Picks of the Week: Sept. 25 – 30

September 25, 2012

By Don Heckman

 Los Angeles

John Pisano

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

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

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

Cirque Chinois

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

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

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

Bebel Gilberto

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

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

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

Bill Cunliffe

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

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

San Diego

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

San Francisco

Paula West

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

New York

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

Toots Thielemans

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

London

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

Milan

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

Tokyo

Rickie Lee Jones

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


Picks of the Week: Sept. 11 – 16

September 11, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Sarah Chang

- Sept. 11. (Tues.)  Sarah Chang. A gifted child prodigy, violinist Chang has matured into a superb interpretive artist. In this far-reaching program, she performs a suite from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story with the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Bramwell Tovey.  Also on the bill – works by Copland and Gershwin.  The Hollywood Bowl.    (323) 850-2000.

- Sept. 12. (Wed.)  Dave Matthews Band.  Hollywood Bowl. Twenty years after singer/songwriter/guitarist formed the Band, the Grammy-winning ensemble continues to produce fascinating music – most recently in the just released CD Away From the World.   The Hollywood Bowl.    (323) 850-2000.

- Sept. 13. (Thurs.)  Patrick Berrogain’s Hot Club Combo.  The hard swinging sounds and rhythms of Django Reinhardt’s gypsy jazz are alive and well in the hands of Berrogain’s Hot Club.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.    (310) 474-9400.

Itzhak Perlman

- Sept. 13. (Thurs.)  Itzhak Perlman plays Tchaikovsky. The final classical concert of the 2012 Bowl season climaxes, appropriately, with the incomparable Perlman, performing the irresistible Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Bramwell Tovey.  Call it a winning combination.  The Hollywood Bowl.  The Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

- Sept. 13. (Thurs.)  Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. “Music and Story” The LACO’s first “Westside Connection” of the new season features writer Mark Salzman in a musical narrative piece describing the way Bach’s Cello Suite No. 3 (here performed by Andrew Shulman) relieved his struggles with writers’ block.  The Broad Stage.  (213) 622-7001.

- Sept. 13. (Thurs.)  Sons of Etta.  A celebration of the life and music of the great Etta James.  Featured performers include Thelma Jones, saxophonist/harmonica player Jimmy Z and Donto James – the Grammy-winning son of James and the leader of her Roots Band. Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Sept. 14. (Fri.)  Sascha’s Bloc Band.  A stirring evening of music tinged with an Eastern European flavor, while reaching out to encompass gypsy jazz, contemporary jazz, flamenco, swing, blues and country.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Fiona Apple

- Sept. 14. (Fri.)  Fiona Apple. The Grammy winning singer/songwriter celebrates the release of The Idler Wheel…, her first album in seven years.  The Greek Theatre.    (323) 665-5857.

- Sept. 14. (Fri.)  Joe Bagg Organ 4.  Keyboardist Bagg brings some ear-opening new ideas to the traditional organ jazz trio, with the enthusiastic aid of trumpeter Ron Stout, guitarist Jamie Rosenn and drummer Ryan Doyle.  The eminently listenable duo of pianist Jeff Colella and pianist Putter Smith open the evening.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.    (310) 474-9400.

- Sept. 14 – 16. (Fri. – Sun.)  Brian Setzer OrchestraThe Fireworks Finale.  The Grammy winning rockabilly swingster leads his big band, aided by conductor Thomas Wilkins and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra in a glorious, season-topping grand finale.  The Hollywood Bowl. The Hollywood Bowl.    (323) 850-2000.

- Sept. 16. (Sun.)  Phil Norman Tentet.  Swinging West Coast jazz of the ‘50s is alive, well, and completely contemporary in the arrangements and the playing of Norman’s talented Tentet.  Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

San Francisco

- Sept 14 – 16. (Fri. – Sun.)  John Scofield Trio.  Guitarist Scofield’s eclectic musical path has now arrived at a classic musical encounter with a pair of gifted musical associates – bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Bill Stewart. Yoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.

Seattle

Pat Metheny

- Sept. 13 – 16. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Pat Metheny Unity Band.  Ever on the lookout for new ideas, guitarist Metheny now finds inspiration in an older instrumentation – the jazz quartet, with the stellar aid of Chris Potter, saxophones, Ben Williams, bass and Antonio Sanchez, drums.  Jazz Alley.  (206) 441-9729.

Chicago

- Sept. 13 – 16. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Mulgrew Miller Trio.  Everybody’s a-list pianist, Miller – active as a musician and an educator – steps into the spotlight to display his invigorating improvisational style.  Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

Boston

- Sept. 13 & 14. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Joe Lovano “Us Five.”  Saxophonist Lovano’s new band is overflowing with talent: Grammy-winning bassist/singer Esperanza Spalding, pianist James Weidman, and drummers Francisco Mela and Otis Brown IIIScullers.    (617) 562-4111.

New York

- Sept. 11. (Tues.)  Roz Corral and Judi Silvano.  A pair of the jazz vocal art’s most adventurous practitioners share the stage with equally venturesome accompanists – Alan Broadbent and Boris Kozlov with Corral, and Frank Kimbrough and Ben Allison with Silvano.  Expect to experience some compelling musical surprises.  Cornelia St. Cafe.   (212) 989-9319.

- Sept. 11 – 15.  (Tues. – Sat.)  The Dave Liebman Group. NEA Jazz Master Liebman continues to set the contemporary jazz pace on the soprano saxophone, while adding in some impressive flute and tenor saxophone playing, as well.  Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

Randy Brecker

- Sept. 11 – 16. (Tues. – Sun.)  The Brecker Brothers Band Reunion.  A revival of one of the jazz world’s great fraternal ensembles, in memory of the incomparable Michael Brecker.  With Randy Brecker, trumpet, Mike Stern, guitar, Rodney Holmes, drums, Ada Rovati, saxophone, George Whitty, keyboards, Will Lee, bass and Oli Rockberger, vocals and keyboards.  The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

- Sept. 13 – 16. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Oliver Lake.  The veteran alto saxophonist performs in three very different musical settings.  On Thurs. with the Oliver Lake Organ Quartet; on Fri. with the Oliver Lake Big Band; on Sat. and Sun. with the Oliver Lake Trio (with Reggie Workman, Andrew Cyrille and speial guest Geri Allen).  Jazz Standard.    (212) 576-2232.

London

Frank Sinatra Jr.

- Sept. 13 – 15. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Frank Sinatra, Jr.  The entertainment world is filled with Sinatra tributes and imitators.  But no one comes closer to the original than #1 son, Frank Sinatra, Jr.  Hearing his familiar vocal timbre and well-crafted phrasing in the Sinatra classics is an experience to remember.  Ronnie Scott’s.     (0) 20 7539 0747.

Milan

- Sept. 12. (Wed.)  Benny Golson. Saxophonist Golson has composed some memorable jazz classics, among them “I Remember Clifford,” “Killer Joe,” “Whisper Not,” “Along Came Betty” and more.  Here’s a chance to hear them from the originator. The Blue Note Milano.  02.69016888.

Tokyo

- Sept. 11 &o 12. (Tues. & Wed.)  Joe Sample.  Keyboardist and one of the founders of the Jazz Crusaders, performs selections from his new album, Creole Joe Band.  Blue Note Tokyo.    03-5485-0088.


Here, There & Everywhere: Dolores Scozzesi at Vitello’s

June 21, 2012

By Don Heckman

The Playboy Jazz Festival, as well as the lead-in to the Festival, tended to dominate our view screens here at iRoM for the last week or so.  And that’s cool.  It is, after all, one of the major musical events of the year.

But other music has been taking place, as well.  And now that the Playboy Festival madness is over, I want to be sure to call attention to another performance that took place last Tuesday.  It may not have been high visibility, and — in its single night at Vitello’s — it drew a considerably smaller crowd than the 18,000 who showed up for each of the Festival’s two days.  But for listeners attuned to fine music, convincingly done, it was a memorable night.

 

So let’s take a look back at Tuesday, and the appearance of jazz singer Dolores Scozzesi, backed by Andy Langham, piano, Lyman Medeiros, bass, Abe Lagrimas, Jr., drums, at Vitello’s.

It became apparent, almost immediately, that there was stunning musical empathy between Scozzesi and her musicians.  At its best, it recalled the kind of creative intimacy that exists in the Tierney Sutton Band, a group that’s been together for two decades.

Add to that the range of selections in the program.  Scozzesi’s first few choices, reaching from “Listen Love,” a tender song by the too little acknowledged singer/songwriter of the ‘70s, Jon Lucien, to Ann Peebles’ “I Can’t Stand the Rain” and such standards classics as “Night and Day,” “Body and Soul” and “What Now My Love?” underscored both her creative eclecticism and her far ranging musical interests.

As intriguing as her song choices were – also embracing such equally compelling tunes as “When Did You Leave Heaven?” “I’m Going To Sit Right Down and Right Myself A Letter” and “Love Look Away” – what really mattered was what Scozzesi did with this abundant collection.  Gifted with a mature, dark timbred voice, capable of using it across a rich emotional palette, she reached deeply into the heart of each song’s story.  And with especially convincing intensity in an English and French version of “Autumn Leaves” that included a newly conceived segment inspired by a Stan Getz solo, with lyrics by Scozzesi.  Call it a highlight in an evening of memorable songs.

I learned a long time ago that one of the most meaningful estimates of a performance’s impact often lies in the feelings it generates after the program.  Sure, one wants to be captivated by the music while it’s taking place.  But it’s equally important, maybe even more so, to be so stimulated by what one has heard that it stays with you, triggering new feelings and thoughts long after the performance is over.

The experience, to me, is similar to what it used to be like to see an especially impactful movie, back in the time before “films” became the operative word.  In those days, coming out of a movie theatre with a companion, eagerly discussing high points in the story, re-living aspects of the plot, feeling strongly – pro or con – about what we had just seen, was an essential part of seeing a movie.

Driving home from Scozessi’s performance at Vitello’s, Faith and I experienced similar feelings, recalling the pleasure of hearing such a fine array of songs, delivered with so much musical authenticity.  We even had a small disagreement, disputing whether or not Scozessi had tended to make too liberal use of her sometimes edgy chest tones.  But there was no dispute over the quality of the strains of music that remained with us, soothing our ears well into the high decibel sounds of the Playboy Jazz Festival weekend.

Full disclosure: I wrote the liner notes for Dolores Scozessi’s album, “A Special Taste.”  Fortunately writing liner notes does not cause me to lose my sense of musical objectivity.


CD Review: David Basse’s “Uptown”

April 24, 2012

David Basse

Uptown (Cafe Pacific Records)

By Brian Arsenault

Uptown opens with another (yawn) jazz ode to Manhattan which is made more curious by the fact that David Basse is the acknowledged “leader” of the Kansas City jazz scene.  In fact, two of the first three tracks are New York-centric which would be a little bit tedious even by a New York based jazz singer. And a mention of stepping out in a top hat, really, in 2012?

I don’t mean to be disrespectful and I know that Mike Melvoin — who penned five tunes, including the New York songs, on the album and lends his considerable talents on piano — unfortunately passed away in February.  But I can’t help feeling I’ve heard this all before. Basse is compared by some critics and the album’s publicity to Mel Torme, Ray Charles and Dr. John (Dr. John, really?) but in truth he’s a lot closer to Harry Connick, Jr. without as much sparkle and wit.

Oh, Basse can sing all right. He’s sly on Mark Winkler’s “Like Jazz,” a tribute to some other jazz luminary. And he’s wry about the aftermath of a break up on the clever “Living Without You.”  There’s some welcome emotional depth on Melvoin’s “You Won’t Hear Me Say Goodbye,” but the song is still more tenderly sentimental than sharply insightful.

That’s the best stuff.  His version of “Slow Boat to China” is pretty much like every other treatment you’ve heard over how many decades.  By the obligatory Gershwin tune, “Bidin’ My Time,” I had pretty much emotionally checked out of the album.  You can do old stuff, standards as they say, but it’s a lot more satisfying when you bring something new to the depth or pacing or phrasing, like Halie Loren provides on her recent CD, Heart First.

Still, one of my favorite tracks on the album is Harold Arlen’s familiar “I’ve Got The World On A String” where some subtle piano work by Mr. Melvoin and Bill Goodwin’s precise drumming support Basse’s subtle vocal. The piano break is a little long on a four and a half minute studio version.  It would have worked better on a concert recording of eight to nine minutes, no doubt.

Or maybe I just wanted Basse to sing more, he’s so good here. How about a nine minute studio version?

Everyone associated with this album — including alto saxophonist/clarinetist Phil Woods and bassist Steve Gilmore — is top shelf in his own right.  For me, though, the album just doesn’t come together as tightly as it should. Seems like a collaborative effort where everyone was just being too nice to everyone else.  Here, you take a solo, then me, then him.

And I just couldn’t escape my initial reaction to the opening bars of the first tune, “Uptown,” which was “I wonder if this album would have sounded exactly the same if it was recorded in 1959, even the new stuff?” That, of course, would still be darn good if not uptown exciting.

A final word on Mike Melvoin, whose song writing and piano work contributed so much to this album:

I have an old vinyl record which I believe is Coleman Hawkins’ last studio album.  As such, for me it has a value well beyond gold or diamonds or critic’s comments. I expect that if this is Mike’s final studio work his many fans and admirers will feel the same about Uptown.


Picks of the Week: Dec. 12 – 18

December 12, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Dec. 12. (Mon.)  Handel’s Messiah Singalong. It’s an annual delight for anyone who’s ever sung in a choir – and even those who haven’t – to share in the magic of Handel’s classic.   The L.A. Master Chorale leads the way.  Disney Hall.   (323) 850-2000.

Charmaine Clamor

- Dec. 13 (Tues.)  The 7th Annual Fil-Am Jazz & World Music Festival. Hosted by Charmaine Clamor. A decade ago, few jazz fans were aware that the Philippines were – and had been – producing world class jazz artists.  But all that changed with the start of the Fil-Am Jazz Festival and the arrival of Clamor, the Queen of the unique blend of jazz and traditional Filipino sounds called Jazzipino.  This year’s celebration, also hosted by the inimitable Bubba Jackson, features guitarist Vincent Reyes, vocalists Angela Vicente and VJ Rosales, pianist/harmonica player Noel Melanio, pianist Winston Raval and drummer/ukulele player Abe Lagrimas, JrCatalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Dec. 13 & 14. (Tues. & Wed.)  The Messiah. Handel not only composed The Messiah in little more than three weeks, he also orchestrated several different versions.  Here, it’s performed in historically authentic fashion by San Francisco’s period instrument-playing Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and the Philharmonia ChoraleDisney Hall.    (323) 850-2000.

The Canadian Tenors

- Dec. 14. (Wed.)  The Canadian Tenors.  Moving easily from dramatic classical singing to dynamic pop, the four gifted Canadian Tenors are stirring performers in their own right, as well as a stunning musical ensemble.  Their Christmas recording, The Perfect Gift, hit the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s classical music chart.  The Cerritos Performing Arts Center.   (562) 916-8501

- Dec. 14 & 15. (Wed. & Thurs.)  The Moscow Classical Ballet.  “The Nutcracker Suite.”  In contrast to the Joffrey Ballet’s intriguing Nutcracker seen here in early December (click HERE to read the iRoM review), the Moscow company’s version closely follows the classic Russian version of the ballet.  The contrast should be fascinating. Valley Performing Arts Center.  (818) 677-3000.

- Dec. 15. (Thurs.) A Chanticleer Christmas. Described as an “orchestra of voices,” the 12 Grammy-nominated male singers of Chanticleer move freely and impressively from Renaissance madrigals to contemporary pop, jazz and gospel.  Disney Hall.     (323) 850-2000.

Marilyn Scott

- Dec. 15. (Thurs.)  Marilyn Scott.  She’s got a resume that reaches with ease across smooth jazz, pop, blues, soul and beyond.  But the inner reality of Scott’s singing has always flowed from an irresistible jazz heartbeat.  She performs with the stellar backing of Mitch Forman, piano, Brian Bromberg, bass and Joel Taylor, drums.  Vibrato Jazz Grill…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Dec. 15 – 17. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Stanley Jordan Trio.  Well known to jazz and guitar fans for his unique “tapping” method of playing his instrument, Jordan has used the technique to create an ever-fascinating jazz style. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Dec. 15 & Dec. 18. (Thurs. & Sun.) Inner Voices Christmas Holiday Show.  The annual holiday performances of Morgan Ames’ gifted vocal collective are always among the musical highlights of the season.  Thurs.: 8 p.m.  Sun.: 1 p.m.  Vitello’s.     (818) 769-0905.

- Dec. 16. (Fri.)  The Baked Potato All-Stars.  “All-Stars” is exactly the right title for this assemblage of some of the Southland’s jazz masters: Ernie Watts, saxophones, Russell Ferrante, keyboards, Brian Bromberg, bass, Alex Acuna, drums, Jeff Richman, guitar.  The Baked Potato.   (818) 980-1615.

Aaron Neville

- Dec. 17. (Sat.)  Aaron Neville.  Multi-Grammy award winner Neville has one of the most recognizable – and most appealing – vocal sounds in all of pop music.  This time out, he’ll apply that signature sound and style to a program of seasonal favorites.  Luckman Performing Arts Complex.   (323) 343-6600.

- Dec. 17 & 18. (Sat. & Sun.)  Manhattan Transfer.  They’ve won 12 Grammys and deserved every one – and maybe a few more.  Not only are they a convincing jazz vocal ensemble, they’re also superb individual artists who bring imagination, insight and rich subtlety to everything they do. Broad Stage.(310) 434-3200.

- Dec. 17 & 18. (Sat. & Sun.)  The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles.  The more than 200 members of the GMCLA have established it as an extraordinary musical organization, as well as an important service to the community.  This year’s holiday show is titled, with characteristic humor, Naughty and Nice, and features special guest, Melissa Manchester.  The Alex Theatre in Glendale.    (818) 243-2539.

- Dec. 18. (Sun.) The MessiahLos Angeles Master Chorale. One of the world’s finest vocal ensembles, the LAMC has played a vital role in the L.A. music scene since the mid-‘60s.  In a week in which The Messiah will be performed in many different fashions, the Chorale’s version is one not to be missed.  Disney Hall.  (323) 850-2000.

Gerald Wilson

- Dec. 18. (Sun.)  The Gerald Wilson Orchestra.  At 93, the great arranger/composer/bandleader is still going strong, still matching his fine compositional skills with a capacity to bring a performance by his band to life via the sheer magnetism of his presence.  Don’t miss any chance to hear and see him in action.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

San Francisco

- Dec. 12 & 13. (Mon. & Tues.)  Women of Jazz Celebrate the Holidays.  It’s a double bill showcasing the wealth of distaff talent in the Bay area.  Mon. night features singer Roberta Donnay and her Jass Ensemble and  New Orleans-born vocal stylist Chelle! On Tues., harpist Destiny Muhammed’s Jazz Trio and pianist (and keyboardist with Stevie Wonder) Victoria Theodore are showcased.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.    (415) 655-5600.

- Dec. 14 & 15. (Wed. & Thurs.  Tuck and Patti: Season of Giving. The ultimate jazz duo, guitarist Tuck and singer Patti have been together for nearly three decades.  And their deeply intimate musical and personal relationship seems to improve and mature like fine wine. Yoshi’s San Francisco.    (415) 655-5600.

Seattle

Taj Mahal

- Dec. 13 – 18. (Tues. – Sun.)  Taj Mahal Trio.  Blues is at its best in the capable hands and the remarkable voice of Taj Mahal.  He celebrates his nearly five decade career with selections from his most recent album, Maestro.  Jazz Alley.    (206) 441-9729.

New York

- Dec. 13 – 18. (Tues. – Sun.)  “Samba, Jazz and the Bossa Nova Years.”  The musically layered connections between samba, jazz and bossa nova are displayed in their full glory by a band adept in all areas: drummer Duduka Da Fonseca, singer Maucha Adnet, guitarist Romero Lubambo, pianist Helio Alves, trumpeter Claudio Roditi and bassist Hans GlawischnigDizzy’s Club Coca Cola.    (212) 258-9800.

- Dec. 15. (Thurs.)  Spike Jones’ 100th Birthday Celebration. The wild and crazy musical capers of Spike Jones’ slapstick musical comedy are revived in a “Challah-Daze Spectacular” by the group Polygraph Lounge.   Joe’s Pub.    (212) 539-8778.

- Dec. 15 – 18. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Trumpeter Chris Botti — one of the most in-demand (with good reason) performers in the jazz world — begins his annual holiday residency at the Blue Note.  He’ll continue, performing two shows a night, until Jan. 1.  The Blue Note.    (212) 475-8592.

Berlin

- Dec. 15. (Thurs.) Paula Morelenbaum and the Renova Bossa Trio.  Morelenbaum’s subtle singing style has been carrying the torch for classic bossa nova for years.  Here she performs in the Renova Bossa Trio with pianist Ralf Schmid and trumpeter Joo KrausA-Trane Berlin.    030 / 313 25 50.

Milan

Diane Schuur

- Dec. 13 – 17. (Tues. – Sun.)  Diane Schuur. Always a versatile singer with the capacity to move convincingly across genres, Schuur – “Deedles” to friends and fans — has returned to emphasizing the abundant jazz skills in her musical portfolio.  The Blue Note Milano.   02 69 01 58 88.

Paris

- Dec. 13. (Tues.)  Pharaoh Sanders Quartet.  Seen by many as the successor to John Coltrne, tenor and soprano saxophonist Sanders has moved beyond the comparison into a deeply expressive improvisational style of his own.  New Morning Jazz Club  01 45 23 51 41.

Tokyo

- Dec. 17 & 18. (Sat. & Sun.)  Stefon Harris, David Sanchez and Christian Scott.  The world class trio of young jazz lions showcase music from their highly praised new recording, Ninety Miles.  The Blue Note Tokyo.   03 5485 0088.

Gerald Wilson photo by Tony Gieske


Picks of the Week: June 14 – 19

June 14, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- June 14. (Tues.)  Motley Crue. L.A.’s heavy metal stars of the eighties (and beyond) take over the vast expanse of the Bowl for a tour through the many hits that have made them rock icons.   The Hollywood Bowl.    (323) 850-2040.

- June 15. (Wed.)  Sachel Vasandani Quartet.  At a time when male jazz vocalists are in surprisingly short supply, Vasandani is carving an intriguing musical pathway of his own.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

Angelique Kidjo

- June 16. (Thurs.)  Angelique Kidjo, Youssou N’Dour, Vusi Mahlasela.  A stellar ensemble of great African artists.  Count on them – and Kidjo in particular – to bestow an irresistible display of dynamic, musical excitement on their listeners.  The Greek Theatre.  (323) 554-5857.

- June 15. (Wed.)  Chuck Manning & Sal Marquez Quartet.  Two of the Southland’s most dependably hard swinging players team up for some straight ahead jamming.   Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- June 15 – 19.  (Wed. – Sun.)  The National Ballet of Cuba.  One of the world’s great classical ballet companies, the dancers’ performances reflect the exquisite style established by the founder, prima ballerina Alicia Alonso.  Segerstrom Center for the Arts.    (714) 556-2787.

- June 16. (Thurs.)  Mel Martin Quartet. Saxophonist Martin, who roves freely and impressively across the spectrum from bebop to avant-garde, makes a rare club stop in the Southland.  He’ll be backed by the equally versatile pianist Don Friedman, (who is also rarely seen in L.A., with bassist Tom Warrington and drummer Joe La BarberaVitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- June 16 – 19. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Hiromi.  The Trio Project.  Keyboardist Hiromi, always exploring new musical territory, has a go at the ever-changing vistas of the piano jazz trio.  She performs with bassist Anthony Jackson and drummer Steve SmithCatalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

Harry Connick, Jr.

- June 17.   (Fri.) Hollywood Bowl Opening Night.  Opening nights at the Bowl are always memorable events, glowing with stars.  This year, there will be performances by 2011 Hall of Fame inductees Harry Connick, Jr. and Gloria Estefan.  Also on the program: an exclusive live sneak preview of Cirque du Soleil’s first Hollywood production, IRIS – A Journey Through the World of Cinema.  Dame Helen Mirren hosts the evening, and Andy Garcia and Hilary Swank will serve as guest presenters.  Thomas Wilkens conducts the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra The Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2040.

- June 18. (Sat.)  Filipina Ladies of Jazz.   Following up on last year’s Filipino Gentlemen of Jazz, this year’s program features a splendid array of female Filipina artists.  Pauline Wilson (of the group Seawind) headlines.  She’ll be joined by two rising young artists, Nicole David (who will duet with her father, singer Mon David) and soul jazz singer Jaclyn Rose.  They’ll be backed by the band of saxophonist Michael Paulo.   Ford Amphitheatre.     (323) 461-3673.

- June 18. (Sat.) Rickey Woodard.   Saxophonist Woodard brings high spirited, hard swinging life to every note he plays.  This time out, he’s backed by the John Heard Trio. Charlie O’s.   (818) 994-3058.

- June 18. (Sat.)  Phil Norman Tentet.  Saxophonist Norman’s eminently listenable ensemble is also a briskly swinging show case for many of the Southland’s (and the world’s) finest composers and arrangers.  Add to that a line up of all-star players, and expect an evening of memorable little big band jazz.  Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

Roseanna Vitro

- June 18. (Sat.)  Roseanna Vitro “The Randy Newman Project”  Vitro, always a fascinating jazz singer, expands her horizons with her new CD, in which she explores the far-ranging, emotionally diverse musical catalog of Randy Newman.  It’s a remarkable album, and the live performance of its selections should make for a compelling musical evening.   Jazz Bakery Moveable Feast at Musicians Institute Concert Hall.    (310) 271-9039.

San Francisco

- June 14 & 15. (Tues. & Wed.)  Paula Morelenbaum.  Singer Morelenbaum’s deep linkage to the music of her Brazilian homeland in general, and to bossa nova in particular, reaches back to her work as a young singer with Antonio Carlos Jobim in the ‘80s and ‘90s.  Yoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.

- June 18. (Sat.) Nikki Yanofsky. Still only 17, Yanofky’s recordings and live performances have convincingly established her as a rising star with extraordinary potential.   An SFJAZZ Spring Season concert at Herbst Hall.    (866) 920-5299.

Seattle

- June 16 – 19. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Ramsey Lewis“The Sun Goddess Tour.”  Keyboardist Lewis leads his electric band in a revisiting of the funk-driven sounds of his cross-over hit album, Sun Goddess.  Jazz Alley.     (206) 441-9729.

Chicago

Rudresh Mahanthappa

June 16 – 19. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Rudresh Mahanthappa.  Alto saxophonist Mahanthappa, who just received the Jazz Journalists Association Alto Saxophonist of the Year Award, His Indo-Pak Coalition, with Pakistani-American guitarist Rez Abbasi and drummer Dan Weiss is seeking, and finding, ways to synthesize jazz and the improvised musical forms of South Asia.  The results are often extraordinary.   Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

New York

- June 14 & 15. (Tues. & Wed.)  The Dave Brubeck Quartet.  What is there to say that hasn’t already been said about the Brubeck Quartet.  Hearing the group, playing classic selections as well as new ventures, is tapping into living jazz history.  The Blue Note.  (212) 475-8592.

- June 14 – 19.  (Tues. – Sun.)  Chris Potter Underground.  One of the most consistently imaginative saxophonists of his generation, Potter leads a band filled with similarly adventurous players – drummer Nate Smith, guitarist Adam Rogers and bassist Fima EphronVillage Vanguard.   (212) 255-4037.

- June 15 – 19. (Wed. – Sun.)  Monty Alexander and the Harlem-Kingston Express.  Pianist Alexander and his group survey the musically delightful linkages between up town jazz and the rhythms of the Caribbean.   Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.    (212) 258-9800.


Picks of the Week: June 6 – 12

June 5, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- June 6. (Mon.)  Candi Sosa: Bolero Meets Jazz.  Cuban born singer Sosa finds surprisingly compatible musical linkages between jazz and the lyrical Latin ballad style. Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- June 7. (Tues.)  Jennifer Leitham Trio.  Bassist/singer Leitham celebrates the release of her DVD, The Real Me Live!, the chronicle of an extraordinary talent and an amazing life.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

Sally Kellerman

- June 8. (Wed.) Sally UnpluggedSally Kellerman.  Hot Lips returns with a bundle of songs reaching from jazz and blues to country and pop.  And she does them all with utter authenticity, finding the heart of the story in everything she sings. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- June 9 – 11. (Thurs. – Sat.)  “Rhapsody in Blue.”  The Pacific Symphony conducted by James Gaffigan, performs a program of Gershwin (the Rhapsody in Blue and Variations on I Got Rhythm) and Rachmaninoff (Symphony No. 2).  Orion Weiss is the piano soloist for the Rhapsody.  Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.   (714) 556-2787.

- June 9 – 11. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Diane Schuur.  Deedles, as she is known to friends and fans alike, makes a few of her too-rare appearances in the Southland, celebrating the release of The Gathring, her debut album on Vanguard.  On Thurs. she’ll be at the Grammy Museum.    And on Fri. and Sat. at Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- June 10. (Fri.)  Julie Kelly.  Versatile in everything from atmospheric Brazilian music to jazz balladry and lively scatting, Kelly’s singing is always a pleasure to hear.  She’s backed by the John Heard Trio.   Charlie O’s.   (818) 994-3058.

- June 11. (Sat.)  Jethro Tull.  More than four decades since Ian Anderson first demonstrated the potential for the flute as the lead instrument in a rock group, he’s still romping with Jethro Tull.  The band will perform their Aqualung album in its entirety, with a sampling of other hits, as well. The Greek Theatre.  (323) 554-5857.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK

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- June 11 & 12. (Sat. & Sun.)  The Playboy Jazz Festival.  The Hollywood Bowl.  It’s that time again.  The weekend that jazz fans anticipate with pleasure.  A two day jazz party in the sun, filling every nook and cranny of the Hollywood Bowl with all the amazing sounds grouped under the broad colorful umbrella of contemporary jazz.  This year’s program includes:

Saturday

Dianne Reeves

Dianne Reeves, The Roots with Terence Blanchard, Fourplay, Eddie Palmieri’s Salsa Orchestra, the SFJAZZ Collective, A Night in Treme with the Rebirth Brass Band (and guest artists Donald Harrison, Jr., Kermit Ruffins, Dr. Michael White and Big Sam Williams), Bill Cosby’s Cos of Good Music (featuring Geri Allen, George Bohanon, Dwayne Burno, Ndugu Chancler, Anat Cohen and Babatunde Lea), The Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet and the LASUD All City HS Big Band (directed by Tony White and J.B. Dyas).

Sunday

Buddy Guy

Buddy Guy, the Lee Konitz New Quartet, John Scofield and Robben Ford, Naturally 7, Harmony 3 with Ronnie Laws, Walter Beasley and Stanley Jordan, Geri Allen’s Timeline Band, Still Black, Still Proud: An African Tribute to James Brown (featuring Pee Wee Ellis, Fred Wesley and Vusi Mahlasela), Bill Cunliffe with the Resonance Big Band in a Tribute to Oscar Peterson, featuring Marian Petrescu, Carlos Varela and the Pullum HS Jazz Big Band (directed by Fernando Pullum).  The Playboy Jazz Festival.     (310) 450-1173.

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- June 12. (Sunday)  Gerald Wilson Orchestra.  One of the great masters of large ensemble jazz composition and orchestration, ninety-two year old Wilson still knows how to lead a band with enviable dynamic energy.  Don’t miss him in action.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

San Francisco

- June 10 & 11. (Fri. & Sat.)  The Yellowjackets with special guest Robben Ford.  Fusion, funk, groove masters the Yellowjackets team up with the equally blues-driven guitarist Ford.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

Karrin Allyson

- June 11 & 12. (Sat. & Sun.)  Karrin Allyson Quartet.  A singer who brings musicality, believability and a gorgeous vocal instrument to all her songs, Allyson appears on the crest of her new album, ‘Round Midnight.  Pianist Bruce Barth is featured in her fine back-up group. Yoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.

Healdsburg

Denny Zeitlin

- June 6 – 12. (Mon. – Sun.))  The Healdsburg Jazz Festival continues with its presentation of world class jazz in delightful settings.  Among the highlights: Mon: John Stowell Guitar Trio; Tues.: SF Jazz High School All-Stars; Wed.: Sandy and Natalie Cressman.  Thurs: Geri Allen, solo piano; the Babatunde Lea Quintet in a tribute to Leon Thomas.  Friday: Sangam with Charles Lloyd, Zakir Hussain and Eric Harland.  Saturday: Denny Zeitlin, solo piano; the John Heard Trio; George Cables All Stars.  Sunday: Charlie Haden and Allen Broadbent.  At the Raven Theatre and other locations in Healdsburg, CA.  The Healdsburg Jazz Festival.  (707) 433-4633.

Seattle

- June 9 – 12 (Thurs. – Sun.)  Earl Klugh.   One of Detroit’s finest products, guitarist Klugh’s articulate style brings life and substance to the smooth jazz/fusion genre.  Jazz Alley.    (206)441-9729

New York

Ron Carter

- June 6. (Mon.)  Jim Hall and Ron Carter Duo“Alone Together, Again.”  A pair of the great jazz masters in action.  One only hopes that they continue to do these “Alone Together” gigs – again and again.  The Blue Note.    (212) 475-8592.

- June 7 – 12. (Tues. – Sun.) The Joe Lovano Nonet.  Saxophonist Lovano’s Grammy winning Nonet admirably carries the torch lit by the Miles Davis’ Birth of the Cool band.  Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.    (212) 258-9800.

- June 9 & 10. (Thurs. & Fri.)  The Steve Cropper Band.  Guitarist, songwriter and producer Cropper has backed the likes of Booker T., Sam & Dave, Otis Redding and many others, while writing tunes good enough to trigger his induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.  Iridium.    (212) 582-2121.

Washington D.C.

- June 12. (Sun.)  Jazz on the National MallClaudia Acuna Quartet, Roy Hargrove’s RH Factor, Eddie Palmieri All-Star Orchestra, Frederic Yonnet, Toby Foyeh and Orchestra Africa.  A free, live performance of world class jazz, presented by the D.C. Jazz Festival.  Jazz on the Natonal Mall.    The National Mall, Washington, D.C.  (202) 457-7628.

Jerusalem

Noa

- June 9 & 11. (Thurs. & Sat.) Noa.  Israeli/American singer Noa (her full name is Achinoam Nini) is as comfortable and effective with a symphony orchestra as she is with the guitar of her frequent musical companion, Gil Dor.  But no matter what she’s singing, whether it be rock, blues, Yemenite or folk, in Italian, French, Hebrew or Arabic, she’s one of the world’s great vocal artists.  Here, she performs with Dor, as well as the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, celebrating the release of her new album, The Israeli Songbook.  The Henry Crown Hall, Jerusalem.    1-700-70-4000.

London

- Jan 7 – 9. (Tues. – Thurs.)  Michel Legrand.  The French pianist/composer combines an appealing jazz performance style with a catalog of superb, memorable songs.  He’ll be backed in this relatively rare night club performance by Ronnie Scott’s All-Stars.   Ronnie Scott’s.   020 7439 0747 4000.

Istanbul

Dervish Aziz

- June 9. (Thurs.)  Yuval Ron Ensemble.  Oud master Yuval Ron has assembled a remarkable array of musicians for  “A Concert For Peace in the Middle East.”  The participants include whirling Dervish Aziz, qawwali master Sukhawat Ali Khan, Armenian woodwind master Norik Manoukian, Israeli-Yemenite singer Maya Haddi, and Virgine Alimian, playing kanoun, Jamie Papish and David Martinelli on percussion.  FREE but reservations for the free tickets are required. Please email for the free tickets to: sevdearpaci@gmail.com. “A Concert For Peace in the Middle East.”   Sultanahmet Square AmpheTheatre. Istanbul.

Tokyo

- June 8 – 11. (Wed. – Sat.)  The Mike Stern Band featuring Randy Brecker.  Guitarist Stern, a six-time Grammy nominee, leads the solid ensemble of bassist Tom Kennedy and drummer Dennis Chambers in a multi-layered set of sounds reaching across the spectrum from groove blues to straight ahead jazz.  The Blue Note Tokyo.

Sally Kellerman, Dianne Reeves, Buddy Guy and Ron Carter photos by Tony Gieske.


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