Live Music: Los Lobos and Los Lonely Boys at Valley Performing Arts Center

November 10, 2014

By Mike Finkelstein

Northridge, CA. For several years now, Los Lobos and Los Lonely Boys have been touring together to the continuing satisfaction of their solid fan bases. Sometimes Los Lobos headlines, other times Los Lonely Boys headlines. The two bands teamed up Saturday night at the Valley Performing Arts Center on the CSUN campus for a fun evening of shared music with Los Lobos closing the show.

Saturday’s performance was a loud one. While most rock concerts are going to be that way, it’s noteworthy that the Valley Performing Arts Center doesn’t often present louder rock concerts. The VAC is a gorgeous building but the interior of the main auditorium is comprised mostly of wooden walls and baffles designed to direct the sound optimally. It seems that this actually works best for softer performances with lower volumes. The sound rattled around inside noticeably on Saturday night, reducing the high ends to a sizzling hiss. It was way too challenging just to make out the lyrics of the tunes.

While Los Lobos have been together in excess of forty years, Los Lonely Boys have been at it for nearly 20 years themselves (!). And one would think that as he band’s three brothers — Ringo, Jojo, and Henry Garza — were growing up in San Angelo, Texas they had to be inspired by the success they saw Los Lobos have playing any style of music they wanted to – masterfully and to huge acceptance. So touring with them and knowing them is coming full circle. After LLB closed their hour-long opening set, their equipment stayed where it was. It only stays if it’s going to be used later on, after all. The LLB’s were far from done.

Los Lonely Boys

Los Lonely Boys

Throughout the evening nearly all the members of each band came out to play with their touring buddies. The frontlines of both groups are all multi-instrumental so they could and did play drums or percussion as well as their guitars, regional stringed instruments, and accordions.

Aside from their ace musicianship, one of the biggest appeals of Los Lobos is how they have consistently embraced all their musical influences and worked them into the repertoire. Whether it’s traditional Mexican folk music, blues-rock, rockabilly, folk, pop or country, these guys will play it like no one else’s business and on Saturday night we got a bit of everything. In a song like “Kiko and the Lavender Moon,” it all came together. There was a simple but driving bass line, and between the lyrics, Berlin’s baritone sax, David Hidalgo’s accordion, and the timbre of his and Cesar Rojas’ voices the atmosphere was something to get lost in.

Los Lobos

Los Lobos

Having grown come up in LA in the late 60’s/early 70’s the guys in Los Lobos got to immerse themselves in all the exceptional music of those times on the radio and with vinyl records. Then they added the traditional music that was around them in the neighborhood. It makes for a uniquely rich blend of styles. Whatever the wolves play it never sounds remotely like a stretch. They do the blues-rock style very well, with songs like “Shakin’, Shakin’, Shakes,” and “Don’t Worry Baby.” Rojas’ guitar, in particular, was in the sweet spot for these tunes. His amp was ready to jump off the chair! But it was the Los Lobos rhythm section of Conrad Lozano on bass and Enrique Gonzalez on drums, wound tight and swinging, which took it to a different level. Can’t say enough good things about the power of the bass and drums being dialed in. As bass players who lay down a great groove for each tune go, Conrad Lozano is exemplary. He was grinning ear to ear for the whole ride on Saturday.

About half way through Los Lonely Boys’ opening set, Hidalgo (guitar), Berlin (baritone sax), and Perez (guitar) sat in with the band. Afterwards, bassist Jojo Garza admitted that every time they get to jam with the wolves it’s a dream come true for himself and his brothers. The good vibe was obvious on all the faces onstage. It was a night built on the simple joy of playing music with your friends for people who are right there with you.

The evening ended with a blistering version of “La Bamba.” We’ve all heard this song many times and probably noticed how much it sounds like “Twist and Shout.” But it is an historic tune. Although it’s a traditional Mexican folk song, it was made enormously popular by Ritchie Valens, of Pacoima, in the ‘50’s when he gave it a rock ‘n roll treatment. Los Lobos made the song a customized rock ‘n roll hit again when the movie about Valens’ tragic life came out in the late 80’s. So, it was only fitting that Henry Garza and Cesar Rojas would raise the bar to pump each other up trading hot solos in the middle of the tune. Both men and the audience, too, were having a blast … which is just what we all showed up for.

* * * * * * * *

To read more posts by Mike Finkelstein click HERE.


Picks of the Weekend in Los Angeles: Nov. 6 – 9

November 6, 2014

By Don Heckman

Steve Tyrell

Steve Tyrell

- Nov. 6 – 9. (Thurs. – Sun.) Steve Tyrell. Add an amiable Texas twang to a jaunty sense of swing and a convincing way with a lyric, and that still doesn’t add up to the magic that happens when Tyrell digs into the Great American Songbook. Catalina Bar & Grill. http://www.catalinajazzclub.com (323) 466-2210.

Lani Hall and Herb Alpert

Lani Hall and Herb Alpert

- Nov. 6. (Thurs.) Herb Alpert and Lani Hall. The veteran jazz trumpeter/painter/sculptor and his vocally superb wife are back again at their home base – Alpert’s jazz friendly, elegant Bel Air club. They’ll no doubt be working over material for their current touring. And that’ll be a musically captivating gift for anyone who can squeeze into what will no doubt be a full house crowd. But it’ll be worth the effort. Click HERE to read a review of the dynamic duo’s most recent appearance at.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- Nov. 6. (Thurs.) David Ornette Cherry. He’s the son of trumpeter Don Cherry, who worked frequently with free jazz icon Ornette Coleman– thus David Ornette Cherry’s middle name. A keyboard player with his own unique approach to contemporary improvisation, he’s an imaginative jazz artist who deserves a hearing on his own right. The Blue Whale.  (213) 620-0908.

Los Lobos

Los Lobos

- Nov. 8. (Sat.) Los Lobos and Los Lonely Boys. The mutiple Grammy-winning group from Los Angeles are one of the popworld’s most eclectic ensembles. Blending everything from Latin pop and Chicano rock to TexMex and Americana their music has a fascinating body-moving appeal. Opening the bill, Texas’ Los Lonely Boys follow a similar musical path. Valley Performing Arts Center.  (818) 677-8800.

- Nov. 8. (Sat.) Dimitri Matheny Quartet. Matheny’s warm, engaging flugelhorn playing has thoroughly established him as one of the most emotionally expressive improvisers of his generation. He performs with the sterling backing of Joe Bagg, piano, Pat Senatore, bass, Dick Weller, drums. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

Johnny Mathis

Johnny Mathis

- Nov. 8. (Sat.) Johnny Mathis. He doesn’t show up often any more in the Southland, so don’t miss this opportunity to hear the hit-maker of the ‘6os and 70s up close in action. Segerstrom Center for the Arts.  (714) 556-2787.

- Nov. 8. (Sat.) The New West Symphony. Marcelo Lehninger conducts the gifted players of the NWS in Brahms’ Symphony No. 2, and the Dvorak Concerto in B minor for cello and orchestra, featuring cellist Lynn Harrell. The Cavli Theatre at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza. (805) 449-2100.

HIGHLIGHT EVENT: SATURDAY AND SUNDAY NOVEMBER 8 & 9

The 2014 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Trumpet Competition and All-Star Gala Concert

Thelonious Monk

The annual jazz competitions produced by the Thelonious Monk Institute are among the most celebrated jazz events of the year. And the 2014 installment is no exception. This year’s competition again showcases a talented, ambitious group of young players. The semi-finalists will first meet at U.C.L.A.’s Schoenberg Hall on Saturday, Nov. 8. (The semi-final event is free and open to the public.)

The three finalists will then perform in the Competition’s Gala event on Sunday, Nov. 9 at Dolby Hall. The distinguished panel of judges for both stages of the competition includes trumpeters Ambrose Akinmusire, Terence Blanchard, Randy Brecker, Roy Hargrove, Quincy Jones and Arturo Sandoval.

Following the finalists’ performances and the selection of this year’s winner, an All-Star Gala concert will feature Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Terri Lyne Carrington, Ron Carter, Vinnie Colaiuta, Jimmy Heath, Marcus Miller, Dianne Reeves and others.

In another highlight of the Gala, the Institute will present its prestigious Founders Award to President Bill Clinton.

The Thelonious Monk Institute 2014 International Jazz Trumpet Competition  (310) 206-9700.


Picks of the Weekend: May 3 – 5 in Los Angeles

May 3, 2013

By Don Heckman

Electricity and internet problems in iRoM land prevented the posting of a full week of International Picks.  But now we finally have enough power and web access to list some Picks of the Weekend here in L.A.  Next week, Picks of the Week will be back on track with our global overview.

Los Angeles

Billy Childs

Billy Childs

.

- May 3. (Fri.)  Billy Childs Allstar Jazz.  Pianist Childs is constantly in search of new musical adventures.  His All Star Jazz Group, with bassist Jimmy Johnson, drummer Joey Heredia and saxophonist/flutist Katisse Buckingham is his latest jaunt into new creative territory.  The Baked Potato.   (818) 980-1615.

- May 3. (Fri.)  Brandon Fields.  He’s been a first-call session saxophonist for decades, with a resume filled with stellar relationships.  But Fields is a fine jazz artist in his own right, which will be self-evident in this headlining gig, backed by bassist Pat Senatore, drummer Mark Ferber, and pianist tba. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. http://www.vibratogrilljazz.com  (310) 474-9400.

- May 3 & 4. (Fri. & Sat.)  Andy Garcia and the Cine Son All Stars.  An Academy Award-nominated actor, director and writer, Garcia has also had a fascinating parallel career as a convincing Latin jazz percussionist and musician.  Here’s one of the rare opportunities to see him in high powered musical action. Catalina Bar & Grill. http://www.catalinajazzclub.com  (323) 466-2210.

Lang Lang

Lang Lang

- May 3 – 5. (Fri. – Sun.)  Dudamel, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Lang Lang.  It’s a world-class combination, performing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concert No. 1. and Carl Nielsen’s Symphony No. 4.   Disney Hall. http://www.laphil.com/tickets/dudamel-and-lang-lang/2013-05-02  (323) 850-2000.

- May 3 – 5. (Fri. – Sun.)  Deana Martin. She’s had a career as an actress and a singer, with a top selling workout video.  But her father’s memory is most present in her engaging singing style.  This time out, she celebrates that relationship with “Deana Sings Dino: A Tribute to Her Father.”  Pianist/arranger John Proulx conducts.  Vitello’s.  http://www.vitellosrestaurant.com  (818) 769-0905.

- May 4. (Sat.)  Brad Mehldau and The Bad Plus with special guest Joshua Redman. Three of the contemporary jazz world’s most cutting edge musical entities get together for a compelling evening of wide open improvisational exploration.  A CAP UCLA concert at Royce Hall.  http://cap.ucla.edu  (310) 825-4321.

- May 5. (Sun.)  The Playboy Jazz Festival’s Free Community Concert in Beverly Hills.  Featuring the New Jump Blues Band with Antonio Fargas.  He’s best known for his role as Huggy Bear in Starsky and Hutch¸but he’s currently leading the New Jump Blues band in their dynamic romps through jazz, blues, calypso and a lot more.  Also on the bill: the Beverly Hills High School Jazz Band under the direction of Bill Bradbury.  The Beverly Hills Civic Center Plaza.  Playboy Festival Hotline: (310) 450-1173.  http://www.playboyjazzfestival.com/events2013.html

Gerald Wilson

Gerald Wilson

- May 5. (Sun.) Gerald Wilson Orchestra.  94 year old Gerald Wilson is still a compelling band leader, inspiring vitality and swing in his large jazz ensemble whenever he steps to the front of the stage and gives a down beat. Hear him at every opportunity, and anticipate the pleasures of his memorable compositions and arrangements as well.  Catalina Bar & Grill. http://www.catalinajazzclub.com  (323) 466-2210.

- May 5. (Sun.)  2nd Annual Los Lobos Cinco de Mayo Festival. The Greek Theatre 2013 schedule begins with a spectacular line-up of Southland favorites, Los Lobos, Robert Randolph, Los Super 7, Willie G of The Midnighters.  The full day of music and celebration begins at 3 p.m.  The Greek Theatre.  http://www.greektheatrela.com/events/event_details.asp?id=2516  (323) 665-5857.

* * * * * * *

Billy Childs photo by Bonnie Perkinson.


Picks of the Week: Jan. 7 – 13

January 8, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Ariana Savalas

Ariana Savalas

- Jan. 9.  (Wed.)  Ariana Savalas and Corky Hale.  Yes, the name “Savalas” is familiar; Ariana is the daughter of the veteran actor Telly Savalas.  But as a singer, she has an appealing style that is uniquely her own.  She’s backed by the musically supportive accompaniment of pianist/harpist Hale. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- Jan. 9. (Wed.)  Betty Bryant.  Singer/pianist Betty Bryant gives another seminar in jazz piano and vocals, as entertaining and swinging as she is musically inventive.  H.O.M.E.  Beverly Hills.   (310) 271-4663.

- Jan. 9. (Wed.)  John Beasley.  Pianist/composer Beasely begins a January residency at the Blue Whale, starting with a duo with the unique vocalist Dwight TribleThe Blue Whale.   (213) 620-0908.

- Jan. 10. (Thurs.) Gerald Wilson Orchestra. At 94, arranger/composer/bandleader Wilson still brings his Orchestra vividly to life everytime he gives the down beat on one of his memorable arrangements.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

Amadeus Leopold

Amadeus Leopold

- Jan. 10. (Thurs.)  Amadeus Leopold.  The brilliant young Korean violinist Leopold – whose original name was Hahn-Bin – applies his technical prowess and emotional imagination to a uniquely imaginative view of the classical repertoire.  CAP UCLA.  Royce Hall.

- Jan. 10. (Thurs.)  Ibrahim Maalouf Quintet. (Concert cancelled due to visa problems.) Lebanese trumpeter Maalouf effectively blends Arabic traditional sounds and rhythms with contemporary jazz funk and roots rock.  Theatre Raymond Kabbaz.  A Jazz Bakery Movable Feast.    (310) 271-9039.

- Jan. 11. (Fri.)  Sinne Eeg.  Highly praised Danish singer Eeg performs with the stellar backing of Larry Koonse, Peter Erskine, Darek Oles and Roger NeumannVitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Jan. 11. (Fri.)  Los Lobos. The multiple Grammy-winning band from East L.A. continues to continue to find linkages between Chicano rock, Tex-Mex, r&b and traditional Hispanic styles.  The Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.    (562) 916-8501.

Lainie Kazan

Lainie Kazan

- Jan. 11 – 13. (Fri. – Sun.)  Lainie Kazan.  Actress/singer Kazan’s checkered career reaches from understudying Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl to dozens of high visibility film roles.  But she’s also a uniquely gifted singer with a lush sound and a gift for richly emotional interpretations of the book of standards.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Jan. 12 & 13. (Sat. & Sun.)  Steve Ross.  Puttin’ on the Ritz.  “The Music of Fred Astaire.  Singer Ross presents a cabaret show to remember, with some of the greatest songs from film musicals.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Curtis Stigers

Curtis Stigers

- Jan. 13. (Sun.)  Curtis Stigers & His Band.  Saxophonist/singer Stigers has spent most of his career emphasizing his vocal skills, producing some memorable, jazz-tinged, charting songs since the release of his self-titled, platinum debut recording in 1991.  Kirk Douglas Theatre.  A Jazz Bakery Movable Feast.    (310) 271-9039.

- Jan. 13. (Sun.)  Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour.  The MJF prides itself on the iconic line up of performers for the annual September Festival programs.  And here’s an equally iconic group of artists – Dee Dee Bridgewater, Christian McBride, Benny Green, Lewis Nash, Chris Potter and Ambrose Akinmusire – proudly carrying the MJF banner in the off season.  Segerstrom Center for the Arts.    (714) 556-2787.   (The Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour also performs at the Valley Performing Arts Center on Jan. 23.

San Francisco

Wesla Whitfield

Wesla Whitfield

- Jan. 9. (Wed.)  Wesla Whitfield with the Mike Greensil Trio.  Whitfield has been offering her view of the Great American Songbook for more than three decades, most often with the backing of her husband, pianist Greensil.  Together they provide an irresistible evening of memorable music.Yoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.

New York

- Jan. 10.  (Thurs.) Janis Ian.  Singer/songwriter Ian made her breakthrough with “Society’s Child” in the mid-‘60s, followed by her Grammy Award-winning “At Seventeen” in the mid-‘70s.  At 81, she’s still going strong.  City Winery.    (212) 608-0555.

- Jan. 11 & 12. (Fri. & Sat.)  The 2013 NYC Winter Jazzfest.  Six venues around Greenwich Village feature performers such as James Carter, Monty Alexander, Claudia Acuna, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Rez Abbasi and numerous others, young and mature.  The Winter Jazzfest.

Carol Welsman, Peter Marshall and Denise Donatelli

Carol Welsman, Peter Marshall and Denise Donatelli

- Jan. 11 – 14. (Fri. – Mon.) “And Then She Wrote.”  With Peter Marshall, Carol Welsman and Denise Donatelli.  Emmy Award-winner singer/actor Marshall has created an entertaining overview of the many memorable songs in the Great American Songbook written by women.  And he couldn’t have chosen a better pair of singers to join him in a delightful evening of music, dance and humor than Juno Award nominee Welsman and Grammy nominee Donatelli.   Click HERE to read an iRoM review of the Los Angeles performance of And Then She Wrote.”  The Metropolitan Room.   (212) 206-0440.

- Jan. 12 & 13. (Sat. & Sun.)  Ramsey Lewis and John Pizzarelli.  Straighten Up and Fly Right: A Tribute to Nat “King” Cole.  What a great combination: the spirited piano work of Lewis, the lively singing and guitar of Pizzarelli, and the great book of songs associated with Nat Cole.  The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

Washington D.C.

Grace Kelly

Grace Kelly

- Jan. 8. (Tues.)  Grace Kelly.  Korean/American alto saxophonist and singer Kelly, who just turned 20 in 2012, has firmly established herself as one of the gifted jazz artists of her generation.  Blues Alley.     (202) 337-4141.

London

- Jan. 9 & 10.  (Wed, & Thurs.)  Larry Goldings, Peter Bernstein and Bill Stewart.  Described in the ‘90s by the New York Times as the “best organ trio of the last decade,” the Goldings/Bernstein/Stewart combination continues to get better and better.  Ronnie Scott’s.   +44 (0)20 7439 0747.

Copenhagen

- Jan. 10 & 11. (Thurs. & Fri.)  “A Tribute to Anita O’Day.”   Signe Juhl and the Nikolaj Bentzon 3. Singer Juhl, backed by pianist Bentzon’s prime trio, celebrates the lively musical history of Anita O’Day.  Jazzhus Montmartre.    (+45) 70 263 267.

Milan

- Jan. 11 & 12. (Fri. & Sat.)  Tania Maria.  Grammy-nominated Brazilian singer/pianist and composer has been described as Brazil’s finest native jazz artist.  At 64, she continues to produce memorable recordings and live performances.  The Blue Note Milano.     02.6901 6888.


Live Rock: Los Lonely Boys and Los Lobos at the Greek Theatre

July 31, 2011

By Mike Finkelstein

On Friday night a not quite sold out, but certainly revved up, Greek Theater audience was treated to a most appealing double bill of high profile American Latino rock bands.   Beginning their impressive career well over three decades ago,  Los Lobos first blazed the trail that Los Lonely Boys now walk.   Now, Los Lonely Boys are a hot young act that headlines above Los Lobos. But the two bands are friendly and the members mixed and sat in freely during each others’ sets all evening long. The night’s music was a celebration of blues, Norteno music, rock ‘n roll, and Tejano music, to name but a few of the influences that converge somewhere near the borders of California and Texas with Mexico.

Los Lonely Boys

Los Lonely Boys are brothers Henry Garza on guitar, Jojo Garza on bass, and Ringo Garza on drums, out of San Angelo, Texas, and they call their music Texican rock ‘n roll.  While they have an appealingly huge, warm, and busy sound, they also manage to give each other a lot of room to flap their instrumental wings at any moment.   They aren’t locked into a rigid set of arrangements, but what they play is ultra tight, and they do love to jam.   On Friday, these jams percolated  and would burst into snips of songs like “Sunshine of Your Love.” As LLB tap an idea around between them – much like kicking a musical hackeysack — these fellows sound as though they have been playing music with each other all their lives.  Moreover, when Henry and Jojo sang together it was often in unison.   Their voices are different enough to contrast but similar enough to blend as one.

Los Lonely Boys’ songs are based mostly on blues progressions fleshed out with a lot of smooth syncopation.  Each song had a lot of room for experimentation.  Every idea was laid down, elaborated upon enough to advance the song and then gave way to the next one. The lyrics were mostly about desire as in “Oye Mamacita,” and “Road to Nowhere” or lifting the spirit and making the world a better place, as in as in their huge hit, “Heaven.”   Then again, “16 Monkeys” was quite whimsical and playful.   It will be intriguing to see where a group this talented will take their songwriting in the future.

No power trio will fly without a charismatic leader who plays hot lead guitar and sings.   Henry Garza is cut from this rock star cloth.   He is tall with long hair, long arms, long legs, and a very engaging vibe to him onstage.  Most importantly he has the sound – the big, sizzling Texas Stratocaster sound made popular by Stevie Ray Vaughan and several others after him.    His style on guitar brimmed with showmanship and motion, but he stayed within himself and allowed his sound, rather than an excess of notes,  to get the point across. We first got a glimpse of him during Los Lobos set when he walked on and guested on three songs, tearing it up with the Wolves on “Hey Joe,”  and “La Bamba/Good Lovin’.”

The power trio is a tried and true lineup in rock which demands that each player cover a lot of musical ground to keep the sound interesting.  What actually put LLB over the top instrumentally was Jojo’s bass performance.  He plays a six string bass, which gives him chordal possibilities not available on 4- or 5- string basses.    In its higher ranges, a six string bass moves into the realm of a baritone guitar, which meant that Jojo could meet his brother Henry in the same tonal registers and then peel off elegantly up or back down to the bass registers.   Since a 6 string bass has an extra high and low string Jojo’s lines were riveting, as he skillfully constructed his runs to include the high highs and the low lows.  It gave them a modern sound and proved that a six string bass can work beautifully in a rock band.

Los Lobos

Los Lobos opened the show, hitting the stage as the sun went down, and powered through favorites like “La Bamba,” “Shakin’ Shakin’ Shakes,” and “Don’t Worry Baby.” Their 90-minute performance also included two runs through “Cumbias,” a high-energy style of Latin dance music. Over the years (30+) the Wolves have built up a very impressive catalogue of songs in both English and Spanish.  On Friday no less than four of their tunes were sung in Spanish.   “Yo Canto” was a standout and the title cut of their new album Tin Can Trust was mesmerizing.   The band has always featured its members changing instruments.   While we are used to seeing David Hidalgo switch from guitar to accordion routinely, he actually sat in on drums with the Lonely Boys on “Heaven.”   At times the sound system at the Greek didn’t really seem to achieve the separation between the two guitars and Steve Berlin’s baritone sax that it has before.   Still, it wasn’t the sort of inconvenience that could stop a band like Los Lobos from making its musical points.

As the show progressed it became clear that this was a double billing of bands who play great music and live to play.  The stage was at times a revolving door for members of both bands and their delight in the moment was infectiously obvious.  It made for a very special night of music, indeed.

To see more reviews by Mike Finkelstein click HERE.


Picks of the Week: July 25 – 31.

July 25, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Justo Almario

- July 26. (Tues.)  Justo Almario Quartet.  Saxophonist/flutist Almario is one of the Southland’s great jazz treasures, a player who moves convincingly across every jazz arena. Vibrato.  (310) 474-9400.

- July 27. (Wed.)  Gladys Knight and James Ingram.  The one and only Grammy-winning Empress of Soul shares the stage with the smooth sounds of balladeer Ingram.   Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2040.

- July 28. (Thurs.)  David Angel’s Saxtet.  Angel continues his quest to showcase the jazz saxophone in all its glories.   Charlie O’s.  (818) 994-3058.

- July 28. (Thurs.)  Red Baraat.  The band that has convincingly married the Punjabi bhangra percussion rhythms with spunky New Orleans brass makes its West Coast premiere appearance.  The Skirball Cultural Center.   Free.  Seating on first come basis.  (310) 440-4500.

Ann Hampton Callaway

- July 28 – July 30.  (Thurs. – Sun.) Ann Hampton Callaway.  Blessed with one of the jazz vocal world’s most gorgeous, emotionally pliant voices, Callaway is also a convincing pianist and a masterful musical storyteller. Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- July 29. (Fri.)  Los Lonely Boys and Los Lobos.  One of the major pop music breakthroughs of the past decade, the Grammy winning, platinum producing Lonely Boys share the stage with the older, more established, but no less compelling Los Lobos. The Greek Theatre.  (323) 665-5857.

- July 29. (Fri.)  John Proulx, Kristin Korb and Dave Tull. Trio’s like this don’t come along very often.  Pianist Proulx, bassist Korb and drummer Tull are all first rate instrumentalists  But each of them is also an appealing jazz vocalist.   Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- July 29 & 30. (Fri. & Sat.) Michael Feinstein and the Singing Stars of Television.  Pianist/singer Feinstein, who matches his musical adroitness with a dedication to the glories of American song, performs with Wayne Brady, Florence Henderson, Cheyenne Jackson and Dick Van Dyke.   Hollywood Bowl.    (323) 850-2040.

- July 30. (Sat.)  Trouble in Tahiti. The too-rarely seen Leonard Bernstein one-act opera receives a rare and unusual performance in a night club setting.  Jessica Marney and Phil Meyer star.   Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- July 30. (Sat.)  Shoghaken Ensemble and Tigran.  An evening overflowing with the colorful, far-reaching melodies and rhythms of Armenia.  Grand Performances.

(213) 687-2159.

- July 30. (Sat.)  Chuck Manning Quartet.  Versatile tenor saxophonist Manning brings an inventive point of view to his bop-influenced, straight ahead style.  His stellar backing includes Jay Daversa, trumpet, Pat Senatore, bass and Jimmy Branley, drums.  At 6:30 and 10:30, the Otmaro Ruiz duo.   Vibrato.  (310) 474-9400.

Peter Frampton

- July 30. (Sat.)  Peter Frampton.  One of the icons of classic rock, Frampton was a co-founder of the group Humble Pie when he was only eighteen.  Still a star, this time out he performs his multi-platinum album Frampton Comes Alive! in its entirety.  Greek Theatre.   (323) 665-5857.

- July 30 & 31. (Sat. & Sun.)  The Central Avenue Jazz Festival.  The 16th annual festival, always a showcase for the Southland’s finest, takes place in one of the founding places of Los Angeles jazz.  This year’s line up includes: on Saturday: Pete Escovedo, Kamasi Washington, the Pan Afrikan People’s Arkestra, Karen A. Clark Project, Ashley Siris, Dorian Holley, The LAUSD All-City High School Jazz Band.  On Sunday: The Gerald Wilson Orchestra, Katia Moraes and Sambaguru, Deacon Jones with Ray Goren, Ernie Andrews, Jazz America tribute to Buddy Collette.  The Central Avenue Jazz Festival takes place on Central Ave. between 42nd and 43rd streets.  Free.  (213) 473-2309.

San Francisco

New West Guitar Group

- July 27. (Wed.)  New West Guitar Group. A trio of gifted young guitarists – John Storie, Perry Smith and Jeff Stein, the New West players have thoroughly authenticated their ability to move freely and imaginatively across jazz, rock, folk and beyond.  Freight & Salvage.   http://www.thefreight.org  (510) 644-2020.

- July 29. (Fri.)  Lavay Smith’s Crazy in Love with Patsy Cline.  The one and only sultry siren finds entertaining common ground between jazz, blues and country.  Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse.   (510) 644-2020.

- July 31 – 31. (Sat. & Sun.)  The Fab Four.  Tribute bands seem to be proliferating in every direction.  But none do a more entertaining job of it than the Fab Four’s ear and eye catching versions of the Beatrles. Yoshi’s San Francisco.    (415) 655-5600.

New York

- July 26 – 30. (Tues. – Sat.)  Leny Andrade“From Rio With Love.”  The title is great, but it doesn’t say it all.  Andrade, in fact, has for years been one of Brazil’s most proficient jazz vocal artists, combining her deep understanding of Brazilian rhythms with an equally inventive jazz style.  Birdland.     (212) 581-3080.

- July 26 – 31. (Tues. – Sun.)  Fourplay. Guitarist Chuck Loeb joined founding Fourplay members Bob James, keyboards, Nathan East, bass and Harvey Mason, drums in 2010.  The result has been a further musical enhancement of a group that has always had the ability to find the creative heart of whatever style they elect to play.  The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

Claudia Acuna

- July 26 – 31. (Tues. – Sun.)  Claudia Acuna.  In a jazz world overflowing with talented female vocal artists, Acuna continues to soar freely at the highest levels of the art.  Chilean born, she mastered the basics quickly, but what makes her special is the way she has shaped her version of those basics into her own mesmerizing musical story telling. (212) 258-9800.   Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.

Paris

- July 29. (Fri.)  Ravi Coltrane Quartet.  Tenor and soprano saxophonist Coltrane has successfully accomplished the difficult task of creating his own convincing musical identity, expanding inventively from year to year, inspired but undistracted by the greatness of his father.  New Morning.    01 45 23 51 41.

Justo Amario photo by Tony Gieske.


Live Rock: Robert Plant and the Band of Joy at the Greek Theatre

April 24, 2011

By Mike Finkelstein

Once, more than 40 years ago, Robert Plant and John Henry Bonham emerged out of their Band of Joy and into the New Yardbirds, led by a talented upstart studio musician named Jimmy Page. The original Band of Joy was a vehicle for Plant and Bonham to play the music they loved — traditional blues, English folk music and San Francisco vintage hippie music (Moby Grape, Jefferson Airplane etc) – as well as they possibly could.  And if critical success was in the cards then so be it.    Plant and Bonham certainly caught Page’s ear and, with their new singer and drummer, the New Yardbirds morphed into the infamous Led Zeppelin.  The rest was truly iconic rock history. Now, some 30 years later, Plant has formed a new Band of Joy.  And in support of their new self titled “LP,” they put on a splendid show Saturday night for a full house at the Greek Theatre.

The new Band of Joy consists of Marco Giovino (percussion), Patty Griffin (vocals and guitar), original member Byron House (electric and acoustic bass), Buddy Miller (guitar, baritone guitar, mandoguitar and vocals) and Darrell Scott (vocals, mandolin, guitar, pedal steel guitar, banjo).   In this band,  Plant has assembled a group that sounds rootsy, bluesy and quite folky as they put their interpretive spin on a set of songs ranging from Los Lobos’ “Angel Dance” to Townes Van Zant’s “Harm’s Swift Way” to Porter Waggoner’s “A Satisfied Mind,” as well as the Led Zeppelin material. The folkier yet very recognizable Led Zeppelin tunes really do lend themselves well to the stripped down/turned down treatments that the Band of Joy thrive on.

Robert Plant

When Robert Plant walks on stage it’s only natural to realize that you are looking at one of the true living legends in rock history.  And Saturday night’s audience knew it well, most of them having grown up listening to Led Zeppelin throughout their formative years.  To look at him, Plant doesn’t give the appearance of one of hard rock/heavy metal’s most vaunted front men. At 62, he remains slender, his hair is still long and he wears a short goatee.   He never has actually looked much the part of a heavy metal deity, per se. Never has he looked like a bad-ass. He is without excessive piercings, tattoos, and all the other frills that go with the genre. His style has always leaned more towards jeans and a boutique shirt.

Of course he did sound the part while at his peak during the Led Zeppelin years.  His voice then was a prototype for fusing sheer power and tender expression. On Saturday, he walked onstage unassumingly with his black shirt out and loose fitting over his jeans.   Many times during the evening, he stood on the backline to deliver background vocals as his band mates carried the tune. At stage front, he had a memorable way of tiptoeing as he danced through the changes like a nomad cutting across a meadow.   Occasionally he would kick the mike stand up, as he did in the old days.  But generally speaking, we were watching a man who has happily reinvented himself over the years, taking things tastefully low key for the long run.

The program for Saturday night relied on several chestnuts from the Zeppelin catalogue, as well as tasteful choices in covers from varied and unlikely sources.   The show opened with a transformed “Black Dog.” The audience recognized the song immediately and when the stops and starts that song is famous for didn’t materialize, they went with it and got into the new groove of that song.   Changing the pace allowed Plant to sing at a more natural pitch, with no need to wail, with room for every sound to breathe and for the words to set in.   “Black Dog” featured tastefully layered droning guitars, extensive tom work on the drums, light use of the cymbals, and a huge sense of open space between all the voices in the mix.   Later in the set, “Houses of the Holy” also received a dramatic but oh, so tasty reworking.   On this song in particular, his voice meshed with the angelic tone of one Patty Griffin to bring out hues in the song previously unheard.

Perhaps the most compelling instrumental voice in transforming the songs was the pedal steel guitar voicings of Darrell Scott.   Every time he came in on pedal steel it took a song up a notch. Led Zeppelin’s recording of  “That’s the Way it Ought to Be,” features Jimmy Page evoking a pedal steel guitar. On Saturday, Band of Joy did a show-stopping version of the tune in which Scott took the torch and ran with it on a real pedal steel guitar.   It was a realization of the sort of music that many LZ fans surely may have wondered about over time. Scott also made beautiful contributions on the banjo, lending an ultra bluesy feel to songs like “Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down.” In fact, with all six voices in the band in an eerie low harmonic interval, the song was downright haunting.

Having garnered 5 Grammys in 2009 for his work with Alison Krauss on Raising Sand, the inclusion of their collaboration, “Please Read the Letter,” was obvious.  It is a simply beautiful tune and Plant’s and Griffin’s voices again shimmered together in harmony and in the wide open space Band of Joy provided them.  During the encore, the audience ecstatically received a sparkling version of “Ramble On” and a sparser version of the centuries old folk song “The Gallows Pole,” in which a man asks to be forsaken while hanging on the gallows pole.   Fittingly, the very last entry of the night was a very nearly (save for one guitar) a capella version of the Grateful Dead’s “And We Bid You Goodnight.”

Opening the show were the North Mississippi All Stars — on this evening a two man power house of musicianship represented by brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson, sons of the late music legend, producer Jim Dickinson.   They proceeded to switch off between different instruments for each song.  Luther is a born killer on slide guitar and seemed to have a different guitar for each of many open tunings.   He even had what looked to be a custom made mock up of a cigar box guitar like the old time rural blues men used to make for themselves.   Cody spent most of the evening behind the drum set, occasionally coming out to play an amazing guitar duet with his brother.    It should be very interesting to see where these hugely talented guys take their music in the future.

To read more reviews by Mike Finkelstein click HERE.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 236 other followers