Picks of the Week: Jan. 21 – 26

January 21, 2014

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Jan.21. (Tues.) The Pat Senatore Trio. Bassist Senatore, Josh Nelson, piano, and Mark Ferber, drums, assemble to celebrate a CD release party for the Trio’s new album, Ascensione. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc (310) 474-9400.

Aaron Weinstein

Aaron Weinstein

- Jan. 22. (Wed.) Aaron Weinstein. Violinist Weinstein, still not a highly visible jazz artist, is rapidly establishing himself as one of his instrument’s rare jazz masters. Click HERE to read an earlier iRoM review of Weinstein. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- Jan. 22 – 24. (Wed- Fri.) Lenny White and Friends. Eclectic drummer White, a vital veteran of Return to Forever, leads his own solid ensemble, including bassists Foley and Victor Bailey, woodwind player Bennie Maupin and keyboardist George Colligan. Catalina Bar & Grill (223) 466-2210.

John Proulx

John Proulx

- Jan. 23. (Thurs.) John Proulx Trio. He’s a fine pianist and an in-demand rhythm section player. And Proulx is now beginning to prove his skills as a fine interpretive jazz singer, as well. Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Jan. 25 & 26. (Sat. & Sun.) The Los Angeles Master Chorale performs the Bach B Minor Mass in an interpretation that Music Director Grant Gershon says will “blow the roof off Disney Hall.”  (323) 850-2000.

- Jan. 25 & 26. (Sat. & Sun.) Average White Band. More than 40 years after their arrival on the pop music scene the A.W.B. still conjurs up an irresistible blend of funk, soul and r&b. Catalina Bar & Grill (223) 466-2210.

Chita Rivera

Chita Rivera

- Jan. 25. (Sat.) Chita Rivera: A Legendary Celebration. And, yes, Rivera is indeed one of the musical theatre’s most unique, memorable and legendary performers. Valley Performing Arts Center. (818) 677-8800.

- Jan. 25 & 26. (Sat. & Sun.) The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra offer an inviting program of Mozart & Beethoven. On Saturday at the Alex Theatre.  On Sunday at Royce Hall.

- Jan. 26. (Sun.) Bill Cunliffe. Grammy-nominated Cunliffe offers a “Night at the Grammys with a stellar ensemble – saxophonist Bob Sheppard, bassist Darek Oles and drummer Adam Czerwinski.  (818) 769-0905.  Vitello’s.

 San Francisco

Cameron Carpenter

Cameron Carpenter

- Jan. 24. (Fri.) Cameron Carpenter. Organist Carpenter is one of classical music’s most dynamic performers, bringing an astounding blend of virtuosic technique and entertaining showmanship to everything he plays. SFJAZZ at Grace Cathedral.  (866) 920-5299.

Seattle

Grace Kelly

Grace Kelly

- Jan. 21 – 22. (Tues. – Wed.) Grace Kelly with the Marc Seales Trio. A jazz saxophone prodigy as a teen-ager, Kelly – now 21 – has matured into a gifted creative artist. Jazz Alley.  (206) 441-9729.

 New York City

- Jan. 22 & 23. (Wed. & Thurs.) Pat Martino and Eldar. A cross generational team – veteran guitarist Martino and talented young pianist Eldar – get together in search of common improvisational ground. Iridium. (212) 582-2121.

Copenhagen

- Jan. 23-25 (Thurs. – Sat.) Paolo Fresu Special Quartet. Italian trumpeter/flugelhornist Fresu has assembled an aggregation of some of Europe’s finest jazz players, among them Paolo Russo, piano, Thomas Fonnesbaek, bass, and Alex Riel, drums. Jazzhus Montmartre.  +45 31 72 34 94.

Milan

Diane Schuur

Diane Schuur

- Jan. 23 – 25. (Thurs. – Sat.) Diane Schuur. “Deedles,” as she is known by friends, fans and musicians alike, continues to sing with the Sarah Vaughan influenced style that has characterized her imaginative work ever since Stan Getz discovered her in the late ’70s. The Blue Note Milano.  +39 02 6901 6888.

Tokyo

Jan. 23 & 24. (Thurs. & Fri.) Avishai Cohen Trio. Israeli jazz bassist Cohen – not the Israeli jazz trumpeter by the same name – leads his new trio in a rare Japanese appearance. The Blue Note Tokyo. +81 3-5485-0088.


Picks of the Week: Sept. 10 – 15

September 10, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

George Gershwin

George Gershwin

- Sept. 10 (Tues.) Rachmaninoff and Gershwin. “Romantic Favorites.” The Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Miguel Harth-Bedoya with piano soloist Daniil Trifonov, performs a program of richly colorful, early 20th century music. Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- Sept. 11. (Wed.) George Benson Inspiration Tour. A Tribute To Nat “King” Cole. Guitarist/singer Benson brings convincing life to the Cole song book. Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- Sept. 12 & 13. (Thurs. & Fri.) Joey DeFrancesco. Jazz organist DeFrancesco is joined by guitarist Steve Cotter and drummer Ramon Banda in a definitive display of jazz organ trio music. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

Roberta Gambarini

Roberta Gambarini

- Sept. 12 – 14. (Thurs. – Sat.) Roberta Gambarini.   Italian-born Gambarini continues to assert her musical aulthenticity as one of contemporary jazz’s finest vocalists. She’s joined by special guest, Kenny Burrell. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Sept. 13 & 14. (Fri. & Sat.) Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express. One of the most appealing pop/rock, jazz-influenced bands of the late ’60s, the Oblivion Express, in keyboardist Auger’s hands, still continues to produce exciting music. The Baked Potato.  (818) 980-1615.

- Sep. 13 – 15. (Fri. – Sun.) Fireworks Finale: Earth, Wind & Fire with Thomas Wilkins and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. It’s an attractive line-up of talent, enhanced by the usual spectacular fireworks, bringing the 2013 season to a pyrotechnic closure. Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- Sept. 14. (Sat.) Tom Peterson Quartet. Saxophonist/woodwind player Peterson, one of Minnesota’s many gifts to jazz, balances first rate playing with a busy career as a producer, educator, clinician and more. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. r (310) 474-9400.

Cheryl Bentyne and Mark Winkler

Cheryl Bentyne and Mark Winkler

- Sept. 15. (Sun.) Cheryl Bentyne and Mark Winkler. The Manhattan Transfer’s Bentyne teams up with jazz vocalist Winkler to celebrate the CD Release party for their new album, West Coast Cool. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- Sept. 15. (Sun.) John Proulx. Pianist/vocalist Proulx continues to display a warmly interpretive vocal style, backed by the solid support of his swinging piano work. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- Sept. 15. (Sun.) Julie Esposito. She’s an attorney/jazz singer, one of the more unlikely hyphenates in the L.A. music scene. And, somehow, Esposito handles both her skill sets with authority and complete authenticity. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

San Francisco

Randy Brecker

Randy Brecker

- Sept. 12. (Thurs.) The United Trumpet Summit. The title is exactly right, given the presence in the U.T.S. of a stellar line-up of world class trumpeters, including Randy Brecker, Dr. Eddie Henderson, Jeremy Pelt and Leon Jordan, Jr. Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655.5600.

Portland, Oregon

- Sept. 12. (Thurs.) Jacqui Naylor. She’s one of the contemporary jazz vocal world’s most versatile artists, moving easily from straight ahead jazz to folk rock and adult alternative genres. Hear her in action. Jimmy Mak’s.  (503) 295-6542.

Seattle

Nellie McCay

Nellie McCay

- Sept. 10 & 11. (Tues. & Wed.) Nellie McKay. Singer/actress/humorist MacKay balances a sardonic sense of humor with stunning musicality and an easy comfort with genres reaching from jazz to rap, funk and beyond. Jazz Alley.  (206) 441-9729.

New York City

- Sept. 10 & 11. (Tues. & Wed.) Dave Liebman Expansions Quintet. Always eager to explore new musical territory, saxophonist Liebman leads an adventurous new ensemble. Birdland. (212) 581-3080.

- Sept. 13 – 15. (Fri. – Sun.) Staney Jordan Trio. Guitarist Jordan’s unique, tapping style of playing has created virtual one-man-band sounds. But this time out he expands his possibilities in a trio setting. Iridium (212) 582-2121.

Washington D.C.

Gary Burton

Gary Burton

- Sept. 12 & 13. (Thurs. & Fri.) The New Gary Burton Quartet.70th Bday Tour.Vibist Burton, one of his instrument’s most gifted practitioners, celebrates his 70th birthday in the company of Julian Lage, guitar, Scott Colley, bass and Antonio Sanchez, drums. Blues Alley (202) 337-4141.

London

- Sept. 10 – 12. (Tues. – Thurs.) Jose Feliciano. Guitarist Feliciano has been a uniquely appealing singer/guitarist since his ’60s hit version of “Light My Fire.” And, at 67, he’s still going strong. Ronnie Scott’s. +44 (0) 7439 0747.

Milan

- Sept. 11. (Wed.) Big One – The European Pink Floyd Show “Biglietto Cumulativo.“ The music of the English art rock band of the ’60s continues to appeal to audiences around the world. Blue Note Milano. +39 02 6901 6888. 

Tokyo

Chick Corea

Chick Corea

- Sept. 10 & 11. (Tues. & Wed.) Chick Corea and The Vigil. The iconic keyboardist/composer has once again organized a new collective to express his ever-curious, creative musical adventures. The Vigil includes the gifted, youthful Tim Garland, Carlitos Del Puerto, Marcus Gilmore, Charles Altura and Luisito Quintero. Blue Note Tokyo. 03-5485-0088. 


Live Jazz: Geoffrey Keezer at Vitello’s

July 28, 2013

By Don Heckman

Grammmy-nominated pianist Geoffrey Keezer showcased his impressive solo talents at Vitello’s Friday night for an enthusiastic, overflow crowd sparkling with the presence of such stellar  music world listeners as Chris Botti, Billy Childs, Bobby Colomby, John Proulx, Mike Lang, Denise Donatelli, Mark Winkler and others.

Seemingly inspired by his audience, Keezer offered a far-ranging set of music, chosen from jazz, pop and folk sources. In his first solo performance in more than a decade, he celebrated the release of his latest album, also a solo effort, Heart of the Piano.

The piano is often described as a complete orchestra in itself, and Keezer clearly had that perspective in mind as he roved, adventurously, through one richly textured, rhythmically alive improvisation after another.  His program reached from tunes by Stevie Wonder, Alanis Morrisette, Peter Gabriel and Rush to Duke Ellington, Wayne Shorter and Christian McBride.

Geoffrey Keezer

Geoffrey Keezer

That’s a challenging collection of musical stimuli, and Keezer responded to it with a full-bodied expression of his creative imagination.  At times, his mastery of the piano, driven by fast, busy fingers, called up aural images of Shostakovich and Bartok.  At other times, he dug into his jazz roots, moving easily into alternating passages touching on everything from stride to bebop.  And Keezer did so with ease, investing the jazz segments with an irresistible sense of swing.

He was especially compelling on a pair of works that triggered rich, emotional interpretations – Ellington’s “Black and Tan Fantasy” and the Robert Burns/traditional tune “My Love Is Like A Red, Red Rose” (inspired, Keezer said, by the Eva Cassidy version, and which he dedicated to his wife Susan).

Billy Martinez

Billy Martinez

Keezer climaxed  his performance with an improvisational duet with artist Billy Martinez, who painted on several tall canvas panels, as Keezer played.  While it was unclear if either artist was leading the way, they nonetheless seemed inspired by each other as they interacted in completely spontaneous fashion.  Searching together, they often found fascinating, common creative ground.

The only uncertain moments in this otherwise memorable musical evening, came when Keezer leaned a bit too strongly in the direction of the piano as an orchestra.  While these passages were stunning displays of his virtuosic improvisational skills, one also wished to hear more of Keezer’s gift for melodic lyricism.

G

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That said, his solo piano playing deserves a wider hearing.  If you weren’t in the crowd for Friday night’s concert, most of the pieces Keezer played can be found in the CD that inspired the performance, Heart of the Piano.  Don’t miss it.

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Photos by Faith Frenz.


Picks of the Week: May 14 – 19

May 14, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Brenna Whitaker

Brenna Whitaker

- May 15. (Wed.)  Brenna Whitaker.  She could have been a ‘30s platinum blond star.  But Whitaker doesn’t just look good; she can sing, too.  This time out she picks a set of tunes to enhance the birthday of Vibrato co-owner Eden Alpert.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- May 15. (Wed.)  Lado B Project.  A lively evening of Brazilian music, featuring Otmaro Ruiz, piano, Larry Koonse, guitar, Edwin Livingston, bass, Aaron Serfaty, drums and Catina DeLuna, voice.  Brazilian music.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- May 16. (Thurs.)  Lisa Hilton. The ever adventurous pianist/composer Hilton continues her quest for new musical territories for her to explore. Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- May 16. (Thurs.)  John Proulx.  Singer/pianist Proulx has begun to claim a position in the rare category of male jazz singer.  Proulx, like his musical role model, Chet Baker, brings the flowing phrases of his instrumental playing to his vocal interpretations.    H.O.M.E. (House of Music and Entertainment)   (310) 271-4663.

- May 17. (Fri.)  Jim Snidero Group.  Saxophonist Snidero’s lengthy resume reaches from his own numerous recordings to performances with everyone from Frank Sinatra to Frank Wess. The Blue Whale.    (213) 620-0908.

Melissa Manchester

Melissa Manchester

- May 17 – 19. (Fri. – Sun.)  Melissa Manchester. She’s been producing memorable music since the ‘70s, including “Midnight Blue” and “Don’t Cry Out Loud.”  Here’s a chance to catch her in one of her rare club appearances. Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- May 17 – 19. (Fri. – Sun.)  Larry Goldings, Peter Bernstein and Bill Stewart.  This is a stellar organ trio if ever there was one.  Each of the players is an influence in his own right.  Don’t miss them.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- May 17 – 19, 23 & 25. (Fri. – Sun., Thurs., Sat.)  Mozart/Da Ponte TrilogyThe Marriage of Figaro. The second of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s three year trilogy of opera by Mozart and librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte.  The great comic opera is performed in a concert staged version by the Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Master Chorale and soloists.  Disney Hall.  http://www.laphil.com  (323) 850-2000.

- May 19. (Sun.)  Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.  Concerto Finale.  The LACO players offer a fascinating evening of concertos, including Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto, and an offbeat bassoon concerto performed with a 1927 silent film.  Add the Beethoven Coriolan Overture and anticipate an engaging program.   CAP UCLA at Royce Hall.   (310) 825-4321.

- May 19. (Sun.)  Deborah Voigt.  Critically acknowledged as one of the classical music world’s dramatic sopranos, Voigt – who roves freely from Wagner to Puccini – offers an intimate recital of works by Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Bernstein and more.  Valley Performing Arts Center.  (818) 677-8800.

San Francisco

Bela Fleck

Bela Fleck

- May 16 – 19 (Thurs. – Sun.)  Bela Fleck solo.  Banjo master Fleck has performed in every imaginable setting.  But he is especially compelling musically when he plays in the creative intimacy of a solo performance.  SFJAZZ Center Miner Auditorium.    (866) 920-5299.

Seattle

- May 14 & 15. (Tues. & Wed.)  John Hammond.  Praised by the likes of Tom Waits and T-Bone Burnett, Grammy-winning guitarist/singer/harmonica player Hammond keeps the blues alive in everything he plays.  Jazz Alley.    (206) 441-9729.

New York City

- May 14 – 18. (Tues. – Sat.)  Bossabrasil.  Featuring Dori Caymmi with special guest, Joyce.  Rio comes to Manhattan in the form of a pair of Brazil’s most versatile and gifted musical artists.  Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

- May 14 – 19. (Tues. – Sun.)  The Gil Evans Project.  Directed by Ryan Truesdell.  An amazing week of music, featuring a large ensemble exploring the full range of Gil Evans’ extraordinary talents.  The selections for each night include Gil Evans’ music for the Claude Thornhill Orchestra, “Out of the Cool,” “New Bottle, Old Wine,” “Great Jazz Standards,” “The Individualism of Gil Evans,” “Miles Ahead,” “Porgy and Bess,” Check with the club for scheduling.  The Jazz Standard.    (212) 576-2232.

London

Roy Haynes

Roy Haynes

- May 15 & 16. (Wed. & Thurs.)  The Roy Haynes Fountain of Youth Band. The Fountain of Youth has had the biggest impact upon the leader, drummer and role model in this band.  At 88, Haynes is still playing with the imagination and energy of youth.  Ronnie Scott’s.   +44 20 7439 0747.

Berlin

- May 17 & 18.  (Fri. & Sat.)  Lee Ritenour.  He used to be called “Captain Fingers” in honor of his high-speed dexterity.  But guitarist Ritenour has a more lyrical side as well, often employing octave melody style of his favorite musical model, Wes Montgomery.  A-Trane.    +49 30 3132 ext. 550

Copenhagen

- May 15 & 16. (Wed. & Thurs.)  Mark Whitfield.  Dubbed the “best young guitarist in the business” by the New York Times, Whitfield performs with a trio of prime Danish jazz musicians: Henrik Gunde, piano, Kasper Vadsholt, bass and Rasmus Kihlberg, drums.  Jazzhus Montmartre.   +45 31 72 34 94

Milan

Anat Cohen

Anat Cohen

- May 18. (Sat.) Anat Cohen.  Clarinetist/saxophonist Cohen is in the forefront of an impressive generation of female jazz instrumentalists.  She’s backed by Jason Lindner, piano, Stefano Bellani, bass and Daniel Freedman, drums.  Blue Note Milano.    +39 02 6901 6888.

Tokyo

- May 14 – 16. (Tues. – Thurs.)  Benny Golson Quartet.  Tenor saxophonist/composer Golson is still, at age 84, a player with a lot of music to express.  Hopefully he’ll also play some of his jazz hits such as “Killer Joe,” “Whisper Not,” “Along Came Betty” and more.  The Blue Note Tokyo.    +81 3-5485-0088.


Live Music: Deana Martin at Vitello’s

May 5, 2013

By Don Heckman

Studio City, CA.  Second, even third, generation careers in show business aren’t exactly uncommon in the entertainment world.  And singer Deana Martin’s name alone indicates a legacy powerful enough to open the right doors.

But Martin, who began a three night run at Vitello’s on Friday night, has the skills to build a career on, regardless of her lineage.

That said, however, she titled this presentation – which she’s been doing in locations across the country —  “Deana Sings Dino” honoring her father, “The King of Cool”  And she was introduced from the stage, by her father’s video announcement.

Deana Martin

Deana Martin

She further underscored the connection by performing such songs identified with Dean Martin as  “Memories Are Made of This,” “That’s Amore,” ”You’re Nobody Til Somebody Loves You,” “Ain’t That A Kick in the Head,” “Everybody Loves Somebody” and “Volare.”  And she topped off the paternal references with a video duet on “True Love” that included a fascinating montage and photos of Martin family life.

Inevitably, one couldn’t help but listen to Deana’s interpretations with distant, but recurring, memories of how they were sung by her father.  Memories that were further revived by the arrangements played by her world class group – led by pianist and music director John Proulx, and featuring bassist Chuck Berghofer and guitarist John Chiodini.  Often emphasizing a gently swinging groove, the charts were reminiscent of those used by Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and the other partners in the Rat Pack.

John Proulx and Deana Martin

John Proulx and Deana Martin

Add to that Deana’s amiable and laid back manner in her between songs commentaries.  Quick jokes came one after the other, interspersed with personal recollections of Dean Martin and such Rat Pack “uncles” as Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr.

Observing her father and the “uncles” in action as she grew up in a show biz environment, Deana has clearly mastered all the entertainment elements that work for her as a performing artist.  To her credit – and unlike some of the singers in her generation – her performance overflowed with the confident, communicative manner of an utterly engaging entertainer.

Beyond all the legacy elements emphasized by the “Deana Sings Dino” aspects of the performance, there was the appealing musicality and interpretive lyricism present in everything she sang – nostalgic or otherwise.  In songs such as “Beyond the Sea,” “The Lady Is A Tramp” and “I’d Love To Get You On A Slow Boat To China,” she displayed the very special qualities that are uniquely her own.

And one suspects that Dean Martin, had he been present at Vitello’s, would have been proud of the fine, convincingly imaginative artist that his daughter has become.

Deana Martin and “Deana Sings Dino” continues at Vitello’s tonight.

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Photos by Bob Barry


Picks of the Weekend: May 3 – 5 in Los Angeles

May 3, 2013

By Don Heckman

Electricity and internet problems in iRoM land prevented the posting of a full week of International Picks.  But now we finally have enough power and web access to list some Picks of the Weekend here in L.A.  Next week, Picks of the Week will be back on track with our global overview.

Los Angeles

Billy Childs

Billy Childs

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- May 3. (Fri.)  Billy Childs Allstar Jazz.  Pianist Childs is constantly in search of new musical adventures.  His All Star Jazz Group, with bassist Jimmy Johnson, drummer Joey Heredia and saxophonist/flutist Katisse Buckingham is his latest jaunt into new creative territory.  The Baked Potato.   (818) 980-1615.

- May 3. (Fri.)  Brandon Fields.  He’s been a first-call session saxophonist for decades, with a resume filled with stellar relationships.  But Fields is a fine jazz artist in his own right, which will be self-evident in this headlining gig, backed by bassist Pat Senatore, drummer Mark Ferber, and pianist tba. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. http://www.vibratogrilljazz.com  (310) 474-9400.

- May 3 & 4. (Fri. & Sat.)  Andy Garcia and the Cine Son All Stars.  An Academy Award-nominated actor, director and writer, Garcia has also had a fascinating parallel career as a convincing Latin jazz percussionist and musician.  Here’s one of the rare opportunities to see him in high powered musical action. Catalina Bar & Grill. http://www.catalinajazzclub.com  (323) 466-2210.

Lang Lang

Lang Lang

- May 3 – 5. (Fri. – Sun.)  Dudamel, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Lang Lang.  It’s a world-class combination, performing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concert No. 1. and Carl Nielsen’s Symphony No. 4.   Disney Hall. http://www.laphil.com/tickets/dudamel-and-lang-lang/2013-05-02  (323) 850-2000.

- May 3 – 5. (Fri. – Sun.)  Deana Martin. She’s had a career as an actress and a singer, with a top selling workout video.  But her father’s memory is most present in her engaging singing style.  This time out, she celebrates that relationship with “Deana Sings Dino: A Tribute to Her Father.”  Pianist/arranger John Proulx conducts.  Vitello’s.  http://www.vitellosrestaurant.com  (818) 769-0905.

- May 4. (Sat.)  Brad Mehldau and The Bad Plus with special guest Joshua Redman. Three of the contemporary jazz world’s most cutting edge musical entities get together for a compelling evening of wide open improvisational exploration.  A CAP UCLA concert at Royce Hall.  http://cap.ucla.edu  (310) 825-4321.

- May 5. (Sun.)  The Playboy Jazz Festival’s Free Community Concert in Beverly Hills.  Featuring the New Jump Blues Band with Antonio Fargas.  He’s best known for his role as Huggy Bear in Starsky and Hutch¸but he’s currently leading the New Jump Blues band in their dynamic romps through jazz, blues, calypso and a lot more.  Also on the bill: the Beverly Hills High School Jazz Band under the direction of Bill Bradbury.  The Beverly Hills Civic Center Plaza.  Playboy Festival Hotline: (310) 450-1173.  http://www.playboyjazzfestival.com/events2013.html

Gerald Wilson

Gerald Wilson

- May 5. (Sun.) Gerald Wilson Orchestra.  94 year old Gerald Wilson is still a compelling band leader, inspiring vitality and swing in his large jazz ensemble whenever he steps to the front of the stage and gives a down beat. Hear him at every opportunity, and anticipate the pleasures of his memorable compositions and arrangements as well.  Catalina Bar & Grill. http://www.catalinajazzclub.com  (323) 466-2210.

- May 5. (Sun.)  2nd Annual Los Lobos Cinco de Mayo Festival. The Greek Theatre 2013 schedule begins with a spectacular line-up of Southland favorites, Los Lobos, Robert Randolph, Los Super 7, Willie G of The Midnighters.  The full day of music and celebration begins at 3 p.m.  The Greek Theatre.  http://www.greektheatrela.com/events/event_details.asp?id=2516  (323) 665-5857.

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Billy Childs photo by Bonnie Perkinson.


Picks of the Week: Mar. 27 – 31.

March 26, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Sascha's Bloc Band

Sascha’s Bloc Band

- Mar. 27. (Wed.)  Sascha’s Bloc.  A gifted group of players, many from Russia and/or Eastern European backgrounds, showcasing music that crosses easily and compellingly across lines of genre and tradition.  Led by the dynamic guitar playing of Alex (Sascha) Gershman, with the intimate vocalizing of Carina CoperVibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- Mar. 27. (Wed.)  The Scott Healy Ensemble.  Pianist/composer Healy leads a compact, but richly expressive, ten piece ensemble in selections from his classically tinged, highly praised Hudson City Suite. Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Ginger Berglund and Scott Whitfield

Ginger Berglund and Scott Whitfield

- Mar. 28. (Thurs.) Ginger Berglund and Scott Whitfield.  Ginger and Scott’s musical legacy reaches back to the Pied Pipers and the Modernaires, filtered through their own jazz instincts, with traces of Jackie Cain and Roy Kral.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Mar. 29. (Fri.)  Kim Richmond Concert Jazz Orchestra.  Saxophonist Richmond leads a fine aggregation of Southland players in A Tribute to Stan Kenton REDCAT.   (213) 237-2800.

- Mar. 29 & 30. (Fri. & Sat.)  Charles Wright and the Watts 103 St. Rhythm Band.  The pioneering funk and soul band, led by guitarist Wright, revive some of their many hits from the late ‘60s and early 70s.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Mar. 30. (Sat.) A Ttribute to Charlie Haden.  Bob Sheppard, Billy Childs, Peter Erskine, Darek Oles get together to honor the remarkable career and superb playing of bassist Haden, whose health conditions over the past few years have limited him to rare public performances.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Mar. 30. (Sat.)  Nikhil Korula.  Singer/guitarist Korula, who concentrates on acoustic rock, makes a rare solo acoustic appearance, performing a program of original compositions and rock classics.  Witches Brew in North Hills.  (818) 892-1480.

- Mar. 30. (Sat.)  and April 4 – 7. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Trisha Brown Dance Company. An adventurous choreographer since the ‘70s, Brown’s Company performs her Floor of the Forest on Saturday night – the first event in The Retrospective Project, a collection of her works unfolding over the following week. Royce Hall CAP UCLA.     (310) 825-2101.

Charmaine Clamor

Charmaine Clamor

- Mar. 31. (Sun.) Charmaine Clamor.  Reaching beyond her Filipino background, Clamor has thoroughly established herself as one of the most imaginative, and utterly listenable, jazz voices of the decade (and beyond).  “Hallelujah,” her Easter show, displays the full range of her remarkable vocal expressiveness. Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Mar. 31. (Sun.)  John Proulx Trio. Pianist Proulx has long been a first call rhythm section player.  But in recent years, his mellow vocalizing has positioned him as a Chet Baker-influenced singing instrumentalist. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

San Francisco

- Mar. 29 & 30.  (Fri. & Sat.)  Rita Coolidge.  Grammy winning, hit-making Coolidge peaked during the ‘70s with hits in pop, country and jazz charts.  In her late ‘60s, she’s still going strong.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.    (415) 655-5600.

Seattle

- Mar. 28 – 31. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Holly Cole.  Canadian jazz singer Cole has been charting an original vocal pathway since the ‘90s.  She’s currently supporting her latest album, Night. Jazz Alley.    (206) 441-9729.

New York City

Kyle Eastwood

Kyle Eastwood

- Mar. 26 – 31. (Tues. – Sun.)  Kyle Eastwood Group and the Larry Coryell Group. It’s a generationally contrasting evening: featuring 44 year old jazz bassist and composer Eastwood, and 69 year old guitarist Coryell.  Expect to hear diverse sounds.  The Blue Note.    (212) 475-8592.

- Mar. 28 – 31. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Dave Douglas Quintet.  50th Birthday Week. Trumpeter Douglas celebrates his anniversary in the sterling musical company of Jon Irabagon, tenor saxophone, Matt Mitchell, piano, Linda Oh, bass and Rudy Royston, drums.   The Jazz Standard.   (212) 576-2232.

London

- Mar. 31. (Sun.)  The Humphrey Lyttelton Septet.  Trumpeter and arranger Lyttelton died in 2008 after celebrating 60 years as a bandleader.  But the band has carried on with Humph’s tradition of providing entertaining evenings of jazz and beyond. Ronnie Scott’s.    +44 20 7439 0747

Milan

- Mar. 30. (Sat.)  Maria Pia De Vito & Ares Tavolazzi Duo.  Vocalist/composer De Vito and bassist Tavolazzi have both worked in crossover and avant-garde areas of contemporary music.  Expect intriguing musical results from their duo partnership.  Blue Note Milano.    +39 02 6901 6888.

Tokyo

Tuck & Patti

Tuck & Patti

- Mar. 26 – 28. (Tues. – Thurs.)  Tuck & Patti. Guitarist Tuck and singer Patti have been a couple – in life and in music – for more than three decades.  And their engagingly intimate music continues to be one of the pleasing marvels of contemporary jazz and pop. Blue Note Tokyo.    +81 3-5485-0088.


Live Jazz: John Proulx at Catalina Bar & Grill

November 9, 2012

By Don Heckman

It’s no news that female singers have been arriving on the jazz scene in the past few decades with far greater frequency than males.  Which makes it worth noticing when a male jazz singer with credentials as an instrumentalist makes an appearance.

John Proulx isn’t exactly a new jazz artist, either as a pianist or a singer.  In the decade or so since he arrived in Los Angeles, he has rapidly established himself as a first-call pianist with wide-ranging skills.  More recently, he’s won a Grammy award for a song he composed for Nancy Wilson.  And he’s begun to showcase his singing in his albums.

On Wednesday night at Catalina Bar & Grill he introduced selections from his latest album, The Best Thing For You Would Be Me. In fact, he sang and played virtually all of the album’s selections.  Backed by most of the participants on the album – saxophonist Bob Sheppard, trumpeter Ron Stout, drummer Joe La Barbera, bassist Chuck Berghofer and singer Sara Gazarek, with the added aid of guitarist John Chiodini (who was not on the album) – Proulx made an ambitious presentation of his diverse skills as pianist, singer and songwriter.

The John Proulx Band

Proulx opened the program with a sequence of tunes from a variety of sources: a pair of standards (his album title — “The Best Thing For You Would Be Me” and the Jimmy McHugh classic “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love”); Cannonball Adderley’s “Wabash;” Billy Joel’s “And So It Goes;” and Joe Raposo’s Sesame Stree song, “Sing”).

That’s a challenging group of songs, dissimilar enough to call for vocal skills that are lyrically interpretive, rhythmically driven and aurally appealing.

John Proulx

At times, Proulx’s readings touched on all those qualities.  And on the up side, there was always a strong, propulsive swing in his vocals, ranging from a brisk articulation of melody to inventive scat singing.

The second half of the program, broadened to feature six Proulx originals, followed similar patterns.  Here, the interpretations were aided by the beautifully articulate vocal contributions of Gazarek, whose presence on Sarah McLachlin’s “Angel” and  Proulx’s “Love Is For Dreamers” and “Before We Say Goodnight” brought authenticity to each.

The final selections, climaxing with originals, were also enhanced by instrumental contributions from Sheppard, Stout, La Barbera and Chiodini.  One of the most appealing, “Here’s To the Chuckster,” featured Berghofer and Proulx together, in a song dedicated by Proulx to the veteran bassist.

Ultimately, one was left with a view of a musician/singer still working to find the most effective focus for his considerable skills. For that to be achieved, Proulx might consider the application of those skills in more musically expressive directions.  To emphasizing the telling of a musical story, remembering that a song is a musical tale.  To reducing his use of long, sometimes edgy notes (Checking out the master of musical phrasing, Frank Sinatra, might not be a bad idea).  To finding a better balance in his music between sounds and silences, recalling Miles Davis’ classic phrase, “The notes I don’t play are as important as the notes I do.”  It’s a thought that Chet Baker – whom Proulx clearly admires – understood well.

But the potential is already amply visible in Proulx’s work. When he gets all the right pieces together, that potential will reach skyward.

Photos by Bob Barry


Picks of the Week: Nov. 7 – 11

November 7, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

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

Jimmy Heath

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arturo Sandoval

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

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

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

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

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

Roberta Donnay

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

Santa Cruz

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

Chicago

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

New York

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

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

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

London

Vinicius Cantuaria

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

Paris

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

Berlin

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

Copenhagen

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

Milan

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

Tokyo

McCoy Tyner

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


Picks of the Week: Aug. 27 – Sept. 2

August 27, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Jason Marsalis

- Aug. 27. (Mon.)  Jason Marsalis Quartet. He may be the youngest member of the illustrious Marsalis jazz family, but drummer/vibraphonist Jason has already established his own impressive musical identity.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Aug. 28 & Aug. 30/ (Tues. & Thurs.)  Carmina Burana. German composer Carl Orf’s cantata, a dramatic setting of medieval poems, is performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Master Chorale and the Los Angeles Childrens’ Chorus, directed by Spanish conductor Rafael Fruhbeck de BurgosHollywood Bowl. (323) 850-2000

- Aug. 28. (Tues.)  Sachsa’s Bloc.  An eclectic group of musicians from countries across Europe offer a collection of music ranging freely across gypsy jazz, contemporary jazz, flamenco, swing, blues and country. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400

Wayne shorter

- Aug. 29. (Wed.)  Celebrating Peace.  Herbie Hancock has gathered a stellar array of musicians to join together in a musical celebration of the pleasures of peace.  The cast includes Wayne Shorter, Marcus Miller, Zakier Hussain, Dave Holland, Cindy Blackman Santana, Carlos Santana and others.  Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- Aug. 31 and Sept 1. (Fri. & Sat.)  John Williams Maestro of the Movies.  “Musical Maestro” would be a more accurate title for Williams, whose film scores reach from Star Wars and Superman to E.T. and Harry Potter.  He’ll conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic in selections from many of his hit films, including a film sequence from E.T. accompanied live by the Philharmonic.  The guest artist is violinist Gil Shaham. Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

- Aug. 31. (Fri.)  Wolfgang Schalk Quartet.  Guitarist Schalk celebrates the release of his new CD Word of Ear with pianist Andy Langham, bassist Michael Valerio and drummer Tom BrechtleinUpstairs at Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Sept. 1. (Sat.)  Wendy Fraser.  Singer-songwriter Fraser has been described by the LA jAzz Scene as a “diamond in the rough” and “a musical force to be reckoned with.”  She makes one of her rare appearances, backed by guitarist John Chiodini, saxophonist Rob Lockhart, bassist Chris Colangelo and drummer Kendall Kay. Upstairs at Vitallo’s.  http://www.vitellosjazz.com/event/wendy-fraser  (818) 769-0905.

Barbara Morrison

- Sept. 1 & 2. (Sat. & Sun.)  Barbara Morrison returns to Catalina’s for an exciting weekend featuring a pair of different settings: With the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center Big Band (Sat.), and the Barbara Morrison Quartet (Sun.)  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Sept. 2. (Sun.)  John Proulx and Pat Senatore.  Pianist/singer Proulx’s laid-back vocals recall the intimate singing of Chet Baker.  He’s backed by the ever-versatile, always supportive Senatore on bass.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- Sept. 2. (Sun.)  Madeleine Peyroux“The Party Oughta be Comin’ Soon!”  Singer/songwriter/guitarist Peyroux has been one of the music world’s most unique talents since she first arrived on the scene in the mid-‘90s.  And she’s still charting her own creative pathway through song. The Broad Stage.   (310) 434-3200.

Louie Cruz Beltran

- Sept. 2. (Sun.)  The Fourth Annual La Vida Music Festival. La Vida returns with its annual celebration of the great pleasures of Latin music, in all its forms.  And what better time to do it than during National Hispanic Heritage Month.  This year’s far-ranging music features Louie Cruz Beltran and his Latin Jazz Ensemble, Incendio, the Plaza de la Raza Youth Mariachi and the Ted and Pablo Choro Ensemble with special guest Chalo Eduardo.  The Ford Amphitheatre.  (323) 461-3673.

San Francisco

- Aug. 29 – Sept. 2. (Wed. – Sat.)  Bela Fleck & the Marcus Roberts Trio. It’s an off-beat combination – Fleck’s unique banjo playing and the straight ahead jazz trio of pianist Roberts, drummer Jason Marsalis and bassist Rodney Jordan. They’ll no doubt play selections from their new recording together – Across the Imaginary Divide. Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655-5600.

Washington D.C.

- Aug. 30 – Sept. 2. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Mose Allison. The inimitable Bard of the Bayou and his suitcase full of songs can always be counted on to provide a swinging, blues-driven evening of song and wisdom. Blues Alley.   (202) 337-4141.

New York

- Aug. 28 – Sept. 2. (Tues. – Sun.)  The Jenny Scheinman Quartet.  Violinist Scheinman showcases her eclectic musical interests with pianist Jason Moran, bassist Greg Cohen and drummer Rudy RoystonVillage Vanguard.  (212) 929-4589.

- Aug. 28 – Sept. 2. (Tues. – Sun.)  Charlie Parker Birthday Celebration.  What would have been the 92nd birthday week (the actual birthday is Aug. 29) of the legendary alto saxophonist is celebrated with a musical tribute from Tom Harrell, trumpet, Vincent Herring, alto saxophone, George Cables, piano, Victor Lewis, drums and Lonnie Plaxico, bass.  Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

Ron Carter

- Aug. 28 – Sept. 2. (Tues. – Sun.)  The Ron Carter Big Band.  Bassist Carter has played with everyboy and led a variety of his own ensembles.  But this, his first big band, wasn’t established until 2011, with arrangements by Bob Freedman.  Featuring a line of major NYC players on stage and Carter up front, expect musical magic to take place.  The Jazz Standard.   (212) 889-2005.

London

- Sept. 2. (Sun.)  The Story So FarRonnie Scott’s Jazz OrchestraPete Lang leads an assemblage of the U.K.’s finest jazz players in an exploration of the music of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Woody Herman, Stan Kenton, the Rat Pack and Benny Goodman.  Ronnie Scott’s.   (0) 20 7439 0747.

Tokyo

- Aug. 30 – Sept. 2. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Mingus Big Band.  The rich musical legacy of bassist/composer Charles Mingus continues to find new musical expression in the hands of the superb Mingus Big Band. The Blue Note Tokyo.   03.5485.0088.

Wayne Shorter and Ron Carter photos by Tony Gieske. 


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