Picks of the Week: May 19 – 25

May 19, 2014

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Carol Welsman

Carol Welsman

- May 20. (Tues.) Carol Welsman. She sings with an utter mastery of jazz vocalizing. Add to that Carol’s equally impressive piano playing, always imaginative, always swinging. She doesn’t do a lot of club dates, so don’t miss this one. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- May 20. (Tues.) Guitar Night. With John Pisano and special guests guitarist Tim May, bassist Chuck Berghofer and drummer Kendall Kay. Viva Cantina.  (818) 845- 2425.

- May 21. (Wed.) Lauren White with the Quinn Johnson Trio. Special Guests include Dolores Scozzesi and  Chambers, Herbert & Ellis. An evening of jazz vocals reaching from the superb soloing of Lauren and Dolores to the jaunty trio of Chambers, Herbert & Ellis. Catalina Bar & Grill. (223) 466-2210.

Bianca Rossini

Bianca Rossini

- May 21. (Wed.) Bianca Rossini. Brazilian singer/songwriter Rossini enhances her intimate bossa novas with the moves of a born dancer. Click HERE  to read a recent review of Rossini in action. Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.+

- May 21. (Wed.) Jennifer Leitham Trio. With Rich Eames, piano and Randy Drake, drums. Leitham is a first call bassist with the versatility to perform in any setting. This time out, she does it her way, with her own trio. Jazz at the Cap.

 

Robert Davi

Robert Davi

- May 22. (Thurs.) Robert Davi. In a music world becoming over populated with Sinatra wannabes, Davi is the real deal, intimately familiar with the Sinatra style. Blessed with a voice rich with operatic qualities, Davi uses it in memorable excursions through the Great American Songbook. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- May 22. (Thurs.) Billy Joel. It’s not often that one has the chance to hear Joel anywhere, much less the Hollywood Bowl. Don’t miss this chance to hear some of his classics. Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- May 23. (Fri,) Kenny Burrell Quintet. One of the iconic jazz guitarists of his generation, Burrell, also an educator, takes a break from his UCLA responsibilities to remind us of his still potent playing skills. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (223) 466-2210.

- May 23. (Fri.) Azar Lawrence. Saxophonist Lawrence’s impressive resume reaches from Miles Davis and McCoy Tyner to Freddie Hubbard and beyond. Still a hard swinging, potent improviser, he should be heard at every opportunity. LACMA. (323) 857-6000.

- May 23 – 25. (Fri. – Sun.) Los Angeles Philharmonic. Gustavo Dudamel conducts the grand finale of the L.A. Phil’s Mozart/Da Ponte Trilogy – Cosi Fan Tutti. Disney Hall.  (323) 850-2000.

- May 24. (Sat.) Mark Christian Miller. Although he spends a lot of time working in music management and guidance, Miller is a fine vocalist in his own right. The Gardenia.  (323) 467-7444.

Cheryl Bentyne

Cheryl Bentyne

- May 24. (Sat.) Cheryl Bentyne. She’s back and all fans of world class jazz vocalizing should be delighted. After recovering from a serious illness, Bentyne is in the groove, singing with the imagination and the buoyant sense of swing that have always been essential to her art. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- May 24 & 25. (Sat. & Sun.) John Daversa’s Contemporary Big Band. Trumpeter/composer/arranger Daversa is producing some of the most fascinating big band writing on the current jazz scene. The Baked Potato.  (818) 980-1615.

San Francisco

- May 21 & 22. (Wed. & Thurs.) Jane Monheit Sings Judy Garland. The title of this performance alone tells us that it’s going to be a fascinating experience. And there’s more on the bill: in the lounge on Wed.: Pianist Gaea Schell. In the lounge on Thurs: the Karen Marguth Trio. Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655-5600.

New York City

- May 20 – 24. (Tues. – Sat.) Karrin Allyson. Always a musically intriguing singer, Allyson has matured into a creatively expressive vocal artist. Click HERE to read an iRoM review of a recent L.A. Appearance by Allyson. Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.

London

Eliane Elias

Eliane Elias

May 19 & 20. (Mon. & Tues.) Eliane Elias Quartet. Elias has been a superb jazz pianist since she first moved from Brazil to the U.S. But in recent years she’s displayed equally captivating skills as a singer, as well. Click HERE  to read a recent iRoM review of an Eliane Elias performance in Los Angeles. Ronnie Scott’s.  +44 (0) 20 7439 0747.

Copenhagen

- May 24. (Sat.) Fredrik Kronkvist. “The Cannonball Adderley Songbook.” Danish saxophonist Kronkvist displays the extent to which European jazz artists have convincingly proven themselves as world class performers. Jazzhus Montmartre.  +45 31 72 34 94.

Milan

- May 21 (Wed.) Geri Allen. Name some iconic jazz artists of the past few decades, and pianist Allen has probably worked with them (Think Ornette Coleman, Ravi Coltrane, Charles Lloyd, Betty Carter and more). Although she spends part of the time these days as a college professor, she continues to assert her status as one of the fine jazz artists of her generation. The Blue Note Milano.  +39 02 6901 6888.

Tokyo

Jack DeJohnette

Jack DeJohnette

- May 20 – 22. (Tues. – Thurs.) Jack DeJohnette Trio. With saxophonist Ravi Coltrane and bassist Matthew Garrison. Drummer/percussionist DeJohnette is one of the current jazz world’s most creatively curious players. And, for this tour, he’s chosen to work alongside players with equally inquisitive creativity. Blue Note Tokyo.  +81 3-5485-0088.

 

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Photos of Bianca Rossini, Robert Davi, Cheryl Bentyne and Eliane Elias by Faith Frenz.

 

 

 


Picks of the Week: Oct. 14 – 20

October 15, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Josh Nelson

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

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

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

Carol Welsman

Carol Welsman

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

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

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

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

Brian Wilson

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

San Francisco

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

Seattle

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

Chicago

Russell Malone

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

New York City

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

London

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

Milan

Monty Alexander

Monty Alexander

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

Tokyo

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


Live Music: “And Then She Wrote” with Peter Marshall, Carol Welsman, Denise Donatelli

November 30, 2012

By Don Heckman

Studio City, CA.  It was a return visit to Vitello’s Wednesday night for And They She Wrote.  The cast was slightly different from the line-up that brought the same show to Vitello’s  in June.  But the selections were largely the same classics from the Great American songbook, once again illuminating how many of those classics were written, or co-written, by female composers and lyricists.

The three-performer show, conceived by singer/actor/television star Peter Marshall, featured the vocal trio of Marshall, Carol Welsman and Denise Donatelli (replacing Calabria Foti from the original cast), backed by pianist John Rodby and bassist Dave Robaire.

Carol Welsman, Peter Marshall and Denise Donatelli

Carol Welsman, Peter Marshall and Denise Donatelli

The show’s premise – clearly inferred in the title – was explored via informative nuggets about such major female songwriters as Dorothy Fields, Betty Comden, Carolyn Leigh, Peggy Lee, Marilyn Bergman, Ann Ronnell, Ruth Lowe and others.  And there probably wasn’t a single person in the full house crowd who didn’t, at some point, gasp in surprise when the female writers or co-writers of songs such as “Willow Weep For Me,” “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, “Don’t Blame Me” and dozens of others, were identified.

Peter Marshall

Peter Marshall

Off the cuff whimsical remarks from Marshall, with sharp responses from Welsman and Donatelli,  added spontaneous humor to the evening, often enhanced by the addition of songs with their own humorous aspects – “Diga, Diga Doo,” “I’m Hip” and “I’m Shadowing You.”

Aside from its genuinely informative aspects, the real essence of this engaging musical evening was the blending of memorable songs with first rate vocal performances ranging from solos and duets to trios.

Marshall, whose checkered career has ranged from a long run on network television to Broadway musicals, sang with an easygoing relaxed style, finding the intriguing inner qualities of songs such as “Young At Heart,” ‘I’m Drinking Again” and winding up with the Frank Sinatra theme song, “Put Your Dreams Away (For Another Day).”

Dense Donatelli

Denise Donatelli

Among the several ensemble songs, the highlights included the ladies singing “A-Tisket, A-Tasket,” Donatelli and Marshall exchanging colorful insults on “A Fine Romance,” and all three singers joining in on “Pick Yourself Up.”

Appropriately, however, it was Welsman and Donatelli, jazz singers gifted with extraordinary musicality, who provided some of the evening’s most gripping moments.

Carol Welsman

Carol Welsman

There were far too many to mention, but among the many highlights: Donatelli’s transformation of “Willow Weep For Me” into an embracing love song, and her touching reading of “Some Other Time” ; Welsman’s exquisite interpretation, enhanced by her piano playing, of “La Vie En Rose,” and her equally memorable “The Way You Look tonight.”

So, once again And Then She Wrote proved to be an entertaining, imaginative overview of an unusual aspect of American song, transformed into living color by a trio of fine vocal artists.

New Yorkers will have an opportunity to see and hear “And Then She Wrote” at the Metropolitan Room on January 11 – 14.

Photos by Bob Barry


Live Music: Peter Marshall, Carol Welsman and Calabria Foti at Vitello’s in “And Then She Wrote”

June 8, 2012

By Don Heckman

Peter Marshall.  You remember him.  If you don’t, your parents do.   His five Emmy awards as the host of Hollywood Squares were the product of spending a lot of time on the television screens of millions of American homes in the ’60s and ’70s.

But onstage at Vitello’s?  A more unlikely place, to be sure.  But there he was Tuesday night, facing a packed house, jazz club  audience, accompanied by a pair of lovely, talented jazz singers — Carol Welsman and Calabria Foti – performing a show of his own making, “And Then She Wrote.”

Peter Marshal, Carol Welsman, Calabria Foti

This time out, he’s come up with a fascinating concept, based on the too-little known fact that a substantial portion of songs in the Great American Songbook were written by women.  And Marshall and his companions made their point early with the American classic, “Shine on Harvest Moon,” written in 1908 with lyrics by Nora Bayes.

For the next hour and a half, the songs never stopped coming.  From names well-known and lesser-known — Ann Ronnell, Ruth Lowe, Dorothy Fields, Betty Comden, Carolyn Leigh, Peggy Lee, Marilyn Bergman and many, many more.  Their presentation was a delight.  Marshall’s amiable baritone voice was especially appealing in songs such as “I’m In the Mood For Love,” “You Always Hurt the One You Love,” “Young At Heart” and “Just In Time.”

It wasn’t surprising, of course, that he was also a grand host, cracking jokes that were in the show’s script  and frequently adding equally whimsical spontaneous lines.  His singing was equally on target, warm and comfy in the ballads, lightly swinging in the up tempo numbers.

There was, however, a certain irony – given the subject matter of the show – that many of its high points of the evening were stolen by Welsman and Foti.  Their rendering of Edith Piaf’s “La Via En Rose,” with Welsman singing and playing the piano, and Foti providing gorgeous violin counter- lines, was  stunningly emotional.  So, too, was “Killing Time,” the last song written by Leigh, whose first successful  song was “The Best Is Yet To Come.”  Granted the irony of the connection between the two songs, Welsman’s performance of the latter was magical, perfectly capturing the  rich layers of feeling in the haiku-like lyrics.

Foti, too, had one exquisite musical moment after another, embracing songs such as “Willow Weep For Me,” “Can’t We Be Friends” and “”How Little We Know” with her warm, dark voice and intimate phrasing.

Mashall reported that some videotaping of the performance had been done, and that plans were in the works for more performances.  Not a bad idea – with a few adjustments.  Somewhat larger scale backing than that provided by the nonetheless fine work of pianist John Rodby and bassist Paul Morin would make a difference.  So, too, would some enhancements of the staging and the book part of the show.   Add to that a more thorough overview of the topic, including items from the gifted distaff songwriters active from, say, the ’60s into the present.

But no complaints about the music that’s already in the show, with its enlightened view of the lesser known, gender segregated but magnificently talented women who wrote some of the great songs in the soundtrack of American life.


Picks of the Week: June 5 – 10

June 5, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- June 5. (Tues.)  “And Then She Wrote.”  Peter Marshall, Carol Welsman, Calabria Foti.  Five time Emmy Award-winning Marshall (Yes, he sings, too) is joined by the lovely singer/instrumentalists Welsman and Foti in an evening of great standards written by women. Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- June 5. (Tues.)  Corliss Dale and Lou Forestieri.  Pianist/arranger  Forestieri’s impressive resume reaches from Stanley Clarke to Mel Torme and beyond.  He and his singing wife Dale have released a pair of impressive albums of standards; Fascinating Rhythms and Crazy Rhythm.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.     (310) 474-9400.

- June 6. (Wed.)  The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses.  The music from one of the most popular video games of all time is performed by a full orchestra.  The program features music based on story lines from “Ocarina of Time,” “The Wind Waker,” “Twilight Princess” and “A Link to the Past.” The Greek Theatre.  (323) 665-5857.

Fabiana Passoni

- June 7. (Thurs.) Fabiana Passoni.  Her sultry vocals have earned Passoni the title of Best Brazilian Singer Living in the U.S. from the Brazilian International Press.  Despite the difficult interruptions of a three year battle with cancer, her musical journey has continued to discover new areas of creativity.  She’ll be backed by a ten piece band featuring the stellar presence of, among others, pianist Bill Cantos and guitarist Kleber Jorge. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.    (310) 474-9400.  Also at Yoshi’s San Francisco on Sun. (See below.)

- June 7 – 9. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Freddy Cole Quartet.  If the voice sounds familiar, don’t be surprised.  He’s Nat Cole’s younger brother, and he’s fashioned those memorable vocal timbres into an appealing style all his own.  At a time when engaging male jazz singers are in short supply, don’t miss the chance to hear Cole in action.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- June 7 – 9. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Peter Cetera.  If the name doesn’t instantly ring a bell, think “Chicago.”  And, no, not the city, the great rock group of the ‘70s that rode to fame on Cetera’s memorable vocals.  Segerstrom Center for the Arts.     (714) 556-2787.

- June 8. (Fri.) Primus.  For nearly three decades Primus has been stretching the envelope in the style of Frank Zappa and Pink Floyd.  Also on the bill, Fishbone, a high visibility presence in L.A.’s alternative rock scene since the ‘80s.  Greek Theatre.   (323) 665-5857.

Ernie Watts

- June 8. (Fri.)  Ernie Watts.  Grammy-winner Watts’ versatile saxophone playing has been heard over the past four decades on more than 500 recordings in the company of artists reaching from Cannonball Adderley to Frank Zappa.  And he’s still going strong.  LACMA.    (323) 857-6000.

- June 8. (Fri.) Big Phat BandGordon Goodwin’s collection of L.A. all-stars perform selections from his always-swinging book of originals and re-invented standards.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- June 10. (Sun.)  Los Angeles Master Chorale. Tribute to Gorecki.  The superb voices of the LAMC close the season with a trio of sonically mesmerizing works by the great Polish composer, as well as the Brahms motet for chorus, Schaffe in mir, Gott, ein rein Herz.  Disney Hall.   (323) 850-2000.

- June 10. (Sun.)  Chickenfoot.  All-star rock group Chickenfoot – Joe Satriani, Kenny Aronoff, Michael Anthony and Sammy Hagar – arrive in support of their latest album, Chickenfoot III.  Also on the bill – Black Stone Cherry. Greek Theatre.  (323) 665-5857.

San Francisco

Rick Braun

- June 8 – 10.  (Fri. – Sun.)  Rick Braun. Trumpeter/vocalist Braun, following in the Chet Baker footsteps, combining his warm and amiable vocals with an appealingly melodic trumpet style.  Yoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.

June 10. (Sun.)   Fabiana Passoni.  Brazilian singer Passoni makes her second California appearance this week.  See above L.A. entry for more details.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.    (415) 655-5600.

Washington D.C.

- June 8 – 10.  (Fri. – Sun.)  Kenny Garrett. Cutting edge alto saxophonist Garrett’s early roots trace to a five year stint with Miles Davis’ electric bands.  But he’s traveled his own path since then, fully apparent in his latest album, Seeds From the Underground.  Blues Alley.  http://bluesalley.com/events.cfm  (202) 337-4141.

New York

Karrin Allyson

- June 5 – 9. (Tues. – Sat.)  Karrin Allyson. Twenty years after her debut album, I Didn’t Know About You, was released, Allyson continues to set standards for what great jazz singing can and should be – via her superb musicality, rich sense of swing and her utterly engrossing storytelling abilities.  Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

- June 5 – 10. (Tues. – Sun.)  Renee Rosnes Quartet.  Pianist Rosnes, always a jazz adventurer, checks out fascinating territories with the world class companionship of Steve Nelson, vibes, Peter Washington, bass and Lewis Nash, drums.  Village Vanguard.   (212) 929-4589.

- June 5 – 10. (Tues. – Sun.)  Dudka Da Fonseca & Helio Alves.  “Samba, Jazz and the Music of Jobim”  An evening revealing, in delightfully rhythmic fashion, the creatively compelling links between jazz and the music of Brazil. With Anat Cohen, Claudio Roditi, George Mraz and Maucha Adnet.  Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.    (212) 258-9800.

- June 7 – 10. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Charles McPherson. Alto saxophonist McPherson has been convincingly carrying the torch for bebop since he performed on the soundtrack of Clint Eastwood’s 1988 Charlie Parker film, Bird.   Jazz Standard.   (212) 576-2232.

London

Danilo Perez

- June 6 (Wed.)  Danilo Perez.  Panama-born pianist/composer/educator Perez’s career arc reaches from intimate musical relationships with Dizzy Gillespie to Wayne Shorter.  With a lot of stops in between, thoroughly establishing himself as one of the influential jazz voices of his generation.  Ronnie Scott’s.   020 7439 0747.


Live Jazz: Carol Welsman at Vitello’s

April 15, 2012

By Don Heckman

On the road. It’s the one experience that is common to every musician – jazz, country, classical, rock, rap, you name it. It’s almost impossible to have a career making music without having to pack a suitcase and climb into a car, a bus, a train, a boat or a plane.

That was one of the motivations behind singer/pianist Carol Welsman’s new album, Journey. But there were others, as well. The fundamental view of life and love as a journey was one. Plus the very practical fact that the Great American Songbook is bursting with songs inspired by travel.

On Thursday night at Vitello,’s Welsman celebrated the release of Journey with a mesmerizing performance of select songs from the album. Along with a few equally compelling numbers – a high spirited romp through a vocalese rendering of “Cottontail” was one – that had nothing whatever to do with travel.

Carol Welsman

But the centerpiece of the program was a collection of songs rich with the romance and the poignancy, the pleasures and the unpredictables of the journey.

To mention a few of the highlights: Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” was re-imagined with gentle, bossa nova-tinged rhythms. On Bob Russell and John Benson Brooks’ too-rarely heard “You Came A Long Way From St. Louis” Welsman’s blues-inflected interpretation perfectly captured the tune’s sardonic whimsy. Bobby Troup’s “Route 66,” another blues-driven tune, emerged as an upbeat swinger.

There was an exquisite rendering of Jimmy Webb’s “By the Time I Get To Phoenix,” sung by Welsman primarily with her own piano accompaniment, delivered in an intimate narrative fashion that found the inner heart of the song. And Henry Mancini’s “Two For The Road,” a tune he described as his own favorite of his many songs, was combined with “Moon River” for yet another affecting view of love’s journey.

And there was more. A lovely pair of travel songs, both dealing with loss in their own unique fashion: the Mercer/Van Heusen classic, “And I Thought About You,” and Peggy Lee and Victor Young’s affecting “Where Can I Go Without You.’ And two blues-driven numbers: B.B. King’s cautionary tale, “Never Make Your Move Too Soon” and Herb Ellis and Johnny Frigo’s metaphoric “Detour Ahead” added another slant.

This far-reaching collection, a compelling overview of the many musical manifestations of journeying, was delivered in memorable fashion by Welsman, with the superlative aid of guitarist Dan Sawyer, bassist Rene Camacho and drummer Jimmy Branley. Singing this kind of material, in a felicitous musical setting, Welsman revealed her remarkable, far reaching range – from her swinging, supportive piano to the warm-toned, richly expressive qualities of her voice. Add to that her gift for musical story-telling, and there’s no wonder why this was such an enchanting evening.

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(Full Disclosure: I wrote the liner notes for Welsman’s “Journey” album. But it’s easy to maintain critical objectivity with someone as talented as Carol.)


Picks of the Week: April 10 – 15

April 10, 2012

By Don Heckman

 Los Angeles

Carol Welsman

- April 12. (Thurs.) Carol Welsman. Traveling the world is at the heart of singer/pianist Welsman’s engaging new CD, Journey. She celebrates its release with an evening’s sampling of the rich, emotionally far-reaching songs from the album. Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- April 11. (Wed.) Pacifica Quartet. The talented young, Grammy-winning players of the Pacifica Quartet take on a challenging, era-leaping program of quartets by Beethoven and Shostakovich. Royce Hall. A UCLA Live program.  (310) 825-2101.

- April 11. (Wed.) Oz Noy. The Israeli-born guitarist’s iconoclastic jazz view is enhanced by the presence of drummer Dave Weckl and bassist Darryl Jones. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- April 11. (Wed.) Anthony Wilson . Versatile guitarist Wilson showcases his far-reaching skills in the second week of his four-performance, month long residency. Blue Whale.  (213) 620-0908.

- April 11. (Wed.) The Soweto Gospel Choir. South Africa’s inspirational, 26 voice vocal ensemble makes a return appearance at Disney in a performance rich with color, melody and jubilant energy. Disney Hall.  (323) 850-2000.

- April 12. (Thurs.) Lisa Hilton. Pianist/composer Hilton’s new recording American Impressions, features her deeply considered, impressionistic compositions, inspired by everyday American life. Her stellar band includes saxophonist JD Allen, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Nasheet Waits. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

Chris Botti

- April 12 & 13. (Thurs. & Fri.) Chris Botti. Trumpeter Botti, the best-selling instrumental jazz artist, and now a Los Angeles resident, takes a break from his virtually non-stop global touring for an Orange County appearance. Segerstrom Center for the Arts.  (714) 556-2787.

- April 13. (Fri.) Brian Auger Organ jazz trio. Veteran keyboardist Auger’s long career traces b.ack to his influential ’70s jazz-rock band, Oblivion Express. His current band features his son, Karma Auger, on drums with Dan Lutz on bass. Baked Potato.  (818) 980-1615.

- April 14. (Sat.) Chris Walden Quintet. Grammy-nominated composer/arranger/bandleader Walden takes a break from his studio activities to feature his trumpet and flugelhorn in a small group setting. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- April 15 (Sun.) Seth McFarlane and the Ron Jones Orchestra. The creator of Family Guy steps into the vocal spotlight, backed by the swinging Ron Jones ensemble, to offer his take on the Sinatra/King Cole/Dean Martin song book. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

San Francisco

Benny Golson

- April 11 – 13. (Wed. – Fri.) Benny Golson Quintet featuring Nnenna Freelon. It’s a jazz pairing to remember – Golson’s hardy tenor saxophone and classic jazz tunes matched with Freelon’s scintillating way with a jazz vocal. The Rrazz Room.  (415) 394-1189.

- April 12. (Thurs.) Peggy Seeger. The offspring of a great American musical family – her siblings are Pete and Mike Seeger – Peggy is a compelling performer of American and European folk, while continuing the family’s activist traditions. Freight & Salvage.  (510) 644-2020.

- April. 13 – 15. (Fri. – Sun.) The Bad Plus. The adventurous Bad Plus players – pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson and drummer David King – continue their efforts to redefine the creative elements of the jazz piano trio. Yoshi’s Oakland. (510) 238-9200.

Chicago

- April 12 – 15. (Thus. – Sun.) Miguel Zenon. Winning a MacArthur “genius” award hasn’t slowed down Zenon’s creative advances as one of the finest jazz alto saxophonists of his generaion. Jazz Showcase.  (312) 360-0234.

 New York

- April 10 – 15. (Tues. – Sun.) Vijay Ayer Trio. Pianist/composer Ayer blends elements from his Indian background, his far-reaching compositional interests and his straight-ahead jazz skills into compelling musical results. No wonder he’s a critics’ favorite. Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.

- April 11. (Wed.) Pilc-Bona-Hoenig. The full names of the members of this impressive trio are Michel Pilc (piano), Richard Bona (guitar) and Ari Hoenig (drums); together, they blend powerful individual skills into an innovative ensemble blend. 55 Bar. (212) 929-9883.

 Boston

Gerald Clayton

- April 14. (Sat.) The Gerald Clayton Trio. Hearing his Dad, bassist John Clayton, and his uncle, saxophonist Jeff Clayton, when he was first discovering the wonders of jazz clearly had a significant impact on Gerald Clayton, who has rapidly established himself as a rising young star. The Regatta Bar.  (617) 395-7757.

 Montreal

- April 14. (Sat.) Halie Loren. Singer/songwriter Loren still isn’t as visible as her impressive talents deserve. But she clearly impressed iRoM reviewer Brian Arsenault. Click HERE to read his review of her new recording.  Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill. (514) 931-6808.

 London

- April 10 – 12. (Tues. – Thurs.) Michel Legrand. The great French artist Legrand is an ultimate hyphenate, with a career reaching from film music and song writing to theatre, film and production. Add to that his always listenable jazz piano work. This is one of his rare club appearances – do whatever it takes to obtain a ticket. Ronnie Scott’s.,  020 7439 0747.

 Berlin

- April 12. (Sat.) Defne Sahin. Singer/songwriter Sahin, born in Berlin to Turkish parents, found her way into jazz as an expression of her quest for the open spaces of musical freedom. Her latest recording features songs based on the writing of Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet. A-Trane. 030 / 313 25 50.

 Tokyo

- April 10 – 12 (Tues. – Thurs.) Jane Monheit and Ivan Lins. Could anyone ask for a more delightful musical partnership than this – the gorgeous timbres and intimate interpretive style of Monheit and the memorable songs and uniquely personal singing of Lins. They should take this show on the road in the U.S., too. Blue Note Tokyo. 03-5485-0088.

* * * * *

Chris Botti photo by Tony Gieske.


Picks of the Week: Nov. 15 – 20

November 15, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Carol Welsman

- Nov. 15. (Tues.)  Carol Welsman.  Pianist/singer Welsman makes her last L.A. area performance of the year, which makes it one not to be missed.  Hopefully she’ll play a few tunes from her soon to be released latest CD.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Nov. 16. (Wed.)  Jane Harvey.  Veteran singer Harvey, whose extensive resume begins with the Benny Goodman Band in the mid-40s, is still a remarkable performing artist.  To read Tony Gieske’s recent iRoM review of a Harvey performance, click HERE. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Nov. 16. (Wed.) Herb Alpert and Lani Hall.  They’ve been a jazz/pop power couple for a long time.  But what really makes Alpert and Hall special is the charmed intimacy of the way they make music together.  Here, they perform in their very own jazz club. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Nov. 17. (Thurs.)  Doug Webb.  Master reed and flute player Webb concentrates on tenor saxophone and flute, but he is equally adept at numerous other instruments.  No matter what he plays, however, he does it with style, substance and imagination.  Crowne Plaza LAX Jazz Club.  http://www.crowneplaza.com  (310) 642-7500.

Lainie Kazan

- Nov. 17 – 19. (Thurs. – Sat.) Lainie Kazan. Lainie’s done it all – stage, screen, night clubs and recordings — always with the attractive blend of emotional intensity and sardonic wit that are among her many attributes.  And when she applies it to a song…look out.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Nov. 18. (Fri.)  Riffat Sultana.  The daughter of the great Pakistani singer Salamat Ali Khan, Sultana ranges from traditional and classical ghazal and qawwali to fascinating cross-cultural blends.  The Skirball Cultural Center.  (310) 440-4500.

- Nov. 18. (Fri.)  Bruce Eskovitz Jazz Orchestra. Saxophonist, educator and clinician, Dr. Bruce is also the leader of a big band whose music reflects his quest to create music that blends rhythmic excitement and compelling ensemble textures. LACMA.    (323) 857-6000.

Song of the Angels Flute Orchestra

- Nov. 18. (Fri.)  David Shostac and the Song of the Angels Flute Orchestra.  Shostac, principal flutist with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra leads one of the music world’s most unique entities – an ensemble made up of the full range of flutes, from the familiar concert C flute to the extremely rare double contrabass flute.  Cypress Recital Hall at the Valley Performing Arts Center.   (818) 677-3000.

- Nov. 18 & 19. (Fri. – Sat.)  The Spirit of Django.  Gypsy jazz is at its finest in the hands of Dorado Schmitt, a guitarist with a deep understanding of the irresistible music of the legendary Django Reinhardt.  Segerstrom Center For The Arts.   (714) 556-2787.

- Nov. 18 & 19. (Fri. – Sat.)  Sketchy Black Dog. The off center blend of string quartet with piano jazz trio led by pianist Misha Piatigorsky is liable to play their own take on anything from Jimi Hendrix and Elton John to their own inimitable originals.  Blue Whale.   http://bluewhalemusic.com  (213) 620-0908.

Barbara Morrison

- Nov. 18 & 19. (Fri. – Sat.)  Barbara Morrison.  One of the Southland’s vocal treasures, Morrison has moved beyond her profound medical problems by staying in touch with the expressiveness that has always been at the heart of her music.  Steamers. http://www.steamerscafe.com  (714) 871-8800.

- Nov. 19. (Sat.) Wu Man“Return to East – Ancient Dances.”  A virtuoso player of China’s lute-like pipa, and a member of Yo Yo Ma’s Silk Road ensemble, Wu Man plays selections from the traditional repertoire, as well as the specially commissioned multi-media work, Ancient Dances.  UCLA Live at Royce Hall.    (310) 825-4401.

San Francisco

Miguel Zenon

- Nov. 15. (Tues.)  Miguel Zenon.  MacArthur grant genius award winner Zenon has been playing a lot in other bands lately.  Here’s a chance to hear this imaginative saxophonist on his own.  Yoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.

- Nov. 16. (Wed.) Kiran Ahluwalia. Singer/composer Ahluwalia blends poetic ghazals and traditional Punjabi songs with contemporary sounds and rhythms generated by her guitarist husband, Rez Abbasi.   Yoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.

- Nov. 16 – 20. (Wed. – Sun.)  Diane Schuur.  Deedles, as she is known and loved by fans and friends alike, has been reviving her jazz roots lately.  But that doesn’t mean that she can’t find the heart of any other style she decides to explore.  Don’t miss this rare chance to hear her up close and live.  The Rrazz Room.   (415) 394-1189.

- Nov. 18. (Fri.)  The Anonymous Four.  This female a cappella quartet has produced some of the most extraordinary examples of pre-1600 vocal music.  Heard in the Grace Cathedral, with its remarkable 7-second reverberation, their singing will produce an authentic display of the polyphonic sound and substance of early music.  Grace Cathedral.    (866) 920-5299.

Seattle

Nov. 18 – 20. (Fri. – Sun.)  Jane Monheit. Blessed with one of the most luxurious vocal instruments in jazz, Monheit isn’t often properly appreciated for the rhythmic lift and imaginative phrasing she brings to her performances.  Jazz Alley.   (206) 441-9729.

Chicago

- Nov. 17 – 20 (Thurs. – Sun.)  Kenny Barron Trio. He’s every jazz artist’s favorite pianist to have in their rhythm section.  And with plenty of good reasons – all of which are especially apparent when Barron takes the spotlight with his own music.  Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

New York

Jim Hall

- Nov. 15 – 19. (Tues. – Sat.)  The Jim Hall Quartet.  At a time when the guitar has been making a major comeback in jazz for a decade or two, Hall – whose credentials reach back to the ‘50s – continues to be one of the instrument’s major masters.  Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

- Nov. 15 – 20.  (Tues. – Sun.)  Chick Corea continues his epic, month long banquet of music from his long, storied career.  Tues. – Thurs: From Miles, with Eddie Gomez, Jack DeJohnette, Wallace Roney and Gary Bartz; Fri. – Sun: Flamenco Heart, with a new band of world-class Latin musicians.  The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

- Nov. 16. (Wed.) John Coltrane’s Ascension. A stellar aggregation of contemporary players, led by Joe Lovano, take on one of the classic works of the adventurous jazz of the ‘60s.  The group includes Donny McCaslin, Sabir Mateen and Vincent Herring, saxophones; Jeremy Pelt, trumpet; Josh Roseman, trombone; James Weidman, piano; Ben Allison, bass; Billy Drummond and Matt Wilson, drums;   Jazz Standard.   (212) 576-2232.

- Nov. 18 & 19. (Fri. & Sat.)  Denny Zeitlin.  The psychiatrist/jazz pianist from San Francisco makes one of his infrequent stops in New York.  This time around, his considerable talents will on full display via an evening of solo piano (on Friday) followed by a trio performance with bassist Buster Williams and drummer Matt Wilson (on Saturday).  The Jazz Lounge in the Kitano Hotel.   (212) 885-7119.

Boston

Sheila Jordan

- Nov. 17. (Wed.)  Sheila Jordan and Steve Kuhn Duo.  Both Jordan and Kuhn are veteran jazz artists with careers reaching back for decades.  And an especially attractive part of that history is represented by the recordings and live performances they’ve done together.  Call it a symbiotic jazz connection.  The Regatta Bar.    (617) 661-5000.

London

- Nov. 19. (Sat.)  A Portrait of Jaco.  The Laurence Cottle Big Band performs material from Jaco Pastorious’ “Word of Mouth” band. Celebrating what would have been Jaco’s 60th birthday on Dec. 1. Ronnie Scott’s.   020 7439 0747.

Sheila Jordan photo by Tony Gieske.


Picks of the Week: Oct. 4 – 9

October 3, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Patti Lupone

- Oct. 4. (Tues.) Patti Lupone. The versatile, two-time Tony Award winning artist presents “Gypsy in My Soul,” a set of songs illuminating her life on and off stage.  Royce Hall.    (310) 825-2101.

- Oct. 5 & 6. (Wed. & Thurs.)  Further (Phil Lesh and Bob Weir)  The spirit of the Grateful Dead still lives in the playing of Lesh and Weir.  Expect to hear familiar classics and experience an irresistible Grateful Dead jam.  Greek Theatre.    (323) 665-5857.

- Oct. 6. (Thurs.) Patty AscherBossa, Jazz ‘n’ Samba.  Sao Paulo’s Ascher lays it all out in the title of her approach to Brazilian music.  Richly experienced in both Brazilian music and jazz, she combines the two in her own uniquely appealing fashion.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Oct. 6. (Thurs.)  Trombone Shorty and Orleans Ave. Trombone Shorty (who also plays scintillating trumpet) has brought Hollywood Bowl crowds to their feet at Playboy Jazz Festivals.  Here’s a chance to experience that energy up close and personal.  The El Rey.    (323) 936-6400.

- Oct. 6. (Thurs.)  Fabiana Passoni. It’s a great night for Brazilian music in L.A.  Passoni has survived challenging health problems to establish a fascinating, utterly unique blend of Brazilian and American musical forms.   Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Oct. 7. (Fri.)  Tamela D’Amico with the Pat Longo Big Band.  Multi hyphenate D’Amico – a jazz singer, actress, director and producer – takes a break from her other activities to display her appealing interpretations of American songbook classics, backed by Longo’s stirring big band charts.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

Merle Haggard and Kris Kristofferson

- Oct. 7. (Fri.)  Merle Haggard and Kris Kristofferson.  A pair of country music’s iconic figures get together for a rare and, no doubt, wonderful tour through their well known classics.  Greek Theatre.    (323) 665-5857.

- Oct. 7. (Fri.)  Kevin Mahogany.  At a time when male jazz singers have been in relatively short supply, Mahogany continues to apply his rich sound and easygoing swing to everything he sings.  Culver’s Club for JazzAt the Double Tree L.A. Westside Hotel.   (310) 649-1776 Ext. 4137.

- Oct. 7. (Fri.)  Amanda McBroom and Lee Lessack.  A classic night of cabaret, at its very best.  McBroom’s expressive storytelling finds the inner heart of everything she sings; Lessack adds appealing interpretations from his own, different, but appealing perspective.  Ford Amphitheatre.  (323) 461-3673.

- Oct. 9. (Sun.)  Josh Nelson & Pat Senatore Duo.  An intriguing cross generational encounter, between pianist Nelson’s vibrant, thoughtful style and Senatore’s richly mature foundation.  Call it an evening of deep musicality. Vibrato Jazz Grill…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

San Francisco

- Oct. 5. (Wed.)  Mingus Amungus.  Bay area-based Mingus Amungus continue to be one of the most effective celebrants of Charles Mingus’ music, bringing it to life in a way that would surely have pleased Mingus himself.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

Baaba Maal

- Oct. 5 & 6. (Wed. & Thurs.)  Baaba Maal.  Senegalese master Maal performs an unplugged and impromptu set of his music, after a discussion of his life and times with music journalist Chris Salewicz.  Yoshi’s Oakland.  /show/2112  (510) 238-9200.

Seattle

- Oct. 6 – 9.  (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Family Stone.  Original members of Sly & the Family Stone revive some of the biggest hits of the seventies – “I Want To Take You Higher,” “Everyday People” and “Dance to the Music” among them.  Jazz Alley.  (206) 441-9729.

Chicago

- Oct. 6 – 9. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Eric Alexander with the Harold Mabern Quartet. Hard-driving, intensely articulate saxophonist Alexander finds the right backing for his powerful style in pianist Mabern.  Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

New York

- Oct. 4 – 9. (Tues. – Sun.) Italian Jazz Days.  The Anthony Ciacca Quintet. One of the highlights of a weeklong celebration of the prominent role Italian jazz musicians have played in the expansion of contemporary jazz.  With trumpeter Dominic Farinacci, saxophonist George Garzone, guitarist Steve Kirby and Special GuestsDizzy’s Club Coca Cola.    (212) 258-9800.

- Oct. 7 – 9. (Fri. – Sun.)  Larry Goldings, Peter Bernstein, Bill Stewart. An All-Star Organ trio would be the proper label for this impressive group of young players, as they bring new delights to one of jazz’s classic instrumental formats.  Jazz Standard.    (212) 576-2232.

Washington D.C.

Roy Hargrove

- Oct. 5 – 9. (Wed. – Sun.)  The Roy Hargrove Quintet. Grammy-winning trumpeter Hargrove’s busy schedule reaches from his big band to solo outings.  And, especially, to his excursions across the length of contemporary jazz with his own quintet.  Blues Alley.   (202) 337-4141.

Boston

- Oct. 7 & 8. (Fri. & Sat.)  Robert Glasper. Pianist Glasper has established himself as a musical voice capable of reaching across genre boundaries to attract young audiences to jazz.  His current group features Derrick Hodge, bass, with Mark Colenburg, drums.  The Regatta Bar.    (617) 661-5000.

Paris

- Oct. 6. (Thurs.)  Pat Martino. Guitarist Martino had to literally learn to play his instrument again after a brain aneurysm in 1980.  Incredibly, he did so with astonishing success, thoroughly establishing himself as one of the principal creative voices among the large array of contemporary jazz guitarists.  New Morning.  01 45 23 51 41.

Tokyo

Carol Welsman

- Oct. 4. (Tues.)  Carol Welsman with Ken Peplowski and the Benny Goodman Orchestra. Pianist/singer Welsman is a superb jazz artist in her own right. Here, she takes a different role, performing many of Peggy Lee’s familiar Swing Era hits with the Goodman Orchestra.  Nakano Sun Plaza.   03 3388 2893.

- Oct. 6 – 8. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Tania Maria.  Grammy-nominated, Brazil-born singer/pianist Maria has been a dynamic figure in the crossover area between jazz and Brazilian music since the ‘70s.  And she’s still going strong.  Blue Note Tokyo.    03 5485 0088.


Live Jazz: Carol Welsman at Vitello’s

June 24, 2011

One of the many pleasures of reviewing music is the opportunity to hear gifted performers grow and evolve in their art.  And that’s exactly the feeling I had Wednesday night, when I heard singer/pianist Carol Welsman perform at Vitello’s.

I’ve been fond of her music since the first time I heard her a few years ago.  And I admired her work so much that when she asked me to write the liner notes for her album I Like Men, a tribute to Peggy Lee, I was delighted to do so.  I found her playing and singing on that album to be immensely entertaining.  Welsman honored Lee in the best possible way – not by simulating the Lee style, but by finding within it a powerful inspiration for her own creative vision.

Wednesday’s program took an entirely different tack, broadening the perspective and the repertoire of Welsman’s art.

Backed by regulars Rene Camacho on bass and Jimmy Branly on drums, with special guest Bob Sheppard on tenor and soprano saxophones and flute, she dipped into a far-ranging collection of songs, many having to do with travel.

Her opening tune, “Beyond the Sea,” happily eluded the influence of the Bobby Darin hit version, more reminiscent, instead, of the original – Charles Trenet’s “La Mer.”  Other, equally rich interpretations followed: a samba-driven take on “Come Fly With Me”; a reading of Jimmy Webb’s “By the Time I Get To Phoenix” that utterly captured the intimacy of the lyrics; and a romp through “Fly Me To The Moon” that opened space for Welsman and Sheppard to stretch their improvisational wings in briskly swinging fashion.

In mid-set, Welsman was joined by a special guest: television star, singer and actor Peter Marshall.  At 85, Marshall sang with an impressively youthful vigor, opening with a convincing reading of “That’s All” and dueting with Welsman on Henry Mancini’s poignant “Two For the Road.”

Welsman wrapped the show with a couple of captivating originals and a jaunty romp through “I Love Being Here With You.”  And from the audience’s point of view, the feelings were clearly mutual.  As she always does, Welsman gifted her listeners with a bouquet of songs as musically adventurous as they were lyrically engaging.  She’s one of a kind, and she just keeps getting better.


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