Live Music: The Thelonious Monk 2014 International Jazz Competition Gala

November 11, 2014

By Don Heckman

Hollywood, CA. The 2014 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition came to a dramatic conclusion Sunday night in a All-Star Gala event at Dolby Hall in Hollywood. This year, the Competition was for trumpet players. And the three finalists each offered a display of their considerable skills in a setting that allowed each player to perform a pair of selections of their own choice. And it was no surprise that works by Thelonious Monk were popular choices.

Inevitably, there was a winner, a second and a third place finisher, as follows:

1st Place Winner: Marquis Hill from Chicago.

1st Place Winner: Marquis Hill from Chicago.

 

2nd Place Winner: Billy Buss from Berkeley

2nd Place Winner: Billy Buss from Berkeley

3rd Place Winner Adam O’Farrill from Brooklyn

But the prevalent thought that came to mind while hearing these fine young players in action was the firm belief that each of the prodigal musicians had displayed all the skills required for successful careers in the musical world in general and the jazz world specifically. And, win or place as a finalist, they all will benefit from the visibility associated with having placed so high in such a major competition.

In addition to the Competition finals, the Gala presented a concert clearly intended as a celebration of jazz itself, in its many shapes, sizes, styles, disguises and a lot more. As a result, much of the music was far more closely related to pop, blues, rock, soul and beyond. No problem there, except in the passages attempting to shoe horn those genres into a jazz setting.

In its best, moments, however – especially when singers Dee Dee Bridgewater and Dianne Reeves, and instrumentalists Herbie Hancock, John Beasley, Wayne Shorter, Marcus Miller, Stefon Harris, Joshua Redman and others were on stage – the program’s jazz roots were ever present.

Dee Dee Bridgewater, Dianne Reeves, Taj Mahal

Dee Dee Bridgewater, Dianne Reeves, Taj Mahal

The Gala concert was hosted by Kevin Spacey, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Don Cheadle, Goldie Hawn and Billy Dee Williams. It included performances by a multi-generational group of all-stars including Musical Director John Beasley, Pharrell Williams, John Mayer, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Wayne Shorter, Queen Latifah, Jimmy Heath, Chaka Khan, Taj Mahal, Dianne Reeves, Marcus Miller, Kenny Burrell, Stefon Harris, T.S. Monk, Joshua Redman, Jon Faddis, Billy Childs, Vinnie Colaiuta, James Genus, Theo Croker, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Dontae Winslow, Melissa Aldana and others.

President Bill Clinton and Herbie Hancock

President Bill Clinton and Herbie Hancock

As if the presence of all the stellar names on that list wasn’t enough, the Monk Institute also honored President Bill Clinton with the Institute’s 2014 Maria Fisher Founder’s Award. Each year, the Founder’s Award is presented to an individual who has made major contributions to the Institute, the perpetuation of jazz, and the expansion of jazz and music education programs. President Clinton received the award from Herbie Hancock, Chairman of the Monk Institute, with a smile and a wave to the crowd. He did not, apparently, ask to sit in on tenor saxophone.

The Gala ended with a crowded backstage party for participants and friends of the Monk Institute, enlivened by conversations already speculating on possibilities for next year’s Monk Competition.

Which was good news for music education. Proceeds from the All-Star Gala Concerts support the Institute’s jazz education programs in public schools across America.

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Photos courtesy of Steve Mundinger/Thelonious Monk Institute Of Jazz


Picks of the Weekend in Los Angeles: Nov. 6 – 9

November 6, 2014

By Don Heckman

Steve Tyrell

Steve Tyrell

- Nov. 6 – 9. (Thurs. – Sun.) Steve Tyrell. Add an amiable Texas twang to a jaunty sense of swing and a convincing way with a lyric, and that still doesn’t add up to the magic that happens when Tyrell digs into the Great American Songbook. Catalina Bar & Grill. http://www.catalinajazzclub.com (323) 466-2210.

Lani Hall and Herb Alpert

Lani Hall and Herb Alpert

- Nov. 6. (Thurs.) Herb Alpert and Lani Hall. The veteran jazz trumpeter/painter/sculptor and his vocally superb wife are back again at their home base – Alpert’s jazz friendly, elegant Bel Air club. They’ll no doubt be working over material for their current touring. And that’ll be a musically captivating gift for anyone who can squeeze into what will no doubt be a full house crowd. But it’ll be worth the effort. Click HERE to read a review of the dynamic duo’s most recent appearance at.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- Nov. 6. (Thurs.) David Ornette Cherry. He’s the son of trumpeter Don Cherry, who worked frequently with free jazz icon Ornette Coleman– thus David Ornette Cherry’s middle name. A keyboard player with his own unique approach to contemporary improvisation, he’s an imaginative jazz artist who deserves a hearing on his own right. The Blue Whale.  (213) 620-0908.

Los Lobos

Los Lobos

- Nov. 8. (Sat.) Los Lobos and Los Lonely Boys. The mutiple Grammy-winning group from Los Angeles are one of the popworld’s most eclectic ensembles. Blending everything from Latin pop and Chicano rock to TexMex and Americana their music has a fascinating body-moving appeal. Opening the bill, Texas’ Los Lonely Boys follow a similar musical path. Valley Performing Arts Center.  (818) 677-8800.

- Nov. 8. (Sat.) Dimitri Matheny Quartet. Matheny’s warm, engaging flugelhorn playing has thoroughly established him as one of the most emotionally expressive improvisers of his generation. He performs with the sterling backing of Joe Bagg, piano, Pat Senatore, bass, Dick Weller, drums. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

Johnny Mathis

Johnny Mathis

- Nov. 8. (Sat.) Johnny Mathis. He doesn’t show up often any more in the Southland, so don’t miss this opportunity to hear the hit-maker of the ‘6os and 70s up close in action. Segerstrom Center for the Arts.  (714) 556-2787.

- Nov. 8. (Sat.) The New West Symphony. Marcelo Lehninger conducts the gifted players of the NWS in Brahms’ Symphony No. 2, and the Dvorak Concerto in B minor for cello and orchestra, featuring cellist Lynn Harrell. The Cavli Theatre at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza. (805) 449-2100.

HIGHLIGHT EVENT: SATURDAY AND SUNDAY NOVEMBER 8 & 9

The 2014 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Trumpet Competition and All-Star Gala Concert

Thelonious Monk

The annual jazz competitions produced by the Thelonious Monk Institute are among the most celebrated jazz events of the year. And the 2014 installment is no exception. This year’s competition again showcases a talented, ambitious group of young players. The semi-finalists will first meet at U.C.L.A.’s Schoenberg Hall on Saturday, Nov. 8. (The semi-final event is free and open to the public.)

The three finalists will then perform in the Competition’s Gala event on Sunday, Nov. 9 at Dolby Hall. The distinguished panel of judges for both stages of the competition includes trumpeters Ambrose Akinmusire, Terence Blanchard, Randy Brecker, Roy Hargrove, Quincy Jones and Arturo Sandoval.

Following the finalists’ performances and the selection of this year’s winner, an All-Star Gala concert will feature Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Terri Lyne Carrington, Ron Carter, Vinnie Colaiuta, Jimmy Heath, Marcus Miller, Dianne Reeves and others.

In another highlight of the Gala, the Institute will present its prestigious Founders Award to President Bill Clinton.

The Thelonious Monk Institute 2014 International Jazz Trumpet Competition  (310) 206-9700.


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 – 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: May 2 – 6

May 1, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Arturo Sandoval

- May 2. (Wed.)  Arturo Sandoval Big Band. He plays the trumpet, the piano and the drums, and he sings, too.  The musical multi-hyphenate from Cuba showcases his dynamic versatility in the second installment of the new jazz series at The Federal.    (818) 980-2655,

- May 2. (Wed.) Llew Matthews and Pat Senatore.  Pianist Matthews is a much desired singers’ accompanist and a valued first call sideman.  But he’s also an engaging solo artist as well.  Here he performs with the equally sensitive backing of bassist Senatore. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.     (310) 474-9400.

– May 3. (Thurs.)  Gerald Wilson Orchestra. Watching the marvelously energetic, 93 year old Wilson lead a band of L.A. all-stars through a program of his compositions and arrangements is one of the truly memorable jazz experiences. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

Simon Rattle

- May 3 – 6. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Return of Simon Rattle.  Rattle conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Disney Hall for the first time.  The Central European-oriented program includes works by Ligeti, Wagner, Mahler and Bruckner.  Rattle’s wife, mezzo soprano Magdalena Kozena sings Mahler’s Ruckert-Lieder.  Disney Hall.  (323) 850-2000.

- May 4. (Fri.)  Mark Winkler and Mary Foster Conklin.  When a pair of beyond-definition singers – who move easily from cabaret to jazz standards — get together for a vocal jam session, expect an unusually enlightening evening of song.   Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- May 4 & 5. (Fri. & Sat.)  Strunz and Farah.  Performing together since 1980, the duo guitar team of Jorge Strunz and Ardeshir Farah create incomparable musical banquets overflowing with sounds and rhythms reaching from jazz and flamenco to the Middle East, spiced with their own musically rich imaginations.  Click HERE to read iRoM’s most recent review of Strunz & Farah. Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

Perla Batalla

- May 5. (Sat.)  Perla Batalla.  Blessed with a rich-toned voice, fascinated with a broad range of music, Batalla tells an engaging story with everything she sings.  Broad Stage.   (310) 424-3200.

- May 5. (Sat.)  Reflections on Frank Sinatra.  A band of Southland all-stars — Ralph Penland, Jim Hughart, Ron Anthony, Llew Matthews and Bill Kerr – team up with singers Melodye and Luca Ellis, and comedian Tony Russell in a tribute to the Chairman of the Board. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- May 6. (Sun.) Bonnie Bowden and Sony Holland.  Vitello’s.  It’s a day filled with some prime jazz vocalizing.  In the afternoon, Bowden displays her airy timbre, soaring range and convincing way with a song.  In the evening, Holland adds her tender, gripping voice and subtle rhythmic swing.  Sony Holland.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- May 6. (Sun.) Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra“Mozart and Me.”  Another of the LACO’s delightful introduction to classical music for young people.  The program features LACO musicians with the Pasadena Master Chorale, a talented ten year old pianist from the Colburn School and an actor garbed as Mozart himself.  The Alex Theatre.  2 p.m.  (213) 622-7001 Ext 1.

Susan Egan

- May 6. (Sun.) Susan Egan.  She starred on Broadway and has proven herself as a convincing cabaret artist.  This time, Egan uses both those skills in an intimate presentation of some of Broadway’s greatest hits.  The Carpenter Theatre.    (562) 985-7000.

- May 6. (Sun.)  REO Speedwagon, Styx and Ted Nugent.  Three classic rock groups, Greek Theatre favorites, return for yet another episode in their long-running musical shows.  Greek Theatre.

- May 6. (Sun.) The 2012 Playboy Jazz Festival First Community Concert. The Playboy Jazz Festival’s annual free concerts leading up the the Festival itself — which takes place on June 16 & 17 at the Hollywood Bowl – are some of the Southland’s greatest jazz bargains. And this year is no exception. Sunday’s program at the Beverly Hills Civic Center Plaza, featuring a performance by Jose Rizo’s Mongorama, is a tribute to one of the great innovators of Latin jazz: Mongo Santamaria.

Jose Rizo’s Mongorama

Mongorama offers a stunning revival of Mongo’s music, discovering vividly alive qualities still coursing through the legendary percussionist’s greatest hits. Also on the bill, the remarkably mature playing of the Beverly Hills High School Jazz Band, a collective of young players convincingly proving that the future of jazz is in fine hands., The First Playboy Free Community Concert at the Beverly Hills Civic Plaza. (310) 450-1173.

San Francisco

- May 5. (Sat.)  Rosanne Cash.  The daughter of Johnny Cash, Rosanne Cash has thoroughly established herself as an artist whose skills embrace far more than country music.  A writer and novelist, she invests her music with the far-reaching subtleties of her literary viewpoints.  An SFJAZZ concert in the Herbst Theatre.   (866) 920-5299.

Chicago

- May 3 – 6. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Cyrus Chestnut Trio.  Pianist Chestnut’s musical roots are deeply invested in the Rgospel music that invests his playing with a rich, creatively passionate intensity and a solid rhythmic drive. Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

New York

- May 2 – 5. (Wed. – Sat.)   The Heath Brothers. Saxophonist Jimmy Heath and drummer Albert “Tootie” Heath are the surviving members of the musically gifted Heath family, still going strong after a century-plus experience and more than 900 recordings. Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

Randy Brecker

- May 2 – 6. (Wed. – Sun.)  Randy Brecker and Pop.  Versatile trumpeter Brecker, who’s played with the finest jazz and pop artist leads his now group “Pop,” featuring an all-star band performing the songs of Frank Zappa, Steely Dan, Bette Midler, Paul Simon, The Average White Band, Blood Sweat & Tears, and others, arranged and re-imagined by Kenny Werner.  The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

- May 2 – 6. (Wed. – Sun.)  The Julliard Jazz Orchestra with Frank Wess.  Veteran saxophonist Wess is the headliner in a performance of the msic of Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie.  Conducted by James Burton IIIDizzy’s Club Coca Cola.    (212) 258-9595.

London 

- May 3 – 5 (Thurs. – Sat.)  Manu Dibango and Soul Makossa.  Dibango is an iconic master of world music/funk/jazz crossover.  He’ll lead the Soul Makossa gang in a stirring evening of everything from pop, electro rock, hip hop and beyond.  Ronnie Scott’s.    020 7439 0747.

Berlin

Judy Niemack

- May 5. (Sat.)   Judy Niemack.  She’s a constantly captivating singer, bringing musicality, imagination and interpretive excellence to everything she touches.  Which makes for a perfect musical marriage in this program devoted to the music of Miles Davis – “All Blues,” “Time After Time,” Boplicity,” “Round Midnight” and more.  A-Trane.    030 / 313 25 50.

Tokyo 

- May 3 – 5. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Omara Portuondo and Chucho Valdes.  A pair of legendary Cuban artists blend their dynamic abilities into an evening rich with traditional rhythms and soaring musical delights.  Blue Note Tokyo.   02-5485-0088.


Picks of the Week: Oct. 24 – 30

October 25, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Goran Bregovic

- Oct. 26. (Wed.)  Goran Bregovic Wedding and Funeral Orchestra.  Sarajevo’s wildly eclectic bandleader Bregovic leads an orchestra that combines Roma gypsy music, a brass band, strings, a male choir, Bulgarian back-up singers and traces of rock into an inimitable evening of mind-bending music.   Disney Hall.   (323) 8502000.

- Oct. 26. (Wed.)  Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, Jack DeJohnette.  Three decades together and Jarrett, Peacock and DeJohnette are still going strong, still bringing stunning improvisational illumination to everything they play.  Firmly established as one of the iconic groups of the post-bop era, they should be heard at every opportunity.  Royce Hall.  UCLA Live.    (310) 825-2101.

- Oct. 26. (Wed.)  The Thom Rotella Quartet. Guitarist Rotella has a resume covering virtually every area of the music world — from performances with the likes of Herbie Hancock, Luciano Pavarotti and Frank Sinatra, to composing for shows such as Sex and the City and China Beach and performances on the sound tracks of The Simpsons,Family Guy and much more.  Here’s a chance to hear him in an up close setting, backed by the Pat Senatore TrioVibrato Jazz Grill…etc.    (310) 474-9400.

- Oct. 26. (Wed.)  Celtic Thunder.  The five dynamic singers of Celtic Thunder are the male version of Celtic Woman, their immense popularity triggered by the blend of powerful solo work, engaging collective ensembles combined with a program of memorable Irish song.  The Greek Theatre.   (323) 665-5857.

- Oct. 26. (Wed.)  Rob Mullins Quartet.  He started out as a drummer, picked up several other instruments along the way during his prodigal career as a young professional, and wound up as a versatile pianist, composer and educator, with multiple accomplishments in all those areas.  This time out, he’s joined by a stellar ensemble: Doug Webb, reeds, Brian Bromberg, bass and Bernie Dresel, drums.  Vitello’s.     (818) 769-0905.

Inga Swearingen

- Oct. 28. (Fri.)  Inga Swearingen. You’ve probably heard Swearingen singing her uniquely personal song interpretations on the Prairie Home Companion. But her imaginative view of jazz still hasn’t received the audience her rare talent deserves.  Here’s a good chance to sample it.  LACMA.    (323) 857-6000.

- Oct. 28. (Fri.)  Apollo’s Fire Baroque Orchestra featuring Phillippe Jaroussky.  “Handel and Vivaldi Fireworks.”  At 33, Jaroussky – a French sopranist countertenor –has firmly established himself as one of the star performers of the Baroque repertoire composed for the extraordinary male soprano voices.  He sings with the highly praised, period instrument ensemble, Apollo’s Fire.  UCLA Live.

- Oct. 28 – 30. (Fri. – Sun.)  Riverdance.  Nearly two decades since it made its first appearance at a Eurovision song contest, the spectacular step dances and enchanting Irish music of Riverdance continue to delight audiences in appearances around the world.  Segerstrom center for the Arts.    (714) 556-2787.

- Oct. 28 – 30. (Fri. – Sun.)  Soka Blueport Jazz Festival.  The first festival at Soka University in Orange County has all the looks of a major jazz event.  The three days of programming are loaded with many of the Southland’s major artists as well as a healthy sampling of players from the East Coast and other parts of the world.  Fri.: The Geoffrey Keezer/Peter Sprague Band; Trio Da Paz starring singer Maucha Adnet.  Sat.: The Bert Turetzsky- Chuck Perrin Dynamic Duo; singer Tierney Sutton with pianist Mike Garson; The Charles McPherson Quintet with Gilbert Castellanos; Trio Da Paz starring clarinetist/saxophonist Anat Cohen. Sun.: The Ron Eschete Trio; The Mike Garson Sextet starring Komel Fekete-Kovac Soka Blueport Jazz Festival, Aliso Viejo.  (949) 480-4278.

Tinariwen

- Oct. 29. (Sat.) Tinariwen. The musical collective from Northern Mali has been blending the sounds, the rhythms and the instruments of their Taureg roots with the energy and dynamism of Western rock music for more than a decade.  Luckman Fine Arts Complex.   (323) 343-6600.

- Oct. 29. (Sat.) “We Four: Celebrating Coltrane”  Javon Jackson, tenor saxophone, Mulgrew Miller, piano, Nat Reeves, bass, Jimmy Cobb, drums.  John Coltrane’s music should always be celebrated, of course.  But it’s a very special celebration, indeed, when it’s handled by four players with the credentials to do it full justice.  A Jazz Bakery Movable Feast at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center.

- Oct. 30 (Sun.) Linda Eder with Tom Wopat.  Broadway and cabaret singer Eder joins her scintillating soprano with the rich baritone of actor/singer Wopat.  Valley Performing Arts Center.    (818) 677-3000.

San Francisco

- Oct. 27. (Thurs.)  Mose Allison.  The one and only musical philosopher of the bayou always has a message worth hearing.  Returning to the studio last year for The Way of the World, his first album in a decade, he was good as ever – which is very good indeed. YBCA Forum.  SFJAZZ  Festival.    (866) 920-5299.

- Oct. 28. (Fri.)   Goran Bregovic Wedding and Funeral Orchestra.  See above.  Paramount Theatre.  SFJAZZ Festival. (866) 920-5299.

Oct. 28. (Fri.)  “We Four: Celebrating Coltrane”  Javon Jackson, tenor saxophone, Mulgrew Miller, piano, Nat Reeves, bass, Jimmy Cobb, drums.  See above.  SFJAZZ Festival.  (866) 920-5299.

- Oct. 29. (Sat.) Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, Jack DeJohnette.  See above.  Zellerbach Hall at U.C. Berkley.  (510) 642-9988.

Chicago

Russell Malone

- Oct. 27 – 30. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Russell Malone Trio.  Guitarist Malone has devoted a good portion of his career to making other performers sound great.  But on his own, he’s even better.  Check him out and you’ll see.   Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

New York

- Oct. 25 – 30.  (Tues. – Sun.)  Jimmy Heath’s 85th birthday celebration.  The veteran saxophonist shares a milestone birthday with a string of celebratory musical encounters.    Featuring Roy Hargrove, Antonio Hart, Steve Davis, Peter Washington, Lewis Nash and many others.  Special guest Bill Cosby appears on Tues. at the early show.  The Blue Note.  (212) 475-8592.

- Oct. 25 – 30. (Tues. – Sun.)  The Wycliffe Gordon Quintet & Friends“Hello Pops!  The Music of Louis Armstrong.”  Trombonist Gordon’s enthusiastic playing style combines with his convincing vocals to create a musically entertaining tribute to Sachmo.  Special guest Anat Cohen (Tues. & Wed.) adds her clarinet delights.  Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.  (212) 259-9800.

Boston

- Oct. 27 & 28. (Thurs. & Fri.)  The Bad Plus.  Pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson and drummer David King have been transforming the familiar jazz piano trio into a vehicle for genre-busting musical excitement for more than a decade. Regatta Bar.    (617) 395-7757.

Berlin

THeo Bleckmann

- Oct. 27. (Thurs.)  Theo Bleckmann“Hello Earth: The Music of Kate Bush.”  A major figure in contemporary avant-garde music, singer/composer Bleckmann has performed with everyone from Laurie Anderson and Anthony Braxton to Meredith Monk and Phillip Glass.  Here he presents selections from his recently released album exploring the songs of eclectic singer/songwriter Kate Bush.  A-Trane.    030 / 313 25 50.

London

- Oct. 27 – 29. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Ramsey Lewis Electric Band. Multiple Grammy winner Lewis has been leading high visibility trios since the mid-‘50s.  This time out, he revives the electric sounds of his classic, top charting Sun Goddess album of the ‘70s.  Ronnie Scott’s.   020 7439 0747.


Picks of the Week: May 17 – 22

May 17, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Bill Cunliffe

- May 18 (Wed.)  Bill in Brazil.  Grammy-winning pianist Bill Cunliffe, always unpredictable, displays his fascination with Brazilian music.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- May 18. (Wed.)  John Proulx Trio.  Pianist/singer Proulx mixes his crisp piano styings with the gentle vocals of his Chet Baker-inspired singing. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- May 18. (Wed.)  Jane Harvey.  Vocalist Harvey brings a lot of music business history to her performances.  She replaced Peggy Lee with the Benny Goodman Band and followed Doris Day with the Les Brown Band.  She’ll know doubt touch on that part of her career, as well as her jazz versions of Sondheim, all of it delivered in her convincing interpretations.   Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- May 19. (Thurs.)  Terry Trotter and Chuck Berghofer.  Pianist Trotter and bassist Berghofer, a pair of the Southland’s finest veteran players, get down to essential jazz basics. Charlie O’s.   (818) 994-3058.

- May 20. (Fri.)  Johnny Mandel Big Band.  Composer/arranger/songwriter Mandel is a master craftsman of big band writing.  Here’s a chance to hear his work up close and personal.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Lani Hall

- May 20. (Fri.)  Herb Alpert and Lani Hall. The music world power duo are on the road again, blending Hall’s rich, emotional songs with Alpert’s laid back trumpet.  Add a few tunes from the Tijuana Brass book to spice up the evening.  Segerstrom Center for the Arts.    (714) 556-2787.

- May 20 – 22. (Fri. – Sun.)  Lee Ritenour.  Captain Fingers, as he was once called, plays a rare club date showcasing his unique blend of guitar-driven, foot-tapping jazz. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.  .

- May 21.  (Sat.)  An Evening with Patti Lupone and Mandy Patinkin.  A pair of the Broadway musical theatre’s brightest stars get together for an evening of irresistible song.  The Valley Performing Arts Center.    (818) 677-8800.

- May 21. (Sat.) A Tribute to Clifford BrownThe Luckman Jazz Orchestra. Brown’s far too brief life nonetheless left behind a memorable catalog of music.  It’s explored here in the passionate big band sounds of the LJO.   Luckman Fine Arts Complex.    (323) 343-6600.

- May 22. (Sun.) Katia Moraes and Sambaguru. There will be Brazilian music in all its many shapes, forms and rhythms when the charismatic Moraes and her energetic Sambaguru players take the stage.  WorldFest at Woodley Park, Lake Balboa   (310) 477-7887.

Duke Ellington

- May 22. (Sun.)  Los Angeles Master Chorale.  Performs the best of the Duke Ellington sacred concerts.  Ellington’s sacred works, composed near the end of his life, represent significant entries in his vast catalog of music.  They’re no performed often, and rarely by an ensemble with the quality of the LAMC.  So don’t miss this one. Disney Hall.   (323) 850-2040.

- May 22. (Sun.) The Colin Vallon Piano Trio.   Rruga, the debut ECM recording from this intriguing Swiss group, with Vallon, piano, Patrice Moret, bass and Samuel Rohrer, drums, reveals a musically airy, rhythmically subtle, emotionally layered approach to the piano jazz trio.   A Jazz Bakery Movable Feast program at Keyboard Concepts.  (310) 271-9039.

San Francisco

- May 18. (Wed.)  Eliza Gilkyson. It’s been over 40 years since folk singer/guitarist Gilkyson released her first album.  And she’s still bringing life to every song she touches.  Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse.   (510) 644-2020.

- May 20 – 22. (Fri. – Sun.)  Four Generations of Miles. A celebration of what would have been Miles’ 85th birthday (May 26, actually) with a set of players who performed with him over many decades: guitarist Mike Stern, alto saxophonist Sonny Fortune, bassist Buster Williams and drummer Jimmy Cobb Yoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.

Chicago

Benny Green

- May 19 – 22.  (Thurs. – Sun.)  Benny Green Trio. Pianist Green showcases his bop-driven, hard swinging wares in the company of Kenny Washington, drums and Peter Washington, bass.  Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

New York

May 17 – 22. (Tues. – Sun.)  Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band. And an all-star band it is, including, among others, Jimmy Heath, Eric Alexander, Antonio Hart, Roy Hargrove, Claudio Roditi, Cyrus Chestnut, Lewis Nash and singer Roberta Gambarini The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

- May 19 – 22. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Miles Davis: From Birth of the Cool to Bitches Brew.  Another Davis 85th birthday celebration, this time surveying the length and breadth of his music. Featuring  With Jeremy Pelt, George Cables, Lonny Plaxico, Eddie HendersonIridium Jazz.  (212) 582-2121.

- May 22. (Sun.)  Jane Ira Bloom Trio.  Soprano saxophonist Bloom displays her far-ranging improvisational skills, ranging from acoustic settings to electronic tape loops. Cornelia St. Café.   (212) 989-9319/

London

- May 19. (Thurs.)  Lullaby of Birdland: Remembering George Shearing. Pianist James Pearson and the Ronnie Scott All Stars celebrate the memory of fellow Brit Shearing with a program of pieces reaching from the early trios to the classic guitar/vibes and rhythm sound.  Ronnie Scott’s.    020 7439 0747.

Paris

Robert Glasper

- May 21. (Sat.)  Robert Glasper.  Pianist Glasper presents one of his “Experiment in Jazz” performances, finding common ground in territories reaching from hip-hop and rap to Thelonious Monk.  New Morning.   01 45 23 51 41.

Bill Cunliffe photo by Tony Gieske.

Lani Hall photo by Bonnie Perkinson.


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