Picks of the Week: August 2 – 7

August 2, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Aug. 2 (Tues.) Yes and Styx. Two of the classic rock franchises — still going strong — team up for a display of some of the archetypal music of the ’70s and ’80s. The Greek Theatre.  (323) 665-5857.

Jessica Molasky and John Pizzarelli

- Aug. 3 – 7. (Wed. – Sun.) John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molasky. Collectively and individually, the married team of singer/guitarist Pizzarelli and vocalist Molasky make for one of the jazz world’s most entertaining acts. Capable of generating the humor of the great husband and wife teams of the past, they also bring a rare blend of musicality to their singing and playing that is uniquely their own. Catalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210.

- Aug. 3 – 7. (Wed. – Sun.) Clarinet Fest 2011. Everything you ever wanted to know about the clarinet, or hear about the clarinet will undoubtedly take place in this large assemblage of programs and seminars. Clarinet ensembles of every stripe will perform.  Among the many highlights are performances on Sunday by the Eddie Daniels Quintet and the Clare Fischer Clarinet Choir. But there are numerous others, from many other parts of the world. Clarinet Fest 2011 in the Valley Performing Arts Center at CalState Northridge.

- Aug. 4. (Thurs.) Ron Kalina’s Birthday Bash. Versatil jazz harmonica player Kalina — who also plays piano, leads a celebratory evening of music to remember. He’s backed by vibist Gino Antonachi, bassist Pat Senatore and drummer Ryan Doyle. Vibrato Jazz Grill…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- Aug. 4. (Thurs.) Hippiefest. The annual installment of music from the peace, love and rock ‘n’ roll generation returns for the sixth time. The headliners are Dave Mason (Traffic), Mark Farner (Grand Funk Railroad), Rick Derringer, Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals and Gary Wright. The Greek Theatre.  (323) 665-5857.

- Aug. 4. (Thurs.) Yemen Blues. The Skirball’s always entertaining, free Sunset Concerts continue with an appearance by a band that produces a steaming gumbo of music spiced with elements of jazz, blues, Jewish melodies and African grooves. Don’t plan to sit still when this band starts to kick it. Skirball Center.  (310) 440-4500.

Annie Sellick

- Aug. 6. (Sat.) Annie Sellick. Her bold, assertive style, blended with occasional touches of vulnerability make Sellick an appealing singer — one whose work warrants a wider hearing than she seems to be receiving. Steamers.  (714) 871-8800.

- Aug. 6. (Sat.) Judy Wexler. Critically praised jazz vocalist Wexler celebrates the release of her third CD, Under A Painted Sky, backed by some of the stellar players on the album — pianist/arranger Alan Pasqua, guitarist Larry Koonse, saxophonist Bob Sheppard, bassist Darek Oles and drummer Steve Hass. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

San Francisco

- Aug 5 – 7. (Fri. – Sun.) Los Van Van. It’s been more than four decades since Juan Formell organized the fusion Cuban band Los Van Van. Expanding on the traditional charanga style, instrumentally as well as the choice of material, he created a band that continues to provide musical thrills at every performance. Yoshis Oakland.  (510) 238-9200.

Turtle Island String Quartet

- Aug. 7. (Sun.) Turtle Island String Quartet. When the Turtle Islanders first posited the notion that the members of a string quartet — if they possessed the right blend of talent and imagination — could play with the creative liberation of a jazz group, it seemed a radical idea. (Despite the fact that their goal also included reviving the improvisation that had been for centuries a fundamental part of classical music as well.) But they’ve made their case convincingly, winning Grammy awards and opening an expressive pathway that more ensembles should explore. Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655-5600.

Seattle

Aug. 4 – 7. (Thurs. – Sun.) Bill Frisell. Ever on the trail of another musical idea, Frisell’s Beautiful Dreamers features violinst Eyvind Kang and drummer Rudy Royston in a challenging, but potentially productive musical setting. Jazz Alley.  (206) 441-9729.

Chicago

Charles McPherson

Aug. 4 – 7. (Thurs. – Sun.) Charles McPherson. It’ll be an evening of Charlie Parker revisited when McPherson steps on stage. But not in an imitative sense. McPherson’s connection with Parker is inspirational, and the results are always musically compelling. Jazz Showcase.  (312) 360-0234.

New York

-Aug. 2 – 4. (Tues. – Thurs.) McCoy Tyner expands his usual trio format to a quintet featuring the two saxophone front line tenorist Ravi Coltrane and alto Gary Bartz. And it’s hard to imagine a more compatible assemblage of world class players. Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.

- Aug. 3. (Wed.) The Center for Improvisational Music. Trumpeter Ralph Alessi, alto saxophonist Tim Berne, pianist Kris Davis, bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Gerald Cleaver — present and former faculty members — celebrate the 10th anniversary of the School for Improvised Music’s pioneering work in the exploration of the art of improvisation. Cornelia St. Cafe.  (212) 989-9319.

London

Claire Martin

- Aug. 4 (Thurs.) Claire Martin. She’s often described as England’s best jazz singer, which may well be true. But Martin is more than that — a versatile performer with the capacity to find the inner life of whatever she sings in whatever style. She appears with the Richard Rodney Bennett/Bobby Wellins Quartet. Ronnie Scott’s.  020 7439 0747.

Tokyo

- Aug. 2 – 5. (Tues. – Fri.) Joyce with special guest Sergio Santos. Singer/songwriter Joyce — who now occasionally also uses her last name, Moreno, has been a highly visible figure in Brazilian music since the MPB era. Still an engaging performer, she appears here with the gifted guitarist/songwriter/singer Santos, whose talents are still too little known in the U.S. The Blue Note Tokyo.  03-5485-0088.


Picks of the Week: April 11 – 17

April 11, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

-  April 11. (Mon.)  Cabaret Cares.  A Song For Japan. A benefit performance to aid the stricken populace of Japan features cabaret artists Andrea Marcovicci, Daisy Eagan, Lee Lessack, Sharon McNight and others.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.  .

John Pisano

- April 12. (Tues.)  John Pisano’s Guitar Night.  With Sid Jacobs and John Leftwich.  Pisano’s Tuesday Guitar Nights just keep on cooking.  And with Jacobs and Leftwich also on stage, the rhythms will be crisp and the imagination wide open.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

-April 12. (Tues.)  John Daversa Big Band.  Trumpeter Daversa’s exploratory approach to big jazz band sounds is producing some consistently adventurous music.  To read a recent iRoM review of the Daversa Big Band click HEREVibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- April. 12. (Tues.)  Gordon Goodwin Big Phat Band. The always swinging, always entertaining Big Phat Band celebrates the release of their new CD, That’s How We Roll. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.  .

- April 13. (Wed.) Mike Lang Trio. Pianist Lang has a resume that includes gigs with the likes of Natalie Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Barbra Streisand and more, recordings with Henry Mancini, John Williams, Elmer Bernstein, and a long string of film and TV credits.  This time out, he’s doing it his own way, backed by bassist Michael Valerio and drummer Jim Keltner Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210. .

- April 14. (Thurs.)  Duran Duran.  They’re back.  The sounds of the eighties that made all the young girls quiver, still playing the hits.  Fox Theatre Pomona.   (909) 784-3671.

Denise Donatelli

- April 14. (Thurs.)  Denise Donatelli. Grammy-nominated Donatelli’s dark-timbred voice and imaginative singing will prove, once again, why she really should have won that award.  Charlie O’s.  (818) 994-3058.

- April 14 – 16. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Victor Wooten Band.  Five time Grammy Award winner Wooten displays the bass playing dexterity and free-roving imagination that make him one of the important artists of his generation.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.  .

- April 15. (Fri.)  Michael Wolff.  Pianist Wolff, heard to rarely in these parts, plays his second Vitello’s gig in a couple of weeks.  This time, his musical companions will be trumpeter Mark Isham, bassist John B. Williams and drummer Michael Barsimento.  Click HERE to read an iRoM review of a recent Wolff performance.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- April 15. (Fri.)  2nd Proverb Trio.  An unusually intriguing approach to small ensemble jazz features Dafnis Prieto, drums, Kokayi, vocals and poetry and Jason Lindner, keyboards.  A Jazz Bakery Movable Feast at  the Musicians Institute Concert Hall.  \.

- April 15. (Fri.)  Tom Peterson/Andy Martin Quartet.  Saxophonist Peterson and trombonist Martin, first call players on their instruments, take a break from playing for everyone else, and step to the front of the stage. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- April 16. (Sat. ) Improvisatory Minds: Chamber Music by Jazz Musicians.  It’s an evening that promises to provide some of the more intriguing musical explorations of recent memory.  On the bill: works by Bevan Manson, Ed Neumeister, and Gernot Wolfgang, with guest composers Billy Childs and Alan BroadbentVitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

Judy Wexler

- April 16. (Sat.)  Judy Wexler.  Versatile Ms. Wexler is a singer who finds the essence of jazz in everything she sings, regardless of genre.  She celebrates her birthday with a prime evening of music.  Café 322.    (626) 836-5414

- April 16 & 17. (Sat. & Sun.)  Rod Stewart and Stevie Nicks.  They may not have found musical companionship in their early years, but Stewart and Nicks seem perfectly attuned to share a stage in the prime maturity of their careers.  Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

- April 16 & 17. (Sat. & Sun.)  The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.  Music Director Jeffrey Kahane leads the LACO in a performance of Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto with pianist Jon Kimura Parker.  Also on the program: Dvorak’s lyrical Serenade in E Major for Strings and composer John Harbison’s whimsical Gli accordi piu usati (“The most often used chords”).  Saturday at the Alex Theatre in Glendale.  Sunday at UCLA’s Royce Hall.  For information click HERE.  (213)  622-7001 Ext. 215.

San Francisco

- April 15. (Fri.)  Dr. Lonnie Smith and Barbara Dennerlein. It’s a night for B-3 organ fireworks.  The groove pyrotechnics of Dr. Lonnie and the hard driving rhythmic charge of German-born Dennerlein.  SFJAZZ Spring Season at the Herbst Theatre.  (566) 920-5299.

- April 15 & 16. (Fri. & Sat.)  Maceo Parker.  Alto saxophonist Parker’s funk roots trace back to his highly visible work with James Brown.  Since then, he’s performed with every imaginable funk band, including his own “greatest little funk band on earth.”  He makes his debut performance at Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

New York

- April 12 & 13.  (Tues. & Wed.)  The Three Cohens.  Tenor saxophonist/clarinetist Anat Cohen, trumpeter Avishai Cohen and soprano saxophonist Yuval Cohen.  Three impressive jazz artists from the same Israeli family are a jazz

Anat Cohen

rarity.  But aside from that, they’re always a pleasure to hear, and never more so than when they’re in an infrequent public family jam.  Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.   (212) (212) 258-9595.

- April 12 – 17. (Tues. – Sun.)  Martial Solal & Francois Moutin Duo. There’s no better proof of France’s love affair with jazz than the teaming of these two extraordinary French artists in a cross generational gig – the great, veteran pianist Solal and the talented young bassist Moutin. Village Vanguard.   (212) 255-4037.

- April 13 (Wed.)  Kendra Shank – Steve Wilson – Frank Kimbrough.  Vocalist Shank, saxophonist Wilson and pianist Kimbrough will be performing standards, originals, songs by the likes of Thelonious Monk, Abbey Lincoln and others.  With the additional highlight of Shank’s imaginative “voice collages” – vocal improvisations with electronic loops.  Kitano Hotel.   (212) 885-7119.

Darcy James Argue

- April 14. (Thurs.)  Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society.  Fast rising composer arranger Argue’s writing for his big band, Secret Society, has been praised in media of every stripe.  Here’s a chance to hear the work of this gifted young artist in an up front and live setting.  Iridium.   (212) 582-2121.

- April 14 – 17. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet. Trumpeter Akinmusire leads a stellar collection of young players in a celebration of the release of his debut album on Blue Note, When the Heart Emerges Glistening. Jazz Standard.  (212) 576-2232.

John Pisano photo by Bob Barry.  Denise Donatelli and Judy Wexler photos by Faith Frenz.  Anat Cohen photo by Tony Gieske.


Picks of the Week: July 26 – August 1

July 26, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- July 27. (Tues.) and 29. (Thurs.) Heroic Beethoven.  A pair of evenings overflowing with the splendor of Beethoven’s boundless imagination.  Pianist David Fray plays the Piano Concerto No. 3.  And Pablo Heras-Casado conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the Eroica Symphony No. 3.  The Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

- July 27. (Tues.)  John Pisano’s Guitar Night.  This week Pisano interacts with the adventurous guitar of Bruce Forman and the ever-dependable bass of Chuck BerghoferVitello’s (818) 769-0905.

Count Basie

- July 28. (Wed.)  Big Band Jazz at the Bowl.  The Count Basie Orchestra, the Dave Holland Big Band and the Dave Douglas Big Band.  Expect a diverse set of perspectives on big band jazz, from the ineffable swing of the Basie players to Holland’s Grammy-winning large ensemble to the outward bound music of Douglas.  The Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

- July 28. (Wed.)  Tina Raymond Trio.  The rising drummer/percussionist performs with guitarist Tim Fischer and bassist Emilio Terranova.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.  www.vibratogrilljazz.com.

- July 28. (Wed.)  Ancient Future. The duo of Matthew Monfort, scalloped fretboard guitarist and Mariah Parker, santurist, from the world fusion group Ancient Future, perform selections from three recent albums: Seven Serenades for Scalloped Fretboard Guitar (Monfort); Sangria (Parker); and the re-mastered 30th anniversary edition of Planet Passion (Ancient Future).   The Waterfront Concert Theatre, Marina del Rey.  (310) 448-8900. They also appear at the Fret House in Covina on Sat., July 31.  (626) 339-7020.

- July 28. (Wed.)  Jack Shit.  Blues, country, rock and satire.  Musical entertainment at its extreme.  Click here for a recent iRoM review of a Jack Shit performance.  The Baked Potato.  (818) 980-1615.

- July 29. (Thurs.)  The David Angel Saxtet.  Celebrate Sax Liberation Day with the six saxophonists and the sturdy rhythm section of Angel’s entertaining ensemble. Charlie O’s.   (818) 994-3058.

- July 29. (Thurs.) CJSQ. Saxophonist Chuck Johnson and trumpeter James Smith keep the torch burning for swinging, straight-ahead jazz.  Crowne Plaza Hotel.   (310) 642-7500.

Natacha Atlas

- July 29. (Thurs.)  Natacha Atlas.  Belgian-born Atlas has been in the vanguard of world music artists exploring the boundary-less blending of traditional Middle Eastern music with reggae, rock and electronica.  The Skirball Center.  http://www.skirball.org (310) 440-4500.

- July 29. (Thurs.)  Kailash Kher’s Kailasa. Kher is one of the major stars of Indian pop music.  His program will run the gamut of Indian Pop, Rock andBollywood songs.  Twilight Dance at the Santa Monica Pierh (310) 458-8900.

- July 30. (Fri.)  Mon David.  Filipino singer David has been convincingly establishing himself as one of the most unique new male jazz vocalists.  The Culver Club in the Raddison.  (310) 649-1776 ext. 4137.

- July 30 & 31. (Fri. & Sat.) Sergio Mendes and Morcheeba. Mendes has been bringing Brazilian sounds and rhythm to the world for more than four decades, and he doesn’t seem to be slowing down.  British rock band Morcheeba is the opening act.  The Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

Strunz & Farah

July 30 & 31. (Fri. & Sat.)  Strunz & Farah.  The two-guitar duo’s fast fingered musical romps seem to get better with every outing.  Click here read a recent iRoM review of Strunz & Farah.   Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- July 31. (Sat.)  Viver Brasil with Katia Moraes. The premiere of Alafia/Harmony, a celebration of peace, as expressed in the music and dance of the Yoruban community, featuring the dynamic Viver Brasil dancers and the charismatic singing of Moraes. Ford Amphitheatre.  (323) 461-3673.

- July 31. (Sat.) Holly Hofmann and Bill Cunliffe.  Hoffman’s flute and Cunliffe’s piano make for an irresistible combination of subtle sounds and driving rhythms.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- July 31. (Sat.)  Pat Benatar and REO Speedwagon. Eighties pop-rock hit-maker Benatar teams up with eighties rocksters REO Speedwagon to revisit their hits.  The Greek Theatre. (323) 665-3125.

Judy Wexler

- Aug. 1. (Sun.) Judy Wexler.  Jazz artist Wexler is always a pleasure to hear, with her eclectic musical interests and articulate vocal skills.  This time out she’ll be in a setting that perfectly frames her abilities — a luxurious new downtown music venue, the First and Hope Supper Club

- Aug. 1. (Sun.)  Film: The Anatomy of Vince Guaraldi.  The Jazz Bakery’s Movable Feast events feature a film, this time out, celebrating the life and music of Vince Guaraldi, with on-camera appearances by Dave Brubeck, Dick Gregory, Irwin Corey, John Handy and others.   Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax.  Jazz Bakery Movable Feast.   (310) 271-9039.

- Aug. 1. (Sun.)  Gaea Schell. She prefers to describe herself as a jazz pianist who also sings, but the truth is that Schell handles both those hyphenates with plenty of style, imagination and grace.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.  .

San Francisco

- July 28. (Wed.) Mingus Amungus. One of the Bay area’s more intriguing groups, celebrating the music of Charles Mingus in music and dance. Yoshi’s San Francisco (415) 655-5600.

- July 30 & 31. (Fri. & Sat.)  Larry Carlton Trio.  Specializing in smooth jazz, blues and crossover, guitarist Carlton has been doing it well for decades.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

John Pizzarelli

- July 30 – Aug. 1. (Fri. – Sun.)  John Pizzarelli. Every time he steps on stage, Pizzarelli’s guitar playing, singing, and whimsical humor affirm the fact that jazz can be as entertaining as it is musically engaging.  Yoshi’s Oakland (510) 238-9200.

New York

- July 27 – 31. (Tues. – Sat.)  Charlie Haden’s Quartet West.  Bassist Haden celebrates the 25th Anniversary of his Quartet West ensemble with the current personnel — Ravi Coltrane, Alan Broadbent and Rodney Green. Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.

- July 27 – Aug. 1 (Tues. – Sun.)  Earl Klugh.  The Grammy-winning guitarist continues to bring life and imagination to the smooth jazz and crossover genres.The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

- July 27 – Aug. 1. (Tues. – Sun.)  Marcus Roberts Trio. Backed by Jason Marsalis and Rodney Jordan, Roberts moonlights from his professorial duties at Florida State University with performances that are virtual living displays of jazz piano history.  Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.  (212) 258-9595.

- July 29. (Thurs.)  Sarah McLachlan.  Jet Blue customers traveling through Terminal 5 at New York’s JFK airport on Thurs., July 29 will enjoy a free, live show, post-security in the Marketplace, celebrating singer/songwriter McLachlan’s new album Laws of Illusion.   Information click here.

Joanne Brackeen

- July 29 – Aug. 1. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Joanne Brackeen Quartet.  Veteran pianist/composer Brackeen displays her dynamic improvisational style backed by the sterling playing of Mark Turner, Ugonna Okegwo and Johnathan Blake Jazz Standard. (212) 576-2232.

- July 29 – Aug. 1.  (Thurs. – Sun.)  Larry Coryell Power Trio.  Coryell, who can do almost anything he wants to with a guitar, cranks up the power, assisted by the equally electrifying playing of bassist Victor Bailey and either Lenny White or Jeff “Tain” Watts on drums.  Iridium.   (212)  582-2121.


Picks of the Week: May 3 – 9

May 3, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Jeanie Brandes

- May 4. (Tues.)  Jeanie Brandes.  Songs from Brandes’ new CD, Kisses You Awake will be on the agenda for Brandes’ crystalline voice and elegant phrasing.  She’s backed by Bryan Bromberg, Shelly Markham and Tom ZinkasCatalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

- May 4. (Tues.)  Jonny Blu.  He’s a unique musical canaries, an American singer who has been a star in China, singing in Mandarin.  And he’s just as good with the classic American songbook.  Vibrato (310) 474-9400.

- May 5. (Wed.)  Cinco de Mayo CelebrationLouis Cruz Beltran. The dynamic drummer/singer celebrates the holiday in an irresistible evening of rhythm and song. Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- May 5. (Wed.)  Susie Hansen Latin Jazz Band.  The body-moving rhythms of Hansen’s dynamic ensemble are applied to tunes from her soon-to-be-released new CD, the appropriately titled Representante de la SalsaAtomic Ball Room, Irvine.   (914) 250-3332.

- Jan. 6. (Thurs.) Julie Kelly.  Kelly’s dulcet tones and brisk rhythms are supported by the stellar backing of Bill Cunliffe, Chris Collangelo and Kendall Kay. Charlie O’s.    (919) 994-3058.

Gustavo Dudamel

- May 6 – 8.  (Thurs. – Sun.)  Los Angeles Philharmonic.  An evening of dramatic music directed by the equally dramatic hands of Gustavo Dudamel: Tchaikovsky’s Symphony #6 (Pathetique) and the Dvorák Cello Concerto, with soloist Alisa WeilersteinDisney Hall.

- May 7. (Fri.)  Charlie Shoemake and “Sounds of Shearing” Vibist Shoemake brings the classic Shearing sound back to life, recalling some of the classics, applying it to new repertoire.  Culver Club Radisson Hotel. Culver Club Raddison.

- May 7. (Fri.)  Rique Pantoja & Friends.  Brazilian pianist Pantoja leads a band that can easily cover all aspects of the jazz meets Brazilian rhythms style.  Bob Sheppard, Abraham Laboriel, Luis Conte and Russ MillerVitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- May 7. (Fri.)  Shelly Berg Trio.  Jazz pianist and jazz educator Berg takes a hiatus from his academic duties in Miami for a one-nighter in Fullerton.  He’s backed by Chuck Berghofer and Greg FieldSteamers.   (714) 871-8800.

Katayoun Goudarzi

- May 7.  (Fri.) SaffronA Celebration of Rumi. A rich blending of atmospheric music with readings from the sensual poetry of Rumi.  The engaging voice of reader Katayoun Goudarzi is accompanied by the playing of Sujaat Husain Khan, Tim Ries, Kevin Hayes, Satoshi Takeishi and Abhimann Kaushal.   The Skirball Center.   (310) 440-4500.

- May 8.  (Sat.) Patti LaBelleAshford & Simpson.  A Mother’s Day Concert celebrates the maternal blessings with a classic collection of soul and r & b sounds. Gibson Amphitheatre.   (818) 622-4440.

- May 9. (Sun.) Raymond de Felitta Trio.  Pianist de Felitta is a legitimate show business mult-hyphenate.  In addition to this convincing keyboard work, he is an Academy Award-nominated independent filmmaker and writer.  His most recent film, City Island, received First Place Audience Award at the Tribeca Film Festival.  Vibrato.  (310) 474-9400.

- May 9. (Sun.)  Judy Wexler. KJAZZ Mother’s Day Brunch. The singing’s great, the food is great, and the atmosphere is great.  Mother should be very happy to be here. KJAZ’s Helen Borgas hosts. Twist Restaurant at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel.   (562) 985-2999.

San Diego

- May 7. (Fri.)  Eldar. The young prodigy jazz pianist from Kyrgyzstan, now 23, has matured into a top level improvisational artist.  Anthology, San Diego.   (619) 595-0300.

Farah and Strunz

- May 8. (Sat.)  Strunz & Farah. The veteran two-guitar team (from Iran and Costa Rica) are producing some of the finest music of their long career together.  Click here to read an iRoM review of a recent L.A. appearance. Anthology, San Diego.   (619) 595-0300.

San Francisco

- May 6 & 7. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Christian McBride and Inside Straight.  Everybody’s favorite bassist, adept at almost any given style, leads his own, appropriately titled straight ahead quintet.  Yoshi’s Oakland.  (510) 238-9200.

- May 7 – 9. (Fri. – Sun.)  Rachelle Ferrell.  A voice with no apparent limits ranges easily across styles, from blues and gospel to some convincing jazz singing.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

New York

Chick Corea

May 4 – 9. (Tues. – Sun.)  Chick Corea, Eddie Gomez and Paul Motian“Further Explorations of Bill Evans” Corea must be serious about the quest to dig into the rich lode of Bill Evans music.  He’s performing with a pair of players – bassist Gomez and drummer Motian – who spent a lot of time on the bandstand with Evans.   The Blue Note.  (212) 475-8592.

- May 5 – 8. (Wed. – Sat.)  Umbria Jazz. Unfortunately trumpeter Enrico Rava, the headliner for this presentation of high level Italian jazz, had an accident and can’t make the gig.  He’s been replaced by close associate Dan Kinzelman (sax and clarinet), along with Gianluca Petrella (trombone) Giovanni Guidi (piano), Pietro Leveratto (bass) Fabrizio Sferra (drums), and the quality level is still something special to hear.  Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.

Kenny Garrett

- May 5 – 8. (Wed. – Sat.) Kenny Garrett Band. Alto saxophonist Garrett takes time off from the Five Piece Band to apply his free orbiting style to a collection of his own music.  Iridium.  (212) 582-2121.

- May 5 – 9. (Wed. – Sun.) The Julliard Jazz Orchestra examines some classic jazz repertoire in a program devoted to  “The Music of Mary Lou Williams and Duke Ellington”  with special guests Kenny Barron (Wed. & Thurs.) and Lew Tabackin (Fri. – Sun.)  Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.   (212) 258-9800.

- May 6 – 9. (Thurs. – Sun.) Mulgrew Miller and Wingspan. Pianist Miller and his small band, Wingspan, have produced some of the jazz world’s most appealing sounds over the past three decades.  The current group features Antonio Hart, Steve Nelson, Duane Eubanks, Ivan Taylor and Rodney Green. Jazz Standard. (212) 576-2232.


Picks of the Week: March 23 – 28

March 23, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Mar. 23. (Tues.)  Christopher Cross.  Multiple Grammy Award-winning composer Cross hits include “Sailing,” “Ride Like the Wind” and “Never Be the Same.” Vibrato.   (310) 474-9400.

Ray Davies

- Mar. 24. (Wed.)  Ray Davies. After the success of last Fall’s CD, The Kinks Choral Collection, Davies – one of the founders of the venerable English rock band The Kinks – is once again out on tour, offering golden oldies, as well as his newer material. Grove of Anaheim.  (714) 712-2700.

- Mar. 25. (Wed.)  Jamie Cullum.  The English wiz, adept at the piano, quick with a song, successfully masters the territory between rock, pop, blues and jazz.  The Avalon.   (323) 467-4571.

- Mar. 25. (Wed.)  Nat Adderley Jr. Quintet “The Music of Cannonball and Nat Adderley”. His direct connection with the source, makes pianist Adderley, Jr. the perfect advocate for the classic music of his father and uncle. Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

- Mar. 24. (Wed.)  Judy Wexler“Talkin’ About My Generation.” Jazz singer Wexler adds her fine-tuned, improvisational vocal touches to the music of the ‘60s and ‘70s.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Mar. 25.  (Wed.)  Chef Jam Sessions. Vibrato launches a new series in which guest chefs will cook 5-course dinners of their signature favorites.  Alain Giraud (Anisette, Bastide, Citrus) is the first all-star guest chef.  The Norman Pantone Continental Quartet will accompany the feasting with accordion-driven Gypsy jazz.  Vibrato. (310) 474-9400.

- Mar. 25. (Thurs.)  Nancy Kelly.  Veteran jazz singer Kelly brings swing, phrasing, vitality and – best of all – authenticity to everything she sings.  This is one of her too-rare appearances in the Southland.  Crown Plaza Brasserie Jazz Lounge.  (310) 642-7500.

Billy Childs

- Mar. 25. (Thurs.)  Billy Childs. He’s got eight Grammy nominations and two Grammy awards, and he’s been commissioned by symphonies across the land to write compositions.  But Childs is also one of the finest — and too little acknowledged — jazz pianists in the world. He doesn’t play many club dates these days, so don’t miss this one.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Mar. 26. (Fri.)  The CJS Quintet and Hideaki “Heday” Tokunaga “East Meets Wes.” The hard bop of the CJS Quintet encounters Heday’s grooving, Wes Montgomery-styled guitar work.   Hollywood Studio Bar and Grill/Gower Gulch.  (323) 466-9917.

- Mar. 26. (Fri.) Larry Karush Quintet.  Pianist Karush roves confidently across the boundaries of improvisation, from the thorny avant-garde to the propulsive lift of straight ahead.  The Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center (Edye 2nd Space)  (310) 434-3000.

- Mar. 26. (Fri.)  Perlene Thurston. The rich-timbred voice and roving phrases of Thurston stimulate distinct recollections of Sarah Vaughan.   The Back Room at Henri’s.   (818) 348-5582.

- Mar. 26 & 27. (Fri. & Sat.) Wallace Roney Quintet. Trumpeter Roney has taken the Miles Davis style and shaped it into a highly personal expression of his own.  He performs with Antoine Roney, saxophones, Aruan Ortiz, keyboards, Rashaan Carter, bass, Kush Abadey, drums.  Spazio.  (818) 728-8400.

- Mar. 26 & 27. (Fri. & Sat.)  Mike Lang and Los Angeles Sonic Odyssey.   Pianist Lang performs the world premiere of Jennifer Logan’s Planetarium, a work for improvised piano and electronics.  Logan will also perform Lang’s Moonlit Night…in blossoms’ shimmer and her own Serenades and spreading shadows for solo piano.  Neighborhood Unitarian Church, Pasadena.  Los Angeles Sonic Odyssey. (213) 422-2733.

Diane Schuur

- Mar. 27. (Sat.)  Diane Schuur.  Eclectic singer/pianist Schuur has a pair of Grammy awards and three nominations.  Lately, Deedles has been setting aside some of her pop interests in favor of the expressive jazz vocalizing she does best.  CSUN Performing Arts Center.  (818) 677-1200.

- Mar. 27. (Sat.)  Broadway Today Jason Graae, David Burnham, Julia Murney and Lisa Howard sing songs from  such contemporary musicals as  Wicked, Hairspray,  The Lion King, Rent, The Producers, The Phantom of the Opera, Jersey Boys, Mamma Mia and others.  Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza.  (805) 449-2787.

- Mar. 27. (Sat.)  Antonio Sanchez Quartet. Drummer Sanchez keeps the Jazz Bakery brand alive with a stellar group that includes alto saxophonist David Binney, tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin and bassist Scott Colley.  All of which should make for a high sprited evening.  Musicians Institute.  A Jazz Bakery Moveable Feast.   (310) 271-9039.

- Mar. 28. (Sun.)  Frank Potenza Trio. Guitarist/educator Potenza, inspired by Joe Pass, has built a highly personal style of his own.  He performs material from his current Capri release, Old, New, Borrowed & Blue.  With Joe Bagg, organ, Steve Barnes, drums.  The Lighthouse Café in Hermosa Beach.   (310) 376-9833

San Francisco

- March 23 & 24.   (Tues. & Wed.)  Joe Lovano and US Five perform selections from “Folk Art,” his first recording with a program of all his original compositions.   Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

Eliane Elias

- Mar. 23 & 24.  (Tues. & Wed.)  Eliane Elias.  Pianist/singer Elias brilliantly combines her deep Brazilian roots with an impressively original jazz imagination.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

- Mar. 23 – 27. (Tues. – Sat.)  Maude Maggart. With a background that traces to several generations of musical show biz veterans, Maggart enhances her inherited skills with her own stylish approach to the classic songs of cabaret and the musical theatre.  The Rrazz Room.  (415) 394-1189.

- Mar. 26 – 28. (Fri. – Sun.)  Natalie Cole.  Ever versatile, as comfortable with a  soulful pop song as she is with a dynamic evening of jazz, Cole makes a rare club appearance.  Yoshi’s Oakland.  (510) 238-9200.

New York

Mar. 23 – 27. (Tues. – Sat.)  John Scofield New Quartet. Guitarist Scofield sets aside his eclectic musical interests for some straight ahead jazz.  With Mulgrew Miller, piano, Ben Street, bass and Kendrick Scott, drums. Birdland.   (212) 581-3080.

- Mar. 23 – 28. (Tues. – Sun.)  Regina Carter. The busy, versatile violinist previews her new CD, Reverse Thread. Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.   (212) 258-9595.

- Mar. 25. (Thurs.) Allison Miller.   Multi-skilled drummer, composer and singer Miller leads a stellar ensemble — pianist Myra Melford, violinist Jenny Scheinman and bassist Todd Sickafoose — in a release party for her new CD, Boom Tic Boom.   Cornelia Street Cafe.  (212) 989-9319.

Freda Payne

- Mar. 25 & 26. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Kurt Rosenwinkel Standards Trio.  Guitarist Rosenwinkel does what the title of his group says – explore the soaring melodies and rich harmonies of the Great American Songbook.  Jazz Standard.   (212) 576-2232.

- Mar. 25 – 28.  (Thurs. – Sun.)  Freda Payne sings Ella Fitzgerald.  She’s had a #! Hit – “Band of Gold” – and starred in Broadway shows such as “Jelly’s Last Jam” and ‘Sophisticated Ladies.”  But Payne has a feel for jazz, too, and – especially – an empathic way of understanding Ella’s way with a song.  Iridium. (212) 582-2121.


Picks of the Week: Jan. 19 – 24

January 19, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Victor Wooten

- Jan. 19 – 20. (Tues. – Wed.)  Victor Wooten Band.  Award winning bassist Wooten’s performances with the Bela Fleck Band have always been impressive feats of musical magic.  Here he conjures up his own creative surprises.   Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

- Jan. 19. (Tues.)  John Pisano Guitar Night.  Now firmly established at Vitello’s Guitar Night begins its duo performances.  This time, Pisano gets together with former Oscar Peterson standout, Swedish guitarist Ulf WakeniusVitellos. (818) 769-0905.

- Jan. 21. (Thurs.)  Simplexity.  The innovative electronic jazz group celebrates the release of their CD “Extreme Measures.” With  John von Seggern, Gary Novak, Steve Tavaglione and John Beasley ResBox at the Steve Allen Theatre.

- Jan. 21. (Thurs.)  John Altman Quartet.  English alto saxophonist and multi-hyphenate composer/arranger/songwriter Altman makes one of his too-infrequent Southland appearances. Charlie O’s (818) 989-3110.

Kenny Burrell photo by Bob Barry

- Jan. 21. (Thurs.)  Gerry Gibbs Quintet.  Inventive drummer Gibbs leads a stellar ensemble — accordionist Frank Marocco, multi-instrumentalis Rob Hardt, pianist Llew Matthews and bassist Lyman Medieros.     Crowne Plaza LAX Hotel.  (310) 642-7500.

- Jan. 21 – 23.  (Thurs. – Sat.)  Kenny Burrell Quartet.  One of the icons of jazz guitar, Burrell spends most of his time in educationsl settings these days.  So don’t miss this relatively rare chance to hear him in action.   Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

- Jan. 22. (Fri.)  Julie Esposito.   She has an enviable blend of skill, training and natural ability.  But what really makes Esposito special is her interpretive ability to find the heart of a song.   Café 322 (626) 836-5787.

Anna Mjoll

- Jan. 22. (Fri.)  Tom Peterson with the Pat Senatore Trio.  Saxophonist Peterson has played with just about everyone at one time or another.  Here he is up front, doing it his own way with Senatore’s solid backing.    Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Jan. 22. (Fri.)  Anna Mjoll.  The Icelandic singer moves easily across traditional pop and jazz genres with upbeat swing and an engaging on stage manner.  She performs with the John Heard TrioCharlie O’s. .  (818) 989-3110.

- Jan. 22. (Fri.)  Lincoln Mayorga.  “Chopin and the Piano.”  A discussion of the composer’s life and a performance of all of the 24 Preludes, the Grande Polonaise in A flat, the Scherzo in C sharp minor and selected mazurkas, etudes, and waltzes.  At the new Steinway Piano Gallery.  314 N. Robertson Blvd. (near Beverly Blvd.)  Information: Jeannine@FrankEntertainment.com (310) 476-6735

- Jan. 23. (Sat.)  Madeline Eastman.  San Francisco-based Eastman has skills too rarely heard in most alleged jazz singers — the ability to paraphrase, the implicit understanding of how a song is constructed, and a deep understanding of the relationship between words and music.  She sings with the Randy Porter Trio.  The Red Carpet Jazz Series.  Upstairs at Vitellos.  (818) 769-0905.

Carol Bach-y-Rita

- Jan. 23. (Sat.)  Carol Bach-y-Rita.   Jazz, Brazilian music and Salsa are, says Bach-y-Rita says, her “great loves.”  And she sings them with the affection that only a true lover can express.   Spazio. (818) 728-8400.

- Jan. 23. (Sat.)  Doug MacLeod and Lawrence Lebo. Here’s a typically entertaining, typically eclectic McCabe’s program: the traditional blues and soulful guitar and vocals of MacLeod, and the jaunty swing and blues stylings of the inimitable Lebo.  McCabe’s. (310) 828-4497. 

- Jan. 24. (Sun.)  Ron McCurdy and the Vocal Collective.  Trumpeter (and educator) McCurdy interacts with the superb harmonies and briskly swinging vocals of the Vocal Collective.   Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.    (310) 474-9400.

San Francisco

Ann Hampton Callaway

- Jan. 18. (Mon.)  Kat Parra and The Sephardic Experience.  Parra’s beguiling voice expressively blends traditional elements with contemporary sounds and rhythms.  Yoshi’s San Francisco. (415) 655-5600.

- Jan. 19. (Tues.)  Ann Hampton Callaway.  The busily traveling Callaway makes a too brief, one-night stop.  Too brief because her singing and her piano playing are always as entertaining as they are illuminating. Yoshi’s San Francisco. (415) 655-5600.

- Jan. 19 – 31. (Tues. – Mon.) Andrea Marcovicci.  Always an insightful interpretive artist, the “Queen of Cabaret” applies her dramatic musicality to “Skylark: A Centennial Tribute to Johnny Mercer.”    The Rrazz Room (415) 781-0306.

Kenny Garrett

- Jan. 21 – 24. (Thurs. – Sun.)  “Django Reinhardt at 100.” There will be numerous celebrations this year of the Reinhardt centennial.  Here’s one that brings together a pair of stylistically diverse guitarists:  Dorado Schmitt with special guest Dave Grisman Yoshi’s Oakland.  (510) 238-9200.

- Jan. 22 – 24.  (Fri. – Sun.)  Kenny Garrett Quartet.  Alto saxophonist Garrett continues to stretch the envelope of contemporary jazz improvising.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

New York

- Jan. 19. (Tues.)  Groove CollectiveD J Logic, Bernie Worrell, Dr. Lonnie Smith, among others, perform in a Benefit for Haiti.  100% of ticket proceeds go to Haiti Action and Hands Together.  At Le Poisson Rouge.   (212) 228-4854.

- Jan. 19 – 23 (Tues. – Sat.)  M’Boom Percussion Ensemble meets the World Sax Quartet in a spectacular musical encounter.  Featuring percussionists Joe Chambers, Warren Smith, Ray Mantilla, Eli Fountain and Steve Berrios and saxophonists David Murray, Hamiet Bluiett, Oliver Lake & James Carter. Birdland. (212) 581-3080.

Lee Konitz

- Jan. 19 – 24. (Tues. – Sun.) Lee Konitz Trio. The great alto saxophonist, one of jazz history’s true originals, is still — at 82 — in rare form.   W. Dan Tepfer, piano, Matt Wilson, drums. Village Vanguard. (212) 255-4037.

- Jan. 19 – 24. (Tues. – Sun.) Frank Wess 88th Birthday Celebration. A week long birthday musical gala for the veteran saxophonist, featuring his Nonet with special guests Mulgrew Miller, Renee Rosnes, Bill Charlap, Billy Taylor, Mike Ledonne and Hank Jones. Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.  (212)  258-9595.

- Jan. 19 – 31. (Tues. – Mon.)  Winter Latin Jazz Festival. This year’s Festival touches a far-ranging set of jazz styles with the starry line-up of Dave Valentin, Candido, Arturo Sandoval, Gato Barbieri, Poncho SanchezBlue Note.  NYC.  (212) 475-8592.

- Jan. 21 – 24. (Thurs. – Sun.)  FLY.    Mark Turner, tenor saxophone, Larry Grenadier, bass and Jeff Ballard, drums.  The combination of saxophone, bass and drums is both a challenging and an invigorating instrumentation.  These guys handle it with spirit and imagination.   The Jazz Standard.  (212) 576-2232.


Picks of the Week: Dec. 29 – Jan. 3

December 29, 2009

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Jane Monheit

Dec. 29 – Jan. 3. Jane Monheit. There’s no more entertaining jazz way to bring in 2010 than with the gorgeous sound and imaginative phrasing of the always compelling Ms. Monheit. Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

Dec. 29. (Tues.) Ron Jones Influence. Jones leads his big, 22 piece orchestra in an evening of large ensemble jazz. Spazio. (818) 728-8400.

- Dec. 29. (Tues.) Wayne Bergeron’s Big Band. Trumpeter Bergeron has ample credibility as a big band performer to front his own large jazz collective, and he does it well. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

Judy Wexler

- Dec. 30 (Wed.) Billy Mitchell Group starts the holiday early with his pre-New Year’s Eve Celebration, backed by Rob Kyle, Tomas Gargano, and Frank Wilson. Crown Plaza Brasserie Jazz Lounge. (310) 642-7500.

- Jan. 2. (Sat.) Judy Wexler Quartet. Filling in as an unexpected replacement, Ms. Wexler gives her many fans an early opportunity to hear her briskly swinging vocals in action in the new year. Café Metropol. (213) 613-1537.

Highlight: New Year’s Eve in L.A……………………………………

Dr. Bobby Rodriguez

- Dr. Bobby Rodriguez New Year’s Eve Dance Party. Trumpeter Dr. Bobby knows how to celebrate a holiday, keeping the dance rhythms moving while retaining a firm hold on his admirable jazz chops. The Culver Club in the Radisson Hotel Los Angeles Westside. (310) 649-1776.

- Don Menza, John Heard, Roy McCurdy and Tom Ranier. One couldn’t ask for a better, more seasoned band to spend a holiday evening with — or, for that matter, a better place to spend it than at Charlie O’s. (818) 989-3110.

Veteran guitarist Don Peake brings in the New Year with one of his typically entertaining bands, featuring Ellis Hall, vocals, Earl Gordon, drums, Michael Torres, bass, Aaron Mclain, guitar/vocals and Harlan Spector, keyboards. Spazio. (818) 728-8400.

- Janis Mann and Llew Matthews Trio (Paul Kreibich, drums, John Belzaguy, bass). The rich, dark sound, soaring vocals of the under-appreciated Ms. Mann, backed by a sterling trio. Sheraton Gateway Hotel LAX. (310) 642-1111.

- Jerry Vivino’s Quartet from the Tonight Show with Conan Obrien. It’s described as a Masquerade and Dance Party, filled with “glitz, glamour, dancing and music. ” And with saxophonist Vivino leading bassist Mike Merritt, drummer James Wormworth and pianist Scott Healy, the description should be right on target. Upstairs at Vitellos. (818) 769-0905.

- Kleber Jorge. The guitarist/singer from Rio celebrates New Year’s Brazilian style. Crustacean, Beverly Hills. (310) 205-8990.

Louie Cruz Beltran

- Louie Cruz Beltran Latin Jazz Ensemble. Percussionist/singer Beltran is entertaining on any night one hears him. Celebrating New Year’s he’ll no doubt be even better. South Coast Winery Resort and Spa, Temecula. (866) 994-6379.

- Rick Vittallo. The veteran singer/guitarist has been a busy Southland performer since the ’70s, working in far ranging musical settings. Here he works in an intimate small group setting with bassist Pat Senatore and pianist Matt Harris. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

Roaring Twenties New Year’s Eve. Marie MacGillis performs classic jazz and swing tunes with Michto Pelo, Tommy Davy and John Reynolds. Chaya Brasserie, Beverly Hills. (310) 859-8833.

- Don Randi & Quest. Keyboardist avoids the holiday traffic by leading his fusion group Quest at his own cozy jazz room, the Baked Potato. (818) 980-1615.


San Francisco

- Dec. 29 – Jan. 2. (Tues. – Sat.) Ledisi. Soul stylist Ledisi has been entertaining audiences with her engaging voice since she was eight. Her latest album, “Turn Me Loose,” adds a touch of funk to her driving vocals. Yoshi’s San Francisco. (415) 655-5600.

McCoy Tyner

- Dec. 29 – Jan. 3. (Tues. – Sun.) McCoy Tyner New Year’s Celebration. And an all-star celebration it is — a rare combination of players not to be missed. With Ravi Coltrane, Esperanza Spalding and Francisco Mela. Yoshi’s Oakland. (510) 238-9200

- Dec. 30 – Jan. 3. (Wed. – Sun.) Melba Moore. Moore’s checkered career and sometimes troubled life haven’t diminished the quality of her work as a singer with a unique way with a song. Here’s a rare chance to hear her up close and personal. The Rrazz Room. (415) 394-1189.

New York

(Dec. 29 – Jan. 3) Chris Botti‘s trumpet playing continues in rare form, as he finishes up his epic three week run at the Blue Note. (212) 475-8592

(Dec. 29 – Jan. 3) Struttin’ With Some Barbecue. Straight ahead, hard driving, New Orleans-tinged jazz at its best. With Henry Butler, piano, Donald Harrison, alto sax, Sean Jones, trumpet, Wycliffe Gordon, trombone, Ben Wolfe, bass, Ali Jackson, drums. The Jazz Standard. (212) 447-7733.

HIlary Kole

(Dec. 30 – Jan. 3). The Bad Plus. Still at the cutting edge of contemporary jazz, the trio of pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King continue to be influential pathfinders for imaginative young jazz players. The Village Vanguard. (212) 255-4037.

Dec. 31. Hilary Kole with the Chico O’Farrill Jazz Orchestra. Any night with Kole’s singing is a night to remember. New Year’s Eve with Kole and the O’Farrill Orchestra should be something to preserve in a memory book. Birdland. (212) 581-3080.

Dec. 31. (Thurs.)  New Year’s Eve with Liz Callaway.  The mellifluous voice and dramatic interpretive style of Broadway’s Callaway will be heard in two shows: Passage of Time at 8:30, featuring tunes from her recent CD; The Best of Liz at 10:30, with “Meadowlark,” “Memory,” “The Show Goes On” and champagne at midnight.  The Metropolitan Room.  (212) 206-0440.


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