CD Review: The Jacob Szekely Trio

June 27, 2013

By Brian Arsenault

I think that the Jacob Szekely Trio, if based in Europe, would be recording for ECM.  I say that as a giant compliment because of ECM’s attention to purity of sound. No where is that more evident than in the spaces between pianist Josh Nelson’s notes on the self titled album’s closing song, “Postlude: Houston.”

ECM respects silences like no other label.  Their motto after all is the “Most Beautiful Sound Next to Silence.” But this review is about Szekely and his trio and the sounds here, as well as the silences, are superb.

Jacob Szekely

Jacob Szekely

The cello in Szekely’s special hands is transformative, literally.  At times a guitar, a bass guitar, a violin, a harp. But always, always a cello.  Is there anyone else in the world who plays the instrument like this. A musician who could clearly play classical — and at times nearly does here — but is broadly considered a jazz musician.

Better to forget labels. To paraphrase Duke Ellington, there really is only good music and bad music.  This is the good stuff.

What I think about Szekely and his cohorts — the aforementioned Nelson and drummer Christopher Allis — is that they are reaching, reaching for something better.  They are magic together but magic in the sense of something that lifts the spirit, that touches all the emotions from melancholy to buoyancy. There are no sidemen here, there are three excellent musicians playing together.

Cerebral and soulful in combination.  If you think I’m going to write at some point that this is music that’s not for everybody, I’m not.  It is for everybody but you have to let it flow over you without expectations.

Perhaps play it on a Sunday morning when there’s less noise in your life and in your head, maybe while cooking breakfast or just savoring a soft morning. It is not to be hurried.

During part of my listening, the damn street cleaner went by with its loud jarring sound.  I hit the pause button and if I’d had a rocket launcher I swear my town’s streets would be dirtier for a long time.

There is delicacy herein but delicacy is strength not weakness. There are also robust moments, poetic ones, enchanting ones. Music to entice deeper thoughts and feelings.

And as I said above, reaching, reaching.  I’m not sure I know for what but Szekely himself says in a note in the CD jacket that he hopes “you will hear three musicians stretching themselves in new directions and hopefully finding something beautiful in the end.”

Exactly.

A footnote: I have no right to suggest this but I’d love to hear this trio work with a singer and I have a suggestion.  Play with Little Lonely (Julie Cain).  These are the two most beautiful albums I’ve heard so far this year however different they may be.  The combination might be marvelous but such things almost never happen because great talents must almost always go their own way.

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


Live Jazz: The 35th Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl, Day #1

June 17, 2013

Review by Michael Katz

Photos by Bonnie Perkinson

Hollywood CA. One happy problem with an eight hour music fest that runs uninterrupted through the shifting temperatures of a near-summer’s day at the Hollywood Bowl is a lineup so strong you don’t want to leave your seat. That was the occasion on Saturday, Day 1 of the 35th Annual Playboy Jazz Festival. It was a show that featured some bright new names in the jazz realm, a blur of world music and vocal skills, plus cameos and guest appearances from jazz legends and LA icons.

George Lopez

George Lopez

The most notable new face was comedian and actor George Lopez, who took over the emcee duties from Bill Cosby. Lopez smartly kept his patter brief and enthusiastic. Cosby, himself, never tried to upstage the music, and although his Cos of Good Music bands are dearly missed, their spirit was reflected in some adventurous booking, particularly a powerhouse mid-day lineup that had the sold-out house dancing in the aisles.

Some snarling traffic (not to mention my Park and Ride bus that broke down halfway between Westwood and the Bowl) resulted in a crowd filtering in through the first several acts. I entered to a pleasant set by percussionist Pedrito Martinez, with Ariacne Trujillo on keyboards and vocals. Their Latin rhythms set up a relaxed atmosphere as the crowd gathered and settled into party mode. But things got down to business immediately thereafter, with the appearance of Grace Kelly and her quintet.

Grace Kelly

Grace Kelly

The vivacious Kelly, only 21 years of age, has a half-dozen albums already to her credit. She plays mostly alto sax and doubles as a vocalist, excelling at both. Her alto tones are clean and driving, her own compositions melodic and well served by her lovely voice. Her band included one of LA’s premier young pianists, Josh Nelson, and an outstanding young trumpeter from Boston, Jason Palmer, who gave us some of the handful of great trumpet licks of the afternoon.

Grace Kelly and Phil Woods

Grace Kelly and Phil Woods

It takes plenty of self-assurance for a young musician to invite Phil Woods on as a guest and then stand up to him, lick for lick, but Kelly was up to the task. They dueted on her composition “Man In A Hat,” (from the CD of the same name) written as an homage to Woods. His presence seemed to inspire Ms. Kelly, and I don’t think a blindfold test could have separated the two of them. They later romped through a medley of “How High The Moon” and “Ornithology” with equally fine results. Bassist Evan Gregor and drummer Bill Goodwin rounded out this terrific band. Grace Kelly, originally from Boston, has settled here in the LA area, which is great news for local jazz fans – if they can catch her on a break from an ambitious touring schedule.

Gregory Porter

Gregory Porter

I had caught the end of an electrifying set by Gregory Porter last September at the Monterey Jazz Festival (where he will be the opening act this year), so it was no surprise to see him light up the Playboy stage, even in the shank of the warm afternoon. Porter has it all. His deep, evocative voice has the authority of a Joe Williams; he has an engaging stage presence that can command even a crowd settling down for wine and hors d’oeuvres. Porter was in a romantic mood, with a ballad, “No Love Dying,” from a soon-to-be-released album. His band features a sparkplug in altoist Yosuke Sato, who whipped the crowd up with ascending riffs that arced into the pungent afternoon air like tracers. Porter continued on, imploring the audience to “Hold On,” while segueing into Oscar Brown Jr.’s lyrics to Nat Adderley’s “Work Song.” The title song to his new CD, Liquid Spirit, featured some terrific piano work by Chip Crawford. Porter’s closer, (as in the Monterey set), was “1960 What,” an ode to the unrest in sixties Detroit, sung with a gospel fervor that recalled Les McCann’s vocals from the seventies. Porter shone throughout. The LA native, by way of Bakersfield, is clearly on the cusp of something special.

Robert Glasper

Robert Glasper has been a ubiquitous presence lately, bridging the gap between jazz and pop with his straight ahead jazz trio and his “Robert Glasper Experiment,” which usually includes a guest from the hip hop world. On Saturday he featured Casey Benjamin on sax and vocoder, as well as the terrific jazz bassist Derrick Hodge and Mark Colenburg on drums. I’ll freely admit that I prefer the “jazz trio” – I put that in quotes because whatever Glasper does has a spirit of adventure to it. Glasper has a quick wit and engaging patter – he’s clearly the jazz performer most likely to host his own TV show. The Experiment is, no surprise, amped up and electronic, and went over fine with the crowd. But Glasper still found the occasion to invite Bowl favorite Dianne Reeves onstage. True to the Experimental spirit, she sang Oscar Brown Jr.’s lyrics to “Afro Blue,” circling on and off the beat, letting the audience find their way into the song.

Angelique Kidjo greets her 18,000 fans at the Playboy Jazz Festival

Angelique Kidjo greets her 18,000 fans at the Playboy Jazz Festival

It’s hard to imagine a more exciting performer for a music festival than Angelique Kidjo, from Benin. I’ve seen her twice, now – the first time anchoring the Sunday afternoon stage show at Monterey a few years ago. Her unique blend of African rhythms, elucidated in several languages, French, Yoruba and Swahili among them, is intoxicating. The pulsating rhythms and percussions, familiar to U. S. audiences through such artists as Miriam Makeba and Ladysmith Black Mumbazo, were highlighted by a terrific guitarist, Dominic James, and percussionists Magatte Sow and Yayo Serka, along with Itaiguara Brandao on bass.

As if that was not enough, Hugh Masekela joined the group for several numbers. Kidjo exudes warmth – even if you can’t decipher her lyrics, the spirit of inclusiveness permeates everything she does.

Anglelique Kidjo and Hugh Masekela

Anglelique Kidjo and Hugh Masekela

Masekela’s flugelhorn remains deceptively simple, his tones clear and bold. His gravelly voice counteracted with Kidjo’s, and the two of them brought the crowd to their feet early and for the duration. Kidjo’s finale included promenading into the crowd and bringing back selected audience members onto the stage – I don’t know whether she does some magical on-the-spot scouting or just counts on divine inspiration, but it works wonderfully. Magatte Sow took center stage on his conga drum and provided the transformational spell, while the audience had a blast, onstage and off.

I’ve always thought that the Playboy Jazz Festival might benefit from a ten or fifteen minute break sometime during the show. It would give the audience a chance to wind down, break out the picnic baskets, talk to their friends without having to shout over the music. If there was ever a time to do it, it would have been after Angelique Kidjo’s set, which was impossible to follow. Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band would seem to be a perfect candidate, with the impressive sound of a 20 piece ensemble.

The Gordon Goodwin Big Phat Band

The Gordon Goodwin Big Phat Band

They opened with two burners and a great solo on alto sax by Eric Marienthal, but the audience wasn’t ready to be engaged by what is basically a performance band. They finally found a little traction with Goodwin’s Grammy-winning arrangement of “Rhapsody in Blue.” Gershwin, after all this time, can still make people sit up and pay attention. After a brief appearance by “The Voice” vocalist Judith Hill, the band found some more familiar and appealing ground when they were joined by guitarist Lee Ritenour. Ritenour brought one of his most successful arrangements, his adaptation of Jobim’s “Stone Flower” into the Big Phat Band groove. His second number was a tight Goodwin arrangement of his tribute to the late Les Paul, simply titled L.P. That was the Big Phat Band and Ritenour at their best, weaving smart guitar licks into the larger sound. They kept the audience with them for the final tune, “Race To The Bridge,” with sax player Brian Scanlon and Andy Martin on trombone leading the way out.

Naturally 7 is a contemporary vocal band, sort of a capella meets hip hop, led by baritone Roger Thomas. This was their third Playboy appearance in four years, so they were warmly received throughout their set. The group combines elements of Doo-Wop, Hip Hop, and McFerriana. Their “vocal play” extends past the traditional vocal levels and instruments; it includes “DJ” and “Beat Box.” Whatever the simulation, it was pretty heavily amplified from the start, proving it is possible to have too much bass, even if you don’t have a bass. But it was a tight and lively show, emphasizing Doo – Wop in “Summer Breeze” and providing a playful narrative with “Englishman In New York.”

Naturally 7 with Herbie Hancock

Naturally 7 with Herbie Hancock

Herbie Hancock joined them with one of his “keytars;” it seemed altogether fitting that he would jam with them on “Chameleon.” The opening bass line to that Herbie classic still galvanizes an audience, and Hancock continued with splashes of electronica throughout his appearance.  The group finished off with George Harrison’s Beatles classic, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” At that point you could look back pleasingly at the versatility of the entire Saturday lineup; in a matter of a few hours you could go from Gershwin to Jobim to Herbie Hancock to George Harrison and somehow fit it all under the jazz tent.

And there was still some Coltrane to come. Maybe not quite enough; Poncho Sanchez’s set was entitled Ole’ Coltrane, after the 1961 Coltrane album of the same name, though the set was more Ole’ than Coltrane. Not that there’s anything wrong with spending an hour with Poncho’s band, whatever the circumstances. Along with Sanchez’s formidable conga work, his group featured Musical Director Francisco Torres, doing double duty (he also soloed with the Big Phat Band.)

Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band

Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band

But I was especially impressed by Ron Blake, who delivered some feisty trumpet cadenzas in the opening Latin numbers. We didn’t hear a lot of lead work from the staple jazz instruments over the day’s program, which was heavy on vocals and large ensembles, so it was a pleasure to hear Blake and then James Carter, who provided the Fest’s primary blast on the tenor sax.  Carter provided scorching work on a Latinized arrangement of Trane’s “Giant Steps,” and more laid back and melodic playing on Duke Ellington’s “The Feeling of Jazz,” which Ellington recorded with Coltrane. Poncho’s version had a tinge of the Mingus Latin feel to it, with some excellent supporting work by Torres. That was it, though, for the Coltrane material. Carter rejoined the band for a final number, Poncho’s always entertaining version of Herbie Hancock’s “Watermelon Man.”

Regrets to George Duke, whose final blasts into the night came after much of the crowd had left, thoroughly sated by such a pleasing mixture of jazz and funk, performed by ensembles large and small, and by players seasoned and refreshingly new. It was one of the best days at the Playboy Jazz Festival in recent memory and a great start for the two day event.

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

Read Michael Katz’s latest novel,

    Dearly Befuddled.


Picks of the Week: June 5 – 9

June 5, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Barbara Morrison

Barbara Morrison

- June 5. (Wed.) Barbara Morrison.  Despite her difficult medical problems, the courageous, musically versatile Ms. Morrison continues to make her ever-appealing singing available to Los Angeles audiences.  Herb Alpert’s Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.  She also performs at Steamers in Fullerton on June 7 & 8 (Fri. & Sat.).  (714) 871-8800.

- June 5. (Wed.)  Sally Kellerman.  Hot Lips is back again to display her inimitable way with a song.  She’s backed by the superb support of the Andy Langham TrioVitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- June 6. (Thurs.)  The Josh Nelson Trio with Anthony Wilson.  Pianist Nelson, one of the Southland’s important first-call players, is always a pleasure to hear with his own trio – especially when gifted guitarist Wilson is a musical guest..  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- June 6. (Thurs.)  Joanne Tatham“Soundtrack New York” Music From Movies Made in Manhattan.”  Vocalist Tatham, adept at both cabaret and jazz has created a program of appealing songs based on an intriguing premise. Catalina Bar & Grill. http://www.catalinajazzclub.com  (323) 466-2210.

Jackie Ryan

Jackie Ryan

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- June 7. (Fri.) The Jon Mayer Trio with Jackie Ryan.  It’s a great combination: Pianist Mayer’s far-ranging versatility, rooted in his deeply authentic jazz skills; and Ryan’s similarly sophisticated musicality and lyrical story-telling qualities.  Hear them together in this rare booking. Click HERE to read a recent iRoM review of Jackie Ryan.   Jazz at LACMA.  (323) 857-6000.

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- June 7. (Fri.)  Dolores Scozzesi and Mark Winkler“The Great Singer/Songwriters of the Seventies.”  Scozzesi and Winkler sing the songs of Laura Nyro, Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman and more.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Garrison Keillor

Garrison Keillor

- June 7. (Fri.)  Prairie Home Companion. The entertaining Garrison Keillor  and his live radio-in-living-color program make one of their rare appearances in the Southland.  The Greek Theatre.    (323) 665-5857.

- June 8. (Sat.)  An Evening with Rufus Wainwright.  Singer/songwriter has an impressive lineage: Loudon Wainwright III is his father; Kate McGarrigle is his mother.  But he has already established a musical voice of his own.  Valley Performing Arts Center.    (818) 677-8800.

- June 8. (Sat.)  Brenda Russell.  The musically eclectic singer/songwriter Russell, whose career has moved through soul, pop, jazz and dance genres, is also a gifted lyricist and songwriter.  Catalina Bar & Grill. http://www.catalinajazzclub.com  (323) 466-2210.

- June 8. (Sat.)  Andrea Bocelli.  The hugely popular Italian singer performs with soprano Maria Aleida and the Los Angeles Festival Orchestra, conducted by Eugene Kohn. (Note that this is a lease event.)  The Hollywood Bowl.    (323) 850-2000.

Bill Cosby

Bill Cosby

- June 9. (Sun.)  Bill Cosby.  The wit, the humor and the engaging personality of Bill Cosby are irresistible.  Retired from his role as emcee of the Playboy Jazz Festival, he performs in Los Angles a week before this year’s Festival takes place.  Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.    (562) 916-8501.

Chicago

- June 6 – 9. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Steve Turre Quartet.  Trombonist Turre is always a pleasure to hear, whether he’s playing his primary instrument or displaying his remarkable ability to make music from conch shells. Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

Washington D.C.

Tuck & Patti

Tuck & Patti

- June 7 – 9.  (Fri. – Sun.)  Tuck & Patti.   After more than three decades together, the duo of guitarist Tuck and singer Patti (who were married in 1983) continue to make remarkable music together.  Click HERE to read a recent iRoM review of Tuck & Patti in an L.A. performance.   Blues Alley.   (202) 337-4141.

New York City

June 5 – 9. (Wed. – Sun.)  Stefano Bollani Trio and the Paolo Fresu-Uri Caine Duo.  An evening of prime jazz from some of Italy’s world-class artists, sponsored by Umbria Jazz and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.

Copenhagen

- Junes 7. (Friday)  Hugo Rasmussen Trio.  Bassist Rasmussen, an icon of Danish jazz, blends his masterful musical maturity with the youthful energies of tenor saxophonist Jakob Dinesen, pianist Heine Hansen and drummer Morten Ero Jazzhus Montmartre.    +45 31 72 34 94.

eTokyo

- June 6 – 8. (Thurs. – Sat.) Chick Corea/Stanley Clarke Trio with drummer Marcus Gilmore.  All-star trios don’t get any better than this one combining the long-term creative linkage of Corea and Clarke with the enthusiastic drumming of Gilmore.  Blue Note Tokyo. 6  +81 3-5485-0088.

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Barbara Morrison photo by Bonnie Perkinson.

Jackie Ryan photo and Tuck & Patti photo by Faith Frenz.


Picks of the Week: April 2 – 7

April 2, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Bobby McFerrin

Bobby McFerrin

- Apri. 3. (Wed.)  Bobby McFerrin.  One of the music world’s most uniquely gifted vocal talents, applying his startling skills to a celebration of his father’s gospel singing in a program titled Spirit You All.  Disney Hall.   (323) 850-2000.

- April 3. (Wed.)  Dave Damiani and the No Vacancy Orchestra.  Singer Damiani revives the music of Sinatra and the Rat Pack in an introduction of his latest CD, Watch What Happens.  Catalina Bar & Grill. (223) 466-2210.

- April 3. (Wed.) Sara Gazarek/Josh Nelson Duo. A promising musical encounter between singer Gazarek and pianist Nelson, two of the current jazz generation’s most gifted talents.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- April 5 (Fri.) Vadim Repin in recital. Russian-Born (now a Belgian citizen) violinist Repin was described by Yehudi Menuhin as the “best and most perfect violinist that I ever had a chance to hear.”  He performs Brahms, Janacek, Grieg and Ravel with the accompaniment of pianist Andrei KorobeinikovValley Performing Arts Center.    (818) 677-8800.

Cheryl Bentyne

Cheryl Bentyne

- April. 5. (Fri.)  Cheryl Bentyne.  Up Close and Personal.  Back in action after surviving a life threatening illness, Bentyne – a valued member of the Manhattan Transfer — illustrates the irresistible appeal of her captivating solo skills.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- April 5 & 6. (Fri. & Sat.)  Helen Reddy. One of the great pop vocal stars of the ‘70s, Australian Reddy makes one of her extremely rare performances.  Hopefully we’ll hear her revisit “I Am Woman” among her many other hits. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (223) 466-2210.

- April. 6. (Sat.)  The Wolff and Clark Expedition.  Veteran pianist Michael Wolff and drummer Mike Clark, long time musical companions, team up with L.A. jazz stars Bob Sheppard, saxophones and Tony Dumas, bass.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

Katia Moraes

Katia Moraes

- April 6. (Sat.)  Katia Moraes and Brazilian Heart Music“Clara Nunes, A Celebration.”  One of the Southland’s most consistently fascinating Brazilian artists, Moraes visits the memorable music of  ‘70s Brazilian hit-maker Clara Nunes. As always, Moraes’ interpretations will simmer with the dynamic energy of her own, unique expressiveness.  Brasil Brasil Cultural Center.  11928 W. Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90066.  (310) 397-3667

- April 7. (Sun.)  Mark Winkler CD Release party.  The Laura Nyro Project.  Always in search of adventurous territory for his jazz-based vocals, Winkler celebrates the release of a new CD featuring his imaginative takes on the Laura Nyro songbook. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (223) 466-2210.

San Francisco

Stanley Clarke

Stanley Clarke

- April 5 – 7  (Fri. – Sun.)  The Stanley Clarke Band.  Bassist Clarke always follows his own pathways, accompanied by stellar musical aggregations.  This time, he’s traveling with John Beasley, piano, Kamasi Washington, saxophone and Ronald Bruner, Jr., drums.  Yoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.

Washington D.C.

- April 6 & 7. (Sat. & Sun.)  James Carter Organ Trio.  Multiple reed and woodwind player Carter focuses his wide angle musical perspective on hard driving timbres of the classic jazz organ trio instrumentation.  Blues Alley.   (202) 337-4141.

New York City

- April 2 – 7. (Tues. – Sun.)  Enrico Pieranunzi.  Pianist Pieranunzi has been, since the ‘70s, one of the European jazz pianist most favored by touring American musicians.  Here he’s in the leader’s role himself, backed by Marc Johnson, bass and Joe La Barbera, drums.  The Village Vanguard.     (212) 255-4037.

Randy Weston

Randy Weston

- April 4 – 7. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Randy Weston African Rhythms Quintet 87th Birthday Celebration. Pianist/composer Weston’s fascination with African musical culture continues to produce some of the most fascinating revisits to the deepest jazz roots. And, at 87, he still does so convincingly.  Jazz Standard.    (212) 576-2232 .

London

- April 6. (Sat.)  The London Supersax Project. Alto saxophonist Med Flory was the first to assemble a saxophone section and rhythm section to play harmonized versions of Charlie Parker solos.  Here’s the U.K. version, delivered with the same love of bebop.  Ronnie Scott’s. r  +44 20 7439 0747.

Copenhagen

- April 3 & 4. (Wed. & Thurs.)  Diego Figueiredo and Cyrille Aimee. The imaginative duo of guitarist Figueiredo and singer Aimee have already released two albums displaying their far-reaching musical interests, from jazz and bossa nova to looping electronica.  Jazzhus Montmartre.    +45 31 72 34 94.

Milan

- April 3 & 4. (Wed. & Thurs.)  Steve Lukather.  Multiple Grammy-winning guitarist has recorded tracks on more than 1,500 albums, and continues to contrast first-call gigs as a sideman with leadership of his own bands.  The Blue Note Milano.    +39 02 6901 6888

Tokyo

Clementine

Clementine

- April 6 & 7. (Sat. & Sun.)  Clementine.  The French singer and song writer Clementine lives in Japan, where her richly diverse style, blending cabaret, jazz, bossa nova and pop has generated a large, enthusiastic following.  The Blue Note Tokyo.     +81 3-5485-0088.

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Bobby McFerrin photo by Carol Friedman.


Picks of the Week: Feb. 12 – 17

February 13, 2013

By The iRoM Staff

Los Angeles

Valentine’s Day

Steve Tyrell- Feb. 13 – 17. (Wed. – Sun.)  Steve Tyrell.  Vocalist Tyrell applies his appealing, jazz-driven style, enhanced by his warm Texas roots, to five evenings of memorable Valentine’s Day celebrating.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Feb. 14 (Thurs.)  Dream Street & Bobbi Page.  The combination of guitarist Stan Ayeroff, the amiable acoustic chamber music of Dream Street, and the tender, evocative singing of Page is a welcome choice for another celebration of the day of love.   Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Feb. 14. (Thurs.)  Carol RobbinsTony Gala.  Harpist Robbins sets the Valentine’s Day mood in the first set, followed by the romantic vocals of Gala.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- Feb. 14. (Thurs.) Nancy Sanchez.  Award-winning jazz vocalist Sanchez displays her many impressive talents.  Steamers.     (714) 871-8800.

Denise Donatelli

Denise Donatelli

- Feb. 14. (Thurs.)  Denise Donatelli.  She was nominated again, but Denise didn’t win a Grammy this year, although she should have.  And here’s a great opportunity to hear why her singing is so special, as she applies her lustrous sound and intimate interpretations to a program of Valentine love songs.  Prestons at the Loew’s Hotel Hollywood.   (323) 491-1000.

- Feb. 14. (Thurs.)  Taylor Eigsti.  Once a youthful piano prodigy, Eigsti is now a fully matured jazz artist.  He’s joined by Dayna Stephens, saxophone, Harish Raghavan, bass and Eric Harland, drums.  Blue Whale.    (213) 620-0908.

Sue Raney

Sue Raney

- Feb. 14. (Thurs.)  “A Gershwin Valentine.”  And a colorful Valentine at that, enhanced by a full spectrum of musical vocalizing from Sue Raney, Michael Dees, Kurt Reichenbach and Pinky WintersA Jazz Bakery Movable Feast at the Kirk Douglas Theatre.    (310) 271-9039.

- Feb. 14 – 16. (Thurs. – Sat.)  “Romance at the Phil”  Celebrate a classical music Valentine’s week with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Charles Dutoit, with soloists Gautier Capucon, cello, and Carrie Dennis, viola, in a program of romantic classics from Mendelssohn, Mozart and Strauss.  Disney Hall.    (323) 850-2000.

- Feb. 14 – 17. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The 13th Annual Newport Beach Jazz Party. It would take much more space than we have to mention all the world-class jazz talent at the annual Newport event.  But trust that – as always – the four engaging days of the Party will offer non-stop jazz at its finest.  The Newport Beach Jazz Party at the Marriott Newport Beach Hotel and Spa.  For details, check the web site.    (949) 759-5003.

And More

Tierney Sutton and the Turtle Island Quartet

Tierney Sutton and the Turtle Island Quartet

- Feb. 15. (Fri.)   Tierney Sutton and the Turtle Island Quartet. “Poets and Prayers.” The unique combination of vocalist Sutton and the Turtle Island players finds inspiration in the music of Joni Mitchell and John Coltrane, and the poetry of Hafiz and Rumi.  A Jazz Bakery Movable Feast at Zipper Hall.    (310) 271-9039.

- Feb. 17. (Sun.)  The Chieftains. The irresistible playing and singing of the Chieftains remind us of the many pleasures of Irish music.  Disney Hall. http://www.laphil.com/tickets/calendar  (323) 850-2000.

- Feb. 17. (Sun.)  Tim Weisberg Band.  Vitello’s.  Flutist Weisberg leads the fine musical collective of keyboardist Barnaby Finch,  bassist David Hughes, drummer David Derge and guitarist/vocalist Chuck AlvarezVitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Feb. 17. (Sun.)  Pat Senatore Trio with Josh Nelson.  Jazz crosses the generations via the well-crafted, veteran bass work of Senatore and the adventurous piano playing of the youthful Nelson.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Feb. 15 & 16. (Fri. & Sat.)  Paco Pena Flamenco Vivo” The brilliant Flamenco guitarist Pena is joined by a dynamic band of guitarists, singers and dancers.   Fri.: Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.      Sat.: Valley Performing Arts Center. (562) 916-8501.     (818) 677-3000.

San Francisco

The Manhattan Transfer

The Manhattan Transfer

- Feb. 15 – 17.  (Fri. – Sun.)  The Manhattan Transfer.  No one does jazz vocal ensemble singing better than the Transfer.  And they’re back to their best with the welcome return (from an illness hiatus) of the superb singing of Cheryl BentyneYoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 128-9200.

Washington D.C.

- Feb. 14 – 17. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Jerry “The Iceman” Butler.  Once the lead singer of the Impressions, soul singer Butler – at 73 – is still out there, fully justifying his entry into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. Blues Alley.    (202) 337-4141.

New York City

- Feb. 12 – 18. (Tues. – Mon.)  The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra.  Monday night big band jazz was a favorite, for years, on the Vanguard stage.  This time, the swinging ensemble is in residency for a week.   The Village Vanguard.    (212) 255-4037.

- Feb. 14 – 17. )Thurs. – Sun.)  Rachelle Ferrell. With a remarkable vocal range and a simmering, blues-driven style, Ferrell knows how to apply it all to her intriguing jazz interpretations.  The Blue Note.    (212) 475-8592.

London

Eliane Elias

Eliane Elias

- Feb. 17. (Sun.)  Eliane Elias, Marc Johnson and Joe LaBarbera.  A world class jazz trio, with Elias’ imaginative piano lines backed by the dynamic rhythm of bassist Johnson and drummer LaBarbera.  Ronnie Scott’s.   +44 (0)20 7439 0747.

Berlin

- Feb. 17. (Sun.)  Cedar Walton Trio.  Pianist Walton, everyone’s favorite rhythm section player, steps out in front, backed by bassist David Williams and drummer Willie Jones III.  A-Trane.  030/313 25 50.

Tokyo

- Feb. 13 – 16. (Wed. – Sat.)  Nicola Conte and Till Bronner.  Versatile Italian guitarist Conte teams up with the equally eclectic German trumpeter Bronner.  The Tokyo Blue Note.     03-5485 0088.

Steve Tyrell photo by Bob Barry

Denise Donatelli and Sue Raney photos by Faith Frenz.


Picks of the Week: Feb. 5 – 10

February 5, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles 

Sally Kellerman

Sally Kellerman

- Feb. 6. (Wed.)  Sally Kellerman.  The inimitable Ms. Kellerman is back, this time with an evening of Valentine’s Day songs in a program titled, appropriately, “Love.”  Don’t miss it.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Feb. 7 – 10. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Robben Ford. Guitarist Ford, who moves easily across boundaries from blues to jazz and beyond, celebrates the imminent release of his new album, Bringing It Back Home.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (223) 466-2210.

- Feb. 8. (Fri.)  Bill Cunliffe Big Band“Bach to the Future.”  Grammy-winning and Grammy-nominated pianist/composer/arranger Cunliffe leads his big band in his jazz imagining of Bach’s Goldberg Variations.  Later, starting at 9:30 p.m., pianist John Campbell will perform in a new Vitello’s weekly event — Piano Night in the downstairs dining room.   Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Feb. 8 & 9. (Fri. & Sat.)  Rhythm of the Dance.  Irish step dancing in all its colorful variations, delivered by an expert company of dancers.  Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts  (562) 916-8501.

Wayne Shorter

Wayne Shorter

- Feb, 9. (Sat.)  Wayne Shorter Quartet with Esperanza Spalding and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  Saxophonist/composer Shorter presents the world premiere of a work for Esperanza and the L.A. Phil, commissioned by the Philharmonic.  Disney Hall.  (323) 850-2000.  www.laphil.com

- Feb. 9. (Sat.)  Rob Lockhart Quartet.  Versatile saxophonist Lockhart, an A-list sideman, steps into the spotlight.  He’s backed by pianist Josh Nelson, bassist Pat Senatore and drummer Mark FerberVibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Feb. 9 & 10. (Sat. & Sun.)  The Russian National Ballet Theatre. One of Russia’s finest ballet companies presents a pair of classics.   Sat.: Sleeping Beauty.  Sun.: CinderellaValley Performing Arts Center.    (818) 677-3000.

- Feb, 10. (Sun.)  Ann Hampton Callaway.  “The Streisand Songbook”  Pianist/singer Callaway, who moves easily from jazz to pop to cabaret, offers a program of songs associated with Barbra Streisand.  Disney Hall.  (323) 850-2000.

San Francisco

- Feb. 7 – 10 (Thurs. – Sun.).  Dave Holland.  Bassist Holland displays his far-reaching musical versatility in four unique programs.  Thurs: Solo.  Fri.: Duo with Kenny Barron.  Sat.: Quintet.  Sun.: Dave Holland PrismSFJAZZ at Miner Auditorium.     (866) 920-5299.

Washington D.C.

Joshua Redman

Joshua Redman

- Feb. 7 – 10 (Thurs. – Sun.)  Joshua Redman.  The always adventurous, Grammy-nominated saxophonist stretches the musical genre-boundaries in search of new and compelling improvisational ideas.  Blues Alley.   (202) 337-4141.

New York City

- Feb. 5 – 9.  (Tues. – Sat.)  Lou Donaldson Organ Quartet.  He’s one of the still active iconic jazz saxophonist, performing this time in the grooving environment of an organ quartet.  Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

- Feb. 5 – 10. (Tues. – Sun.)  Ron Carter Quartet.  Carter is not only a brilliant bassist and composer, he’s also a stimulating leader who knows how to assemble an imaginative jazz group.  This time out, he’s with pianist Renee Rosnes, drummer Payton Crossley and percussionist Rolando Morales-MatosThe Blue Note.    (212) 475-8592.

Paris

Marianne Faithfull

Marianne Faithfull

- Feb. 9. (Sat.)  Marianne Faithfull and Bill Frisell.  It’s a fascinating combination.  Pop star/actress Faithfull has been an iconic figure since the ‘60s.  Versatile guitarist Frisell seems determined to try something new in every outing.  The combination should be intriguing.   New Morning.   01 45 23 51 41.

Copenhagen

- Feb. 7 & 8. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Leszek Mozdzer/Lars Danielsson Duo.  The names may be unfamiliar to English-speaking jazz fans, but pianist Mozdzer and bassist Danielsson play together with a spirit of jazz togetherness that reaches beyond the limits of languages. Jazzhus Montmartre.    (+45) 70 263 267.

Milan

- Feb. 7 – 9.  )Thurs. – Sat.)  Billy Cobham. Veteran drummer Cobham has assembled a band of players from France and England into a collective of true international jazz.   Blue Note Milano.    02.690 16888.

Tokyo

Monty Alexander

Monty Alexander

- Feb. 8 & 9. (Fri. & Sat.)  Monty Alexander: The Harlem-Kingston Express.  It’s a perfectly named band, with Jamaica-born pianist Alexander blending his impressive jazz playing with the traditional sounds and rhythms of his roots. Blue Note Tokyo.   03-5485-0088.

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Sally Kellerman, Wayne Shorter and Joshua Redman  photos by Tony Gieske.


Picks of the Week: Oct. 2 – 7

October 1, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Emmylou Haris

- Oct. 2. (Tues.)  An Evening with Emmylou Harris and Her Red Dirt Boys.  Grammy winning country music icon Harris possesses one of the pop/country world’s finest voices.  Hopefully she’ll apply it to some of the memorable songs from her catalog of classics.  CAP UCLA  Royce Hall.    (310) 825-2101.

- Oct. 2. (Tues.) Josh Nelson and Pat Senatore Duo.  Rising young pianist Nelson and veteran bassist Senatore play together with some regularity.  And the results are always a pleasure – fascinating musical encounters between players a generation or so apart who nonetheless find common creative ground. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.    (310) 474-9400.

Cheryl Bentyne and Mark Winkler

- Oct. 2. (Tues.)  Mark Winkler and Cheryl Bentyne“West Coast Cool.”  They’re back.  The Winkler/Bentyne Cool Jazz Road Show.  They’ll once again celebrate, in high spirited song, their affection for cool jazz and its legendary practitioners. Click HERE to read a recent iRoM review of the dynamic duo.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Oct. 4. (Thurs.)  Arnold McCuller.  Singer McCuller’s resume includes long associations as a back up singer with the likes of James Taylor, Phil Collins, Bonnie Raitt and numerous others.  But he’s also a superb up front vocalist as well.  Here he is, making a rare appearance in the spotlight.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.     (310) 474-9400.

- Oct. 4 – 7. (Thurs. –  Sun.)  Dudamel conducts Beethoven. Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes joins Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic beginning in a three-year presentation of Beethoven’s music for piano and orchestra, including the five numbered concertos and the Choral Fantasy. Disney Hall.     (323) 850-2000.

Marcus Miller

- Oct. 4 – 7. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Marcus Miller Band. A much admired string bassist – both acoustic and electric – a bass clarinetist, producer and arranger, Miller’s musical vision is always focusing on new ideas.  Expect this time out to once again hear him open the door to illuminating jazz perspectives.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Oct. 5. (Fri.)  Doc Severinson and the San Miguel Five.  He may not be leading a big band anymore, but Severinson still has a firm grip on his trumpet.  This time out, he’ll be urged on by the Latin jazz rhythms of the San Miguel Five.    Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts. (562) 916-8501.

Les McCann and Lee Hartley

- Oct. 5. (Fri.)  Lee Hartley.  The versatile Hartley ranges freely from jazz and pop to gospel.  She’ll perform with the Eric Reed Trio featuring Les McCann.  Looks like an evening with some interesting potential.  Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- Oct. 5 & 6. (Fri. & Sat.)  Akram Khan Company“Vertical Road.”  One of the most honored choreographers of his generation, Khan has assembled dancers from Asia, Europe and the Middle East to perform his “Vertical Road,” to a score by Nitin SawhneyCAP UCLA  Royce Hall.       (310) 825-2101.

- Oct. 6. (Sat.)  Chick Corea, Gary Burton and the Harlem String Quartet. Long time musical partners, pianist Corea and vibraphonist Burton have been seeking new musical adventures together since the early ‘70s.  On this evening, their explorations will be aided by the Harlem String Quartet.   Valley Performing Arts Center.     (818) 677-3000.

Bob Mintzer

- Oct. 6. (Sat.)  Bob Mintzer, Alan Pasqua, Darej Oles and Ignacio Berroa.  That list of names could represent a law firm.  But no firm with these guys, who are among the Southland’s jazz elite, coming together to challenge themselves and each other.  Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- Oct. 5 – 7. (Fri. – Sun.)  The Angel City Jazz Festival 2012.  The Angel City Festival once again presents a set of concerts underscoring the extent of the Southland’s extraordinary population of world class jazz artists.  Add to that the participation of several major international artists and the ACJF is rapidly establishing its creds as a major musical event.  On Friday, the Anthony Lucca Quintet and the Phil Ranelin Jazz Ensemble perform at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  On Saturday, Anthony Wilson, Larry Goldings and Jim Keltner are at REDCAT.  On Sunday, Peter Erskine’s New Trio, the Mark Dresser Quintet, the Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet and the Archie Shepp Quartet perform at the Ford Amphitheatre.  With more to come next week.   The Angel City Jazz Festival.

- Oct. 7. (Sun.)  Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.  The LACO offers its own participation in Royce Hall’s opening week with a program of Ravel, Beethoven and more.  In addition to the Ravel Piano Conerto in G Major and the Beethoven Violin Concerto in D Major, there will be West Coast premieres of new compositions by Andrew Norman and James MathesonCAP UCLA Royce Hall.    (310) 825-2101.

San Francisco

- Oct. 3 & 4. (Wed. & Thurs.)  An Intimate Evening with Helen Reddy.  The hit-making Australian singing star returns to performing after a decade hiatus.  Eager listeners will hope to hear songs such as “I Am Woman,” “I Don’t Know How To Love Him,” “Delta Dawn” and more. Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

Chicago

- Oct. 4 – 7). (Thurs. – Sun.)  Benny Green Trio.  Pianist Green is one of the mainstays in the effort to find new jazz territory without abandoning the jazz homeland.  Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

New York

Jim Hall

- Oct. 2 – 6. (Tues. – Sat.)  Jim Hall Quartet.  Hall has been described as “the reigning master of the jazz guitar” by the Wall St. Journal.  And while there are a lot of things I’d disagree with the Journal about, this isn’t one of them.  The ever-fascinating Hall will be in the company of alto saxophonist Greg Osby, bassist Steve Laspina and drummer Joey Baron Birdland.     (212) 581-3080.

- Oct. 2 – 7. (Tues. – Sun.)  John Scofield Trio.  Guitarist Scofield is always searching for new musical environments.  And he’s found a winner this time, in the stellar team of bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Bill StewartThe Blue Note.     (212) 475-8592.

- Oct. 5 & 6. (Sat. & Sun.)  Brad Mehldau: Solo.  A solo performance by Mehldau is always a compelling musical experience, ranging across the full extent of his classically-trained, jazz-invested skills.  The Allen Room in Jazz at Lincoln Center.    (212) 258-9800.

London

Hiromi

- Oct. 4 – 6. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Hiromi: The Trio Project.  Hiromi’s virtuosic piano playing combines with her imaginative musical vision to suggest a new view of the classic jazz piano trio.  She performs with bassist Steve Smith and drummer Anthony Jackson Ronnie Scott’s.    20 7439 0747.

Paris

- Oct. 3. (Wed.)  Randy Weston’s African Rhythms Trio.  Pianist/composer Weston has written a few jazz classics – “Hi-Fly” and “Little Niles” among them.  And he’s equally dedicated to the African music at the roots of jazz, exploring them in performances of ensembles such as his African Rhythms Trio.  New Morning.   01 45 23 51 41.

Berlin

- Oct. 4. (Thurs.)  The Al Foster Quartet.  Drummer Foster has been a high visibility presence in the bands of Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Herbie Hancock and Joe Henderson.  But he’s also been the effective leader of his own groups.  This one includes Wayne Escoffery, saxophones, Adam Birnbaum, piano, Doug Weiss, bass.  A-Trane.    030/313 25 50.

Milan

- Oct. 4 & 5. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Scott Henderson, Dennis Chambers and Jeff Berlin. Here’s high energy jazz rock of the most intense order.  Henderson, Chambers and Berlin are all instrumental virtuosi in their own right.  Together, they’re sheer excitement.  Blue Note Milano 02.69016888.

Copenhagen

Gretchen Parlato

- Oc. 4 & 5. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Gretchen Parlato Quartet.  Always her own person, eager to find her own pathway in partnership with instrumentalists, singer Parlato is performing with a collective fully capable of sharing her creative explorations. With Taylor Eigsti, piano, Burmiss Travis, bass, Kendrick Scott, drums.  Jazzhus Montmartre.  (+45) 70 15 65.

Tokyo

- Oct. 6 & 7. (Sat. & Sun.)  Composer, pianist, songwriter Michel Legrand has been having an impact on contemporary music for decades.  This time out, he’s celebrating his 80 birthday.   Blue Note Tokyo.     03.54850088.


Live Jazz: Sara Gazarek at Vitello’s

August 19, 2012

By Don Heckman

Sara Gazarek’s performance at Vitello’s Saturday night called up recollections of the first time I heard her in action.  That was six years ago at The Vic in Santa Monica.  In my Los Angeles Times review I wrote that “she may well turn out to be the next important jazz singer.”

That quote has been reprinted many times since 2006, almost always in  misleading fashion as “the next important jazz singer” — without my qualifying phrase “she may well turn out to be…”  Which is probably just as well, since Gazarek still hasn’t reached that exalted level of accomplishment.

Sara Gazarek

Some of her show at Vitello’s repeated material from Gazarek’s appearance at The Vic – most notably a deeply swinging “You Are My Sunshine,” and a medley of the Beatles’ “Blackbird” with the ‘20s standard ‘Bye Bye Blackbird.”  Once again, both songs benefited from the side by side musical positioning.

Gazarek has said that she is more intrigued by the interpretation of lyrics than she is by melodic paraphrase.  And that overview was ever present in a two set performance reaching from such familiar standards as “Every Time We Say Goodbye,” “I’m Old Fashioned,” “So Lucky To Be Me” and “Everything I’ve Got Belongs To You” – to Billy Joel’s “And So It Goes” and originals by Gazarek and pianist Josh Nelson.

Every number – slow, fast, medium – was delivered by Gazarek with dynamic enthusiasm.  Rarely standing still, her lithe movements were sometimes directly responsive to the words she was singing, sometimes grooving with instrumental solos, and always an expression of her close relationship to a song.

Among the standout numbers: an intense rendering of the Gershwins’ “My Man’s Gone Now”; a quirky, unexpected but entertaining tribute to the legendary Sophie Tucker in “Some of These Days”; “O Pato,”  the obligatory boss nova (sung in Portuguese); and a pair of songs – including “And So It Goes” – sung with the sole accompaniment of Nelson’s empathetic piano.

Like several other musically adventurous singers – including Tierney Sutton and Gretchen Parlato – Gazarek’s arrangements often position her vocals in an intimate, almost instrumental-like relationship with the musicians in her ensemble.  And with players such as Nelson, bassist Hamilton Price, drummer Zach Harmon and special guest Larry Goldings on organ, the creative interplay that resulted had much to offer.

Her performance, including tunes from Gazarek’s new CD, Blossom and Bee, suggested that the potential I saw in her 2006 performance continues to grow.  But moving up to the next level will call for her to pay attention to a need for a richer palette of vocal tone and timbre.  When her adventurous lyrical and musical interpretations are enhanced by a more fully expressive sound, the sky may well be the limit for Gazarek’s future possibilities.


Picks of the Week: July 18 – 22

July 18, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- July 18. (Wed.) The  Chris Walden Big Band with special guest Tierney Sutton. Walden takes a break from his busy schedule of studio arranging and composing to lead his always dynamic big band.  And it will be especially fascinating to hear the versatile Ms. Sutton singing in a setting very different – but no doubt equally compelling — from that of her own band.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

John Pizzarelli

- July 18 – 21. (Wed. – Sat.)  John Pizzarelli Quartet.  He plays the guitar, he sings, he’s as witty and humorous as a stand-up comic.  And he does it all with warm amiability.  If all that isn’t enough, check out his ear-grabbing scatting in unison with his fast-fingered guitar soloing.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- July 19. (Thurs.)  Joshua Bell and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  The gifted violinist performs the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto and joins up with Edgar Meyer to perform the bassists Double Concerto for Violin and Double Bass. The Philharmonic, under Ludovic Morlot, also plays Weber’s Der Freischutz and Oberon overtures. The Hollywood Bowl.    (323) 850-2000.

- July 19. (Thurs.) Nick Mancini.  Vibes artist Mancini, one of L.A.’s busiest studio players, takes a break to showcase his own Mancini Collective.  And what better way to hear first rate  jazz than in Descanso Gardens.  Bring a blanket, picnic food and friends for a laid-back, relaxed musical evening.  Seating on a first come basis.  Descanso Gardens.  (818) 949-4200.

- July 19. (Thurs.)  Judi Silvano.  One never knows what to expect from singer/composer Silvano other than the certainty that she will offer an evening of music that constantly intrigues and entertains.  She’ll be working with pianist Theo Saunders, bassist Pat Senatore and drummer Kendall Kay. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.     (310) 474-9400.

- July 20. (Fri.)  The Josh Nelson Group. Pianist Nelson is in the vanguard of the Southland’s most gifted young jazz artists, releasing  his first recording at 19.  This time out he’s stretching the envelope in the company of guitarist Larry Koonse, trumpeter John Daversa and live sci-fi video art.  The Blue Whale.     (213) 620-0908.

Smokey Robinson

- July 20 & 21. (Fri. & Sat.)  Smokey Robinson.  Blessed with superb songwriting skills and one of the most warm and soothing voices in all of pop music, it’s no wonder Robinson has long been called the King of Motown. The Hollywood Bowl.    (323) 850-2000.

- July 21. (Sat.)  The Gift: the stellar assemblage of pianist Alan Pasqua, saxophonist Bob Sheppard, drummer Peter Erskine and bassist Darek Oles offer the gift of their world class accompaniment as a belated birthday present to singer April Williams, in the room she has established as one of L.A.’s best jazz venues.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- July 21. (Sat.)  The Pasadena POPS with Marvin Hamlisch and Michael Feinstein.  Conductor Hamlisch and the POPS open the summer season with a program featuring the master of the Great American Songbook.  The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden.  The Pasadena Symphony and Pops.   (626) 793-7172.

San Francisco

Leo Kottke

- July 22. (Sun.)  Leo Kottke.  Veteran guitarist Kottke is an entertaining artist, illuminating his vocals with humorous monologues.  But it is his impressive, finger-picking guitar playing that is the centerpiece of his performances.  Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

New York

- July 17 – 22. (Tues. – Sun.)  Igor Butman & the Moscow State Jazz Orchestra.  Saxophonist/bandleader Butman is the Wynton Marsalis of Russia, using his connections with the power elite to support the growing presence of jazz in his country.  His Orchestra includes some of Russia’s finest players. Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.    (212) 258-9800.

- July 18. (Wed.)  A CIM Faculty Concert.  Four cutting edge improvisational artists from the Center for Improvisational Music — pianist Andy Milne, trumpeter Ralph Alessi, bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Tom Rainey – will perform works by all members of the group.  The Cornelia St. Café.   (212) 989-9319.

- July 19. (Thurs.)  An Enchanted Evening: The Songs of Richard Rodgers. “Enchanted” is the right word to describe an evening of Rodgers performed by the ensemble of Bill Charlap, piano / Barbara Carroll, piano & vocals / Sachal Vasandani, vocals / Warren Vaché, cornet /Jon Gordon, alto sax / John Allred, trombone / Jay Leonhart, bass / Sean Smith, bass / Tim Horner, drums.  The 92nd St. Y.   (212) 415-5500.

London

Stanley Clarke

- July 20 & 21.  (Fri. &.  Sat.)  The Stanley Clarke/Stewart Copeland Band.  A pair of world class jazz individualists – bassist Clarke and drummer Copeland – combine their unique visions into an irresistible blend of jazz, fusion and rock with an occasional tinge of classical.  They’re joined by keyboardist Ruslan Sirota and guitarist Brady Cohen.    Ronnie Scott’s.

Paris

- July 21. (Sat.)  The Christian Scott Quintet. Trumpeter Scott has been a vital new figure on the jazz scene since his first album, Rewind That, was released in 2006.  He’ll no doubt feature pieces from his latest album, Christian aTunde Adjua. arrival in   New Morning.    01 45 23 51 41.

Milan

- July 21. (Sat.) Esperanza Spalding. Winner of the Best New Artist award in the 2011 Grammys, bassist/singer Spalding has been crossing genres ever since.  She has modeled her career, she says, on those of Madonna and Ornette Colema.  Blue Note Milan.    02.69.01.68.88.

Tokyo

Dionne Warwick

- July 19 – 21. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Dionne Warwick. Iconic pop singer Warwick was one of the big hit-makers of the rock era.  Best known for association with songwriters Burt Bacharach and Hal David, she is a five-time Grammy winner (plus seven other nominations). And she’s still going strong. Blue Note Tokyo.   03.5485.0088.


Picks of the Week: Mar. 20 – 25

March 20, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Zana Messia

- Mar. 21. (Wed.)  Zana Messia and the Balkan Soul Orchestra. Yugoslavian singer-songwriter Messia celebrates the release of her new album, Balkan Soul, featuring the arching melodies and gypsy rhythms of her songs.  Guest  performers will reportedly be in attendance as well.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Mar. 21. (Wed.)  Zakir Hussain’s “Masters of Percussion.”   Tabla master Hussain, whose resume reaches from classical Indian music to jazz and pop fusion, displays his virtuosic skills in a setting that embraces high energy percussion, meditative ragas and Indian dance. Walt Disney Hall.  (323) 850-2000.

- Mar. 22. (Thurs.)  Joe LaBarbera Quintet.  The veteran drummer steps into a leadership role with an all-star band: saxophonist Bob Sheppard, trumpter Clay Jenkins, pianist Bill Cunliffe and bassist Tom Warrington. That’s for the 8 p.m. set.  At 10 p.m. pianist Josh Nelson’s trio takes over, with Dave Robaire, bass, Dan Schnelle, drums.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Mar. 22. (Thurs.)  The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.  Westside Connections 2. Special guest: Food critic Jonathan Gold.  Why a food critic at an LACO concert?  Because the subject of the evening is food references in music.  And L.A. Weekly food critic Gold will discuss them as part of a program of music dedicated to food-related compositions by J.S. Bach, Bernstein, William Bolcom, Timothy Andres and DohnanyiThe Broad Stage.    (310) 434-3200.

- Mar. 22 – 25. (Thurs. – Sunday)  Rachelle Ferrell. The soulful, far-ranging voice of Ferrell has been one of the wonders of contemporary jazz and pop for more than two decades, still reaching well above high C.   Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Mar. 23 & 24. (Fri. & Sat.)  SFJAZZ CollectiveThe Music of Stevie Wonder.  The all-star members of the Collective take on the songs of Stevie Wonder, and add their original works – inspired by Wonder.  Samueli Theatre, Segerstrom Center for the Arts.    (714) 556-2787.

- Mar. 24. (Sat.)  Noa (Achinoam Nini).  Adept in a dozen languages, imaginatively expressive in music of every genre, Israeli singer Noa (as she is professionally known) will display the full range of her creative versatility, while emphasizing music from the Israeli songbook.  She’ll be accompanied by her long-time partner, guitarist/arranger/producer, Gil Dor.  Click HERE to read an iRoM Q & A with Noa.  A UCLA Live concert at Royce Hall.    (310) 825-2102.

Savion Glover

- Mar. 24. (Sat.) Savion Glover.  Always searching for new creative dance expressions, Glover – backed by his new “Bare Soundz” band – explores the fascinating connections between flamenco and tap dancing.  The Valley Performing Arts Center.  (818( 677-3000.

- Mar. 24. (Sat.) Tom Peterson Quartet.  Saxophonist Peterson, a versatile player who is on everyone’s first-call list, steps into the spotlight with the able support of bassist Pat Senatore, pianist Josh Nelson and drummer Kendall KayVibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

Jackie Ryan

- Mar. 24. (Sat.) Jackie Ryan.  A standout in a crowded field of singers that seems to be growing larger by the day, Ryan is a uniquely appealing jazz vocal artist.  Always responsive to the inner heartbeat of the words and the music, she is a songwriter’s delight.  Ryan performs with the Tamir Hendelman Trio.  Pierre’s Fine Piano Salon.  (310) 216-5861.

Mumiy Troll

- Mar. 24. (Sat.) Mumiy Troll.  Russia’s best-known, most popular rock band makes a rare Southland appearance, celebrating the upcoming release of their first English language album, Vladivostok, recorded in Los Angeles.  The Viper Room.          (310) 358-1881.

- Mar. 25. (Sun.) Pat Martino and Eldar.  It’s a cross generational performance, with the superb, 67 year old veteran guitarist Martino exchanging musical ideas with former prodigy, now 25 year old pianist, Eldar.  A Jazz Bakery Movable Feast.  Musicians Institute.   (310) 271-9039.

San Francisco

- Mar. 23 – 25. (Fri. – Sun.)  The James Cotton Superharp Band featuring Elvin Bishop.  Cotton, the Grammy-winning master of the blues harmonica, leads a band featuring the similarly gifted blues singer/guitarist Bishop.   Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

Washington D.C.

- Mar. 22 – 25. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Kevin Eubanks.  He may have had his greatest visibility leading the Tonight Show band from 1995 – 2010, but guitarist Eubanks’ world class abilities reach far beyond the television screen.   Blues Alley.    (202) 337-4141.

New York City

Pharoah Sanders

- Mar. 20 – 24 (Tues. – Sat.)  Pharoah Sanders Quartet. Tenor saxophonist Sanders, one of the prime musical offspring of John Coltrane, has taken the style and shaped it into a uniquely personal creative expression. Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

- Mar. 23. (Fri.)  “Bird Amongst the Blossom: A Tribute to the Blossom Dearie Songbook.”  Singer Jaye Maynard, fascinated by both the romance and the whimsy in Dearie’s repertoire, has shaped the songs into a fascinating musical tribute.  Cornelia St. Café.   (212) 989-9319.

Milan

- Mar. 21 & 22. (Wed. & Thurs.)  The Mike Stern Band.  He moves freely and imaginatively across the boundaries of jazz, blues, fusion and beyond.  And guitarist Stern is at his best when he’s surrounded by fine players.  As he is here, with French violinist Didier Lockwood, bassist Tom Kennedy and drummer Dave WecklThe Milan Blue Note. 

Berlin

Ambrose Akinmusire

- Mar. 21. (Wed.)  Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet. Not yet 30, trumpeter Akinmusire has already been chosen by a large number of critics as the cream of his generation, and potentially the next major jazz trumpeter.  He performs with Walter Smith III, saxophones, Sam Harris, piano, Harish Raghavan, bass, Justin Brown, drums.  A-Trane.    030/313 25 50.

* * * * *

Ambrose Akinmusire photo by Tony Gieske.

02.69.01.68.88.


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