Record Rack: Steven Casper & Cowboy Angst; Noah Preminger and Terri Lyne Carrington

May 2, 2013

Of Americana Rock, American Tenor Sax and American Genius Reprised

 By Brian Arsenault

The range of great American music never ceases to amaze me.  When they’re writing about our civilization, such as it is, a number of centuries hence I am quite sure it will be our music that is most treasured and remembered.  Unless the whole grid collapses, of course.

 Steven Casper & Cowboy Angst

Trouble (Silent City Records)

There is just no disputing the good time of bad times this EP (not LP) provides the listener.  Five tunes, one done twice, to take you deep into the heart of American music done road house bounce — blues, r&b, zydeco, Tex-Mex, Looziana all tied up in a just dazzling display.  In other words, rock and roll to delight the soul.

What Casper and his new Cowboy Angst lineup understand is that it’s all connected.  From the hills of West Virginia to the Delta. From Nashville to New York. At its best, it’s all American music. The Band knew that and so does Casper.

“Cat On A Hot Tin Roof” opens the proceedings and rightly so; a nasty tasty blues/gospel tune you won’t hear in church, with two McCrary sisters singing backup to Casper’s lead vocal.  In this version, it’s the guy who’s the cat.

Then here comes “Soul Deep”. Real nice lap steel guitar by John Groover McDuffie. Tom Petty would probably have a hit with this.

“I know where you end is the start of me.”

The title song is pure Louisiana  barroom rock.  How can trouble make you feel so good.

“I don’t go looking for trouble. Trouble comes looking for me.”

But the absolute gem of the album is “How Can I Miss You When You’re Not Gone?” Keeps the Cajun going and the irony can’t be missed.. The song is repeated as a “front porch” instrumental with banjo and fiddle to finish out the album.  But the first version will make you dance alone if there’s no one to dance with.

“Hey Marie” reaches way back to the 1950s to what Don and Phil Everly might have cut with Chuck Berry if songs could have been so damn bad back then without being censored or masqueraded. Chuck knew how to do that.

Marie writes on the wall: “Had a real good time. Don’t bother to call.”  Years later he sees their history “while standing in the grocery line.”

This little album is so good we might not deserve it. But it’s here this summer.

Noah Preminger

Haymaker (Palmetto Records)

Something special your way comes on May 14.

Noah Preminger, like Hemingway, boxes.  And like Hemingway he’s clear and concise.  He wants you to get it without the merely decorative and overly descriptive.  Here, here it is. Hear it.

On Haymaker, his tenor sax is moody and reflective at times — think Hawkins — as on the opening tune “Morgantown.”  Lovely and cool at other times — as on “Tomorrow,” whether you liked the musical Annie or not.

All saxophones played well are great to me, but tenor is the most satisfying; expressive and deeply touching. It’s why Kerouac called players of the instrument “tenorman.” They were special. Still are.

There are good songs all over the place. Preminger can’t remember what girl he wrote “My Blues for You” for, so it’s for all the girls you’ve loved.  Ben Mondor’s guitar solo picks up Preminger’s mood but it almost hurts when his horn breaks off.

Monder steps out front in the intro to his composition “Animal Planet.” Real smooth. Then Preminger comes in with such melodic lines.  A real favorite of mine.

On “Stir My Soul” and elsewhere, drummer Colin Stranahan sometimes annoys with his insistent pounding.  Oh, he’s good but he doesn’t need to fill every available space.  More Charlie Watts, less Keith Moon, please. Or listen to the next album (see below).

Still, he’s fine on the Dave Matthews song “Don’t Drink the Water.” The band makes you feel so good here as they start real smooth, go off into space and then return to the song’s melody.

“Motif Attractif” is a sweet little sendoff to close the album.

Preminger’s playing — ascending, descending, roaming, retuning — is just so sensitive to tonality, melody, timing and the other musicians that he is special to hear.

A haymaker in boxing can produce a knockout all on its own.

 Terri Lyne Carrington

Money Jungle Provocative in Blue (Concord Blue)

Shoot for the top.  Can’t hurt and it might work.

Drummer supreme Terri Lyne Carrington does just that with a reworking of Duke Ellington’s remarkable trio recording Money Jungle with Charles Mingus and Max Roach.  She gathers up the superb piano of Gerald Clayton and bassist Christian McBride with a few others and nails it.

I’m kinda late reviewing this album that came out during the winter but it got buried in the stack and just has to be paid homage to the way she pays homage to Ellington.

Even when she throws in a few of her own songs she seems true to the Duke.  I think he would have liked them. A lot.  And Clayton gets his own cut, “Cut Off,” which also resonates as a true Ellington descendant.

But the Ellington tunes, oh yeah.  A money hating downer narrative leading us into the album is overridden by the joyousness of the music that follows.  Clayton’s piano complemented just perfectly by Carrington’s drumming. She understands that the spaces are as important as the hits.

The only jarring note in the tune “Money Jungle” is the music being interspersed with speech clips from various politicians.  Doesn’t do much for me.  Money may be the enemy of art, but try paying the rent without the coin from gigs and recordings.  Politicians don’t do anything for art or anyone.  They don’t make things better for anybody but themselves.

But back to Ellington’s music.  “Fleurette Africain” demonstrates beautifully Mingus’ quote in the liner notes about simplicity.

“Anybody can play weird; that’s easy (and) making the simple complicated is commonplace.  What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach.  Making the simple, awesomely simple… That’s creativity.”

You’ll get it when you hear it.  Simple. Note to note. Chord to chord. Builds, weaves but always simple.  You hear every bit of it.

Same with “Backward Country Boy Blues,” with “Switch Blade,” with all of the Ellington compositions so lovingly handled here.

The wrap comes with “Rem Blues/Music” and the recitation of an Ellington poem within.

“Music is a woman . ..

When you think what you think,

She already knows”

Terri Lyne knows.

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To read more posts, reviews and columns by Brian Arsenault click HERE.


Live Jazz: Jackie Ryan at Vitello’s

April 24, 2013

By Don Heckman

Studio City CA.  Jackie Ryan’s appearance at Vitello’s Monday night was one of the most musically gripping performances of recent memory.  Listening to her two extended sets of songs before an enthusiastic, packed house crowd, I found myself wishing that the entire evening had been videotaped.

Why? In part for the pleasure of Ryan fans who couldn’t make the gig (or those who, like me, did but who would love to have a video for future enjoyment).  And in part because a video of her performance could well have served as a virtual seminar in song for vocal classes in university jazz programs around the world.

Jackie Ryan and Graham Dechter

None of all this, of course, was in Jackie’s mind as she kicked off the evening with a light hearted romp through the often-covered Bob Dorough/Ben Tucker tune, ‘Comin’ Home Baby.”  Music, not video, was clearly her focus – music reaching across the spectrum from blues to ballads to bossa nova, with a lot of other enchanting stops along the way.

Beyond that, and at the heart of all her interpretations, it was Jackie’s musical story-telling gifts – as a singer and an actress — that brought her songs vividly to life, regardless of their style or substance.  More than almost any other jazz singer I’ve seen lately, she is an irresistible communicator.

Jackie was superbly supported by the world class ensemble of tenor saxophonist Rickey Woodard, trumpeter John Reynolds, guitarist Graham Dechter, pianist Gerald Clayton, bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton.  Most of the players (with Reynolds replacing Gilbert Castellanos and Hamilton replacing Obed Calvaire) were present on Jackie’s highly regarded CD, Listen Here.  And her program was completely dedicated to a live, in-performance look at some of the musically and dramatically rich collection of songs on the album.

Rickey Woodard, John Reynolds, Jeff Hamilton, John Clayton and Gerald Clayton

The highlights came, one after another.

A lovely bolero, “La Puerta,” chosen to honor Jackie’s Mexican mother, was done as a musically intimate duet between Jackie’s voice and Dechter’s guitar.  Dechter also played an equally vital role in “Chega de Saudade” (“No More Blues”), sung in English and Portuguese.  The piece was wrapped up with a delightful coda in which Jackie did a stunning vocal simulation of Brazilian percussion.

Gerald and John Clayton

Gerald and John Clayton

Pianist Gerald Clayton played with similar finesse on several tunes, including some full-out gospel piano accompaniment as Jackie preached her way through “Accentuate the Positive,” done with the verse.  And Clayton’s subtle touch, a vital element in almost every number, was especially well crafted in his accompaniment for Jackie’s poignant rendering of “I Loves You Porgy.”

In some of the more lively songs, the horn players provided dynamic instrumental backing, often soloing between vocal choruses, with trumpeter Reynolds delivering in laid-back Chet Baker style and saxophonist Woodard dipping into the warm seductiveness of Ben Webster-like phrasing.  Bassist Clayton and drummer Hamilton meanwhile served as the dependable rhythmic engine, keeping everything on track.

And there was more: standards such as “How Little We Know” and “The Gypsy in My Soul,” more offbeat items including “How Long?” “To the Ends of the Earth” and Dave Frishberg’s “Listen Here” (the album title song).  Add a pair of relatively new songs: “Rip Van Winkle” by Jon Mayer and Mark Winkler, and a new tune with lyrics by the Bergmans and music by John Clayton – “Before We Fall In Love.”

Finally, Jackie wrapped this remarkable evening with a romp through “Red Top” featuring both her scatting and her vocalese in another vivid display of her extraordinary abilities.

Reveling in this climactic ending, one could only hope that she will increase the number of her too-rare appearances in the Southland.  Either that, or start providing some videos for her fans who would like to have more frequent contact with Jackie Ryan and her music.

* * * * * * * *

Click HERE to read a recent iRoM review of Jackie Ryan’s new album, “Listen Here.”

Photos by Faith Frenz.


Record Rack: Tine Bruhn & Johnny O’Neal, Jackie Ryan and Karen Souza

March 20, 2013

Three Queens, All Aces

By Brian Arsenault

This is a time of remarkable female jazz singers.  So many who are so good. Undoubtedly changes in social mores have increased the pool of women willing to run the risks of being a jazz singer and the industry‘s willingness to accept them. But I think there’s more than a sociology treatise here. I think there’s magic involved, as there was with the surge in bop jazz musicians in the late 40s and great rock in the second half of the sixties. Leave it to others to explain. We get to enjoy.

 Tine Bruhn & Johnny O’Neal:

 nearness (Burner Records)

Think of a time when a singer simply stood next to the piano.  She sings, he plays and, oh yeah, there’s a great tenor sax on some songs. Now’s the time and Tine Bruhn makes the most of it with the marvelous jazz pianist Johnny O’Neal and young sax player, Stacy Dillard. She’s deep into the American songbook of Cole Porter, Hoagy Carmichael, Johnny Mercer and others and she has the remarkable ability to make each song hers by the end.  “The Nearness of You,” from which the album title is drawn, is simply seven and a half minutes of bliss.  If an album can glow with light, this one does.

Jackie Ryan with John Clayton & Friends:

 Listen Here (Open Art Productions)

Jackie Ryan, I think, could sing just about anything and on this album she just about does. Jazzy, bluesy, in English and in Spanish, old classics and new compositions. Her “I Loves You Porgy” is nearly overwhelming. Hell, it is overwhelmingly beautiful. So is band mate John Clayton’s “Before We Fall In Love,” lyrics by the great Bergmans to touch the soul. Sidemen? You want sidemen: Gerald Clayton on piano, Graham Dechter on guitar, Gilbert Castellanos on a trumpet born in Mexico and journeyed to American jazz. More. I’m not even sure this is a jazz album. Not completely.  Jackie kind of defies categories.  She’s music.

 Karen Souza:

Hotel Souza (Music Brokers)

We begin in a Paris hotel with an affair, “prisoners of desire” wondering “how did it get this far.” It goes on like that. For the whole album. Sexuality in song. Longing, desire, surrender. This hotel where “I’ve Got it Bad” for “Delectable You” even if you’ll “Break My Heart.” Her version of Marvin Gaye’s “Heard it Through the Grapevine” is 110 degrees in the shade. Phew, well Marvin was about heat after all.  Yet underneath all the physical attraction and consummation there is a sadness at the impermanence of affairs and attraction. In the end, you have to “Lie to Me.”

To read more reviews, posts and columns from Brian Arsenault click HERE.


Record Rack: Gerald Clayton, Steve Kuhn and Roberta Piket

March 15, 2013

Pianos On The Loose

By Don Heckman

 Gerald Clayton: Life Forum (Concord Music)

I’ve been listening to and marveling at the playing of Gerald Clayton since he was displaying all the makings of a unique jazz artist while still a teen-ager.  Now 28, with three Grammy nominations, his credentials have been thoroughly established, and never more so than on this far-ranging set of performances.  Working with his regular associates – bassist  Joe Sanders and drummer Justin Brown – he moves confidently and inventively through a compelling collection of intriguing original works.  Clayton’s rich imagination reaches out to embrace the contributions of saxophonists Logan Richardson and Dayna Stephens, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, vocalists Gretchen Parlato and Sachal Vasandani and poet Carl Hancock.  That’s a diverse collection of musical sounds, styles and substance – a challenge fully met by a pianist well on his way toward the top of his field.

Steve Kuhn: The Vanguard Date (Sunnyside)

With a track record that reaches from John Coltrane in the ‘60s into the multi-hued present, Steve Kuhn has been a pianist whose creative accomplishments embrace the entire jazz spectrum, from bebop to avant-garde.  The Vanguard Date, first released in 1986 on the Owl label is a stunning display of Kuhn in his fully mature mode, moving with utter confidence from the grooving bop of Tadd Dameron’s “Superjet” to the soaring lyricism of his own “Lullaby.” At the heart of the program — his virtually symbiotic interaction with bassist Ron Carter and drummer Al Foster.

Roberta Piket: Solo (Thirteenth Note Records)

The rich thoughtfulness that characterizes Roberta Piket’s inventive improvising is immediately apparent on the first track of Solo, in which she plays a darkly moody version of “I See Your Face Before Me” in a style reminiscent of Erik Satie’s Gymnopedie No. 1.  Her previous three albums have ranged through strings and woodwinds, electric instruments and the classic piano trio.  But this time out she approaches the piano in the classic solo sense, as a virtual orchestra in itself.  In the process she brings new light to such familiar jazz lines as “Monk’s Dream” (in two variations), Chick Corea’s “Litha,” Wayne Shorter’s “Nefertiti” and Duke Ellington’s “Something To Live For.”  Add to that a lyrical rendering of “Estate” and a final, gently blues-driven piece by her father, Frederick Piket.  The result, in sum, is an intriguing overview of a jazz pianist who still hasn’t quite received the ovations that her unique talents deserve.


Picks of the Week: Nov. 7 – 11

November 7, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

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

Jimmy Heath

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arturo Sandoval

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

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

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

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

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

Roberta Donnay

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

Santa Cruz

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

Chicago

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

New York

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

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

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

London

Vinicius Cantuaria

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

Paris

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

Berlin

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

Copenhagen

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

Milan

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

Tokyo

McCoy Tyner

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


Picks of the Week: Sept. 25 – 30

September 25, 2012

By Don Heckman

 Los Angeles

John Pisano

- Sept. 25. (Tues.)  John Pisano’s Guitar Night.  It’s an all-star congregation, with John Pisano celebrating the 15th anniversary of his always-entertaining Guitar Nights. Expect to see and hear a stage full of the Southland’s finest 6-stringers.  Lucy’s 51.    (818) 763-5200.

- Sept. 27. (Thurs.)  The Los Angeles PhilharmonicThe Philharmonic DancesOpening Night Concert and Gala.  The 2012-2013 Los Angeles Philharmonic season opens with a spectacular evening celebrating the long creative alliance between orchestral music and dance.  Gustavao Dudamel conducts the Philharmonic Disney Hall in a program reaching Saint-Saens and Stravinsky to Adams and Bernstein, with dancers from the American Ballet Theatre, from Broadway, and from BODYTRAFFIC.  Disney Hall.    (323) 850-2000.

- Sept. 27. (Thurs.)  Cirque Chinois.  If you were impressed by Cirque du Soleil, you’ll be at least that delighted – and probably more — by China’s Cirque Chinois, a gifted assemblage of acrobats, jugglers and contortionists who have been influencing circuses in the West for decades The Valley Performing Arts Center.

Cirque Chinois

- Sept. 27. (Thurs.)  Andrea Marcelli Quartet. Italian drummer/composer Marcelli impressive track record includes working with Wayne Shorter, Dave Liebman, Bob Mintzer and more.  And his compositions can be heard on nearly 200 CDs.  This time out, he’s working with bassist Pat Senatore, pianist Mitchell Forman, and saxophonist Bob Sheppard.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.    (310) 474-9400.

- Sept. 27. (Thurs.)  Sascha’s Bloc Band.  The richly entertaining, mostly Russian,  Bloc Band moves easily through funk, jazz, blues and r&b with an impressive degree of jazz authenticity. How good are they? Click HERE to read a recent review of a Bloc Band performance.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Sept. 28. (Fri.)  Miles Davis House @ Dim Mak Studios.  A celebration of the life and music of Miles Davis on the 21st anniversary of his passing.  The event — described in its announcement as “a genre-bending odyssey, the ultimate jam session — is hosted by Davis son, Erin Davis, and his nephew, Vince Wilburn, Jr.  Performers include Alexandra & the Starlight Band, David & Devine, Gabriel Johnson and Steven Roth.  There will also be DJ sets by Clifton Weaver AKA Soft Touch and Miles Tackett, and a Miles Davis shop with T-shirts, giveaways, etc.  Dim Mak Studios.  8 p.m. – 1:30 a.m.  1643 Cosmo St., Hollywood.

Bebel Gilberto

- Sept. 28. (Fri.)  Bebel Gilberto.  The singer/songwriter daughter of the iconic Joao Gilberto, Bebel has created, in her own right, a starry career in Brazil as well as the rest of the world.  She’ll perform some numbers with special guests “Forro in the Dark.”  A CAP UCLA program at Royce Hall.  (310) 825-2101.

- Sept. 28 & 29.  Fri. & Sat.  Vardan Ovsepian Chamber Ensemble.  Armenian born pianist/composer Ovsepian displays his far-reaching creative versatility with his Chamber ensemble.  The Blue Whale.   (213) 620-0908.

- Sept. 28 – 30. (Fri. – Sun.)  Los Angeles Philharmonic.  Gustav Dudamel showcases his first performance of Stravisky’s Rite of Spring with the Philharmonic.  Also on the program: Ravel’s Pavane pour une infante defunt and the world premiere of Steven Stuckey’s Symphony Disney Hall.    (323) 850-2000.

Bill Cunliffe

- Sept. 29. (Sat.)  Bill Cunliffe Big Band.  Pianist/composer/leader Cunliffe takes a break from his numerous small group outings to spotlight his versatile big band writing, performed by an aggregation of Southland first-call players. Upstairs at Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- Sept. 30. (Sun.) Wilco.  Grammy Award-winning alternative rock band Wilco close the summer season with their first appearance at the Hollywood Bowl.  They’ll be joined by singer/songwriter/harpist Joanna NewsomHollywood Bowl.    (323) 850-2000.

San Diego

- Sept. 29. (Sat.)  Nikhil Korula Band.  Jazz, rock and reggae are on the bill whenever Nikhil Korula and his musically adventurous six piece band step on stage.  Expect to hear some of Korula’s new compositions from his latest CD, Music of the New DayLongboard’s Grill.   (858) 270-4030.

San Francisco

Paula West

- Sept. 26 & 27. (Wed. & Thurs.)  Paula West.  The remarkable blend of rhythmic swing and emotionally touching phrasing, expressed via her warm honey voice, make West one of the finest individualist in today’s crowded category of female jazz singers.  Don’t miss a chance to hear her live.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 615-5600.

New York

- Sept. 25 – 30. (Tues. – Sun.) Gerald Clayton  Sextet.  Pianist/composer Clayton is completely familiar to Los Angeles jazz fans, who have experienced his remarkable creative growth since he was a teen-ager.  Now a new star, nationally and beyond, he performs an almost week-long with a four-horn sextet.  Jazz Standard.    (212) 576-2561.

Toots Thielemans

- Sept. 29. (Sat.)  Toots Thielemans: Celebrating 90 Years.  He’s the definitive jazz harmonica player, a fine guitarist and an amazing whistler.  And Thielemans has been entertaining and exciting jazz audiences with versatility for decades.  And still at it.  The performance also includes Eliane Elias, Dori Caymmi, Kenny Werner, Oscar Castro-Neves and more.  The Rose Theatre, Jazz at Lincoln Center.  (212) 258-9800.

London

- Sept. 28 & 29. (Fri. & Sat.)  Ian Shaw with the Phil Ware Trio.  Arguably one of the U.K.’s finest male jazz singers, Shaw’s eclectic musical view embraces everything from the Great Standards to Ray Charles, Joni Mitchell and Burt Bacharach.  Ronnie Scott’s

Milan

- Sept. 27 – 29.  (Thurs – Sat.)  Sarah Jane Morris.  English-born singer/songwriter moves easily from pop, jazz and rock to r&b, doing it all with convincing authenticity.  Blue Note Milan.   02.690 16888.

Tokyo

Rickie Lee Jones

- Sept. 27 – 28. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Rickie Lee Jones. Singer and songwriter of styles beyond definition, Jones – approaching 60 – may not have the visibility she once did, but she nevertheless continues to be one of pop music’s most intriguing performers. Blue Note Tokyo.    03.5485.0088.


Live Jazz: Mike Katz’s Monterey Jazz Festival Top Ten

September 13, 2012

By Mike Katz

Every year the Monterey Jazz Festival program features a Top Ten list from Artistic Director Tim Jackson, and I always think that’s interesting, but what does he tell everybody else? And how can he not mention (your favorite here). So I figured I’d take a stab at my own Top Ten, but with a slightly different angle, for this year’s Festival, which begins Fri. Sept. 21.  Here in LA we get to see a good deal of the major touring names (Trombone Shorty, Esperanza Spalding, Eddie Palmieri) as well as others who live or have lived here (Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, Tierney Sutton, Gerald Clayton, among others.)

I always look forward to new configurations of talent, and introductions to new players, as well as a few familiar names that we don’t see too often on the Left Coast. So here’s my list, in order of appearance, with a special effort to highlight most of the festival’s venues.

1. Mulgrew Miller,  Coffee House.  8, 9:30, 11, Friday night.   Every year I promise myself I will get to see at least one set in the cozy Coffee House, which features small groups playing before appreciatively quiet audiences. What better way to start off  the festival than with Mulgrew Miller, whose bright, swinging touch belies his impressively large physique.

Jack DeJohnette

2. Jack DeJohnette, Dizzy’s Den. 8:30 Friday night; Arena w/ Pat Metheny and Christian McBride, 9:20 Sat. night; Dizzy’s Den, Sunday night, 7:30 with Bill Frisell. The Festival’s Showcase artist, DeJohnette’s multi-faceted talents are reflected in these three different settings. I don’t know yet who the personnel will be in the Friday night  group but it is bound to be interesting; the Metheny trio can’t help but be great and I hope to catch at least part of the duet with guitarist Frisell on Sunday.

3. Gregoire Maret Quartet, Night Club, 9:30 Friday night. When you think about the harmonica in jazz, Toots Thielemans comes to mind, and then there is a long pause. Maret, from Geneva, Switzerland, has been getting some attention as Toots’ heir apparent, so here’s a chance to check him out.

Ali Ryerson and Mimi Fox

4. Ali Ryerson-Mimi Fox Duo, Night Club, 2:30 Saturday Afternoon. Take a break from the raucous atmosphere at the Arena and check out flutist Ali Ryerson and guitarist Mimi Fox, both of them notable for exquisite phrasing. You’ll still have time to get back for most of Trombone Shorty’s set.

5. Tribute To Cal Tjader, Dizzy’s Den, 8  Saturday night.  Pianist Michael Wolff, who played with Tjader in the ‘70s, has assembled an all-star group that features Warren Wolf on vibes, along with Pete Escovedo, John Santos, Robb Fisher and Vince Lateano.

Bill Frisell

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6. Bill Frisell Big Sur Quintet, Arena, 8  Saturday night.  Night Club, 10:30 p.m. I know, you can’t be two places at once. Frisell’s commissioned piece promises to be a highlight. Visit the special Cloning Tent right next to the funnel cake stand.7.

Pat Metheny

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7. Pat Metheny, Arena, 9:20 Saturday night (See above) and 7 Sunday night. Unity Band with Chris Potter, Antonio Sanchez, Ben Williams. Two arena appearances for Metheny. The trio appeals to me the most, but you can’t lose with either one.

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8. Tony Bennett, Arena, 10:50 Saturday night. Need we say more?

9. Next Generation Band, Arena, 1:10 Sunday Afternoon. Yes, you have tickets for Esperanza Spalding. Don’t think it’s cool to skip the opening student groups. Last year’s NGB knocked everybody out. Artist-in-Residence trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire sits in.

10.  Mads Tolling Quartet. Garden Stage, 4 Sunday afternoon. The mid-afternoon sets at the Garden Stage are always great fun. Turtle Island Quartet violinist Tolling fronts his own group.

Dee Dee Bridgewater

11.  MJF ALL-STARS w/ Dee Dee Bridgewater, Chris Potter. Bennie Green, Christian McBride, Ambrose Akinmusire, Lewis Nash, Arena, 9  Sunday night and Dizzy’s Den, 11 Saturday Night. This super group closes out the festival at the Arena, but you might have just as much fun seeing them Saturday night at Dizzy’s Den.

Okay, that’s 11. And I didn’t even mention Judy Roberts and Greg Fishman at the Courtyard Stage throughout the Festival.

But…but…what about…Melody Gardot, Christian Scott, Robert Randolph?….excuse me, I’ve got to run. See ya next week.

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.


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