Picks of the Week: June 12 – 16

June 12, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- June 12. (Wed.)  Julian Coryell.  He’s received an impressive guitar-playing legacy from his father, Larry Coryell.  But Julian has thoroughly developed a creative style of his own.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Cindy Lauper

Cindy Lauper

- June 13. (Thurs.)  Cindy Lauper.  30th Anniversary: She’s So Unusual Tour.  The inimitable Cindy Lauper celebrates the anniversary of her debut album.  She’ll be joined by the all-girl alternative rock band, Hunter ValentineGreek Theatre.    (323) 665-5857.

June 13. (Thurs.)  Upright Cabaret’s LEATHER & LACE: Music of Don Henley, Stevie Nicks & Neil Young!  An entertaining evening of some unusual songs.  Starring Yvette Cason, Jake Simpson and more.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (223) 466-2210.

- June 13. (Thurs.)  Annie Trousseau offers some impressive musical reminders of the legendary Edith Piaf and Marlene Dietrich.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- June 14 – 16. (Fri. – Sun.)  Barry Manilow.  It may be Southern California, but Manilow revives his critically acclaimed “Barry Manilow on Broadway” concert, with all its hit songs, to Southland listeners.  The Greek Theatre.    (323) 665-5857.

- June 15 & 16. (Sat. & Sun.)  Playboy Jazz Festival.  The 35th installment in Playboy’s annual tribute to jazz arrives with its usual stellar line-up of talent.  Among the highlights on Sat.: Gregory Porter, Angelique Kidjo, Gordon Goodwin with Lee Ritenour, Naturally 7 with guest Herbie Hancock and George Duke.  On Sunday: the Brubeck Brothers, Taj Mahal, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Bob James and David Sanborn, India.Arie, Sheila E. and Trombone Shorty Hollywood Bowl.     (323) 850-2000.

San Francisco

- June 13. (Thurs.)  Enrico Rava Tribe.  Featuring Gianluca Petrella.   Veteran Italian jazz trumpeter Rava leads his band Tribe, a European collection of some of Europe’s finest young players, including trombonist Petrella.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.    (415) 655-5600.

Washington D.C.

Patrice Rushen

Patrice Rushen

- June 13 – 16 (Thurs. – Sun.)  Buster William’s “Something More Quartet.”  And a pretty impressive quartet it is, with keyboardist Patrice Rushen, saxophonist Steve Wilson and drummer Cindy Blackman-SantanaBlues Alley.    (202) 337-4141.

New York City

- June 12 & 13. (Wed. & Thurs.)  Kenny Werner Coalition.  Pianist Werner, always in search of new ideas, plays with the versatile, adventurous aid of guitarist Lionel Loueke, saxophonists Miguel Zenon and Benjamin Koppel, and drummer Ferenc NemethThe Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

Ravi COltrane

Ravi COltrane

- June 12 – 15. (Wed. – Sat.)  Ravi Coltrane Quartet.  Saxophonist Coltrane is another second generation jazz artist.  And, like his father, the iconic John Coltrane, he is an imaginative, cutting edge performer.  He’s backed by  Adam Rogers, guitar, Dezron Douglas, bass, Johnathan Blake, drums.  Birdland.    (212) 581-3080

London

- June 15 & 16. (Sat. & Sun.)  The Dirty Dozen Brass Band. The veteran New Orleans brass band keeps the incomparably high spirited New Orleans jazz tradition alive. Ronnie Scott’s.  +44 20 7439 0747.

Paris

Eddie Palmieri

Eddie Palmieri

- June 14. (Fri.)  Eddie Palmieri Salsa Orchestra.  Pianist Palmieri, sometimes described as the Thelonious Monk of Latin jazz, is an irresistibly appealing jazz artist.  Paris New Morning.    +33 1 45 23 51 41


Live Jazz: Michael Feinberg at The Blue Whale

January 22, 2013

By Cathy Segal-Garcia

Los Angeles. Michal Feinberg, writes All About Jazz,  “is a vibrant young bassist/composer whose voice conveys a distinct musical vision, (he) continues to bring fresh ideas to life with music that incorporates jazz, hip hop, and rock, as well as influences from his Middle Eastern and Eastern European heritage.”

At this time Michael is 25 years old, living on the east coast.  Already having played for years with such fine jazz musicians as Slide Hampton, Ambrose Akinmusire, Lee Ritenour, Kenny Werner and many others, he is making his way via recording, touring, teaching, garnering attention from magazines and receiving awards.

Michael Feinberg

Michael Feinberg

Last Friday, in Michael’s second visit from New York to perform at L.A.’s Blue Whale, the Feinberg band’s first set found him playing with Louis Cole on drums, Miro Sprague on piano and Phillip Dizack on trumpet.  Guitarist Brent Canter (new on the L.A. scene, but already making inroads) was invited to come up to play at the end of the set.

They opened with a Branford Marsalis song — “Black Widow Blues.”  Having not heard the piece before, I’m not sure how it sounds when Branford does it, but this version was fun.  Louis Cole was playing the sort of intriguing beat that is right up his alley — funky but with a straight 16th notes feeling, and so creative.  Michael on (electric) bass, laid down a groove that drove the music on, with energetic matching and counter-rhythms.  And the theme was played between solos from everyone, with lots of shifting dynamics and full-on volume when they were building excitement.

Each player played well in this format, never crowding each other or the music, but playing full out.

Miro Sprague

Miro Sprague

.

Pianist Sprague, currently at the Thelonius Monk Institute, has numerous impressive accomplishments in his resume, touring/teaching/recording with some fine artists.  And no wonder.  This young man’s touch on the piano has sensitivity, space, and interesting harmonic perspectives.

Phillip Dizack

Phillip Dizack

.

.

Trumpeter Dizack has received sparkling reviews, filled with comments such as “potent,” “guts” and “grand vision.”  And he was indeed amazing to listen to — clear minded, with beautiful technique and great ideas.

Louis Cole

Louis Cole

.

Drummer Cole attended USC, and grew up in a musical family.  I’ve seen/heard him several times, always intrigued by his combination of pop styles with jazz rhythms. Much of the music now played by younger jazz-oriented musicians such as Cole is great for fans of newer styles, and especially for younger listeners. It’s edgy at times, the volume is often louder, and it’s intense.  But it sustains the basic improvisational nature of jazz, while being completely in the here and now.

The Blue Whale is only three years old, but has already proven itself in many substantial ways.  The owner, Joon Lee, has been featured on NPR.  On New Year’s Eve 2011/2012 NPR did a broadcast from the club featuring Dee Dee Bridgewater.  And the highest quality musicians, from literally all over the world, are seeking out the Blue Whale as a desirable place to play. The environment is creative, and the room feels warm and intimate, great for acoustic playing and close listening.  There is no stage, with bands usually setting up at the end of the room.  Seating is mostly ottomans, with some chairs if a body needs one.  There’s good lighting and excellent sound.

On the angled ceiling, several Rumi quotes speak to the higher callings of ourselves, regarding music…

“I should sell my tongue and buy a thousand ears when that one steps near and begins to speak.”

To read more about Cathy Segal-Garcia on her own website, click HERE.


Picks of the Week – Oct. 24 – 28

October 24, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Sally Kellerman

- Oct. 34 (Wed.)  Sally Kellerman.  Hot Lips herself, in action.  But Sally’s a one of a kind vocalist, too, bringing interpretive magic to everything she sings. Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Oct. 24. (Wed.)  Gabriel Johnson.  Emerging jazz trumpeter Johnson has been praised by Clint Eastwood and Chris Botti, and performed with everyone from Gladys Knight to Gerald Albright.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.     (310) 474-9400.

- Oct. 25. (Thurs.)  Robert Glasper Experiment.  Adventurous pianist Glasper has been pioneering the territory between jazz and contemporary pop.  His special guests include Jose James, Taylor McFerrin and Austin PeraltaCAP UCLA at Royce Hall.   (310) 825-2101

- Oct. 25. (Thurs.)  Ariana Savalas. Singer/songwriter/actress Savalas, the offspring of a show biz family, is making her own way as a rising vocalist.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.     (310) 474-9400.

- Oct. 25. (Thurs.)  Kathy Kosins.  “The Ladies of Cool.”  Singer Kosins celebrates the work of such West Coast-oriented jazz vocalists as June Christy, Julie London, Anita O’Day and Chris Connor.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Bob Dylan

- Oct. 26. (Fri.)  Bob Dylan and Mark Knopfler.  The legendary Dylan makes a rare appearance in Los Angeles in companionship with the British singer/songwriter/guitarist best known for his work with the band Dire Straits.  The Hollywood Bowl.     (323) 850-2000.

- Oct. 26 & 27. (Fri. & Sat.) Eddie Daniels.  The great clarinetist – and fine saxophonist, as well – makes his annual L.A. appearance, reminding us that the clarinet is still a great jazz instrument.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Oct. 26 – 28. (Fri. – Sun.)  Buster Williams Quartet.  Versatile bassist Williams leads a stellar group of Southland players — keyboardist Patrice Rushen, saxophonist Mark Gross and drummer Ndugu ChanclerCatalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Oct. 27. (Sat.)  Ron Carter Quartet.  Carter – for decades everyone’s first call bassist — has also offered some breakthrough music of his own. This time out he performs with the cutting edge musical ideas of the Robert Glasper TrioCAP at UCLA Royce Hall.  (310) 825-2101.

- Oct. 27. (Sat.) Michael Feinstein.  “The Sinatra Project.”  One of the champions of the Great American Songbook, singer/pianist Feinstein interprets a program of songs associated with Frank Sinatra.  Segerstrom Hall at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.    (714) 556-2746.

Leon Russell

San Francisco

- Oct. 24. (Wed.)  Leon Russell.  One of the vital singer/songwriters of the rock era, Russell, at 70 is still going strong.  Don’t miss this rare club appearance.  Yoshi’s Oakland.      (510) 238-9200.

New York

- Oct. 24 – 28. (Wed. – Sun.).  Jimmy Heath 86th Birthday Celebration.  NEA Jazz Master Heath goes back to his roots to celebrate his 86th birthday with the Jimmy Heath Big Band — an assemblage of New York’s stellar players.  The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

- Oct. 26. (Fri.)  Kendra Shank.  The ever-adventurous, always musically engaging  Shank performs the last Friday of every month at the 55 Bar.   (212) 929-9883.

London

- Oct. 26. (Fri.)  Steve Smith and Vital Information.  Smith has been voted #1 All-Around Drummer by Modern Drummer magazine five years in a row.  In addition to his far-ranging pop and rock activities, he also leads the high energy jazz group Vital Information  Ronnie Scott’s.   (0) 20 7439 0747.

Copenhagen

- Oct. 24 & 25. (Wed. & Thurs.)  Roditi/Ignatzek/Rassinfosse.  The remarkable trio of trumpeter Claudio Roditi, pianist Klaus Ignatzek and bassist Jean-Louis Rassinfosse have been performing together for 25 years, emphasizing the Brazilian songbook and the repertoire associated with Chet Baker.  Jazzhus Montmartre.    (+45) 70 15 65.

Milan

- Oct. 25. (Thurs.)  Kenny Werner.  Versatile pianist, composer and writer arrives in Italy with a world class ensemble: saxophonist David Sanchez, trumpeter Randy Brecker, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Antonio SanchezBlue Note Milan.    02. 69016888.

Tokyo

The Manhattan Transfer

.

- Oct. 24 – 26. (Wed. – Fri.)  The Manhattan Transfer.  Nearly four decades in the jazz world spotlight, and the gifted members of the Transfer continue to produce music that brilliantly defines and expands the potential in vocal ensemble jazz.  Blue Note Tokyo.


Picks of the Week: Aug. 14 – 19

August 13, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Aug. 14 & 15. (Tues. & Wed.) Michael Jackson the Immortal World TourCirque du Soleil.  The music and lyrics of Michael Jackson are the foundation for a show that “immerses audiences in Michael’s creative world and literally turns his signature moves upside down,” performed by the incomparable artists of Cirque du Soleil.   Staples Center.   (213) 742-7100.

- Aug. 15. (Wed.)  Joe Cocker and Huey Lewis & The News.  A pair of still vitally active rock icons whose music reaches from the ‘60s to the present make for a rare evening of engaging musical memorabilia.  Greek Theatre.    (323) 665-5857.

- Aug. 15. (Wed.)  Ron Kalina Trio. He’s a virtuoso jazz harmonica player who also doubles on piano, with a resume including recordings with the likes of Linda Ronstadt, Joe Williams, Anita O’Day and dozens of others. Hear him in action, backed by guitarist Barry Zweig, bassist Pat Senatore and drummer Kendall KayVibrato Grill Jazz…etc.     (310) 474-9400.

Eddie Palmieri

- Aug. 15. (Wed.)  Eddie Palmieri, Ruben Blades.  A pair of legendary Latin jazz and salsa giants share the stage on a Wednesday jazz night at the Bowl, demonstrating first hand the exciting linkages between jazz and Latin dance rhythms. Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

- Aug. 15 – 18. (Wed. – Sat.)  Terence Blanchard Quintet. Critically praised trumpeter Blanchard takes a break from his busy schedule as a film composer, Artistic Director of the Thelonious Monk Institute and Director of the Henry Mancini Institute, to lead his Grammy-winning jazz group.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Aug. 16. (Thurs.)  De Temps Antan.  The Quebecois ensemble makes its West Coast debut, performing the traditional songs of French Canada.  Skirball Center.     (310) 440-4500.

- Aug. 17. (Fri.)  Wolff & Clark Expedition.  Pianist Michael Wolff’s credits reach from Cannoball Adderley. Sonny Rollins and others to a stint as the bandleader on the Arsenio Hall Show.  He’s backed by the stellar rhythm team of drummer Mike Clark and bassist Brian BrombergVitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Aug. 17 & 18. (Fri. & Sat.)  Juanes with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.  Multiple Latin Grammy winning singer/songwriter/guitarist Juanes performs with the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, the Cal Voce Singers and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra conducted by Thomas Wilkins.  And with fireworks, too.  Hollywood Bowl.    (323) 850-2000.

Sara Gazarek

- Aug. 18 & 19. (Sat. & Sun.)  Sara Gazarek.  At a time when jazz singers are arriving in waves, Gazarek is one of the rare few whose remarkable potential is apparent in everything she sings.  She celebrates her new album, Blossom & Bee with special guest keyboardist Larry Goldings and the backing of pianist Josh Nelson, bassist Hamilton Price and drummer Zach Harmon Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Aug. 19. (Sun.)  Gerald Wilson Big Band.  Well into his nineties, Wilson remains one of the iconic figures of big band jazz.  And watching him in action with hits all-star group is one of the pleasures of experiencing live jazz.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Aug. 19. (Sun.)  Dudamel and Domingo.  The Hollywood Bowl’s pairing of charismatic classical music figures continues with Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic joining for the first time with the great tenor Placido DomingoHollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

San Francisco

Benny Green

- Aug. 16. (Thurs.)  The Benny Green Trio.  A jazz professional as a teen-ager, pianist Green’s career has been expanding ever since, establishing him as one of the most imaginative and listenable players of his generation.  He’s backed by bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny WashingtonYoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.

Seattle

- Aug. 16 – 19. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Karrin Allyson. Grammy nominated singer-pianist Allyson brings rich layers musicality to everything she sings or plays.  Hopefully she’ll include some selections from her latest album, ‘Round Midnight.   Jazz Alley.    (201) 441-9729.

Boston

- Aug. 18. (Sat.)  Kenny Werner. Pianist Werner’s versatility – he is as adept at backing singers as he is at straight ahead jazz playing – no doubt traces to the mind-body techniques explored in his thoughtful book on improvisation, Effortless Mastery.  Regatta Bar.   (617) 661-5000.

New York

John Abercrombie

- Aug. 14 – 18. (Tues. – Sat.)  The John Abercrombie Quartet.  Always seeking adventurous new jazz combinations, Abercrombie’s latest group features saxophonist Joe Lovano, bassist Drew Gess and drummer Adam NussbaumBirdland.    (212) 581-3080.

- Aug. 14 – 19. (Tues. – Sun.)  Enfants Terribles.  Lee Konitz, Bill Frisell, Gary Peacock and Joey Baron. A stellar array of world-class jazz players celebrate their new CD, Enfants Terribles. The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

- Aug. 16 – 19. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Tierney Sutton Band.  Singer Sutton has been working with her band for nearly two decades, and the results are apparent in the extraordinary music they make together.  The Jazz Standard.  (212) 576-2561.

London

- Aug. 14 – 18. (Tues. – Sat.)  Roy Ayers. Vibraphonist Ayers has been, and continues to be, a pioneer in blending jazz with Afro-beat, funk and hip hop.  Ronnie Scott’s.   (0) 20 7439 0747.

Tokyo

Aug. 14 & 15.  Joyce.  Brazilian singer/songwriter/guitarist Joyce Moreno has been blending jazz with bossa nova since the late ‘60s.  Blue Note Tokyo.   03.5485.0088.

Eddie Palmieri photo by Tony Gieske. 


Picks of the Week: March 6 – 11

March 6, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

John Pisano

- Mar. 6. (Tues.)  John Pisano’s “Guitar Night.” Pisano takes his ever-entertaining, ever-popular  “Guitar Night” to a new venue.  To celebrate the move, the featured guest is veteran guitarist Mundell Lowe.  Lucy’s 51. Toluca Lake.  (818) 763-5200.

Mar. 6. (Tues.)  The Gonzalo Bergara Quartet.  Guitarist Bergara and his crew bring Django Reinhardt’s gypsy jazz firmly into the 21st century.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Mar. 6. (Tues.)  Hod O’Brien and Stephanie Nakasian.  Pianist O/Brien is one of the authentic beboppers, continuing to mine the still rich sounds and rhythms of bop for new musical discoveries.  Here, he also backs his wife, singer Nakasian. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Mar. 6. (Tues.)  The CJS Quintet in a “Tribute to Dexter Gordon.”  The CJS Quintat, always eager keep mainstream jazz alive and swinging, explore the muscular music of Dexter Gordon.  CJS is Chuck Johnson, saxes, James Smith, trumpet, Koji Ono, piano, Trevor Ware, bass, Kenny Elliott, drums. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Mar. 6 – 11. (Tues. – Sun.)  Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. Dance at its finest is a fundamental aspect of every performance by the Ailey dancers.  Three programs are offered, featuring Ailey classics and contemporary works.  Check website for schedule.   Segerstrom Hall  (714) 556-2787..

Jeffrey Kahane

Mar. 7. (Wed.)  Jeffrey Kahane and members of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra present a 15th Anniversary Celebration of Kahane’s tenure as Director of the LACO.  The program showcases Kahane’s far reaching skills as a pianist in the Bach French Suite, the Brahms Piano Trio No. 1, a broad selection of Chopin works and a new Gabriel Kahane composition.  Disney Hall.    (323) 850-2000.

- Mar. 7. (Wed.)  Tull, Korb, Proulx. An evening featuring a sterling trio of jazz instrumentalist/singers – drummer Dave Tull, bassist Kristen Korb, pianist John Proulx.  To read a recent iRoM review of a Proulx performance, click HEREVitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Nellie McCay

- Mar. 9. (Fri.)  Nellie McKay.  Singer, pianist songwriter McKay is one of a kind, making every performance into a compelling creative adventure.  To read an iRoM review of a recent McKay performance, click HERE. Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Mar. 10. (Sat.)  Cecelia Coleman Quartet. L.A. native Coleman, who has been living in New York, returns to remind us of the intriguing qualities of her piano style. She performs with trumpeter Steve Huffsteter, bassist Pat Senatore and drummer Ramon Banda.   Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Mar. 11. (Sun.)  Billy Childs Quartet and the Kronos QuartetBill Frisell’s Beautiful Dreamers.  A fascinating evening of jazz and jazz-oriented chamber music.  The Childs Quartet and Kronos play individual sets and then combine to perform a Childs composition.  Frisell opens the show with the engaging sounds of his guitar, viola and drum trio.  Disney Hall.   (323) 850-2000.

San Francisco

- Mar. 8 & 9.  (Thurs. & Fri.) Patricia Barber. Pianist, singer, songwriter Barber brings emotional and intellectual illumination to everything she plays and sings — whether it’s from the Great American Songbook or her own folio of works. Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

- Mar. 10. (Sat.)  Lynne Arriale Trio.  Pianist Arriale combines an airy harmonic imagination with a briskly effervescent rhythmic feeling.  Yoshi’s San Francisco. .  The trio also appears at Jazz Alley in Seattle on Mar. 13 & 14.   (206) 441-0729.

- Mar. 10. (Sat.)  “Salute to Toots Thielemans.”  A stellar assemblage of players,  led by harmonica player Gregoire Maret, come together to celebrate the life and work of the one and only Toots.  The group also includes Oscar Castro-Neves, guitar, Kenny Werner, piano and Airto Moreira, percussion.  Herbst Theatre.  An SFJAZZ 2012 Spring Season event.  Salute to Toots Thielemans.  (866) 920-5299.

Chicago

David Sanchez

- Mar. 8 – 11. (Thurs. – Sun.)  David Sanchez Quartet. Puerto Rican-born Sanchez, one of the finest saxophonists of his generation, enhances his inventiveness with traces of his Caribbean roots.  Jazz Showcase (312) 360-0234.

New York

- Mar. 6 – 11. (Tues. – Sun.)  Freddy Cole Sextet.  Cole’s conversational vocal style is backed by the richly melodic improvising of saxophonist Harry Allen in a showcase of Cole’s new album, Talk To Me. Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.   (212) 258-9800.

- Mar. 6 & 7. (Tues. & Wed.)  Edmar Castaneda, Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Miguel Zenon.  Expect musical fireworks from this encounter between Castaneda’s fiery harp playing, Rubalcaba’s adventurous piano work and Zenon’s far-ranging saxophone playing.  The Blue Note.  (212) 475-8592.

Berlin

- Mar. 8. (Thurs.)  Dino Saluzzi, Anja Lechner and Felix Saluzzi Trio. The trio of prominent Argentine musical artists – bandoneonist Dino Saluzzi, his saxophonist brother Felix Saluzzi and cellist Anja Lechner – assemble to play selections from their fine ECM album, Navidad de Los Andes.  A-Trane.   030/313 25 50.

Tokyo

Lou Donaldson

- Mar. 7 – 10. (Wed. – Sat.)  Lou Donaldson. The playing of veteran alto saxophonist Donaldson, still in rare form at 85, provides a compelling link to the bebop era of Charlie Parker and Sonny Stitt.  Blue Note Tokyo.   03-5485-0088.

Milan

- Mar. 10. (Sat.)  The Ron Carter Quartet. Bassist Carter, who has played with virtually every major jazz artist of the past five decades, steps out with a group reflecting his own musical thinking: pianist Renee Rosnes, percussionist Rolando Morales-Matos and drummer Payton Crossley.  The Blue Note Milan    02.69.01.68.88.

John Pisano photo by Bob Barry.

Nellie McCay poto by Tony Gieske.


Picks of the Week: Dec. 6 – 11

December 6, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Sophie Milman

- Dec. 6 & 7. (Tues. & Wed.)  Sophie Milman.  The young Russian/Canadian singer has thoroughly established herself as one of the important new arrivals on the jazz scene.  She’ll hopefully do a few selections from her latest CD, In the Moonlight.  Catalina Bar & Grill   (323) 466-2210.

- Dec. 7. (Wed.)  Keb’ Mo’  It’s blues on the loose whenever Keb’ Mo’ is on stage.  This time out he’ll no doubt sprinkle some holiday selections among his acoustic repertoire. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.

- Dec. 8. (Thurs.)  Larry Koonse Quartet.  He’s a second generation all-star guitarist, but Larry Koonse has also established a style, an attitude and a visibility all his own.  He’s frequently seen in some one else’s rhythm section, so don’t miss this chance to see and hear him in the spotlight.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- Dec. 8 – 10. (Thurs. – Sat.)  The Four Seasons.  Amid all the holiday music of the season, it’ll a distinct alternative pleasure to hear Norwegian violinist/conductor Henning Kraggerud perform the always-engaging Vivaldi work – and especially the Winter segment — with the Pacific Symphony Segerstrom Center for the Arts.    (714) 556-2787.

Thomas Wilkins

- Dec. 8, 9 & 11. (Thurs., Fri. & Sun.)  “The Hollywood Sound.”  Thomas Wilkins conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic in an evening of memorable film music by the likes of Erich Korngold, Bernard Herrman, Elmer Bernstein, John Williams and more.  The performance is part of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time program.  Disney Hall.    (323) 850-2000.

- Dec. 9 – 11. (Fri. – Sun.)  Kenny Werner Band.  A pianist, composer and Guggenheim Fellowship winner, Werner leads a world-class jazz ensemble, featuring trumpeter Randy Brecker, saxophonist David Sanchez, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Antonio SanchezCatalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210..

- Dec. 9. (Fri.)  Holiday Pop!  The Glendale Pops Orchestra is conducted by Matt Catingub in a program of holiday classics.  Also featured: pianist David Benoit doing material from Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas  and Grammy winner Taylor Dayne adds her own Christmas favorites.  The Alex Theatre.    (818) 243-2611.

Peabo Bryson

- Dec. 10. (Sat.)  The Colors of Christmas. This always festive holiday program has been arriving every year for nearly a decade.  The current line up includes Grammy winners Peabo Bryson and Jennifer Holiday, Broadway star Lea Salonga and Tony award winner Ben VereenCerritos Center for the Performing Arts.    (562) 916-8501.

- Dec. 10 & 11. (Sat. & Sun.)  Reflection”  The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. The Southland’s most gifted and adventurous chamber ensemble brings a colorful array of music to the holiday season in a program of  Ravel, Tchaikovsky, Thomas Ades and Respighi.  Jeffrey Kahane conducts and cellist Ralph Kirshbaum solos.  Sat. The Alex Theatre. (818) 243-2539.   Sun.  Royce Hall.  (310) 825-2101.

- Dec. 10 & 11. (Sat. & Sun.)  Scarlet Stone.  A mixed-media (music/dance/animation) look at ancient Persian mythology, Scarlet Stone also portrays to the current struggles within Iran.  Freud Playhouse, U.C.L.A.    (310) 825-2101.

- Dec. 11(Sun.)  Rejoice: A Classical Christmas. Los Angeles Master Chorale. The gorgeous voices and articulate musicality of the LAMC are heard in a program of compelling Christmas compositions by Poulenc, Distler, Ferko and Lauridsen.  Disney Hall.    (323) 850-2000.

Otmaro Ruiz

- Dec. 11. (Sun.)  Otmaro Ruiz.  Sunday night piano and bass duos at Vibrato are always sure to produce intriguing music. Expect that and more with the creative interaction between the adventurous composer/pianist Ruiz and the versatile bassist Pat SenatoreVibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- Dec. 11. (Sun.) ASMAC 2011 Holiday Celebration.  The American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers celebrates the season with a Holiday Party, Silent Auction and More.  The John Clayton Holiday Quartet performs, with Clayton, bass, Tamir Hendelman, piano, Graham Dechter, guitar, Kevin Kanner, drums.  Brunch at 11:30 a.m.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

San Francisco

- Dec. 10. (Sat.)  Ahmad Jamal.  The pianist Miles Davis often cited as a master or rhythmic space and time, Jamal is still demonstrating the essentials of how to bring life to the beat and imagination to the music.   The Herbst Theatre.  An SFJAZZ concert.   (866) 920-5299.

Chicago

= Dec. 8 – 11. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Benny Golson Quartet. Veteran tenor saxophonist and composer of some of the most memorable works in the Great American Jazz songbook, Golson in live performance is always something to remember.  Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

New York

- Dec. 6 – 10. (Tues. – Sat.)  The Frank Wess Quintet.  Approaching his ninetieth birthday in January, multi-instrumentalist Wess continues to be one of the definitive jazz flutist as well as a superb saxophonist.  Birdland.   (212) 581-3080.

The Manhattan Transfer

- Dec. 8 – 11. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Manhattan Transfer.  For almost four decades the Transfer has been an incomparable model for jazz ensemble singing of every imaginable style, always done with impeccable musicality.   Amazingly, they’re still at their best.  Hear them at every opportunity. The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

- Dec. 8 – 11. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Trumpeter Dave Douglas displays his full range of jazz versatility via performances with four different groups:  Thurs.: the Key Motion Quintet. Fri.: So Percussion.  Sat.: Orange Afternoons Quintet.  Sun.: Brass Ecstasy.  The Jazz Standard.  (212) 576-2232.

London

- April 6 – 10. (Tues. – Sat.)  Motown Christmas Review.   Natalie Williams and her Soul Family Band celebrate the holiday season with the music of Smoky Robinson, Gladys Knight, Marvin Gaye, the Supremes, Michael Jackson and a lot more.  Ronnie Scott’s.    020 7439 0747.

Tokyo

- April 10 – 12.  (Sat. – Mon.)  Kyle Eastwood.   Bassist Eastwood has garnered a great deal of visibility as the son of jazz fan Clint Eastwood.  But Kyle is a solid talent on his own well on his way to a sterling career as a talented bassist. Blue Note Tokyo.    03–5485-0088.


Jazz With An Accent: New CDs from Vince Mendoza, David Murray Cuban Ensemble and Sammy Figueroa

October 15, 2011

By Fernando Gonzalez

Vince Mendoza

Nights of Earth (Horizontal)

Set to a generous, wide-angled perspective, and paced by smart, observant details, Nights on Earth plays like The World According to Vince.

In some ways, it suggests a personal summation of his career thus far: a deep knowledge of American music vernacular and European classical music, with a refined craftsmanship as a composer and arranger to match, now permeated by his encounters with a world of music styles.

And yet for all its stylistic variety Nights on Earth never feels like a sort of musical Whitman’s Sampler. The mix of references, styles and instrumental colors, at times eyebrow-raising, feels organic, one man’s invitation to open our ears to the possibilities.

The opening “Otoño,”  draws obviously from his experiences with flamenco  (check Jazzpaña (ACT, 1993) or El Viento (ACT, 2009) with the Netherland’s Metropole Orchestra of which he is Music Director and Chief conductor), given an improbable twist with a B3 organ. “Ao Mar,” a song co-written with vocalist Luciana Souza, plays on the standard expectations of a bossa nova before unfolding in unpredictable ways. Or, as in “Addio” or “The Night We Met,” Mendoza takes advantage of the bittersweet melancholy of the bandoneón, the button squeezebox that is the quintessential instrument of tango, without ever drifting into any facile references.

Throughout, Mendoza sets singers and soloists with a jeweler’s hand. He’s working here with an exceptional cast, most of them long time friends and collaborators  – including Joe Lovano and Bob Mintzer, sax;  John Abercrombie, John Scofield and Nguyen Le on guitar, Alan Pasqua and Kenny Werner, piano – and knows how to frame them slightly East or West of their comfort zone to elicit a fresher response. And in “Shekere,” a song co-written with Malian kora player singer Tom Diakite, he works the dramatic tension by subtly pacing the call and response between vocalist and group, managing dynamics and orchestral colors.

Nights on Earth shows an artist at a peak of his craft and with a vision to match.

***

David Murray Cuban Ensemble

Plays Nat King Cole En Español (Mótema Music)

The work of singer and pianist Nat “King” Cole, and especially the work of Cole en español, might seem an unlikely subject for saxophonist David Murray. Then again, the one-time firebrand avant-gardist has been steadily evolving, sometimes seemingly in several directions at once, embracing a more classic approach on the horn, and growing, improbably, into a song stylist.   Thematically working on his own growing library of compositions while also exploring Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Gene Ammons and John Coltrane, but also The Grateful Dead, collaborations with master players of the gwo ka percussion and vocal traditions from Guadeloupe, and Latin music.

In David Murray Cuban Ensemble Plays Nat King Cole En Español, Murray revisits Cole Español (1958) and More Cole Español (1962), part of a trilogy of albums by Cole in Spanish and Portuguese. (The third one is A Mis Amigos, recorded in 1959.)

Featuring a 10 piece group comprised of Cuban musicians and a string ensemble (the Sinfonieta of Sines), and recorded in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Sines, Portugal, Plays Nat King Cole includes nine reinterpretations of covers and one original, “Black Nat,” dedicated to Cole. Rocker-turned-tango-singer Daniel Melingo, a sort of Tom Waits of avant tango and in many ways the vocal opposite of smooth and cool Nat King Cole, contributes in four tracks. Bandoneón master Juan José Mosalini appears in one.

At his best, Murray, in the style of the old masters, doesn´t simply play the melodies here, he sings them on his horn. And if you know the lyrics of these songs, you´ll appreciate some of his choices. In “No Me Platiques,” a bolero he plays to a tart string accompaniment, Murray is positively Websterian as he states the theme before launching into a measured, but questioning solo. He lets Melingo’s ragged reading of the lyrics set the tone in a Caribbean-ized tango “A Media Luz,” before entering on bass clarinet, with an eloquent and smooth response to the singer’s call.

But Murray can be playful, too, as in the up-tempo version of Bobby Capó´s classic “Piel Canela,” or Consuelo Velazquez’s “Cachito.”  Throughout, Murray peppers his playing with some of the vocabulary of his earlier day – bursts of notes in quick runs, wide leaps, and probing the melody from the outer reaches of the instrument.

Murray’s Cuban Ensemble not only contributes a knowing, solid foundation and an easy swing, but also strong soloing – alto saxophonist Roman Filiu on “Cachito,” and tenor Ariel Bringuez on Murray’s “Black Nat.”

David Murray Cuban Ensemble Plays Nat King Cole En Español is an idiosyncratic take on romance – restless, now tender, now tough, never quite easy, and never less than fascinating.

***

Sammy Figueroa

Urban Nature (Senator)

Sammy Figueroa’s Urban Nture is a substantial, beautifully constructed work that makes its points subtly.  It draws on the Afro-Caribbean Latin Jazz tradition – but adds to it by opening to more diverse sources and treading softly around well worn formulas.

Also, this is Figueroa’s third album as a leader and the second with the same band. He has been leading his own groups since 2002 – flutist Dave Valentin and former Irakere tenor man Carlos Averhoff were early guests.  But for the past five years he has been able to maintain a stable lineup — trumpeter Alex Pope Norris, saxophonist John Michalack, pianist Silvano Monasterios, bassist Gabriel Vivas and drummer Nomar Negroni. The effort is paying off.

It might strike as an odd compliment, but Urban Nature never sounds like Figueroa’s vehicle.  Here, the music is the story.

Featuring nine original pieces, seven of them by either Monasterios or Vivas, in Urban Nature, Figueroa gets to pay his respects to Mongo Santamaría (on Nicholas Martines’ “Cuco y Olga”) and fly around in the opening “Gulfillo.” But there’s more to this recording than that: pieces such as the updates of standard cha-cha-cha (“Cha Cha Pa’ Ti,” and the title track); the driving, Chick Corea flavored “7th Door to Your Left”; and Monasterio’s elegiac “Zuliana,” based on a Venezuelan folk rhythm.

Throughout, the playing here is at once muscular and nuanced, loose but focused and flavored with touches of humor.

Figueroa has long made a name for himself as a percussionist and sideman (most recently with Sonny Rollins).  Urban Nature might start establishing him as a leader.

To read more posts and columns by Fernando Gonzalez click HERE.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 228 other followers