CD Review: Helen Sung “Anthem For A New Day” (Concord Jazz Records)

January 15, 2014

By Devon Wendell

Pianist and composer Helen Sung has quickly established herself as a jazz veteran over the past decade, performing and recording with icons such as; Clark Terry, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, T.S. Monk, Lonnie Plaxico, and Terri Lyne Carrington to name a few.

She is one of the most consistently brilliant recording artists in jazz today. And her sixth and latest release, Anthem For A New Day, scheduled for release on January 28th,  is her hardest swinging album to date. The album is also produced by Sung.

Helen Sung

Sung wastes no time, kick starting the album with her hard-bop tribute to Thelonious Monk entitled “Brother Thelonious.” The horn section of Ingrid Jensen on trumpet and Seamus Blake on tenor sax has a Kenny Dorham and Hank Mobley at the earliest stages of The Jazz Messengers feel to it. Sung’s solo proves that she has a clear understanding of Monk’s harmonic complexities and knows how to incorporate them into her own virtuosic style.

Paquito D’Rivera’s melodic clarinet soloing dances around Sung’s polyrhythmic textured piano playing on her adventurous arrangement of Chick Corea’s “Armando’s Rhumba.”

Another guest is Regina Carter who offers some tasteful and thematic violin lines to Sung’s “Hidden.” Ingrid Jensen’s trumpet truly shines on this piece, as does Sung’s elegant phrasing on Fender Rhodes electric piano.

One of the most impressive elements of this album is how clean the rhythm section (Reuben Rogers, bass, Obed Calvaire, drums, and Samuel Torres on percussion) was recorded. No effects, compressors, or reverb were added to the drums and upright bass, which is refreshing in a time when many traditional and contemporary jazz recordings are destroyed by overly adventurous producers and engineers.

There’s a wonderfully pure tone to this album as a whole. Sung’s reading of Duke Ellington and Irving Mills’ swing anthem “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” is an album highlight. Sung uses her own chordal voicings, and her improvisations blend bop-styled pedal tones with classical elements in a completely natural way.

Sung’s originals — “Hope Springs Eternally” and the album’s title track – dip into a more late ‘60s fusion- jazz groove with a hint of third stream. John Ellis provides colorful bass clarinet shadings atop Sung’s funky staccato Fender Rhodes arpeggios on the album’s title track.

Sung’s rendition of Jay Livingston and Ray Evans’ “Never Let Me Go” is the perfect vehicle for the piano trio format. Obed Calvaire’s drums are subtle and melodic and Reuben Rogers’ bass solo is dynamic and mournful.

“Chaos Theory” brings to mind early Weather Report with fast changing meters, and piercing alto-sax runs by Seamus Blake. This composition shows off Sung and her band’s tight chemistry and creative fearlessness.

In order to truly capture the spirit of Thelonious Monk, a musician must bring forth what makes them truly unique when covering one of the High Priest’s compositions. And Sung and company achieve this on an utterly funky, gospel take of “Epistrophy.” The energy of the band is ecstatic. There’s lots of love for Monk here.

The album closes with a beautifully haunting solo piano cover of the great Stanley Cowell’s “Equipose.”

What stands out most on Anthem For A New Day is not only Sung’s fluid and imaginative piano playing but her awe-inspiring talent as a truly unique composer and arranger. Her music is adventurous, personal, and a powerful force to be reckoned with in the jazz world.

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To read more posts, reviews and columns by Devon Wendell click HERE.


Picks of the Week: Feb. 26 – Mar. 3

February 27, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson

- Feb. 27. (Wed.)  Willie Nelson & Family.  The inimitable Willie Nelson performs his memorable hits with the musical companionship of his talented family members. Click HERE to read an earlier iRoM review of Willie Nelson and his Family.  Valley Performing Arts Center.    (818) 677-3000.

= Feb. 27. (Wed.)  Shofar. The three Polish musicians in the group Shofar are questing after a “common denominator shared by Hasidic music and free jazz.”  Blue Whale.  (213) 620-0908.

- Feb. 27. (Wed.)  Sascha’s Bloc. An entertaining band of players, many from Russia, who bring new perspectives to a musical approach that blends traditional sounds and rhythms with far-ranging contemporary music. Click HERE to read an iRoM review of a recent Saschas’s Bloc performance.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

Gustavo Dudamel

Gustavo Dudamel

- Feb. 28 – 3. . (Thurs. – Sun.)  Dudamel Conducts Stravinsky’s Firebird. The ever-dynamic Dudamel leads the Los Angeles Philharmonic in an adventurous approach to one of the 20th century’s intrepid musical works. Disney Hall.   (323) 850-2000.

- Feb. 28 – Mar. 2.  (Thurs. – Sat.)  Oleta Adams.  Versatile singer Adams moves freely – and convincingly – across genres, from soul and gospel to rhythm & blues and jazz.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

Anna Mjoll

Anna Mjoll

- Mar. 1. (Fri.)  Anna Mjoll.  Iceland’s gift to jazz applies her warm, embracing voice to everything from jazz classics to the Great American Songbook.  She performs with the Pat Senatore TrioVibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Mar. 1. (Fri.)  Juan de Marcos & the Afro-Cuban All-Stars.  The Grammy-nominated All-Stars cover a full range of Latin music, including bolero, cha-cha-cha, salsa, rumba, danzon, timba and beyond.  Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.    (562) 916-8501.

- Mar. 1 – 3.(Fri. – Sun.)  Oguri and Wadada Leo Smith.  Adventurous trumpeter Smith and his band interact creatively with Japanese dancer Oguri.  Electric Lodge, Venice.   (310) 306-1854.

- Mar. 2. (Sat.) Patricia Barber. One of the jazz vocal world’s most uniquely individual artists, Barber will sing selections from her new album, Smash.  To read the iRoM review of the album, click HERE.  She performs in a Jazz Bakery Movable Feast at the Musicians Institute Concert Center.   (310) 275-8961.

- Mar. 2. (Sat.)  An Evening With Rudresh Mahanthappa. Alto saxophonist/composer Mahanthappa works at synthesizing South Indian elements with a variety of other international musical genres. He does so here in the company of two ensembles – the Indo-Pak Coalition and Gamak. A  CAP-UCLA concert at Royce Hall.    (310) 825-2101.

Katia Moraes

Katia Moraes

- Mar. 3. (Sun.)  Katia Moraes.  Los Angeles is filled with musically diverse Brazilian artists.  And the dynamic Moraes, who invests her singing with the stimulating energies of her dancing, continues to be one of the best.  Click HERE to read an iRoM review of a recent performance by Moraes.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Mar. 3. (Sun.)  Patrick Tuzzolino Trio.  Singer/keyboardist Tuzzolino is an impressive talent who has not yet received the full acknowledgement he deserves.  Here’s a rare chance to hear him in action, performing with trombonist Bob McChesney and drummer Billy Paul Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

San Francisco

- Feb. 28 – Mar. 1 (Thurs & Fri.)  Ana Moura.  Fado is being revived by a gifted generation of young Portuguese singers.  And Ana Moura is one of the best.  An SFJAZZ event at Miner Auditorium.    (866) 920-5299.

Washington, D.C.

- Feb. 28 – Mar. 3. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Mike Stern and Dave Weckl.  Jazz fusion in all its many invigorating forms is at its best in the talented hands of guitarist Stern and drummer Weckl.  They’re ably supported by bassist Anthony Jackson and saxophonist Bob FranceschiniBlues Alley.    (202)337-4141.

New York

- Feb. 27 – Mar. 2. (Wed. – Sat.)  Gary Peacock, Marc Copland and Joey Baron.  It’s an all-star jazz trio, by any definition, with pianist Copland, bassist Peacock and drummer Baron triggering a continuing flow of imaginative improvisation.  Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

Ravi Coltrane

Ravi Coltrane

- Feb. 27 – Mar. 3. (Wed. – Sun.)  Ravi Coltrane Quartet.  Saxophonist Coltrane, who makes the most of his genetic gifts as the son of John Coltrane, plays with the superb backing of Billy Childs, Fender Rhodes, Lonnie Plaxico, bass, Nikki Glaspie, drums.  Trumpeters Tim Hagans and Jason Palmer trade off on Thurs.(28) and Fri.(1).  The Jazz Standard.   (212) 576-2232.

London

- Feb. 27 – Mar. 3. (Wed. – Sun.)  Arturo Sandoval. Versatility doesn’t begin to describe trumpeter/pianist/percussionist/singer Sandoval’s remarkable talents.  Click HERE to read a recent iRoM review of a Sandoval performance.  Ronnie Scott’s.    +44 0(20) 7439 0747.

Paris

- Feb. 27. (Wed.)  The Robert Cray Band.  Five time Grammy award winner Cray has throroughly established himself as one of the most convincingly authentic contemporary blues artists.  Paris New Morning.    01 45 23 51 41.

Berlin

Jason Moran

- Mar. 3. (Sun.)  Jason Moran & the Bandwagon.  Pianist Moran, the winner of a MacArthur “genius” award, takes time away from his role as jazz advisor for the Kennedy Center to lead his gifted Bandwagon trio, with bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet WaitsA-Trane.    030/313 25 50.

Copenhagen

- Mar. 1 & 2. (Fri. & Sat.)  Bobo Moreno.  Highly praised Danish singer performs with pianist Ole Kock Hansen, bassist Bo Stief and American drummer Adam NussbaumJazzhus Montmartre.   (+45) 70 263 267.


Picks of the Week: Jan. 15 – 20

January 15, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Eloise Laws

Eloise Laws

- Jan. 16. (Wed.)  Eloise Laws.  A member of the musically prominent Laws family (Hubert, Ronnie and Debra among others) Eloise Laws makes a rare live performance in the Southland.  Her warm and expressive vocals are backed by members of the Laws family and their talented friends.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Jan. 16. (Wed.) Windy Karigianes.  It’s a busy month for international jazz singers to make appearances in L.A.  Denmark’s superb vocal artist Sinne Eeg was here last week, Australia’s Chris McNulty is at Vitello’s tomorrow.  And today there’s Karigianes, whose background is Greek, Portuguese and Italian, bringing a musically diverse perspective to her mellow, evocative singing.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Jan 16. (Wed.)  John Beasley Residence II.  Pianist Beasley’s second event in his January residence features his trio – with bassist Carlitos del Puerto and drummer Gary Novak, plus guests — playing a program of Brazilian Music.  The Blue Whale.    (213) 620-0908.

- Jan. 17 & 18. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Chris McNulty.  Australian jazz singer McNulty celebrates the release of her latest CD, The Song That Sings You Here.  With guitarist Paul Bollenback and bassist Trey HenryVitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Diane Schuur

Diane Schuur

- Jan. 17 – 19. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Diane Schuur.  Veteran jazz vocalist Schuur – called “Deedles” by friends and fans alike – continues to sing with the appealing, Sarah Vaughan influences that she has transformed into her own unique style. Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Jan. 18 – 19. (Fri. & Sat.)  Joey DeFrancesco Trio.  The master of contemporary jazz organ always has something new to bring to his classic organ trio performances.  He’ll perform with the Banda Brothers, Steve Cotter and Steve WilkersonSteamer’s.  (714) 871-8800.

- Jan. 19. (Sat.)  Freddy Cole.  There’s an immediately recognizable trace of the Cole sound in Freddy’s vocals and piano work.  And he’s retained the musical memories while exploring new musical horizons. The  Kirk Douglas Theatre.  A Jazz Bakery Movable Feast.    (310) 271-9039.

- Jan. 20. (Sun.)   Bill Frisell and Vinicius Cantuaria.   A pair of very different guitarists with styles reaching from American folk to Brazilian rhythms perform selections from their 2012 album, Lagrimas Mexicanas.  Skirball Center.     (310) 440-4500.

John Daversa

John Daversa

- Jan. 20. (Sun.)  The John Daversa Contemporary Big Band.  Trumpeter/composer Daversa, a true musicall adventurer – as a soloist and as a writer/composer – showcases some of his especially ground-breaking writing for his stellar big band.  Baked Potato.    (818) 980-1615.

San Francisco

- Jan. 19 & 20. (Sat. & Sun.) Jane Monheit. She’s always had a gorgeous voice, but Monheit – now in her ‘30s – also brings a compelling musicality to everything she sings.  Click HERE to read a recent iRoM review of a Monheit performance in Los Angeles. Yoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.

New York

- Jan. 15. (Tues.)  Tammy Faye Starlight IS Nico in the show Chelsea Madchen, singing legendary Velvet Underground songs in a Warhol-tinged setting.  Special guest: Steve EarleThe Cutting Roomk  (212) (877) 987-6487.

Ken Peplowski

Ken Peplowski

- Jan. 15 – 20.  (Tues. – Sun.)  Benny Goodman Reinvented: 75th Anniversary Carnegie Hall Concert.  Clarinetist Ken Peplowski assembles a 10 piece all-star ensemble to revisit Goodman’s memorable Swing Era performance in January, 1938. The Blue Note.  (212) 475-8592.

- Jan. 16. (Wed.) Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz Revisited.  Anther live, musical re-imagining performance.  This time the subject is one of the classic recordings of the ‘60s free-jazz era.  Players include  Jaleel Shaw, Joe Lovano, saxophones; Jeremy Pelt, Tim Hagans, trumpets, Ben Allison, Lonnie Plaxico, basses, Billy Drummond, Matt Wilson, drums.  Jazz Standard.    (212) 576-2561.

London

- Jan. 16 – 19. (Wed. – Sat.) Deodato.  Brazilian pianist/composer/arranger has produced and/or arranged hundreds of albums for everyone from Bjork to k.d. lang.  Here’s a rare opportunity to hear him up close in his own personal musical environment.  Ronnie Scott’s.    +44 (0)20 7439 0747.

Berlin

Steve Kuhn

Steve Kuhn

- Jan. 14 & 15. (Mon. & Tues.)  Steve Kuhn Trio.  With a resume that reaches back to John Coltrane and the avant-garde ‘60s, Kuhn – at 74 – has thoroughly established himself as one of the contemporary jazz scene’s most original piano voices.  His trio includes Buster Williams and Joey BaronA-Trane.   030/313 25 50.

Panama

- Jan. 14 – 19.  Panama Jazz Festival.  The 10th Annual Panama Jazz Festival once again assembles a stellar line up of performers in a warm and welcoming Central American setting.  The artist roster includes Herbie Hancock, the Wayne Shorter Quartet, Ruben Blades, Susana Baca, Bill Frisell, John Patitucci, Brian Blade and Danilo PerezThe Panama Jazz Festival.    (507) 317-1466.


Picks of the Week: Sept. 18 – 23

September 18, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Catharine Russell

- Sept 19. (Wed.) Catharine Russell.  Her resume includes gigs and recordings with the likes of Paul Simon, Steely Dan, David Bowie, Michael Feinstein.  But she’s very much the “real thing” according to critic Nat Hentoff.  And why not?  Her father, pianist Luis Russell, was Louis Armstrong’s music director.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Sept. 20. (Thurs.)  Stephanie Haynes & the Karen Hammack Trio. A decade or two ago Haynes was one of the Southland’s most admired jazz singers.  Now, after a too-long absence, she’s on the comeback trail, backed by the vocalist-friendly pianist Hammack and her trio.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Sept. 20. (Thurs.)  Gabriel Johnson.  Yet another trumpeter/vocalist, Johnson – highly praised by Clint Eastwood – celebrates the release of his new CD, Introducing Gabriel Johnson. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Sept. 21 & 22.  (Fri. & Sat.) Rhinoceros by Eugene Ionescu.  U.C.L.A.’s new performing arts entity – “Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA” – begins its debut season with Ionescu’s classic absurdist play, as performed by the Theatre de la Ville-Paris.  It’s done in French with English supertitles.   CAP UCLA.  Royce Hall.  (310) 825-2101.

Karrin Allyson

- Sept.21–23. (Fri. – Sun.)  Karrin Allyson. Admired by musicians as well as her enthusiastic audiences for her far reaching musicality, Allyson moves convincingly across stylistic lines while always maintaining her jazz roots.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Sept. 22. (Sat.) Larry Goldings, Peter Bernstein and Greg Hutchinson.  A classic jazz organ trio – with Goldings at the B-3, Bernstein on guitar and Hutchinson on drums – at its very best.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Sept. 22. (Sat.) Sing-A-Long Sound of Music. If you wake up on Sat. morning with an irresistible urge to sing some of the songs from Sound of Music, here’s the solution – the Bowl’s annual all-join-in event.  And don’t forget to wear your costume.  Hollywood Bowl.    (323) 850-2000.

- Sept. 22. (Sat.)  Gregory Porter.  It’s an L.A. week filled with impressive jazz vocal performances, and Porter’s warm, engaging voice and sturdy jazz vocalizing are among its major highlights. The Mint.   (323) 954-9400.

- Sept. 22. (Sat.)  Pianist Laurence Hobgood is rightly praised for his excellent work as an accompanist and arranger.  But there are other equally impressive aspects to his skills, and they’ll all be on display in this quartet performance with saxophonist Ernie Watts, bassist Hamilton Price and drummer Dan SchnelleThe Blue Whale.  (213) 620-0908.

Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard

- Sept. 22. Sat.) Merle Haggard and Kris Kristofferson.  “Legendary” is a word that actually makes sense when applied to these great folk and country music artists.  Hearing them together will be one of the memorable musical experiences of a lifetime  Click HERE to read a recent iRoM review of Haggard and Kristofferson in action. Valley Performing Arts Center. (818) 677- 3000.

- Sept. 22. (Sat.) Emil Richards Quartet.  Veteran vibist’s resume is covered with all-star performances.  But he’s at his best when he steps into the spotlight with equally stellar backing from the likes of Mike Lang, piano, Mike Valerio, bass and Ralph Humphrey, drums.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Sept. 23. (Sun.) Carol Robbins.  She’s everyone’s first call harpist, as well as one of the rare practitioners of jazz on her instrument.  Robbins will be celebrating the release of her new CD in the company of Billy Childs, Larry Koonse, Rob Lockart, Darek Oles and Dan SchnelleVitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

San Francisco

- Sept. 19 – 21. (Wed. – Fri.)  Pat Metheny Unity Band.  Always in search of challenging new musical settings, Metheny finds an exciting new musical environment with Chris Potter, Antonio Sanchez and Ben WilliamsYoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

Seattle

Jeff Lorber

- Sept. 20 – 23.  (Thurs. – Sun.)  Jeff Lorber Superband. The label is right on target.  Keyboardist Lorber’s led some impressive bands over the course of his long career.  Add this one to the list, with Brian Bromberg, bass, Everette Harp, saxophones, Gary Novak, drums.  Jazz Alley.  (206) 441-9729.

Chicago

- Sept. 20 – 23. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Fred Hersch Trio. With John Hebert, bass, Eric McPherson, drums. Pianist Hersch, a master of the jazz piano trio format, celebrates the release of his new album Live at the Vanguard.  The Jazz Showcase.   (212) 360-0234.

New York

- Sept. 18 – 22.  (Tues. – Sat.)  Coltrane Revisited. Pianist Steve Kuhn’s Coltrane credentials reach back to his early days on the jazz scene.  He makes the journey back in the company of trumpeter Tom Harrell, saxophonist Eric Alexander, drummer Andrew Cyrille and bassist Lonnie PlaxicoBirdland.    (212) 581-3080.

Anat Cohen

- Sept. 18 – 23. (Tues. – Sun.)  Anat Cohen Quartet. The lovely Anat Cohen isn’t just re-inventing the clarinet in contemporary jazz, she’s also a powerfully original tenor saxophonist, as well.  She performs with Jason Lindner, piano, Joe Martin, bass, Daniel Freedman, drums.  Village Vanguard.  (212) 255-4037.

London

- Sept. 18. (Tues.)  Patricia Barber.  Pianist/singer/songwriter Barber’s adventurous music – with her own works as well as the interpretations of others – is always a fascinating display of creative imagination.  Ronnie Scott’s.    (0) 020 7439 0747.

- Sept. 21 – 23. (Fri. – Sun.)  Mindi Abair. Smooth jazz saxophonist Abair finds intriguing areas of expression within the instrumental pop format.  Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho. 0845 6027 017.

Copenhagen

- Sept. 20 & 21. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Nicola Stilo Jazz & Latin Quartet. Versatile Italian musician Stilo (he plays adroitly on guitar, flute and piano) came to maturity as a regular with Chet Baker and Rahsaan Roland Kirk.   Jazzhus Montmartre.  http://www.jazzhusmontmartre.dk/home.html  (+45) 70 15 65 65.

Berlin


Chris Bennett

- Sept. 20 & 21. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Chris Bennett. Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter/pianist Bennett has proven her far-ranging skills with Tina Turner, Donna Summer and others.  But she’s also an impressive and imaginative jazz artist.  A Trane Jazz.  030/313 25 50.

Tokyo

- Sept. 21 & 22. (Fri. & Sat.)  Richard Galliano.  “Piazzolla Forever.”   French accordionist Galliano, a master of the instrument in his own right, honors the music of the great Argentine composer/accordionist. Blue Note Tokyo.    03.5485.0088.


Picks of the Week: Aug. 27 – Sept. 2

August 27, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Jason Marsalis

- Aug. 27. (Mon.)  Jason Marsalis Quartet. He may be the youngest member of the illustrious Marsalis jazz family, but drummer/vibraphonist Jason has already established his own impressive musical identity.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Aug. 28 & Aug. 30/ (Tues. & Thurs.)  Carmina Burana. German composer Carl Orf’s cantata, a dramatic setting of medieval poems, is performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Master Chorale and the Los Angeles Childrens’ Chorus, directed by Spanish conductor Rafael Fruhbeck de BurgosHollywood Bowl. (323) 850-2000

- Aug. 28. (Tues.)  Sachsa’s Bloc.  An eclectic group of musicians from countries across Europe offer a collection of music ranging freely across gypsy jazz, contemporary jazz, flamenco, swing, blues and country. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400

Wayne shorter

- Aug. 29. (Wed.)  Celebrating Peace.  Herbie Hancock has gathered a stellar array of musicians to join together in a musical celebration of the pleasures of peace.  The cast includes Wayne Shorter, Marcus Miller, Zakier Hussain, Dave Holland, Cindy Blackman Santana, Carlos Santana and others.  Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- Aug. 31 and Sept 1. (Fri. & Sat.)  John Williams Maestro of the Movies.  “Musical Maestro” would be a more accurate title for Williams, whose film scores reach from Star Wars and Superman to E.T. and Harry Potter.  He’ll conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic in selections from many of his hit films, including a film sequence from E.T. accompanied live by the Philharmonic.  The guest artist is violinist Gil Shaham. Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

- Aug. 31. (Fri.)  Wolfgang Schalk Quartet.  Guitarist Schalk celebrates the release of his new CD Word of Ear with pianist Andy Langham, bassist Michael Valerio and drummer Tom BrechtleinUpstairs at Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Sept. 1. (Sat.)  Wendy Fraser.  Singer-songwriter Fraser has been described by the LA jAzz Scene as a “diamond in the rough” and “a musical force to be reckoned with.”  She makes one of her rare appearances, backed by guitarist John Chiodini, saxophonist Rob Lockhart, bassist Chris Colangelo and drummer Kendall Kay. Upstairs at Vitallo’s.  http://www.vitellosjazz.com/event/wendy-fraser  (818) 769-0905.

Barbara Morrison

- Sept. 1 & 2. (Sat. & Sun.)  Barbara Morrison returns to Catalina’s for an exciting weekend featuring a pair of different settings: With the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center Big Band (Sat.), and the Barbara Morrison Quartet (Sun.)  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Sept. 2. (Sun.)  John Proulx and Pat Senatore.  Pianist/singer Proulx’s laid-back vocals recall the intimate singing of Chet Baker.  He’s backed by the ever-versatile, always supportive Senatore on bass.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- Sept. 2. (Sun.)  Madeleine Peyroux“The Party Oughta be Comin’ Soon!”  Singer/songwriter/guitarist Peyroux has been one of the music world’s most unique talents since she first arrived on the scene in the mid-‘90s.  And she’s still charting her own creative pathway through song. The Broad Stage.   (310) 434-3200.

Louie Cruz Beltran

- Sept. 2. (Sun.)  The Fourth Annual La Vida Music Festival. La Vida returns with its annual celebration of the great pleasures of Latin music, in all its forms.  And what better time to do it than during National Hispanic Heritage Month.  This year’s far-ranging music features Louie Cruz Beltran and his Latin Jazz Ensemble, Incendio, the Plaza de la Raza Youth Mariachi and the Ted and Pablo Choro Ensemble with special guest Chalo Eduardo.  The Ford Amphitheatre.  (323) 461-3673.

San Francisco

- Aug. 29 – Sept. 2. (Wed. – Sat.)  Bela Fleck & the Marcus Roberts Trio. It’s an off-beat combination – Fleck’s unique banjo playing and the straight ahead jazz trio of pianist Roberts, drummer Jason Marsalis and bassist Rodney Jordan. They’ll no doubt play selections from their new recording together – Across the Imaginary Divide. Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655-5600.

Washington D.C.

- Aug. 30 – Sept. 2. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Mose Allison. The inimitable Bard of the Bayou and his suitcase full of songs can always be counted on to provide a swinging, blues-driven evening of song and wisdom. Blues Alley.   (202) 337-4141.

New York

- Aug. 28 – Sept. 2. (Tues. – Sun.)  The Jenny Scheinman Quartet.  Violinist Scheinman showcases her eclectic musical interests with pianist Jason Moran, bassist Greg Cohen and drummer Rudy RoystonVillage Vanguard.  (212) 929-4589.

- Aug. 28 – Sept. 2. (Tues. – Sun.)  Charlie Parker Birthday Celebration.  What would have been the 92nd birthday week (the actual birthday is Aug. 29) of the legendary alto saxophonist is celebrated with a musical tribute from Tom Harrell, trumpet, Vincent Herring, alto saxophone, George Cables, piano, Victor Lewis, drums and Lonnie Plaxico, bass.  Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

Ron Carter

- Aug. 28 – Sept. 2. (Tues. – Sun.)  The Ron Carter Big Band.  Bassist Carter has played with everyboy and led a variety of his own ensembles.  But this, his first big band, wasn’t established until 2011, with arrangements by Bob Freedman.  Featuring a line of major NYC players on stage and Carter up front, expect musical magic to take place.  The Jazz Standard.   (212) 889-2005.

London

- Sept. 2. (Sun.)  The Story So FarRonnie Scott’s Jazz OrchestraPete Lang leads an assemblage of the U.K.’s finest jazz players in an exploration of the music of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Woody Herman, Stan Kenton, the Rat Pack and Benny Goodman.  Ronnie Scott’s.   (0) 20 7439 0747.

Tokyo

- Aug. 30 – Sept. 2. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Mingus Big Band.  The rich musical legacy of bassist/composer Charles Mingus continues to find new musical expression in the hands of the superb Mingus Big Band. The Blue Note Tokyo.   03.5485.0088.

Wayne Shorter and Ron Carter photos by Tony Gieske. 


Picks of the Week: Sept. 26 – Oct. 2

September 27, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Herbie Hancock

- Sept. 27. (Tuesday)  Opening Night Gala at Disney Hall.  The new season kicks off with a performance of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, performed by the stellar combination of Herbie Hancock, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.  Also on the program, An American in Paris and the Cuban Overture. Disney Hall.   (323) 850-2000.

- Sept. 27. (Tuesday).  Barbara Morrison Benefit.  Another opportunity to help one of Southland jazz’s greatest jazz vocal treasures in her hour of need.  Morrison’s medical expenses – the result of surgery associated with diabetes – have escalated, and she needs support.  The program of performers is unannounced at the moment.  Check with the club for details.  Vibrato Jazz Grill…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Sept. 27. (Tues.)  Emmylou Harris and her Red Dirt Boys.  12-time Grammy winner Harris brings rich expressiveness to everything she sings – whether interpreting other songwriters’ works or her own emotionally illuminating songs.  Also on the program – special guests Patty Griffin and Buddy Miller. The Greek Theatre.

- Sept. 28. (Wed.)  Marilyn Scott.  Veteran singer Scott has moved easily across the boundaries between jazz and pop, creating expressive pleasures wherever she goes.  She performs with Jimmy Haslip, Mitch Forman, Gary Novak and Mike Miller.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Sept. 29. (Thurs.)  “Stormy Weather: The Lena Horne Project”  Mary Wilson of the Supremes applies her elegant vocal skills to songs associated with the legendary actress/singer,  James Gavin narrates material from his Horne biography, accompanied by rare audio and video clips.  A Jazz Bakery Movable Feast.  The Musicians Institute.  (310) 271-9039.

Ravi Shankar

- Sept. 29. (THurs.)  Ravi Shankar.  The pioneer of Indian classical music, Pandit Shankar has been – since the ‘50s – bringing the subtle, complex, but immensely engaging music and rhythms of ragas and talas to Western audiences.  Disney Hall.   (323) 850-2000.

- Sept. 29 – Oct. 1. (Thurs. – Sat.) Tierney Sutton Band. Note that the title is not “Tierney Sutton and her Band.”  Because Sutton’s long term relationship with pianist Christian Jacob, bassists Trey Henry and Kevin Axt and drummer Ray Brinker has been one of complete musical (and practical) togetherness.  The results show up in every expressive note the band plays (and Sutton sings).  The performance celebrates her new recording – American Road, a compelling tour through musical Americana.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Sept. 30. (Fri.)  Bill Cantos. He sings, and plays piano with the kind of subtle support that delights any one who works with him – especially singers. Add to that Cantos’ skill at crafting original songs with the sensitivity and rich lyricism of the Great American Songbook.  He’ll be in the company of his wife — singer/pianist Mari Falcone, bassist Hussain Jiffry and drummer Michael ShapiroVitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Esperanza Spalding

- Sept. 30. (Fri.)  Esperanza Spalding. “Chamber Music Society.”   Singer/bassist Spalding is the hottest property in jazz after her 2011 Grammy award for Best New Artist.  But there’s a depth of art in her musicality that reaches well beyond her current visibility.  Still in her twenties. Spalding’s career looks to be long and fulfilling – for her, for her listeners and for jazz.  The Orpheum Theatre.    (877) 677-4386.

- Sept. 30 – Oct. 2. (Fri. – Sun.)  The Angel City Jazz Festival.  On Friday: The Nick Mancini Trio with Otmaro Ruiz and the Edgar Castaneda Trio with Andrea Tierra at Zipper Hall in the Colburn School of Music.  On Saturday: The Pan Afrikan People’s Arkestra, Satoko Fujii & Natsuki Tamura, The Kandinsky Effect and Rudresh Mahanthappa & Samdhi at the Ford Amphitheatre.  On Sunday: For People in Sorrow – an Homage to Alex Cline, and the Roscoe Mitchell Trio at REDCAT.  The Angel City Jazz Festival.

- Oct. 1. (Sat.)  The Strawbs and the Zombies.  Original Zombies members Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone headline the 2011 incarnation of the sixties hit-makers.  The pop-rock Strawbs, who have passed through numerous editions since the sixties are also n the bill. The Canyon Club. (818) 879-5016.

- Oct. 2. (Sun.)  The New Directions Veterans Choir.  Made up of formerly homeless veterans of American military services, the Choir has appeared on America’s Got Talent, at the White House, on YouTube and numerous television shows.  Even more importantly, the members have found the choir to be a vehicle to help them find the help they need.  They are currently recording their first album, produced by veteran singer/arranger/a cappella expert Morgan Ames.    Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

San Francisco

James Carter

- Sept. 30 – Oct. 2. (Fri. – Sun.)  James Carter Organ Trio. Master of a full range of saxophones, Carter sets up in the blues driven environment of the classic jazz organ trio format. Yoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.

Seattle

- Sept. 27 – 29. (Tues. – Thurs.)  James Farm.  Joshua Redman, Aaron Parks, Matt Penman, Eric Harland. Redman’s too modest to describe James Farm as an all-star ensemble, but that’s what it is – a quartet made up of four of the contemporary jazz world’s most musically adventurous artists.  Jazz Alley.     (206) 441-9729.

Chicago

- Sept. 29 – Oct. 2. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Eric Reed. Pianist Reed spent some of his growing up years in L.A.  But, after Wynton Marsalis discovered him, while still a teen-ager, his career took off on a rising arc – everyone’s A-list piano player of choice. Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

New York

- Sept. 27 – Oct. 1. (Tues. – Sat.)  The Music of Bud PowellEthan Iverson, piano, Tim Hagans, trumpet, Greg Osby, alto saxophone, Joey Baron, drums, Lonnie Plaxico, bass, perform the music of one of bebop’s Olympian figures.  Expect to hear such classics as “Tempus Fuget,” “Un Poco Loco,” “Bouncin’ With Bud” and more. Birdland.   (212) 581-3080.

Daryl Sherman

- Sept. 27. (Tues.) Daryl Sherman.  Gifted singer/pianist Sherman brings wit, lyrical insights and musicality to everything she does.  This time she ushers in Rosh Hashanah with Cab Calloway’s “A Bee Gezindt” (“Abi Gezunt” ).  Don’t Tell Mama.      (212) 757-0788.

- Sept. 28 – Oct. 2. (Wed. – Sun.)  The Coca Cola Generations in Jazz Festival: Gerald Wilson and the Julliard Jazz Orchestra.  The Legacy Suite, with Anthony Wilson and Eric Otis.  Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.  (212) 258-9800.

- Oct. 2. (Sun.)  Creole Choir of Cuba.  Cuban only begins to describe this musical melting pot of singers/instrumentalists from the Camaguey.  Descendants of Haitians, they have created music rich with Cuban rhythms – the son and salsa – and Creole melodies, underscored by rich African chants and dance movements.  This is their first American tour.  Symphony Space.    (212) 864-5400.

Boston

- Sept. 30 – Oct. 1. (Fri. & Sat.)  Kenny Barron.  The lyrical, imaginative pianist has a resume reaching from Freddie Hubbard and Bobby Hutcherson to Stan Getz and Ella Fitzgerald.  But he’s best heard on his own, when his soaring melodies and pastel harmonies are front and center. Regatta Bar Jazz.    (617) 395-7757.

Miami

- Sept. 30 – Oct. 2.  Gunther Schuller. The full scope of composer/writer/educator/French horn player Schuller is hard to imagine.  His commentaries on jazz, classical music, ragtime and French horn technique have had a powerful influence throughout the music world.  His extensive activities (including several compositions that led the way during the Third Stream era) have earned him such recognitions as a Pulitzer Prize, a MacArthur “genius” award and acknowledgment as an NEA Jazz Master.  Schuller’s long weekend appearance at the University of Miami Frost School of Music includes: Friday: a lecture in Clarke Recital Hall; Sat: a concert featuring Schuller’s Concerto No. 1 for Horn; Sun. The Frost Chamber Players, with Schuller conducting his new composition Quintet for Horn and Strings  Gunther Schuller at the University of Miami.      (305) 284-4940.

London

Roberta Gambarini

- Sept. 27. (Tues.) Roberta Gambarini.  She may have been born in Italy, but Gambarini’s mastery of jazz singing stamps her as a world class original, regardless of origin.  Whether she’s finding the emotional heart of an American Songbook standard or scatting with the most fleet, swinging precision since the salad days of Ella Fitzgerald, she should be heard, at every opportunity.  Ronnie Scott’s.   020 7439 0747.

Tokyo

- Sept. 26 – Oct. 3. (Mon. – Mon.)  Natalie Cole.  Very much Nat “King” Cole’s daughter, Natalie Cole cruises the same eclectic musical waters, a convincing pop artist who has no difficulty dipping into the rhythms of jazz.  Blue Note Tokyo.    03-5485-0088.

Herbie Hancock photo by Faith Frenz.

Esperanza Spalding photo by Tony Gieske.


Picks of the Week: Sept. 20 – 26

September 21, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Sept. 21. (Tues.)  Further. Featuring Phil Lesh and Bob Weir. The music of the Grateful dead still lives, as Lesh and Weir, with an all star band take the classics “further” out.  The Greek Theatre.   (323) 665-3125.

- Sept. 21. (Tues.) John Pisano’s Guitar Night. Pisano teams up for an evening of duets with the guitarist Frank Sinatra loved — Ron Anthony. Bassist John Belzaguy keeps the rhythm together.  Vitello’s (818) 769-0905.

- Sept. 22. (Wed.)  Sally Kellerman.  “Hot Lips” returns with another display of Kellerman’s entertaining way with a song.  Andy Langham’s piano and arrangements provide the backing.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Sept. 23. (Thurs.) Denise Donatelli.  Her enchanting voice and intuitive way with a song are rapidly elevating Donatelli to the highest levels in the crowded field of female jazz vocalists.   Charlie O’s.   (818) 994-3058.

Debbie Reynolds

- Sept. 23 – Oct. 3. (Starting Thurs.)  Debbie ReynoldsAlive & Fabulous. The title tells it all.  MGM’s hottest musical property from the ‘50s still knows how to light up a stage. The El Portal Theatre, North Hollywood.   (818) 508-4200.

- Sept. 24. (Fri.)  Kristin Korb.  Versatile bassist/singer Korb supports her new CD, In the Meantime with a free performance and two bands: Llew Mathews and Steve Barnes in the first set; Bruce Forman and Aaron Serfaty in the second.  LACMA.  (323) 857-6000.

- Sept. 24. (Fri.) Phil  Ranelin and Tribe Renaissance.  Trombonist Ranelin and his players apply their own unique mainstream sound and style to a musically stimulating encounter with the veteran trumpeter Marcus BelgraveThe Culver Club at the Radisson.   (310) 649-1776 ext. 4137.

- Sept. 24. (Fri.)  Willie Nelson & Family. The one and only Willie performs selections from his latest CD, Country Music. Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses open the show.  The Greek Theatre.   (323) 665-3125.

- Sept. 24. (Fri.)  Doug Webb.  One of the Southland’s most popular go-to saxophonists, Webb explores the nocturnal selections on his latest CD, MidnightVibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Sept. 24. (Fri.)  Babatunde Lea Quintet.  With Patrice Rushen, Ernie Watts, Gary Brown and Dwight Trible.  African, Cuban,, Caribbean and South American rhythms are blended into an irresistibly appealing jazz feast by Lea’s world class ensemble. Holy Nativity Episcopal Church, Westchester.  (310) 670-4777.

Dave Liebman

- Sept. 24 & 25. (Fri. & Sat.)  Dave Liebman. Saxophonist – and 2011 Recipient of the NEA Masters of Jazz Award – brings his New York Quartet, with guitarist Vic Juris, bassist Marko Marcinko and bassist Tony Marino to a rare Southland club engagement.  Don’t miss this one.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Sept. 24 & 25. (Fri. & Sat.)  BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet.  They’ve been performing traditional creole, cajun and zydeco music since the mid’’70s, and they’re still utterly compelling.  On Friday at McCabe’s. (310) 828-4497.  On Sat. in a free concert with Big Chief Monk Boudreaux & the Mardi Gras Indians. at Orange County Great Park.  (949) 854-4646.

- Sept. 25. (Sat.) Sound of Music Singalong. It’s the ultimate singalong, complete with a giant screen to keep everyone on the same beat in the same scene.  There’ll be a pre-show parade for audience members courageous enough to wear costumes.The Hollywood Bowl. (323) 850-2000.

Charles Lloyd

- Sept. 25. (Sat.) Charles Lloyd. Saxophonist/flutist Lloyd, one of the true – if sometimes under-appreciated – originals to emerge from the post-Coltrane era, performs selections from his new CD, Mirror, with the world class backing of pianist Jason Moran, bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Eric Harland.   Jazz Bakery Movable Feast.  Nate Holden Performing Arts Center.   (310) 271-9039.

- Sept. 25. (Sat.)  Kris Kristofferson.  A solo acoustic show from the Grammy-winning Kristofferson, one of the stellar talents of the singer/songwriter era .  Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.  http://www.cerritoscenter.com (562) 918-8501.  Also Sept. 26. (Sun.) at the Civic Arts Plaza in Thousand Oaks.   (805) 449-2700.

- Sept. 25. (Sat.)  Symphonic Jazz Orch.  A far too-rare performance by the 67 person SJO, performing jazz, Brazilian music, soul music, classical music and a few world premieres.  With guest stars George Duke, Luciana Souza and Raul Midon. Conducted by Mitch Glickman.  Host for the evening is comedian Tommy DavidsonRoyce Hall. (310) 876-8130.

- Sept. 25. (Sat.)  Fiesta Mexicana VIIISones, Bailes y Cantares. A colorful evening celebrating the rich folkloric music and dance of Mexico.  Among the groups performing – Tamborazo Pancho Villa and Trio Jacaranda.   Ford Amphitheatre.  (323) 461-3673.

- Sept. 26. (Sun.)  Red Holloway and Plas JohnsonBubba Jackson hosts.  KJAZZ Sunday Champagne Brunch. The Twist Restaurant in the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel. h

- Sept. 26. (Sun.)  17th Annual Brazilian Summer Festival. The spirit of Brazil has been vividly alive in these Summer Festival events for nearly two decades.  And Sunday night will be no exception, with a spectacular performance by the 23-member percussion and dance ensemble Olodum, the group that created samba reggae.  Opening the performance, Brasilidade Samba and Pagode show combine body-moving pagode and samba rhythms with a coterie of stunning Brazilian dancers.  Ford Amphitheater.   (323) 461-3673.

San Francisco

George Wein

- Sept. 20 & 21. (Mon. & Tues.)  George Wein and the Newport All-StarsAn Evening of Conversation and Jazz. The inventor of the outdoor jazz festival displays his chops as a pianist and as an entertaining, anecdote-filled conversationalist. Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

- Sept. 21. (Tues.) Fred Hersch and Nancy King.  Pianist Hersch and singer King, A pair of he jazz world’s most consistently inventive, musically adventurous artists, find common musical ground.  Yoshi’s Oakland.  (510) 238-9200.

- Sept. 22 & 23. (Wed. & Thurs.)  The Charles Lloyd New Quartet.  Saxophonist/flutist Lloyd, one of the true – if sometimes under-appreciated – originals to emerge from the post-Coltrane era, performs selections from his new CD, Mirror, with the world class backing of pianist Jason Moran, bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Eric Harland. Yoshi’s Oakland. (510) 238-9200.

- Sept. 23 – 26. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The McCoy Tyner All-Stars. “All-Stars” is precisely the right title, with Roy Hargrove, trumpet, John Patitucci, bass and Willie Jones III, drums on stage with the ever-stellar Tyner.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655-5600.

Geri Allen

- Sept. 24 – 26. (Fri. – Sun.)  Fri. – Sun.)  Geri Allen: Tribute to Eric Dolphy. Allen has assembled the right collection of players for a long overdue tribute to one of jazz’s most remarkable innovators — Oliver Lake, alto sax, Don Byron, bass clarinet, Dwayne Dolphin, bass and Jeff “Tain” Watts, drums.  Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

New York

- Sept. 21 – 25. (Tues. – Sat. )  “Coltrane Revisited’ Joe Lovano, Steve Kuhn, Lonnie Plaxico and Andrew Cyrille.  Combine Lovano’s affection for Coltrane with Kuhn’s remembrances of having worked with Coltrane, add the solid bass and drum work of Plaxico and Cyrille, and expect a musically energizing evening.  Birdland. (212) 581-3080.

- Sept. 21 – 26. (Tues. – Sun.)  Ravi Coltrane Quartet. He comes from noble lineage, but the most intriguing aspect of Coltrane’s saxophone work is the way he has shaped it into a style which is uniquely, creatively his own.  Village Vanguard.  (212) 255-4037.

Sept. 23 – 26. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Taylor Eigsti Trio with singer Becca Stevens.  A former child jazz prodigy, now impressively in his mid-‘20s, Eigsti displays his versatility with his own group, with singer Stevens and with special guests Julian Lage, guitar (Thurs.), singer Gretchen Parlato and pianist Gerald Clayton (Sun.).  Jazz Standard.   (212) 576-2232.

- Sept. 24. (Fri.)  Mike Melvoin Trio.  L.A.’s master jazz pianists hits the Big Apple with his favorite New York rhythm team, bassist Jay Leonhart and drummer Bill GoodwinKitano.   (212) 885-7119.


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