artists of song – as a performer and a writer.  Approaching 69, he is still a vibrant performer, his music reaching out to bring Brazilian roots and American jazz and rock into a warm embrace.  Jazz Alley.    (206) 441-9729.

Chicago

- June 30 – July 3. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Larry Coryell Trio.  Guitarist Coryell has been crossing over from rock to blues to jazz and beyond since the ‘60s.  Although he doesn’t often receive the credit he deserves, his impact on the fusion of the post bop era was vital.  Jazz Showcase.   (312) 360-0234.

New York

- June 28 – July 3. (Tues. – Sun.)  Django Reinhardt Festival, starring the Young Lions of Gypsy Jazz.  Featuring Samson Schmitt, guitar, Ludovic Beier, accordion, Pierre Blanchard, violin, Andreas Oberg, guitar, Brian Torff, bass.  With special guests Anat Cohen, James Carter, Joel Frahm, Edmar Castaneda, Claudio Roditi. Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

Jon Hendricks

Annie Ross

- June 28 & 29. (Tues. & Wed.) Jon Hendricks and Annie Ross.  Don’t miss this one.  Two of the great principals of the legendary Lambert, Hendricks & Ross trio get together for a stirring reunion.  The presence of the lively, teen-age jazz singer Nikki Yanofsky on Tuesday will undoubtedly spice things up even more.  The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

London

July 4 & 5. (Mon. & Tues.)  The Gary Burton Quartet.  Vibist Burton’s world class ensemble features his frequent musical companion, rising young guitarist Julian Lage, drummer Antonio Sanchez and bassist Jorge RoederRonnie Scott’s.    020 7439 0747.

Paris

Lee Ritenour

- July 30 (Wed.)  Lee Ritenour and Friends.  Guitarist Ritenour continues his European tour with a stop in France, displaying the far-ranging versatility and imagination that have made him one of the prime contemporary jazz practitioners of his art.  New Morning.    01 45 23 51 41.

Tokyo

- June 3 – 6. (Sun. – Wed.)  Sadao Watanabe.  Alto saxophonist Watanabe is one of Japan’s finest gifts to jazz.  Although his style is rooted in the complexities of bebop, he enhances it with a rich improvisational imagination of his own.  Blue Note Tokyo.   03-5485-0088.

Bob Sheppard and Annie Ross photos by Tony Gieske.


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