Picks of the Week: August 4 – 10 in Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, New York City, London, Berlin, Stockholm, Moscow and Tokyo

August 4, 2014

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Aug. 5. (Tues.) John Pisano’s Guitar Night. The official release party for Pat Kelley‘s new CD, Overtones 4 Two Guitars. With Pisano, Kelley, Kendall Kay, drums, and John Belzaguy, bass. Viva Cantina. (818) 845-2425.

- Aug. 5 & 6. (Tues. & Wed.) The Gypsy Allstars. If you like the Gipsy Kings, you’ll be equally impressed by the Gypsy All-Stars who play a similar repertoire, energized by Gipsy Kings alumni Ced Leonardi and Mario Reyes. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

Herbie Hancock

Herbie Hancock

- Aug. 6. (Wed.) Herbie Hancock and Gregory Porter. A classic jazz night at the Bowl. On the bill: orchestral renderings (arranged by Vince Mendoza) of selections from the Hancock songbook; and a program of song by jazz vocal star, Porter. The Hollywood Bowl. (323) 850-2000.

- Aug. 7. (Thurs.) The Haden Triplets. Charlie Haden’s talented three daughters carry on the Haden tradition of family music making Skirball Cultural Center.  (310) 440-4500.

- Aug. 7. (Thurs.) Michael McDonald and Toto. McDonald and Toto have been getting together to make music for years, dating back to the 1986 album, Farenheit.  Expect musical excitement from this compelling musical reunion.  The Greek Theatre. (323) 665-5857


Judy Wexler

Judy Wexler

- Aug. 7. (Thurs.) Judy Wexler. The versatile musical story-teller with a briskly swinging style performs with the sterling backing of Jeff Colella, piano, Kenny Wild, bass and Devin Kelly, Drums. The Merc at 42051 Main St. in Temecula. (866) 653-8696.

- Aug. 8. (Fri.) Kamasi Washington and the Next Step. Saxophonist Washington is rapidly establishing himself as one of the Southland’s must-hear jazz artists. Jazz at LACMA. (323) 857-6000.

- Aug. 8 & 9. (Fri. & Sat.) Gladys Knight and Kool and the Gang. Grammy-winning soul queen Knight is joined by funksters Kool and the Gang for an evening of rhythmic and vocal delights. The Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- Aug. 8 & 9. (Fri. & Sat.) Jay Leonhart and Josh Nelson. Bassist Leonhart is often called “the wittiest man in jazz” for his whimsical narratives, but he’s also a world class player as well. Writing in the L.A. Times, Don Heckman described Leonhart as “the Fred Astaire of jazz.” The pairing of Leonhart with the gifted young pianist Josh Nelson should produce some irresistibly intriguing musical results. On Friday at Vitello’s;  on Saturday at Cornerstone Music Conservatory on West Pico Blvd.

Stanley Jordan

Stanley Jordan

- Aug. 8 – 10. (Fri. – Sun.) Stanley Jordan Trio. There’s no one quite like Jordan, who plays guitar with a tapping technique that allows him to create textures, sounds and harmonic clusters rarely heard on the instrument. Add to that his inventive gifts as a jazz improviser. Don’t miss this chance to hear this remarkable artist in action. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Aug. 9. (Sat.) The Susie Hansen Latin Jazz Band. Violinist Susie Hansen may be a blonde mid-Westerner, but she’s been leading authentically exciting Latin jazz bands for more than two decades. since the early ’90s. As Don Heckman noted in the L.A. Times, “Susie creates a brand of music that is as physically moving as it is intellectually stimulating.” Knott’s Berry Farm. 8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park.  (714) 220-5200.

- Aug. 9. (Sat.) The Tom Peterson Quartet. Saxophonist and woodwind artist Peterson is a first call player, with good reasons. Here’s a chance to hear him in the spotlight with a stellar rhythm section. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.



- Aug. 7 – 10. (Thurs. – Sun.) Fourplay. Bob James, Chuck Loeb, Nathan East, Harvey Mason. They’ve got a reputation for funk and contemporary styles, but this veteran band of superb, veteran jazz artists bring everything they have to whatever genre-of-the-moment they’re playing. Jazz Alley.  (206) 441-9729.


- August 7. (Thurs.) Charles McPherson. Well-known for his long run with the Charles Mingus band of the ’60s, alto saxophonist/flutist McPherson is also a convincing practitioner of classic bebop. Jazz Showcase.  (312) 360-0234.

New York City

- Aug. 5 – 10. (Tues. – Sun.)Django Reinhardt NY Festival “15th Anniversary Celebration.” It’s one of the great annual jazz celebrations, recalling the glories of the great Django Reinhardt with some of his finest musical descendants. Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.




- Aug. 8 & 9. (Fri. & Sat.) Michel Legrand Trio. Pianist/composer/songwriter does it all – writing songs (often with the Bergmans), scoring films, performing with his jazz trio – and he does it with stunning brilliance. He isn’t heard often in clubs, so don’t overlook this rare opportunity to hear him. Ronnie Scott’s  +44 (0)20 7439 0747.


- Aug. 6 & 7. (Wed. & Thurs.) Roy Hargrove Quintet. Trumpeter Hargrove and his band were in Paris last week. Keeping his numerous European fans happy, Hargrove appears this week in Berlin. A-Trane Jazz. +49 30 3132550.


- Aug. 9. (Sat.) Sonny Fortune Quintet. “In the Spirit of Miles.” Alto saxophonist/woodwind player Fortune, a veteran of Miles Davis’ group of the mid-’70s – brings striking authenticity to his Davis musical celebration. Fasching Jazz Nightclub.  08-20 00 66.


- Aug. 5. (Tues.) Alexander Vinitsky. Russian guitarist Vinitsky may not be well-known (yet) in the U.S., but he’s a gifted player who deserves wider international exposure. Igor Butman Jazz Club.  (+7 495) 792-21-09.


- Aug. 9 & 10. (Sat. & Sun.) Akiko Yano Trio. Eclectic artist Yano moves comfortably from piano playing to composition to singing and songwriting. This time out, she’s in a trio setting with bassist Will Lee and drummer Chris Parker. Blue Note Tokyo.  +81 3-5485-0088.

Here, There & Everywhere: A Weekend at Vitello’s

November 13, 2013

By Don Heckman

Studio City, CA. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. An evening of well prepared Italian food, fine wine and even finer music at Vitello’s is a great way to experience world class jazz.

And this past weekend offered a superb opportunity to all that and more. On Friday night by the Bill Holman big band, on Saturday by the stellar musical combination of singer Lee Hartley, the iconic veteran keyboardist Les McCann and the Alphonse Mouzan band, and on Sunday by jazz vocalist Judy Wexler.

Start with the Bill Holman Band. As always for a Holman gig, the stage was overflowing with a collection of the Southland’s finest players. Not surprising, since the appeals of Holman’s superb charts are a virtually irresistible drawing point that always attracts the best musicians.

For this performance, there was an even more tempting aspect – one that undoubtedly appealed to both players and listeners. What was it? It was an opening set devoted to Holman’s memorable arrangements of Thelonious Monk tunes first heard on the Holman Grammy Award-winning album Brilliant Corners: The Music of Thelonious Monk.

Bill Holman conducts his band

Bill Holman conducts his band

The results were extraordinary, and fully apparent to anyone who’s heard the album. From the classic Monk ballad, “Round Midnight” to the title track and the swinging “Rhythm-A-Ning” to the driving blues of “Straight No Chaser” the music unfolded with one marvelous jazz episode after another.

Bill Holman

Bill Holman

As if that wasn’t enough, Holman finished the set with some equally sterling charts of originals and standards – like the Monk tunes, brought to life with vividly creative intensity. Bottom line, Holman once again displayed his mastery of the big band format that is the virtual symphonic ensemble of 20th and 21st century American music.

Regrettably, I couldn’t make it to the Lee Hartley Saturday night show. And the loss was mine. I’d heard Lee Hartley sing before on an earlier Vitello’s show with Les McCann, and every note was worth hearing. To check out my review of that performance click HERE. Unfortunately I haven’t heard Alphonse Mouzon’s band in a long time. I’ll have to make up for that on a future gig.

Judy Wexler

Judy Wexler

Sunday night’s performance was a creatively textured appearance by singer Judy Wexler, in which the diminutive but musically gifted jazz vocalist presented a selection of songs from her latest album “What I See.” Backed by the solid accompaniment of a seven piece band that included trumpeter Ron Stout, trombonist Scott Whitfield, guitarist Larry Koonse, pianist Jeff Colella, bassist Chris Colangelo and drummer Steve Hass. She emphasized the far-reaching aspects of her interpretive versatility in a program of songs written by or associated with the likes of King Pleasure, Benny Carter, Rickie Lee Jones, Richie Havens. And she made the most it all, balancing her well-developed skills as an actress with her equally impressive musical way with a song.

* * * * * * **

Photos by Faith Frenz.

Picks of the Weekend: Nov. 8 – 10

November 8, 2013

By Don Heckman

 Los Angeles

Bill Holman

Bill Holman

- Nov. 8. (Fri.) Bill Holman Big Band. Holman’s music is always a pleasure to hear live. And this is an even better opportunity, since the band will be performing (on the first set only) its highly praised all-Thelonious Monk album, Brilliant Corners, in its entirety. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- Nov. 8. (Fri.) Anna Mjoll. Iceland’s gift to jazz is also one of the Southland’s intriguing female jazz vocalists. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

Steve Tyrell

Steve Tyrell

- Nov. 8 – 10. (Fr. – Sun.) Steve Tyrell. Bringing his own musical gifts to the Great American Songbook, Tyrell’s appealing interpretations are always a pleasure to hear. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (223) 466-2210.

- Nov. 8 – 10. (Fri. – Sun.) The Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Bramwell Tovey, with trumpet soloist Alison Balsom, perform Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5. and Tovey’s trumpet concerto, Songs of the Paradise Saloon. Disney Hall (323) 850-2000.

- Nov. 9. (Sat.) Lee Hartley. Jazz singer Hartley surrounds her self with a stellar collection of world class artists, including the great Les McCann and the grooving Alphonse Mouzon Band. Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- Nov. 9. (Sat.) Susan Marshall & Company. Featuring Marshall’s Play/Pause, described as the “ultimate mash-up: postmodern dance-theater meets indie rock on both real and virtual stages.” A CAP UCLA event at Royce Hall.  (310) 825-4401.

Judy Wexler

Judy Wexler

- Nov. 10. (Sun.) Judy Wexler. Always a pleasure to hear in action, the small, but musically exciting Wexler celebrates a CD release party for her new album, What I See. Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- Nov. 10. (Sun. Brunch Performance) Betty Bryant. Veteran singer/pianist Bryant celebrates her anniversary with a Birthday Bash Brunch and CD release party. Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- Nov. 10. (Sun.) Bill Cunliffe and Imaginacion. Grammy-winning pianist/composer/arranger Cunliffe digs into his Latin jazz perspectives. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

 San Francisco

- Nov. 8 – 10. (Fri. – Sun.) Paula West. A standout among the Bay area’s many fine female jazz artists, West displays her virtuosity with an appealing set of songs, including her take on June Christy’s version of “Something Cool.” SFJAZZ at Joe Henderson Lab.  (866) 920-5299.

 New York City

Steve Kuhn

Steve Kuhn

- Nov. 7 – 10. (Thurs. – Sun.) Steve Kuhn Trio. Pianist Kuhn has been carving out his own musical directions since he played with John Coltrane as a young arrival. Here he’s backed by the propulsive accompaniment of Buster Williams, bass and Billy Drummond, drums. Jazz Standard.  (212) 576-2232.

- Nov. 8 – 10. (Fri. – Sun.) The Django Reinhardt New York Festival recalls the inimitable jazz artistry of the great Django Reinhardt with an ensemble featuring the Django Festival All-Stars. With Special Guests: Cyrille Aimee, Freddie Cole, James Carter & Edmar Castaneda. Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.


Jackie Ryan

Jackie Ryan

- Nov. 8. (Fri.) Jackie Ryan. In the crowded field of female jazz vocalists, Ryan continues to be a standout, an imaginative artist who still hasn’t quite received the accolades her extraordinary talents deserve. She celebrates the release of her latest CD. Regatta Bar.  (617) 661-5000.


- Nov. 8 & 9. Fri. & Sat. Soul Jazz Alliance. You can bet that the title of this group is an accurate description of what to expect from a world class collection of players, featuring Vincent Herring and Jeremy Pelt and special guest Sachal Vasandani. Ronnie Scott’s.   +44 (0)20 7439 0747.


Sheila E.

Sheila E.

- Nov. 8. (Fri.) Sheila E. Gifted with jazz skills inherited from her Escovedo family background, Sheila E. can do just about anything, from her driving percussion work to her ability to musically dominate a stage. New Morning.  +33 1 45 23 51 41.


- Nov. 8 & 9. (Fri. & Sat.) Maceo Parker. A saxophone star with James Brown, Parker is still – at 70 – a master of the soul, funk and bebop genres. Blue Note Milano.  +39 02 6901 6888.

Picks of the Week: Oct. 16 – 21

October 16, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Judy Carmichael

- Oct. 17. (Wed.)  Judy Carmichael Trio.  Pianist/singer and all around dynamic entertainer Carmichael can bring a room to life with her powerful stride piano and deeply interpretive vocals.  Click HERE to read a review of Carmichael in her last L.A. appearance.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Oct. 17. (Wed.)  The Dale Fielder Quintet Plays the Music of Pepper Adams.  Special guests Gary Smulyan and Eric ReedCatalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.   Also performing Thursday (10/18) with his Quintet at Crowne Plaza, Friday (10/19) at SOKA Performing Arts Center , and Sat. (10/20) at Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.

- Oct. 17 & 24. (Wed. & Wed.) Andras Schiff.  Hungarian pianist, and widely respected interpreter of Bach, performs Book 1 of The Well Tempered Clavier. This will be the first in a multi-season survey by Schiff of Bach’s solo keyboard works.  Disney Hall.   (323) 850-2000.

Babbie Green and John Boswell

- Oct. 18. (Thurs.)  Babbie Green and John Boswell. Green and Boswell are a songwriting team who merit far wider attention than either their songs or their engaging performances have yet received.  Don’t miss this chance to hear them offer some of the delightful material from their two-CD collection of originals and standards: How Should I Remember You?  The Gardenia.  (323) 467-7444.

- Oct. 18 – 20. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Delfeayo Marsalis Octet.  Yet another member of the gifted Marsalis family of New Orleans arrives to display his talents as producer, band leader and trombonist.  Expect to hear selections from his CD tribute to Ellington and Shakespeare, Sweet Thunder.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Oct. 19. (Fri.)  The Mavericks.  The Grammy Award-winning Mavericks have spent the last two decades cooking up their inimitable brew of rock, pop, Tejano, Mariachi and a sprinkling of rockabilly.  They’ll play some selections from a new CD, In Time. Valley Performing Arts Center.    (818) 677-3000.

- Oct. 19. (Fri.)  Sascha’s Bloc Band.  Vitello’s.  The mostly Russian and Eastern European players and singers in the Bloc Band have thoroughly mastered their jazz, swing and groove abilities. Click HERE to read a review of Sascha’s talented players in their most recent appearance at Vitello’s.     (818) 769-0905.

- Oct. 19 – 21. (Fri. – Sun.)  “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”  The superb National Ballet of Canada presents the U.S. debut of choreographer Christopher Wheeldon’s modern classic.  Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at the Music Center.    (213) 972-7211.

Lionel Loueke

-Oct. 20. (Sat.)  Lionel Loueke.  Born in the West African country of Benin, Loueke quickly applied his impressive guitar skills to a style blending his roots with a broad understanding of jazz.  Rarely heard in Los Angeles, this is a rare opportunity to hear a uniquely individualistic jazz talent in action.Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Oct. 21. (Sun.)  Lou Forestieri Duo. Pianist/composer Forestieri is always a pleasure to hear, especially for the spontaneous compositional crafting he applies to his free swinging solos.  He’ll be accompanied by the equally thoughtful bassist Pat Senatore. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.     (310) 474-9400.

- Oct. 21. (Sun.)  Joanne O’Brien. Versatile singer O’Brien moves casually from classical to pop to jazz, doing it all with great authenticity.  A cancer survivor, O’Brien titles her one night performance “Alive and In Concert.” Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

San Francisco

- Oct. 17 & 18. (Wed. & Thurs.) Spyro Gyra.  The ever appealing pop jazz group Spyro Gyra showcases their new album A Foreign Affair, with its sounds and rhythms from around the world.  Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

Eliane Elias

- Oct. 19. (Fri.)  Eliane Elias.    A fine jazz pianist, Elias was well known for  her instrumental skills before she displayed equally engaging abilities as a singer.  Her current band includes guitarist Rubens de la Corte, drummer Rafael Barata and bassist (and husband) Marc Johnson.   An SFJAZZ event at the Herbst Theatre.  (866) 920-5299.

New York

- Oct. 17. (Wed.)  Judy Wexler.  Her beautifully articulated vocals are among the great pleasures of Southland jazz.  Now the Big Apple has a chance to hear Wexler in action.  The Kitano.   (212) 885-7119,

- Oct. 18. (Thurs.)  Barbara Cook. The veteran singer/actress Cook – her career reaching comfortably from stardom in Broadway musicals to cabaret to classical art song singing – is still, at 84, a remarkably appealing performer. Carnegie Hall. (Perelman Stage)    (212) 247-7800.

Jacky Terrasson

- Oct. 18 – 21. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Jacky Terrasson Trio.  French pianist Terrasson has thoroughly established himself as an authentic jazz artist, with a style that embraces his full musical history as a European and an international jazz artist. He performs with Burniss Travis, bass and Justin Faulkner, drums.   The Jazz Standard.  http://jazzstandard.net/red/index.html  (212) 576-2232.

- Oct. 19. (Fri.)   The Manhattan School of Music Jazz Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Justin DiCioccio, performs “The Symphonic Ellington,” showcasing rarely heard selections of Duke Ellington’s music for orchestra transcribed by David Berger.   The Manhattan School of Music. (917) 493-4428.

- Oct. 19. (Fri.)  Opera Shorts.  The Remarkable Theater Brigade brings back their off-beat, but popular evening of ten 10-minute operas. The Opera Shorts include works by Carlisle Floyd, Seymour Barab, Ben Bierman, Richard Burke, Bern Herbolsheimer, Randolph Coleman, Graham Robb, Patrick Solluri, Christian McLeer and David Morneau.  Eight of the operas in this remarkable line-up will be world premieres.  Carnegie Hall (Zankel).   (212) 247-7800.


- Oct. 18. (Thurs.)  The Either/Orchestra.  The ten piece band – approaching its 27th anniversary, is led by founder and primary composer Russ Gershon in a program of music leaping across genre lines through jazz from swing to bop to electric, from Ethiopian jazz to Latin music.  Regatta Bar. http://www.getshowtix.com/regattabar/moreinfo.cgi?id=2737 (617) 661-5000.


Becca Stevens

- Oct. 16. (Tues.)  Becca Stevens Band.  Singer, guitarist, songwriter Stevens moves confidently from jazz and pop to folk and beyond, doing so in a blending of instrumental and vocal timbres that identify her as one of the most musically adventurous vocal artists of her generation.   Jazz Club Soho.    020 7437 9595.

- Oct. 18 & 19. (Thurs. & Fri.)  “Sound Prints.”  Joe Lovano and Dave Douglas Make somewhat of an odd couple as the leaders of their own Quintet.  But they’ve found a way to blend Lovano’s sturdy, straight ahead tenor saxophone with Douglas/ cutting-edge trumpet style.  Ronnie Scott’s.   020 7439 0747.


- Oct. 20. (Sat.)  Grace Kelly Quartet. She’s just turned 20, but Asian/American Kelly has already released seven albums, displaying impressive skills as an alto saxophonist, singer, songwriter and band leader.   A-Trane Jazz.  http://www.a-trane.de  030/313 25 50.


Lee Konitz

- Oct. 18 – 20. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Lee Konitz Quartet.  A true jazz original, alto saxophonist Konitz frequently appears in European club and festival events.  This time out he leads an international ensemble, featuring Danish pianist Florian Weber, American bassist Jeff Denzon and Israeli drummer Ziv Ravitz Jazzhus Montmartre.    (+45) 70 15 65 65.


- Oct. 16 – 19. (Tues. – Fri.)  The Duke Ellington Orchestra.  Yes, it’s a so-called “ghost band,” carrying on the music of a great historical jazz ensemble…. And these guys handle the great Ellington collection of works with convincing ease,      Blue Note Tokyo.    03.5485.0088.

Picks of the Week: June 27 – July 1

June 27, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Miles Davis

- June 27. (Wed.)  A Celebration of Miles Davis. Herbie Hancock hosts a trio of Davis tributes: Miles’ Electric Band, Marcus Miller leading  “Tutu Revisited” and Jimmy Cobb leading his “So What” band in  “Kind of Blue.” Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

- June 28. (Thurs.)  Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald, Boz Skaggs.  The Dukes of September. Three rock greats get together once again to touch musical high points reaching from the O’Jays to the Doobie Brothers and the Steely Dan catalog. To read an earlier iRoM review of the Dukes of December click HERE.   Gibson Amphitheatre.  (818) 622-4440.

Judy Wexler

- June 28. (Thurs.) Judy Wexler.  The versatile Ms. Wexler’s admirable jazz vocal skills embrace everything from standards and jazz classics to singer/songwriter tunes from the ‘70s – all done with style and imagination.  LACMA.  .

- June 28. (Thurs.)  Ray Brown, Jr.  The adopted son of the great bassist Ray Brown and the equally inimitable Ella Fitzgerald, Brown was raised in a high level musical environment.  No wonder that he became first a drummer, then a singer, adding contemporary qualities to the musical sounds and substance of his youth.  Crown Plaza.  (310) 258-1333.

- June 29. (Thurs.) Sascha’s Bloc Band.  Led by musician/surgeon Alex Gershman (Sascha), the Bloc Band includes players from Ukraine, Russia, the U.S. and beyond, performing  an eclectic blend of European roots music, gypsy jazz, flamenco and much more.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Bob Sheppard

- June 29. (Fri.) Bob Sheppard.  Saxophonist Sheppard, one of the Southland’s prime jazz artists still doesn’t receive the critical attention his far-reaching skills deserve.  He’s backed by Theo Saunders, piano, Pat Senatore, bass and Ferenc Nemeth, drums.   Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- June 29. (Fri.)  The Arte Café opens in the Town Center Plaza in Cerritos with another great Los Angeles saxophonist, Rickey Woodard, leading the way.  He’ll perform with pianist Jon Mayer, bassist Luther Hughes and drummer Roy McCurdy.  For information, call In-House Music at (310)216-5861.

- June 29. (Fri.)  Summerland.  The first ever Summerland tour features an impressive assembly of hit-making bands: Everclear, Sugar Ray, Gin Blossoms, Lit and Marcy PlaygroundGreek Theatre.    (323) 665-5857.

Dave Frishberg

- June 30. (Sat.)  Dave Frishberg.  The Stephen Sondheim of jazz songwriters brings his memorable catalog (“Peel Me A Grape,” “Do You Miss New York?” “My Attorney Bernie,” etc., his engaging vocal style and his crisply swinging piano to town for a too-rare L.A. appearance.  A Jazz Bakery Movable Feast at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. .  (310) 271-9039.

- June 30. (Sat.) B52s and Squeeze.  With over 20 million albums sold in their 35 year career, it’s no surprise that the B52s are called the “World’s greatest party band.”  Expect to feel the pulse when the  hits, old and new, begin.  The popular U.K. band Squeeze opens the performance. Greek Theatre.     (323) 665-5857.

- July 1. (Sun.)  Chuchito Valdes Latin Jazz Band.  Son of the great Cuban jazz pianist Chucho Valdes, Chuchito has followed in his father’s musical foosteps, finding fascinating new territories in the world of Latin jazz. Featured artist with Valdes will be the versatile, multi-saxophone player Laksar Reese.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

Ben Harper

- July 1. (Sun.)  Ben Harper, Fitz and the Tantrums, Vieux Farka Toure. The World Festival 2012 series begins with a trio of unique artists demonstrating the linkages between the blues, soul music and dynamic African rhythms.   Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

San Francisco

- June 28. (Thurs.) Paul McCandless and Antonio Calogero.   A keystone member of the band Oregon and the Paul Winter Consort, McCandless’ wind instrument versatility is one of the unique sounds of the jazz and world music blend.  He appears with the talented young Italian guitarist, Calogero. Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse.   (510) 644-2020 Ext. 20.


- June 28 – July 1. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Diane Schuur. Singer Schuur’s long career has seen her perform  effecttvely in several cross genre styles, from jazz to pop.  More recently, she’s blended all those styles into a unique expressiveness of her own making.  Jazz Alley.    (206) 441-9729.

New York

- June 29. (Fri.)  The Ben Monder Theo Bleckmann Duo.  Grammy-nominated singer/composer Bleckmann and pianist Monder have spent nearly two decades shaping a vocal form that might best be described as “jazz art songs.”  The results are extraordinary.  Cornelia St. Café.   (212) 989-9319.

Harry Allen

- June 29 & 30. (Fri. & Sat.)  Harry Allen Quartet. At a time when the influence of John Coltrane and/Sonny Rollins dominates the tenor saxophone world, Allen – a dedicated traditionalist – strives convincingly to keep the pre-bop styles of Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster and others vividly alive. Smalls.

- June 29 – July 1. (Fri. – Sun.) Charlie Watts: “The A, B, C and D of Boogie Woogie.”  Watts, best known as the drummer with the Rolling Stones, yet always a stalwart fan of jazz, has just released the first album of his Boogie Woogie Band.  They’ll celebrate the release with a live performance of some of the album’s selections.  The band consists of Axel Zwingenberger, piano, Dave Green, bass and Ben Waters, piano and vocals.  The Iridium.   (212) 582-2121.


- June 27 – 29. (Wed. – Fri.)  Curtis Stigers.  Saxophonist/singer Stigers had all the look of a rare, break out jazz vocalist in the ’90s.  His visibility has dimmed somewhat since then, despite his still attractive style.  Give credit to listeners in the U.K. for continuing to recognize his appealing qualities. Ronnie Scott’s.    020 7439 0747.


Hilary Kole

- June 26 & 27. (Tues. & Wed.)  Hilary Kole. The sound alone of Kole’s warm, embracing voice would almost be enough to make anything she does listenable.  But she raises the bar much higher with a combination of attractive musicality and compelling story telling. Blue Note Tokyo.    03.5485.0088.

- June 28 – July 1. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Sadao Watanabe. One of the first Japanese jazz artists to break through to international fame, saxophonist Watanabe, at 79, is still a master of the bebop genre. Blue Note Tokyo. 03.5485.0088.

Picks of the Week: April 16 – 22

April 17, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Robert Davi

- April 17. (Tues.) Robert Davi. The warm, expressive sound, brisk rhythms and lyrical phrasing recall Frank Sinatra. But Davi is no Sinatra imitator. Inspired by Ol Blue Eyes, Davi has taken the style and shaped it into his own creative identity. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- April 17. (Tues.) Fat Tuesday” Jazz Nights – celebrating “the amazing jazz roots of the Big Easy” – begin at the LAX Jazz Club every Tuesday night. Opening the celebration in the right style – jazz/blues vocalist Sweet Baby Jai.  (310) 258-1333.

- April 18. (Wed.) Anthony Wilson. Guitarist Wilson’s third installment in his month-long, Wednesday night residency at the Blue Whale finds him in the first rate musical companionship of guitarists Larry Koonse, John Storie and Jeffrey Stein. Blue Whale (213) 620-0908

Bob Sheppard

- April 18. (Wed.) The Bob Sheppard Group opens“Live at the Federal.” One couldn’t have asked for a better choice to open the doors at a new L.A. Jazz venue than saxophonist/composer Bob Sheppard. Impresario April Williams has promised that the inviting new room, on the second floor of the Federal Bar & Restaurant in the heart of North Hollywood’s NoHo district, will feature “live fusion jazz, funk and big band sounds. Sheppard won’t have a big band – at least not this time – but he’ll be covering the other styles in his usual energetic fashion. Expect this to be the start of something special. The Federal. (818) 980-2555 Ext, 2.

- April 19. (Thurs.) Judy Wexlers Birthday Bash. Numbers don’t count when it comes to a singer with a spirit as youthful and imaginative as Judy Wexler. So wish her a happy birthday and then sit back and let her provide an evening of delightful musical gifts. Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- April 19 – 21. (Thurs. – Sat.) Lynda Carter. She may be best known as Wonder Woman, but Carter is an appealing singer, as well. Hopefully, she’ll offer some of the songs from her latest album, Crazy Little Things, a blend of standards, pop and country. Catalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210.

- April 20. (Fri.) Lorraine Feather. In addition to her versatile vocal skills, Feather is a brilliant lyricist, who has written lyrics for instrumental pieces by Duke Ellington, Fats Waller and other jazz greats. Her latest album, Tales of the Unusual, is a compelling display of her ability to bring life to familiar musical themes. Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- April 21. (Sat.) Kate McGarry. She’s been described as having “the soul of a folk singer and the facility of a jazz instrumentalist.” And the proof is there for all to hear on her new CD, Girl Talk. Blue Whale.  (213) 620-0908

Anoushka Shankar

- April 21. (Sat.) Anoushka Shankar. The daughter of legendary Indian sitarist. Ravi Shankar, Anoushka has slowly moved beyond the encompassing shadow of her powerful father to become an impressive interpreter of Indian classical music in her own right. Luckman Fine Arts Complex  (323) 343-6600. Also at Irvine Barclay on April 22. (Sun.) (949) 854-4646.

- April. 22. (Sun.) Melissa Morgan. Climaxing a week in which Vitello’s has been bursting with impressive female jazz singers, the talented young Morgan arrives with a stellar band, ready to display some of the blues-driven material on her almost completed new CD. Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- April 22. (Sun.) John Daversa Big Band. Baked Potato. Trumpeter/composer/arranger Daversa offers a too-rare opportunity to hear his adventurous excursions into new, big jazz band timbres, textures and rhythms.  The Baked Potato.  (818) 980-1615.

- April 22. (Sun.) Joan and Marcus Belgrave. Veteran trumpeter Belgrave, who’s played with everyone from Ray Charles and Charles Mingus to Tony Bennet and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra does a gig featuring the soothing, sexy vocals of his wife, Joan Belgrave. Catalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210.

- April 22. (Sun.)  Mike Lang.  Pianist/composer Lang’s credits reach from Ray Charles and Lee Konitz to film scores by Henry Mancini, Elmer Bernstein and beyond.  Add to that the material he’s composed for Stan Getz, Herb Alpert and others.  But the full extent of Mike’s skills is best revealed in the sort of gig he’s playing this weekend — an “Up Close and Personal” performance with the sole accompaniment of bassist Michael Valerio.  A Jazz Bakery Movable Feast at the Music Den at Keyboard Concepts.  Sherman Oaks.  (310) 271-9039.

-April 22. (Sun.) Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Kahane 2. The celebration of music director Jeffrey Kahane‘s 15th anniversary with LACO climaxes with a performance featuring the music of his son, Gabriel Kahane. In addition, the Orchestra showcases its remarkable versatility with performances of Haydn’s Symphony No. 104 and Charles Ives’ Three Places In New England. UCLA Live at Royce Hall. (310) 825-4401.

San Francisco

Charles Lloyd

- April 22. (Sun.) Charles Lloyd New Quartet. Saxophonist/flutist Lloyd continues to take an ever exploratory musical path — one of jazz’s great innovators since the ’60s and still going strong. In addition to his New Quartet, Lloyd will be joined by Maria Farantouri, the remarkable Greek vocalist featured on Lloyd’s latest ECM abum, Athens Concert.  An  SFJAZZ. 2012 Spring Season concert at the Herbst Theatre.  (866) 920-5299.


- April 17 & 18. (Tues. & Wed.) Tuck & Patti. It’s a simple combination – guitar and voice. But what guitarist Tuck and singer Patti – partners in music and life – make of it is sheer musical beauty. Jazz Alley. (206) 441-97

New York

- April 17. (Tues.) Lainie Cooke. At a proud sixtysomething, Cook still hasn’t receive either the visibility or the accolades that her vocal imagination deserves. But her passionate performances should be heard at every opportunity. Cornelia St. Cafe. (212) 989-9319.

- April 17 – 22 (Tues. – Sun.) Joshua Redman Trio. Tenor saxophonist has been taking on the challenge of the basic trio format – without a harmony instrument – and succeeding admiraby. Here he performs with Matt Penman, bass and Greg Hutchinson, drums. The Village Vanguard.  (212) 929-4589.

- April 17 – 22 (Tues. – Sun.) The Jim Hall Quartet featuring Julian Lage. One of the iconic figures of jazz for decades, guitarist Hall teams up with young prodigy Lage for a cross generational musical encounter. They’re backed by Scott Colley, bass and Joey Baron, drums. The Blue Note. (212) 475-8592.


Luciana Souza

- April 20. (Fri.) Luciana Souza and Romero Lubambo Brazilian Duo. It doesn’t get much more Brazilian than the irresistible musical combination of the versatile vocalist Souza and the equaly eclectic guitarist Lubambo. Regatta Bar.  (617) 661-5000.

Washington, D.C.

- April 19 – 22 (Thurs. – Sun.) Keiko Matsui. A pioneer in the smooth jazz realm, keyboardist Matsui has been leading the way in the crossover style with her gentle groove and colorful harmonies for decades. Blues Alley.(202) 337-4141.


- April 16 – 21 (Mon. – Sat.) Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames. The only performer to knock the Beatles out of a #1 chart position (way back in the ’60s), Fame, now a virtual pop legend, is still a dynamic performer. Ronnie Scott’s.  020 7439 0747


- April 20. (Fri.) Brian Blade and Music from Moma Rosa. One of the most highly praised jazz drummers of his generation, Blade has taken a giant leap into a new area, as a guitarist and singer’/songwriter, with a group of songs inspired by his grandmother. New Morning. 01 45 23 51 41.


- April 17. (Tues.) The Fly Trio. Like Joshua Redman, saxophonist Mark Turner and Fly – Larry Grenadier, bass and Jeff Ballard, drums – are exploring the minimalist horn and rhythm format founded by Sonny Rollins decades ago. They’ll perform selections from their ECM album Sky & Country. A-Trane.  030 / 313 25 50.


- April 18 – 21. (Wed. – Sat.) Marcus Miller Sextet. Bassist/composer Miller – a major participant in the Miles Davis fusion bands, continues the exploratory tradition with his own sextet. Blue Note Milano.

* * * * *

Bob Sheppard and Charles Lloyd photos by Tony Gieske.  

Picks of the Week: Jan 10 – 15

January 9, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Youngjoo Song

- Jan. 10. (Tues.)  Youngjoo Song.  Korean jazz pianist Youngjoo Song brings an affection for classical music and American gospel song to her creatively eclectic view of jazz, as both a player and a composer.  In this rare Los Angeles appearance, the rising jazz star’s  group features the similarly versatile,  fast-fingered, multi-saxophone playing of  the always inventive Bob SheppardThe Blue Whale.   (213) 620-0908.

- Jan. 11. (Wed.)  Nora Rothman.  The talented young jazz singer/pianist, just barely into her ‘20s, has the skill and the style of a major talent in the making.  She’s backed by Nick Chuba and Charlie Mischer.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

Judy Wexler

- Jan. 12. (Thurs.)  Judy Wexler Quintet.  One of the many great things about hearing jazz singer Judy Wexler in action is the unpredictability of what to expect.  Always compelling, she makes a song her own, whether it’s American Songbook, Jazz Standard, Top 40 Pop or Singer/Songwriter.  The LAX Jazz Club at the Crowne Plaza.  l  (310) 258-1333.

- Jan. 12. (Thurs.)  Paul Jacobs.  The winner of a 2010 Best Solo Instrumental Grammy – the first organist ever to do so – Jacobs presents a challenging program of 20th century works, including Messiaen’s Livre du Saint Sacrement.  Royce Hall Organ Recital.  UCLA Live.   (310) 825-2101.

- Jan. 12. (Thurs.)  Pilc – Moutin – Hoenig.  The world class trio of pianist Jean-Michel Pilc, from France, bassist Francois Moutin, also from France, and drummer Ari Hoenig, from Philadelphia have been affirming the true international nature of jazz for more than a decade with their cutting edge version of the jazz piano trio.  The Musicians Institute Concert Center.  A Jazz Bakery Movable Feast.    (310) 271-9039.

- Jan. 12. (Thurs.)  Kate Reid and Larry Koonse.  Singer/pianist Reid’s recent CD, The Love I’m In, offers a potent display of her rich, intuitive way with a song.  Working in tandem with the superb guitar of Koonse should produce similarly intriguing results.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Jan. 12 – 14. (Thurs. – Sat.)  George Duke’s Fusion Band. He’s got the skills to go in any musical direction.  This time out, celebrating his 66th birthday (on Thurs.) the versatile keyboardist is digging into his rich bag of funk. Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

Gustav Mahler

- Jan. 13. (Fri.) through Feb. 5. (Sun).  The Mahler Project.  9 Symphonies, 3 Weeks, 2 Orchestra, 1 Conductor.  Gustavo Dudamel takes on the Herculean task of conducting Gustav Mahler’s nine completed symphonies in performances by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela at venues in Los Angeles and Caracas.  The Mahler Project.   (323) 850-2000.

- Jan. 13 & 14. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Vardan Ovsepian Chamber Ensemble.  Part I and II.  Armenian-born pianist-composer Ovsepian is musically inhabiting the broad land between jazz and concert music with remarkably intriguing results.  The Blue Whale.    (213) 620-0908.

- Jan. 15. (Sun.)  Sing! Sing! Sing! This week’s singalong with the Sing! Sing! Sing! vocalists and the adroit backing of pianist Judy Wolman focuses on the incredible song catalog of Irving Berlin.  Between songs, Howard Lewis will provide some fascinating nuggets of information about the Great American Songwriter who was born Israel Baline.  Sing! Sing! Sing! 


- Jan. 12 – 15. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Arturo Sandoval. The gifted trumpeter/pianist/percussionist/singer (and more) takes a band of L.A.’s finest players up to the Northwest for a display of Southern California/Cuban Latin jazz.  Jazz Alley.    (206) 441-9729.


J D Souther

- Jan. 12. (Thurs.)  J. D. Souther.  He may be best known as the writer of some compelling hit songs for Linda Rondstat, the Eagles and himself (among others), but Souther – his performances spiced with his affection for jazz – is best to see and hear on his own.  Click HERE to read iRoM’s review of Souther’s latest recording.  Regatta Jazz Bar.   (617) 395-7757.

New York

- Jan. 10 – 12. (Tues. – Thurs.)  The Clayton Brothers. Not just the Clayton Brothers, bassist John and alto saxophonist Jeff, but also the next generation’s impressive new star – John’s son, pianist Gerald Clayton.  All these hugely talented, interrelated genes will be backed by trumpeter Terrell Stafford and drummer Obed CalvaireDizzy’s Club Coca Cola.   (212) 258-9800.

- Jan. 10 – 15. (Tues. – Sun.)  Geri Allen, Esperanza Spalding, Terri Lyne Carrington.  Here they are, all in one incredible package – a trio of three of the contemporary jazz world’s most gifted female artists.  Don’t miss this one.  The Village Vanguard.    (212) 255-4037.


Kurt Rosenwinkel

- Jan. 14. (Sat.)  Kurt Rosenwinkel Berlin Quartet.  In a world filled with ambitious guitarists, Rosenwinkel has managed to hold his own, developing a style that is both unique, appealing and immensely musical.  A-Trane.   030/313 25 50. Guitarist Rosenwinkel,


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