Picks of the Week: October 2 – 6

October 2, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Diane Hubka

Diane Hubka

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

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

Christian McBride

Christian McBride

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

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

Anat Cohen

Anat Cohen

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

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

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

San Francisco

Miguel Zenon

Miguel Zenon

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

Seattle

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

Chicago

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

New York City

Donald Harrison

Donald Harrison

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

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

Copenhagen

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

Milan

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


Picks of the Week: August 21 – 25

August 21, 2013

By Don Heckman

It’s a short week of Picks, largely impacted by the end-of-Summer distractions and the frequent August closure of jazz clubs around the world. But there’s still a lot of music happening.

 Los Angeles

- Aug. 21 (Wed.) Buddy Guy and the Funky Meters. The veteran blues great matches classic riffs with the latest installment of the Meters. Read Michael Katz’s iRoM review here tomorrow. Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- Aug. 22. (Thurs.) “Magnificent Mendelssohn.” Nicholas McGegan conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic in an evening devoted to the music of Mendelssohn with violinist Ray Chen performing the Violin Concerto. Read my iRoM review here on Friday. Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- Aug. 22. (Thurs.) The John Pisano Quartet. Guitarist Pisano takes a break from his Guitar Night performances to get together with guitarist Jim Fox, drummer Enzo Todesco and bassist Pat Senatore, his old bandmate from the Tijuana Brass. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474.9400.

- Aug. 23 & 24. (Fri. & Sat.) Marilyn Maye. Singer Maye, who has moved smoothly from cabaret to pop music, has been a busy performing artist since she was in her mid-teens. And she’s still going strong. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Aug. 24. (Sat.) The Billy Childs Trio. Vitello’s. Pianist/composer Childs takes a break from his busy schedule to perform in the appealing format of a piano jazz trio, with bassist Jimmy Johnson and drummer Gary Novak. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- Aug. 24. (Sat.) The Memphis Music Fest. It’s an evening of blues, soul and r&b in its many intriguing formats. With Booker T. Jones, the Bar-Kays, William Bell, Eddie Floyd and Jean Knight. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.  (562) 916-8501.

San Francisco

- Aug. 23 & 24. (Fri. & Sat.) Gary Bartz, Nicholas Payton, Kevin Toney perform selections from the Donald Byrd acoustic and electric sessions. Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655-5600.

Chicago

- Aug. 23 – 25. (Fri. – Sun.) Ira Sullivan Quartet. Multi-instrumentalist Sullivan is one of the rare jazz artists to perform convincingly on brass and woodwind instruments. Here’s a rare opportunity to hear him in action. Jazz Showcase. (312) 360-0234.

New York City

- Aug. 21 – 25. (Wed. – Sun.) Roy Hargrove Big Band with special guest Roberta Gambarini. This is an evening not to be missed – trumpeter Hargrove’s swinging big band providing the perfect setting for the irresistibly appealing singing of Gambarini. The Blue Note.  (212) 475-8592.

- Aug. 23 – 25. (Fri. – Sun.) Gregory Porter. Convincing male jazz singers have been in short supply lately. But the arrival of Porter has brought a new and appealing aspect to the largely female-oriented current jazz vocal scene. The Jazz Standard.  (212) 576-2232.

London

- Aug. 23 & 24. (Fri. & Sat.) Tania Maria Trio. Rio’s Tanya Maria sings, she plays piano, and she continues to discover attractive linkages between jazz and Brazilian music.  Ronnie Scott’s.  +44 20 7439 0747.

Copenhagen

- Aug 22 – 24 (Thurs. – Sat.) The Diego Figueiredo Trio. Talented guitarist Figueiredo has been drawing attention with his rapid-fire technique and imaginative improvising. He performs with Yasser Pino, bass and Milton Batera, drums. Jazzhus Montmartre. +45 31 72 34 94.

Tokyo

- Aug.24 & 25. (Sat. & Sun.) Matt Bianco. It sounds like a person’s name, but Matt Bianco is actually a U.K. Band that has been exploring Latin jazz since the mid-’80s. Blue Note Tokyo.  +81 3-5485-0088.


Picks of the Week: August 12 – 18

August 12, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Gustavo Dudamel

Gustavo Dudamel

- Aug. 13 & 15. (Tues. & Thurs. Dudamel conducts Verdi’s Requiem. The Los Angeles Philharmonic players, under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel, apply their superb versatility to Verdi’s magnificent work. Hollywood Bowl,. (323) 850-2000.

- Aug. 13. (Tues.) John Pisano’s Guitar night. It’s been a virtual Southland jazz institution for decades. And now John Pisano’s Guitar Night moves to a new location. But the quality of music, as always, will be great. Cody’s Viva Cantina in Burbank.  (818) 845-2425.

Natalie Cole

Natalie Cole

- Aug. 14. (Wed.) An Evening With Natalie Cole. Nat “King” Cole’s daughter is a major talent in her own right, applying the gifts of her legacy to a far-reaching musical repertoire. Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- Aug. 14 & 15. (Wed. & Thurs.) Bill Cunliffe Big Band. Something intriguing happens whenever pianist/composer/arranger Cunliffe writes for his big band. This time, the performance will be a live recording session at Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905

- Aug. 15. (Thurs.) Cat, Sip and Chiodini. They’re back. Singer Cat Connor, saxophonist/clarinetist Gene “Cip” Cipriano and guitarist John Chiodini have found another location for their always-engaging evenings of vocal and instrumental jazz pleasures. Spoonful Restaurant,  (323) 512-4800.

John Daversa

John Daversa

- Aug. 16. (Fri.) John Daversa Big Band. Trumpeter Daversa is also a gifted composer, writing some of the most compelling big band charts on the contemporary music scene. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Aug. 16 & 17. (Fri. & Sat.) Tchaikovsky Spectacular with Fireworks. It’s one of the major summer highlights at the Bowl, with the L.A. Phil performing everything from Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio Italiene to the 1812 Overture. Robert Moody conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic with brass and drum corps. The Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- Aug. 17. (Sat.) MUSE/IQUE. Always performing in adventurous fashion, Muse/Ique wraps “Summer of Sound” 2013 with “Lose Your Senses,” featuring Ellis Hall, Tower of Power’s lead singer and keyboardist. Expect to hear music embracing Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and even Bach, Beethoven and Vivaldi. Caltech’s Beckman Mall.  (626) 395-4652.

Jazz in the Pines

- Aug. 17 & 18. (Sat. & Sun.).  Idyllwild Jazz in the Pines.  The 20th anniversary of a jazz festival that balances great music programs with an appealing summer weekend in the mountains.  The highlights of this year include: On Saturday: Diane Schuur, Harvey Mason, John Daversa, Janis Mann, Denise Donatelli, Tim Weissberg, Clayton Cameron’s Clifford Brown-Max Roach Project, and more.  On Sunday: Izzy Chait, Amina Figarova, the Euphoria Brass Band, Mark Winkler, and a lot more here, too.  Don’t miss this one.   Idyllwild Jazz in the Pines.

Patti Labelle

Patti Labelle

- Aug. 18. (Sun.) Patti Labelle. Grammy Hall of Famer Labelle has been a prominent pop music figure since the ’60s, and she’s still going strong. Cerritons Center for the Performing Arts.  (562) 916-8501.

- Aug. 18. (Sun.) Robert Davi. No one does the Sinatra with the sort of musical and lyrical authenticity that Davi brings to every performance of his tributes to Ol’ Blue Eyes. Vibrato.  (310) 474.9400

San Francisco

- Aug. 15 & 16. (Thurs. & Fri.) Eliane Elias. She’s always been a superb jazz pianist. And over the past few years she’s emerged as an eminently listenable jazz singer, as well. Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655.5600.

New York City

Dr. Lonnie Smith

Dr. Lonnie Smith

Aug. 15 – 18. (Thurs, – Sun.) Dr. Lonnie Smith. One of the definitive jazz organists, Smith has assembled a talented array of young jazz players for his ”In the Beginning Octet.” The Jazz Standard.  (212) 576-2232.

Washington D.C.

- Aug. 16 – 18., (Fri.- Sun,) The Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet & Richie Cole. The lush vocal harmonies and articulate vocalese of the Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet are the perfect blend for the equally exploratory alto saxophone of Richie Cole. Blues Alley.  (202) 337-4141.

Berlin

- Aug. 15 & 16. (Thurs. & Fri.,) Joao Bosco. Guitarist/composer Bosco’s playing has been described – with good cause – as among the most auspicious in Brazilian music.” A-Trane.  030 / 313 25 50.

Tokyo

- Aug. 16 – 18, (Fri., – Sun.) Terence Blanchard. Trumpeter Blanchard spends part of his busy schedule as Artistic Director of the Monk Institute and the Henry Mancini Institute. But he’s one of his generation’s major players of his instrument, and should be heard at every opportunity. Tokyo Blue Note.  +81 3-5485-0088.


Live Jazz: John Pisano’s Guitar Night with Graham Dechter

February 28, 2013

By Michael Katz

There were generations bumping into each other Tuesday night, both on the stage and in the crowd at Lucy’s 51 in Toluca Lake, the current home of John Pisano’s Guitar Night.  Much of that is by design. For fifteen years, Pisano has been bringing guitarists from anywhere and everywhere to share an evening with him. Last night one of the best young players around, 26 year-old Graham Dechter, joined forces, along with an equally young rhythm section, Katie Thiroux on bass and Matt Witek on drums.

The setting at Lucy’s 51 is an eclectic mix. It’s a neighborhood bar and restaurant, the food tasty and affordable, the service friendly.  The usual Pisano following of first-call guitarists and guitar lovers inhabits the closer tables, while a younger, definitely non-poseur bunch fills in from the back, only vaguely aware that there are some world class talents at the other end of the room.

John Pisano

John Pisano

The two headliners started off with a gently swinging intro to “Stompin’ At The Savoy,” Pisano’s plump chords inviting the audience in, while Dechter teased the melody, then slipped into a bluesy theme. Before long he was giving an overture for the evening, including a taste of Wes Montgomery-like fingerings, abetted by some nice bass work from Katie Thiroux.

Pisano’s Guitar Nights work from a book of standards, and if you attend often enough you’ll hear versions of some his favorites: “Just Friends,” “Yesterdays” and “I’ll Remember You” were three that popped up last night, and the fun is watching how the guitarists hone in on the themes, play with the tempos, banter back and forth, tossing in quotes from other tunes.

Graham Dechter

Graham Dechter

Pisano seemed content to play rhythm early on and let Dechter show off, and you couldn’t blame him. It’s hard to quantify what separates the best jazz guitarists from the crowd, especially at an early age. There’s enough technical ability to go around, but in this setting you look at how Dechter plays with tempo and phrasing. It’s a little bit like a running back searching for holes, suddenly changing direction and darting through.

The highlight of the first set was Tadd Dameron’s “Good Bait,” and, yes, I’ll admit that anything that even remotely suggests fishing will get my attention. Pisano established the friendly theme and Dechter took off from there, his left hand flying over the frets. Thiroux, raven-haired and lithe of hand, plucked a chocolate-colored bass while Witek kept a steady patter on the drums.

By the time the group launched into a blues to end the first set, you could sense a musical awareness that was filtering forward from the stage.  The noise level behind the Guitar Night regulars had dropped, more heads at the middle and back tables were riveted toward the players, more applause greeted the solos. As some of the front row regulars departed, a bunch of the back-of-the-room crowd migrated toward the empty seats and took in the second set at close hand.

After a brisk run through “I’ll Remember April,” Pisano weaved his way into the opening of “Our Love Is Here To Stay.” You could feel the spirit of Ray Charles inhabiting the space – he would have felt right at home. The tempo morphed from laid back to Dechter’s insistent drive, again with some Wes-influenced riffs. Fingers tapped, heads nodded.

“I Should Care,” the penultimate tune of the second set, was exquisite, with John Pisano carrying the melody beautifully before Graham Dechter caught up with him, the two of them circling around the theme for the appreciative crowd. Finally, there was “Cotton Tail,”  wherein Pisano and Dechter more than made up for the lack of a saxophone player, bouncing riffs off each other, Pisano clearly saving his best for last. Thiroux deftly worked her bass solos in between the two guitarists, and Matt Witek stood out with some superb stick work as the group bowed out for the evening.

So I have kept up with John Pisano’s Guitar Night, from Rocco’s to Spazio’s to Vitello’s and now to Lucy’s 51. The cuisine has shifted from pasta to burgers and salads, but the music is still pure gourmet.

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

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

John Pisano photo by Bob Barry.


Live Music: 2012 in Review

January 1, 2013

By Michael Katz

Los Angeles, CA.  Looking back over the year’s worth of live performances I covered, mostly in jazz, is a bittersweet experience. There are surely enough terrific moments to fill a column, but in a city with L.A.’s diversity of talent, you can’t help wishing for more. Our club scene is struggling, with only Catalina Bar & Grill consistently booking major touring acts for extended stays. In the Valley, Vitello’s  has done a nice job of showcasing the best of our local talent and the occasional national stars, and downtown the Blue Whale has presented an intriguing mix of fresh talent and local mainstays. As for the Westside, the best news was that the light rail Metro Line finally made it to Culver City.

Now, if I could only get to Culver City.

On the concert side, the Hollywood Bowl brought lots of talent to its band shell on summer Wednesday evenings, mostly in combinations for retro theme nights, but its directors don’t  seem to trust anyone on the current scene to headline a show. UCLA Live (newly renamed the Center For The Art of Performance) presented an eclectic program that included the Mingus Dynasty septet, Bill Frisell and Hugh Masekela.

How anybody finds out about this music is another problem. (Unless, of course, you visit iRoM). Our local newspaper covers only a scant sampling of the jazz spectrum, while our jazz radio station has narrowed its daily programming range to the Old, the Dead and the Smooth.

But enough grumbling. Here’s a few of the superb performances that still resonated in my mind, months after the last note had died out.

Dee Dee Bridgewater

Dee Dee Bridgewater

I never saw a full set of Dee Dee Bridgewater, but when she stepped onto the stage of the Hollywood Bowl during the Ray Charles tribute last summer, she simply took over.  She began with “Hallelujah I Love Him So,” backed up by the great Houston Person and finished with “I Got News For You,” her ringing, soulful vocals augmented by Terence Blanchard and George Duke. A few months later I caught her in the closing set of the Monterey Jazz Festival with an all-star group that featured Christian McBride, Benny Green, Ambrose Akinmusire, Lewis Nash and Chris Potter . She opened the set in a nimble duet with McBride on “Do What You Want To Do” and brought the crowd to pin drop silence with “Don’t Explain.” This group will be at the Valley Performing Art Center on January 23, so don’t miss them.

Arturo Sandoval

Arturo Sandoval

I saw a number of outstanding big bands this year, but the most memorable was led by Arturo Sandoval, in support of Dear Diz, his Grammy nominated CD and my favorite disc of the year. I caught them at The Federal, which hopefully will expand its presentation of jazz in 2013. Sandoval is clearly one of the world’s elite trumpet players, his tones piercing and his leadership swinging and joyful. His collection of mostly Dizzy Gillespie tunes featured sharp new arrangements, including a wonderful take on “Bee Bop” by Gordon Goodwin and a rollicking “Night In Tunisia.”

John Pisano

John Pisano

LA is the home of some of the world’s great guitarists, and I was lucky enough to catch a few of them live. At the top of the list is John Pisano’s Guitar Night. He keeps moving it farther away from my digs on the Westside, but I did manage to catch one of his last shows at Vitello’s with Anthony Wilson. Watching the two of them riff through two sets, testing their imaginations and dancing around familiar standards  reminded me that Guitar Night remains one of LA’s great treats.  I hereby resolve to make it out to Lucy’s 51 in Toluca Lake to see Pisano and friends in 2013.

Dori Caymmi

Dori Caymmi

Meanwhile, there were other great guitarists, including Dori Caymmi presenting a night of Brazilian music at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, in what we hope is a prequel to the new Jazz Bakery, still in the planning stages next door. For jazz deprived Westsiders, it cannot come soon enough.  Pat Metheny played two sets at the Monterey Jazz Festival, my favorite being a trio performance with bassist McBride and percussionist Jack DeJohnette.  And then there was Mimi Fox, who we don’t hear nearly enough of, doing a lovely Saturday matinee duet at MJF with flutist Ali Ryerson.

Mads Tolling

Mads Tolling

As usual there were some unheralded performers that caught my attention. Here’s to a couple of fiddlers: Sara Watkins and Mads Tolling. Watkins, late of Nickel Creek, shone during an LA performance of Prairie Home Companion, dueting with host Garrison Keillor on “Let It Be Me” as they strolled through the crowd, and later burning it up in a fiddle showdown with Richard Kriehn. Tolling, a veteran of the Turtle Island Quartet, fronted his own group on Sunday afternoon at the Garden Stage at MJF. Whether plucking in tandem with his guitarist or racing through a tribute to Jean Luc Ponty, Tolling was a revelation. His live CD, A Celebration of Jean Luc Ponty, was another of my favorite discs.

Monterey, as usual, had lots of highlights for me, including some wonderful trio work by pianist Mulgrew Miller, a rousing vocal performance by Gregory Porter and a Cal Tjader tribute led by pianist Michael Wolff, featuring Warren Wolf on vibes.

Luciana Souza

Luciana Souza

And finally, there was Luciana Souza, opening the season at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica, singing warm renditions from her two CDs that would later be nominated for Grammys, Duos 3 and The Book of Chet.

So what are my resolutions for 2013? For one, I resolve to catch Gustavo Dudamel leading the LA Phil at the Hollywood Bowl. For another, I resolve to brave the traffic (and the absence of chairs) at the Blue Whale and see what is happening downtown. And finally, it is long past time for me to get to New York and check out the great jazz scene there. Perhaps if we can avoid the fiscal cliff, I can get some federal funding for a trip East. Sort of a reverse Lewis and Clark Expedition culminating in a week or so in the Big Apple. I plan to get it tacked on to an appropriations bill. I’m sure no one will notice.

Happy New Year to all.

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

Click HERE to visit Michael Katz’s personal blog, Katz of the Day.

Arturo Sandoval and John Pisano photos by Bob Barry


Picks of the Week: Sept. 25 – 30

September 25, 2012

By Don Heckman

 Los Angeles

John Pisano

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

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

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

Cirque Chinois

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

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

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

Bebel Gilberto

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

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

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

Bill Cunliffe

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

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

San Diego

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

San Francisco

Paula West

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

New York

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

Toots Thielemans

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

London

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

Milan

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

Tokyo

Rickie Lee Jones

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


Picks of the Week: Mar. 13 – 18

March 13, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Willie Nelson

- Mar. 13. (Tues.)  Willie Nelson and Family. Legendary is a word that actually has some veracity when applied to the music and the career of superstar Nelson.  He makes his first appearance at Disney Hall on a bill that also includes his family members, as well as a group led by his son, Lukas NelsonDisney Hall.   (323) 850-2000.

- Mar. 13. (Tues.)  John Pisano’s Guitar NightPat Kelley’s the guest guitarist, celebrating his birthday in Guitar Night’s loose and swinging format.  Bassist John Belzaguy and drummer Kendall Kay lay down the heat that will keep the music cooking.  Lucy’s 51. Toluca Lake.  (818) 763-5200.

Janicey Brar/Billie Holiday

- Mar. 13. (Tues.)  Janicey Brar. Tribute to Billie Holiday  “Tribute” performers – singers and musicians who take on the persona, the performing style and the image of famous artists – are far more rare in jazz than they are in popular music.  But Milwaukee’s Brar, who spent years impersonating Tina Turner, is one of the exceptions.  The simulation of Billie Holiday that she’s doing for this performance has been praised for its impressive musical and visual qualities.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Mar. 14. (Wed.)  Otmaro Ruiz.  Venezuelan-born pianist/composer Ruiz moves comfortably and authentically across stylistic and genre boundaries, playing straight ahead jazz, Latin jazz, pop, rock, salsa, fusion and beyond.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400. http://www.in-housemusic.com/calendar.html

- Mar. 15. (Thurs.) Julie Kelly and Stephanie Haynes. A pair of veteran jazz singers, each with her own unique style, get together for an evening of vocal jazz magic. Neither is heard in the Southland as often as they should be, so don’t miss this chance to check out their engaging skills.  LAX Jazz Club at the Crowne Plaza.  (310) 258-1333.

"Casablanca"

- Mar. 15. – 17. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Casablanca.  Here’s the formula for a truly fascinating evening.  Max Steiner’s memorable score for Casablanca performed by the Pacific Symphony under Richard Kaufman, live in sync with a big screen projection of the cinematic masterpiece.  Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.  (714) 556-2787.

- Mar. 16. (Fri.)  The T.S. Monk Sextet.  Drummer Monk, blessed with the genetic heritage of his father, Thelonious Monk, has established himself as a solid musical talent in his own right.  Carpenter Performing Arts Center.    (562) 985-7000.

- Mar. 16. (Fri.) Jose Rizo’s “Mongorama.” Jose Rizo’s knack for assembling solid musical aggregations continues with the nine-piece Mongorama’s exciting explorations of Mongo Santamaria’s charanga-jazz of the ‘50s and ‘60s. Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Frankie Valli

- Mar. 16. (Fri.)  Frankie Valli. The ‘60s teen heartthrob, lead voice of the Four Seasons, revisits some of the iconic group’s hits – “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You.” “Sherry,” and more. Segerstrom Hall.   (714) 556-2787.

- Mar. 16. (Fri.) Mingus Dynasty. More than 30 years after the passing of Charles Mingus, his music is still being kept vividly alive in the hands of the seven piece Mingus Dynasty Band.  Expect to hear such classics from the large Mingus catalog as “Better Git It In Your Soul, “ “Haitian Fight Song” and Pithecanthus Erectus.”  Royce Hall.  A UCLA Live concert.    (310) 825-2101.  To read Michael Katz’s Reflections on Charles Mingus click HERE.

- Mar. 16 – 18. (Fri. – Sun.)  Chuck Loeb Quartet. Guitarist Loeb celebrates the release of his CD, Plain and Simple, hewing to the title with a program of lively, hard swinging music, baked by the stellar ensemble of  Mitchel Forman, keyboards, Lionel Cordew, drums and Eric Marienthal, saxophones. Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

Johnny Mandel

- Mar. 17. (Sat.) Johnny Mandel Big Band. One of the true treasures of contemporary American music – reaching from jazz to film to song and beyond – Mandel makes one of his too rare club appearance, leading a band of all-stars in a program that will be filled with familiar melody and irresistible rhythm.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Mar. 17. (Sat.)  Spectral Scriabin. Georgian pianist Eteri Andjaparidze and lighting designer Jennifer Tipton enliven composer Alexander Scriabin’s desire to blend the spectrum of colors with the full panorama of musical pitches.  The performance includes excerpts from Scriabin’s Poeme Languide in B Major and the Feuillet d’Album in F-sharp Major.  The Broad Stage.    (310) 434-3200.

San Francisco

Dave Grisman

- Mar. 16. (Fri.)  The Dave Grisman Quartet.  Mandolinist Grisman has been one of the primary shapers of contemporary acoustic music for decades. And he’s still finding new expressive methods – currently with a group that includes bassist Jim Kerwin, flutist Matt Eakle, percussionist George Marsh and guitarist Grant GordiYoshi’s San Francisco.    (415) 655-5600.

- Mar. 18. (Sun.)  The Uri Caine Trio. Mention an area of musical expression – from early classical to contemporary electronics to staright ahead jazz –  and pianist/composer  Caine has been there at one time or another.  His current interest focuses on his acoustic jazz piano trio, with John Hebert, bass and Ben Perowsky, drums.  The San Francisco Conservatory of Music.  An SFJAZZ 2012 Spring Season Event.     (866) 920-5299.

Washington D.C.

Stanley Jordan

- Mar. 15 – 18.  (Thurs. – Sun.)  Stanley Jordan.  Solo guitar.  The master of the tap-on style of jazz guitar playing Jordan is always at his best in a solo setting that allows his improvisational imagination to roam freely.  Blues Alley.   (202) 337-4141.

New York

- Mar. 13 – 18.  (Tues. – Sun.)  The Heath Brothers.  Jazz history comes alive when Jimmy Heath, saxophones, Albert “Tootie” Heath, drums get together to recall the high points of their decades of jazz prominence.  They’ll be backed by Jeb Patton, piano and David Wong, bass.  The Village Vanguard.   (212) 255-4037.

- Mar. 13 – 18. (Tues. – Sun.)  Eddie Palmieri.  The veteran pianist/composer/bandleader celebrates  his 75th birthday.  A musical pioneer virtually from the time of his appearance on the scene in the ‘50s, Palmieri has been one of the principal creative forces in the growth of Latin jazz.  The Blue Note.  (212) 475-8592.

Mira Awad and Noa (Achinoam Nini)

- Mar. 15. (Thurs. )  Noa and Mira.  Israeli singers Noa (Achinoam Nini) and Mira Awad are superb artists, dedicated to peaceful coexistence in their country.  Singing in Hebrew, Arabic and English, Israel’s top Jewish (Noa) and Arab (Mira) singer/songwriters perform together on behalf of the Abraham Fund.      The Rose Theatre at Lincoln Center. (212) 258-9800.

Boston

Mar. 17. (Sat.) Betty Buckley.  Tony Award winner (for her role in Cats), Buckley also has a resume listing performances reaching from Broadway musicals to film, television and recordings.  And she is especially compelling when she’s in an up close and personal night club setting, bringing utter believability to every musical story she tells.    The Regatta Bar.    (617) 661-5000.

London

Iain Mackenzie

Mar. 18. (Sun.)  Iain Mackenzie & Swing City.  Mackenzie, one of the U.K.’s favorite jazz singers uses his strong baritone and brisk sense of swing to carry the torch for the vocal tradition of Mel Torme, Nat Cole, Frank Sinatra and more.  He’ll be backed by the solid drive of the eight piece Swing City band.  He’ll do a pair of matinee shows – at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Ronnie Scott’s.    020 7439 0747.

Milan

Mar. 15. (Thurs.)  Miroslav Vitous.  Czech-born Vitous was one of the ground breaking acoustic bassists of the ‘70s, often grouped with the likes of Scott Lafaro, Dave Holland and others. Emphasizing his compositional interests in recent years, he makes one of his rare club appearances.  He’ll perform with Robert Bonisolo, saxophone and Aydin Esen, piano.  Blue Note Milan.    02.69.01.68.88.

Tokyo

Mar. 14 – 16.  (Wed. – Fri.)  Billy Childs Quartet. Pianist/composer Childs takes a break from his Chamber Ensemble performances and his role in Chris Botti’s band to stretch out with the world class companionship of Steve Wilson, alto saxophone, Scott Colley, bass and Brian Blade, drums.  Blue Note Tokyo.  03-5484-0088.


Picks of the Week: March 6 – 11

March 6, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

John Pisano

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

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

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

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

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

Jeffrey Kahane

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

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

Nellie McCay

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

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

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

San Francisco

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

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

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

Chicago

David Sanchez

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

New York

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

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

Berlin

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

Tokyo

Lou Donaldson

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

Milan

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

John Pisano photo by Bob Barry.

Nellie McCay poto by Tony Gieske.


Picks of the Week: Feb. 6 – 12

February 6, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Feb. 7. (Tues.)  Misha Piatigorsky and Sketchy Black Dog.  Winner of the 2004 Thelonious Monk Composers’ Competition, Piatigorsky applies his adventurous composition and piano playing skills within the offbeat string quartet sounds of the Sketchy Black Dog. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. http://www.vibratogrilljazz.com  (310) 474-9400.

- Feb. 7. (Tues.)  Guitar NightJohn Pisano and Barry Zweig.  The two veteran guitarists share a birthday celebration with a typical evening of Guitar night jamming. Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Feb. 7. (Tues.)  Joshua Bell in Concert.  Versatile violinist Bell applies his rich interpretive skills to a program of Mendlssohn, Brahms, Ravel, Ysaye and Gershwin.  Pianist Sam Haywood accompanies.  Disney Hall.  (323) 850-2000.

Janis Siegel

- Feb. 9. (Thurs.)  Janis Siegel with the Elliot Deutsch Big Band“Love: Swinging From the Heart.”  The Manhattan Transfer’s eclectic singer takes a break from quartet life for an evening of love songs with Deutsch’s briskly swinging young band.  Old Town Temecula Community Theatre.    (866) 653-8696.

- Feb. 10. (Fri..)  Pete Christlieb.  Every bandleader loves to have tenor saxophonist Christlieb on stage with him (or her), knowing that – whatever the music demands – Christlieb will deliver it in world class style.  Here’s a chance to hear him up front, doing his own thing.  Expect the best.  He’ll be backed by the Pat Senatore Trio.  Vibrato.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Feb. 10. (Fri.)  Hugh Masekela. South African trumpeter and human rights activist Masekela and his South African band survey his far reaching career – from “Grazing in the Grass” to straight ahead jazz and Afro-pop. Royce Hall.  UCLA Live.    (310) 825-2101.

- Feb. 10. (Fri.)  The Glendale Pops Orchestra with Kenny Loggins.  “This Is Romance.” Hitmaker and pop superstar Loggins has been producing soft rock romantic tunes since the ’70s, and he’s still going strong.  He’ll be singing some of his classics with the Glendale Pops as the perfect lead-in to Valentine’s day.  Matt Catingub conducts.  The Glendale Pops Orchestra at the Alex Theatre.  (818) 552-2787.

- Feb. 10 – 12. (Fri. – Sun.) and Feb. 16. – 19. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Steve Tyrell.  The warm and fuzzy baritone of Steve Tyrell can always be counted on to add the right romantic touch to an evening of songs for Valentine’s Day.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Feb. 11. (Sat.)  Jaye Maynard’s Blossom Dearie Songbook. Maynard explores the delightfully whimsical material favored by the one and only Dearie, without falling into the trap of imitating her inimitable singing style.  1 p.m. matinee show.  Also Mon., Feb. 13.  8 p.m.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Judy Collins

- Feb. 11. (Sat.)  Judy Collins. It’s been more than four decades since Grammy winning Collins was first thrilling boomers with songs such as “Both Sides Now,” “Someday Soon,” “Who Knows Where The Time Goes” and much more.  At 72, she continues to bring new life to everything she sings. Disney Hall.    (323) 850-2000.

- Feb. 11. (Sat.)  Inner Voices Valentine Show. The Southland’s primo vocal collective brings their lush harmonies and soaring solos to a program of holiday-appropriate love songs. Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Feb. 11. (Sat.)  Pasatono Orquesta.  The first concert in this year’s “Sounds of L.A.” series showcases the indigenous music of Mexico performed on hand-crafted instruments.  The Getty Center. (310) 440-7300.

Ravi Coltrane

- Feb. 11. (Sat.)  Christian McBride Trio and Ravi Coltrane Quartet. Two of the contemporary jazz scene’s most gifted artists share the Royce Hall stage, as well as their individual quests to explore new jazz territories. Royce Hall.  UCLA Live.    (310) 825-2101.

- Feb. 12 (Sun.)  Los Angeles Master Chorale. The LAMC take on a pair of compelling choral works: Bruckner’s lush textured Mass in E minor, performed with a wind orchestra, and Stravinsky’s three-movement, neo-classical Symphony of the Psalms.  Disney Hall.  (323) 850-2000.

- Feb. 12. (Sun.)  Marian Petrescu. Bucharest-born pianist Petrescu brings astonishing technical virtuosity to a jazz style blending mainstream elements with a free flying, fiercely rhythmic improvisational inventiveness. Pierre’s Fine Pianos.  (310) 247-0331.    

- Feb. 12. (Sun.)  Moscow Festival Ballet. Founded in 1989 by Bolshoi Ballet dancer Sergei Radchenko, the Moscow Festival Ballet offers their own version of the magical fairy tale, Cinderella.   Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.     (562) 916-8501.

San Francisco

- Feb. 10 – 12. (Fri. – Sun.)  The Manhattan Transfer.  “Valentine’s Weekend.” The Transfer offer their richly harmonized versions of songs for the holiday. Singer Margaret Dorn steps in for Cheryl Bentyne, who is recovering from a serious illness. Yoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.

Miami

- Feb. 11. (Sat.)  The Jacky Terrasson Trio.    Born in Berlin to an American mother and a French father, pianist Terrasson has thoroughly established himself as a world-class jazz artist.  In his first Florida appearance he’s backed by the sturdy swing of bassist Ben Williams and drummer Jamire Williams The Miniaci Performing Arts Center.  (954) 462-0222.

Washington

- Feb. 10 – 12 (Fri. – Sun.)  Jerry “The Iceman” Butler. One of the original Impressions, Butler – and his smooth baritone — followed up with a string of solo hits. At 72, he’s still going strong, while also serving as a Cook County Board Commissioner.  Blues Alley.    (202) 237-4141.

New York

Roy Hargrove

- Feb. 7 – 12. (Tues. – Sun.)  Roy Hargrove Big Band with Special Guest Roberta Gambarini.  After a string of performances with his quintet, trumpeter Hargrove is back in front of his dynamic big band.  But many of the high points will also be provided by the superb jazz singing of Gambarini.  The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

- Feb. 9 – 12.  (Thurs. – Sun.) Benny Golson.  He’s written some of the great jazz standards, but tenor saxophonist Golson also has a lot to say through his horn.  Don’t miss this rare club appearance.  Jazz Standard.    (212) 576-2232.

- Feb. 10. (Fri.)  The American Symphony OrchestraOrientalism in France”  The ASO takes a close look at the impact that the music of Asia had upon French composers of the late 19th and early 20th cenuries.  The program includes works by Saint-Saens, Franck, Delage, Ravel and Bizet’s rarely heard one act opera, Djamileh. Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium, Perelman Stage.   (212) 247-7800.

London

- Feb. 8 & 9. (Tues. & Wed.)  Gilad Atzmon“The Music of Charlie Parker.”  Alto saxophonist Atzmon takes on some of the familiar Parker works, including pieces from the classic Bird with Strings recordings.  Ronnie Scott’s.    020 7439 0747.

Berlin

- Feb. 10. (Fri.)  Gwilym Simcock.  Although he is best known in the U.K., Welsh jazz 30 year old Simcock is one of the most innovative pianists of his generation, applying many of his classical skills to his improvisational excursions.  He performs here on solo piano.   A-Trane.  030/313 25 50

Milan

Billy Cobham

- Feb. 9 – 11. (Thurs. – Sat.)  The Billy Cobham Band. Fusion, crossover, whatever one chooses to call it, drummer Cobham is one of the master chefs of the mixed musical stew of jazz, pop, rock and beyond. Blue Note Milano.     02.69.01.68.88.

Tokyo

Feb. 11 & 12. (Sat. & Sun.)  Take 6. The six a cappella singers of Take 6 have taken every element in the history of jazz vocal ensembles, added their own unique talents and created the best new jazz ensemble singing of the 21st century. Blue Note Tokyo.   03.5485.0088.

Janis Siegel photo by Bob Barry.


Live Jazz: Anthony Wilson, John Pisano and Jim Hughart in Guitar Night at Vitello’s

February 2, 2012

By Michael Katz

I first discovered John Pisano’s Guitar Night at Rocco’s up in Beverly Glen (it had started at Papashon’s in Encino in 1997) and followed it through the years at the late, lamented Spazio’s.  But I hadn’t seen the latest incarnation at Vitello’s until Tuesday night, when he fronted another stellar show with Anthony Wilson and bassist Jim Hughart. Alas, Guitar Night is moving once more, down the road to Toluca Lake next month, but a full house was on hand in the upstairs room as Pisano and Wilson wove blissful and bluesy duets through two sets.

John Pisano, Jim Hughart and Anthony Wilson

There’s a transcendental feeling to these shows, with their living room vibe and purely improvisational manner; you sit back and let the music find its form for the evening. Pisano, as is his custom, laid back at the start, letting his guest set the pace and provide the early licks. They started out wading casually into “I’ll Remember April,” Wilson darting and weaving around the melody while Pisano backed him up rhythmically – the absence of a drummer was scarcely noticed. They melded into “Alone Together,” picking up the pace in a gentle manner, Hughart providing some nice bass work, as he did throughout the evening.

Anthony Wilson

The first set really started finding its identity with “Willow Weep For Me.” Wilson’s opening solo established the tone, a bright and bluesy tempo that became downright funky as it moved along.  Pisano picked up the vibe, and by the time they were finished they’d pretty much wrung every ounce out of “Willow.”

The electricity lingered through “It Could Happen To You.” Wilson was out front again, but Pisano was weighing in now, with his classically tasteful riffs. As the evening wore on, it was the little things that you noticed, the playful way the guitarists approached the tunes. In “All Or Nothing At All,” they flew through the main themes, then vamped toward the end, playing downward chordal progressions at the close, as if searching for an exit at the end of a maze.

John Pisano

One of the fun things about Guitar Night is identifying the tunes amidst the fraternal interplay. As the second set started, I listened to Wilson fingering his riffs, Pisano sketching a theme in the background. I thought I picked up the chords of  “I’ll Remember You.” Then guitarist Ron Anthony walked by and sat down with us. He leaned over and whispered, “I’ll Remember You?” I nodded, pleased with myself.

Guitar Nights lean heavily on standards; they are the lingua franca among musicians who play together infrequently. But the touches are superb. “Body and Soul” started lightly, almost samba-like, before Wilson took it over with his extended solo. Pisano introduced “Everything You Are” in ¾, and the three of them explored its nooks and crannies,  dissecting the opening/closing bridge with a delightful digression.

The set ended up with a rousing “Have You Met Miss Jones,” Wilson and Pisano engaging in dynamic interplay, leaving nothing on the table as the late night remnants of the crowd roared their approval. Pisano, believe it or not, will be 81 next week, and long time Guitar Night favorite Barry Zweig will be 70, the two of them celebrating their birthdays next week as the Vitello’s residency winds down. Wherever they land, they are one of LA’s enduring joys.

Photos by Bob Barry

Click HERE to visit Michael Katz’s new personal blog, Katz of the Day.

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


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