Picks of the Week: June 1 – 6

May 31, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- June 1. (Tues.) Guitar Night. John Pisano, Barry Zweig. John Belzaguy.  A pair of veteran guitarists – each with an overflowing resume of memorable appearances – have a typical Guitar Night jam with the solid backing of bassist Belzaguy.   Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

Lisa Hilton

- June 1. (Tues.) Lisa Hilton.  Described as a “lioness of jazz” by JazzReview magazine, Hilton is about to release her 12th U.S. recording, Nuance. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.  On Saturday, June 5, Hilton will also give an onstage interview and performance for visually-impaired students from Junior Blind America at the Grammy Museum.  The appearance is part of her continuing efforts to bring music to the visually impaired in Los Angeles, Boston and New York.

- June 2. (Wed.)  Austin Peralta/Javier Santiago Project.  Pianist Peralta had two CDs released in Japan by the age of 16.  Approaching his 20th birthday, the talented young player – the son of legendary skateboarder and film director Stacy Peralta – shows off his wares amid the simmering rhythms of the Javier Santiago Project.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- June 2 & 3. (Wed. & Thurs.)  Partch: Even Wild Horses.  Harry Partch was such an original musical thinker that he re-imagined the concept of musical pitch intervals, then created an array of instruments designed to play those intervals.  John Schneider continues his superb survey of Partch’s extraordinary music with Even Wild Horses–Dance Music for an Absent Drama and Cloud Chambe. Also on the program: Lou Harrison‘s Canticle #3, the West Coast debut of Anne LeBaron‘s Southern Ephemera, and Madeline Tourtelot‘s MiRotate the Body in All Its Planes REDCAT.  (213) 237-2800.

Mike Lang

- June 4. (Fri.) Mike Lang Trio.  PianistLang’s far-ranging career reaches from backing Ray Charles and Ella Fitzgerald to performing on more than 2,000 film scores.  But here’s a rare opportunity to experience his own music, up close and personal. Catalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210.

- June 4. (Fri.)  Calabria Foti.  Blessed with a rich, multi-hued voice, Foti enhances it with impressive musicality and an engaging sense of phrasing.  The Back Room At Henri’s.   (818) 346-5582.

- June 4. (Fri.)  Sal Marquez with the Pat Senatore Trio.  One of the Southland’s premiere trumpeters, Marguez has found a unique pathway for himself, somewhere between the lyricism of Miles Davis and the fire of Freddie Hubbard.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- June 4. (Fri.)  Bern.  Drummer Bernie Dresel leads his gang of funk and groove driven instrumenalists and singers through the music of Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis, Prince, the Beatles and beyond.  Vitello’s. m (818) 769-0905.

- June 4 & 5. (Fri. & Sat. )  Sara Gazarek.  Still on the rise, Gazarek has all the qualities that make a prime jazz artist.  She’s won a Down Beat Student Music Award, and hit the top 10 in Billboard jazz charts with her first album.  But she’s still not receiving the full attention that her finely honed talents deserve.  The Café Metropol.

Rita Moreno

- June 5. (Sat.) Rita Moreno.  She completely inhabited the role of Maria in the film version of West Side Story, winning an Academy Award for her work.  And that was only one of the accomplishments in a career that has also produced an Emmy, a Grammy and a Tony, as well.  Moreno doesn’t do club dates often, so don’t miss this rare opportunity to see a legendary entertainer in action.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- June 5. (Sat.) Rickey Woodard with the John Heard Trio.  L.A.’s had more than its share of impressive saxophonists over the years.  And Woodard belongs in the very top echelon of that extraordinary group.  Always a pleasure to hear, he’s at his best performing with bassist Heard and his group in the cozy setting of Charlie O’s.    (818) 994-3058.

- June 5. (Sat.)  Grant Geissman.  Busy, versatile guitarist Geissman celebrates Cool Man Cool, the latest in his long string of entertaining recordings.  Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- June 5. (Sat.)  Gary Lucas solo acoustic. The Grammy-nominated veteran of Captain Beefheart has been described by Rolling Stone as “one of the best and most original guitarists in America.”  And that’s a reasonable description for a musician who’s played with both Leonard Bernstein and Lou Reed (among others).  McCabes. (310) 828-4497.

- June 6. (Sun.)  Graham Dechter and the Adam Schroeder Quartet.  Dechter’s guitar and Schroeder’s baritone sax make for one of the more unique timbral sounds in jazz.  Add to that the sturdy swing capabilities of both players, and expect an evening of high energy.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- June 6. (Sun.)  Element Band.  This entertaining, eclectic ensemble is a living definition of the phrase “World Music.”  Performing in Armenian, French, Greek, Spanish, English, Arabic, Portuguese, Italian, Bulgarian and Farsi, they offer a little something for almost every ethnic or musical taste.  Guest star Italian singer Giovanna Gattuso adds her own elegant touch to the proceedings.  The Ford Amphitheatre. (323) 461-3673

Highlight……………………………………………………………

- June 6. (Sun.)  “Playboy Jazz in Warner Park.” The build-up to the Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl on June 12 & 13 continues with another free Playboy community event.  Although the Warner concerts only began a couple of years ago, they’ve already become one of the early Summer’s most popular jazz events.  And the price is right.  This year’s program features four time Grammy nominated singer Oleta Adams, keyboardist Lao Tizer, master jazz trumpeter Sal Marquez, and the Calabasas High School Jazz Band (one of the 15 finalists in Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Essentially Ellington CompetitionPlayboy Jazz in Warner Park.   (310) 450-1173.

San Francisco

- June 1 & 2. (Tues. & Wed.)  Jane Monheit. Always one of the most gorgeous voices in jazz, Monheit is also an original jazz stylist, approaching everything she sings with a unique combination of rhythmic swing and lyrical imagination. Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

- June 1 & 2. (Tues. & Wed.)  Pat Martino.  Guitarist Martino has essentially had to learn to play the guitar twice, as the result of a near-fatal brain aneurysm in 1980.  But he’s done it superbly, firmly establishing his position as one of jazz’s finest veteran artists.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

John Handy

- June 3. (Thurs.)  John Handy. Forty-five years after his remarkable performance at the Monterey Jazz Festival made him a highly visible jazz figure, Handy – who has also had a long career as an educator – continues to be a an eminently listenable alto saxophonist.  Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

- June 4 – 6. (Fri. – Sun)  Dave Holland Quintet.  Bassist Holland’s interests have taken him in all directions – in recent years with a big band as well as a little big band.  This time, he’s back to basics, with a quintet that includes the all-star line-up of saxophonist Chris Potter, trombonist Robin Eubanks, vibist Steve Nelson, and drummer Nate Smith. Yoshi’s Oakland.(510) 238-9200.

- June 4 – 6. (Fri. – Sun.) Dr. John & the Lower 911. One of the music world’s true originals, Dr. John (Mac Rebennack) has been one of the irrepressible symbols of New Orleans for decades.  And he’s still going strong, winning a Grammy last year for “City That Care Forgot.” Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655-5600.

New York

- June 1 – 5. (Tues. – Sat.)  Stacey Kent.  Wisely focusing her career upon international audiences, Kent has achieved visibility reaching beyond that of many of her contemporaries.  Her latest album, Raconte-Moi, sung in French underscores her global outreach.  Birdland.   581-3080.

- June 3 – 6. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Jacky Terrasson Trio. French/American pianist Terrasson – well-regarded since he won the 1993 Thelonious Monk Piano Competition – celebrates the release of his latest album, Push. Jazz Standard.  (212) 576-2232.

Dee Dee Bridgewater

- June 3 – 6. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Dee Dee Bridgewater. Her recordings are always a pleasure to hear, and the latest — Eleanor Fagan: To Billie With Love From Dee Dee Bridgewater – is an extraordinary Billie Holiday tribute.  But Bridgewater in person is even more unique, more dynamic.  This is one to place on your “Don’t Miss” list.  The Blue Note. (212) 475-8592.

Washington, D.C.

- June 1 – 13.  D.C. Jazz Festival. It was originally titled the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival.  But whatever the name, this is one of the early Summer’s most impressive assemblages of all-star talent.  Among the major names:  Claudio Roditi, Roberta Flack, Eddie Palmieri, Kenny Barron, Paquito D’Rivera, Regina Carter, Roberta Gambarini, Roy Hargrove, and more.  The D.C. Jazz Festival.


Picks of the Week: May 17 – 23

May 17, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- May 18. (Tues.)  Don Menza’s Stan Getz Tribute.  Not exactly the return of the Four Brothers, but it should be a mellow saxophone night with Pete Christlieb, Gary Foster and Gene Cipriano, saxes, Don Rader, trumpet,  Tom Ranier, piano, Chris Connor, bass and Dick Weller, drums.  Vibrato (310) 474-9400.

- May 18. (Tues.)  Styx, Foreigner and Kansas. The seventies come alive with three of the decades most successful hit-makers.  Gibson Amphitheatre.   (818) 622-4440.

Anna Mjoll

- May 18. (Tues.)  Anna Mjoli All-Star Band.  Iceland’s gift to jazz displays her intimate vocal style in the stellar company of saxophonist Bob Sheppard, guitarist Larry Koonse, pianist John Beasley, drummer Jimmy Branley and bassist Chris ColangeloBaked Potato.  (818) 980-1615.

- May 18. (Tues.)  Janis Mann Quartet.  She’s a singer who knows how to find the heart of a song.  “I haven’t heard anyone like Janis Mann in years,” says Roy Haynes.  Charlie O’s.    (919) 994-3058.

- May 18 – 19. (Tues. – Wed.)  Marilyn Maye.  Veteran singer Maye’s career has moved easily from radio and television to cabaret and musical theatre.  In 1965, at 37, she won a Grammy for “Best New Artist,” and she’s still going strong. Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

- May 19. (Wed.)  Takako.  The Japanese jazz singer celebrates the release of her new CD, Common Ground, backed by pianist Vardan Ovsepian and drummer Aaron SerfatyVitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- May 20. (Thurs.)  Ed Vodicka Organ Quintet.  Bandleader/keyboardist Vodicka displays his versatility in the organ quartet format, backed by L.A. regulars Plas Johnson, saxophone, Nolan Shaheed, trumpet, Roy McCurdy, drums  and John Chiodini, guitar.  Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

- May 20. (Thurs.)  Patrick Berrogain’s Hot Club Combo. Guitarist Berrogain discovered the gypsy jazz style in his native France before forming the Hot Club of San Diego, which morphed into the Hot Club Combo. Vibrato (310) 474-9400.

- May 20. (Thurs.)  Iliana Rose Quartet. Rose’s keyboard montunas generate Latin jazz rhythms that are virtually irresistible.  Expect to feel your toes tapping with everything she plays.  Crowne Plaza,

Frank Marocco

- May 20 – 22. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Flexible Reality.  With their strikingly unusual instrumentation, Flexible Reality brings intriguing new timbres to bebop and straight ahead jazz.  Richard Todd, French Horn, Charlie Bisharat, violin, Frank Marocco, accordion, Michael Valerio and Abraham Laboriel, basses, and Alex Acuna, drums. Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- May 21. (Fri.)  Thom Rotella with the John Heard Trio.  Mr. Versatility brings swing and substance to whatever genre he chances to meet.  Charlie O’s. (919) 994-3058.

- May 21 & 22.  (Fri. & Sat.)  Aaron Parks. Still in his mid-twenties, pianist Parks has already recorded three albums with Terence Blanchard, gigged with Kurt Rosenwinkel and been signed by Blue Note Records. Café Metropol.  (213) 613-1537.

- May 22. (Sat.)  Tom Petty and Joe Cocker. A pair of iconic artists whose careers reach from the ‘60s (for Cocker) to the present, Petty and Cocker are still mesmerizing performers.  Hollywood Bowl. (323) 850-2000.

- May 22. (Sat.) Jan Daley.  Daley, who made many tours with Bob Hope to appear before U.S. servicemen, celebrates a new CD – Where There’s Hope — a tribute to the love songs from the Hope era.  M bar.    (323) 856-0036.

Bruce Forman

- May 22. (Sat.)  Bruce Forman’s Cow Bop.  Guitarist Forman is his own man, fluent, articulate and always in search of intriguing musical solutions – even with a band whimsically called Cow Bop.  The Back Room at Henri’s.   (818) 348-5582.

- May 22 & 23. (Sat. & Sun.)  Baked Potato’s 40th Anniversary. The venerable Studio City jazz spot celebrates four decades with a stellar two day event.  Among the highlights on Sat: Baked Potato All-Stars, Chad Smith, Steve Lukather and the Pasqua/Holdsworth/Haslip/Novak Quartet.  On Sun: John Daversa Big Band, Mitch Forman, Don Randi & Quest, the Yellowjackets, Lee Ritenour and Larry CarltonThe Baked Potato at the Ford Amphitheatre.  (818) 980-1615.

- May 23. (Sun.)  Sing, Sing, SingAnnual Celebration of the Big Band Era. Judy Wolman’s all-join-in singalong celebrates Memorial day with the music of Glenn Miller, Harry James, Benny Goodman and more.  Sing, Sing Sing at the Victorian Mansion. (310) 990-2405

San Francisco

- May 19 – 23 (Wed. – Sun.) Eddie Palmieri and La Perfecta II. Grammy award-winning pianist Palmieri and his La Perfecta bands have been finding the perfect blend of jazz and Latin rhythms for decades. Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

- May 20 – 23. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Jazz Crusaders.  Almost all of the original Jazz Crusaders – Joe Sample, Wilton Felder and Wayne Henderson (Stix Hooper’s the only missing member) – get together for the first reunion since the seventies.  Yoshi’s Oakland.  (510) 238-9200.

New York

Karrin Allyson

- May 18 – 22. (Tues. – Sat.)  Karrin Allyson. Among the coveys of canaries soaring through the jazz world these days, Allyson holds her own.  Always musical, a gifted storyteller, she helps sustain the integrity of the jazz vocal art.  Birdland. (212) 581-3080.

- May 19 – 22. (Wed. – Sat.)  Ted Nash Quintet. Saxophonist Nash spends a lot of time in the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.  Here’s a chance to enjoy the individual talents of this multi-talented player up close and personal. Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola (212) 258-9800.

- May 20. (Thurs.)  “A Great Night in Harlem” The 9th annual concert to benefit the Musicians Emergency Fund features a remarkable line up.  Among the many headliners: Roberta Flack, Jimmy Scott, Madeleine Peyroux, Jimmy Heath, Ron Carter, Frank Wess, Barry Harris, Terence Conley, with Chevy Chase, Danny Glover and many more.  The Apollo Theatre. A Great Night In Harlem.   NYC.  (212) 245-3999.

- May 20 – 23. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Odean Pope Saxophone Choir.  Pope headlines a saxophone-filled weekend, with Joe Lovano on Thurs. & Friday, Ravi Coltrane on Sat. & Sun.)  The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

Billy Childs

- May 21 – 23. (Fri. – Sun.)  Billy Childs Chamber Ensemble.  Pianist/composer Childs has written some remarkably adventurous music to be performed by this first rate East Coast/West Coast ensemble: saxophonist/flutist Steve Wilson, guitarist Larry Koonse, harpist Carol Robbins, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Brian BladeIridium.  (212) 582-2121.

St. Louis

- May 20 – 22. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Jazz Education Network Inaugural JEN Congress.  University of Missouri, St. Louis. The first conference by the organization that hopes to fill the gap in the jazz education area that was left by the demise of the I.A.J.E.  The three day event features conferences, exhibits and performances by student and professional ensembles from St. Louis and elsewhere.  The Inaugural JEN Congress.


Picks of the Week: April 26 – May 2

April 26, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- April 26. (Mon.)  Karen Marguth Quintet.  Featuring Eva Scow, mandolin.  Singer Marguth and mandolinist Scow have been producing some fascinating displays of briskly swinging voice and mandolin jazz.  Hear them in the always friendly, laid-back setting of Charlie O’s.   Charlie O’s.    (919) 994-3058.

Kevin Eubanks

- April 28. (Wed.)  Kevin Eubanks Group.  With Marvin “Smitty” Smith, drums, Rene Camacho, bass and Gerry Etkins, keyboards.  Eubanks always swings hard, but with this rhythm section, the room itself will be rocking. Baked Potato.   (818) 980-1615.

- April 29. (Thurs.)  Hart & SoulJennifer Hart and Llew Matthews.  Singer Hart and pianist Matthews have been teaming up lately to combine their unique talents, enhanced on the numbers in which Matthews adds his own vocals.  Steamers. (714) 871-8800.

- April 29. (Thurs.)  John Daversa’s Progressive Big Band.  Daversa’s an a-list player for other big bands around town.  But he’s at his best when he’s leading his own aggregation through a program of envelope-stretching large ensemble sounds.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

Anat Cohen

- April 30. (Fri.)  Anat Cohen. With Benny Green, Peter Washington and Lewis Nash.  New York’s finest (no, not the NYPD) makes a too rare, too limited Southland appearance.  Cohen is matching her fine saxophone playing with the most stellar clarinet work we’ve heard in years.  Green, Washington and Nash add their Manhattan groove to the proceedings.  Don’t miss this one.  Catalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210.

- April 30. (Fri.)  Anthony Wilson Nonet.  Everybody knows Wilson’s a remarkable guitarist.  But he’s a great arranger/composer, as well, especially when he’s writing for the wide open possibilities of his nine piece band.  Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- April 30. (Fri.)  Gaea Schell Trio. Schell likes to describe herself as a pianist who also sings.  But that doesn’t quite do justice to the briskly swinging musicality she brings to both her piano work and her vocals.  Café Metropol.  (213) 613-1537.

- April 30. (Fri.)  Charles Owens with the John Heard Trio.  The ever-versatile saxophonist/woodwind artist Owens is one of the Southland’s too little acknowledged jazz treasures.    Charlie O’s.    (919) 994-3058.

- April 30 & May 1. (Fri. & Sat.)  “Chanteur” Lee Lessack. The appealing Lessack baritone is applied to a collection of songs reaching from Mercer to Brel, from Broadway to Paris, from Sinatra to Azvenour, and from Leonard Cohen to Michel Legrand.  The Gardenia.  West Hollywood.  (323) 467-7444

Donna McKechnie

- May 1. (Sat.) S.T.A.G.E. 2010 “Original Cast” The 26th annual Southland Theatre Artists Goodwill Event features performances by Tyne Daley, Donna McKechnie, Betty Garrett, Dale Kristien, Sally Struthers, Michelle Lee and many others in their original cast performances.  At the Luckman Fine Arts Complex.  S.T.A.G.E. (866) 679-0958.

- May 1. (Sat.)  South Pasadena Eclectic Music Festival.  Music of every style and genre will be coursing through the streets and byways of Pasadena on Saturday.  Among the headliners: David Lindley, The Elliot Caine Quintet, Sarah Taylor & Bill Mumy, and many others, performing at six venues throughout the city, five of which have no admission fee.   South Pasadena Eclectic Music Festival.

- May 1. (Sat.)  “H.M.S. Pinafore” New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players. The foibles of the English class system of the 19th century come vividly to life in Gilbert’s whimsical lyrics and Sullivan’s memorable melodies.   Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts. http://www.cerritoscenter.com (562) 916-8500.

Bill Cunliffe

- May 2. (Sun.)  The Bill Cunliffe Septet.  The Johnny Crawford Orchestra.  The first event in this year’s Playboy Jazz Festival Free Community Concerts features a pair of entertaining jazz acts. Pianist/composer/arranger Cunliffe, fresh off the receipt of a Grammy Award, leads his dynamic septet in a program that will no doubt embrace his re-imagining of Oliver Nelson’s “The Blues and the Abstract Truth,” as well as his fascination with Latin jazz rhythms.  The Crawford Orchestra, led by former child actor (notably on TV’s The Rifleman) Johnny Crawford, is a vintage big band, specializing in famous orchestrations from the first half of the 20th century.  The program takes place at the Beverly Hills Civic Center Plaza.  Playboy Jazz Festival Free Community Concert.   (310) 450-1173.

- April 25. (Sun.) Yve Evans.  She sings jazz, she sings blues, she sings gospel.  And she accompanies herself with hard swinging piano backing.  Evans is, in other words, the real deal.  Hear her in the best possible setting — the  KJAZZ Sunday Champagne Brunch hosted by the irrepressible Bubba Jackson at Twist Restaurant in the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel.  (562) 985-2999.

- May 2. (Sun.)  John Pizzarelli“The Sinatra Songbook.” Who better to do the Frank Sinatra songbook than another Italian musician from New Jersey.  Although his voice is very different from Ol’ Blue Eyes, Pizzarelli has the same masterful approach to phrasing a song and telling a musical story.  Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.  (562) 916-8500.

- May 2. (Sun.) Julie Esposito.  Not only can Julie sing almost anything, but she can sing it with style, spirit and imagination.  Hopefully, she and the Desert Cities Jazz Band will find a way to include selections from her latest album, Unsung Hollywood, featuring intriguing film songs that never quite received the attention they deserved.  At Vicky’s of Santa Fe, 45-100 Club Drive, Indian Wells.  2 – 5 p.m.  (760) 345-9770.

San Diego

- April 30. (Sat.)  Raul Midon.  Raul Midón brings a lot of influences together – combining his lyrical vocals, his flamenco-tinged guitar with touches of soul, funk and jazz.  But he never loses touch with his own, richly personal style.  He’ll no doubt include selections from his recent album, SynthesisAnthology, San Diego.  (619) 595-0300.   Midon also appears on Sunday in an SFJAZZ concert at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts Theatre.  (866) 920-5299.

San Francisco

Linda Kosut

- April 26. (Mon.)  Linda Kosut and Jack Pollard. Singer Kosut points out that Monday is National Pretzel Day and Richter Scale Day.  She also adds that it will be “When Worlds Collide” when the two veteran vocalists pair their eclectic musical interests, and skills.  (Kosut didn’t say whether pretzels would be served.)   The Rrazz Room.   (415) 394-1189.

- April 26. (Mon.)  Keith Emerson and Greg Lake. The sixties and seventies return when Emerson and Lake revive the music of Emerson, Lake & Palmer as well as the sounds of another closely related pair of bands, The Nice and King Crimson.  The Regency Ballroom.    (415) 673-5716.

- April 27 – 30. (Tues. – Fri.) Ann Hampton Callaway & Liz Callaway. Sibling revelry takes over, as the gifted Callaway sisters lay their chops on the line with a set of engaging musical efforts to prove “I can sing anything better than you….yes I can.”  The Rrazz Room.  (415) 394-1189.

- April 30 – May 2. (Fri. – Sun.)  Hiroshima. One of the bands that established the early world jazz blends of disparate elements – in their case, jazz fusion rhythms with the koto playing of June Koramoto.  Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

New York

- April 27 – May 1. (Tues. – Sat.)  Steve Kuhn, Ron Carter and Joey Baron.  Pianist Kuhn and bassist Carter, two of jazz’s greatest veterans, have been playing together on and off for more than forty years.  Add the experienced drumming of Baron to the mix and the result should be a rare jazz experience.  Birdland (212) 581-3080.

- April 27 – May 2 (Tues. – Sun.)  The Heath Brothers. Saxophonist Jimmy and drummer Albert “Tootie” keep the honored Heath jazz flame alive with the aid of Jeb Patton, piano and Corcoran Holt, bass.  Village Vanguard. (212)  255-4037.

Madeleine Peyroux

- April 27 – May 2. (Tues. – Sun.)  Madeleine Peyroux. The enigmatic singer, whose most recent album, Bare Bones, took her in the direction of singer/songwriter, may be unpredictable.  But she’s always worth hearing, and especially so since she’s moved beyond her too obvious affection for Billie Holiday, into her own expressive realm. The Blue Notel (212) 475-8592.

- April 27 – May 2. (Tues. – Sun.)  Samba Jazz & the Music of JobimDuduka Da Fonseca and Helio Alves lead a musical expedition to explore the colorful territory in which jazz and Brazilian music share common ground.  Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.   (212) 258-9595.


Picks of the Week: April 19 – 25

April 19, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Pat Metheny

- April 19. (Mon.)  Pat Metheny.  The ever-adventurous, all-star guitarist has put together a computerized, remote control ensemble that allows him to play all the instruments in his band. The Orchestrion TourDisney Hall.   (323) 850-2000.

- April 19. (Mon.) Larry GoldingsOrgan Night.  The B-3 rules on Monday nights at Vitellos, and Goldings is the guy who takes it to the limit..  Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- April 19. (Mon.)  The Ed Vodicka Big Band. Multi musical hyphenate Vodicka takes a night off from composing, arranging, conducting and producing to lead his own big jazz band.  Vocal chores will be handled by the versatile cabaret jazz singer, Marlene VerPlanck Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

- April 20. (Tues.)  Strunz and Farah. The guitar duo were among the first artists to fit into the emerging world music genre, via the musical encounters between Costa Rican Strunz and Iranian Farah.  Vibrato.   (310) 474-9400.

- April 20.  (Tues.)  RATT. The Southland’s own hard rock, glam metal band is back again, ready to release a new CD, Infestation, and a new video.  The Key Club.  (310) 274-5800.

- April 21. (Wed.)  Suezenne Fordham Jazz Trio.  Veteran pianist/composer Fordham continues to find creative potential in the 3rd Stream concept, blending classical and jazz into a unique musical entity.  Glendale Noon Concerts.  First Baptist Church of Glendale.   (818) 242-2113.

Regina Carter

- April 22.  (Thurs.)Monterey Jazz Festival On Tour.  The MJF’s own all-star jazz band – Kenny Barron, Regina Carter, Kurt Elling, Russell Malone, Johnathan Blake and Kiyoshi Kitagawa – display some of  the world class musicality that’s always present every September in Monterey.  UCLA Live. Royce Hall.    (310) 825-2101.   Also April 24 at Orange County Performing Arts Center .  (714) 556-2787.

- April 22. (Thurs.) Ana Moura. Portugal’s young, gifted fado singer has been bringing passionate, new perspective to the classic song form.  Skirball Center. g (310) 440-4500.

- April 22. (Thurs.)  Lizzy Williams Band.  The multi-talented singer/songwriter/actress performs with virtuoso guitarist David Williams, drummer Laura Bilobeau, bassist Chief and iRoM’s very own Devon “Doc” Wendell on harmonica.  The Green Room Lounge at the Viper Room.  (310) 358-1881.

- April 22 – 24. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Dick Gregory. Still one of the world’s great humorists, Gregory has an unerring eye and ear for detecting cant, pretentiousness, hubris and arrogance in public figures, nailing them with a sardonic phrase or an imaginative story. Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

- April 23 & 24. (Fri. & Sat.)  World premiere of Dice Thrown, a contemporary opera composed by John King using aleatoric techniques pioneered by John Cage.  Musical direction by Marc LowensteinCalArts Walt Disney Modular Theatre.

- April 24. (Sat.)  Ron King. The versatile trumpeter, a mainstay with almost every big band in town, takes a break to display his chops as a fine jazz soloists.  Backing him — the John Heard TrioCharlie O’s. (919) 994-3058.

Benny Golson

- April 24. (Sat.)  Benny Golson. Tenor saxophonist Golson has composed some memorable jazz standards.  But he’s an equally convincing an improviser with a personal sound and an adventurous imagination.  Jazz Bakery Moveable Feast.  Grammy Museum Sound Stage.   (310) 271-9039.  He’s also at Anthology in San Diego on Friday (see below).

- April. 24. (Sat.)  Christine Ebersole. Tony Award-winning Broadway musical star Ebersole has had an equally stellar career in film, television and cabaret.  She brings all that, and more, to her far-ranging collection of songs and stories.   CSUN Performing Arts Center.  (818) 677-1200.

- April 25. (Sun.)  Sing! Sing! Sing! Remembering Jerome Kern. Judy Wolman’s entertaining Sunday singalong celebrates the richly diverse songbook by the legendary composer of Show Boat – and much, much more. The Victorian Mansion.  Sing! Sing! Sing! (310) 990-2405.

- April 25. (Sun.)  Shelly Berg – Greg Abate Quartet. Pianist Berg takes time off from his teaching and administrative duties at the University of Miami to get together with saxophonist Abate, bassist Darek Oles and drummer Peter Erskine in the intimate setting of a home in the Hollywood Hills.   A-Frame Jazz. (310) 659-9169.  By reservation only.

Gail Pettis

- April 25. (Sun.)  Gail Pettis.  An impressive new jazz singer from out of the Northwest is drawing a lot of attention.  And there’s no better place to hear her special way with a song than at the KJAZZ Sunday Champagne Brunch hosted by the inimitable Bubba Jackson at Twist Restaurant in the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel.  (562) 985-2999.

San Diego

- April 23. (Fri.) Benny Golson.  The day before his gig in the Jazz Bakery’s Moveable Feast series, Golson brings his muscular tenor saxophone and memorable song book to Anthology in San Diego.   (619) 595-0300.

- April 24. (Sat.)  Ronnie Laws.  Smooth jazz comes alive with soul whenever Laws picks up his horn.  No wonder he’s had a long string of Top 40 albums and and singles.  Anthology San Diego.  (619) 595-0300.

San Francisco

James Moody

- April 22 – 25. (Thurs. – Sun.)  In the Mood For Moody: A Tribute to James Moody.  Moody’s been recovering from health problems and won’t be able to make this stellar tribute.  But there’ll be plenty of all stars to fill in the gaps: including Frank Wess, Joey DeFrancesco, Nnenna Freelon, Randy Brecker, Jon Faddis and others.  Yoshi’s Oakland.  (510) 238-9200.

- April 25. (Sun.)  Charles Lloyd New QuartetTale of a Cloud.  Lloyd always surrounds himself with extraordinary players, and his New Quartet is no exception, eoyj Jason Moran, piano, Reuben Rogers, bass and Eric Harland, drums.  SFJAZZ at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre.  (866) 920-5299.

New York

-April 20 – 21. (Tues. & Wed.) Rudresh Mahanthappa and Bunky Green. A pair of alto saxophonists from different generations and different styles get together.  Expect to see and hear musical sparks.  Jazz Standard.   (212) 576-2232.

Geri Allen

- April 20 – 25. (Tues. – Sun.)  The Geri Allen Quartet.  The superb, and too little acknowledged pianist challenges her skills by leading a quartet overflowing with talent and imagination: Ravi Coltrane, saxophones, Joe Sanders, bass, Jeff “Tain” Watts, drumsVillage Vanguard.   (212) 255-4037.

April 20 – 25. (Tues. – Sun.) Michel Camilo Trio.  With Charles Flores, bass, Cliff Almond, drums.  The Blue Note.  Pianist Camilo has released eighteen recordings, garnering a Grammy Award, two Latin Grammy Awards, two Grammy nominations and an Emmy Award.  He obviously should be heard at every opportunity.  The Blue Note.   (212) 475-0049.

- April 20 25. (Tues. – Sun.) George Coleman Quintet.  Veteran saxophonist Coleman leads a group that positions him in the front line with the fast-fingered young saxophonist Eric Alexander and the crisp, articulate piano work of Harold Mabern. Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.  (212) 258-9595.


Picks of the Week: Feb. 2 – 7

February 2, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Anthony Wilson

- Feb. 2. (Tues.)  John Pisano Guitar Night.  With Anthony Wilson.  Guitar Nights are always good.   This should be one of the best.  Guitarist, composer and bandleader Wilson is a stunningly versatile talent.   Vitello’s (818) 769-0905.

- Feb. 4. (Thurs.) Beyond the Pale Skirball.  The Canadian band doesn’t hesitate to wrap klezmer around everything from bluegrass and jazz to reggae and funk.  (310) 440-4500.

Estaire Godinez

- Feb. 4. (Thurs.)  Estaire Godinez.  Percussionist/singer Godinez brings passionate intensity to eveerything she sings and plays.   She celebrates the release of her new CD.  Vibrato Grill Jazz… etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Feb. 5. (Fri.)  Yamaha Piano All Star Review.  A versatile line up of pianists pay tribute to the Yamaha brand with music reaching from romantic classical to straight ahead jazz.  Performers include Anna Grinberg, Danny Holt, Milen Kirov, David Roitstein, David Rosenboom, Juris Vikovs, and Liam VineyREDCAT.  (213) 237-2800.

- Feb. 5. (Fri.)  Sony Holland.  Vocalist Holland’s intimate sound and dramatic phrasing find a perfect blend with the Theo Saunders Quartet Steamers.  (714) 871-8800.

Dave Liebman

- Feb. 5. (Fri.)  Dave Liebman.  A too-rare Los Angeles appearance by the versatile, veteran saxophonist Liebman, enhanced by the all-star Southland quartet of  Bob Sheppard, bass, John Beasley, piano, Darek Oles, bass and Joe LaBarbera, drums.  Upstairs at Vitellos.  (818) 769-0905.

- Feb. 5. (Fri.)  Laurence Hobgood Trio. Pianist Hobgood has had a lot of visibility as Kurt Elling’s musical associate, but he’s a gifted artist in his own right.  Don’t miss this rare opportunity to hear him in action.  Café Metropol. (310)  613-1537

- Feb. 5. (Fri.)  Jon Mayer Quartet. Pianist Mayer is a bop master, but he crosses comfortably into other mainstream jazz areas as well.  He’s backed by the vertain team of Ernie Watts, tenor saxophone, Chris Conner, bass, Roy McCurdy, drums.  Spazio.   (818) 728-8400.

- Feb. 5 & 6.  (Fri. & Sat.)  Strunz & Farah.  The guitar duo, with roots in Costa Rica and Iran have been stretching the limits of flamenco jazz and fusion since world music was just becoming a genre on its own. Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210

- Feb. 5 & 6. (Fri. & Sat.)   Sambaguru.  When the super-heated Katia Moraes and her accomplices in Sambaguru hit the stage, the Brazilian rhythmic pyrotechnics never stop.Friday at Culver Club Raddison.  Sat. at Spazio. .   Sambaguru.

- Feb. 6. (Sat.)  Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey. They’ve gone through several incarnations since their founding in 1994, but JFJO continue to blur the boundaries between jazz, rock, funk and avant-garde.  The Mint.   (323) 954-9400

- Feb. 6. (Sat.) Lanny Morgan.  Another bebopper on the loose, alto saxophonist Morgan is also a lyrical ballad player.  He performs with the John Heard Trio.  Charlie O’s.  (818) 994-3058.

Repast

- Feb. 6. (Sat.)  Repast.   The Baroque instrumental trio — Amelia Roosevelt (baroque violin), John Mark Rozendaal (baroque violoncello and viola da gamba), and Avi Stein (harpsichord) — are joined by baroque violinist Claire Jolivet and soprano Nell Snaidas for an evening of music from Amsterdam.  Th performance complements the Getty’s current exhibit of drawings by Rembrandt and his students.   The Getty.   (310) 440-7300.

- Feb. 6 – 19.  (Sat. – Fri.)  Bob Barry Jazz Photography Exhibit.  Barry’s extensive jazz performance photos are on display as part of the two week Celebration of Jazz at the  Brand Library of Music and Art.   (818) 548-2051

- Feb. 7. (Sun.)  Mike Lang. The ever-versatile, always-swinging pianist appears with the solid backing of bassist Abraham Laboriel, Sr. and drummer Walter RodriguezCatalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

San Francisco

Paula West

- Feb. 2 – 28.  Paula West.  One of the Bay area’s many fine jazz vocalists, West still hasn’t received the recognition her extraordinary talent deserves.  She sings with the George Mesterhazy QuartetThe Rrazz Room.   (415) 394-1189.

- Feb. 4. (Thurs.)  John Handy. Educator and long-time cutting-edge alto saxophonist brings his admirable skills to a rare one-nighter. Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

- Feb. 4 – 7. (Thurs. – Sun)  Charisma!: The Music of Lee Morgan.  Selections from the catalog of the great jazz trumpeter are performed by the sterline ensemble of  Benny Maupin, Bill Harper, Eddie Henderson, David Weiss, Geri Allen, Dwayne Burno, Billy HartYoshi’s Oakland.  (510) 238-9200.

- Feb. 6. (Sat.)  Dionne Warwick.  The iconic hit-maker of the ’60s and ’70s still knows how to bring a song to life — even if it wasn’t written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David.Castro Theatre. (415) 392-4500.

New York

- Feb. 2 & 3.  (Tues. & Wed.)  Dorado Schmitt‘ continues his cross-country celebration of the Django Reinhardt centennial.  This time with special guest Curtis StigersIridium.   (212) 582-0161.

Gretchen Parlato

- Feb. 2 & 3. (Tues. & Wed.)  Afinidad — the adventurous ensemble formed by Edward Simon and David Binney moves into even more colorful musical territory with special guests Gretchen Parlato, Ben Monder, Rogerio BoccatoJazz Standard. (212) 576-2232.

- Feb. 2 – 6. (Tues. – Sat.)  Oregon, the trail-breaking jazz/world music ensemble is still making superb music — forty years after its founding.  With Ralph Towner, guitar, keyboards and trumpet, Paul McCandless, woodwinds, Glen Moore, bass and Mark Walker, drums.  Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.

- Feb. 2 – 7. (Tues. – Sun.)  Jimmy Heath Big Band.  Veteran saxophonist/educator Heath has been leading big bands of one sort or another for most of his long, productive musical life.  And, at 84, he’s still at it.  The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

- Feb. 3. (Wed.)  Mary Foster Conklin.  Somewhere between cabaret and jazz, Mary Foster has found an utterly believable musical home.  She’s always worth hearing, and never more so than at  Café Vivaldi.  (212) 691-7538.

- Feb. 4 – 6. (Thurs. – Sat.)  David Sanchez Group.  Puero Rican tenor saxophonist Sanchez has been honing and shaping his unique musical voice since he arrived on the scene.  And it just keeps getting better.   Jazz Standard. http://www.jazzstandard.com/red/index.html (212) 576-2232.


Picks of the Week: Jan. 19 – 24

January 19, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Victor Wooten

- Jan. 19 – 20. (Tues. – Wed.)  Victor Wooten Band.  Award winning bassist Wooten’s performances with the Bela Fleck Band have always been impressive feats of musical magic.  Here he conjures up his own creative surprises.   Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

- Jan. 19. (Tues.)  John Pisano Guitar Night.  Now firmly established at Vitello’s Guitar Night begins its duo performances.  This time, Pisano gets together with former Oscar Peterson standout, Swedish guitarist Ulf WakeniusVitellos. (818) 769-0905.

- Jan. 21. (Thurs.)  Simplexity.  The innovative electronic jazz group celebrates the release of their CD “Extreme Measures.” With  John von Seggern, Gary Novak, Steve Tavaglione and John Beasley ResBox at the Steve Allen Theatre.

- Jan. 21. (Thurs.)  John Altman Quartet.  English alto saxophonist and multi-hyphenate composer/arranger/songwriter Altman makes one of his too-infrequent Southland appearances. Charlie O’s (818) 989-3110.

Kenny Burrell photo by Bob Barry

- Jan. 21. (Thurs.)  Gerry Gibbs Quintet.  Inventive drummer Gibbs leads a stellar ensemble — accordionist Frank Marocco, multi-instrumentalis Rob Hardt, pianist Llew Matthews and bassist Lyman Medieros.     Crowne Plaza LAX Hotel.  (310) 642-7500.

- Jan. 21 – 23.  (Thurs. – Sat.)  Kenny Burrell Quartet.  One of the icons of jazz guitar, Burrell spends most of his time in educationsl settings these days.  So don’t miss this relatively rare chance to hear him in action.   Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

- Jan. 22. (Fri.)  Julie Esposito.   She has an enviable blend of skill, training and natural ability.  But what really makes Esposito special is her interpretive ability to find the heart of a song.   Café 322 (626) 836-5787.

Anna Mjoll

- Jan. 22. (Fri.)  Tom Peterson with the Pat Senatore Trio.  Saxophonist Peterson has played with just about everyone at one time or another.  Here he is up front, doing it his own way with Senatore’s solid backing.    Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Jan. 22. (Fri.)  Anna Mjoll.  The Icelandic singer moves easily across traditional pop and jazz genres with upbeat swing and an engaging on stage manner.  She performs with the John Heard TrioCharlie O’s. .  (818) 989-3110.

- Jan. 22. (Fri.)  Lincoln Mayorga.  “Chopin and the Piano.”  A discussion of the composer’s life and a performance of all of the 24 Preludes, the Grande Polonaise in A flat, the Scherzo in C sharp minor and selected mazurkas, etudes, and waltzes.  At the new Steinway Piano Gallery.  314 N. Robertson Blvd. (near Beverly Blvd.)  Information: Jeannine@FrankEntertainment.com (310) 476-6735

- Jan. 23. (Sat.)  Madeline Eastman.  San Francisco-based Eastman has skills too rarely heard in most alleged jazz singers — the ability to paraphrase, the implicit understanding of how a song is constructed, and a deep understanding of the relationship between words and music.  She sings with the Randy Porter Trio.  The Red Carpet Jazz Series.  Upstairs at Vitellos.  (818) 769-0905.

Carol Bach-y-Rita

- Jan. 23. (Sat.)  Carol Bach-y-Rita.   Jazz, Brazilian music and Salsa are, says Bach-y-Rita says, her “great loves.”  And she sings them with the affection that only a true lover can express.   Spazio. (818) 728-8400.

- Jan. 23. (Sat.)  Doug MacLeod and Lawrence Lebo. Here’s a typically entertaining, typically eclectic McCabe’s program: the traditional blues and soulful guitar and vocals of MacLeod, and the jaunty swing and blues stylings of the inimitable Lebo.  McCabe’s. (310) 828-4497. 

- Jan. 24. (Sun.)  Ron McCurdy and the Vocal Collective.  Trumpeter (and educator) McCurdy interacts with the superb harmonies and briskly swinging vocals of the Vocal Collective.   Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.    (310) 474-9400.

San Francisco

Ann Hampton Callaway

- Jan. 18. (Mon.)  Kat Parra and The Sephardic Experience.  Parra’s beguiling voice expressively blends traditional elements with contemporary sounds and rhythms.  Yoshi’s San Francisco. (415) 655-5600.

- Jan. 19. (Tues.)  Ann Hampton Callaway.  The busily traveling Callaway makes a too brief, one-night stop.  Too brief because her singing and her piano playing are always as entertaining as they are illuminating. Yoshi’s San Francisco. (415) 655-5600.

- Jan. 19 – 31. (Tues. – Mon.) Andrea Marcovicci.  Always an insightful interpretive artist, the “Queen of Cabaret” applies her dramatic musicality to “Skylark: A Centennial Tribute to Johnny Mercer.”    The Rrazz Room (415) 781-0306.

Kenny Garrett

- Jan. 21 – 24. (Thurs. – Sun.)  “Django Reinhardt at 100.” There will be numerous celebrations this year of the Reinhardt centennial.  Here’s one that brings together a pair of stylistically diverse guitarists:  Dorado Schmitt with special guest Dave Grisman Yoshi’s Oakland.  (510) 238-9200.

- Jan. 22 – 24.  (Fri. – Sun.)  Kenny Garrett Quartet.  Alto saxophonist Garrett continues to stretch the envelope of contemporary jazz improvising.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

New York

- Jan. 19. (Tues.)  Groove CollectiveD J Logic, Bernie Worrell, Dr. Lonnie Smith, among others, perform in a Benefit for Haiti.  100% of ticket proceeds go to Haiti Action and Hands Together.  At Le Poisson Rouge.   (212) 228-4854.

- Jan. 19 – 23 (Tues. – Sat.)  M’Boom Percussion Ensemble meets the World Sax Quartet in a spectacular musical encounter.  Featuring percussionists Joe Chambers, Warren Smith, Ray Mantilla, Eli Fountain and Steve Berrios and saxophonists David Murray, Hamiet Bluiett, Oliver Lake & James Carter. Birdland. (212) 581-3080.

Lee Konitz

- Jan. 19 – 24. (Tues. – Sun.) Lee Konitz Trio. The great alto saxophonist, one of jazz history’s true originals, is still — at 82 — in rare form.   W. Dan Tepfer, piano, Matt Wilson, drums. Village Vanguard. (212) 255-4037.

- Jan. 19 – 24. (Tues. – Sun.) Frank Wess 88th Birthday Celebration. A week long birthday musical gala for the veteran saxophonist, featuring his Nonet with special guests Mulgrew Miller, Renee Rosnes, Bill Charlap, Billy Taylor, Mike Ledonne and Hank Jones. Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.  (212)  258-9595.

- Jan. 19 – 31. (Tues. – Mon.)  Winter Latin Jazz Festival. This year’s Festival touches a far-ranging set of jazz styles with the starry line-up of Dave Valentin, Candido, Arturo Sandoval, Gato Barbieri, Poncho SanchezBlue Note.  NYC.  (212) 475-8592.

- Jan. 21 – 24. (Thurs. – Sun.)  FLY.    Mark Turner, tenor saxophone, Larry Grenadier, bass and Jeff Ballard, drums.  The combination of saxophone, bass and drums is both a challenging and an invigorating instrumentation.  These guys handle it with spirit and imagination.   The Jazz Standard.  (212) 576-2232.


Picks of the Week: Dec. 29 – Jan. 3

December 29, 2009

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Jane Monheit

Dec. 29 – Jan. 3. Jane Monheit. There’s no more entertaining jazz way to bring in 2010 than with the gorgeous sound and imaginative phrasing of the always compelling Ms. Monheit. Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

Dec. 29. (Tues.) Ron Jones Influence. Jones leads his big, 22 piece orchestra in an evening of large ensemble jazz. Spazio. (818) 728-8400.

- Dec. 29. (Tues.) Wayne Bergeron’s Big Band. Trumpeter Bergeron has ample credibility as a big band performer to front his own large jazz collective, and he does it well. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

Judy Wexler

- Dec. 30 (Wed.) Billy Mitchell Group starts the holiday early with his pre-New Year’s Eve Celebration, backed by Rob Kyle, Tomas Gargano, and Frank Wilson. Crown Plaza Brasserie Jazz Lounge. (310) 642-7500.

- Jan. 2. (Sat.) Judy Wexler Quartet. Filling in as an unexpected replacement, Ms. Wexler gives her many fans an early opportunity to hear her briskly swinging vocals in action in the new year. Café Metropol. (213) 613-1537.

Highlight: New Year’s Eve in L.A……………………………………

Dr. Bobby Rodriguez

- Dr. Bobby Rodriguez New Year’s Eve Dance Party. Trumpeter Dr. Bobby knows how to celebrate a holiday, keeping the dance rhythms moving while retaining a firm hold on his admirable jazz chops. The Culver Club in the Radisson Hotel Los Angeles Westside. (310) 649-1776.

- Don Menza, John Heard, Roy McCurdy and Tom Ranier. One couldn’t ask for a better, more seasoned band to spend a holiday evening with — or, for that matter, a better place to spend it than at Charlie O’s. (818) 989-3110.

Veteran guitarist Don Peake brings in the New Year with one of his typically entertaining bands, featuring Ellis Hall, vocals, Earl Gordon, drums, Michael Torres, bass, Aaron Mclain, guitar/vocals and Harlan Spector, keyboards. Spazio. (818) 728-8400.

- Janis Mann and Llew Matthews Trio (Paul Kreibich, drums, John Belzaguy, bass). The rich, dark sound, soaring vocals of the under-appreciated Ms. Mann, backed by a sterling trio. Sheraton Gateway Hotel LAX. (310) 642-1111.

- Jerry Vivino’s Quartet from the Tonight Show with Conan Obrien. It’s described as a Masquerade and Dance Party, filled with “glitz, glamour, dancing and music. ” And with saxophonist Vivino leading bassist Mike Merritt, drummer James Wormworth and pianist Scott Healy, the description should be right on target. Upstairs at Vitellos. (818) 769-0905.

- Kleber Jorge. The guitarist/singer from Rio celebrates New Year’s Brazilian style. Crustacean, Beverly Hills. (310) 205-8990.

Louie Cruz Beltran

- Louie Cruz Beltran Latin Jazz Ensemble. Percussionist/singer Beltran is entertaining on any night one hears him. Celebrating New Year’s he’ll no doubt be even better. South Coast Winery Resort and Spa, Temecula. (866) 994-6379.

- Rick Vittallo. The veteran singer/guitarist has been a busy Southland performer since the ’70s, working in far ranging musical settings. Here he works in an intimate small group setting with bassist Pat Senatore and pianist Matt Harris. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

Roaring Twenties New Year’s Eve. Marie MacGillis performs classic jazz and swing tunes with Michto Pelo, Tommy Davy and John Reynolds. Chaya Brasserie, Beverly Hills. (310) 859-8833.

- Don Randi & Quest. Keyboardist avoids the holiday traffic by leading his fusion group Quest at his own cozy jazz room, the Baked Potato. (818) 980-1615.


San Francisco

- Dec. 29 – Jan. 2. (Tues. – Sat.) Ledisi. Soul stylist Ledisi has been entertaining audiences with her engaging voice since she was eight. Her latest album, “Turn Me Loose,” adds a touch of funk to her driving vocals. Yoshi’s San Francisco. (415) 655-5600.

McCoy Tyner

- Dec. 29 – Jan. 3. (Tues. – Sun.) McCoy Tyner New Year’s Celebration. And an all-star celebration it is — a rare combination of players not to be missed. With Ravi Coltrane, Esperanza Spalding and Francisco Mela. Yoshi’s Oakland. (510) 238-9200

- Dec. 30 – Jan. 3. (Wed. – Sun.) Melba Moore. Moore’s checkered career and sometimes troubled life haven’t diminished the quality of her work as a singer with a unique way with a song. Here’s a rare chance to hear her up close and personal. The Rrazz Room. (415) 394-1189.

New York

(Dec. 29 – Jan. 3) Chris Botti‘s trumpet playing continues in rare form, as he finishes up his epic three week run at the Blue Note. (212) 475-8592

(Dec. 29 – Jan. 3) Struttin’ With Some Barbecue. Straight ahead, hard driving, New Orleans-tinged jazz at its best. With Henry Butler, piano, Donald Harrison, alto sax, Sean Jones, trumpet, Wycliffe Gordon, trombone, Ben Wolfe, bass, Ali Jackson, drums. The Jazz Standard. (212) 447-7733.

HIlary Kole

(Dec. 30 – Jan. 3). The Bad Plus. Still at the cutting edge of contemporary jazz, the trio of pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King continue to be influential pathfinders for imaginative young jazz players. The Village Vanguard. (212) 255-4037.

Dec. 31. Hilary Kole with the Chico O’Farrill Jazz Orchestra. Any night with Kole’s singing is a night to remember. New Year’s Eve with Kole and the O’Farrill Orchestra should be something to preserve in a memory book. Birdland. (212) 581-3080.

Dec. 31. (Thurs.)  New Year’s Eve with Liz Callaway.  The mellifluous voice and dramatic interpretive style of Broadway’s Callaway will be heard in two shows: Passage of Time at 8:30, featuring tunes from her recent CD; The Best of Liz at 10:30, with “Meadowlark,” “Memory,” “The Show Goes On” and champagne at midnight.  The Metropolitan Room.  (212) 206-0440.


Picks of the Week: Dec. 7 – 13

December 8, 2009

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Dec. 8. (Tues.)  Dominick Farinacci.  Trumpeter Farinacci’s debut U.S. CD, Lovers, Tales and Dances, announced the arrival of an impressive new young jazz artist.  He makes one of his rare Southland appearances for one night only.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.    (310) 474-9400.

- Dec. 8. (Tues.) Charles Lloyd, Joshua Redman, Exene Cervenka, Michael McClure, Kurt Elling, others.  A compelling line-up of artists have been gathered together for one of the most intriguing evenings in the Philharmonic’s  West Coast, Left Coast series: A Night of the Beats. Disney Hall.

- Dec. 9. (Wed.)  The Irish Tenors. Holiday Show.  What better way to celebrate the holiday season than with the soaring voices of the three Irish tenors singing holiday songs.    The Cerritos Center.   (562) 916-8501.

Bebel Gilberto

- Dsec. 9. (Wed.)  Bebel Gilberto with DJ Lara Gerin.  The daughter of  Joao Gilberto — who virtually invented the sound and the rhythm of bossa nova — and singer Miucha,  Bebel Gilberto has carved out an impressive career in her own right, bringing her contemporary, Brazilian-tinted  vision to international pop music.   Music Box @ the Fonda. (323) 464-0808.

- Dec. 9. (Wed.)  Flexible Reality.  The instrumentation alone makes this a fascinating musical ensemble.  The players — Richard Todd, French Horn, Charlie Bisharat,  violin, Frank Marocco, accordion, Michael Valerio and Abraham Laboriel, basses and Alex Acuna, drums – make it even better.  Red Carpet Jazz Serries.  Upstairs at Vitellos. (818) 769-0905.

- Dec. 9 – 13. (Wed. – Sun.)  Roy Hargrove Quintet.  Versatile trumpter Hargrove, who’s been leading a big band lately, shows up this time with his briskly swinging quintet.   Catalina’s. Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

- Dec. 10. (Thurs.)  Alan Pasqua, Peter Erskine, Darek Oles, Bob Mintzer.  The Pasqua/Erskine trio with the late Dave Carpenter was one of the Southland’s finest jazz ensembles.  With the excellent bassist Oles now in the group, the tradition of world class jazz continues, this time with the sturdy tenor saxophone of Bob Mintzer.  Red Carpet Jazz Series Upstairs at Vitellos. (818) 769-0905.

- Dec. 11. (Fri.)  Scotty Barnhart.  Trumpeter /educator Barnhart, a veteran of the Count Basie band, takes a break from his academic chores to jam with  with John Heard, bass, Roy McCurdy, drums, Andy Langham, piano.  Charlie O’s(818) 989-3110.

Molly Ringwald

Dec. 11. (Fri.)  Molly Ringwald and Plus 4. Yes, it’s the same Molly Ringwald who you remember from Pretty in Pink and Secret Life of the American Teenager.  And, yes, she can sing, too, having started from an early age with her jazz pianist father, Bob Ringwald.  Spazio.  (818) 728-8400

- Dec. 11 & 12. (Sat. & Sun.)  C.A.B. World class fusion from the guys who do it best, with Frank Gambale, guitar, Otmaro Ruiz, keyboards, Bunny Brunel, bass, Tom Brechtlein, drums.  The Baked Potato. (818) 980-1615.

- Dec. 12. (Sat.)  Bruce Forman Quartet.  Guitarist Forman brings strikingly new perspectives to the contemporary art of jazz guitar.  He plays with  Joe Bagg, organ, Pat Senatore, bass, drums tbd.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Dec. 12. (Sat.)  Jazz Compass.  Holiday Concert & Jazz Party from a collective of L.A.’s A-list players.  Featuring Larry Koonse, Clay Jenkins, Tom Warrington, Joe La Barbera, Bill CunliffeUpstairs at Vitellos.  (818) 769-0905.

- Dec. 12. (Sat.)  Los Angeles Master ChoraleMessiah Sing-along.   The annual must-do event for everyone who ever sang in a choir: the chance to join voices sith the extraordinary artists of the Master Chorale.  2 p.m.  Disney Hall. http://www.laphil.com

- Dec. 12 & 13. (Sat. & Sun.)  “Colors of Christmas” One of the annual holiday season’s most pleasant musical interludes, with Peabo Bryson, Sheena Easton, Jennifer Holiday and Maxi Priest.  The Cerritos Center.  (562) 916-8501.

Bill Holman

- Dec. 13. (Sun.) Marathon Jazz Party.  It’s an event to benefit the relocation of the L.A. Jazz Institute.  Three rooms of continuous music, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., with dozens of musicians — including the big bands of Bill Holman, Steve  Huffsteter, Med Flory, Kim Richmond and others — as well as raffles, auctions, door prizes, CD sales, etc.    Los Angeles Jazz Institute. LAX Marriott. (562) 985.7065.

- Dec. 13. (Sun.)  Holiday Jazz Vespers ServiceEric Kertes and Friends, with Aaron Hernandez’s hip hop commentary on today’s world.  Free will offering.  Bring a can, box or bag of food for donation to Food Pantry LAX to help those in need.  Welcoming people of all faiths, and those with no faith.  Episcopal Church of the Holy Nativity. (310) 670.4777

San Francisco

- Dec. 8 & 9. (Tues. & Wed.)  Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks.  With special guest Bob Dorough.  “Holidaze in Hicksville”  Featuring Hicks’ holiday classics “My Main Man Santa,” “A Yule That’s Cool” and “Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Christmas Card.”  As well as Dorough’s “Blue Xmas” (written with Miles Davis.  (510) 238-9200.

- Dec. 10 – 13. (Thurs. – Sun.) Guitarist Mike Stern fronts a band of world class players, as adept with tradition as they are with fusion: trumpeter Randy Brecker, drummer Dave Weckl and bassist Tom KennedyYoshi’s Oakland. (510) 238-9200.

Ahmad Jamal

- Dec. 10 – 13. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Ahmad Jamal.  A unique jazz artist, pianist Jamal influenced Miles Davis’ view of phrasing, established himself as an iconic figure, and is still out there doing his thing.  Don’t miss the chance to hear and see him in action.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

Chicago

-Dec. 10 (Thurs.)  The Chicago Jazz Ensemble and Jon Faddis continue the 11th annual American Jazz Heritage Series with a program honoring the music of John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman and Miles Davis.  Special guests David Sanchez and Steve Wilson.  The Harris Theatre.  The Chicago Jazz Ensemble.  (312) 369-6270.

New York

- Dec. 8 – 12. (Tues. – Sat.)  Lee Konitz, Charlie Haden, Paul Motian, Brad Mehldau. Several generations of great jazz improvisers in an adventurous search for common musical ground.  Birdland.   (212) 581-3080.

- Dec. 8 – 13. (Tues. – Sun.)  Eddie Palmieri y La Perfecta.  A 73rd birthday celebration for the master keyboardist of Latin Jazz,  leading his irrepressible La Perfecta.  The Blue Note. (212) 475-8592.

- Dec. 8 – 13. (Tues. – Sun.)  Dave Douglas Quintet.  Trumpeter and musical explorer Douglas works with ensemble equally capable of journeying into new territory.  With Uri Caine, piano, Donny McCaslin, sax, James Genus, bass, Clarence Penn, drums.  Village Vanguard.   (212) 255-4037.

Dec. 10 – 12.  (Thurs. – Sat.)  Red Hot Holiday Stomp.  A New Orleans perspective on some classic holiday favorites.  With Wycliffe Gordon, Victor Goines, Don Vappie, Herlin RileyRose Theatre at Jazz at Lincoln Center.  (212) 258-9800.

Kim Burrell

- Dec. 10 – 13. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Tango Meets Jazz Festival.  The marriage of a pair of musical genres with a surprising number of common elements.  With pianist Pablo Ziegler and saxophonists Miguel Zenon (12/10 and 12/11) and  David Sanchez ((12/12 and 12/13).  The Jazz Standard. (212) 447-7733.

Dec. 11 – 12.  (Fri. & Sat.)  Kim Burrell, The divine diva of gospel brings the spirit of Christmas alive with her soulful, spiritual stylings.  The Allen Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center. (212) 258-9800.


Picks of the Week: Nov. 2 – 8.

November 2, 2009

By Don Heckman

Gianni RussoLos Angeles

- Nov. 2. (Mon.) Gianni Russo. Russo, who played the role of Carlo Rizzi in The Godfather, hosts an entertaining evening featuring his vocal versions of songs from the Italian crooner era, as well as a collection of his Il Padrino Wines. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- Nov. 4. (Wed.) Gaea Schell. Pianist/singer Schell likes to think of herself as a pianist first, and there’s no denying her solid jazz skills. But there’s something to be said, as well, for her intimate, understated vocal stylings. She performs in a duo with bassist Zach Matthews. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- Nov. 4. (Wed.) Amanda McBroom. She may be best known for “The Rose,” but McBroom’s singing and songwriting talents reach far beyond the success of a single song. On this night, she concentrates on selections from her latest album, Chanson, singing the songs of Jacques Brel. Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

- NOv. 5. (Thurs.) Milton Nascimento. One of the great icons of Brazilian popular music, Nascimento doesn’t perform often in the Southland. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear a living legend, still at the top of his form, in action. The Conga Room. (212) 749-0162.  Nascimento also appears at the San Francisco Jazz Festival on Saturday (see below).

- Nov. 5. (Thurs.) Sara Tavares. Portuguese singer Tavares is well connected to her Cape Verdean heritage, but her interests also reach out to the stirring music of Portugal, Brazil, Angola and beyond. The Skirball Cultural Center. (310) 440-4500.  Tavares also appears at the San Francisco Jazz Festival on Friday (see below).

- Nov. 5. (Thurs.) Michael Session. Alto saxophonist Session is one of the Southland’s most dynamic players, making every one of his solos into a wildly exciting improvisational journey. Crown Plaza Brasserie Jazz Lounge. (310) 642-7500.Jackie Ryan 3

- Nov. 5. (Thurs.) Jackie Ryan. There’s a good reason why Ryan’s latest album, Doozy, was at the top of the radio airplay charts for six straight weeks. And that’s because everything she sings is the product of an ear-caressing combination of skill, imagination and a marvelous sound.  Ryan performs at Largo at the Coronet Theatre in a Jazz Bakery  “Moveable Feast. (310) 271-9039.

- Nov. 6. (Fri.) Kim Richmond Ensemble. Alto saxophonist and versatile composer/arranger Richmond leads the first rate ensembles of John Daversa, trumpet, Joey Sellers, trombone, Mehesh Balisooriya, piano and Jamey Tate, drums. Vitellos Restaurant. (818) 769-0905.

- Nov. 6. (Fri.) Lanny Morgan Every performance by the veteran alto saxophonist provides a vivid reminder that bebop still lives, when it is played by a master jazz improviser such as Morgan. He’s backed by the bassist John Heard, drummer Roy McCurdy and pianist Andy Langham. Charlie O’s. (818) 989-3110.

Laurence Juber- Nov. 6. (Fri.) Laurence Juber. Grammy-winning, former member of Paul McCartney’s Wings, Juber is a guitarists’ guitarist, universally admired for both the skill and the creativity of his finger style playing.  McCabe’s (310) 828-4497.

- Nov. 6 & 7.  (Fri. & Sat.)   Esperanza Spalding. Bassist/singer Spalding is one of the rapidly rising new young jazz stars. You’ll know why after you hear her first number. OCPAC. Samueli Theatre. (714) 556-2787.   Spalding also appears at the San Francisco Jazz Festival on Thursday (see below).

- Nov. 6 & 7. (Fri. & Sat.) Jack Jones Sings the lyrics of Alan and Marilyn Bergman. The son of Allen Jones, a movie musical star, Jones works hard, and successfully, at keeping alive the tradition of big-voiced male balladeers. Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210

- Nov. 6 – 8. (Fri. – Sun.) “Ramayana: An Indian Epic” The classic Indian epic, one of the world’s great legendary dramas is performed via Balinese music and dance by Gamelan Burat Wanti. REDCAT. (213)237-2800.

- Nov. 7. (Sat.) Patti Austin. If there’s a style that Austin can’t sing, it’s hard to imagine what it could be. But what really matters is that, beyond eclectic versatility, she brings wide open inventiveness to every song she touches. CSUN Performing Arts Center (818) 677-5768.

- Nov. 8. (Sun.) Betty Bryant. The always-entertaining, veteran singer/pianist celebrates her 80th birthday with a CD release party and a jazz brunch. 11 a.m. Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210

ClaudiaSan Francisco

- Nov. 3. (Tues.) Claudia Acuna. She has one of the jazz vocal world’s finest voices, but what really makes Acuna special is the rich, expressive way she uses her natural abilities. Yoshi’s San Francisco. (415) 655-5600.

- Nov. 5, 6, 7 & 8.  (Thurs, Fri. ,Sat. & Sun.)  The San Francisco Jazz Festival — SFJAZZ.   Thurs: Esperanza Spalding at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre.  Fri: Sara Tavares at the Herbst Theatre.  Sat: Milton Nascimento at Nob Hill Masonic Center.  Sun: Ornette Coleman at Davies Symphony Hall.   SFJAZZ. (415) 398-5655.

- Nov. 6 – 8. (Fri. – Sun.) Jean Luc-Ponty. Cutting edge violinist Ponty has taken his instrument into adventurous new areas of expression. Yoshi’s Oakland. (510) 238-9200.

New York

- Nov. 3 – 8 (Tues. – Sun.) Lou Donaldson Quartet. Veteran alto saxophonist Donaldson doesn’t receive the credit he deserves as one of the best of the post-Charlie Parker altoists. Village Vanguard. (212) 255-4037.

- Nov. 3 – 9. (Tues. – Sun.) Django Reinhardt Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary with a stellar line-up of talent, all inspired by Reinhardt, the gypsy jazz master. Tchavalo & Samson Schmitt, Brian Torff, Andreas Oberg, Ludovic Beier, Aurore Voilqué, Ted Gottsegan. Birdland. (212) 581-3080.

- Nov. 6 – 8. (Fri. – Sun.) Vijay Iyer Trio. American born, from Indian parents, Iyer brings an extraordinary range of musical perspectives to his always compelling piano playing. Jazz Standard. (212) 447-7733.


Picks of the Week: Aug. 18 – 23

August 18, 2009

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Aug. 18. (Tues.) John Altman Quartet. The English saxophonist/composer has a line of credits reaching from Monty Python to bebop (with all stops in between). And with pianist Mike Lang, bassist Harvey Newmark and drummer jennifer LeighamFrank De Vito on hand, he has the backing to support his every musical move. Charlie O’s (818) 994-3058.

- Aug. 20. (Thurs.) Jennifer Leitham. The Southland’s prima singing, left-handed bassist makes her last appearance as an Angeleno before moving to the New York City area. The presence of her regular sidekicks Josh Nelson, piano, and Randy Drake, drums, should make for a poignantly swinging evening. Cafe 322. (626) 836-5414.

- Aug. 20. (Thurs.) Flexible Reality. It would be hard to beat this instrumentation for an evening of intriguing sounds, with Richard Todd on French horn, Charlie Bisharat on violin, Frank Marocco on accordion, Michael Valerio and Abraham Laboriel on bass and Alex Acuna on drums. But beyond that, each of these guys is a first rate player, so this is one not to miss. Give April Williams credit for bringing increasingly fine programming to this Studio City venue. Vitello’s Upstairs (818) 769-0905.

- Aug. 21. (Fri.) Mel Martin Band with Don Friedman. Here’s one of the most interesting pairings of the summer — versatile woodwind/saxophone artist Martin and the versatile, veteran pianist Friedman in what promises to be a fascinating musical encounter. Bassist John Heard and drummer Lorca Hart provide solid support. The Culver Club in the Radisson Hotel Los Angeles Westside. (310) 649-1776.

Diana Krall

- Aug. 21 – 22. (Fri. & Sat.) Diana Krall and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Krall sings and plays selections from her “Quiet Nights” collection of bossa nova tunes with the L.A. Phil. under the very able direction of Alan Broadbent. In the opening half of the program, the Philharmonic, directed by Benjamin Wallfisch performs selections by Mexican composer Arturo Marquez. The Hollywood Bowl. (323) 850-2000.

- Aug. 22. (Sat.) Carmen Lundy. The gifted and still far too unrecognized singer appears with the dynamic backing of pianist Billy Childs, bassist Ryan Cross and drummer Lorca Hart. Expect musical magic. The Culver Club for Jazz. The Culver Club in the Radisson Hotel Los Angeles Westside. (310) 649-1776.

- Aug. 23. (Sun.) Smooth Summer Jazz. It used to be called the JVC Festival, but this new label provides a more accurate description of melodiously rhythmic music on the program. Featured acts are Dave Koz, Brian Culbertson, Peabo Bryson, George Duke, Tower of Power and Doc Powell. The Hollywood Bowl. (323) 850-2000.

Country Joe Aug. 23. (Sun.) Woodstock Tribute. It’s a weekend after the 40th anniversary of the legendary concert in the fields, but this tribute performance will be no less memorable, given the line-up. True, most of the bands are not exactly what they were in 1969, but there’s no denying the nostalgia that will be in the air when the familiar melodies begin to roll from Jefferson Starship, 10 Years After, Canned Heat and Big Brother and the Holding Company, with the inimitable Country Joe McDonald as the host. The Greek Theatre.

- Aug. 23. (Sun.) Gerry Gibbs Thrasher Band. Drummer Gibbs and his six piece band (playing 40 different instruments) bring rhythmic drive and improvisational enthusiasm to a performance of all the original music from their latest CD on RKM Records, “Moving On.” Spazio. (818) 728-8400.

San Francisco

- Aug. 20 – 22. (Thurs. – Sat.) Brass, Bows and Beats. A Hip Hop Symphony by Adam Theis and the Jazz Mafia Symphony. The first performance by Theis’ 40 piece ensemble at the Palace of Fine Arts was an s.r.o. event. And the work, with its extraordinary compatible assemblage of seemingly disparate musical genres, clearly deserves more performances. Here’s an opportunity to hear it live and up close. Yoshi’s San Francisco. (415) 655-5600.

- Aug. 21 – 23. (Fri. – Sun.) Chuck Mangione. The flugelhorn-playing Mangione has been defining melodic jazz for decades, and he shows no signs of slowing down. Yoshi’s Oakland. (510) 238-9200. .

New York

- Aug. 18 – 23. (Tues. – Sun.) Kevin Eubanks. Here’skevin_eubanks a chance to hear Eubanks’ fine guitar live and in person, playing full tunes rather than interstitial segments on a late night television talk show. He’s aided by Marvin “Smitty” Smith, drums, Rene Camacho, bass, Bill Pierce, saxophone, ad Gerry Etkins, keyboards. The Blue Note. (212) 475-8592. .

- Aug. 19 – 22. (Wed. – Sat.) Richie Beirach Quintet. A veteran of gigs with Stan Getz, Chet Baker, Dave Liebman and others, pianist Beirach leads a stellar group of players: Tim Hagans, trumpet (8/19 only), Randy Brecker, trumpet (8/20-22), George Mraz, bass, Billy Hart, drums, Gregor Huebner, violin. Birdland. (212) 581-3080.

- Aug. 20 – 23. (Thurs. – Sun.) Joanne Brackeen Quartet with special guest Eddie Gomez. The irresistibly swinging music of pianist Brackeen has been praised — justifiably — by everyone from Bill Evans to Tony Bennett. In addition to Gomez, her first rate band includes Ravi Coltrane, tenor saxophone, Adam Cruz (8/21 only) and E.J. Strickland, drums (8/20, 8/22 & 8/23). The Jazz Standard. (212) 576-2252.


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