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

January 30, 2014

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Stanley Clarke

Stanley Clarke

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

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

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

Hilary Hahn

Hilary Hahn

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

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

Gary Foster

Gary Foster

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

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

Seattle

Bill Frisell

Bill Frisell

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

Washington D.C.

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

New York City

John Abercrombie

John Abercrombie

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

Copenhagen

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

Milano

Billy Cobham

Billy Cobham

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


Picks of the Week: August 21 – 25

August 21, 2013

By Don Heckman

It’s a short week of Picks, largely impacted by the end-of-Summer distractions and the frequent August closure of jazz clubs around the world. But there’s still a lot of music happening.

 Los Angeles

- Aug. 21 (Wed.) Buddy Guy and the Funky Meters. The veteran blues great matches classic riffs with the latest installment of the Meters. Read Michael Katz’s iRoM review here tomorrow. Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- Aug. 22. (Thurs.) “Magnificent Mendelssohn.” Nicholas McGegan conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic in an evening devoted to the music of Mendelssohn with violinist Ray Chen performing the Violin Concerto. Read my iRoM review here on Friday. Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- Aug. 22. (Thurs.) The John Pisano Quartet. Guitarist Pisano takes a break from his Guitar Night performances to get together with guitarist Jim Fox, drummer Enzo Todesco and bassist Pat Senatore, his old bandmate from the Tijuana Brass. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474.9400.

- Aug. 23 & 24. (Fri. & Sat.) Marilyn Maye. Singer Maye, who has moved smoothly from cabaret to pop music, has been a busy performing artist since she was in her mid-teens. And she’s still going strong. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Aug. 24. (Sat.) The Billy Childs Trio. Vitello’s. Pianist/composer Childs takes a break from his busy schedule to perform in the appealing format of a piano jazz trio, with bassist Jimmy Johnson and drummer Gary Novak. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- Aug. 24. (Sat.) The Memphis Music Fest. It’s an evening of blues, soul and r&b in its many intriguing formats. With Booker T. Jones, the Bar-Kays, William Bell, Eddie Floyd and Jean Knight. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.  (562) 916-8501.

San Francisco

- Aug. 23 & 24. (Fri. & Sat.) Gary Bartz, Nicholas Payton, Kevin Toney perform selections from the Donald Byrd acoustic and electric sessions. Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655-5600.

Chicago

- Aug. 23 – 25. (Fri. – Sun.) Ira Sullivan Quartet. Multi-instrumentalist Sullivan is one of the rare jazz artists to perform convincingly on brass and woodwind instruments. Here’s a rare opportunity to hear him in action. Jazz Showcase. (312) 360-0234.

New York City

- Aug. 21 – 25. (Wed. – Sun.) Roy Hargrove Big Band with special guest Roberta Gambarini. This is an evening not to be missed – trumpeter Hargrove’s swinging big band providing the perfect setting for the irresistibly appealing singing of Gambarini. The Blue Note.  (212) 475-8592.

- Aug. 23 – 25. (Fri. – Sun.) Gregory Porter. Convincing male jazz singers have been in short supply lately. But the arrival of Porter has brought a new and appealing aspect to the largely female-oriented current jazz vocal scene. The Jazz Standard.  (212) 576-2232.

London

- Aug. 23 & 24. (Fri. & Sat.) Tania Maria Trio. Rio’s Tanya Maria sings, she plays piano, and she continues to discover attractive linkages between jazz and Brazilian music.  Ronnie Scott’s.  +44 20 7439 0747.

Copenhagen

- Aug 22 – 24 (Thurs. – Sat.) The Diego Figueiredo Trio. Talented guitarist Figueiredo has been drawing attention with his rapid-fire technique and imaginative improvising. He performs with Yasser Pino, bass and Milton Batera, drums. Jazzhus Montmartre. +45 31 72 34 94.

Tokyo

- Aug.24 & 25. (Sat. & Sun.) Matt Bianco. It sounds like a person’s name, but Matt Bianco is actually a U.K. Band that has been exploring Latin jazz since the mid-’80s. Blue Note Tokyo.  +81 3-5485-0088.


Live Jazz: Geoffrey Keezer at Vitello’s

July 28, 2013

By Don Heckman

Grammmy-nominated pianist Geoffrey Keezer showcased his impressive solo talents at Vitello’s Friday night for an enthusiastic, overflow crowd sparkling with the presence of such stellar  music world listeners as Chris Botti, Billy Childs, Bobby Colomby, John Proulx, Mike Lang, Denise Donatelli, Mark Winkler and others.

Seemingly inspired by his audience, Keezer offered a far-ranging set of music, chosen from jazz, pop and folk sources. In his first solo performance in more than a decade, he celebrated the release of his latest album, also a solo effort, Heart of the Piano.

The piano is often described as a complete orchestra in itself, and Keezer clearly had that perspective in mind as he roved, adventurously, through one richly textured, rhythmically alive improvisation after another.  His program reached from tunes by Stevie Wonder, Alanis Morrisette, Peter Gabriel and Rush to Duke Ellington, Wayne Shorter and Christian McBride.

Geoffrey Keezer

Geoffrey Keezer

That’s a challenging collection of musical stimuli, and Keezer responded to it with a full-bodied expression of his creative imagination.  At times, his mastery of the piano, driven by fast, busy fingers, called up aural images of Shostakovich and Bartok.  At other times, he dug into his jazz roots, moving easily into alternating passages touching on everything from stride to bebop.  And Keezer did so with ease, investing the jazz segments with an irresistible sense of swing.

He was especially compelling on a pair of works that triggered rich, emotional interpretations – Ellington’s “Black and Tan Fantasy” and the Robert Burns/traditional tune “My Love Is Like A Red, Red Rose” (inspired, Keezer said, by the Eva Cassidy version, and which he dedicated to his wife Susan).

Billy Martinez

Billy Martinez

Keezer climaxed  his performance with an improvisational duet with artist Billy Martinez, who painted on several tall canvas panels, as Keezer played.  While it was unclear if either artist was leading the way, they nonetheless seemed inspired by each other as they interacted in completely spontaneous fashion.  Searching together, they often found fascinating, common creative ground.

The only uncertain moments in this otherwise memorable musical evening, came when Keezer leaned a bit too strongly in the direction of the piano as an orchestra.  While these passages were stunning displays of his virtuosic improvisational skills, one also wished to hear more of Keezer’s gift for melodic lyricism.

G

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That said, his solo piano playing deserves a wider hearing.  If you weren’t in the crowd for Friday night’s concert, most of the pieces Keezer played can be found in the CD that inspired the performance, Heart of the Piano.  Don’t miss it.

* * * * * * * *

Photos by Faith Frenz.


Picks of the Week: July 15 – 21

July 15, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Kenny Burrell (Photo by Faith Frenz)

- July 15. (Mon.)  L.A. Jazz Orchestra Unlimited.  With Kenny Burrell.  Guitarist/educator Burrell leads an aggregation of some of the Southland’s fine big band players.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (223) 466-2210.

- July 16. (Tues.)  Nora Rothman.  With an appealing vocal style, young jazz artist Rothman offers what she describes as her own “unique twist” on jazz standards.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (223) 466-2210.

- July 16 & 17. (Tues. & Wed.)  Aaron Weinstein.  A violinist, mandolinist and arranger, Weinstein’s special talents have been drawing attention lately.  Here’s a chance to check out his skills in the warm musical environment of Herb Alpert’s Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

Herb Alpert and Lani Hall

Herb Alpert and Lani Hall

- July 17. (Wed.)  Sergio Mendes, Lani Hall and Herb Alpert.  After last week’s odd jazz opening night program featuring Queen Latifa, the Bowl summer jazz season finally arrives via an evening of stellar jazz with a Brazilian touch.  Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

- July 18. (Thurs.)  Bob McChesney Quintet.  Trombonist McChesney always does a spectacular job of making other bands sound great.  Here he is in the spotlight leading his own group.  Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

– July 19.  (Fri.) Brantley Gilbert.  Country superstar Gilbert makes his Greek Theatre debut .  Jack Ingram and Rachel Farley open the show.  The Greek Theatre.   (323) 665-5857.

Freda Payne

Freda Payne

- July 19 & 20. (Fri. & Sat.)  Freda Payne.  The lovely Ms. Payne makes one of her infrequent Southland appearances, looking great as she applies her special vocal talents to a program of standards as well as her own hits (hopefully including “Band of Gold”) Catalina Bar & Grill.  (223) 466-2210.

- July 19 – 21. (Fri. – Sun. )  Pink Martini with the L.A. Phil.  With singers China Forbes and Storm Large in the foreground, the 12-piece Pink Martini ensemble easily and entertainingly crosses genres from jazz and classical to pop and Latin.  Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- July 21. (Sun.)  Quattro.  The unique Quattro instrumentation (cello, percussion, violin and guitar), combine with their four-part vocals and imaginative interpretations to produce some of the most intriguing music on the contemporary music scene.  Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

San Francisco

Eddie Daniels (Photo by Bob Barry)

- July 18. (Thurs.)  Eddie Daniels & Roger Kellaway.  It’s a rare combination – the superb clarinet work of Daniels and the similarly excellent piano of Kellaway – displaying a range of talents reaching easily from jazz to classical and beyond.  SFJAZZ Center, Miner Auditorium.    (866) 920-5299.

- July 21. (Sun.)  Laurie Antonioli“The Music of Joni Mitchell.”  Antonioli is a pleasure to hear when she’s showcasing her impressive jazz skills.  Singing the songs of Joni Mitchell should stimulate an even more engaging set of creative interpretations. SFJAZZ Center.  Joe Henderson Lab.  (866) 920-5299.

New York

Billy Childs (Photo by Faith Frenz)

- July 16 – 20.  (Tues. – Sat.)  The Billy Childs Quartet.  Pianist/composer Childs takes a break from his chamber jazz ensemble to showcase his mesmerizing, straight ahead jazz skills.  Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

London

- July 17 – 19. (Wed. – Fri.)  Hermeto Pascoal.  Composer/multi-instrumentalist Pascoal has been setting a unique pathway through contemporary Brazilian music for decades. Hearing him in live performance is a memorable experience.  Ronnie Scott’s.    +44 20 7439 0747.

Paris

- July 17. (Wed.)  Roberta Gambarini.  She’s one of  the current jazz scene’s most fascinating vocal artists, balancing her superb ballad skills with incomparable scatting abilities. New Morning Paris.    +33 1 45 23 51 41.

- July 18. (Thurs.)  The Steve Swallow-Carla Bley Quintet.  Bassist Swallow and pianist/composer Bley have been at the cutting edge of contemporary jazz for decades.  And they’re still a pleasure to hear in action.  New Morning Paris.    +33 1 45 23 51 41.

Berlin

- July 21. (Sun.)  Dave Douglas “Be Still.”  Always adventurous, trumpeter Douglas leads an ensemble of similarly envelope-stretching players, featuring Jon Irabagon, saxophones, Matt Mitchell, piano, Linda Oh, bass and Rudy Royston, drums.  A-Trane.    +49 30 3132 ext. 550.

Milan

Branford Marsalis

Branford Marsalis

- July 21. (Sun.)  Branford Marsalis.  Not quite as visible as his brother, trumpeter/impresario Wynton, Branford Marsalis is, nonetheless, a compelling, musically creative jazz artist.  Blue Note Milano.    +39 02 6901 6888.

Tokyo

- July 17 & 18. (Wed. & Thurs.)  Dionne Warwick.  She’s been one of the hit-makers of the rock era, especially when she’s singing songs by Burt Bacharach and Hal David.  And, at 72, she’s still a mesmerizing performer.  Blue Note Tokyo.   +81 3-5485-0088.


Picks of the Week: Mar. 27 – 31.

March 26, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Sascha's Bloc Band

Sascha’s Bloc Band

- Mar. 27. (Wed.)  Sascha’s Bloc.  A gifted group of players, many from Russia and/or Eastern European backgrounds, showcasing music that crosses easily and compellingly across lines of genre and tradition.  Led by the dynamic guitar playing of Alex (Sascha) Gershman, with the intimate vocalizing of Carina CoperVibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- Mar. 27. (Wed.)  The Scott Healy Ensemble.  Pianist/composer Healy leads a compact, but richly expressive, ten piece ensemble in selections from his classically tinged, highly praised Hudson City Suite. Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Ginger Berglund and Scott Whitfield

Ginger Berglund and Scott Whitfield

- Mar. 28. (Thurs.) Ginger Berglund and Scott Whitfield.  Ginger and Scott’s musical legacy reaches back to the Pied Pipers and the Modernaires, filtered through their own jazz instincts, with traces of Jackie Cain and Roy Kral.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Mar. 29. (Fri.)  Kim Richmond Concert Jazz Orchestra.  Saxophonist Richmond leads a fine aggregation of Southland players in A Tribute to Stan Kenton REDCAT.   (213) 237-2800.

- Mar. 29 & 30. (Fri. & Sat.)  Charles Wright and the Watts 103 St. Rhythm Band.  The pioneering funk and soul band, led by guitarist Wright, revive some of their many hits from the late ‘60s and early 70s.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Mar. 30. (Sat.) A Ttribute to Charlie Haden.  Bob Sheppard, Billy Childs, Peter Erskine, Darek Oles get together to honor the remarkable career and superb playing of bassist Haden, whose health conditions over the past few years have limited him to rare public performances.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Mar. 30. (Sat.)  Nikhil Korula.  Singer/guitarist Korula, who concentrates on acoustic rock, makes a rare solo acoustic appearance, performing a program of original compositions and rock classics.  Witches Brew in North Hills.  (818) 892-1480.

- Mar. 30. (Sat.)  and April 4 – 7. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Trisha Brown Dance Company. An adventurous choreographer since the ‘70s, Brown’s Company performs her Floor of the Forest on Saturday night – the first event in The Retrospective Project, a collection of her works unfolding over the following week. Royce Hall CAP UCLA.     (310) 825-2101.

Charmaine Clamor

Charmaine Clamor

- Mar. 31. (Sun.) Charmaine Clamor.  Reaching beyond her Filipino background, Clamor has thoroughly established herself as one of the most imaginative, and utterly listenable, jazz voices of the decade (and beyond).  “Hallelujah,” her Easter show, displays the full range of her remarkable vocal expressiveness. Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Mar. 31. (Sun.)  John Proulx Trio. Pianist Proulx has long been a first call rhythm section player.  But in recent years, his mellow vocalizing has positioned him as a Chet Baker-influenced singing instrumentalist. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

San Francisco

- Mar. 29 & 30.  (Fri. & Sat.)  Rita Coolidge.  Grammy winning, hit-making Coolidge peaked during the ‘70s with hits in pop, country and jazz charts.  In her late ‘60s, she’s still going strong.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.    (415) 655-5600.

Seattle

- Mar. 28 – 31. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Holly Cole.  Canadian jazz singer Cole has been charting an original vocal pathway since the ‘90s.  She’s currently supporting her latest album, Night. Jazz Alley.    (206) 441-9729.

New York City

Kyle Eastwood

Kyle Eastwood

- Mar. 26 – 31. (Tues. – Sun.)  Kyle Eastwood Group and the Larry Coryell Group. It’s a generationally contrasting evening: featuring 44 year old jazz bassist and composer Eastwood, and 69 year old guitarist Coryell.  Expect to hear diverse sounds.  The Blue Note.    (212) 475-8592.

- Mar. 28 – 31. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Dave Douglas Quintet.  50th Birthday Week. Trumpeter Douglas celebrates his anniversary in the sterling musical company of Jon Irabagon, tenor saxophone, Matt Mitchell, piano, Linda Oh, bass and Rudy Royston, drums.   The Jazz Standard.   (212) 576-2232.

London

- Mar. 31. (Sun.)  The Humphrey Lyttelton Septet.  Trumpeter and arranger Lyttelton died in 2008 after celebrating 60 years as a bandleader.  But the band has carried on with Humph’s tradition of providing entertaining evenings of jazz and beyond. Ronnie Scott’s.    +44 20 7439 0747

Milan

- Mar. 30. (Sat.)  Maria Pia De Vito & Ares Tavolazzi Duo.  Vocalist/composer De Vito and bassist Tavolazzi have both worked in crossover and avant-garde areas of contemporary music.  Expect intriguing musical results from their duo partnership.  Blue Note Milano.    +39 02 6901 6888.

Tokyo

Tuck & Patti

Tuck & Patti

- Mar. 26 – 28. (Tues. – Thurs.)  Tuck & Patti. Guitarist Tuck and singer Patti have been a couple – in life and in music – for more than three decades.  And their engagingly intimate music continues to be one of the pleasing marvels of contemporary jazz and pop. Blue Note Tokyo.    +81 3-5485-0088.


Picks of the Week: Feb. 26 – Mar. 3

February 27, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson

- Feb. 27. (Wed.)  Willie Nelson & Family.  The inimitable Willie Nelson performs his memorable hits with the musical companionship of his talented family members. Click HERE to read an earlier iRoM review of Willie Nelson and his Family.  Valley Performing Arts Center.    (818) 677-3000.

= Feb. 27. (Wed.)  Shofar. The three Polish musicians in the group Shofar are questing after a “common denominator shared by Hasidic music and free jazz.”  Blue Whale.  (213) 620-0908.

- Feb. 27. (Wed.)  Sascha’s Bloc. An entertaining band of players, many from Russia, who bring new perspectives to a musical approach that blends traditional sounds and rhythms with far-ranging contemporary music. Click HERE to read an iRoM review of a recent Saschas’s Bloc performance.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

Gustavo Dudamel

Gustavo Dudamel

- Feb. 28 – 3. . (Thurs. – Sun.)  Dudamel Conducts Stravinsky’s Firebird. The ever-dynamic Dudamel leads the Los Angeles Philharmonic in an adventurous approach to one of the 20th century’s intrepid musical works. Disney Hall.   (323) 850-2000.

- Feb. 28 – Mar. 2.  (Thurs. – Sat.)  Oleta Adams.  Versatile singer Adams moves freely – and convincingly – across genres, from soul and gospel to rhythm & blues and jazz.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

Anna Mjoll

Anna Mjoll

- Mar. 1. (Fri.)  Anna Mjoll.  Iceland’s gift to jazz applies her warm, embracing voice to everything from jazz classics to the Great American Songbook.  She performs with the Pat Senatore TrioVibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Mar. 1. (Fri.)  Juan de Marcos & the Afro-Cuban All-Stars.  The Grammy-nominated All-Stars cover a full range of Latin music, including bolero, cha-cha-cha, salsa, rumba, danzon, timba and beyond.  Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.    (562) 916-8501.

- Mar. 1 – 3.(Fri. – Sun.)  Oguri and Wadada Leo Smith.  Adventurous trumpeter Smith and his band interact creatively with Japanese dancer Oguri.  Electric Lodge, Venice.   (310) 306-1854.

- Mar. 2. (Sat.) Patricia Barber. One of the jazz vocal world’s most uniquely individual artists, Barber will sing selections from her new album, Smash.  To read the iRoM review of the album, click HERE.  She performs in a Jazz Bakery Movable Feast at the Musicians Institute Concert Center.   (310) 275-8961.

- Mar. 2. (Sat.)  An Evening With Rudresh Mahanthappa. Alto saxophonist/composer Mahanthappa works at synthesizing South Indian elements with a variety of other international musical genres. He does so here in the company of two ensembles – the Indo-Pak Coalition and Gamak. A  CAP-UCLA concert at Royce Hall.    (310) 825-2101.

Katia Moraes

Katia Moraes

- Mar. 3. (Sun.)  Katia Moraes.  Los Angeles is filled with musically diverse Brazilian artists.  And the dynamic Moraes, who invests her singing with the stimulating energies of her dancing, continues to be one of the best.  Click HERE to read an iRoM review of a recent performance by Moraes.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Mar. 3. (Sun.)  Patrick Tuzzolino Trio.  Singer/keyboardist Tuzzolino is an impressive talent who has not yet received the full acknowledgement he deserves.  Here’s a rare chance to hear him in action, performing with trombonist Bob McChesney and drummer Billy Paul Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

San Francisco

- Feb. 28 – Mar. 1 (Thurs & Fri.)  Ana Moura.  Fado is being revived by a gifted generation of young Portuguese singers.  And Ana Moura is one of the best.  An SFJAZZ event at Miner Auditorium.    (866) 920-5299.

Washington, D.C.

- Feb. 28 – Mar. 3. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Mike Stern and Dave Weckl.  Jazz fusion in all its many invigorating forms is at its best in the talented hands of guitarist Stern and drummer Weckl.  They’re ably supported by bassist Anthony Jackson and saxophonist Bob FranceschiniBlues Alley.    (202)337-4141.

New York

- Feb. 27 – Mar. 2. (Wed. – Sat.)  Gary Peacock, Marc Copland and Joey Baron.  It’s an all-star jazz trio, by any definition, with pianist Copland, bassist Peacock and drummer Baron triggering a continuing flow of imaginative improvisation.  Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

Ravi Coltrane

Ravi Coltrane

- Feb. 27 – Mar. 3. (Wed. – Sun.)  Ravi Coltrane Quartet.  Saxophonist Coltrane, who makes the most of his genetic gifts as the son of John Coltrane, plays with the superb backing of Billy Childs, Fender Rhodes, Lonnie Plaxico, bass, Nikki Glaspie, drums.  Trumpeters Tim Hagans and Jason Palmer trade off on Thurs.(28) and Fri.(1).  The Jazz Standard.   (212) 576-2232.

London

- Feb. 27 – Mar. 3. (Wed. – Sun.)  Arturo Sandoval. Versatility doesn’t begin to describe trumpeter/pianist/percussionist/singer Sandoval’s remarkable talents.  Click HERE to read a recent iRoM review of a Sandoval performance.  Ronnie Scott’s.    +44 0(20) 7439 0747.

Paris

- Feb. 27. (Wed.)  The Robert Cray Band.  Five time Grammy award winner Cray has throroughly established himself as one of the most convincingly authentic contemporary blues artists.  Paris New Morning.    01 45 23 51 41.

Berlin

Jason Moran

- Mar. 3. (Sun.)  Jason Moran & the Bandwagon.  Pianist Moran, the winner of a MacArthur “genius” award, takes time away from his role as jazz advisor for the Kennedy Center to lead his gifted Bandwagon trio, with bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet WaitsA-Trane.    030/313 25 50.

Copenhagen

- Mar. 1 & 2. (Fri. & Sat.)  Bobo Moreno.  Highly praised Danish singer performs with pianist Ole Kock Hansen, bassist Bo Stief and American drummer Adam NussbaumJazzhus Montmartre.   (+45) 70 263 267.


Picks of the Week: Nov. 7 – 11

November 7, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Nov. 7. (Wed.)  John Proulx CD Release Party.  Pianist/singer Proulx celebrates the release of his new CD, The Best Thing For You,  In addition to a stellar back up band, Proulx’s guest artists include singer Sara Gazarek and pianist Bill Cunliffe. Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

Jimmy Heath

- Nov. 8. (Thurs.) Jimmy Heath Master Class.  Saxophonist and NEA Jazz Master Heath has performed with virtually every jazz great since Dizzy Gillespie.  Here he appears in a Master Class at Popper Hall, presented by the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. Heath will also perform and sign his autobiography after the class.  If you’d like to attend, RSVP at info@monkinstitute.org.

- Nov. 8. (Thurs.)  Rick Braun CD Release Party.  Trumpeter Braun has been building a following of his melodic style since the release of his first album two decades ago.  But only recently has he begun to showcase attractive singing, as well.  He’ll feature selections from his latest CD, Swingin’ in the Snow with his band and a string quartet.    Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Nov. 8. (Thurs.) Pat Senatore.  Bassist Pat Senatore has a busy schedule at Vibrato planning, booking, and often playing in the elegant room’s diverse bookings.  But this time he steps in front, leading his own group, featuring Dayna Stevens on tenor saxophone and Dan Schnell on drums.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Nov. 8 & 9. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Badeya Baby!  Allee Willis’ interactive tour de force, combining her work as a songwriter, artist, multi-mediaist, director and party thrower in an evening of ultimate entertainment.  Call it a Happening.  NoHoPAC, the North Hollywood Performing Arts Center.    (818) 763-00086.

Nov. 9. (Fri.)  Grupo Fantasma.  With special guests Chicha Libre. A pair of contemporary Latin bands, covering everything from Grammy-winning Grupo Fantasma’s Latin funk to Chicha Libre’s crossover Latin pop rhythms.  CAP UCLA Royce Hall.    (310) 825-2101.

- Nov. 9. (Fri.)  The Gathering”  The Clayton Bros. Quintet.  And a fine Clayton family gathering it is, with brothers John (bass), Jeff (alto saxophone) and pianist son (of John), Gerald Clayton.  Trumpeter Terrell Stafford and drummer Obed Calvaire add first rate support.  A Jazz Bakery Movable Feast at the Musicians Institute Concert Hall.  (310) 271-9039.  http://jazzbakery.org

Arturo Sandoval

Nov. 9 & 10. (Fri. & Sat.)  Arturo Sandoval Big Band.  Multi-talented Sandoval, who moves easily from superb trumpet playing to stylish piano playing, drumming and singing, showcases his many skills in a big band setting. Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Nov. 10. (Sat.)  Billy Childs Electric Quartet.  Here’s an intriguing musical experience with yet another of the Childs creative ensembles: with Childs, piano, Bob Sheppard, saxes and flute, Jimmy Johnson, electric bass, and Joey Heredia, drums. Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Nov. 10. (Sat.)  The Rossetti String Quartet.  Described as a “vital force among chamber ensembles,” the Rossetti players celebrate an exhibition of the Photographs of Ray K. Metzger.  The program includes works by Haydn, Beethoven and Shostakovitch.  Harold Williams Auditorium at The Getty Center.   (310)440-73100.

- Nov. 10. (Sat.) Chucho Valdes.  Multi-Grammy Award winning pianist/composer Valdes has been described – accurately — by the New York Times as one of the world’s great virtuosic pianists.”  Luckman Fine Arts Complex.   (323) 343-6600.

Nov. 10 and 11. (Sat. and Sun.)  Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.  The gifted players of the LACO perform a far-ranging program, reaching from Beethoven’s early Sympohony No. 2 and Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro for Strings to the premiere of Benjamin Wallfisch’s Violin Concerto, commissioned especially for (and performed by) the LACO’s Tereza Stanislav.  Sat. at the Alex Theatre.  Sunday at Royce Hall.  The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.    (213) 622-7001.

Roberta Donnay

Nov. 11. (Sun.)  Roberta Donnay.  A singer who always charts her own musical path, Donnay celebrates the release of her new CD, A Little Sugar, cruising through the music of the ‘20s and ‘30s with her Prohibition Mob Band.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

Santa Cruz

- Nov. 9 (Fri.) An Evening with Van Dyke Parks.  A rare opportunity to experience some up close music-making from one of the imaginative pop composer/producers of the ‘60s and ‘’70s and beyond.  Kuumbwa.    (831) 427-2227.

Chicago

- Nov. 8 – 11. (Thurs. – Sun.) Joey De Francesco Trio.  Organ Trio jazz doesn’t get any better than the musically adept, hard swinging organ work of De Francesco.  With luck, maybe he’ll demonstrate his impressive skills as a trumpeter, as well.  Jazz Showcase.  (312) 360-0234.

New York

- Nov. 7 – 11. (Wed. – Sun.)  The Django Reinhardt FestivalDorado Schmitt with 3 sons and various cousins celebrate the Reinhardt lineage of ever-swinging gypsy jazz via “A Family Affair.”  Birdland.     (212) 581-3080.

- Nov. 8 – 11. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Ellis Marsalis Quartet. The patriarch of the Marsalis family of New Orleans, pianist Marsalis displays the well-founded jazz styles that had a powerful impact upon his successful musical offspring.  The Blue Note.     (212) 475-8592.

- Nov. 10 & 11. (Sat. & Sun.)  The Billy Cox Band of Gypsys Experience.  Bassist Cox worked with Jimi Hendirx in both the Hendrix Experience and the Band of Gypsys.  Since then, he’s worked with the Hendrix family, helping to keep the tradition alive.  He’ll be joined by guitarists Steve Stevens and Eric GalesThe Iridium.   (212) 582-2121.

London

Vinicius Cantuaria

- Nov. 7. (Wed.)  Vinicius Cantuaria Quartet.  Brazilian singer/guitarist Cantuaria applies his early skills as a percussionist, bringing irresistibly appealing rhythmic undercurrents  to his singing and guitar playing.  Tickets may be hard to find, but well worth the effort.   Ronnie Scott’s.

Paris

- Nov. 7. (Wed.)  Jose James Quintet. Since the 2008 release of his debut album, The Dreamer, vocalist James has been carving a unique musical path from hip-hop through jazz.  New Morning.    01 45 23 51 41.

Berlin

- Nov. 9. (Fri.)  Christian Scott Quintet.  Grammy-nominated trumpeter Scott, still in his ‘20s has thoroughly established himself as one of the vital jazz artists of his generation.  A-Trane.    030 / 313 25 50.

Copenhagen

- Nov. 8. (Thurs.)  Makiko Hirabayashi Trio.  A truly international jazz trio, with the playing of Hirabayashi, piano, Marilyn Mazur, percussion and Klavs Hovman, bass moving convincingly across the full range of contemporary jazz.  Jazzhus Montmartre.     (+45) 70 15 65 65.

Milan

-  Nov. 8. (Thurs.)  Take 6.  A capella music of every imaginable style doesn’t get any better than the singing of this remarkably gifted ensemble.  It’s early in the holiday season, but hopefully they’ll perform some of their marvelous Christmas specials.  Blue Note Milano.   02.69016888.

Tokyo

McCoy Tyner

- Nov. 7 – 10. (Wed. – Sat.)  McCoy Tyner Trio with special guest Gary Bartz. Pianist McCyner has been demonstrating his skills at working with adventurous saxophonists since his ‘60s tenure with John Coltane.  This time out, he’s in league with a similarly inventive artist in Bartz.   Blue Note Tokyo.   03.5485.0088.


Here, There and Everywhere: Halloween Jam with Bob Sheppard and Friends

November 2, 2012

By Don Heckman

I can never recall trick or treating having much connection with jazz.  So when Vitello’s announced a “Halloween Costume Party and Jam” featuring saxophonist Bob Sheppard with a stellar band, it sounded like the potential for an unusual and entertaining evening.

As it was.  Sheppard’s band included guitarist Larry Koonse, bassist Dave Robaire and drummer Charles Ruggiero.  And the word was out that some sitting in would be taking place, as well.  Add to that the  audience costumes that arrived over the course of the evening, and the atmosphere of communal jazz sharing that made the performance feel like a long musical party among friends.

It’s worth noting, too, that the Halloween costuming, so to speak, wasn’t limited to the colorful members of the audience.  Several times during the evening, Sheppard and Koonse added their own offbeat appearances, proudly wearing the wigs of ‘60s hippydom.

Larry Koonse, Dave Robaire and Bob Sheppard

The opening set featured the front line of Sheppard and Koonse at their best.  Always among the first-call choices on their instruments, both players are best heard in a wide open setting like this one, stretching out on some standards and a jazz classic or two, interacting spontaneously in a relaxed environment.

Whether playing tenor or soprano, Sheppard is always adventurous, applying his considerable technique to the expression of his equally imaginative soloing.  And so, too, is Koonse, whose subtle accompaniment touches produce virtually instantaneous arrangements, countered by his own inventive solo efforts.

Backing Sheppard and Koonse, the rhythm team of Robaire and Ruggiero were flawless, matching a propulsive sense of swing with an equally supportive framework of rhythm and timbre.

Billy Childs

As the evening progressed, other players joined the Halloween Jam.  Among them, there were some especially compelling contributions from the ever-impressive pianists Billy Childs and John Beasley.

Call it a Halloween full of musical treats, without the distraction of a single trick. And credit April Williams, Vitello’s jazz impresario, with yet another imaginative musical evening.  Be sure to check her November Vitello’s calendar for a month-long schedule of equally appealing jazz events.

Photos by Faith Frenz


Live Jazz: The Carol Robbins Sextet Upstairs at Vitello’s

September 24, 2012

By Don Heckman

Among the many instruments listed in jazz polls as “miscellaneous,” the harp is surely one of the most rare participants. As unlikely an actual jazz voice as it may seem, however, the instrument has been played in strikingly innovative fashion by the likes of Alice Coltrane, Dorothy Ashby, Corky Hale and Betty Glamann (among a very few others).

Carol Robbins

Add Carol Robbins to that list.

A busy L. A. studio player whose resume embraces everything from film, television and recordings to celebrity weddings, she has also gradually positioned herself as an intriguing jazz harpist, composer and band leader. On Sunday night at Vitello’s, all those skills were on full display in a performance celebrating the release of her new CD, Moraga.

Her six piece ensemble was a congregation of state of the art Southland players including – in addition to Robbins – guitarist Larry Koonse, pianist Billy Childs, saxophonist Rob Lockart, bassist Darek Oles and drummer Dan Schnelle. Childs, Koonse and Oles are on the recording. And most of the evening’s generous, two hour program was devoted to selections from Moraga.

Billy Childs and Larry Koonse

Starting the evening with four original works, Robbins introduced the essence of her style, as composer, player and leader. Each piece was articulately conceived, ranging from crisp jazz lines to lush, floating impressionist harmonies.

Darek Oles and Rob Lockart

Soloing was intrinsic to each work. Childs was the principal soloist in the first two, his far reaching dissonances and surging rhythms providing gripping counterpoint to the layered emotions of Robbins’ writing.

Dan Schnelle

For the balance of the program, the close wedding of composition and improvisation was essential to Robbins’ compositional perspective. And with soloists such as Lockart, Koonse and Oles, strongly supported by Schnelle’s propulsive – but never intrusive, drumming – the music unfolded like the mesmerizing chapters of a much loved novel.

Among the high points: The intimate dueting between Koonse (especially on acoustic guitar) and Robbins, the blending textures of their strings and the lyrical interplay of their solo lines on pieces such as “Dolore” and “Mojave.” Robbins’ exquisite rendering of the Cole Porter classic, “Every Time We Say Goodbye,” her instrumental expressions perfectly recalling the poignant lyrics.

Equally remarkable was the way in which she brought Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Caminhos Cruzados” to life, playing the clustered harmonies of the Joao Gilberto guitar style on her harp. The ease with which she outlined one bebop phrase after another – a seemingly near-impossible task on her large, many-stringed instrument.

Larry Koonse and Carol Robbins

And, perhaps most important of all, the intrinsic blend of rich musicality, inventive soloing and warm creative comradeship that is intrinsic to Robbins’ art.

After hearing her generate an evening of such immensely entertaining music with her harp in the central role, it was hard to imagine anyone ever referring to Carol Robbins’ grand-looking, beautiful-sounding instrument as “miscellaneous.”

All photos by Bonnie Perkinson.


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.


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