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

November 13, 2013

By Don Heckman

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

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

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

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

Bill Holman conducts his band

Bill Holman conducts his band

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

Bill Holman

Bill Holman

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

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

Judy Wexler

Judy Wexler

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

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Photos by Faith Frenz.


Picks of the Week: Oct. 28 – Nov. 3

October 29, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Amanda McBroom

Amanda McBroom

- Oct. 30. (Wed.)  Amanda McBroom.  The singer, actress and songwriter (“The Rose” is one of her songs) takes a break from her busy acting career to make a rare musical appearance in Los Angeles.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (223) 466-2210.

- Oct. 31. (Thurs.)  Kate Reid and Larry Koonse Duo.  Guitarist Koonse, who is at the top of everyone’s rhythm section list, has a strong musical connection with singer/pianist/educator Reid. Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Nov. 1 – 3. (Fri. – Sun.)  Vivaldi with Perlman.  Violinist Itzhak Perlman conducts and solos with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a program of Vivaldi, Weber and Berlioz.  Walt Disney Hall. /2013-11-01  (323) 850-2000.

- Nov. 1. (Fri.)  Bob Sheppard Trio. He’s a prime, first-call tenor saxophonist, but Sheppard is also a versatile woodwind (clarinet, flute and other saxophones) artist as well.  Hear him in the warm acoustic ambiance of Herb Alpert’s elegant jazz club.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

Karrin Allyson

Karrin Allyson

- Nov. 1 – 3. (Fri. – Sun.) Karrin Allyson.  Multiple Grammy nominated Allyson performs superbly in genres reaching from folk to cabaret to jazz to bossa nova and beyond. Her L.A. performances are rare, and always worth attending.    Catalina Bar & Grill.  (223) 466-2210.

- Nov. 2. (Sat.)  Joanne Tatham.  “Soundtrack New York: Music from Movies Made in Manhattan.  It’s a fascinating idea for a program of songs, with dozens from which to chose.  And Tatham delivers it well, via her warm, seductive sound and musical story-telling skills.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

Pat Senatore

Pat Senatore

- Nov. 3. (Sun.)  The Pat Senatore Trio.  With Josh Nelson, piano and Mark Ferber, drums.  Bassist Senatore leads a stellar group of players in a CD release party celebrating the release of the Trio’s new album, AscensioneVibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

San Francisco

- Oct. 30 & 31.  (Wed. & Thurs.)  The Four Freshmen.  Their history dates back to the late ‘40s, when the Freshmen were creating harmonically lush, jazz-driven jazz vocalizing, accompanied by their own multiple instrumental skills.  This is a younger version of the Freshmen, but their music continues to be richly compelling.  Yoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.

Seattle

- Oct. 31 – Nov. 3. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Gerald Albright. He’s well known as a much-admired, contemporary jazz saxophonist, but Albright is also a multi-instrumentalist who brings genre-crossing sounds to all his performances.   Jazz Alley.    (206) 441-9729.

New York City

Arturo Sandoval

Arturo Sandoval

- Nov. 1 – 3. (Fri. – Sun.)  Arturo Sandoval.  Every performance by Cuban-born Sandoval is a stunning display of his musical range and instrumental eclecticism.  Whether playing Dizzy Gillespie-influenced trumpet, rhapsodic piano, dynamic drumming, or singing, he does it all with complete musical mastery.  The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

Oct., 31 – Nov. 3.  (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Vijay Iyer Trio.  Pianist Iyer’s Grammy-nominated Trio is an engaging vehicle for his playing, which incorporates aspects of his Indian heritage with his dynamic piano style.  Jazz Standard.

- Oct. 29 – Nov. 2. (Tues. – Sat.)  The Ron Carter Nonet. Carter has performed as everyone’s favorite bassist on more than 2500 albums.  But he’s less-known as a composer and band leader in his own right, who should be heard at every opportunity.  Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

London

Dave Holland

Dave Holland

- Nov. 2 & 3.  (Sat. & Sun.)  Dave Holland Prism.  Prism is the latest in bassist Holland’s numerous ensembles.  And like all his musical efforts, it leads his listeners through inventive musical adventures.  Ronnie Scott’s.   +44 (0)20 7439 0747

Copenhagen

- Nov. 1 & 2. (Fri. & Sat.)  The Ben Sidran Quartet.  “Don’t Cry For No Hipster.”  The versatile Sidran, a Renaissance jazz man, moves comfortably from performing jazz, rock and beyond to work as a producer, educator and radio host.  Here, he’s on piano and vocals, backed by Bob Rockwell, tenor saxophone, Billy Peterson, bass and Leo Sidran, drums.  Jazzhus Montmartre.    +45 31 72 34 94.

Milan

- Oct. 30 & 31. (Wed. & Thurs.)  Jack DeJohnette Group.  Drummer DeJohnette, always creatively curious, leads an ensemble that features the equally inventive clarinetist/saxophonist Don Byron Blue Note Milano.     +39.02.69016888.


Picks of the Week: Oct. 14 – 20

October 15, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Josh Nelson

- Oct. 17. (Thurs.) All Star Quartet. Pat Senatore, bass, Josh Nelson, piano, Larry Koonse, guitar, Mark Ferber, drums. “All Star” is the right label for this quartet of four of the Southland’s finest players. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- Oct. 17 – 20. (Thurs. – Sun. Steve Gadd Band. Drummer Gadd has played with everyone from pop and rock stars to jazz headliners. This time he’s backed by the equally stellar ensemble of Michael Landau, Larry Goldings, Walt Fowler, & Jimmy Johnson). Catalina Bar & Grill (223) 466-2210.

- Oct. 18 – 20. (Fri. – Sun.) Disney Hall 10th Anniversary Celebration. Esa-Pekka Salonen returns to a familiar podium to conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a celebratory program of Debussy, Bartok and Lindberg, with cello soloist Anssi Karttunen and the women of the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Disney Hall.  (323) 850-2000.

Carol Welsman

Carol Welsman

- Oct. 19. (Sat.) Carol Welsman. “Reflections of Peggy Lee and Benny Goodman.” Pianist/singer Welsman applies her many talents to a program of Swing band classics. She’s joined by versatile saxophonist/vocalist Don Shelton. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- Oct. 19 (Sat.) Eva Ayllon. Multiple Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter, one of Peru’s most honored musicians, makes a rare L.A. Appearance. CAP UCLA at Royce Hall.  (310) 825-.2101.

- Oct. 19. (Sat.) Bernadette Peters. Musical theatre star Peters’ many talents reach from film and television to the stage, where her many starring roles include Mack and Mabel, Annie Get Your Gun, Gypsy, Into the Woods and more. Valley Performing Arts Center.  (818) 677-8800.

- Oct. 20 (Sun.) The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Jeffrey Kahane conducts the LACO in works by Britten, Haydn, Mozart and Bruce Adolphe, featuring cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras. CAP UCLA at Royce Hall.  (310) 825.2101.

Brian Wilson

- Oct. 20. (Sun.) Brian Wilson and Jeff Beck. It’s a rare combination of pop music greats, joining with Wilson’s former bandmates, Al Jardine and David Marks in a program that includes a great deal of the Beach Boys classic catalog of songs. The Greek Theatre.  (323) 665-5857.

San Francisco

- Oct. 19 & 20 (Sat. & Sun.) Michel Camilo, solo. The Dominican Republic’s gift to jazz piano playing performs a rare solo display of his rich improvisational skills. An SFJAZZ concert at Miner Auditorium. (866) 920-5299.

Seattle

- Oct. 17 – 20. (Thurs. – Sun.) Fourplay. Together for more than two decades, the members of Fourplay – Bob James, Nathan East, Harvey Mason and Chuck Loeb continue to lead the way in finding the roots of contemporary jazz. Jazz Alley. (206) 441-9729.

Chicago

Russell Malone

- Oct. 17 – 20. (Thurs. – Sun.) Russell Malone Quartet. Guitarist Malone has demonstrated his considerable versatility with the likes of Diana Krall, Harry Connick, Jr. and Jimmy Smith, and he continues to be a player adept with all seasons of jazz styles. Jazz Showcase.  (312) 360-0234.

New York City

- Oct. 15 & 16. (Tues. & Wed.) Phil Woods Quintet. Still one of the definitive bebop players, veteran alto saxophonist Woods is one of the trune jazz originals. Here he’s joined by the world class backing of Brian Lynch, trumpet, Bill Charlap, piano, Bill Goodwin, drums, Steve Gilmore, bass. The Blue Note. (212) 475-8592.

London

- Oct. 16 – 19. (Wed. – Sun.) Wayne Henderson’s Jazz Crusaders. Trombonist Henderson works hard to keep the classic jazz/funk/soul of the Crusaders alive and well. Ronnie Scott’s+44 (0)20 7439 0747.

Milan

Monty Alexander

Monty Alexander

- Oct. 15. (Tues.) Monty Alexander Trio. Jamaican-born pianist Alexander successfully manages to blend the sounds and rhythms of Jamaica with his extraordinary, Oscar Peterson-influenced jazz stylings. Blue Note Milano.  +39 02 6901 6888.

Tokyo

- Oct. 20 – 22. (Sun. – Tues.) John Scofield’s “Uberjam.” Always in search of new creative ideas, veteran jazz guitarist Scofield’s Uberjam band explores linkages with contemporary pop styles. Blue Note Tokyo. Tokyo Blue Note.  +81 3-5485-0088.


Picks of the Week: Sept. 18 – 22

September 18, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Gina Saputo

Gina Saputo

- Sept. 18. (Wed.) Gina Saputo. Emerging young jazz vocal star Saputo shares the stage with a talented group of L.A.’s finest singers — Courtney Lemmon, Dave Damiani and Mark Christian Miller. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Sept. 18. (Wed.) The Sammy Cahn-cert. Vocalist Kurt Reichenbach sings the marvelous far-ranging tunes from the Sammy Cahn songbook. Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- Sept. 18. (Wed.) Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club. It’s been nearly two decades since the Orquesta Buenta players began to enlighten the world about the great music of Cuba. And they’re still at it. Valley Performing Arts Center.  (818) 677-8800.

Annie Trousseau

Annie Trousseau

- Sept. 19. (Thurs.) Annie Trousseau. Multi-lingual singer Trousseau sings in Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian and English, enlivening the tradition of international cabaret styles. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- Sept. 20. (Fri.) The Bob McChesney Quartet. McChesney’s superb trombone playing has thoroughly established him as one of the instrument’s great jazz masters. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- Sept. 20. (Fri.) The Bob Sheppard Group. He’s everyone’s first call saxophone and woodwind player and with good reason. Here’s a chance to hear him in action with the stellar aid of guitarist Larry Koonse, bassist Mike Valerio and drummer Steve Kass. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

Ann Hampton Callaway and Liz Callaway

Ann Hampton Callaway and Liz Callaway

- Sept. 20 & 21. (Fri. & Sat.) Ann Hampton Callaway and Liz Callaway. The talented Callaway sisters get together to display talents reaching from jazz and pop to Broadway classics. Catalina Bar & Grill.  466-2210.

- Sept. 21 (Sat.) Sing-a-long Sound of Music. It’s an annual event, inviting enthusiastic audiences to sing along with the memorable songs from the Rogers & Hammerstein musical. The Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- Sept. 21. (Sat.) Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Swing music is still alive and well in the hard jiving hands of the Voodoo Daddys. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.  (562) 916-8501.

Jeffrey Kahane

Jeffrey Kahane

- Sept. 21 & 22. (Sat. & Sun.) Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. The gifted players of the LACO begin their season with Jeffrey Kahane conducting a program of Beethoven, Mozart, Lutoslawski and Kodaly. Featured soloist is young violinist Benjamin Beilman. Sat: the Ambassador Auditorium; Sun. Royce Hall. The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.  (213) 622-7001.

- Sept. 22. (Sun.) Los Angeles Master Chorale. The extraordinary singers of the LAMC celebrate the ensemble’s 50th anniversary with a retrospective look at the highlights in their remarkable performance history. Disney Hall. (323) 850-2000.

San Francisco

- Sept. 19. (Thurs.) Amjad Ali Khan and Sons. Classical Indian master of the sarod, Khan has passed his skills on to a generation of gifted offpsring. SFJAZZ. Miner Auditorium. -(866) 920-5299.

Chicago

- Sept. 19 – 22 (Thurs. – Sun.) Miguel Zenon and Rhythm Collective. Alto saxophonist and winner of a MacArthur “genius:” award Zenon reveals the far-reaching range of his improvisational skills. Jazz Showcase.  (312) 360-0234.

New York City

Steve Kuhn

Steve Kuhn

- Sept, 18 – 21. (Wed. – Sat.) Coltrane Revisited. Steve Kuhn, a veteran performer with Coltrane, leads a talented band of young players in a revisit to the Coltrane legacy. Birdland.  212) 581-3080.

London

- Sept. 18 – 19. Wed. & Thurs. Remembering Oscar Peterson. With pianists James Pearson and Dave Newton, Featuring selections from Peterson’s Canadiana Suite. Ronnie Scott’s+44 (0)20 7439 0747 .

Copenhagen

- Sept. 18 – 21. (Wed. – Sat.) French Jazz Festival. Denmark celebrates the high quality of French jazz artists. Among the featured performers: violinist Didier Lockwood, guitarist Michael Felderbaum and saxophonist Lionel Belmondo. Jazzhus Montmartre.  +45 31 72 34 94.

Tokyo

- Sept. 20. (Fri.) Jonathan Butler. South African singer Butler has been blending the music of his roots with a gift for crossing over into international pop, soul and blues. Blue Note Tokyo.  +81 3-5485-0088.


Picks of the Week: July 1 – 7

July 1, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Susan Krebs

Susan Krebs

- July 1 (Mon.)  Suze’s Birthday FestSusan Krebs celebrates her birthday in the creative company of Rich Eames, piano, Jerry Kalaf, drums and Tom Warrington, bassAdd to that the presence of special guests saxophonist Brian Scanlon and violinist Paul CartwrightVitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- July 2. (Tues.)  Carol Robbins, Pat Senatore and Larry Koonse.  An evening of interactive stringed instruments, with Robbins’ harp, Senatore’s bass and Koonse’s guitar.  Expect to hear some brisk swing combined with some fascinating textures.    Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

Josh Groban

Josh Groban

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- July 2 – 4. (Tues. – Thurs.)  Josh Groban Fireworks Spectacular. Groban’s warm, baritone voice is featured singing patriotic songs, supported by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and conductor Sarah Hicks in this year’s fireworks spectacular.   Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

- July 5. (Fri.)  Joe La Barbera Quintet.  Everyone’s favorite rhythm section drummer steps into the leadership role with a stellar group that includes saxophonist Bob Sheppard, trumpeter Clay Jenkins, pianist John Beasley and bassist Tom Warrington. Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- July 5 & 6. (Fri. & Sat.)  Bugs Bunny at the Symphony. An evening of classic Bugs Bunny cartoons along with Tom and Jerry and some new 3D animation.  The video projections will be performed with live music from the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by George DaughertyHollywood Bowl.    (323) 850-2000.

- July 5 – 7. (Fri. – Sun.)  Ron Carter Trio.  With Russell Malone and Donald Vega.  It’s a cross-generational trio of world class players, from veteran bassist Carter and busy guitarist Malone with the gifted young pianist Vega.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- July 6. (Sat.) Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson plays Thick as a Brick 1 & 2 in a theatrical production with video and additional musicians – including some who are veterans of Jethro Tull. The Greek Theatre.  (323) 665-5857.

– July 7. (Sun.)  LL Cool Jay.  Grammy-winning LL Cool Jay headlines the Kings of the Mic hip-hop tour, joined by Ice Cube, Public Enemy and De La Soul.  The Greek Theatre.    (323) 665-5857.

- July 7. (Sun.)  David Silverman. Singer/pianist Silverman, who has become a major musical star in Tokyo over the past two decades, performs a program of classics from the Great American Songbook. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

San Francisco

- July 6. (Sat.)  Jim Kweskin Jug Band 50th Reunion.  Featured artists include Maria and Jeff Muldaur, Richard Greene and Bill Keith from the original Jug Band, along with guitarist Cindy Cashdollar and bassist Sam Bevan.  Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse.  Berkely, CA.    (510) 644-2020, x120.

New York

Jackie Ryan

Jackie Ryan

- July 2 – 4. (Tues. – Thurs.) Jackie Ryan.  The ever-appealing jazz singer Ryan  celebrates the release of her new CD Listen Here  with special guest Harry AllenBirdland.    (212) 581-3080.

- July 2 – 7.  (Tues. – Sun.)  Jerry Gonzalez & the Fort Apache Band.  The super-heated Latin jazz rhythms of the Fort Apache Band fill the room whenever trumpeter/percussionist Gonzalez and his players perform.  Village Vanguard.   (s12) 475-8592.

Dominick Farinacci

Dominick Farinacci

- July 2 & 3. (Tues. & Wed.)  Dominick Farinacci. Trumpeter Farinacci, one of the most gifted players of his generation, still hasn’t received the attention his fine playing deserves.  He performs with Zaccai Curtis, piano; Ryan Scott, guitar; Yasushi Nakamura, bass; Keita Ogawa, percussion.  Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.   (212) 258-9595.

London

- July 7. (Sun.)  Daryl Sherman“The Songs of Johnny Mercer and Cole Porter.”  Singer/pianist Sherman offers a convincing blend of cabaret and jazz.  She performs here with Alan Barns, woodwinds, Andy Cleyndert, bass, and Steve Brown, drums.  Ronnie Scott’s.   +44 20 7439 0747.

Copenhagen

- July 4 & 5. (Thurs. & Fri.)  ‘The New Generation Meets the Great Danes.”  Young American jazz pianist Christian Sands performs with a pair of legendary Danish jazz artists, bassist Thomas Fonnesback and drummer Alex RielJazzhus Montmartre.    +45 31 72 34 94.

Tokyo

Pat Martino

Pat Martino

- July 1 – 3. (Mon. – Wed.)  The Pat Martino Trio.  Guitarist Martino was striken with amnesia after experiencing after a near-fatal brain aneurysm in 1980.  But over the succeeding years he relearned how to play his instrument, returning to action in 1987 with a sequence of superb recordings.  The Blue Note Tokyo.   +81 3-5485-0088.


Picks of the Week: May 28 – June 2

May 28, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Alan Broadbent

Alan Broadbent

- May 28. (Tues.) Alan Broadbent.  Pianist/composer/arranger Broadbent was one of the Southland’s most gifted jazz artists for years.  But he’s moved to New York, and his L.A. appearances are rare.  Here’s one not to miss, as he performs in a duo with bassist Pat Senatore..  Herb Alpert’s Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- May 29. (Wed.)  Carol Duboc and Jeff Lorber.  A CD release party in which singer/guitarist Duboc introduces her new album, Smile with the solid support of co-producer and keyboardist Lorber and bassist Jimmy Haslip.   Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

Robert Davi

Robert Davi

- May 29 & 30.  (Wed. & Thurs.)  Robert Davi.  No one does Sinatra songs better than singer/actor Davi, who brings authenticity to his interpretations while still retaining his own musical identity.  Davi’s one of a kind, a rare and engaging talent.  Herb Alpert’s Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- May 30 – June 2. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Los Angeles Philharmonic, under the baton of Spanish conductor Juanjo Mena, performs Mozart’s Symphonies No. 3 and No. 40, and Brahms’ Three Hungarian Dances. Disney Hall.    (323) 850-2000.

Jane Monheit

Jane Monheit

- May 30 – June 2. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Jane Monheit.  Yet another CD release event, this time celebrating Monheit’s The Heart of the Matter, an album overflowing with her interpretations of a broad range of contemporary songs. Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- May 31 – June 2. (Fri. – Sun.)  The Newport Beach Jazz Festival.  The emphasis of this year’s Festival is on contemporary and smooth jazz via a program that includes Al Jarreau, Rick Braun, Kirk Whalum, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Brian Culbertson, Jonathan Butler, Norman Brown, Najee, Poncho Sanchez, Earl Klugh and more.  The Newport Beach Jazz Festival.    (949) 360-7800.

- June 1.  (Sat.)  The Kim Richmond Concert Jazz Orchestra“Artistry – A Tribute to Stan Kenton.”  Saxophonist Richmond’s assemblage of L.A.’s world-class instrumentalists apply their imagination and skill to an evening of Kenton’s finest charts.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

June 1 (Sat.)  Teka.  Los Angeles has an impressive population of Brazilian musical artists.  And Sao Paulo’s singer/guitarist Teka is one of the finest.  As I wrote in an LA Times review, “she [brings] everything into a unified expression, combining her vocal lines and rhythmic guitar accompaniments into a distinct buoyant musical blend.” Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  https://www.lacma.org/event/t%C3%A9ka-0 (323) 857-6000.

Patrice Rushen and Ndugu Chancler

Patrice Rushen and Ndugu Chancler

- June 2. (Sun.) 1+One. Here’s this year’s second concert in the Playboy Jazz Festival’s annual programs of exciting jazz events free to the public  Keyboardist Patrice Rushen and percussionist Ndugu Chancler team up with special guest Paul Jackson Jr. in a program simmering with jazz, soul and r&b.  Also on the bill, the Harmony Project, which aids at-risk children with the study and performance of music, will showcase its talented young Harmony Project Jazz Ensemble.  At Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.    (310) 450-1173.

San Francisco

Sara Gazarek

Sara Gazarek

- May 28. (Tues.)  Sara Gazarek. Blessed with a superb vocal instrument and an expressive interpretive style, Gazarek is one of the most listenable jazz singers of her generation.  Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

Seattle

- May 28 & 29. (Tues. & Wed.)  The Seasons Guitar QuartetAnthony Wilson, Julian Lage, Chico Pinheiro and Larry Koonse. One couldn’t ask for a more gifted quartet of guitarists, performing together.  Expect to hear an intriguing program reaching from Wilson’s compositions to Brazilian classics and more.  Jazz Alley.    (206) 441-9729

Washington D.C.

- May 29. (Wed.)  Eldar Djangirov Trio.  A child prodigy as a pianist, Djangirov, born in Kyrgystan, was performing on Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz when he was 12 years old.  Now, at 26, he’s become a mature jazz artist with an adventurous style of his own. .Blues Alley.    (202) 337-4141

New York City

- May 28. (Tues.)  Terese Genecco and her Little Big Band.  With special guest KJ Denhert. Genecco and her three horns and five rhythm “put on an unstoppable juggernaut of a set,” wrote critic Will Friedwald in the Wall St. Journal.   Iridium.  (212) 582-2121 t

Joe Lovano

Joe Lovano

- May 28 – June 2. (Tues. – Sun.)  The Joe Lovano Nonet“Streams of Expression” is Lovano’s current expressive ensemble, loaded with some of NYC’s finest players, among them Lovano, tenor sax, Tim Hagans, Barry Ries, trumpets, Steve Slagle, alto sax, Ralph Lalama, tenor sax, Gary Smulyan, baritone sax, Larry Farrell, trombone, James Weidman, piano, Cameron Brown, bass, Steve Williams, drums.  Village Vanguard.   (212) 255-4037.

- June 1. (Sat.)  Barbara Carroll with bassist Jay Leonhart. Pianist/singer Carroll has been displaying her impressive jazz skills since the ‘40s.  At 88, she continues to offer her still fine-tuned musical wares. Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

London

- May 29 & 30. (Wed. & Thurs.)  Claire Martin.  Often described – with good reason – as England’s finest jazz singer, Martin has been offering solid evidence to justify the label since the early ‘90s.  She performs with the Dave Newton TrioRonnie Scott’s.    +44 20 7439 0747.

Copenhagen

- May 30 – 31. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Scandinavian jazz at its best in this stellar trio of Denmark’s Christina Von Bulow, alto saxophone, and Thomas Clausen, piano, with Sweden’s Palle Danielsson, bass.  Jazzhus Montmarte.    +45 31 72 34 94.

Tokyo

Cassandra Wilson

Cassandra Wilson

- May 31. (Fri.)  Cassandra Wilson. One of the rare contemporary jazz singers with a style and imagination that have placed her among the new millenium’s  uniquely adventurous vocal stylists. Blue Note Tokyo.    +81 3-5485-0088.


Live Music: The Lado B Project at Vitello’s

May 17, 2013

By Don Heckman

Studio City, CA.  Brazilian music nights are not uncommon in Los Angeles.  Not with the city’s substantial population of world class Brazilian players – along with the American musicians who have developed considerable competence with Brazilian music over the years.

The Lado B Project is a combination of both, blending a collection of players who brought a full palette of musical perspectives to a compelling musical evening.  Their performance at Vitello’s on Wednesday night was a magical display, underscoring the rich, panoramic qualities of Brazilian music.

Catina DeLuna

It could only have been done this way by some of L.A.’s most versatile musical artists.

Start with Brazilian-born singer/pianist/composer Catina DeLuna, whose many diverse activities include the founding in Sao Paulo of Serenata Braxileira, which specialized in classic Brazilian songs from the ‘20s and ‘30s.  Singing solo, playing hand percussion, occasionally moving to the piano to accompany herself, she was the central focus for most of the songs.

Otmaro Ruiz

Otmaro Ruiz

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Add the eclectic Venezuelan pianist/accordionist/arranger Otmaro Ruiz, whose resume, overflowing with credits reaching from Herb Alpert and John McLaughlin to  Arturo Sandoval and John McLaughlin, underscores his remarkable, genre-crossing skills. In addition to his solid piano accompaniment, he brought some atmospheric accordion playing to a few of the selections.

The guitar is an essential element in Brazilian music, and one couldn’t have asked for a more skilled player than guitarist Larry Koons, who is at the top of the list for virtually all music contractors, largely because he brings so much musicality to whatever genre of music he plays.  On this night, he used acoustic guitar, roving freely across the many Brazilian rhythms filling the evening’s program.

Larry Koonse and Catina DeLuna

The rhythm team added their own appealing qualities. Aaron Serfaty was a first call drummer in his native Venezuela before he moved to Los Angeles.  And bassist Edwin Livingston, also with an impressive resume, lists the Marsalis brothers, David “Fathead” Newman, Natalie Cole and Stanley Jordan among his many associations.

Directed by DeLuna’s informative musical guidance, with Ruiz’s arrangements, Koonse’ authentic guitar work, and the propulsive rhythms of Serfaty and Livingston, the music came vividly to life.  Much of it, reaching back to songs of the ‘20s and ‘30s, was unfamiliar to American audiences.  But there was no denying its appeal – or, for that matter, the appeal of more easily identifiable songs from Antonio Carlos Jobim, among others.

The only thing missing was some background on the earlier musical selections.  Printed programs are rarely present in night club performances.  But a list of song titles, composers’ names and genre descriptions of the selections from the pre-WWII years would have further enhanced this otherwise fascinating evening.

* * * * * * * *

Photos by Faith Frenz.


Picks of the Week: May 14 – 19

May 14, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Brenna Whitaker

Brenna Whitaker

- May 15. (Wed.)  Brenna Whitaker.  She could have been a ‘30s platinum blond star.  But Whitaker doesn’t just look good; she can sing, too.  This time out she picks a set of tunes to enhance the birthday of Vibrato co-owner Eden Alpert.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- May 15. (Wed.)  Lado B Project.  A lively evening of Brazilian music, featuring Otmaro Ruiz, piano, Larry Koonse, guitar, Edwin Livingston, bass, Aaron Serfaty, drums and Catina DeLuna, voice.  Brazilian music.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- May 16. (Thurs.)  Lisa Hilton. The ever adventurous pianist/composer Hilton continues her quest for new musical territories for her to explore. Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- May 16. (Thurs.)  John Proulx.  Singer/pianist Proulx has begun to claim a position in the rare category of male jazz singer.  Proulx, like his musical role model, Chet Baker, brings the flowing phrases of his instrumental playing to his vocal interpretations.    H.O.M.E. (House of Music and Entertainment)   (310) 271-4663.

- May 17. (Fri.)  Jim Snidero Group.  Saxophonist Snidero’s lengthy resume reaches from his own numerous recordings to performances with everyone from Frank Sinatra to Frank Wess. The Blue Whale.    (213) 620-0908.

Melissa Manchester

Melissa Manchester

- May 17 – 19. (Fri. – Sun.)  Melissa Manchester. She’s been producing memorable music since the ‘70s, including “Midnight Blue” and “Don’t Cry Out Loud.”  Here’s a chance to catch her in one of her rare club appearances. Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- May 17 – 19. (Fri. – Sun.)  Larry Goldings, Peter Bernstein and Bill Stewart.  This is a stellar organ trio if ever there was one.  Each of the players is an influence in his own right.  Don’t miss them.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- May 17 – 19, 23 & 25. (Fri. – Sun., Thurs., Sat.)  Mozart/Da Ponte TrilogyThe Marriage of Figaro. The second of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s three year trilogy of opera by Mozart and librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte.  The great comic opera is performed in a concert staged version by the Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Master Chorale and soloists.  Disney Hall.  http://www.laphil.com  (323) 850-2000.

- May 19. (Sun.)  Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.  Concerto Finale.  The LACO players offer a fascinating evening of concertos, including Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto, and an offbeat bassoon concerto performed with a 1927 silent film.  Add the Beethoven Coriolan Overture and anticipate an engaging program.   CAP UCLA at Royce Hall.   (310) 825-4321.

- May 19. (Sun.)  Deborah Voigt.  Critically acknowledged as one of the classical music world’s dramatic sopranos, Voigt – who roves freely from Wagner to Puccini – offers an intimate recital of works by Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Bernstein and more.  Valley Performing Arts Center.  (818) 677-8800.

San Francisco

Bela Fleck

Bela Fleck

- May 16 – 19 (Thurs. – Sun.)  Bela Fleck solo.  Banjo master Fleck has performed in every imaginable setting.  But he is especially compelling musically when he plays in the creative intimacy of a solo performance.  SFJAZZ Center Miner Auditorium.    (866) 920-5299.

Seattle

- May 14 & 15. (Tues. & Wed.)  John Hammond.  Praised by the likes of Tom Waits and T-Bone Burnett, Grammy-winning guitarist/singer/harmonica player Hammond keeps the blues alive in everything he plays.  Jazz Alley.    (206) 441-9729.

New York City

- May 14 – 18. (Tues. – Sat.)  Bossabrasil.  Featuring Dori Caymmi with special guest, Joyce.  Rio comes to Manhattan in the form of a pair of Brazil’s most versatile and gifted musical artists.  Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

- May 14 – 19. (Tues. – Sun.)  The Gil Evans Project.  Directed by Ryan Truesdell.  An amazing week of music, featuring a large ensemble exploring the full range of Gil Evans’ extraordinary talents.  The selections for each night include Gil Evans’ music for the Claude Thornhill Orchestra, “Out of the Cool,” “New Bottle, Old Wine,” “Great Jazz Standards,” “The Individualism of Gil Evans,” “Miles Ahead,” “Porgy and Bess,” Check with the club for scheduling.  The Jazz Standard.    (212) 576-2232.

London

Roy Haynes

Roy Haynes

- May 15 & 16. (Wed. & Thurs.)  The Roy Haynes Fountain of Youth Band. The Fountain of Youth has had the biggest impact upon the leader, drummer and role model in this band.  At 88, Haynes is still playing with the imagination and energy of youth.  Ronnie Scott’s.   +44 20 7439 0747.

Berlin

- May 17 & 18.  (Fri. & Sat.)  Lee Ritenour.  He used to be called “Captain Fingers” in honor of his high-speed dexterity.  But guitarist Ritenour has a more lyrical side as well, often employing octave melody style of his favorite musical model, Wes Montgomery.  A-Trane.    +49 30 3132 ext. 550

Copenhagen

- May 15 & 16. (Wed. & Thurs.)  Mark Whitfield.  Dubbed the “best young guitarist in the business” by the New York Times, Whitfield performs with a trio of prime Danish jazz musicians: Henrik Gunde, piano, Kasper Vadsholt, bass and Rasmus Kihlberg, drums.  Jazzhus Montmartre.   +45 31 72 34 94

Milan

Anat Cohen

Anat Cohen

- May 18. (Sat.) Anat Cohen.  Clarinetist/saxophonist Cohen is in the forefront of an impressive generation of female jazz instrumentalists.  She’s backed by Jason Lindner, piano, Stefano Bellani, bass and Daniel Freedman, drums.  Blue Note Milano.    +39 02 6901 6888.

Tokyo

- May 14 – 16. (Tues. – Thurs.)  Benny Golson Quartet.  Tenor saxophonist/composer Golson is still, at age 84, a player with a lot of music to express.  Hopefully he’ll also play some of his jazz hits such as “Killer Joe,” “Whisper Not,” “Along Came Betty” and more.  The Blue Note Tokyo.    +81 3-5485-0088.


Picks of the Week: April 24 – 28

April 24, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Barbara Morrison

Barbara Morrison

- April 24. (Wed.) Barbara Morrison.  A legend in her own right, the versatile Ms. Morrison celebrates the music of the iconic Ella Fitzgerald.  She’ll be backed by pianist Stuart Elster, bassist Pat Senatore and drummer Lee SpathVibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

-April 24. (Wed.)  Miles Evans Big Band.  Gil Evan’s trumpet-playing son (and Miles Davis namesake) keeps his father’s superb music alive, while taking it into compelling new musical areas.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (223) 466-2210.

- April 25.  (Thurs.)  Cat’s Birthday Bash. Singer Cat Conner celebrates with an evening of prime jazz.  Her special guests include singer Lee Hartley and woodwind master Gene “Cip” Cipriano, with stellar backing provided by pianist Christian Jacob, bassist Chuck Berghofer and drummer Steve SchaefferVitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- April 25. (Thurs.)  Nutty.  Seven piece Nutty is a one of a kind band, applying their ‘Mashups” style to a blend of “jazz and rock ‘n’ roll, served up with a swinging, old school Vegas swagger.” They perform at L.A.’s elegant new jazz room.  H.O.M.E.  l  (310) 271-4663.

Rita Coolidge

- April 25 – 27. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Rita Coolidge. Grammy-winning singer Coolidge – know as “Delta Lady” after Leon Russell wrote the song for her – is still, at 67, a convincing vocal practitioner in the pop and soft rock genres.   Catalina Bar & Grill.  (223) 466-2210.

- April 26. (Fri.) An Evening with Medeski, Martin & Wood.  M, M & W have been exploring new genre combinations – jazz funk, jazz fusion, avant-jazz, etc. – for two decades.  And they’re still working at the cutting edge.  CAP UCLA at Royce Hall.   (310) 825-2101.

- April 26 – 28. (Fri. – Sun.)  Bringuier and Thibaudet with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  An evening of French delights.  French conductor Lionel Bringuier and French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet perform a program of Ravel and Saint-Saens.  Disney Hall.   (323) 850-2000.

- April 27. (Sat.)  Larry Koonse – Alan Pasqua Duo.  Two of the Southland’s most highly praised players, first call rhythm section experts and superb soloists in their own right, get together in a duo setting.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- April 28. (Sun.)  The Susie Hansen Latin Jazz Band.  She’s a blonde girl from the mid-West who plays violin, but Hansen has been providing some of L.A.’s most authentic and dynamic Latin jazz, salsa and swing for more than two decades.  She’ll be joined by guest vocalist Valerie Petersen. Be prepared to dance in the aisles.  The Huntington Beach Art Center.  www.huntingtonbeachartcenter.org  (714) 536-5258.

San Francisco

Chick Corea

Chick Corea

- April 25 – 28. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Chick Corea & the Vigil.  Always in search of newly expressive music, the inimitable Corea performs with his newest band, featuring saxophonist Tim Garland, bassist Hadrien Feraud, guitarist Charles Altura and drummer Marcus GilmoreYoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.

New York City

- April 25 – 27. (Thurs. – Sat.) Celebrating Duke EllingtonWynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra explore their deeply insightful understanding of the classic Ellington musical canon.  Jazz At Lincoln Center’s Rose Theatre.    (212) 258-9595.

Boston

- April 27. (Sat.)  Gato Barbieri. Veteran Argentine saxophonist Barbieri has moved across genres from the free jazz of the ‘60s to his Latin jazz specialties of the ‘70s and beyond. He’ll no doubt play his hit version of his music for the film Last Tango In Paris.    Regatta Bar.   (617) 661-5000.

Milan

Avishai Cohen

Avishai Cohen

- April 28 (Sun.)  Avishai Cohen, Omer Avital and Iago Fernandez Camano. Critically praised Israeli trumpeter Cohen performs in a true international jazz trio with bassist Omer Avital and drummer Iago Fernandez CamanoBlue Note Milano.    +39 02 6901 6888.

Tokyo

- April 28 & 29. (Sun. & Mon.)  The Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra featuring Lew Tabackin.  Pianist/composer Akiyoshi and her husband, saxophonist Tabackin return to Japan to perform with Akiyoshi’s superb big jazz band. Blue Note Tokyo.   +81 3-5485-0088.


Picks of the Week: Mar. 12 – 17

March 12, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Wynton Marsalis with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra

Wynton Marsalis with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra

- Mar. 12. (Tues.) Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.  Marsalis and his JLCO players continue to bring life to the past, the present and the future of big band jazz.  Disney Hall.   (323) 850-2000.

Mar. 12. (Tues.) Allison Adams Tucker.  “Women in Jazz.”  Jazz singer Tucker performs with a gifted, all-female ensemble – Kait Dunton, piano, Sherry Luchette, bass, Tina Raymond, drums and Lori Bell, flute.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Mar. 13. (Wed.)  Lou Marini.  New York-based veteran saxophonist Marini makes a rare L.A. appearance backed by a stellar array of players.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Lynda Carter

Lynda Carter

- Mar. 14. – 16.  (Thurs. – Sat.)  Lynda Carter. She’ll probably always be known as Wonder Woman, but Carter is an appealing singer, as well, with a convincing interpretive style.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (223) 466-2210.

- Mar. 15 – 17. (Fri. – Sun.)  Ambrose Akinmusire.  Trumpeter Akinmusire has been receiving critical accolades and winning polls lately.  Here’s a great opportunity to hear him in action and make your own evalulation.  Blue Whale.   (213) 620-0908.

- Mar. 16. (Sat.)  Johnny Mandel Big Band. Veteran arranger/composer Mandel showcases selections from his rich collection of classic arrangements and original works for big jazz band. Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Kenny Rogers

Kenny Rogers

- Mar. 17. (Sun.)  An Evening with Kenny Rogers.  Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with the music of Grammy-winning, hit-making veteran singer/actor/songwriter Rogers.  Valley Performing Arts Center.    (818) 677-8800.

- Mar. 17. (Sun.)  Carol Robbins, Larry Koonse and Pat Senatore. An all-strings evening of music, featuring the fascinating timbres and jaunty swing of Robbins’ harp, Loonse’s guitar and Senatore’s bass. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

San Francisco

- Mar. 12 & 13.  (Tues. & Wed.)  “Miles Smiles”  A super-group of Davis alumni, including trumpeter Wallace Roney, organist Joey DeFrancesco, guitarist Larry Coryell, bassist Darryl Jones and drummer Omar Hakim, recall the Miles era.  Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

Seattle

Leo Kottke

Leo Kottke

- Mar. 12 & 13. (Tues. & Wed.)  Leo Kottke. Virtuosic, finger-picking guitarist intersperses his 6- and 7-spring playing with humorous, between-tunes monologues.  Jazz Alley.   (206) 441-9729.

New York City

- Mar. 13 – 17. (Wed. – Sun.)  Brazilian Jazz All-Stars.  Bossa nova and the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim will be authentically performed by an all-star aggregation of Brazilian artists: Duduka Da Fonseca, percussion, Romero Lubambo or Vic Juris, guitar, Claudio Roditi, trumpet, Helio Alves, piano, Maucha Adnet, voice, Hans Glawishnig, bass.  Iridium.   (212) 582-2121.

- Mar. 15 & 16. (Fri. & Sat.)  Charlie Musselwhite.  Blues harmonica player Musselwhite, a veteran of the fertile blues and rock happenings of the ‘60s, is still going strong at 69.  He is alleged to be the model for Dan Aykroyd’s character in The blues Brothers.  Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.   (212) 258-9595.

London

- Mar. 14. (Thurs.)  “Birth of the Cool.”  The Richard Shepherd Nonet celebrates the music from Miles Davis’ iconic Birth of the Cool recording, plus classics from Kind of Blue and Milestones.  Ronnie Scott’s.    +44 20 7439 0747.

Milan

Brad Mehldau

Brad Mehldau

- Mar. 15 & 16. (Fri. & Sat.)  Brad Mehldau and Mark Guiliana.  Mehldau steps away from his classically oriented acoustic jazz with Mehliana – an electric funk duet project with drummer Guiliana.  Blue Note Milano.   +39 02 6901 6888

Tokyo

- Mar. 12 & 13. (Tues. & Wed.) Kenny Barron Trio. High on the list of every major jazz artist’s first-call pianists, Barron is also a compelling, musically adventurous player in his own right – especially when he’s working with his trio.  Blue Note Tokyo.    +81 3-5485-0088.


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