An Appreciation: Remembering Dave Brubeck

December 12, 2012

By Mike Katz

When Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” became a runaway hit, it was 1959 and I was in the third grade.  By the time I started seriously listening to jazz, in the late sixties, Brubeck’s original quartet had broken up and the jazz scene was in a flux. Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis were going electric. Freddie Hubbard and Stanley Turrentine, among others, had gravitated to the CTI label and would soon be flirting with disco. The jazz that found its way onto the college campuses Brubeck once cultivated had been repackaged as fusion, backing up bands like Blood Sweat & Tears or Chicago.

“Take Five,” meanwhile, had become sort of a pre-curser to Pac-Man, munching up everything else the Brubeck quartet had produced.  That would be some considerable munching, since Brubeck, Paul Desmond and company had spent a decade atop the charts, playing to SRO crowds, with Dave becoming the first jazz artist to grace the cover of Time Magazine long before the Time Out LP was ever conceived.  But for the general audience, “Take Five” was Brubeck and to a certain extent always would be.

One 1970-ish day I was idly flipping through a record store in Evanston and found a double album compilation of the Brubeck quartet called Adventures In Time. It had all of the famous Brubeck tunes (most of them unknown to me): “Blue Rondo a la Turk,” “Three To Get Ready,” “It’s a Raggy Waltz,” “Unsquare Dance,” many of them in different takes or performances than the originals. All the songs but one were composed by members of the quartet. All but one were in time signatures other than  4/4.  Listening and listening and listening some more, until the grooves were worn down, I finally figured out what these guys were doing – not that it was really necessary. Incessant foot tapping and aimless humming as I wandered the Northwestern campus were explanation enough.

Looking back, it seems strange that Brubeck endured criticism for not being, for lack of a better word, jazzy enough. Jazz is improvisation and experimentation, and what could be bolder than taking the basic 4/4 march time, not only of jazz but all popular music, and standing it on its ear? And there was more. When Brubeck, in 1957, released “Dave Digs Disney,” there was much sniggering from critics, yet “Someday My Prince Will Come” became a standard for Miles Davis and “Alice In Wonderland” one of Bill Evans’ best known tunes from the Village Vanguard sessions.  Still, while jazz searches for the “next” Miles Davis or John Coltrane or Bill Evans, we never hear about the “next” Dave Brubeck.

Perhaps that is because he really never left.

Although it’s been written that he devoted much of his post-original quartet years to larger orchestrations and cantatas, there was plenty of jazz left in the Brubeck oeuvre. Most musicians would have loved to have the mid-life career Brubeck shared with Gerry Mulligan in his second major quartet.  The baritone sax may seem the polar opposite to Paul Desmond’s “sound of a dry martini,” but it still sounded great. Check out LPs like Last Set At Newport, or some of the tracks with Mulligan on the Monterey Jazz Festival’s  release Live At The MJF. Brubeck continued to compose in the jazz space as well. His 1995 release Young Lions and Old Tigers featured lovely themes for Roy Hargrove, James Moody and flugelhornist Ronnie Buttacavoli, as well as two wonderful tunes with Mulligan and a duet with George Shearing on Brubeck’s classic, “In Her Own Sweet Way.” And that is just one CD out of dozens.

One of the joys of becoming a regular at the Monterey Jazz Festival was getting to see Brubeck perform live in a milieu that had become in many ways a second home for him. He was “discovered” by festival  co-founder Jimmy Lyons, played at MJF 1, MJF 50, MJF 52 and many, many times in between.  Two of my favorite memories are the cantata, co-written with his wife, Iola, based on John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, featuring Roberta Gambarini and Kurt Elling, performed at MJF 49 in 2006; and his MJF 50 duet with Jim Hall the next year. Their rendition of “Take Five” was stunning, and one can only hope both those performances, now in the MJF archives, will someday be shared with the public.

So, finally, Dave Brubeck has left us. Certainly “Take Five” never will, as long as there is someone walking down the street, humming and tapping and daydreaming.

To read more iRoM reviews and posts by Michael Katz, click HERE.

To visit Michael Katz’s personal blog, “Katz of the Day,” click HERE.


Here, There & Everywhere: The 2012 Jazz Grammy Winners

February 13, 2012

By Don Heckman

The 2012 Grammys are in, and once again there’s not much sound of surprise in the results.  Certainly nothing in the same ballpark as last year’s Best New Artist award for Esperanza Spalding.  That’s not to say that any of the wins were undeserved.  Because they all were the products of gifted artists doing their best. Nor were any of the nominees any less deserving than the winners.

Still, both the awards and the Recording Academy’s current approach to jazz raise some questioning observations.  Take, for example, the inclusion of Terri Lyne Carrington’ s The Mosaic Project in the Jazz Vocal grouping.  Doesn’t it seem inevitable that a collection of songs by such major names as Dianne Reeves, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Cassandra Wilson and, yes, Esperanza Spalding (among others) is going to have a major head start in any competition against recordings by single artists?  What chance did the other nominees – especially the unusually superlative trio of albums from Tierney Sutton, Roseanna Vitro and Karrin Allyson – have against a full line-up of such musical heavyweights?

Notice, too, some of the repetitions: multiple nominations for Randy Brecker, Fred Hersch and Sonny Rollins.  Great artists, all, but where are the nominations for the youngest generation of jazz players?  It’s worth noting that Gerald Clayton is the only nominee still in his twenties.  And Miguel Zenon is the only nominee still in his thirties.

Add to that several aspects in this year’s awards procedures that underscore the diminishing role that jazz is playing in the Grammy overview.  Start with the reduced number of categories.  In 2011 there were six: Contemporary Jazz Album, Vocal Album, Improvised Jazz Solo, Jazz Instrumental Album (Individual or Group), Large Jazz Album and Latin Jazz Album.

This year, there are four: Best Improvised Jazz Solo, Best Jazz Vocal Album, Best Jazz Instrumental Album and Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album. Some jazz fans won’t miss the Contemporary category, despite the fact that its absence eliminates the presence of some fine, pop-oriented jazz stylists.  But the Latin Jazz omission is unforgivable, and should receive careful re-consideration in the planning for next year’s Grammys.

In the listings below, I’ve also included Best Instrumental Arrangement and Best Instrumental Composition, because, in these nominees, the emphasis is almost completely in the direction of jazz.  They could easily have had different orientations — pop, rock, electronica, classical and otherwise — given the all-inclusive nature of the descriptions “Instrumental Arrangement” and “Instrumental Composition.”

Ultimately, the single word that comes to mind in considering all the above is “irrelevant.”  Receiving a Grammy award continues to be one of the music world’s greatest honors – for the individual artist.  And every jazz player –like every other musical artist – has to be delighted to receive the gold statuette.  But the overall significance of the Grammys to jazz, the Awards’ full commitment to honoring one of America’s greatest cultural contributions, continues to diminish.  And if it continues in its current direction, the long, historical Grammy/jazz connection won’t just be irrelevant, it’ll be non-existent.

Here are this year’s awards:

Best Improvised Jazz Solo

 Winner.  Chick Corea : “Five Hundred Miles Highfrom Forever.

Other Nominees:

Randy Brecker: “All or Nothing at All” from The Jazz ballad Song Book

Ron Carter: “You Are My Sunshine” from This Is Jazz.

Fred Hersch: “Work” from Alone at the Vanguard.

Sonny Rollins: “Sunnymoon For Two: from Road Shows, Vol. 2.

Best Jazz Vocal album

Winner: Terri Lyne Carrington and Various Artists: The Mosaic Project.

Other Nominees:

Tierney Sutton Band: American Road

Karrin Allyson: ‘Round Midnight.

Kurt Elling: The Gate.

Roseanna Vitro: The Music of Randy Newman.

Best Jazz Instrumental Album

Winner: Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke & Lenny White.  Corea, Clark & White.

Other Nominees:

Gerald Clayton: The Paris Sessions.

Fred Hersch: Alone at the Vanguard.

Joe Lovano/Us Five: Bird Songs.

Sonny Rollins: Road Shows, Vol.2

Yellowjackets: Timeline.

Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album

Winner: Christian McBride Big Band. The Good Feeling.

Other Nominees:

Randy Brecker with the WDR Big Band: The Jazz Ballad Song Book.

Arturo O’Farrill & the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra: 40 Acres and a Burro.

Gerald Wilson Orchestra; Legacy.

Miguel Zenon: Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook

Best Instrumental Arrangement

Winner: Gordon Goodwin: Rhapsody in Blue.

Other Nominees:

Peter Jensen: ‘All or Nothing At All” (for Randy Brecker with the GDR Big Band)

Clare Fischer: “In the Beginning: (from the Clare Fischer Big band’s Continuum.)

Bob Brookmeyer: “Nasty Dance.” (from the Vanguard Jazz Orchstra’s Forever Lasting).

Carlos Franzetti: “Song Without Words” (from Alborada).

Best Instrumental Composition

Winner: Bela Fleck and Howard Levy: “Life In Eleven” from Rocket Science.

Other Nominees:

John Hollenbeck: “Falling Men” from Shut Up and Dance.

Gordon Goodwin: “Hunting Wabbits 3 (Get Off My Lawn) from That’s How We Roll.

Randy Brecker: “I Talk To The Trees” from The Jazz Ballad Song Book.

Russell Ferrante: “Timeline” from Timeline.


Live Jazz: Joni’s Jazz with Herbie Hancock and an All-Star Ensemble at the Hollywood Bowl

August 18, 2011

By Michael Katz

Jazz has always attached itself to the popular musical idioms of the day, from Tin Pan Alley to the Beatles and even (gasp) hip hop.  But Wednesday night’s concert at the Hollywood Bowl highlighted a reverse aspect, Joni Mitchell’s mid-seventies adaptation of jazz into her own style of songwriting and performance. Make no mistake, even with musical giants like Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, and even absent Ms. Mitchell in person, the voice was distinctly Joni, her words weaving poetic narrative, her rhythms enticing and challenging.

Herbie Hancock

The program was divided into a first act of songs mostly from Court and Spark and Hejira, and the second act re-creation of The Hissing of Summer Lawns. Although Herbie Hancock won a Grammy for his CD River: The Joni Letters, all the arrangements Wednesday night were the work of co-leaders Brian Blade (drums and a sparkling blues guitar on “Strange Boy”) and Jon Cowherd (keyboards). They brought in a first rate ensemble, with Tom Scott and Mark Isham out front on tenor and trumpet.

Glen Hansard

The five guest vocalists all brought something different to the program, and it’s a pretty good bet that the disparate audience of diehard Joni fans and Wayne/Herbie followers made some new musical acquaintances. Glen Hansard, the Irish singer from The Frames and the film The Commitments made only one appearance in the first set, but it was a sprightly rendition of “Coyote,” which highlighted his own guitar playing, the percussion of Jeff Haynes and dueling solos from Tom Scott and Wayne Shorter, who played a soaring soprano sax throughout his appearances.

Aimee Mann

Aimee Mann comes closest to resembling Joni Mitchell in voice and appearance, which is probably an unfair comparison, akin to the trumpeters who assume the Miles Davis chair in re-creations of his bands. But she was out front to start the show with “Court and Spark,” steady and heartfelt, though the mix of the ensemble behind her was a little strong. Throughout the evening she had some of the signature Joni tunes, including “Free Man in Paris” and, in the second half,  “Shades of Scarlet Conquering” and the title track, “Hissing of Summer Lawns,” which featured Herbie Hancock providing some haunting piano accompaniment. Hancock only appeared on three tunes, but he was in top form each time.

Cassandra Wilson

Cassandra Wilson brings her own unique style to everything she touches. Her voice is low and sonorous, her readings always with a spark of originality. She had three numbers in the first act, including “Hejira,” with a lush solo by Mark Isham, but most notably Joni’s hit “Help Me,” which started with the familiar opening chords and moved toward a plaintive, thick-as-molasses second chorus. Unscheduled but equally moving was “Blue Motel Room,” which turned into a duet with Tom Scott. Wilson’s vocals, which can fall an octave below the tenor’s midtones, make for a stunning combination, which was repeated during the second set’s opener, “In France They Kiss On Main Street.”  It’s a pairing that could easily stand up to an album of its own.

Chaka Khan

Chaka Khan projects an entirely different presence. She’s a diva, but played it with a degree of understatement and reverence toward the material. “Strange Boy,” with Brian Blade playing a Delta blues guitar and Greg Leisz on steel pedal guitar, was a soulful performance and “People’s Parties” was effectively funky, with her ability to soar into soprano at a moment’s notice. Her two contributions to the second set, “Don’t Interrupt The Sorrow” and “Sweet Bird,” were both sensitive and dramatic interpretations.

Kurt Elling

Kurt Elling always seems to rise to the forefront in these group presentations, although his introduction was a bit shaky, with a Sinatra reference that seemed out of place. “Black Crow,” coming early in the first set, featured a terrific solo by Shorter, but overall seemed a little disjointed. His later contribution to the first set, “The Dry Cleaner From Des Moines” (the lone piece from the Mingus album) was a perfect vehicle for him, and teamed him with some sparkling piano work from Hancock.  Elling’s voice has a stark clarity to it, no small advantage in an evening when five different singers are interpreting an artist whose lyrics are central to the show’s purpose. There were times, especially during the second act performance of The Hissing of Summer Lawns, – which despite its acknowledged excellence is still not as familiar to many as Joni Mitchell’s earlier work — when you had to adjust to the different intonations of the artists to pick up the lyrics.  Not so with Elling. “The Jungle Line” doesn’t require much in the way of subtlety, but “Edith and the Kingpin,” enhanced by Shorter and Scott on their saxes, was presented with the patented Elling sensibility.

Glen Hansard finally made it back with “The Boho Dance” and, to close the show,  “Shadows and Light.” By the end, the hope that Joni Mitchell might make an unscheduled appearance had given way to a satisfaction that a segment of her work, under-appreciated by many, had been revived in high style, artfully arranged by Blade and Cowherd and performed with heart and spirit by the group they had assembled.

To read more reviews and posts by Michael Katz click here.

Herbie Hancock photo by Tony Gieske.


Picks of the Week: Aug. 15 – 21

August 16, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Herbie Hancock

- Aug. 17. (Wed.)  Joni’s Jazz. With Herbie Hancock, Chaka Khan, Kurt Elling,Wayne Shorter, Tom Scott, Cassandra Wilson, etc. Hancock’s fascination with Joni Mitchell’s music resulted in the 2008 Grammy winning Album of the Year, River.  Here he goes again, with a stellar line up to illuminate Mitchell’s compelling songs.  Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

- Aug. 17. (Wed.)  The Go-Go’s.  Thirty years after Beauty and the Beast, the Go Go’s return, proving in bright, living color that their ‘80s successes were more than just a passing California fancy.  The Greek Theatrets  (323) 665-5857.

- Aug. 18. (Thurs.) Jeff Colella/Pat Senatore/Kendall Kay Trio. Three veteran players — who spend most of their time as sidemen, making other leaders sound great – join together to display their impressive individual and collective skills. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Aug. 18. (Thurs.)  Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks Unlimited.  He’s called the “Lion of Zimbabwe” with good reason.  Mapfumo’s remarkable voice and his hook-oriented songs transcend boundaries, resulting in a truly global musical expression.  The Skirball Center.  (31) 440-4500.

Barbara Morrison

- Aug. 18. (Thurs.)  Friends of Barbara.  Dana Bronson presents a benefit concert in support of the great jazz/blues vocalist Barbara Morrison, who is experiencing serious health problems.Call the club for the line-up of performers.   Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Aug. 18 & 19. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Death Cab For Cutie. They may have initially been best known for their cutting edge videos, but DCFC also provide that a good band can actually break through as an indy, even before being signed by a major label.  The Greek Theatre.    (323) 665-5857.

- Aug. 19. (Fri.)  Anthony Wilson Quintet.  Guitarist Wilson has worked a lot with Diana Krall.  But he’s even more impressive, with his own group, playing his own break-out compositions.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Wilson Phillips

- Aug. 19. (Fri.)  Wilson Phillips. They’ve been together only intermittently since they burst on the scene in 1990 with a parade of hit songs.  But now the offspring of Brian Wilson and John and Michelle Phillips are getting together again, displaying their impressive, inherited musical skills.  Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.  (562) 916-8501.

- Aug. 20. (Sat.)  Rique Pantoja & Friends.  With friends like Abraham Laboriel, Ernie Watts, Alex Acuna and Mitchell Long on stage with him, Pantoja will no offer an evening of definitive Latin jazz with a distinctly Brazilian slant.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

San Francisco

- Aug. 16 & 17. (Tues. & Wed.)  Sophie Milman.  Russian-born, Canadian singer Milman made an impressive debut in 2004 with her first album.  Expect to hear some selections from her upcoming new release, In the Moonlight.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.     (415) 655-5600.

Seattle

- Aug. 18 – 21. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Spyro Gyra. Before there was smooth jazz, there was Spyro Gyra.  The band’s 25 albums, reaching back to the ‘70s, defined the blend of r&b, flunk and instrumental pop that has come to be known as the smooth jazz genre.  Jazz Alley.    (206) 441-9729.

New York

Steve Kuhn

- Aug. 16 – 20. (Tues. – Sat.)  The Masters Quartet: Steve Kuhn, Dave Liebman, Steve Swallow and Billy Drummond. One couldn’t find a more appropriate label for this quartet of extraordinary veteran players.  To make it even better, they’ve performed together often in the past in many musical settings, so expect musical magic.  Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

- Aug. 16 – 21. (Tues. – Sun.) “Tribute To Ray Brown.”  Christian McBride and Dee Dee Bridgewater.  Bassist McBride and singer Bridgewater honor Brown’s extraordinary skills as a bassist and as an astute accompanist to some of the great jazz vocalists. The Blue Note.    (212) 475-8592.

- Aug. 16 – 21. (Tues. – Sun.)  “The Music of Antonio Carlos Jobim and Stan Getz.”  With Trio Da Paz, Joe Locke, Harry Allen and Maucha Adnet.  It’s an unusual assemblage – the Brazilian authenticity of Trio Da Paz and singer Maucha Adnet with the straight ahead jazz chops of Locke and Allen.  Should make for an intriguing musical evening.  Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.    (212) 258-9800.

London

- Aug. 16 – 20. (Tues. – Sat.)  The Wynton Marsalis Quintet. The chances to hear the Marsalis Quintet in a club setting are rare – in London and elsewhere.  Tickets may be hard to come by, but it’s worth doing whatever you can to experience Wynton in an intimate performance arena. Ronnie Scott’s.    020 7439 0747.

Herbie Hancock photo by Tony Gieske. 


Konik’s Commentary: “Jazz Is Dead, Part 2: Performing Artists”

August 14, 2011

By Michael Konik

We’ve previously discussed how poor programming choices on jazz radio are unintentionally sabotaging the medium’s noble mission to “keep jazz alive.” But terrestrial radio, an increasingly irrelevant distribution channel in the age of the Internet and satellites, isn’t the only culprit in our music’s alleged “death.” Some of jazz’s most effective assassins are the people who care most: the professional musicians.

In an age when fewer folks than ever are willing to pay for recorded music, the only way for a full-time jazz recording artist to earn a living is by touring, giving concerts, putting on shows, performing – being a performing artist.

Wynton Marsalis

Performing Artist: It’s a two-word job description. The majority of accomplished jazz musicians have no problem with the second part, the artistry thing. They’ve committed their life to learning and mastering a transcendent and mysterious magic replete with its own language, codes, and customs. They compose on-the-spot. They create. Jazz musicians are artists of the highest realm. Few of them, though, care enough about the first part, the seemingly less exalted imperative to put on a show. To perform.

Their disdain stems from an innate (and probably warranted) mistrust of “show business,” of an elemental (and probably warranted) disgust with a popular culture that tends to hear with its eyes and think with its genitals. When you make music that requires attention, concentration, and complete engagement, you’ve automatically narrowed your audience to the minority of sentient listeners for whom Twitter posts and Facebook updates aren’t reasons to live but a kind of obstreperous distraction. Yet even that dwindling demographic of thoughtful, observant listeners wants to be entertained – and transported, and thrilled, and provoked, and made to feel. They go to live jazz performances for some of the same reasons people go to pop, rock, country, hip-hop, and cabaret shows: for a performance. Otherwise they might as well stay at home and listen to their CDs.

Dianne Reeves

With few exceptions, most jazz musicians don’t want to be pop stars, or, indeed, any kind of star. They want to be serious. We don’t begrudge this lofty impulse; we love jazz musicians for their determination to invent something meaningful and profound.   They operate in a debased culture where stars and celebrity – even the brazenly manufactured kind that requires no discernible talent – garner more interest from the average American than the power mongers who actually control our lives. They make art in a culture where the court jesters and fools have supplanted policymakers on the throne of public opinion. In such a climate, refusing to treat audiences with as much respect as the repertoire is a terrific strategy for making oneself increasingly irrelevant and ignored.  That’s cool if you want your art to be the chief sacrament of a dwindling hipster cult. But if you want jazz to grow and flourish, you’ve got to reach across the invisible Fourth Wall and touch people.

Connecting with the audience matters. Maybe more than anything. They haven’t come to the club or concert hall or amphitheater to absorb disembodied sounds. They bought a ticket because they want shamans and wizards, divas and charmers. They want someone to take control and guide them through a journey. They want to have an experience.

This doesn’t mean the performer must behave like a buffoon or stripper or cheese-ball canister. It means accepting the implicit contract between Actors and Observers. It means being private in public. It means sharing something real.

Many jazz musicians, however, wear their ineptitude onstage as a badge of honor, as evidence of their outsider status. They behave as though the congregation on the other side of the footlights doesn’t exist – or is an annoying impurity in the otherwise pristine process of making exalted music. Aside from punk rock, where contempt for everything is sui generis, in the jazz realm you’ll frequently witness “performers” shut their eyes, construct an imaginary box, and literally turn their back on the audience, sending the implicit message that what’s happening on stage is an elite conclave meant just for the cats. In jazz you’ll often see front men (and front women) reading lyrics and chord charts, sometimes off a music stand planted in the center of the stage. There might be all sorts of good explanations for this unwieldy prop, but to consumers of live performances it looks like laziness: someone didn’t take the time to learn the song in advance.

Ticket-buying audiences are keenly attuned to nonverbal signals: Did the performer bother getting dressed? Did he comb his hair? Did she walk onstage like Diana Ross or like someone going grocery shopping? Casual presentations beget casual listening — which begets unengaged listeners who eventually find something more “interesting” on which to spend their concert-going dollars.

Stuff that’s unthinkable at a professionally mounted pop (or whatever) concert happens all the time in the jazz world. How many jazz shows have you attended in which the musicians huddle between tunes for a discussion of the repertoire – or to hand out under-rehearsed arrangements? How many times have you suffered through pregnant pauses and awkwardly mumbled announcements because no one on stage is ready to deliver the goods? To dedicated jazzheads, this kind of sloppy presentation has become expected, maybe even endearing in its naïf-like, “I’m an odd-meter-obsessed artist” ingenuousness. To new initiates or those not quite sure if they dig this whole jazz thing, amateurish stage conduct reads like disdain for the audience.

In just about every other segment of the Performing Arts, being unprepared to perform is tantamount to failure. Too many jazz musicians, focused on their flatted-fifths and diminished-sevenths, think it’s OK.

The marketplace is telling us it’s not.

John Pizzarelli

Some of the most successful acts in the business (both in critical and commercial terms) prove that it’s possible to be both a performer and an artist: Kurt Elling, John Pizzarelli, Bobby McFerrin, Dianne Reeves, Wynton Marsalis, Christian McBride, Barbara Morrison. They’ve got monster chops and loads of onstage charisma. Neither attribute dilutes the other; actually, these qualities augment and complement in a kind of aesthetic symbiosis that audiences, sophisticated or not, can instantly intuit. Successful performing artists know how to project their talent, to share it in a way that makes each audience member feel like the gift was meant just for them.

Bobby McFerrin

Learning how to perform as viscerally and directly as popular artists do is like learning an instrument: you have to practice (and maybe get coaching and direction). Casting a spell happens consciously. It’s a process. For jazz recording artists who genuinely wish to “keep jazz alive,” making a renewed commitment to connect with live audiences is crucial, maybe even mandatory. It’s the surest way to invigorate our music.

To find out more about Michael Konik, click HERE.


Picks of the Week: Aug. 30 – Sept. 5

August 30, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Karen Lovely

- Aug. 31. (Tues.)  The Karen Lovely Band. Rising vocal star Lovely is applying her powerful singing to classic blues, richly investing the  styles of the ’30s and ’40s — Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, etc. — with her uniquely contemporary perspective.   Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- Aug. 31. (Tues.)  Lisa Hilton. Jazz pianist Hilton leads her quartet — saxophonist J.D. Allen, bassist Gregg August and drummer Rudy Royston —  focusing on her playing and her compositions in a performance that will no doubt include some selections from her recently released CD, Nuance. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.  .

- Aug. 31. (Tues.)  John Altman. He’s been a visible factor in jazz and pop music for decades, as a composer, arranger, producer and conductor.  But Altman’s also an impressive alto saxophonist as well.  Hear him in one of the Southland’s most laid back jazz settings.  Charlie O’s.   (818) 994-3058.

- Aug. 31. (Tues.)  Yuval Ron EnsembleSeeker of the Truth. The Ron Ensemble performs ecstatic music of the Sufi and Jewish traditions, with the Whirling Dervish Aziz and sacred dance artist Maya Karasso.  Also on the program, the vocals of Maya Haddi and the qawwali singing of Pakistan’s Sukhawat Ali KhanSeeker of the Truth.  Morgan-Wixson Theatre, Santa Monica.    Info: (818) 505-1355.

- Aut. 31. (Tues.)  John Pisano’s Guitar Night.  With Howard Alden.  You may not recognize Alden by sight, but you’ve heard his playing if you saw Woody Allen’s Sweet and Lowdown, in which it was dubbed over Sean Penn’s air guitar.  Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

Herbie Hancock

- Sep. 1. (Wed.)  Herbie Hancock Seven Decades – The Birthday Celebration. The Hollywood Bowl’s jazz highlight of the summer season.  The program includes selections from Hancock’s new crossover album,  The Imagine Project.  Among his stellar companions for the night: Wayne Shorter, India.Arie, Jack DeJohnette, Zakir Hussain, Juanes, Esperanza Spalding, Lisa Hannigan, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi and others.  The Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.  Click HERE to read Herbie Hancock’s conversation with iRoM about the making of  “The Imagine Project.”

- Sept. 2. (Thurs.) Leonard Bernstein’s Candide.  A Los Angeles Philharmonic concert staging of Bernstein’s operetta featuring singers Anna Christy, Alek Shrader and Richard Suart with the LA Master ChoraleThe Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

- Sept 2. (Thurs.)  Dr. John and the Lower 911.  New Orleans rhythms take over the Santa Monica Pier for a dynamic summer evening.  Dancing, if there’s room, is optional, but probably irresistible.  With Eddie Baytos and the Nervis BrothersTwilight Dance at the Santa Monica Pier.  (310) 458-8900.

- Sept. 2. (Thurs.)  Gail Pettis.  She spends most of her time in her Seattle orthodontist’s office, but Pettis has all the qualities of a breakout jazz vocalist.  She’s not here often, so don’t miss the opportunity to hear her.Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400. 

Gaea Schell

- Sept. 1 & 2. (Wed, & Thurs.) Gaea Schell Quartet Pianist/singer Schell, whose vocals are intimately blended with her articulate piano work, makes a pair of appearances, backed by bassist Essiet Essiet at Vibrato , (310) 474-9400, on Wednesday, and with Essiet, saxophonist Chuck Manning and drummer Sylvia Cuenca at the Crowne Plaza Brasserie Jazz Lounge,  (310) 642-7500, on Thursday.

- Sept. 2 – 5. (Thurs. – Sun.) Mary Wilson You know her from her chart busting performances with the Supremes, and Wilson continues to honor that legacy.  But she’s also emerged as a talented, jazz and blues artist in her own right.  Catalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210.  .

- Sept. 3 & 4. (Fri. & Sat.)  Earth, Wind & Fire celebrate their 40th anniversary, performing with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and FireworksThe Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

- Sept. 3 – 6. (Fri. – Mon.)  Sweet & Hot Music Festival.  The 15th installment of this annual event celebrates the great jazz mainstream – from up tempo swing to seductive blues and balladry.  Featured artists include  Ernestine Anderson, Herb Jeffires, Banu Gibson, Jack Sheldon Orchestra, The Mills Brothers, Harry Allen, Howard Alden and dozens of others.  Over 200 musicians performing at eight different locations in 180 events, with four dance floors encouraging fancy footwork. .  LAX Marriott Hotel.  Sweet & Hot Music Festival.   (909) 983-0106.

Louie Cruz Beltran

- Sept. 5. (Sun.)  La Vida Music Festival.   An evening of music celebrating L.A.’s rich array of Latin musical cultures.  With Louis Cruz Beltran, Poncho Sanchez.  Real Tango, the Mariachi Divas, Robert Kyle’s Brazilian Quartet and Chalo Eduardo’s Brazilian BeatTommy Hawkins hosts.  Ford Amphitheatre. (323) 461-3673

- Sept. 6. (Mon.) Fantasea One Labor Day Yacht Party.  A mini-cruise and barbeque with four decks of live entertainment, DJs, games, free barbeque, cabanas and more.  Departing from Marina Del Rey at 4 p.m., returning at 8 p.m.  (310) 821-5371.   8th Annual Labor Day Yacht Party.

San Francisco

- Aug. 31 – Sept. 1. (Tues. – Thurs.) Jacky Terrasson.  France’s Terrason burst onto the jazz stage in 1993 as the winner of the Thelonious Monk Piano Competition.  And he didn’t stop there, receiving a pair of Grammy nominations and a string of awards inhis native country.  Always compelling, he makes few West Coast appearances.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655-5600. 

- Sept. 2 – 4 (Thurs. – Sat.)  Marlena Shaw. She’s been crossing genre boundaries – from jazz to soul, disco and beyond – since the mid-‘60s.  And she’s still in rare form.  The Rrazz Room.   (415) 394-1189.

- Sept. 3 – 5. (Fri. – Sun.)  Kenny Burrell Quintet.  Veteran guitarist/educator Burrell leads the scintillating ensemble of saxophonist Tivon Pennicott, bassist Roberto Miranda, pianist Mike Wofford and drummer Clayton Cameron.  To read a recent iRoM review of the Burrell Quintet click HEREYoshi’s Oakland.  (510) 238-9200.

Detroit

Roy Haynes

- Sept. 3 – 6. (Fri. – Mon.)  31st Detroit International Jazz Festival.  This year’s event has as stellar a line up as any jazz festival of the year.  But the price is right for this one.  Here are some of the highlight performers: Roy Haynes and his Fountain of Youth Band, Maria Schneider, Branford Marsalis, Myra Melford, Freddy Cole, Ledisi, Mulgrew Miller & Kenny Barron Duo, Ray Brown Tribute, Danilo Perez, Tower of Power,  Ernie Andrews, Kurt Elling, Ernie Watts, Tower of Power, Gerald Wilson, The Manhattan Transfer and much more.   Free Event.  Detroit International Jazz Festival. At locations in downtown Detroit.

Chicago

- Sept. 2 – 5. (Fri.- Sun.)  The 32nd Annual Chicago Jazz Festival, presented by CareFusion.  Another grat Midwest jazz festival, also priced for everyone’s pocketbook.  Here are some of the high points of a line up that also includes an array of Chicago-based talent of all ages.  Brad Mehldau, Henry Threadgill, Kurt Elling, Rene Marie, Ramsey Lewis, Chuchito Valdes, Brian Blade Fellowship Band, Charisma with a Lee Morgan Tribute, Ted Sirota.  Free Event.  At locations throughout Chicago.  Chicago Jazz Festival (312) 427-1676.   (313) 447-1248.

New York

- Aug. 31 – Sept. 1 (Tues. & Wed.) Jimmy Scott.  He’s been one of jazz, soul and r&b’s most unique stylists since he first arrived on the scene.  Still a master of interpretation, he performs here in the companly of jazz harmonica player Gregoire MaretThe Blue Note (212) 475-8592.

Leny Andrade

- Aug. 31 – Sept. 4. (Tues. – Sat.)  Leny Andrade“Return to Birdland: Bossas, Boleros and Jazz.” Andrade’s ability to illuminate the natural jazz roots of bossa nova has made her one of Brazil’s finest jazz vocal artists.  Birdland.   (212) 581-3080.

- Aug. 31 – Sept. 5. (Tues. – Sun.)  Paul Motian, Joe Lovano, Bill Frisell.  It’s as all-star as it gets, with three masters of their art working in spontaneous tandem.  Don’t miss this one.  Village Vanguard.   (212) 255-4037.

- Sept. 1. (Wed.)  “Endangered Species; The Music of Wayne Shorter” The Irididium opens Big Band Month with a performance by the Wayne Shorter Tribute Big BandDavid Weiss leads the ten piece ensemble in a program surveying music from the full breadth of Shorter’s remarkable catalog of compositions.  Iridium.   (212) 582-2121.

- Sept. 2 – 5. (Wed. – Sun.)  Tuck & Patti.  They started out as a definitive jazz voice and guitar duo, and they continue to bring imagination and musicality to everything they perform.  The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.


Live Jazz: The Playboy Jazz Festival, Saturday at the Hollywood Bowl

June 14, 2010

By Don Heckman

The 32nd Playboy Jazz Festival wrapped a long weekend of music yesterday with yet another program perfectly illustrating the qualities that make it one of the world’s most engaging celebrations: tradition, youth, stylistic range and global diversity. Bill Cosby, the Festival’s irrepressible master of ceremonies and the leader of his own Cos of Good Music, got it exactly right in a conversation we had the week before the Festival.

“It’s in the name,” he explained. “It says ‘Playboy Jazz Festival’ with this realization that jazz has this tremendous umbrella that keeps broadening, it keeps getting wider. And to me, that says everything.”

To properly view the breadth of that umbrella, iRoM dispatched several of its prime reviewers – Tony Gieske, Devon Wendell and Mike Katz – to cover the Festival’s two long, entertaining days. We’ll be adding their comments over the next day or so. From an overall perspective there was a lot to write about.

Saturday’s program, for example, began with a superlative set by the gifted young players of the El Dorado High School jazz band. Youth was well served, as was tradition, via the convincing grasp of the memorable aspects of big band jazz.

Jake Shimabukuro

Jake Shimabukuro added a different slant on youth, Alone on the vast Bowl stage with his ukulele, engagingly interacting with the enthusiastic crowd, he produced an extraordinary collection of music. Beatles songs, jazz riffs, percussive stomps, rock guitar wails were all extracted, mysteriously, from his seemingly unlikely instrument.

Tradition was there aplenty, as well. The Marcus Miller Band combined with a powerful dose of youth via the presence of alto saxophonist Alex Han and trumpeter Christian Scott – two players on the way to superlative careers. Singer Kurt Elling and the gripping tenor saxophone work of Ernie Watts recalled the memorable ‘60s Great American songbook encounter by Johnny Hartman and John Coltrane.

Les McCann

Spreading Cosby’s “umbrella,” Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue took off on a fast-fingered, improvisational excursion combining wild virtuosity with blues roots. And Javon Jackson and Les McCann added a further view of the blues (and beyond) in an ever-swinging, cross-generational encounter.

But the most unusual group demanding (and getting) a place beneath that umbrella was the extraordinary vocal ensemble, Naturally 7. Using nothing more than their voices and their free-flying imaginations, the group’s seven members created an astonishing collage of instrumental-like textures combined with surging, propulsive, human body beat-box percussion.

The Clayton-Hamilton Big Band, sparked by co-leader and bassist John Clayton’s dynamic presence, offered a stunning display of big band jazz as a timeless musical entity.

Roy Haynes

And Chick Corea’s Freedom Band – including the stellar line-up of alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett, bassist Christian McBride and drummer Roy Haynes – roved from the occasional far-out forays of Garrett and Corea to some surprisingly traditional passages with every note driven by the imaginatively rhythmic work of the octagenarian Haynes.

Pete Escovedo

The Festival couldn’t have made a better choice for the let’s-get-the-crowd-on-their-feet segment of the evening than Pete Escovedo, delivering highly spiced Latin sounds along with his talented offspring, Sheila E., Peter Michael Escovedo and Juan Escovedo. The tradition of jazz-as-dance (and vice versa) was in full blossom as the Bowl’s aisles overflowed with happy rhythmic celebrants.

Wrapping the Festival’s first day, Sax For Stax added yet another aspect of the music’s stylistic range — jazz as pop instrumental music. With the saxophones of Gerald Albright and Kirk Whalum in the hard-driving showcase spotlight, it remained for the solid playing of keyboardist Jeff Lorber to keep the music directly linked to its straight ahead roots.

Photos of Jake Shimabukuro and Pete Escovedo courtesy of Playboy Jazz Festival.  All other photos by Tony Gieske.


Picks of the Week: June 8 – 13

June 8, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- June 8. (Tues.) Guitar night with John Pisano. Tuesdays are always great nights for jazz when the veteran guitarist Pisano jams with some of his most gifted six string compatriots. This week, he exchanges riffs with busy studio guitarist Mike Anthony, backed by the solid bass support of Chris Connor. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- June 9. (Wed.) Jose James. James has always had a heathy seasoning of jazz in his pop, soul and hip hop tinged music.  But his latest album, For All We Know, pairs him with Jef Neves in a vibrantly spontaneous voice and piano tour through a set of standards.  Here’s a chance to hear it live.  Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

- June 10. (Thurs.) Nora Rothman, She’s still in her teens, but the slender, graceful Rothman sings with the sort of imaginative musicality and crisp phrasing that suggest a potentially significant talent in the making. Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

- June 10. (Thurs.) Roberta Donnay. With a voice that combines qualities of Blossom Dearie and Billie Hoiday with her own warm sound, Donnay brings standards to life with engaging ease. Donnay sings with pianist George Kahn and bassist Larry Steen. Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- June 11 & 12. (Fri. & Sat.) Barbara Morrison. The lady who does it all is doing it again in a venue that knows how to showcase her tempting palette of blues, ballads and bebop. Steamers.

- June 13. (Sun.) Alan Broadbent/Pat Senatore Duo. Grammy-winning pianist Broadbent is also a superb composer/arranger. In a duo setting, backed by the flowing, supportive bass rhythms of Senatore, Broadbent creates stunning, spontaneous solos that reach beyond improvisation and into the area of instant composition. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

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HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK

- June 12 & 13. (Sat. & Sun.) The Playboy Jazz Festival. The 32nd installment of L.A.’s major annual jazz event is once again – no surprise – brimming with its usual combination of iconic talent and colorfully diverse views of jazz as the global art it has become. But Playboy is always more than a non-stop flow of music. Each hour of the day flows with its own unique qualities, from the sun-baked afternoon hours to the wine-inspired dancing in the aisles near the dinner hour and the enthusiastic reception of the schedule’s headliners. A free-floating party for every taste.

Saturday’s line up features Chick Corea, Gerald Albright, Jeff Lorber, Kurt Elling, Pete Escovedo, Marcus Miller, Javon Jackson, Les McCann, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Naturally 7, Jake Shimabakuru and Trombone Shorty.

Sunday sparkles with Esperanza Spalding, George Benson, Manhattan Transfer, Bobby Hutcherson, Salif Keita, Robert Randolph’s Family Band, Irving Mayfield, Jazz Mafia, Bill Cosby and the Cos of Good Music and Tiempo Libre. Each day opens with a performance by one of the Southland’s fine youth jazz ensembles — the El Dorado Band on Saturday, the L.A. All District High School Jazz Band on Sunday. And Bill Cosby, in addition to leading his Cos of Good Music All-Stars, will provide his usual emcee blend of wit and whimsy. The Playboy Jazz Festival. Hollywood Bowl.

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- June 13. (Sun.) Corky Hale and Friends. Jazz pianist, harpist and singer Hale plays hostess to an elegant line up irresistible female talent. With Corky leading the way, the gathering includes Sally Kellerman, Freda Payne, Ariana Savalas, Tricia Tahara and Brenna Whitaker. Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

San Diego

- June. 11. (Fri.) Javon Jackson and Les McCann. A generational jazz mix – the much-praised, adventurous saxophone work of Jackson juxtaposed against the inimitable, grooving drive of the veteran McCann. Catch them on the evening before their Playboy Jazz Festival appearance.. Anthology. San Diego.  (619) 595-0300.

San Francisco

June 11 – 13. (Fri. – Sun.) The Jack DeJohnette Group. Drummer and avid musical adventurer has assembled a boundary-leaping group of conemporary stars, featuring alto saxophonist Rudress Mahanthappa, guitarist David Fiuczynski, pianist George Colligan and bassist Jerome Harris. Yoshi’s Oakland.

New York

- June 8 & 9. (Tues. & Wed.) Jeff Beck and “A Celebration of Les Paul.” Beck takes a break from supporting his emotionally gripping guitar-with-strings-and-guests album, Emotion and Commotion, to celebrate the life of the guitarist whose instrumental and recording innovations continue to impact popular music. Iridium. (212) 582-2121.

- June 11 – 13. (Fri. – Sun.) The Dave Brubeck Quartet. How often do you have the chance to hear a jazz icon in action — and in action at a club that brings you up close and personal to every aspect of the music? Not often, at all. So don’t miss this chance to hear Brubeck, well into his ’80s, but still playing music filled with vitality, adventure and, yes, with youth. The Blue Note. (212) 475-8592


Live Jazz: The Monterey Jazz Festival All-Stars at Royce Hall

April 23, 2010

By Michael Katz

When I last saw the Monterey Jazz Festival All-Stars, they were opening the 52nd MJF before a raucous Friday night crowd, the hour allotted to them not nearly enough to hold all their collective talents. Seven months later, in the more restrained environment of UCLA’s Royce Hall, I caught up with them again. Though the atmosphere is different, their current extended tour has given them the chance to explore the nuances of their  interconnected skills, a prevailing theme at Friday’s performance presented by UCLA Live.

As super groups go, this version of the Monterey All-Stars is pretty impressive. You could make a strong argument for Russell Malone, Regina Carter and Kurt Elling to be in the top handful of performers on their instruments (or voice), and when you add Kenny Barron’s compositional skills to his piano artistry, the combination is hard to beat. Kiyoshi Kitagowa provided steady bass work with some fine soloing, and Johnathan Blake nearly stole the show in several places with some inventive brushwork.

Kurt Elling

The group led off with McCoy Tyner’s “Effendi,” with lyrics supplied by Kurt Elling. As expected, the opening gave each member a chance to stretch out with extended solos, followed by an energetic trading of 8-bar riffs by all four headliners. From that point, the group began to splinter off into various permutations. Regina Carter, providing a sense of decorum, introduced “When I Get Too Old To Dream,” deferring to Elling on a softly swinging vocal while she and Malone provided lilting counterpoints to the melody.

Kenny Barron took over, raising the temperature with the first of his several compositions for the evening, “NY Attitude,” a straight trio number ably abetted by Kitagowa and Blake. Barron and Blake, though separated in years, both have large physiques that belie the dexterity of their playing. Watching Barron in this trio setting, you sometimes have to pinch yourself that the complex chordal riffs you are hearing match up with the seemingly effortless playing reported by your eyes.

Russell Malone

Russell Malone returned with a tribute to the late Herb Ellis, a soft, sweet version of Harry Warren’s “An Affair To Remember.” I’ve remarked on these pages before about the magical effect Malone has on a ballad. He explores the choral aspects of the guitar, circling around to the melody and then back out, like a stream meandering around a bend before finding its main current.

Kurt Elling returned, and this time the trio alignment was Malone and bassist Kitagowa, for the Horace Silver/Jon Hendricks tune “Home Cookin’.”  They had performed this at Monterey, but now it highlighted the teamwork between the players.  They brought home the tune’s sense of humor, both in Elling’s delightful reading and Malone’s nuanced accompaniment.

Kenny Barron

The first set ended with Kenny Barron’s catchy “Calypso,” another number they performed last September and honed over for months on tour. Regina Carter started out with some staccato riffs, matched by Russell Malone, but it was Kenny Barron taking over on his Caribbean composition, and Johnathan Blake demanding recognition with the first of his startling drum solos.

Kurt Elling brought the group back after intermission with “And We Will Fly,” an Alan Pasqua composition from his Night Moves CD. It had a light, samba-like feel to it, and was delightful in this version,  with Russell Malone and Regina Carter adding dimension. Elling, the de facto leader of this group, then introduced the opening line of Thelonious Monk’s “Rhythm-N-Ing,” and the group took off on its most impressive jazz exploration of the night. Elling, fresh off his Grammy, is at the point of his career where he seems to be able to seize the audience almost at will. He then handed the baton to Carter, who let it all hang out with an extended solo that ranged from a quote of “Lady Be Good” to “Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead.”  Malone followed, showing off his bluesy side, and Barron did his best to one-up him, the group smoking through this entire piece. Finally, Kitagowa and Blake had an extended interlude, with Blake providing some terrific brush and stick work.

Regina Carter

Having shown off one side of her virtuosity, Carter turned to her gospel roots, teaming up with Barron in a stirring duet of “Georgia On My Mind.”  Though she hails from Detroit and Barron from Philly, you wouldn’t know it from this achingly beautiful rendition of a tune most associated with Ray Charles.

The group finished with two numbers that had them all involved, another outstanding Barron theme from an unnamed movie, and the familiar “Nature Boy,” which had the audience on its feet through terrific riffs by everyone, and another knockout Blake drum solo. It will be sad to see this tour come to an end, and here’s hoping that MJF Records will be releasing some of their material on CD in the near future.

To read more posts by Michael Katz click here.



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.


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