Live Music: Gershwins With A Groove: SING! SING! SING! at Keyboard Concepts

September 26, 2012

By Norton Wright

Judy Wolman

It was another extraordinary afternoon on Sunday with SING! SING! SING!, the unique 9-person group of rehearsed singers led by Artistic Director Judy Wolman.  Sprightly swinging on piano with Chris Conner on bass, Jack LeCompte on drums, Wolman and raconteur Howard Lewis melded the history of composer George Gershwin and lyricist Ira Gershwin with performances of twenty of their most remarkable songs.And invited the audience to sing along.

Why is a performance so special with the SING! SING! SING! group  (6 women and 3 men, including the multi-talented host, Howard Lewis)?  It’s because the singers have such a good time with the tunes that their enjoyment is happily infectious, and soon the whole audience is singing and sharing in the groovy toe-tapping.

Howard Lewis

And memory, too, plays a big role in the experience as SING! SING! SING!’s sparkling renditions of the Gershwins’ songs also led us to fondly recall Sarah Vaughan’s jazz take on “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” Chet Baker singing “But Not For Me,” Diane Schuur’s “The Man I Love,” Shirley Horn’s “Isn’t It a Pity,” and Louis and Ella on “Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off.” The myriad ways that the Gershwin Songbook can be rendered demonstrates why we regard that songbook as so great.

For those who have not experienced SING! SING! SING!, it should be noted that the group’s performance is much more than a “follow-the-bouncing ball” sing-along. There is something intensely touching in the sound of an audience, essentially of strangers, moved to sing together, to join the SING! SING! SING! performers in what emerges as a kind of surprise bonding, a rare coming-together, a veritable musical communion of performers and audience.

Facilitating that performer-audience interaction in Keyboard Concepts’ mini-theater on Sunday, lyric sheets were given to all audience members, and the sheets designed by Artistic Director Wolman not only clarified the oft confused definitions of “verse,” “refrain,” “chorus,” “bridge” and “release,” but also graphically indicated to the audience how a jazz vibe on the Gershwin tunes can be achieved by rhythmic pauses in the lyrics.

For Example:  “Someone To Watch Over Me” (1926) Words by Ira Gershwin.

Verse:

There’s a saying old, Says that love is blind, ____ Still we’re often told,
“Seek and ye shall find.” ____ So I’m going to seek a certain lad I’ve had____ in mind. ____
Looking ev’rywhere, Haven’t found him yet; He’s the big affair I cannot forget.____
Only man I ever think of with regret. _____
I’d __ like _ to add his initial to my monogram. ___
Tell __me, __ Where is the shepherd for this __ lost ___ lamb? ____

Refrain:
There’s a somebody I’m longing to see. __ I hope that he __ turns out to be __
Someone who’ll watch ___ over _ me. ______
(etc., etc.)

The audience participation on Sunday was robust and reminded one of those show biz evenings of old on NYC’s West End Avenue where Broadway folk would casually gather round an apartment’s piano and sing the night away. And there were some cool surprises from the SING! SING! SING! group as Ruth Davis stepped forward on stage to solo in a wise and dramatic rendition of “He Loves And She Loves.”  Later, Judy Wolman and Howard Lewis drew Chuck Marso from the audience to sing the Gershwin brothers’ rarely heard but oh so optimistic “Beginner’s Luck,.

Susan Watson

For a  guest finale, invited up from the audience was Susan Watson — fresh from her year-long run in “Follies” at Washington’s Kennedy Center, on Broadway, and at the Ahmanson Theater here in Los Angeles — to sing a touching rendition of “Someone To Watch Over Me.”

Though the individual singers of SING! SING! SING! may not have jazz star names like “Deedles,, “Sassy,” “Dizzy,” or “Zoot,” they delivered a musical powerhouse performance and merit star recognition  as follows — Tina Appel, David Beraru, Gloria Birnkrant, Ruth Davis, Pamela Jackson, Jackie Manfredi, Anita Royal, Judith Farber Weissman, Jerry Weissman.  

Bottom line — for a unique and emotionally-moving musical experience, keep your internet eyes out for the monthly programs and venues of SING! SING! SING! You’ll have a wonderful time!


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! 

Seattle

- 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.

Boston

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.

Berlin

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,


Here, There & Everywhere: Sing! Sing! Sing!

December 23, 2011

By Don Heckman

Christmas caroling was a regular seasonal activity in my young life.  Growing up in an Eastern Pennsylvania rust belt city, singing carols while slip-sliding our way across icy sidewalks was as necessary to the holiday as going to Mass on Christmas eve.  In a way, it was an equally necessary counter to the darker side of what we’d done on Halloween, when enacting tricks was a lot more common than  asking for treats.

All of which went through my mind last night when Faith and I took our lovely ten year old granddaughter, Maia, to the Victorian Mansion for “Candlelight Carols” by Judy Wolman, Howard Lewis and “Sing! Sing! Sing!”  And one couldn’t have asked for a more delightfully atmospheric setting to join in a holiday music singalong than the elegant wood-paneled room that jazz fans will recall as the former site of the much-missed jazz club, “The Vic.”

At the beginning, Wolman reminded me that she, Lewis and their group of singers had been doing these holiday celebrations for 20 years.  Not only that, of course, but also their continuing programs of participatory jaunts through the rich musical landscape of the Great American Songbook.  (Programs devoted to Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer, Hoagy Carmichael and others are already scheduled for 2012.)

The “Candlelight Carols” program characteristically reached out to embrace the Songbook – with selections from Irving Berlin, Frank Loesser, Rodgers & Hammerstein, etc. — as well as a collection of traditional carols.  And the format was as comfortable and inviting as a holiday evening in a close friend’s living room.

Lewis introduced each number with some fascinating background, often including nuggets of insight into the song, as well as its creators.  Then Wolman — a superb piano accompanist, backed by Chris Conner’s bass, Dick Weller’s drums and some warm melody-making from harmonica player Ron Kalina – led the way into the song.

Maia

The audience, using lyric sheets provided by Wolman, sang along enthusiastically, sometimes even more than that.  And our granddaughter, Maia, not especially familiar with all the standards, nonetheless applied her already burgeoning musicality to every song, singing, smiling, enjoying every minute of this engaging new experience.

And what a collection of songs it was: “It’s Beginning To Look Like Christmas,” “Silver Bells,” “My Favorite Things,” “White Christmas,” “Sleigh Ride,” “Winter Wonderland,” “The Christmas Song,” “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?”  As well as “Silent Night,” “We Three Kings,” “The First Noel” and much, much more.

Between the singalong segments, individual singers from the Sing! Sing! Sing! vocal ensemble – Chuck Marso, Anita Royal, Jackie Manfredi and Ruth Davis – soloed.  And songwriter Jim Mann presented a brand new Christmas song, “Cheers! Cheers! Cheers!”

The sidewalks weren’t icy, and there was no snow in the forecast as we left the Victorian.  But the wind was blowing, and, as we walked hand in hand to our car, the words to one of the evening’s songs – with their perfect holiday sentiments — kept coming to mind.

           “The wind is blowing

           But I can weather the storm

            What do I care how much it may storm?

            I’ve got my love to keep me warm.”


Picks of the Week: Dec. 15 – 20.

December 15, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Dec. 15. (Wed.) Chuck Manning and Sal Marquez Quartet. A pair of L.A.’s most solidly dependable swingers go horn to horn in an evening guaranteed to keep your jazz soul alive. Vibrato. (310) 474-9400.

- Dec. 15. (Wed.) Jules Day. Rising young jazz star Day celebrates the release of her new CD, Day Dreams. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

Katja Rieckermann

- Dec. 16. (Thurs,.) Katja Rieckermann. German-born alto saxophonist has been one of the favorite back-up players for the likes of Randy Newman, Carole King, Al Green and, most recently, Rod Stewart. She clearly knows where the groove is. Vibrato. (310) 474-9400.

- Dec. 16. (Thurs.) John Proulx Holiday Music. Singer/pianist Proulx applies his amiable musical blend to a program of mid-winter classics. Charlie O’s. (818) 994-3058.

- Dec. 16. (Thurs.) The Vivino Bros. The blues-driven Vivino brothers — saxophonist Jerry and guitarist Jimmy — from the Conan O’Brien show make their first L.A. appearance. The Baked Potato.  (818) 980-1615.

- Dec. 16 – 18. (Thurs. – Sat.) Andy Williams. He’s back. And that’s good news, since the holiday season is never quite complete without the still sweet sound of the venerable balladeer singing Christmas classics. Orange County Performing Arts Center.  (714) 556-2787.

- Dec. 16 – 19. (Thurs. – Sun.) Los Angeles Philharmonic with pianist Robert Levin. Nicholas McGegan conducts the L.A. Phil. In a program reaching from Haydn’s Symphony No. 93 to Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 22, with pianist Levin. Walt Disney Concert Hall. (323) 850-2000.  .

- Dec. 17. (Fri.) Inner Voices. The Southland’s primo vocal ensemble combines a celebration of the holidays with selections from their brand new CD, Valentine.. Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

Debby Boone and John Davidson

- Dec. 17. (Fri.) Debby Boone and John Davidson. “Christmas Memories” A pair of show business veterans get together to bring musical joy to the holiday season. And no doubt Boone’s memorable version of “You Light Up My Life” will be on the program. Smothers Theatre, Pepperdine University.  (310) 506-4522.

- Dec. 17 & 18. (Fri. & Sat.) Ben Vereen. When he’s on stage as a solo act, there’s more talent up there than there would be with a crowd of most performers. Vereen can do it all, and he doesn’t do many night club dates. So don’t miss this one. Catalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210.

Bob Sheppard

- Dec. 17 & 18. (Fri. & Sat.) Bob Sheppard. The gifted saxophonist/flutist has a busy weekend. On Fri. he performs with the Pat Senatore Trio at Vibrato. On Sat. he’ll play selections from his new CD, Close Your Eyes with Alan Pasqua, piano, Larry Koonse, guitar, Gabe Noel, bass and Steve Hass, drums. Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- Dec. 19. (Sun.) Los Angeles Master Chorale. Join the LAMC in the ultimate pleasure for frustrated vocalists, the Messiah Singalong. Walt Disney Concert Hall. (323) 850-2000.

- Dec. 19. (Sun.) Dave Koz and Friends Smooth Jazz Christmas Tour. Saxophonist Koz and is pals have a lock on the franchise for smooth jazz Christmas sounds. This year’s lineup includes Jonathan Butler, Brian Culbertson, Candy Dulfer and others. Nokia Theatre L.A. Live.  (213) 763-6320.

- Dec. 20. (Mon.) “Candlelight Carols” Judy Wolman’s Sing! Sing! Sing!. If the Messiah’s a bit of a reach for your vocal skills, never fear. Judy’s singalongs are welcome experiences for everyone, and never more so than when you’re singing Christmas Carols in a candle lit room. Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

San Francisco

Maria Muldaur

Dec. 15. (Wed.) Maria Muldaur’s Christmas Show. She started out as a folkie in the Greenwich Village ’60s, but Muldaur’s always been a lot more eclectic than that. She’ll add selections from her latest album, Yes We Can, to her Christmas program. Yoshi’s Oakland. (510) 238-9200.

Dec. 17 – 19. (Fri. – Sun.) Hiroshima. Together for three decades, Hiroshima is still one of the unique sounds in comtemporary music, blending jazz, pop and rock with traditional Japanese sounds. Yoshi’s San Francisco. (415) 655-5600.

New York

- Dec. 14 – 18. (Tues. – Sat.) John Pizzarelli Quartet. Pizzarelli’s pretty much established himself as an appealing, contemporary guitar and voice version of the Nat “King” Cole pop jazz style.  Birdland. (212) 591-3080.

- Dec. 14 – 19. (Tues. – Sun.) Samba Jazz & the Bossa Nova Years. One could hardly ask for a more authentic approach to samba, jazz and bossa than this impressive line-up will provide. Featuring Duduka Da Fonseca, Helio Alves, Maucha Adnet, Romero Lubambo, Claudio Roditi and George Mraz. Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.  (212) 258-9800.

Chris Botti

- Dec. 14 – 19. (Tues. – Sun.) Chris Botti begins his annual three week holiday run at the Blue Note. Two shows a night for 21 consecutive nights. And every one of them will be a night to remember.  The Blue Note.  (212) 475-8592.

- Dec. 16. (Thurs.) Rebecca Martin. Singer/songwriter Martin, who matches her engaging musical skills with equally determined social activism, performs tenor saxophonist Bill McHenry and her husband, bassist Larry Grenadier. Jazz Standard. (212) 576-2232.

Dec. 17 & 18. (Fri. & Sat.) Rez Abbasi’s Invocation. Guitarist Abbasi has assembled a band with high powered creative potential. With Rudresh Mahanthappa, alto saxophone, Johannes Weidenmueller, bass, Dan Weiss, drums. Cornelia St. Café. (818) 989-9319.


Picks of the Week: Nov. 22 – 28

November 22, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Nov. 22. (Mon.)  Judy Wolman’s Thanksgiving Sing-a-longGreat American Songbook. Here’s a chance to be thankful for Cole Porter, the Gershwins, Rodgers & Hart, etc.  While having a lot more fun singing than you ever could in the shower.  Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- Nov. 23. (Tues.)  Jimmy Branley Quartet.  Drummer Branley combines versatility, musicality and a rare degree of subtlety in his playing.  He usually displays those skills for other leaders.  This time, he’s the front man.  With Walter Smith, saxophone, Dennis Hamm, piano and Jorge Sawa, bass.  Charlie O’s.   (818) 994-3058.

John Pisano

- Nov. 23. (Tues.)  John Pisano Guitar Night.  Every guitar night is a night worth experiencing.  And this one’s no exception, with Pisano exchanging musical ideas with the busy, veteran guitarist Jim Fox. Bassist Bob Bain keeps the rhythm cooking. Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Nov. 24. (Wed.)  Ron Kalina.  Jazz on the harmonica isn’t something one hears frequently.  So don’t miss Kalina – an authentic jazz harmonica player – in this too-rare club appearance.  Backing him, the solid duo of bassist Pat Senatore and guitarist Barry Zweig.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.  http://www.vibratogrilljazz.com

- Nov. 24. (Wed.) 17th Annual Turkey Bash.  Featuring Evan Stone and the Translucent Ham Sandwich Band. Don’t let their whimsical title fool you.  The Ham Sandwich Band has some interesting things to say musically.   Steamers (714) 871-8800.

- Nov. 26 & 27. (Fri. & Sat.)  Jack Sheldon Orchestra celebrating Jack’s Birthday.  Sheldon, the Southland’s own trumpet-playing, vocalizing, sardonic raconteur, turns 79 on the 30th.  Help him celebrate.  Catalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210.

- Nov. 27. (Sat.)  Janis Mann.  Mann’s deep, dark-toned voice and far-ranging musical ideas bring new life to everything she sings.  She’s backed by John Heard, bass, Roy McCurdy, drums, tba piano.  An additional benefit: the performance celebrates McCurdy’s birthday.  Charlie O’s.  (818) 994-3058.

Anna Mjoll

- Nov. 28. (Sun.)  Anna Mjoll.  Iceland’s gift to smooth and sultry jazz singing displays her skill with the subtleties of the Great American Songbook.  Backing her: Ed Zach, piano, Pat Senatore, bass, Bob Leatherbarrow, drums.   Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

San Francisco

- Nov. 26 – 28. (Fri. – Sun.)  Tuck & Patti.  The inimitable guitar and voice duo continue their 11 year tradition at Yoshi’s San Francisco. (415) 655-5600.

- Nov. 26 – 28. (Fri. – Sun.)  Ahmad Jamal.  Miles Davis credited Jamal with his use of rhythmic time, and the veteran pianist is still demonstrating the essentials of how to swing.  Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

New York

- Nov. 23 – 25. (Tues. – Thurs.)  Monty Alexander Quintet.  Pianist Alexander continues to invest his impressive jazz chops with a healthy seasoning of sounds and rhythms from his native Jamaica.  With singer James De FrancisBirdland.   (212) 581-3080.

- Nov. 23 – 28. (Tues. – Sun.)  Ken Peplowski/Bucky Pizzarelli Quintet.  Clarinetist Peplowski and guitarist Pizzarelli, masters of their instruments and their musical art, team up for a seminar in world class jazz.  Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.   (212) 258-9595.

Kendra Shank

Nov. 26 (Fri.)  Kendra Shank.  Vocalist Shank, always a fascinating performer, always opening new musical possibilities, is never better than she is when she’s in a cozy room with empathic musical backing.  Her partners are Ben Monder, guitar, Cameron Brown, bass, Tony Moreno, drums.  55 Bar. (212) 929-9883.

- Nov. 26 – 28. (Fri. – Sun.)  Bill Charlap Trio.  Continuing his exploration of the still unrevealed possibilities of the jazz piano trio, Charlap embarks into new territories with the support of Peter Washington, bass and Kenny Washington, drums.  The Blue Note. (212) 475-8592.


Picks of the Week: Oct. 12 – 17

October 12, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Oct. 13. (Wed.)  Wayne Bergeron Big Band. Trumpeter Bergeron, whose skills reach from superb section work to solid soloing, steps into the spotlight as a leader.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- Oct. 13. (Wed.)  Ed Vodicka Big Band with Marlene VerPlanck. New York singer VerPlanck brings an imaginative slant to the Great American Songbook, backed by Vodicka’s stirring ensemble. Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

Ludovico Einaudi

- Oct. 13 – 17. (Wed. – Sun.) (H)IT Week. The pop music of Italy – from rock to dance to electronica — fills the Los Angeles air in four dynamic evenings.  Oct. 14: singer Ludovico Einaudi and Oct. 15: Singer Elisa and La Blanche Alchimie at The Ford Amphitheatre. Oct. 16: Rock band Negrita and Oct. 17: Pianist Giovanni Allevi at The El Rey.  (323) 936-6400.

- Oct. 14. (Thurs.)  Ann Walsh Quartet.  Walsh’s expressive vocals display a unique empathy for the music of Brazil.  Crowne Plaza Brasserie Jazz Lounge.   (310) 642-7500.

- Oct. 14 – 16. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Stanley Clarke.  Bassist Clarke, always looking in different musical directions, performs with a quartet that includes keyboardist Deron Johnson, pianist Ruslan Sirota and drummer Ronald BrunnerCatalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

- Oct. 14 & 16. (Thurs. & Sat.)  Chucho Valdes and the Afro-Cuban Messengers.  The great Cuban pianist returns to the U.S. for the first time in seven years, fronting an ensemble that digs into the irrepressible links between jazz and Afro-Cuban music. Thurs.: Irvine Barclay Theatre.  (949) 854-4646    Sat.: Luckman  Fine Arts Complex.   (323) 343-6600.

Gustavo Dudamel

- Oct. 14 – 17. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Los Angeles PhilharmonicGustavo Dudamel conducts a rare performance of Olivier Messiaen’s Turangalila Symphonie, a ten-movement, 80 minute work, written when Messiaen – who described the composition as a “love song” — was focusing on the Tristan and Isolde story.  In addition to full orchestra and piano, the score also includes the ondes Martenot, one of the earliest electronic instruments.  Disney Hall.   (323) 850-2000.

- Oct. 14 & 17. (Thurs. & Sun.) Oran Etkin.  Clarinetist Etkin celebrates the release of his CD Wake Up, Clarinet! in a pair of Southland performances. On Thursday he’s at The Skirball Center he appears with his group, Kelenia.  (310) 440-4500.  On Sunday he presents a children’s/family show at McCabe’s. (310) 828-4497.

Charmaine Clamor

- Oct. 15 – 17. (Fri. – Sun.) The Asian American Music Festival. The music of the Pacific rim provides a bountiful collection of sounds and rhythms for this creatively eclectic, far-ranging festival.  Friday’s program features hip-hopster Kero One, Dana Leong’s Milk & Jade’s electronica sounds, and Japanese rapper Shing02.  The inimitable Leroy Downs is the host.  Saturday afternoon’s bill includes two extraordinary pianists, Jon Jang and Gary Fukushima.  The Pan Asian Arkestra and the Taiko Project will also present the world premiere of Jang’s Concerto For Jazz Orchestra and Taiko.  Saturday night showcases the amazing ukulele playing of Jake Shimabukuro and the quartet of Abe Lagrimas, Jr. and Noel Okimoto.  Sunday afternoon features the Japanese-American pop-jazz singer Ernie Meyer and the hip-hop electronica of the Shanghai Restoration Project.  And the festival soars to a close on Sunday night when a pair of extraordinary jazz vocalists take center stage: Charmaine Clamor and Sachel Vasandani, with the amiable Bubba Jackson hosting.  The Asian American Music Festival.  The Japanese American National Museum.  (213) 545-1330.

- Oct. 15. (Fri.)  Peter Erskine Quartet.  Erskine follows up last year’s Grammy-nominated Standards album with selections from his new CD, Standards 2: Movie Music. LACMA (323) 857-6000.

Chris Bennett

- Oct. 15. (Fri.)  Chris Bennett Band.  Bennett, who brings style and substance to everything she sings, will feature selections from her recently released album Sail Away: The Tahiti Sessions. The Culver Club at the Radisson.  (310) 649-1776 ext. 4137.

- Oct. 16. (Sat.)  Madeline Eastman with the Randy Porter Trio.  Bay area jazz singer Eastman is always a pleasure to hear.  She doesn’t come south often, so don’t miss this one.  Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- Oct. 16. (Sat.) Paul Weitz.  Guitarist Weitz and his quartet perform  with the gifted singer/songwriter Jelsa PalaoBack Room at Henri’s. (818) 348-5582.

- Oct. 16. (Sat.)  Gary Foster and Putter Smith.  It’s an unusual combination – alto saxophone and bass – but Foster and Smith have the skills and the imagination to make it into a fascinating musical encounter.  Jazz Bakery Movable Feast.  At the Boston Court in Pasadena. (310) 271-9039.

- Oct. 17. (Sun.)  Judy Wolman’s Sing! Sing! Sing! Wolman’s singalong afternoons offer spirited opportunities to share the memories and the pleasures of the Great American Songbook.  This time it’s the arching melodies and sophisticated word play of Rodgers and Hart.  12 – 3 p.m.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

San Francisco

Chick Corea

- Oct. 12 – 14. (Tues. – Thurs.) Chick Corea Trio (w. Christian McBride and Brian Blade). It’s as all-star as it gets, and a chance to hear Corea in a basic, piano trio setting. Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

- Oct. 13. (Wed.) Tom Harrell Quintet.  Trumpeter Harrell’s warm sound, rich melodic imagination and rhythmic drive lead the way for his stellar quintet. Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

- Oct. 15 – 17. (Fri. – Sun.)  Michael Franks. Singer/songwriter Franks has been coming up with memorable songs for more than three decades.  Expect to hear “Popsicle Toes,” “The Lady Wants To Know” and, hopefully, a few of his Brazilian inspired works. Yoshi’s Oakland. (510) 238-9200.

New York

- Oct. 12. (Tues.)  Italian Jazz Days. The title says it all.  A quintet of Italy’s finest jazz descendants in action: Saxophonist Joe Lovano, trumpeter Dominick Farinacci, pianist Antonio Ciacca, bassist Joseph Lepore, drummer Luca SantanielloDizzy’s Club Coca Cola.   (212) 258-9595.

- Oct. 12 – 17. (Tues. – Sun.) John Abercrombie Quartet. Guitarist Abercrombie has a long history of stretching the musical envelope, and he continues to do so with his current players – violinist Mark Feldman, bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joey Baron. Birdland.   (212) 581-3080.

- Oct. 14 – 17. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Apex: Rudresh Mahanthappa & Bunky Green. A pair of alto saxophonists with very different musical roots work – with remarkable success – at finding common ground. The Jazz Standard.   (212) 447-7733.

Chick Corea photo by Tony Gieske


Picks of the Week: April 19 – 25

April 19, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Pat Metheny

- April 19. (Mon.)  Pat Metheny.  The ever-adventurous, all-star guitarist has put together a computerized, remote control ensemble that allows him to play all the instruments in his band. The Orchestrion TourDisney Hall.   (323) 850-2000.

- April 19. (Mon.) Larry GoldingsOrgan Night.  The B-3 rules on Monday nights at Vitellos, and Goldings is the guy who takes it to the limit..  Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- April 19. (Mon.)  The Ed Vodicka Big Band. Multi musical hyphenate Vodicka takes a night off from composing, arranging, conducting and producing to lead his own big jazz band.  Vocal chores will be handled by the versatile cabaret jazz singer, Marlene VerPlanck Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

- April 20. (Tues.)  Strunz and Farah. The guitar duo were among the first artists to fit into the emerging world music genre, via the musical encounters between Costa Rican Strunz and Iranian Farah.  Vibrato.   (310) 474-9400.

- April 20.  (Tues.)  RATT. The Southland’s own hard rock, glam metal band is back again, ready to release a new CD, Infestation, and a new video.  The Key Club.  (310) 274-5800.

- April 21. (Wed.)  Suezenne Fordham Jazz Trio.  Veteran pianist/composer Fordham continues to find creative potential in the 3rd Stream concept, blending classical and jazz into a unique musical entity.  Glendale Noon Concerts.  First Baptist Church of Glendale.   (818) 242-2113.

Regina Carter

- April 22.  (Thurs.)Monterey Jazz Festival On Tour.  The MJF’s own all-star jazz band – Kenny Barron, Regina Carter, Kurt Elling, Russell Malone, Johnathan Blake and Kiyoshi Kitagawa – display some of  the world class musicality that’s always present every September in Monterey.  UCLA Live. Royce Hall.    (310) 825-2101.   Also April 24 at Orange County Performing Arts Center .  (714) 556-2787.

- April 22. (Thurs.) Ana Moura. Portugal’s young, gifted fado singer has been bringing passionate, new perspective to the classic song form.  Skirball Center. g (310) 440-4500.

- April 22. (Thurs.)  Lizzy Williams Band.  The multi-talented singer/songwriter/actress performs with virtuoso guitarist David Williams, drummer Laura Bilobeau, bassist Chief and iRoM’s very own Devon “Doc” Wendell on harmonica.  The Green Room Lounge at the Viper Room.  (310) 358-1881.

- April 22 – 24. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Dick Gregory. Still one of the world’s great humorists, Gregory has an unerring eye and ear for detecting cant, pretentiousness, hubris and arrogance in public figures, nailing them with a sardonic phrase or an imaginative story. Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

- April 23 & 24. (Fri. & Sat.)  World premiere of Dice Thrown, a contemporary opera composed by John King using aleatoric techniques pioneered by John Cage.  Musical direction by Marc LowensteinCalArts Walt Disney Modular Theatre.

- April 24. (Sat.)  Ron King. The versatile trumpeter, a mainstay with almost every big band in town, takes a break to display his chops as a fine jazz soloists.  Backing him — the John Heard TrioCharlie O’s. (919) 994-3058.

Benny Golson

- April 24. (Sat.)  Benny Golson. Tenor saxophonist Golson has composed some memorable jazz standards.  But he’s an equally convincing an improviser with a personal sound and an adventurous imagination.  Jazz Bakery Moveable Feast.  Grammy Museum Sound Stage.   (310) 271-9039.  He’s also at Anthology in San Diego on Friday (see below).

- April. 24. (Sat.)  Christine Ebersole. Tony Award-winning Broadway musical star Ebersole has had an equally stellar career in film, television and cabaret.  She brings all that, and more, to her far-ranging collection of songs and stories.   CSUN Performing Arts Center.  (818) 677-1200.

- April 25. (Sun.)  Sing! Sing! Sing! Remembering Jerome Kern. Judy Wolman’s entertaining Sunday singalong celebrates the richly diverse songbook by the legendary composer of Show Boat – and much, much more. The Victorian Mansion.  Sing! Sing! Sing! (310) 990-2405.

- April 25. (Sun.)  Shelly Berg – Greg Abate Quartet. Pianist Berg takes time off from his teaching and administrative duties at the University of Miami to get together with saxophonist Abate, bassist Darek Oles and drummer Peter Erskine in the intimate setting of a home in the Hollywood Hills.   A-Frame Jazz. (310) 659-9169.  By reservation only.

Gail Pettis

- April 25. (Sun.)  Gail Pettis.  An impressive new jazz singer from out of the Northwest is drawing a lot of attention.  And there’s no better place to hear her special way with a song than at the KJAZZ Sunday Champagne Brunch hosted by the inimitable Bubba Jackson at Twist Restaurant in the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel.  (562) 985-2999.

San Diego

- April 23. (Fri.) Benny Golson.  The day before his gig in the Jazz Bakery’s Moveable Feast series, Golson brings his muscular tenor saxophone and memorable song book to Anthology in San Diego.   (619) 595-0300.

- April 24. (Sat.)  Ronnie Laws.  Smooth jazz comes alive with soul whenever Laws picks up his horn.  No wonder he’s had a long string of Top 40 albums and and singles.  Anthology San Diego.  (619) 595-0300.

San Francisco

James Moody

- April 22 – 25. (Thurs. – Sun.)  In the Mood For Moody: A Tribute to James Moody.  Moody’s been recovering from health problems and won’t be able to make this stellar tribute.  But there’ll be plenty of all stars to fill in the gaps: including Frank Wess, Joey DeFrancesco, Nnenna Freelon, Randy Brecker, Jon Faddis and others.  Yoshi’s Oakland.  (510) 238-9200.

- April 25. (Sun.)  Charles Lloyd New QuartetTale of a Cloud.  Lloyd always surrounds himself with extraordinary players, and his New Quartet is no exception, eoyj Jason Moran, piano, Reuben Rogers, bass and Eric Harland, drums.  SFJAZZ at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre.  (866) 920-5299.

New York

-April 20 – 21. (Tues. & Wed.) Rudresh Mahanthappa and Bunky Green. A pair of alto saxophonists from different generations and different styles get together.  Expect to see and hear musical sparks.  Jazz Standard.   (212) 576-2232.

Geri Allen

- April 20 – 25. (Tues. – Sun.)  The Geri Allen Quartet.  The superb, and too little acknowledged pianist challenges her skills by leading a quartet overflowing with talent and imagination: Ravi Coltrane, saxophones, Joe Sanders, bass, Jeff “Tain” Watts, drumsVillage Vanguard.   (212) 255-4037.

April 20 – 25. (Tues. – Sun.) Michel Camilo Trio.  With Charles Flores, bass, Cliff Almond, drums.  The Blue Note.  Pianist Camilo has released eighteen recordings, garnering a Grammy Award, two Latin Grammy Awards, two Grammy nominations and an Emmy Award.  He obviously should be heard at every opportunity.  The Blue Note.   (212) 475-0049.

- April 20 25. (Tues. – Sun.) George Coleman Quintet.  Veteran saxophonist Coleman leads a group that positions him in the front line with the fast-fingered young saxophonist Eric Alexander and the crisp, articulate piano work of Harold Mabern. Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.  (212) 258-9595.


Picks of the Week: May 11 – 17

May 11, 2009

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- May 13. (Wed.) Mumiy Troll. The Russian rock band has been around since the ‘80s, paid their dues during the Soviet era, and emerged as one of the most popular Russian groups of the ‘90s and beyond. The Roxy. (310) 276-2222.

- May 13 – 16. (Wed. – Sat.) Ann Hampton Callaway. She sings, plays piano and writes songs, and does it all with a musicality that combines a big, pliant voice with layers of rich, creative subtlety. Catalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210.

steph_haynes_smiling_photo

- May 14, 15 and 26. (Thurs., Fri. and Tues. ) Stephanie Haynes. One of the Southland’s finest jazz vocal artists for years, Haynes has been spending a lot of time living in Vegas lately. So grab one of these opportunities to experience the pleasures of her warm, velvet-textured sound. At Jazz at the Crowne Plaza on Thurs., May 14. At the Sheraton L.A. Downtown on Friday, May 15 and at Bar Melody on May 26. (310) 216-5861. Info: In-House Music.

- May 14. (Thurs.) Bob Sheppard Quartet. He can play just about any style requested, on soprano, alto and tenor saxophones. But Sheppard is best heard fronting his own group, roving the far reaches of his own colorful creative imagination. Charlie O’s. (818) 994-3058.

otmaro_one

Otmaro Ruiz

- May 14. (Thurs.) Otmaro Ruiz Quartet. Venezuelan pianist/composer Ruiz still hasn’t received the attention that his talent deserves. Here’s an opportunity to hear him, in an attractive new venue in the Valley, performing with the stellar ensemble of tenor saxophonist Ben Wendell, bassist Greg Swiller and drummer Jimmy Branly. The evening opens with the lyrical vocals of Brazilian singer/songwriter/pianist Catina Deluna. LA Modern Jazz Series at the Whitefire Theatre, Sherman Oaks. (323) 251-0748.

HIGHLIGHT – May 14 – 17. ( Thurs. – Sun.) Jane Bunnett and the Spirits of Havana bring authenticity, ambience and pure excitement to their take on Afro Cuban jazz. Jazz Bakery (310) 271-9039.

- May 15. (Fri. & Sat.) The 2009 Spring Jazz Series at Pasadena’s Boston Court Performing Arts Center features the scintillating duo of Dave MacKay and Lori Bell on Friday, and the probing music of the Bill Cunliffe Trio on Sat.. (626) 683-6883.

- May 15 – 17. (Fri. – Sun.) The Hyatt Regency Newport Beach Jazz Festival. Smooth jazz rules Newport’s early summer breezes with performers such as Dave Koz, Warren Hill, Jeff Lorber, Jeffrey Osborn, Rick Braun, Candy Dulfer, Peter White, Sax Pack, Jazz Attack,Guitars and Sax and more. (949) 729-6057.

HIGHLIGHT – Saturday, May 16

latin jazz all stars

Jose Rizo's Latin Jazz All-Stars

The 2nd Annual Latin Jazz Festival showcases a stellar line up of performers. Among them, The Caribbean Jazz Project Reunion with Dave Samuels & Paquito D’Rivera , Jose Rizo’s Jazz on the Latin Side All-Stars, Kenny Burrell & Hubert Laws, Charlie Sepulveda and the Turnaround. The Greek Theatre. (323) 665-5857.

- May 16. (Sat.) The Rose Ensemble. Early music comes vividly to life in the hands of the Rose Ensemble. Expect to hear everything from 17th century Russian Orthodox motets and medieval Latin chants to double choir works from the Polish Renaissance. The Getty Center. (310) 440-7300.

Sara Gazarek

Sarah Gazarek

- May 16. (Sat.) Sarah Gazarek’s great potential as an interpretive jazz vocalist has been expanding lately into the singer/songwriter realm. Her singing is well placed in the hip, downtown artists’ district ambience of Café Metropol. (213) 613-1537.

- May 17. (Sun.) Judy Wolman’s “Sing! Sing! Sing!” With “Big Band Tribute. This will be the Sunday afternoon singalong’s final celebration of the Big Band era at the Jazz Bakery. On the program: “String of Pearls,” “Moonlight Serenade,” “In the Mood,” and, of course, “Sing! Sing! Sing!” The Jazz Bakery (310) 271-9039.

Dana Point

- May 16 & 17. (Sat. & Sun.) The Doheny Blues Festival. Twenty-six performances on three stages by a line-up of blues artists that includes B.B. King, Brian Setzer & the Nashvillains, the Derek Trucks Band, The Keb’ Mo’ Band, Elvin Bishop, Sharon Jones, John Hammond and others. The Doheny State Beach, Dana Point. (949) 360-7800.

San Francisco

- May 13 & 14. (Wed. & Thurs.) The Charnett Moffett Trio, featuring drummer Will Calhoun and pianist Stephen Scott. Moffett’s adept handling of upright bass, piccolo bass and fretless electric bass guitar produces a cunning array of free-spirited music. Yoshi’s Oakland. . (510) 238-9200.

HIGHLIGHT – Friday, May 15 through Sunday, May, 17

bona_loueke_1

The SFJAZZ Spring Season rolls into high gear with a set of compelling musical events. On Fri., adventurous pianist Brad Mehldau does a solo set. On Sat., Mehldau partners with drummer Matt Chamberlain. On Sun., the African-born jazz duo of guitarist Lionel Loueke and bassist Richard Bona combine to explore their unique, instrumental and vocal visions of bayond-booundaries contemporary jazz.. SFJAZZ at the YBCA Forum. (415) 398-5655.

- May 15 – 17. (Fri, – Sun.) The Joe Sample Trio. From the Jazz Crusaders through his extensive solo career, pianist Sample has been a worthy jazz headliner for more than four decades. He performs with his son, bassist Nick Sample and New Orleans drummer Johnny Vidacovich. Yoshi’s Oakland. . (510) 238-9200.

New York City

bill-frisell

- May 12 – 17. (Tues. – Sun.) The always-surprising, ever-adventurous Bill Frisell matches musical ideas with bassist Tony Scherr and drummer Kenny Wollesen. The Village Vanguard (212) 255-4037.

- May 12. (Tues.) . Russian born pianist/composer/producer, Misha Piatigorsky, winner of the 2004 Thelonious Monk Composers performs with his Octet, and the high-voltage, eclectic vocals of Emily Braden. Iridium. (212) 582-2121 Competition. Iridium Jazz Club. (212) 582-2121.

- May 13 – 16. (Wed. – Sat.) The Heath Brothers Quartet. The remaining two musical members of the Heath brothers – tenor saxophonist Jimmy and drummer Albert “Tootie” Heath– carry on the family tradition of world class jazz. Birdland. (212) 581-3080.

HIGHLIGHT – Wednesday, May 13 through Sunday, May 17

Chano 1

Chano Dominguez

Catalan Days, Barcelona Nights. The most interesting, and promising, trend in jazz this past decade has been its globalization. Or, more precisely, the glocalization of jazz. After all, players, composers and arrangers in Europe or Latin America are no longer trying to emulate their American counterparts but rather, are increasingly approaching jazz as a toolbox from which they take whatever devices they need to operate on and transform their indigenous styles. The festival Catalan Days, Barcelona Nights offers a chance for a close hearing of several remarkable artists. A few personal favorites: pianist Chano Dominguez (this is what Bill Evans might have sounded like had he been born in Cadiz, Spain); saxophonist Llibert Fortuny; drummer Marc Miralta (who has been working effectively at a flamenco jazz fusion for some time) and pianist, and former drummer, Jordi Rossy (yes, that Jordi Rossy). The Jazz Standard. (212) 576-2232.

- Pick by Fernando Gonzalez.

Washington, D.C.

ddb3

Dee Dee Bridgewater

- May 14 – 16. (Thurs. – Sat.)The Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival. Kennedy Center. The 14th annual celebration of women in jazz features performances by Dee Dee Bridgewater, Esperanza Spalding, Anat Cohen, Janis Siegel, Hailey Niswanger, Annette Aguilar, Sherrie Maricle, Anne Drummond, Carmen Lundy and the Maria Schneider Orchestra. The Kennedy Center. (800) 444-1324.


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