Picks of the Week: September 9 – 14 in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, London, Copenhagen, Milan and Tokyo

September 9, 2014

 

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Sept. 11. (Thurs.) The Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Master Chorale, conducted by Juanjo Mena finish the summer’s classical season at the Hollywood Bowl with a grand performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, and Leonard Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. Hollywood Bowl. (323) 850-2000.

- Sept. 11. (Thurs.) The Fazioli Piano Series. Pianist Eric Huebner plays works by by Luciano Berio, Paolo Cavallone, Nathan Heidelberger, Roger Reynolds, Salvatore Sciarrino, and Eric Wubbels on the much honored (with good reason) Fazioli piano. The Italian Cultural Institute of Los Angeles. (310) 443-3250.

Barbara Morrison (Photo by Bonnie Perkinson)

- Sept. 12 & 13 (Fri. – Sun.) Barbara Morrison 65th birthday and CD release celebration. It’s a memorable weekend for one of Los Angeles’ greatest jazz treasures. She should be heard at every opportunity. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (223) 466-2210.

- Sept. 12. (Fri.) Don Rader Quartet. Trumpeter Rader has been a first call Southland artist for decades, performing every imaginable kind of music with ease and musicality. Here he’s in the spotlight, displaying his versatile musical wares. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- Sept. 12 & 13. (Fri. & Sat.) Mary Bogue. Cabaret artist Bogue, a unique stylist, has been described by Cabaret Scenes Magazine as “kind of throw-back to the red-hot mamas…electrifying, sassy, and sexy.” The Gardenia. (323) 467-7444.

Sept. 13. (Sat.) Charles Aznavour. The great French singer/songwriter makes a rare Southland appearance celebrating his 90th birthday.  The performance will be a banquet of classic songs, sung by one of the iconic figures in the history of international song.    The Greek Theatre(323) 665-5857.

San Francisco

Eliane Elias (Photo by Bonnie Perkinson)

- Sept. 11 – 14, (Thurs. – Sun.) Eliane Elias. The gifted Brazilian singer/pianist presents four fascinating evenings of music: Thurs: Celebrating Getz/Gilberto; Fri: Chet Baker Tribute; Sat: Night in Bahia; Sun: Bill Evans Salute. Don’t miss any of them. An SFJAZZ program at Miner Auditorium. r (866) 920-5299.

Chicago

- Sept. 11 – 14. (Thurs. – Sun.) Robert Glasper Trio. Comfortably positioned on the cutting edge of contemporary jazz, pianist Glasper and his players are offering fascinating new views of 21st century improvisational music. The Jazz Showcase. (312) 360-0234.

New York City

Dr, Lonnie Smith

Dr, Lonnie Smith

- Sept. 12 – 14. (Fri. – Sun.) Dr. Lonnie Smith.  Organ master Smith’s performances are unique explorations of an instrument with orchestral potential. “The organ is like the sunlight, rain and thunder,” says Smith. “It’s all the worldly sounds to me!” The Jazz Standard.  (212) 576-2232.

London

- Sept. 10 – 13 (Wed. – Sat.) “Brubecks Play Brubeck” featuring Darius, Chris and Dan Brubeck. The talented offpspring of Dave Brubeck display the remarkable genetic musical heritage they’ve received from their legendary father. Ronnie Scott’s.  +44 20 7439 0747.

Copenhagen

Sept, 13, (Sat.) Robert Lakatos. Hungarian jazz pianist Lakatos, one of Europe’s most highly praised jazz artists, is joined by Denmark’s Jesper Lundgaard, bass and Alex Riel, drums in a convincing display of the stunningly high level of jazz artistry on the continent. Jazzhus Montmartre.  +45 31 72 34 94.

Milan

The Bad Plus (Dave King, Ethan Iverson, Reid Anderson)

- Sept. 11. (Thurs,.) The Bad Plus. The creatively ambitious trio of pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer Dave King has been exploring new musical vistas since the 1990s, touching on everything from new views of the blues to their interpretation of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. Blue Note Milano.  +39 02 6901 6888.

Tokyo

- Sept. 11 & 12. (Thurs. & Fri.) The Quartet Legend, featuring Kenny Barron, Ron Carter, Benny Golson and Lenny White. With a line-up of those names, this stellar group might more accurately be called “The Legendary Quartet.” Here’s a rare opportunity to hear them together. The Blue Note Tokyo. +81 3-5485-0088.

 


Picks of the Week: Sept. 4 – 8

September 4, 2013

By Don Heckman

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

Los Angeles

Roy Hargrove

Roy Hargrove

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

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

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

Blue Man Group

Blue Man Group

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

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

ABBA Fest

ABBA Fest

San Francisco

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

Seattle

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

Washington, D.C.

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

New York City

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

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

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

Berlin

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

Copenhagen

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

Tokyo

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

Gregory Porter

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


Picks of the Week: July 9 – 14

July 9, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Michael Tilson Thomas

Michael Tilson Thomas

- July 9. (Tues.)  Michael Tilson-Thomas conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the Mahler Symphony No. 2. “Resurrection.”  With soprano Kiera Duffy, mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and the Los Angeles Master Chorale.  The Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

- July 10. (Wed.)  Queen Latifa. Roy Ayers.  The 2013 jazz summer season at the Bowl opens with the soaring vocals of Queen Latifa and the irresistible funk rhythms of vibist Ayers. Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- July 10. (Wed.)  Diane Marino. Classically trained pianist/singer Marino makes a rare Southland appearance.  She’s backed by Clayton Cameron, drums, Frank Marino, bass and Rickey Woodard, saxophone & flute.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- July 10. (Wed.)  Josh Nelson and Pat Senatore Duo.  A cross-generational jazz partnership combines rapidly emerging pianist Nelson with veteran bassist Senatore.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

WTrevor Mcshane

WTrevor Mcshane

- July 11. (Thurs.)  Trevor McShane.  It’s really the nom de plume of  singer/songwriter Neville Johnson, an attorney who has been pursuing his musical ambitions since the release of his first album in 2000.  Molly Malones. (323) 935-1577.

- July 12. (Fri.)  Cat Conner, Gene Cipriano, Robert Chiodini and Dick Nash.  This impressive collection of L.A. jazz stars finish up their two year run at the Studio City venue, which is closing for renovations. The Out Take Bistro.   (818) 760-1111.

- July 12. (Fri.)  David Ornette Cherry. Pianist/composer Cherry, the son of adventurous jazz trumpeter Don Cherry, showcases his own ambitious talents in a program combining his original works with compositions by his father. LACMA.    (323) 857-6000.

Barbara Morrison

Barbara Morrison

- Jan. 12 & 13. (Fri. & Sat.)  Barbara Morrison.  The remarkable Ms. Morrison, recovering courageously from serious medical problems, celebrates the release of her new CD, A Sunday Kind of Love.  Catalina Bar & Grill. (223) 466-2210.

- July 13. (Sat.)  Songfest Sings America: Celebrating Leonard Bernstein.  A stirring evening dedicated to the far-ranging music of Bernstein, from West Side Story to On the Town and much more.   Michael Barrett conducts and there will be a pre-performance conversation between Alan Chapman and Bernstein’s daughter, JamieGrand Performances.    (213) 687-2159.

- July 14. (Sun.)  ‘70s Soul JamThe Stylistics, Peaches & Herb, Rose Royce, Main Ingredient featuring Cuba Gooding Sr. and more in an evening of body-moving soul rhythms.  Greek Theatre.     (323) 665-5857.

San Francisco

Halie Loren

Halie Loren

- July 11. (Thurs.)  Halie Loren.  Award-winning singer/songwriter has been establishing herself as one of the most intriguing talents of her generation.  Check HERE to read a recent iRoM review of a Loren CD.     Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

Seattle

July 11 – 14. (Thurs. – Sun.)  John Mayall.  He’s not leading his Blues Breakers, but veteran blues rock guitarist is still a dynamically exciting blues performer.  Jazz Alley.   (206) 441-9729.

New York

- July 9. (Tues.)  Geoff Keezer.  Grammy-nominated pianist/arranger/composer Keezer, always a uniquely fascinating performer, celebrates the release of his solo piano album, Heart of the Piano.  Birdland.   (212) 581-3080.

- July 11 – 14. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Duke Ellington Orchestra.  Yes, it’s a “ghost” band, striving with respectful musicality to keep the Ellington repertoire alive and swinging.  The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

London

Cassandra WIlson

Cassandra WIlson

- July 9 – 11.  (Tues. – Thurs.)  Cassandra Wilson.  There are plenty of good reasons why jazz vocalist Wilson is a Grammy award winner – all of them present in her intimately engaging sound and rich musicality.  Ronnie Scott’s.   +44 20 7439 0747.

Paris

- July 11. (Thurs.)  The Terence Blanchard Quintet.  Trumpeter/composer Blanchard’s far-reaching career has balanced his hard-driving jazz style with frequent assignments (often with Spike Lee) as a film composer. New Morning.    +33 1 45 23 51 41

Tokyo

- July 12 & 13. (Fri. & Sat.)  Pablo Ziegler New York Quartet.  Argentine pianist/composer Ziegler leads his New York players in a program of captivating Nuevo tango.  Tokyo Blue Note.  +81 3-5485-0088.

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Barbara Morrison photo by Bonnie Perkinson. 


Picks of the Week: June 5 – 9

June 5, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Barbara Morrison

Barbara Morrison

- June 5. (Wed.) Barbara Morrison.  Despite her difficult medical problems, the courageous, musically versatile Ms. Morrison continues to make her ever-appealing singing available to Los Angeles audiences.  Herb Alpert’s Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.  She also performs at Steamers in Fullerton on June 7 & 8 (Fri. & Sat.).  (714) 871-8800.

- June 5. (Wed.)  Sally Kellerman.  Hot Lips is back again to display her inimitable way with a song.  She’s backed by the superb support of the Andy Langham TrioVitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- June 6. (Thurs.)  The Josh Nelson Trio with Anthony Wilson.  Pianist Nelson, one of the Southland’s important first-call players, is always a pleasure to hear with his own trio – especially when gifted guitarist Wilson is a musical guest..  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- June 6. (Thurs.)  Joanne Tatham“Soundtrack New York” Music From Movies Made in Manhattan.”  Vocalist Tatham, adept at both cabaret and jazz has created a program of appealing songs based on an intriguing premise. Catalina Bar & Grill. http://www.catalinajazzclub.com  (323) 466-2210.

Jackie Ryan

Jackie Ryan

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- June 7. (Fri.) The Jon Mayer Trio with Jackie Ryan.  It’s a great combination: Pianist Mayer’s far-ranging versatility, rooted in his deeply authentic jazz skills; and Ryan’s similarly sophisticated musicality and lyrical story-telling qualities.  Hear them together in this rare booking. Click HERE to read a recent iRoM review of Jackie Ryan.   Jazz at LACMA.  (323) 857-6000.

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- June 7. (Fri.)  Dolores Scozzesi and Mark Winkler“The Great Singer/Songwriters of the Seventies.”  Scozzesi and Winkler sing the songs of Laura Nyro, Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman and more.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Garrison Keillor

Garrison Keillor

- June 7. (Fri.)  Prairie Home Companion. The entertaining Garrison Keillor  and his live radio-in-living-color program make one of their rare appearances in the Southland.  The Greek Theatre.    (323) 665-5857.

- June 8. (Sat.)  An Evening with Rufus Wainwright.  Singer/songwriter has an impressive lineage: Loudon Wainwright III is his father; Kate McGarrigle is his mother.  But he has already established a musical voice of his own.  Valley Performing Arts Center.    (818) 677-8800.

- June 8. (Sat.)  Brenda Russell.  The musically eclectic singer/songwriter Russell, whose career has moved through soul, pop, jazz and dance genres, is also a gifted lyricist and songwriter.  Catalina Bar & Grill. http://www.catalinajazzclub.com  (323) 466-2210.

- June 8. (Sat.)  Andrea Bocelli.  The hugely popular Italian singer performs with soprano Maria Aleida and the Los Angeles Festival Orchestra, conducted by Eugene Kohn. (Note that this is a lease event.)  The Hollywood Bowl.    (323) 850-2000.

Bill Cosby

Bill Cosby

- June 9. (Sun.)  Bill Cosby.  The wit, the humor and the engaging personality of Bill Cosby are irresistible.  Retired from his role as emcee of the Playboy Jazz Festival, he performs in Los Angles a week before this year’s Festival takes place.  Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.    (562) 916-8501.

Chicago

- June 6 – 9. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Steve Turre Quartet.  Trombonist Turre is always a pleasure to hear, whether he’s playing his primary instrument or displaying his remarkable ability to make music from conch shells. Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

Washington D.C.

Tuck & Patti

Tuck & Patti

- June 7 – 9.  (Fri. – Sun.)  Tuck & Patti.   After more than three decades together, the duo of guitarist Tuck and singer Patti (who were married in 1983) continue to make remarkable music together.  Click HERE to read a recent iRoM review of Tuck & Patti in an L.A. performance.   Blues Alley.   (202) 337-4141.

New York City

June 5 – 9. (Wed. – Sun.)  Stefano Bollani Trio and the Paolo Fresu-Uri Caine Duo.  An evening of prime jazz from some of Italy’s world-class artists, sponsored by Umbria Jazz and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.

Copenhagen

- Junes 7. (Friday)  Hugo Rasmussen Trio.  Bassist Rasmussen, an icon of Danish jazz, blends his masterful musical maturity with the youthful energies of tenor saxophonist Jakob Dinesen, pianist Heine Hansen and drummer Morten Ero Jazzhus Montmartre.    +45 31 72 34 94.

eTokyo

- June 6 – 8. (Thurs. – Sat.) Chick Corea/Stanley Clarke Trio with drummer Marcus Gilmore.  All-star trios don’t get any better than this one combining the long-term creative linkage of Corea and Clarke with the enthusiastic drumming of Gilmore.  Blue Note Tokyo. 6  +81 3-5485-0088.

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Barbara Morrison photo by Bonnie Perkinson.

Jackie Ryan photo and Tuck & Patti photo by Faith Frenz.


Picks of the Week: April 24 – 28

April 24, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Barbara Morrison

Barbara Morrison

- April 24. (Wed.) Barbara Morrison.  A legend in her own right, the versatile Ms. Morrison celebrates the music of the iconic Ella Fitzgerald.  She’ll be backed by pianist Stuart Elster, bassist Pat Senatore and drummer Lee SpathVibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

-April 24. (Wed.)  Miles Evans Big Band.  Gil Evan’s trumpet-playing son (and Miles Davis namesake) keeps his father’s superb music alive, while taking it into compelling new musical areas.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (223) 466-2210.

- April 25.  (Thurs.)  Cat’s Birthday Bash. Singer Cat Conner celebrates with an evening of prime jazz.  Her special guests include singer Lee Hartley and woodwind master Gene “Cip” Cipriano, with stellar backing provided by pianist Christian Jacob, bassist Chuck Berghofer and drummer Steve SchaefferVitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- April 25. (Thurs.)  Nutty.  Seven piece Nutty is a one of a kind band, applying their ‘Mashups” style to a blend of “jazz and rock ‘n’ roll, served up with a swinging, old school Vegas swagger.” They perform at L.A.’s elegant new jazz room.  H.O.M.E.  l  (310) 271-4663.

Rita Coolidge

- April 25 – 27. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Rita Coolidge. Grammy-winning singer Coolidge – know as “Delta Lady” after Leon Russell wrote the song for her – is still, at 67, a convincing vocal practitioner in the pop and soft rock genres.   Catalina Bar & Grill.  (223) 466-2210.

- April 26. (Fri.) An Evening with Medeski, Martin & Wood.  M, M & W have been exploring new genre combinations – jazz funk, jazz fusion, avant-jazz, etc. – for two decades.  And they’re still working at the cutting edge.  CAP UCLA at Royce Hall.   (310) 825-2101.

- April 26 – 28. (Fri. – Sun.)  Bringuier and Thibaudet with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  An evening of French delights.  French conductor Lionel Bringuier and French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet perform a program of Ravel and Saint-Saens.  Disney Hall.   (323) 850-2000.

- April 27. (Sat.)  Larry Koonse – Alan Pasqua Duo.  Two of the Southland’s most highly praised players, first call rhythm section experts and superb soloists in their own right, get together in a duo setting.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- April 28. (Sun.)  The Susie Hansen Latin Jazz Band.  She’s a blonde girl from the mid-West who plays violin, but Hansen has been providing some of L.A.’s most authentic and dynamic Latin jazz, salsa and swing for more than two decades.  She’ll be joined by guest vocalist Valerie Petersen. Be prepared to dance in the aisles.  The Huntington Beach Art Center.  www.huntingtonbeachartcenter.org  (714) 536-5258.

San Francisco

Chick Corea

Chick Corea

- April 25 – 28. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Chick Corea & the Vigil.  Always in search of newly expressive music, the inimitable Corea performs with his newest band, featuring saxophonist Tim Garland, bassist Hadrien Feraud, guitarist Charles Altura and drummer Marcus GilmoreYoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.

New York City

- April 25 – 27. (Thurs. – Sat.) Celebrating Duke EllingtonWynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra explore their deeply insightful understanding of the classic Ellington musical canon.  Jazz At Lincoln Center’s Rose Theatre.    (212) 258-9595.

Boston

- April 27. (Sat.)  Gato Barbieri. Veteran Argentine saxophonist Barbieri has moved across genres from the free jazz of the ‘60s to his Latin jazz specialties of the ‘70s and beyond. He’ll no doubt play his hit version of his music for the film Last Tango In Paris.    Regatta Bar.   (617) 661-5000.

Milan

Avishai Cohen

Avishai Cohen

- April 28 (Sun.)  Avishai Cohen, Omer Avital and Iago Fernandez Camano. Critically praised Israeli trumpeter Cohen performs in a true international jazz trio with bassist Omer Avital and drummer Iago Fernandez CamanoBlue Note Milano.    +39 02 6901 6888.

Tokyo

- April 28 & 29. (Sun. & Mon.)  The Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra featuring Lew Tabackin.  Pianist/composer Akiyoshi and her husband, saxophonist Tabackin return to Japan to perform with Akiyoshi’s superb big jazz band. Blue Note Tokyo.   +81 3-5485-0088.


Picks of the Week: Nov. 21 – 25

November 21, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Nov. 23. (Fri.)  Chuck Manning-John Daversa Quartet.  Saxophonist Manning and trumpeter Daversa get together for an evening of adventurous improvisation.  They’re backed by Pat Senatore, bass and Dick Weller, drums.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- Nov. 23. (Fri.)  Deana Martin.  Yes, she’s Dean Martin’s daughter.  But Deana has transformed her musical inheritance into an appealing style of her own.  Catalina Bar & Grill  (323) 466-2210.

Ahmad Jamal

- Nov. 24. (Sat.) Ahmad Jamal.  The great jazz pianist, admired by Miles Davis, as well as  his legions of fans, makes a rare Southland appearance.  Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.    (714) 556-2787.

- Nov. 25. (Sun.)  Harry Allen and Larry Goldings.  Tenor saxophonist Allen combines a mainstream style with a contemporary imagination.  Keyboardist Goldings provides ideal backing, along with Chuck Berghofer, bass and Roy McCurdy, drums.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Nov. 25. (Sun.)  “A Tribute To Dinah Washington: Queen of the Blues.  Barbara Morrison with the BMPAC All Stars Band conducted by John Stephens. Who better than the versatile blues mistress Barbara Morrison to honor the Dinah Washington musical memory. Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

Chicago

Roberta Gambarini

- Nov. 21 – 25. (Wed. – Sun.)  Roberta Gambarini. Italian native Gambarini has thoroughly established herself as one of the world’s finest jazz singers, regardless of origin. Hear her whenever you can.  Jazz Showcase.  http://www.jazzshowcase.com  (312) 360-0234.

New York

- Nov. 21 – 24. (Wed. – Sat.) Cyrille Aimee. With a French gypsy background and Dominican roots, Aimee – a runner up in the Thelonious Monk vocal competition – enhances her jazz skills with world music seasoning.  Birdland.     (212) 581-3080.

- Nov. 21 – 25.  (Wed. – Sun.)  Jason Moran and the Bandwagon. Currently one of the most critically praised jazz pianist/composers, Moran performs in a classic trio setting with  Taurus Mateen, bass, and Nasheet Waits, drums.  Village Vanguard.   (212) 255-4037.

Maria Schneider

- Nov. 20 – 25. (Tues. – Sun.)  The Maria Schneider Orchestra.  Schneider’s far-reaching musical imagination has brought compelling new timbres and adventurous performances to the classic big band setting. Jazz Standard.    (212) 889-2005.

Copenhagen

- Nov. 22 – 24. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Sinne Eeg.  One of Denmark’s – and Europe’s – most admired jazz singers, Eeg celebrates the release of her new album, The Beauty of Sadness, recorded with a Danish national orchestra and her own quartet.   Jazzhus Montmartre.  (+45) 70 15 65 65.

Paris

Ravi Coltrane

- Nov. 23. (Fri.) The New Ravi Coltrane Quartet.  John Coltrane’s gifted, saxophone playing son Ravi is keeping the creative legacy of his father alive and well.  Paris New Morning.   01 45 23 51 41.

Milan

- Nov. 21 – 24. (Wed. – Sat.)  Al Di Meola. Master guitarist Di Meola has an impressive  resume, reaching from his electric jazz fusion with Return to Forever to his superb solo acoustic outings.   Blue Note Milano.   02.69016888.

Tokyo

Nov. 22 – 25. (Thurs. – Sun.) and Nov. 27 & 28. (Tues. & Wed.)  Natalie Cole.  Nat ‘King” Cole’s daughter is a major star in her own right, singing with the authentic jazz inflections characteristic of her father’s finest work.  Blue Note Tokyo.   03.5485.0088.


The Playboy Jazz Festival 2012: Sunday’s Program at the Hollywood Bowl

June 19, 2012

 

By Devon Wendell

Photos by Bonnie Perkinson

This year’s choice of performers at The 34th Annual Playboy Jazz Festival may have had both the serious jazz fan and struggling jazz musician recoiling in disgust, but even the most stubborn jazz aficionado can’t deny that fun and diversity dominated the festival.

Before covering Sunday’s highlights, we’ll follow up on Mike Katz’s Saturday review with a few additional thoughts about some of the outstanding moments in Saturday’s program.

The first is The Cos Of Good Music (Farid Barron: piano, Dwayne Burno: bass, Ndugo Chancler: drums, Tia Fuller: alto sax, Mathew Garrison: bass guitar, Ingrid Jensen: trumpet and flugelhorn, Babatunde Lea: Percussion, and Erena Terakubo on alto sax.)  Out of all of these world class musicians handpicked by Bill Cosby, it was the three women of the reeds (Fuller, Jensen, and Terakubo) who stole the spotlight.  The group’s rendition of the Ray Noble classic “Cherokee” (which helped a young Charlie Parker find his own innovative technique) was one of the greatest moments of the entire festival.   During this difficult composition, Fuller, Jensen, and Terakubo, made it apparent that they are well versed in the vocabulary of both the be-bop and hard-bop genres.  From Bird, Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis, to Phil Woods, John Coltrane and Lee Morgan, the ladies could do it all and without mere mimicking.  They had their own feminine slant to the music, which made it even more special. No male musicians at the Festival could match the virtuosity of these young women.  You would not believe that Terakubo is only 20 years old by her command, technique, and soul on the alto saxophone. Boney James (also on the bill on Saturday) could learn volumes from Terakubo.

Bill Cosby ant the Cos of Good Music

Cosby took the microphone and went into the humorous “Hikky Burr” (which Cosby had originally recorded with Quincy Jones in ’69), which gave Fuller, Jensen, and Terakubo a chance to show off their blues chops. They seemed totally at ease and didn’t sound like over-trained jazz musicians trying to play blues, which often happens on songs like this. Cosby’s vocals were playful and funny and became the perfect way to bid him farewell as Master Of Ceremonies at The Playboy Jazz Festival.

The authentic Louisiana funk of The Soul Rebels (Leo Nocentelli: guitar, Ivan Neville: keyboards and vocals, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux: vocals, Lumar Leblanc: snare drum, Derrick Moss: bass drum, Julian Gosin, Marcus Hubbard: trumpets, Paul Robertson, Corey Peyton: trombones, Erion Williams: saxophone, and Edward Lee Jr., sousaphone.) was another exhilarating part of Saturday’s show. The group’s big brass Creole soul arrangements of Michael Jackson’s “Off The Wall” and Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish” were filled with harmonic textures and rhythmic layers that made these renditions more compelling than the originals.

Seeing original Meter’s guitarist Leo Nocentelli with keyboardist Ivan Neville, performing The Meter’s classic “Hey Pocky A -Way” in this big band setting was a brilliant departure from the original recording from 1974.  Big Chief Monk Boudreaux joined the band on his topical piece “Find The Levee And Burn It Down.” And Nocentelli’s wonderfully primitive bare bones rhythm guitar chops gave this Bayou swamp boogie a Reggae groove twist.

Sunday’s lineup was an eclectic mix of jazz, fusion, blues, and even pop.  The attentive and well rehearsed Calabasas High School Band under the direction of Joshua Barroll kicked of the day’s program.

Mixing Afro-Cuban funk with reggae, KG Omulo was the perfect band for the Bowl audience. On originals such as “Moving Train,” “Quality Woman,” “Acuna” and “No Means No,” Omulo and his band sounded like a cross between Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Bob Marley And The Wailers, and early Funkadelic. Guitarist Michael Schmidt’s screaming wah-wah guitar locked in with bassist Dave Whitaker’s solid bass lines.  Omulo is also a charismatic vocalist and front man.  But it did feel as though Omulo and his band would have had a greater impact had they performed later in the day or evening.

Although the Cookers consisted of some legendary jazz players (Eddie Henderson: trumpet, Billy Harper: tenor sax, Craig Handy: alto sax and flute, David Weiss: trumpet, George Cables: piano, Cecil McBee: bass, and Billy Hart on drums), their energy and softness did anything but cook.

The Cookers (Billy Harper, David Weiss, Eddie Henderson, Craig Handy)

Harper’s composition “Capra Black,” and McBee’s “Peace Maker” sounded like Miles Smiles era modal jazz, but needed something more.  All of these seasoned musicians played strong solos but the material seemed redundant. Cables’ dynamic and inventive piano playing stood out among the rest of the group. Overall, however, the Cookers did more simmering than cooking.

Chico Trujillo brought the pace back up from the second they took the stage with their Chilean cumbia, ska, and Latin rhythms. Though the band was energetic and high spirited in its stage presence (especially lead singer Macha), the music was repetitive and sloppy.  And, though the focus was on the percussionists and lead singer, it was saxophonist Fela, and trumpeter Zorrita, along with keyboardist Joselo, who held together the band’s melodies.

Terri Lyne Carrington and bassist Mimi Jones

Terri Lyne Carrington’s Mosaic Project played one of the most tasteful and consistently brilliant sets of the day — one of the highlights of the entire Festival. Along with Carrington on drums, the Mosaic Project consisted of Tia Fuller: alto sax, Ingrid Jensen: trumpet (both also featured on The Cos Of Good Music), Mimi Jones: bass, Patrice Rushen and Helen Sung: piano, and Linda Taylor on guitar with special guest vocalists.

Nona Hendryx added her one of a kind vocal style on her classic “Transformation” (Re-recorded on The Mosaic Project album), Gretchen Parlato (who has proven to be one of the finest vocalists in contemporary jazz) brought her sweet sultry sound to “Simply Beautiful.” The melodic interaction between pianists Rushen and Sung was astounding. Carrington’s strength as a drummer is in her subtlety. Her flourishes were so delicate behind Dianne Reeves on “Echo,” that it almost sounded as if she were laying out completely — even though if she were, the foundation would have been lost. It takes a true musical thinker to pull that off successfully.

Angela Davis’ spoken word addition to “Echo” was a startling presentation of her “New Freedom movement.”  Fuller and Jensen’s horn lines wove in and out of the melody, creating a dream-like effect that was a perfect match with Carmen Lundy’s vocals on Geri Allen’s “Unconditional Love.”  The music was hypnotic and sensual on “Soul Talk” with Dee Dee Bridgewater on vocals.  Every note between Jensen, Fuller, Rushen, Sung, Jones, and guitarist Linda Taylor was perfectly placed without losing spontaneity.

On “Show me a sign,” Carrington ended the piece with a thunderous, Art Blakey-esque drum solo.  Bill Cosby was so blown away that he took the mic and thanked Carrington on behalf of the Playboy Jazz festival, urging her to stand and take a bow.

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band (Mark Braud: trumpet, vocals,band leader, Ben Jaffe: sousaphone, bass, creative director, Rickie Monie: piano, musical director, Joe Lastie Jr.: drums, Clint Maedgan: saxophone, vocals, Charlie Gabriel: clarinet, vocals, Freddie Lonzo: trombone, vocals, and Frank Demond: trombone) just may be the most traditional New Orleans sounding jazz ensemble the Festival has ever presented.  The ghost of Louis Armstrong and his Hot Fives and Sevens was felt on “Down On Bourbon Street,” “Swing That Thing,” and “Sweet Substitute.”  Braud, Gabriel, and Maedgan shared the lead vocal spots.  The concept of collective improvisation (which began in New Orleans with The Dixieland bands) was what The Preservation Hall Jazz Band was all about. Each reeds man soloed at once in a way that was orchestrated and organized but irresistibly fun and danceable.  Jaffe’s bouncing bass line on the sousaphone got the Bowl crowd up on their tipsy feet.

For the blues portion of the festival, Keb’ Mo’ and his band played a set full of whimsical R&B based urban blues like “The Whole Enchilada,” “Government Cheese,” and “One Way Home.” Though Keb’ Mo’ is know mostly for his slide guitar work, at the festival, he stuck to playing straight blues leads on a Strat, which sounded like the yuppified blues style of Robert Cray. Though a talented singer, songwriter, and guitarist, with a more than capable band, it was hard to tell one song from another during this set. There wasn’t much blues to this music.

The real excitement in his program came when Keb’ Mo’ brought out the legendary Barbara Morrison for a duet on a Chicago blues shuffle version of Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “Further On Up The Road.”  Morrison can belt out the blues like no one else and has an electrifying stage presence which was needed throughout the set.

Ramsey Lewis

The Ramsey Lewis Electric Band had this jazz/soul pioneer experimenting with a more soft jazz/ fusion sound that didn’t seem fitting.  The group’s reading of The Stylistics “Betcha By Golly Wow,” Lewis’s own “Brazilica,” Stevie Wonder’s “Living For The City” and Earth, Wind and Fire’s “Sun Goddess” (which Lewis had recorded with the band and referred to as “Wayo”) all felt flat. Tim Gant’s electric keyboards sounded too synthetic and cheesy.

Lewis sounded best (and even looked happier) when sticking to his more gospel influenced material and playing tunes that him famous — “Wade In The Water,” and his biggest hit “The In Crowd” – while alternating between acoustic piano and Fender Rhodes electric piano with ease and focus.

The Playboy Jazz Festival can and has ventured pretty far from jazz but no more so than having Robin Thicke perform on the bill. Thicke and his band brought their boy-band sounding bubblegum pop to the Bowl and there were plenty of young, screaming girls present to enjoy it.  Not much more to say about it than that.

Jack Bruce and Cindy Blackman Santana

Closing the performance was the hardest, loudest, and most creative experimental group of the entire Festival. Spectrum Road (Featuring Vernon Reid: electric guitar, Cindy Blackman Santana: drums, Jack Bruce: bass, and John Medeski on keyboards) is a newly formed tribute band to the late great drum giant Tony Williams.   The band performed material from their self titled debut album Spectrum Road such as “Vuelta Abajo,” “Where” and William’s “There Comes A Time” with Jack Bruce on vocals. The music was tight but chaotic, piercing, arrogant, skillful, and daring in all the best ways. These characteristics match Tony Williams’ playing and personality to a tee.

Reid’s fierce, frenetic guitar playing fused marvelously with Blackman Santana’s drumming which echoed that of Williams. Jack Bruce’s guttural, busy bass lines followed Blackman Santana’s bombast no matter how far out she would go.  Medeski’s B3 organ sound was the only element that didn’t always fit. It was too heavy for this already ferocious sound.

Blackman Santana and Reid were clearly the stars of the group, even facing each other for most of the set, feeding off each other’s energy. The group sounded like a combination of Sonny Sharrock’s early ‘90s instrumental experiments, mid-‘70s Santana, and Vernon Reid’s work with his band Masque, but more powerful.

Blackman Santana’s long drum solo after “Where” was one of the great moments of the festival. She never repeated an idea twice and though she was inspired by Williams, she proved to have an energy all her own, all powerful and all woman.

The band even did a cover of Cream’s “Politician” (once again, fitting for the times), in which Jack Bruce’s vocals sounded the same as they did when he performed the song in 1967.  Reid and Blackman Santana put Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker to Shame, taking this 60s psychedelic blues anthem far beyond the stratosphere.

And so another Playboy Festival has come and gone. Some may bicker about the “Lack of real jazz at the festival,” but the number of innovative artists certainly outnumbered the fluff, and there were plenty of surprises.  Most importantly, everyone was having fun, which is ultimately what this Festival is all about.


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