Picks of the Week: October 2 – 6

October 2, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Diane Hubka

Diane Hubka

- Oct. 2. (Wed.) Diane Hubka. Singer/guitarist Hubka celebrates the release of her new CD, West Coast Strings. She’ll be backed by a prime group of players: Guitarists John Pisano, Barry Zweig & David Eastlee, organist Bobby Pierce, bassist Jeff D’Angelo and drummer Kendall Kay. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Oct. 2. (Wed.) Teka & New Bossa. Brazilian singer/guitarist Teka displays her authentic view of Brazilian music, backed by Quinn Johnson on piano, Kevin Winard on percussion, Doug Webb on saxophone and Randy Tico on bass. Vitello’s (818) 769-0905.

Christian McBride

Christian McBride

- Oct. 3 – 6. (Thurs. – Sun. Christian McBride Trio. Bassist Christian McBride, every leader’s first call for a world class rhythm section, plays selections from his album Out There with pianist Christian Sands and drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr,. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Oct. 4. (Fri.) Lucy Guerin Inc. Weather. Australia’s much-honored choreographer presents a new work that “embodies human patterns within those of the elements.” CAP UCLA at Royce Hall.  (310) 825.2101.

Anat Cohen

Anat Cohen

- Oct. 4 – 6. (Fri. – Sun.) The 6th Annual Angel City Jazz Festival begins with a weekend brim full of musical activity. On Fri.: Free concert at LACMA with the Zach Ramacier Group and Nicole Mitchell Sun Dial Ensemble. On Sat: Dave Holland Prism and the John Scofield Uberjam Band. CAP UCLA at Royce Hall. On Sun: Richard Sears group, Albert Tootie Heath, Kneebody, Yosvany Terry Quintet, Greg Osby Group with special guest Anat Cohen. Ford Amphitheatre. The Angel City Jazz Festival.

- Oct. 5. (Sat.) Sandi Patty. One of the major stars of Christian music, Patty is a uniquely talented singer whose work is not limited by her popularity in the Christian music genre. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.  (562) 916-8501

- Oct. 6. (Sun.) Carol Duboc. Versatile Duboc, a singer/composer and actress, celebrates the release of her latest album, Smile, in the musical companionship of Jeff Lorber, keyboards, and Jimmy Haslip, bass. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

San Francisco

Miguel Zenon

Miguel Zenon

- Oct. 5. (Sat.) SFJAZZ Collective Jam Session. The SFJAZZ Collective has thoroughly established itself as one of the irresistiblly appealing contemporary jazz ensembles. The gifted players include Miguel Zenón alto saxophone, David Sánchez tenor saxophone, Warren Wolf vibraphone, Edward Simon piano, Matt Penman bass, and Obed Calvaire, drums. An SFJAZZ event at the Joe Henderson Lab. (866) 920-5299.

Seattle

- Oct. 3 – 6. (Thurs. – Sun.) Karrin Allyson. Grammy-nominated jazz singer Allyson continually reveals a musical curiosity that has taken her from bossa nova and the blues to John Coltrane. Jazz Alley.  (206) 441-9729

Chicago

- Oct. 3 – 6. (Thurs. – Sun.) Bobby Watson Quartet. Eclectic alto saxophonist Watson has moved convincingly from bebop and hard bop to cutting edge contemporary jazz. Jazz Showcase.  (312) 360-0234.

New York City

Donald Harrison

Donald Harrison

- Oct. 3 – 6. (Wed. – Sun.) The Messenger Legacy Celebrating Blakey. Drummer Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers legacy is celebrated by Brian Lynch, trumpet, Donald Harrison and Billy Pierce, saxophones, Donald Brown, piano, Reggie Workman, bass, Ralph Peterson, drums. Jazz Standard.  (212) 576-2232.

- Oct. 4 & 5. ( Fri. & Sat.) John Mayall and Friends. The influential English blues artist, whose influence reaches from Eric Clapton to Mick Fleetwood and beyond, celebrates his 80th birthday. The Iridium. h ( 212) 582-2121.

Copenhagen

- Oct. 3. (Thurs.) Soren Kristiansen. Pianist Kristiansen, largely viewed as one of Denmark’s finest, most imaginative jazz artist, displays influence from Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans and Art Tatum in a stellar evening of solo piano jazz improvisations. Jazzhus Montmartre.  +45 31 72 34 94.

Milan

- Oct. 3. (Thurs.) Nicholas Payton. Trumpeter Payton, a world class, Grammy-winning product of New Orleans music, is always a pleasure to hear in action. Blue Note Milano.  +39 02 6901 6888.


Picks of the Week – Oct. 24 – 28

October 24, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Sally Kellerman

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

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

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

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

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

Bob Dylan

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

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

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

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

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

Leon Russell

San Francisco

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

New York

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

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

London

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

Copenhagen

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

Milan

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

Tokyo

The Manhattan Transfer

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


Picks of the Week: October 9 – 14

October 10, 2012

BY DON HECKMAN

Los Angeles

Dr. John

Oct. 11. (Thurs.)  Dr. John, the Lower 911 and the Blind Boys of Alabama“Spirituals To Funk.”  The title is right on target, with Dr. John’s inimitable, funk-driven, Crescent city swing and the gripping spirituals of the Blind Boys.  Valley Performing Arts Center.  (818) 677-8800.

- Oct. 11. (Thurs.)  Frank Petrilli.  The jazz accordion is alive and well in the talented hands of Frank Petrilli.  He’s backed by the equally skilled John Chiodini, guitar, Pat Senatore, bass and Enzo Tedesco, drums.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.    (310) 474-9400.

- Oct. 11 – 14. (Thurs. – Sun.).  “Where the Wild Things Are.”  Gustavo Dudamel conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a mixed media performance of Oliver Knussen’s one act opera based on the famous children’s book by Maurice Sendak.  Also on the program: Ravel’s charming Mother Goose.   Walt Disney Hall.   (323) 850-2000.

Bajofondo

Oct. 12. (Fri.)  Bajofondo.  Academy Award and Golden Globe-winning composer Gustavo Santaolalla leads an eight person collective of musicians from Argentina and Uruguay in a program of innovative Latin music ranging from tango and electronica to contemporary and alternative sounds.  A CAP UCLA  concert at Royce Hall.   (310) 825-2101.

Oct. 12. (Fri.)  Marilyn Crispell and Myra Melford.  Pianist/composer Crispell performs a solo/duo set, followed by pianist Melford and Snowy Egret, her six person music and dance ensemble.  At REDCAT as part of the ANGEL CITY JAZZ FESTIVAL.    (213) 237-2800.

Oct. 12. (Fri.) Smoky Joe’s Cafe.  The immensely popular, Tony-nominated musical features a program of memorable songs by Mike Stoller and Jerry Lieber Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.  (562) 916-8501. /production.aspx?productionSeasonId=4128

Denise Donatellil

Oct. 12 & 13. (Fri. & Sat.)  Denise Donatelli.  The gifted, Grammy nominated Ms. Donatelli is backed by music director/pianist Geoffrey Keezer and his quintet in a release party for her new CD, Soul Shadows.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Oct. 12 – 14. (Fri. – Sun.)  Chris Minh Doky and the Nomads.  Danish/Vietnamese bassist Doky leads a hard driving, jazz fusion band featuring Dave Weckl, drums, Dean Brown, guitar and George Whitty, keyboards. Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

Oct. 13. (Sat.) Bill Frisell & Bill Morrison.  “The Great Flood.”  A creative collaboration between the music of guitarist/composer Frisell and Morrison’s film based on the 1927 Mississippi River flood.  A CAP UCLA/Angel City Jazz Festival concert at  Royce Hall.

Oct. 14. (Sun.)   An Evening with Vijay Iyer: Trio, Quartet and Sextet.  The much praised keyboardist leads several different group formats featuring saxophonist Steve ColemanA CAP UCLA/Angel City Jazz Festival concert at Royce Hall.

San Francisco

- Oct. 10. (Wed.)  “Monk’s Birthday.”  With Barry Harris, Jacky Terrasson and Alfredo Rodriguez. Three cross-generational jazz pianists celebrate the 95th anniversary of the birth of the incomparable Thelonious Monk.   An SFJAZZ concert at the Herbst Theatre.  .

New York

Lee Ritenour and Dave Grusin

- Oct. 10 – 14. (Wed. – Sun.)  “GRP 30th.”  Lee Ritenour and Dave Grusin, a pair of long time musical companions, get together for the 30th anniversary of GRP Records, the company founded by Grusin and Larry Rosen.  The Blue Note.    (212) 475-8592.

- Oct. 13 & 14. (Sat. & Sun.)  The SFJAZZ Collective Plays Chick Corea.  The stellar members of the SFJAZZ Collective perform the far-reaching, ever-fascinating music of Chick Corea.  SFJAZZ Collective is David Sanchez, Miguel Zenon, Avishai Cohen, Stefon Harris, Robin Eubanks, Edward Simon, Matt Penman and Jeff BallardJazz Standard.    (212) 576-2232.

London

- Oct. 11 & 13. (Thurs. & Fri.) Soulive.  Carrying the torch for the jazz organ trio format, the trio of Soulive – Eric Crasno, guitar, Neal Evans, keyboards and Alan Evans, drums, continue to keep the jazz groove alive.  Ronnie Scott’s.    (0)20 7439 0747.

Tokyo

John Scofield

- Oct. 10 – 13. (Wed. – Sat.)  The John Scofield Trio.  Guitarist Scofield, always in search of challenging playing environments, performs with a pair of great, veteran players – bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Bill StewartBlue Note Tokyo.  03.5485.0088.


Jazz With an Accent: Music, the Brain and the Internet

May 30, 2012

Twitter Music

By Fernando Gonzalez

A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to hear the David Sanchez Quartet with Stefon Harris in concert. It was, by any reasonable jazz standard, a beautiful performance. The music, for the most part originals, was compelling and nicely designed. The group worked like a chamber ensemble, eschewing look-at-me posturing to actually listen to each other and maintain the music front and center. And when the players did solo, they did it with imagination and eloquence.

What troubled me about the performance had to do with technology, the Internet and my brain.

The Internet

As a music journalist/critic, I am a sort of professional listener. Moreover, I was educated as a musician. I was once a professional player and composer. And yet that Saturday evening, at times, I found myself lost. Worse yet, I found myself getting impatient with the length of a piece or a particular solo. The concert had a break (at the request of the promoter, explained Sanchez) and yet it felt to me like a marathon.

The audience — I’d estimate the average age in the mid-50s — listened politely and applauded at the expected moments, neither particularly engaged, nor actively disapproving.

Perhaps most, if not all, of my issues that night might be chalked up to my own deficiencies and that’s that. Then again, if it didn’t engage me, well, it didn’t engage me. Perhaps the concert was not as good as I thought. Perhaps.

But the experience was also a personal reminder of how technology is rewiring our brains.

“We shape our tools and afterwards our tools shape us,” wrote Marshall McLuhan in his seminal Understanding Media.

Instruments such as Google, tablets and smart phones are profoundly affecting the way we read, look, listen, think and even use our memory. And they do it in ways we are not even aware of. (Quick, write down the phone numbers of three close friends or family members. I thought so.)

“I can’t read War and Peace anymore. I’ve lost the ability to do that. Even blog posts of more than three or four paragraphs are too much to absorb. I skim it,” says a pathologist on the faculty of the University of Michigan Medical School and blogger on Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows, a book on the effects of the Internet on our brains.

What similar impact might our new tools might have upon our listening habits and, inevitably as a result, on the creation, performance, presentation and consuming of music?

Because, after all, as much as many look at the development of jazz with a Great Man Theory of history (say Armstrong to Ellington to Parker to Miles to Coltrane….), other, more mundane factors have played significant roles in shaping the music.

The advent of the long playing disc granted composers, arrangers and improvisers possibilities up to then unthinkable. The size of the clubs in 52nd St. might have played a greater role in the music going from big bands to small groups (and thus spurring on the development of bebop) than the talent of any one particular musician.

We should anticipate that the changes that technology continues to make to the way we process information will also have consequences.

I am not saying anything startlingly new or particularly astute here. In fact others have said it better. (The subject is brilliantly addressed by Carr in The Shallows.)

If there is a (modest) contribution to the discussion here, it is in asking how these changes are affecting our listening to music in general and jazz in particular – and how, in turn, this will shape the way music is created, designed and presented.

After all, music is an art form that happens in time and depends on memory. In the specific case of jazz, even in its most conventional format, to appreciate the reinterpretation and commentary suggested by the improvisation, the listener must be able to have some recall of the original material. Otherwise, it’s gibberish or some form of musical gymnastics.

In other words, as our memory withers, replaced by gadgets, and our attention span gets shorter and shorter, will there be in a few years an audience capable of remembering an eight-bar-theme that happened five, 10 minutes earlier? And if the listeners are not able to recall even the most basic theme, or lack the patience and discipline to connect the dots over a simple musical form, what could they then make of an improvisation?  (Or in classical music: What happens with Bruckner or Mahler?)

And as audiences inevitably get increasingly lost and frustrated and impatient, go looking for something shorter and simpler, what can the composers, improvisers and presenters do?  In all fairness, is there anything they should do?

On that Saturday night, a couple of weeks ago, David Sanchez and his group played a concert that at times had me baffled and irritated because, well, it had no hyperlinks, no keywords, no way to skim over and get faster to the good parts.

What did they expect?

Come to think of it, what do we expect?

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To read more posts from Fernando Gonzalez and “Jazz With An Accent” click HERE.


Picks of the Week: April 25 – April 30

April 24, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Freda Payne

- April 25. (Wed.)  Corky Hale and Freda PayneA Salute to Billie Holiday’s Birthday.  Lovely Freda Payne has a convincing way with the musical riches of the Holiday legacy.  And  the versatile pianist/harpist Hale, once Lady Day’s accompanist, provides the perfect setting.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- April 25. (Wed.)  Anthony Wilson residency Part 4. Guitarist Wilson wraps up his residency with special guests Donald Vega, Mark Ferber, Dave Robaire, Gilbert Castellanos, Matt Otto, Matt Zebley and Adam SchroederThe Blue Whale.    (213) 620-0908.

- April 25. (Wed.)  The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields with Joshua Bell. The rightly much-honored violinst Bell performs the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the accompaniment of the Academy’s superb ensemble.  Valley Performing Arts Center.  (818) 677-8800.         Bell and the Academy perform a similar program Thursday, 4/26 at Segerstrom Center for the Arts.    (818) 677-8800.

- April 26, 27 & 29.  (Thurs., Fri. & Sun.)  Pepe Romero and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  Veteran classical/flamenco guitarist Romero performs Rodrigo’s great Concierto de Aranuez with the L.A. Phil under the baton of Christoph Konig.  Also on the program: Dvorak’s Scherzo Capriccioso and Brahms’ Symphony No. 2.  Disney Hall. (323) 850-2000.

Della Reese

April 27 & 28. (Fri. & Sat.)  Della Reese. She may have reached her largest audience as a star of the hit ‘90s television series, Touched By An Angel, but Reese has been an eminently listenable singer since the ‘50s.  And she’s still going strong.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- April 27 & 28. (Fri. & Sat.)  Nnenna Freelon and Earl Klugh.  Jazz vocalist Freelon and guitarist Klugh are at the top of their form, skilled jazz individualists and engaging performers.  Samueli Theatre at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.   (714) 556-2787.

- April 27 & 28. (Fri. & Sat.)  The Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet.  The 15-member Cedar Lake company concentrates on the works of innovative choreographers.  For this performance they’ll feature works by Regina van Berkel, Crystal Pite and Alexander Ekman.  A UCLA Live event at Royce Hall.  (310) 825-4401.

- April 28. (Sat.) Nailah Porter and Billy Childs.   Porter’s been a Capitol Hill attorney as well as a singer/songwriter. Currently working on a new album, she’ll no doubt be trying out some of the material with her producer – pianist/composer Childs.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

* * * HIGHLIGHT EVENT * * *

 – April 30. (Mon.)  1st International Jazz Day Celebration.  Herbie Hancock’s first initiative as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador was to create International Jazz Day – the climactic event celebrating April as Jazz Appreciation Month.  Concerts will take place in Paris, New York, New Orleans and dozens of other countries.  In Los Angeles, Herb Alpert’s Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. has stepped up with a major jazz event featuring an all-star line-up of the Southland’s finest players in an evening of continuous jazz.  The stellar list of names is too long to include here – check the Vibrato web site for the full line-up: Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

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San Francisco

Anat Cohen

- April 29. (Sun.)  The 3 Cohens and the Gilad Hekselman Trio.  It’ll be a celebration of the impact jazz has had on young Israeli musicians – and vice versa.  With Cohen siblings Anat, clarinet and tenor saxophone, Yuval, soprano saxophone, and Avishai, trumpet, as well as guitarist Hekselman’s Trio. SFJAZZ at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco.    (866) 920-5299.

Washington

Jon Faddis

April 25 – 28.  (Wed. – Sat.)  Jon Faddis.  Arguably one of the most virtuosic trumpeters of his generation, Faddis’ performances are virtual seminars in the length and breadth of jazz trumpetry.  Blues Alley.   (202) 337-4141.

New York

- April 24 – 28.  (Tues. – Sat.)  Bossabrasil.  Featuring Marcos Valle and Paula Morelenbaum.  Fifty years after the girl from Ipanema, keyboardist Valle and singer Morelenbaum get together to explore the broad connections Brazilian music has established with pop, jazz, world music and beyond.  Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

- April 25 – 29.  (Wed. – Sun.)  “Endangered Species: The Music of Wayne Shorter.”  It may not actually be endangered, but Shorter’s works  surely deserve more attention than they’ve received in recent years.  And there’s no better collection of interpreters than Ravi Coltrane, Jeremy Pelt and Marcus StricklandDizzy’s Club Coca Cola.  (212) 258-9800.

London

- April 25 & 26. (Wed. & Thurs.)  Clare Teal. BBC Jazz Singer of the Year in 2006, Teal’s busy career includes a pair of Radio 2 weekly shows featuring her eclectic vocal stylings.   Ronnie Scott’s.   020 7439 0747.

Paris

David Sanchez

- April 27. (Fri.)  David Sanchez.  Puerto Rican born saxophonist Sanchez enlivens his solid jazz skills with occasional seasonings of Caribbean rhythms.  New Morning.  01 45 23 51 41.

Berlin

- April 29. (Sun.)  Vijay Iyer Trio. Starting out as violinist, while absorbing some Carnatic music along the way, holder of a PhD in music cognition, Iyer has brought a rich creative perspective to his art as a jazz pianist.  A-Trane.  030 / 313 25 50.

Milan

- April 27. (Fri.)  Patti Austin.  Few singers can match Austin’s remarkable stylistic versatility, her ability to move with great authenticity from jazz to pop to rock to r & b and beyond.  Blue Note Milano.    02.69.01.68.88.


News: The 55th Monterey Jazz Festival Final Line Up.

April 5, 2012

By Michael Katz

The 55th Monterey Jazz Festival announced its complete schedule yesterday, adding Tony Bennett and Michael Wolff (leading his Cal Tjader tribute band) to a program already rich with stars that include Pat Metheny, Showcase Artist Jack DeJohnette, Esperanza Spalding, Trombone Shorty, Bill Frisell and Artist-in-residence Ambrose Akinmusire.

Tony Bennett

More on all that later. If you really want to know how loaded this festival is, set your watch for 9:30 p.m. Saturday night, September 22. Here’s what you can hear: Metheny, DeJohnette and Christian McBride in a trio performance on the Lyons Stage; Wolff and his Tjader band with Warren Wolf on vibes along with Pete Escovedo, John Santos, Vince Lateano and Robb Fisher at Dizzy’s Den; The Tierney Sutton Band at the Night Club; Gerald Clayton at the Coffee House. Yikes. Almost all at the same time.  Fortunately, Sutton gets a head start at 9 and Metheny plays another set with his Unity Band featuring Chris Potter, Antonio Sanchez and Ben Williams on Sunday night. Still, if that cloning research gets perfected by September, you know where to find me.

Here’s a few of the other highlights. The Friday night arena show opens with Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band making its MJF debut, and we LA folk know they will get the festival off to a rollicking start. I confess to having heard little of Melody Gardot, who follows, other than sampling the bluesy jazz offerings on her website, but that’s the beauty of MJF.

Ambrose Akinmusire

There’s always some fresh faces,  including harmonica player Gregoire Maret at the Night Club and vocalist Gregory Porter, who has been creating a big ripple lately, with Night Club’s late set. DeJohnette and Akinmusire perform at Dizzy’s Den and the Eddie Palmieri Salsa Orchestra caps off the Arena Show. Finally, pianist Mulgrew Miller, who I would rate along with Michael Wolff among the finest of his (and my) generation, will lead his trio in three performances at the Coffee House.

Saturday is blues/roots/funk day in the afternoon. Robert Randolph and the Family Band open the show at the Arena and end the afternoon at the Garden Stage, always a great place to hang out. As mentioned, Trombone Shorty headlines at the Arena   and his performance, on the heels of his 2010 tour de force, will be one of the most anticipated of the festival. If you are looking for something a little quieter, two of my favorite musicians, flutist Ali Ryerson and guitarist Mimi Fox will be performing a matinee duet at the Night Club.

Saturday night, in addition to the aforementioned logjam at 9:30, begins at the Arena with guitarist Bill Frisell’s Beautiful Dreamers band performing the Festival’s commissioned piece and ends with Tony Bennett. Whether the moon will show up on cue as it did during the opening notes of “Fly Me To The Moon,” as it did in Bennett’s memorable 2005 concert has yet to be determined, but don’t bet against it.

Esperanza Spalding

Sunday afternoon features the award-winning high school and college groups, highlighted by the all-star Next Generation Band at the Arena, with alumnus Ambrose Akinmusire sitting in. The NGB was one of the highlights of the festival last year, so don’t wander in late. Esperanza Spalding, with a hot new album and lots of national exposure, anchors the afternoon show. The late afternoon Sunday shows at the Garden Stage often provide some of the most relaxed and enjoyable moments of the weekend. This year vocalist Jose James gets the 4pm slot and Kyle Eastwood and his band are sure to be crowd pleasers at 5:30.

Sunday night at the Arena begins with Pat Metheny’s band and finishes up with the MJF 55th Anniversary All Star group, featuring Dee Dee Bridgewater, trumpeter Akinmusire, Christian McBride, Benny Green, Chris Potter and drummer Lewis Nash. (They also perform Saturday night at Dizzy’s Den.) There’s plenty happening on the grounds, including vibist Stefon Harris’ Cuban themed 90 Miles Band with David Sanchez on sax and Nicholas Payton filling the trumpet chair; DeJohnette and Frisell in duets; and the annual Hammond B3 organ blowout featuring John Abercrombie, Larry Goldings and Chester Thompson. Tiger Hamasyan takes the piano spot at the Coffee House.

The 55th Annual MJF runs September 21-23. Details at: www.montereyjazzfestival.org/2012

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

To visit Michael Katz’s personal blog, “Katz of the Day,” click HERE.


Picks of the Week: March 6 – 11

March 6, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

John Pisano

- Mar. 6. (Tues.)  John Pisano’s “Guitar Night.” Pisano takes his ever-entertaining, ever-popular  “Guitar Night” to a new venue.  To celebrate the move, the featured guest is veteran guitarist Mundell Lowe.  Lucy’s 51. Toluca Lake.  (818) 763-5200.

Mar. 6. (Tues.)  The Gonzalo Bergara Quartet.  Guitarist Bergara and his crew bring Django Reinhardt’s gypsy jazz firmly into the 21st century.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Mar. 6. (Tues.)  Hod O’Brien and Stephanie Nakasian.  Pianist O/Brien is one of the authentic beboppers, continuing to mine the still rich sounds and rhythms of bop for new musical discoveries.  Here, he also backs his wife, singer Nakasian. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Mar. 6. (Tues.)  The CJS Quintet in a “Tribute to Dexter Gordon.”  The CJS Quintat, always eager keep mainstream jazz alive and swinging, explore the muscular music of Dexter Gordon.  CJS is Chuck Johnson, saxes, James Smith, trumpet, Koji Ono, piano, Trevor Ware, bass, Kenny Elliott, drums. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Mar. 6 – 11. (Tues. – Sun.)  Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. Dance at its finest is a fundamental aspect of every performance by the Ailey dancers.  Three programs are offered, featuring Ailey classics and contemporary works.  Check website for schedule.   Segerstrom Hall  (714) 556-2787..

Jeffrey Kahane

Mar. 7. (Wed.)  Jeffrey Kahane and members of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra present a 15th Anniversary Celebration of Kahane’s tenure as Director of the LACO.  The program showcases Kahane’s far reaching skills as a pianist in the Bach French Suite, the Brahms Piano Trio No. 1, a broad selection of Chopin works and a new Gabriel Kahane composition.  Disney Hall.    (323) 850-2000.

- Mar. 7. (Wed.)  Tull, Korb, Proulx. An evening featuring a sterling trio of jazz instrumentalist/singers – drummer Dave Tull, bassist Kristen Korb, pianist John Proulx.  To read a recent iRoM review of a Proulx performance, click HEREVitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Nellie McCay

- Mar. 9. (Fri.)  Nellie McKay.  Singer, pianist songwriter McKay is one of a kind, making every performance into a compelling creative adventure.  To read an iRoM review of a recent McKay performance, click HERE. Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Mar. 10. (Sat.)  Cecelia Coleman Quartet. L.A. native Coleman, who has been living in New York, returns to remind us of the intriguing qualities of her piano style. She performs with trumpeter Steve Huffsteter, bassist Pat Senatore and drummer Ramon Banda.   Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Mar. 11. (Sun.)  Billy Childs Quartet and the Kronos QuartetBill Frisell’s Beautiful Dreamers.  A fascinating evening of jazz and jazz-oriented chamber music.  The Childs Quartet and Kronos play individual sets and then combine to perform a Childs composition.  Frisell opens the show with the engaging sounds of his guitar, viola and drum trio.  Disney Hall.   (323) 850-2000.

San Francisco

- Mar. 8 & 9.  (Thurs. & Fri.) Patricia Barber. Pianist, singer, songwriter Barber brings emotional and intellectual illumination to everything she plays and sings — whether it’s from the Great American Songbook or her own folio of works. Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

- Mar. 10. (Sat.)  Lynne Arriale Trio.  Pianist Arriale combines an airy harmonic imagination with a briskly effervescent rhythmic feeling.  Yoshi’s San Francisco. .  The trio also appears at Jazz Alley in Seattle on Mar. 13 & 14.   (206) 441-0729.

- Mar. 10. (Sat.)  “Salute to Toots Thielemans.”  A stellar assemblage of players,  led by harmonica player Gregoire Maret, come together to celebrate the life and work of the one and only Toots.  The group also includes Oscar Castro-Neves, guitar, Kenny Werner, piano and Airto Moreira, percussion.  Herbst Theatre.  An SFJAZZ 2012 Spring Season event.  Salute to Toots Thielemans.  (866) 920-5299.

Chicago

David Sanchez

- Mar. 8 – 11. (Thurs. – Sun.)  David Sanchez Quartet. Puerto Rican-born Sanchez, one of the finest saxophonists of his generation, enhances his inventiveness with traces of his Caribbean roots.  Jazz Showcase (312) 360-0234.

New York

- Mar. 6 – 11. (Tues. – Sun.)  Freddy Cole Sextet.  Cole’s conversational vocal style is backed by the richly melodic improvising of saxophonist Harry Allen in a showcase of Cole’s new album, Talk To Me. Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.   (212) 258-9800.

- Mar. 6 & 7. (Tues. & Wed.)  Edmar Castaneda, Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Miguel Zenon.  Expect musical fireworks from this encounter between Castaneda’s fiery harp playing, Rubalcaba’s adventurous piano work and Zenon’s far-ranging saxophone playing.  The Blue Note.  (212) 475-8592.

Berlin

- Mar. 8. (Thurs.)  Dino Saluzzi, Anja Lechner and Felix Saluzzi Trio. The trio of prominent Argentine musical artists – bandoneonist Dino Saluzzi, his saxophonist brother Felix Saluzzi and cellist Anja Lechner – assemble to play selections from their fine ECM album, Navidad de Los Andes.  A-Trane.   030/313 25 50.

Tokyo

Lou Donaldson

- Mar. 7 – 10. (Wed. – Sat.)  Lou Donaldson. The playing of veteran alto saxophonist Donaldson, still in rare form at 85, provides a compelling link to the bebop era of Charlie Parker and Sonny Stitt.  Blue Note Tokyo.   03-5485-0088.

Milan

- Mar. 10. (Sat.)  The Ron Carter Quartet. Bassist Carter, who has played with virtually every major jazz artist of the past five decades, steps out with a group reflecting his own musical thinking: pianist Renee Rosnes, percussionist Rolando Morales-Matos and drummer Payton Crossley.  The Blue Note Milan    02.69.01.68.88.

John Pisano photo by Bob Barry.

Nellie McCay poto by Tony Gieske.


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