Here, There & Everywhere: A Tribute to Myrna Daniels at Catalina Bar & Grill

October 6, 2014

By Don Heckman

“A Tribute” was the nominal title of the event that took place Sunday afternoon at Catalina Bar & Grill. But it was actually much more than that. Some called it a Love Feast, celebrating the accomplishments of Myrna Daniels and her L.A.,Jazz Scene Newspaper. Others referred, repeatedly, to the coming together of L.A.’s “Jazz Family.” And it was also a diverse jazz performance event, showcasing a far-ranging group of some of the Southland’s most dedicated jazz artists.

That might seem like a lot for a Sunday brunch, social hour and concert. But all the aspects of the day were right on target. Largely because the producers, Jazz del Corazon did a fine job of putting all the pieces together, the performers gave their all, and Catalina Popescu and her assistant Manny – as always – provided the perfect ambiance in the perfect setting.

Myrna fully deserved all the accolades that were offered, in recognition of the many years in which she has maintained a periodical supporting Los Angeles jazz in all its manifestations. And the tribute attracted a room packed full of jazz people – musicians, fans and more – the “Jazz Family” that was acknowledged so often during the day.

Myrna accepted the tribute with characteristic grace and warmth. And, in her final comments, she added the best news of all for the many fans of her L.A.,Jazz Scene Newspaper, promising to continue publishing the much valued, widely read periodical into the future.

Jazz itself took over for the balance of the day emceed by the inimitable wit, humor and charm of Bubba Jackson. The many fine participants included:

Singer/bandleader Dave Damiani and his No Vacancy Big Band. The superb vocal trio Chambers, Herbert & Ellis. The empathic duo of singer Cat Conner and woodwind specialist Gene “Cip” Cipriano. The brilliant vocal improviser Mon David. Singers Jackie Gibson, Dolores Scozzesi, Cathy Segal-Garcia, Judy Wexler and Lauren White, each of whom brought another intriguing slant to the jazz vocal art. Ira Hill, an 18 year old jazz vocal prodigy, and Mark Winkler & Cheryl Bentyne’s irresistible combination of fun, swing and balladry.

Here’s Faith Frenz’s photo essay look  at many of the artists in action:

Dave Damiani and his big band

Dave Damiani and his big band

Mark Winkler and Cheryl Bentyne

Mark Winkler and Cheryl Bentyne

Dolores Scozzesi

Cathy Segal-Garcia

 

Ira Hill

Ira Hill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judy Wexler

Judy Wexler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mon David

Mon David

Cat Conner

Cat Conner

Chambers, Herbert & Ellis

Chambers, Herbert & Ellis


Picks of the Weekend in L.A.: October 3 – 5.

October 3, 2014

By Don Heckman

It’s a light weekend, as Yom Kippur ushers in October. But there are some intriguing musical events to experience. Like these:

Angelique Kidjo

- Oct. 3. (Fri.) Angelique Kidjo, With special guest Red Baraat, Dynamic, exciting and entertaining only begin to describe Angelique Kidjo’s remarkable performances. And this one includes the added high energies of the Brooklyn bhangra band with percussionist Sunny Jain. Valley Performing Arts Center.  2014-10-03 (818) 677-8800.

- Oct. 3 & 4. (Fri. & Sat.) Crosby, Stills & Nash. What is there to say that hasn’t been said about the remarkable musical history, past and present, of the extraordinary musical collecetive of David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash. Here they are in their always welcome, annual Southland appearance. The Greek Theatre.  (323) 665-5857.

– Oct.4. (Sat,.) Sha Na Na sings Grease. It’s a great combination: the doo-wop songsters of Sha Na Na take on the hit songs from the hit film musical Grease. Expect to hear “Hound Dog,” “Rock ‘n’ Roll Is Here To Stay,” “Sandy” and more. Don’t miss this one. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.  (562) 916-8500

Jennifer Leitham

Jennifer Leitham

- Oct. 4. (Sat.) Jennifer Leitham. It’s unclear why Upstairs at Vitello’s continues to describe itself as a “Jazz and Supper Club.”: No argument with the “Supper,” which is good enough; but “Jazz” has become virtually non-existent in a room that once seemed on the way to establishing itself as one of the Southland’s prime jazz destinations. Fortunately there are still rare, but worthwhile, jazz nights at Vitello’s (a few times a month) with appearances by performers such as Jennifer Leitham, who brings jazz authenticity to whatever and wherever she’s playing. Upstairs at Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

Mark Winkler and Cheryl Bentyne

Oct. 5. (Sun.) A Tribute to Myrna Daniels and the L.A. Jazz Scene Newspaper. Here’s one of the jazz events of the Fall season. Start out with an 11:00 a.m. brunch tribute to the many contributions Myrna Daniels and her L.A. Jazz Scene have made to the continuing presence of jazz in the Southland. Following that, there’ll be performances by Chambers, Herbert & Ellis, Mon David, Jackie Gibson, Dolores Scozzesi, Cathy Segal-Garcia, Judy Wexler, Cat Connor, Lauren White, Mark Winkler & Cheryl Bentyne and others. Later, on Sunday night, Ron Jones and his hard-swinging Influence Jazz Orchestra will top off a music-filled day and night. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Oct. 5. (Sun.) Michelle Coltrane and Shea Welsh. Like her brother Ravi, singer Michelle Coltrane has inherited a remarkable legacy from her parents, John and Alice Coltrane. Also like her brother, she’s applied that legacy to her own growing musical creativity. She performs here with her close musical associate, busy studio guitarist Welsh. Should be a fascinating musical evening. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

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Mark Winkler and Cheryl Bentyne photo by Faith Frenz.


Live Music: Mark Winkler and Dolores Scozzesi at Vitello’s

June 9, 2013

By Don Heckman

Singers Mark Winkler and Dolores Scozzesi were the headliners at Vitello’s Friday night.  And that was good news, since both are among L.A.’s most appealing jazz-oriented singers.  But the evening promised even more with a sub-headline announcing that they would be singing songs by “Laura Nyro, Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman: The Great Singer/Songwriters of the ‘70s.”

Dolores Scozzesi and Mark Winkler

Dolores Scozzesi and Mark Winkler

An intriguing idea. The singer/songwriter era – of both the ‘60s and the ‘70s – was one of the most significant, if occasionally underestimated, chapters in the Great American Songbook.  Add names such as Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Carole King, Leonard Cohen, among others, to the list and the result is a repertoire of songs fully capable of standing alongside the likes of Porter, Gershwin, Berlin, etc.

Mark Winkler

Mark Winkler

Winkler and Scozzesi, however, chose a somewhat narrower collection.  Most of what Winkler sang in his solo segments were drawn from his recent album, The Laura Nyro Project.

Nothing wrong with that, given the Nyro repertoire.  And Winkler, backed by the superb accompaniment of pianist Rich Eames, guitarist Pat Kelley, drummer Dave Tull and bassist Kevin Axt, thoroughly explored some of Nyro’s most compelling works.  A few were familiar tunes, covered by other artists as well – “Stoned Soul Picnic,” “And When I Die” and “He’s A Runner.”  Add to that the somewhat less frequently heard “California Shoe Shine Boy,” “Billy’s Blues” and “Upstairs By A Chinese Lamp.”

But no matter what song Winkler was singing, he approached it with a musically intimate approach, always in search of the multi-layered emotions of  the Nyro catalog.

Dolores Scozzesi

Dolores Scozzesi

Scozzesi took a broader view of the ‘60s and ‘70s.  Her program reached from Joni Mitchell’s “River” and Bob Dylan’s “Just Like A Woman” to Randy Newman’s “You Can Leave Your Hat On” and Phoebe Snow’s “Poetry Man.”

The selections, along with a few others, were perfectly chosen for Scozzesi’s rich interpretive style.  Whether she was finding the sardonic whimsy in the Newman tune or the poignancy of Dylan, she did so with brilliantly expressive story-telling and convincing musicality.

The only missing elements were the presence of a few more duet numbers and, even more importantly, a broader overview of the “Great Singer/Songwriters of the ‘70s.”  Hearing Winkler sing songs by, say, James Taylor or Paul Simon, and – similarly – hearing Scozzesi do a few more from the Joni Mitchell catalog, along with a Leonard Cohen tune or two, would also have been a welcome addition to this otherwise entertaining evening.

So let’s call it an advance promise of a future, more far-reaching performance of singer/songwriter music from the talented Winkler and Scozzesi.

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Photos by Faith Frenz.  To see more photos by Faith Frenz click HERE.


Here, There & Everywhere: Dolores Scozzesi at Vitello’s

June 21, 2012

By Don Heckman

The Playboy Jazz Festival, as well as the lead-in to the Festival, tended to dominate our view screens here at iRoM for the last week or so.  And that’s cool.  It is, after all, one of the major musical events of the year.

But other music has been taking place, as well.  And now that the Playboy Festival madness is over, I want to be sure to call attention to another performance that took place last Tuesday.  It may not have been high visibility, and — in its single night at Vitello’s — it drew a considerably smaller crowd than the 18,000 who showed up for each of the Festival’s two days.  But for listeners attuned to fine music, convincingly done, it was a memorable night.

 

So let’s take a look back at Tuesday, and the appearance of jazz singer Dolores Scozzesi, backed by Andy Langham, piano, Lyman Medeiros, bass, Abe Lagrimas, Jr., drums, at Vitello’s.

It became apparent, almost immediately, that there was stunning musical empathy between Scozzesi and her musicians.  At its best, it recalled the kind of creative intimacy that exists in the Tierney Sutton Band, a group that’s been together for two decades.

Add to that the range of selections in the program.  Scozzesi’s first few choices, reaching from “Listen Love,” a tender song by the too little acknowledged singer/songwriter of the ‘70s, Jon Lucien, to Ann Peebles’ “I Can’t Stand the Rain” and such standards classics as “Night and Day,” “Body and Soul” and “What Now My Love?” underscored both her creative eclecticism and her far ranging musical interests.

As intriguing as her song choices were – also embracing such equally compelling tunes as “When Did You Leave Heaven?” “I’m Going To Sit Right Down and Right Myself A Letter” and “Love Look Away” – what really mattered was what Scozzesi did with this abundant collection.  Gifted with a mature, dark timbred voice, capable of using it across a rich emotional palette, she reached deeply into the heart of each song’s story.  And with especially convincing intensity in an English and French version of “Autumn Leaves” that included a newly conceived segment inspired by a Stan Getz solo, with lyrics by Scozzesi.  Call it a highlight in an evening of memorable songs.

I learned a long time ago that one of the most meaningful estimates of a performance’s impact often lies in the feelings it generates after the program.  Sure, one wants to be captivated by the music while it’s taking place.  But it’s equally important, maybe even more so, to be so stimulated by what one has heard that it stays with you, triggering new feelings and thoughts long after the performance is over.

The experience, to me, is similar to what it used to be like to see an especially impactful movie, back in the time before “films” became the operative word.  In those days, coming out of a movie theatre with a companion, eagerly discussing high points in the story, re-living aspects of the plot, feeling strongly – pro or con – about what we had just seen, was an essential part of seeing a movie.

Driving home from Scozessi’s performance at Vitello’s, Faith and I experienced similar feelings, recalling the pleasure of hearing such a fine array of songs, delivered with so much musical authenticity.  We even had a small disagreement, disputing whether or not Scozessi had tended to make too liberal use of her sometimes edgy chest tones.  But there was no dispute over the quality of the strains of music that remained with us, soothing our ears well into the high decibel sounds of the Playboy Jazz Festival weekend.

Full disclosure: I wrote the liner notes for Dolores Scozessi’s album, “A Special Taste.”  Fortunately writing liner notes does not cause me to lose my sense of musical objectivity.


PIcks of the Week: Aug. 9 – 14

August 9, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

George Cables

- Aug. 9. (Tues.)  George Cables Trio. Pianist Cables doesn’t make a lot of L.A. club appearances, so don’t miss this opportunity to hear the veteran artist in action.  He’ll be backed by Pat Senatore and Joe LaBarberaVibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Aug. 9. (Tues.)  Jennifer Leitham.  It’s a birthday celebration for bassist/singer Leitham who’ll be aided in her far-reaching skills by the solid backing of Andy Langham, piano and Randy Drake, drums.  Charlie O’s. (818) 994-3058.  www.charlieos.com

- Aug. 10. (Wed.)  Blues Night.  The title of this stellar evening is almost an understatement.  With Robert Cray. Keb’ Mo’ and Mavis Staples on hand, it’ll be the blues in all its extraordinary manifestations.  Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- Aug. 11. (Thurs.)  Nuriya.  The Skirball Center continues its high energy, Thursday night free concerts with an appearance by Mexican-born vocalist Nuriya, whose singing encompasses the sounds of her native land, as well as the Jewish, Middle Eastern traditions of her heritage.  She’ll be backed by a high energy ten piece ensemble.  Skirball Center.    (310) 440-4500.

- Augs. 11. (Thurs.)  Aaron Novik.  Bass clarinetist Novik’s chamber ensemble crosses freely from jazz and pop to Jewish and Eastern European traditional musics.  The Hammer Museum.    Also at the Press Restaurant in Claremont on Friday.

Dee Dee Bridgewater

- Aug. 11. (Thurs.)  Dee Dee Bridgewater.  Dynamic singer actress Bridgewater is a Tony and Grammy award winner.  But even those honors don’t fully encompass the creative and musical excitement that is present every time she steps in front of an audience.  The Grammy Museum.  (213) 765-6800.

- Aug. 11. (Thurs.)  Claudio Roditi. Brazilian trumpeter Roditi has been blending elements from his Brazilian roots with an impressive grasp of straight ahead jazz for three decades.  LAX Jazz Club Crowne Plaza Hotel.    (310) 642-7500.

- Aug. 12. (Fri.)  Christian Jacob Trio. The all-star jazz trio pianist Jacob, bassist Kevin Axt and drummer Ray Brinker have been performing in impressive synchronicity with singer Karrin Allyson.  Here, they show off their stuff in a pure piano jazz trio setting.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Aug. 12 (Fri.)  Tizer.  Versatile keyboardist Lao Tizer leads his unique band, Tizer, in a groove-driven, eclectic blend of jam based fusion and contemporary jazz.  Violinist Karen Briggs is also on hand, and a few “special guests” may show up, as well.  The Baked Potato.    (818) 980-1615.

- Aug. 13. (Sat.)  World Classic Rockers.  The title pretty much says it all.  It’ll be an evening featuring players from such high visibility rock bands as Steppenwolf, Santana, Boston, Journey, TOTO and Lynard Skynard.  Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts. The Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.   (562) 916-8501.

- Aug. 13. (Sat.)  Dolores Scozzesi.  Jazz vocalist Scozzesi brings rich musicality, dramatic illumination and an eclectic overview to everything she sings.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Aug. 13 & 14. (Sat. & Sun.)  The Gipsy Kings.  There’s nothing quite like the music of the flamenco-driven, gypsy-styled music of the Gipsy Kings, for decades one of world music’s most engaging ensembles.  The Greek Theatre.   (323) 665-5857.

Dave Koz

- Aug. 14. (Sun.)  Smooth Summer Jazz. Featuring Dave Koz, Bobby Caldwell, Sheila E., Larry Graham, Spyro Gyra. Phil Perry.  The Bowl’s annual tribute to smooth jazz and instrumental pop, with some of the genres’ highest visibility performers bringing the evening to life.   Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- Aug. 14. (Sun.)  The Los Angeles Jewish Symphony, conducted by Noreen Green“Exaltation! Biblical Stories Through Music.”  The LAJS presents a colorful evening of music — from classical, film and musical theatre sources — celebrating music inspired by the Bible.  Special guests include Grammy nominee singer Amick Byram and 15 year old violinist Stephen Waarts.  Selections include works by Andrew Lloyd Weber, Steven Schwartz, Jerry Bock, Alan Menken and Shuki LevyThe Ford Amphitheatre.  (323) 461-3673.

San Francisco

- Aug. 9. (Tues.)  Big Bad Voodoo DaddyHow Bad Can You Get:100 Years of Cab Calloway. The Voodoo Daddys recall Cab Calloway and the hard-driving, swing-based, dance jazz of the ‘30s and ‘40s. Yoshi’s San Francisco.  http://www.yoshis.com/sanfrancisco/jazzclub/artist/show/1972   (415) 655-5600.  

- Aug. 11. (Thurs.)  Martin Taylor.  A guitarist’s guitarist, admired by his contemporary artists, Taylor is arguably one of the finest solo guitarists you’ll ever hear.  The Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse.    (510) 644-2020.

- Aug. 14. (Sun.)  Buffy Sainte-Marie.  She’s been a compelling performer for decades, and Saint-Marie’s charisma – musically and dramatically – is still as powerful as ever.  Yoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.

Seattle

Karrin Allyson

Aug. 11 – 14. (Wed. – Sun.)  Karrin Allyson.  Jazz singer Allyson, one of the jazz vocal art’s most musically credible performers, celebrates the release of her latest CD,  ‘Round Midnight,   Jazz Alley.   (206) 441-9729.

New York

- Aug. 9 – 10. (Tues. – Sat.)  Kurt Rosenwinkel with OJM (the Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos).  The ever versatile guitarist Rosenwinkel, always in search of musical challenges, performs with an intriguing musical ensemble from Portugal.Birdland.  Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

- Aug. 9 – 14. (Tues. – Sun.)  Jane Monheit. Blessed with one of the most gorgeous sounding voices in jazz, Monheit supplements her rich timbres with solid musicality and lively sense of swing.  Her special guest will be the remarkably eclectic violinist Mark O’ConnorThe Blue Note.    (212) 475-8592.

Cedar Walton

- Aug. 9 – 14. (Tues. – Sun.)  The Cedar Walton Quintet. Pianist Walton has assembled a convincingly creative ensemble, featuring the impressive artistry of trombonist (and conch shell player) Steve Turre, alto saxophonist Vincent Herring, bassist David Williams and drummer Willie Jones III Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.    (212) 258-9800.

Washington D.C.

-Aug. 12 – 14. (Wed. – Sun.)  Jerry Gonzalez and Ft. Apache.  They’ve been generating high voltage performances, spiced with Latin jazz rhythms, for three decades.  This time out, the groove will no doubt be even more pyrotechnic with the presence of Cuban drummer Dafnis Prieto.  Blues Alley.    (202) 337-4141.

London

- Aug 11. (Thurs.)  Gwilym Simcock Trio. His name may not be familiar (or even pronounceable) to most American jazz fans, but Simcock is one of the finest recent arrivals on the global jazz stage.  Ronnie Scott’s.    020 7439 0747.

Dave Koz photo by Greg Allen.


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