Live Music: Steve Martin, the Steep Canyon Rangers, the Preservation Jazz Band and Madeleine Peyroux at the Hollywood Bowl,

August 9, 2013

 By Don Heckman

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Madeleine Peyroux

When singer Madeleine Peyroux opened Wednesday night’s jazz show at the Hollywood Bowl there was at least a mild sense of actual jazz in the air. Peyroux has had considerable success in the jazz world, even though she has ranged across different genres with varying degrees of success.

A far more powerful jazz vibe followed with the arrival of the Preservation Jazz Band, with its deep roots in traditional New Orleans jazz and an impressive ability to mix dynamic jazz rhythms with engaging jazz vocals.

So far, so good, creating an authentic link to the music one expects to hear in the Bowl’s Wednesday night jazz shows.

But the climactic set of the night made it very clear that the real orientation of the Wednesday series is broader than jazz, and perhaps best viewed as a far-ranging evening of American music in many forms.

Steve Martin, Edie Brickell and the Steep Canyon Raiders

Steve Martin and Banjos

Steve Martin and Banjos

Which only partially describes what happened when Steve Martin, Edie Brickell and the North Carolina- based Steep Canyon Rangers. Martin, of course, has had a hugely successful career as a comedian, actor and TV star. But his occasional appearances over the years as a banjoist gradually made it clear that he was a serious musician as well. And improving with each banjo-playing performance.

It was no surprise that Martin sprinkled his performing passages with numerous examples of his whimsical, and often bizarre humor. And given the audience’s ebullient responses, it was easy to sense that many had been drawn to this Bowl program by Martin’s presence rather than the potential to hear some prime jazz.

Still, there was no faulting the empathic musical interaction between Martin and the Rangers, with the frequent addition of Brickell’s soaring vocals. And, listening to the irresistible rhythmic swing of the blue grass rhythms and the imaginative melody-making,something that possessed qualities very close to jazz began to seem present in the air.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Preservation Hall Jazz Band

The jazz heads in the crowd may have hoped for a more predictable mainstream jazz event, with more performance time for the inimitable Preservation Band.  But what they experienced was even more fascinating, as Martin, the Rangers and the Preservation Hall musicians presented a consistently compelling presentation of the musical dialect – via improvisation and rhythmic propulsion – that is the common expressive language of so much American music. Call it a fascinating evening of musical Americana at its best.

* * * * * * * *

Preservation Hall Band photo by Bonnie Perkinson

All other photos by Faith Frenz


Picks of the Week: Mar. 19 – 24

March 19, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Dorothy Dale Kloss

Dorothy Dale Kloss

- Mar. 20. (Wed.)  “Three For the Show.”  A trio of veteran performers celebrate the music of Broadway, cabaret and beyond: Dorothy Dale Kloss, at 89, is described as the world’s oldest, still performing show girl; Suzy Cadham was a Golddigger on the Dean Martin Show, and Ken Prescott starred on Broadway in 42nd St. Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Mar. 20. (Wed.)  Amanda Brecker. Singer/songwriter Brecker has an impressive lineage – her mother is Brazilian pianist/singer Eliane Elias, her father is jazz trumpeter Randy Brecker.  But Amanda has her own unique musicality, as well.  Her current project is Blossom, a new CD honoring the 40th anniversary of Carole King’s Tapestry. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Mar. 22 & 23. (Fri. & Sat.)  Julie Esposito.  She’s a rare hyphenate – attorney/singer, but she manages to fulfill both roles impressively.  Julie’s current show, “Open Your Window,” is a musical celebration of life—through the songs of Sondheim, Bernstein and more – delivered with the stylish, story-telling qualities that are the essence of her art.  The Gardenia.  (323) 467-7444.

Savion Glover

Savion Glover

- Mar. 22. (Fri.)  Savion Glover.  Watching, and hearing, tap dancer Glover is like experiencing a world class drummer in tap shoes.  There’s no one quite like him, so don’t miss one of his rare Southland appearances. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.    (562) 916-8501

- Mar. 23. (Sat.)  Frank Stallone.  Vitello’s. Grammy and Golden Globe-nominated actor/singer Stallone follows convincingly in the classic styles of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and others.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Mar. 24. (Sun.)  Yuja Wang.  Pianist Wang makes her Disney Hall recital debut with a challenging program reaching from Mendelssohn and Ravel to Debussy, Scriabin and Rachmaninoff.   Disney Hall.   (323) 850-2000.

- Mar. 24. (Sun.)  The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.  “Mostly Baroque.”  The title is right on target for a LACO program encompassing Bach, Handel, Mozart and Stravinsky.  Music Director Jeffrey Kahane will conduct from the keyboard, with soloists Margaret Batjer, violin, and David Shostac, flute.  A CAP UCLA concert at Royce Hall.  (310) 825-2101.

San Francisco

Sheila E.

Sheila E.

- Mar. 20 – 22. (Wed, – Fri.)  Sheila E.  She comes from a high visibility music world family, but she’s learned how to dominate a stage with her magnetic skills as a percussionist, singer, vocalist, songwriter and a lot more, while looking sensational.  Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

New York City

- Mar. 19 – 23. (Tues. – Sat.)  The Tierney Sutton Band.  Grammy-nominated Sutton approaches every song she sings with an imaginative overview, superbly aided by the Band that is an essential element in her deeply expressive musical story telling.  Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

Madeleine Peyroux

Madeleine Peyroux

- Mar. 22 – 24. (Fri. – Sun.)  Madeleine Peyroux.  Always an unusual vocal talent, Peyroux has moved well beyond the Billie Holiday influences in her early recordings, into a versatile singer with the skill and the imagination to embrace everything from classic standards to Leonard Cohen, Randy Newman, John Hartford and beyond.  Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.    (212) 258-9800.

London

Mar. 20. (Wed.)  Kai Hoffman.  The glamorous vocalist Hoffman celebrates the release of her new CD, Do It While You Can.  Click HERE to read an iRoM review of the album.    Ronnie Scott’s.    +44 20 7439 0747

Copenhagen

- Mar. 22. (Fri.) Marilyn Mazur.  Percussionist Mazur was American-born, but she’s lived in Denmark since the age of 6.  She performs here with Celestial Circle — a group of stellar European jazz artists that includes vocalist Josefine Cronholm, pianist John Taylor and bassist Anders Jormin. Jazzhus Montmarte.   +45 31 72 34 94.

Stockholm

- Mar. 21. (Thurs.)  Frank Gambale Natural High Trio.  Australian fusion guitarist Gambale moves comfortably across genre lines, from rock shredding to straight ahead jazz.  He’s joined in his Natural High Trio by pianist Otmaro Ruiz and bassist Alain CaronFasching.    08-534 829 60.

Berlin

Sandro Albert

Sandro Albert

- Mar. 24. (Sun.)  The Sandro Albert Quartet.  Guitarist Albert is one of Brazil’s most convincing jazz artists.  He’s backed here by a prime American rhythm section – keyboardist James Weidman, bassist Michael O’Brian and drummer Tom BrechtleinA-Trane.   +49 30 3132 ext. 550.

 Milan

- Mar. 23. (Sat.)  The Ron Carter Trio.  Iconic bassist Carter has spent his life playing for world class artists.  And he continues to do so here with his own group, featuring pianist Donald Vega and guitarist Russell Malone.  Click HERE to read a recent iRom review of Carter.  Blue Note Milano.   +39 02 6901 6888

Qatar

- Mar. 19 – 24. (Tues. – Sun.)  Ulysses Owens Jr. Quintet. Grammy-winning drummer Owens has already established himself – in his ‘20s – as first call player whose resume is already filled with world-class performances.  Jazz at Lincoln Center Doha.    +974.4446.0000.

Tokyo

Hiromi

Hiromi

.

- Mar. 22 – 24. (Fri. – Sun.)  Hiromi Uehara Solo.  Performing in a solo setting, the gifted Hiromi finds ways to transform her keyboards – from acoustic to electric – into a virtual orchestra for the fullest expression of her improvisational ingenuity.  Blue Note Tokyo.  +81 3-5485-0088.


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: April 5 – 10

April 4, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Junko Onishi

- April 5. (Tues.)  Junko Onishi Trio.  Japanese pianist Onishi confirms her return to jazz action last year after a performance break of nearly a decade.  She kicks off her American tour tonight with the backing of the sterling rhythm team of bassist Dwayne Burno and drummer Gregory Hutchinson.   Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323)466-2210  (Also at Yoshi’s Oakland on April 6.)

- April 5. (Tues.)  Ostad Abbos Kosimov.  Traditional Uzbek and Tajik Percussion Music and Dance. Percussionist Kosimov is one of the world’s masters of the doyra frame drum.  He is joined by the CalArts Persian and World Music ensembles, as well as members of his own Abbos Ensemble in an exploration of the music of Uzbekistan.  Tara Pandeya adds the sensual movements of Central Asian dance.  REDCAT (213) 237-2800.

- April 5. (Tues.)  Lorenzo Lamas.  You may remember him as Jane Wyman’s evil stepson in Falcon Crest. But Lamas (yes, from that family) is also an effective musical purveyor of the romantic side of cabaret.  Vibrato Grill Jazz… (310) 474-9400. 

Kenny Burrell

- April 6. (Wed.) Kenny Burrell Jazz Heritage All Stars.  For once, the label “All-Stars” has real significance.  Veteran guitarist/educator Burrell puts it all together with trumpter (and also educator) Bobby Rodriguez, saxophonist Justo Almario, drummer Clayton Cameron and more.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- April 6. (Wed.)  The Kronos Quartet. The creatively eclectic, Grammy winning string quartet celebrates composer Steve Reich’s 75th birthday with the performance of a newly commissioned work.   Segerstrom Center for the Arts.   (714) 556-2787.

Salif Keita

- April 6. (Wed.)  Salif Keita. The voice of Keita, with its soaring tones, penetrating sound and inspiring rhythms, is one of the great glories of African popular music.  The Conga Room.  (213) 745-0162.

- April 6. (Wed.) Blue Lou Marini.  Veteran New York saxophonist Marini makes one of his rare West Coast appearances, performing with trumpeter Walt Fowler, pianist John Campbell, bassist Chuck Berghofer, drummer Peter Erskine and special guests.  Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- April 7. (Thurs.)  Big Willie’s Burlesque.  Busy drummer Willie McNeil’s Quartet lays down some classic backbeat sounds to inspire the irresistible moves of dancer Carolina Cerisola.   They call it “old school burlesque with a cutting edge, Latin, new school vibe.”   The Edison Downtown.  (213) 613-0000.

- April 7. (Thurs.) V. R. Smith Sextet.  It’s a Smith Family Night.  With vocalist V.R. Smith backed by the band of her husband, bassist Putter Smith with Gary Foster alto saxophone, Chuck Manning, tenor saxophone, Jim Szilagyi, piano and Tim Pleasant, drums.  Charlie O’s.   (818) 994-3058.

- April 7 – 10. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Rachelle Ferrell.  Blessed with one of the most impressive voices in the jazz vocal world, Ferrell is also a uniquely appealing song stylist.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.  .

Arlo Guthrie

- April 8. (Fri.)  Arlo Guthrie and Friends.  Folk music patriarch returns to UCLA, this time with his “Journey On” tour, featuring his son, Abe Guthrie and the folk-rock trio The Burns SistersUCLA Live.  Royce Hall. (310) 825-2101.

- April 9. (Sat.)  Jazz Fundraiser for Japan.  Vitello’s April Williams has assembled an impressive collection of the Southland’s finest jazz artists for a 12 hour fundraiser for Japan.  Among the participants: Alan Pasqua, Peter Erskine, Bob Mintzer, Darek Oles, Alex Acuna, the Wayne Bergeron Big Band, Denise Donatelli, Joe La Barbera, Larry Koonse, Tom Warrington, Bob Sheppard and many more.  11 a.m. to 11 p.m.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- April 9. (Sat.) Plas Johnson.  Although he’s been a vital member of the Southland jazz community for decades, Johnson is best known for his memorable solo work on “The Pink Panther” theme.  But he’s got a lot more than that to offer.  He’ll be playing with pianist Tom Ranier, bassist John Giannelli and drummer Fritz WiseGiannelli Square.  (818) 772-1722.

- April 9. (Sat. ) Wind Soloists of New York and Pedja Muzijevic. The superb wind instrumentalists of this much praised ensemble join with pianist Muzijevic to perform a dynamic program of works by Beethoven, Saint-Saens, Prokofiev and Poulenc.  And they’ll do so in the elegant Pompeian Room of the Doheny Mansion.  The Da Camera Society.  (213) 477-2929.

- April 10 (Sun.)  Greta Metassa.  Seattle-based singer Metassa is far less known than she should be.  In this rare Southland appearance, she’ll deliver her beautifully crafted vocals  in a plush, private mini concert hall in Beverly Hills.   Hopefully, she’ll include songs from her latest CD, I Wanna be Loved.” Backing her: the world class rhythm section of pianist Mike Garson, bassist Clipper Anderson and drummer Bob Leatherbarrow.  To book seats, click on Resonance Records.   Address will be given when the reservation is made.

San Francisco

- April 6. (Wed.)  Junko Onishi Trio.  Japanese pianist Onishi confirms her return to jazz action last year after a performance break of nearly a decade.  She’ll be backed by the sterling rhythm team of bassist Dwayne Burno and drummer Gregory HutchinsonYoshi’s Oakland. (510) 238-9200.

Madeleine Peyroux

- April 8. (Fri.)  Madeleine Peyroux.  Moving beyond the Billie Holiday musical frame that had narrowed her music for too long, Peyroux is now finding her own way, as unique musical persona and an intriguing songwriter.  SF Jazz Spring Season.  Palace of Fine Arts Theatre.   (415) 398-5655.

- April 9. (Sat.)  Max Raabe and the Palast Orchester.  The music of the twenties and thirties comes vividly back to life in the hands of Raabe and his extraordinarily versatile musicians.  Always as musically provocative as they are entertaining, they’re one of a kind. SFJAzz Spring Season.  Paramount Theatre, Oakland. .

- April 10. (Sun.)  The Asaad Brothers Da Volta as Raizes” Offspring of a famouns musical family, the two guitar duo of the Asaad brothers play everything from Bach transcriptions and gypsy jazz to Brazilian samba and the music of the Middle East.  SFJAZZ Spring Season. Palace of Fine Arts Theatre.  (415) 398-5655.

New York

Toshiko Akiyoshi

- April 4 (Mon.) Fund Raising Concert For Japan. The New York jazz community steps up to play a concert in support of the beleaguered people of Japan. Toshiko Akiyoshi; Cecil Bridgewater; Sam Burtis; Jerry Dodgion; Roy Hargrove; Tom Harrell; Barry Harris; Fred Hersch; Rene Manning; Earl McIntyre; Jimmy Owens; Rufus Reid; Marvin Stamm; Lew Tabackin; Kenny Werner and many othersThe Village Vanguard.  (212) 255-4037.

- April 5 – 10. (Tues. – Sun.)  Toots Thielemans with Kenny Werner and Oscar Castro-Neves.  As if that weren’t enough, Werner will also do a set each night with his Quintet featuring Lionel Loueke and Miguel ZenonThe Blue Note. (212) 475-8592.

- April 8. (Fri.)  Rudresh Mahanthappa’s “Gama.” With David Fiuczynski, guitar, Francois Moutin, bass and Dan Weiss, drums.  Altoist Mahanthappa and Fiuczynski have been working together lately in Jack DeJohnette’s band.  Here they dip into some of the fascinating improvisational territory between jazz and Indian music.  Cornelia St. Café.  (212) 989-9319.


Picks of the Week: May 17 – 23

May 17, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- May 18. (Tues.)  Don Menza’s Stan Getz Tribute.  Not exactly the return of the Four Brothers, but it should be a mellow saxophone night with Pete Christlieb, Gary Foster and Gene Cipriano, saxes, Don Rader, trumpet,  Tom Ranier, piano, Chris Connor, bass and Dick Weller, drums.  Vibrato (310) 474-9400.

- May 18. (Tues.)  Styx, Foreigner and Kansas. The seventies come alive with three of the decades most successful hit-makers.  Gibson Amphitheatre.   (818) 622-4440.

Anna Mjoll

- May 18. (Tues.)  Anna Mjoli All-Star Band.  Iceland’s gift to jazz displays her intimate vocal style in the stellar company of saxophonist Bob Sheppard, guitarist Larry Koonse, pianist John Beasley, drummer Jimmy Branley and bassist Chris ColangeloBaked Potato.  (818) 980-1615.

- May 18. (Tues.)  Janis Mann Quartet.  She’s a singer who knows how to find the heart of a song.  “I haven’t heard anyone like Janis Mann in years,” says Roy Haynes.  Charlie O’s.    (919) 994-3058.

- May 18 – 19. (Tues. – Wed.)  Marilyn Maye.  Veteran singer Maye’s career has moved easily from radio and television to cabaret and musical theatre.  In 1965, at 37, she won a Grammy for “Best New Artist,” and she’s still going strong. Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

- May 19. (Wed.)  Takako.  The Japanese jazz singer celebrates the release of her new CD, Common Ground, backed by pianist Vardan Ovsepian and drummer Aaron SerfatyVitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- May 20. (Thurs.)  Ed Vodicka Organ Quintet.  Bandleader/keyboardist Vodicka displays his versatility in the organ quartet format, backed by L.A. regulars Plas Johnson, saxophone, Nolan Shaheed, trumpet, Roy McCurdy, drums  and John Chiodini, guitar.  Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

- May 20. (Thurs.)  Patrick Berrogain’s Hot Club Combo. Guitarist Berrogain discovered the gypsy jazz style in his native France before forming the Hot Club of San Diego, which morphed into the Hot Club Combo. Vibrato (310) 474-9400.

- May 20. (Thurs.)  Iliana Rose Quartet. Rose’s keyboard montunas generate Latin jazz rhythms that are virtually irresistible.  Expect to feel your toes tapping with everything she plays.  Crowne Plaza,

Frank Marocco

- May 20 – 22. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Flexible Reality.  With their strikingly unusual instrumentation, Flexible Reality brings intriguing new timbres to bebop and straight ahead jazz.  Richard Todd, French Horn, Charlie Bisharat, violin, Frank Marocco, accordion, Michael Valerio and Abraham Laboriel, basses, and Alex Acuna, drums. Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- May 21. (Fri.)  Thom Rotella with the John Heard Trio.  Mr. Versatility brings swing and substance to whatever genre he chances to meet.  Charlie O’s. (919) 994-3058.

- May 21 & 22.  (Fri. & Sat.)  Aaron Parks. Still in his mid-twenties, pianist Parks has already recorded three albums with Terence Blanchard, gigged with Kurt Rosenwinkel and been signed by Blue Note Records. Café Metropol.  (213) 613-1537.

- May 22. (Sat.)  Tom Petty and Joe Cocker. A pair of iconic artists whose careers reach from the ‘60s (for Cocker) to the present, Petty and Cocker are still mesmerizing performers.  Hollywood Bowl. (323) 850-2000.

- May 22. (Sat.) Jan Daley.  Daley, who made many tours with Bob Hope to appear before U.S. servicemen, celebrates a new CD – Where There’s Hope — a tribute to the love songs from the Hope era.  M bar.    (323) 856-0036.

Bruce Forman

- May 22. (Sat.)  Bruce Forman’s Cow Bop.  Guitarist Forman is his own man, fluent, articulate and always in search of intriguing musical solutions – even with a band whimsically called Cow Bop.  The Back Room at Henri’s.   (818) 348-5582.

- May 22 & 23. (Sat. & Sun.)  Baked Potato’s 40th Anniversary. The venerable Studio City jazz spot celebrates four decades with a stellar two day event.  Among the highlights on Sat: Baked Potato All-Stars, Chad Smith, Steve Lukather and the Pasqua/Holdsworth/Haslip/Novak Quartet.  On Sun: John Daversa Big Band, Mitch Forman, Don Randi & Quest, the Yellowjackets, Lee Ritenour and Larry CarltonThe Baked Potato at the Ford Amphitheatre.  (818) 980-1615.

- May 23. (Sun.)  Sing, Sing, SingAnnual Celebration of the Big Band Era. Judy Wolman’s all-join-in singalong celebrates Memorial day with the music of Glenn Miller, Harry James, Benny Goodman and more.  Sing, Sing Sing at the Victorian Mansion. (310) 990-2405

San Francisco

- May 19 – 23 (Wed. – Sun.) Eddie Palmieri and La Perfecta II. Grammy award-winning pianist Palmieri and his La Perfecta bands have been finding the perfect blend of jazz and Latin rhythms for decades. Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

- May 20 – 23. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Jazz Crusaders.  Almost all of the original Jazz Crusaders – Joe Sample, Wilton Felder and Wayne Henderson (Stix Hooper’s the only missing member) – get together for the first reunion since the seventies.  Yoshi’s Oakland.  (510) 238-9200.

New York

Karrin Allyson

- May 18 – 22. (Tues. – Sat.)  Karrin Allyson. Among the coveys of canaries soaring through the jazz world these days, Allyson holds her own.  Always musical, a gifted storyteller, she helps sustain the integrity of the jazz vocal art.  Birdland. (212) 581-3080.

- May 19 – 22. (Wed. – Sat.)  Ted Nash Quintet. Saxophonist Nash spends a lot of time in the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.  Here’s a chance to enjoy the individual talents of this multi-talented player up close and personal. Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola (212) 258-9800.

- May 20. (Thurs.)  “A Great Night in Harlem” The 9th annual concert to benefit the Musicians Emergency Fund features a remarkable line up.  Among the many headliners: Roberta Flack, Jimmy Scott, Madeleine Peyroux, Jimmy Heath, Ron Carter, Frank Wess, Barry Harris, Terence Conley, with Chevy Chase, Danny Glover and many more.  The Apollo Theatre. A Great Night In Harlem.   NYC.  (212) 245-3999.

- May 20 – 23. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Odean Pope Saxophone Choir.  Pope headlines a saxophone-filled weekend, with Joe Lovano on Thurs. & Friday, Ravi Coltrane on Sat. & Sun.)  The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

Billy Childs

- May 21 – 23. (Fri. – Sun.)  Billy Childs Chamber Ensemble.  Pianist/composer Childs has written some remarkably adventurous music to be performed by this first rate East Coast/West Coast ensemble: saxophonist/flutist Steve Wilson, guitarist Larry Koonse, harpist Carol Robbins, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Brian BladeIridium.  (212) 582-2121.

St. Louis

- May 20 – 22. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Jazz Education Network Inaugural JEN Congress.  University of Missouri, St. Louis. The first conference by the organization that hopes to fill the gap in the jazz education area that was left by the demise of the I.A.J.E.  The three day event features conferences, exhibits and performances by student and professional ensembles from St. Louis and elsewhere.  The Inaugural JEN Congress.


Picks of the Week: April 26 – May 2

April 26, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- April 26. (Mon.)  Karen Marguth Quintet.  Featuring Eva Scow, mandolin.  Singer Marguth and mandolinist Scow have been producing some fascinating displays of briskly swinging voice and mandolin jazz.  Hear them in the always friendly, laid-back setting of Charlie O’s.   Charlie O’s.    (919) 994-3058.

Kevin Eubanks

- April 28. (Wed.)  Kevin Eubanks Group.  With Marvin “Smitty” Smith, drums, Rene Camacho, bass and Gerry Etkins, keyboards.  Eubanks always swings hard, but with this rhythm section, the room itself will be rocking. Baked Potato.   (818) 980-1615.

- April 29. (Thurs.)  Hart & SoulJennifer Hart and Llew Matthews.  Singer Hart and pianist Matthews have been teaming up lately to combine their unique talents, enhanced on the numbers in which Matthews adds his own vocals.  Steamers. (714) 871-8800.

- April 29. (Thurs.)  John Daversa’s Progressive Big Band.  Daversa’s an a-list player for other big bands around town.  But he’s at his best when he’s leading his own aggregation through a program of envelope-stretching large ensemble sounds.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

Anat Cohen

- April 30. (Fri.)  Anat Cohen. With Benny Green, Peter Washington and Lewis Nash.  New York’s finest (no, not the NYPD) makes a too rare, too limited Southland appearance.  Cohen is matching her fine saxophone playing with the most stellar clarinet work we’ve heard in years.  Green, Washington and Nash add their Manhattan groove to the proceedings.  Don’t miss this one.  Catalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210.

- April 30. (Fri.)  Anthony Wilson Nonet.  Everybody knows Wilson’s a remarkable guitarist.  But he’s a great arranger/composer, as well, especially when he’s writing for the wide open possibilities of his nine piece band.  Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- April 30. (Fri.)  Gaea Schell Trio. Schell likes to describe herself as a pianist who also sings.  But that doesn’t quite do justice to the briskly swinging musicality she brings to both her piano work and her vocals.  Café Metropol.  (213) 613-1537.

- April 30. (Fri.)  Charles Owens with the John Heard Trio.  The ever-versatile saxophonist/woodwind artist Owens is one of the Southland’s too little acknowledged jazz treasures.    Charlie O’s.    (919) 994-3058.

- April 30 & May 1. (Fri. & Sat.)  “Chanteur” Lee Lessack. The appealing Lessack baritone is applied to a collection of songs reaching from Mercer to Brel, from Broadway to Paris, from Sinatra to Azvenour, and from Leonard Cohen to Michel Legrand.  The Gardenia.  West Hollywood.  (323) 467-7444

Donna McKechnie

- May 1. (Sat.) S.T.A.G.E. 2010 “Original Cast” The 26th annual Southland Theatre Artists Goodwill Event features performances by Tyne Daley, Donna McKechnie, Betty Garrett, Dale Kristien, Sally Struthers, Michelle Lee and many others in their original cast performances.  At the Luckman Fine Arts Complex.  S.T.A.G.E. (866) 679-0958.

- May 1. (Sat.)  South Pasadena Eclectic Music Festival.  Music of every style and genre will be coursing through the streets and byways of Pasadena on Saturday.  Among the headliners: David Lindley, The Elliot Caine Quintet, Sarah Taylor & Bill Mumy, and many others, performing at six venues throughout the city, five of which have no admission fee.   South Pasadena Eclectic Music Festival.

- May 1. (Sat.)  “H.M.S. Pinafore” New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players. The foibles of the English class system of the 19th century come vividly to life in Gilbert’s whimsical lyrics and Sullivan’s memorable melodies.   Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts. http://www.cerritoscenter.com (562) 916-8500.

Bill Cunliffe

- May 2. (Sun.)  The Bill Cunliffe Septet.  The Johnny Crawford Orchestra.  The first event in this year’s Playboy Jazz Festival Free Community Concerts features a pair of entertaining jazz acts. Pianist/composer/arranger Cunliffe, fresh off the receipt of a Grammy Award, leads his dynamic septet in a program that will no doubt embrace his re-imagining of Oliver Nelson’s “The Blues and the Abstract Truth,” as well as his fascination with Latin jazz rhythms.  The Crawford Orchestra, led by former child actor (notably on TV’s The Rifleman) Johnny Crawford, is a vintage big band, specializing in famous orchestrations from the first half of the 20th century.  The program takes place at the Beverly Hills Civic Center Plaza.  Playboy Jazz Festival Free Community Concert.   (310) 450-1173.

- April 25. (Sun.) Yve Evans.  She sings jazz, she sings blues, she sings gospel.  And she accompanies herself with hard swinging piano backing.  Evans is, in other words, the real deal.  Hear her in the best possible setting — the  KJAZZ Sunday Champagne Brunch hosted by the irrepressible Bubba Jackson at Twist Restaurant in the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel.  (562) 985-2999.

- May 2. (Sun.)  John Pizzarelli“The Sinatra Songbook.” Who better to do the Frank Sinatra songbook than another Italian musician from New Jersey.  Although his voice is very different from Ol’ Blue Eyes, Pizzarelli has the same masterful approach to phrasing a song and telling a musical story.  Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.  (562) 916-8500.

- May 2. (Sun.) Julie Esposito.  Not only can Julie sing almost anything, but she can sing it with style, spirit and imagination.  Hopefully, she and the Desert Cities Jazz Band will find a way to include selections from her latest album, Unsung Hollywood, featuring intriguing film songs that never quite received the attention they deserved.  At Vicky’s of Santa Fe, 45-100 Club Drive, Indian Wells.  2 – 5 p.m.  (760) 345-9770.

San Diego

- April 30. (Sat.)  Raul Midon.  Raul Midón brings a lot of influences together – combining his lyrical vocals, his flamenco-tinged guitar with touches of soul, funk and jazz.  But he never loses touch with his own, richly personal style.  He’ll no doubt include selections from his recent album, SynthesisAnthology, San Diego.  (619) 595-0300.   Midon also appears on Sunday in an SFJAZZ concert at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts Theatre.  (866) 920-5299.

San Francisco

Linda Kosut

- April 26. (Mon.)  Linda Kosut and Jack Pollard. Singer Kosut points out that Monday is National Pretzel Day and Richter Scale Day.  She also adds that it will be “When Worlds Collide” when the two veteran vocalists pair their eclectic musical interests, and skills.  (Kosut didn’t say whether pretzels would be served.)   The Rrazz Room.   (415) 394-1189.

- April 26. (Mon.)  Keith Emerson and Greg Lake. The sixties and seventies return when Emerson and Lake revive the music of Emerson, Lake & Palmer as well as the sounds of another closely related pair of bands, The Nice and King Crimson.  The Regency Ballroom.    (415) 673-5716.

- April 27 – 30. (Tues. – Fri.) Ann Hampton Callaway & Liz Callaway. Sibling revelry takes over, as the gifted Callaway sisters lay their chops on the line with a set of engaging musical efforts to prove “I can sing anything better than you….yes I can.”  The Rrazz Room.  (415) 394-1189.

- April 30 – May 2. (Fri. – Sun.)  Hiroshima. One of the bands that established the early world jazz blends of disparate elements – in their case, jazz fusion rhythms with the koto playing of June Koramoto.  Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

New York

- April 27 – May 1. (Tues. – Sat.)  Steve Kuhn, Ron Carter and Joey Baron.  Pianist Kuhn and bassist Carter, two of jazz’s greatest veterans, have been playing together on and off for more than forty years.  Add the experienced drumming of Baron to the mix and the result should be a rare jazz experience.  Birdland (212) 581-3080.

- April 27 – May 2 (Tues. – Sun.)  The Heath Brothers. Saxophonist Jimmy and drummer Albert “Tootie” keep the honored Heath jazz flame alive with the aid of Jeb Patton, piano and Corcoran Holt, bass.  Village Vanguard. (212)  255-4037.

Madeleine Peyroux

- April 27 – May 2. (Tues. – Sun.)  Madeleine Peyroux. The enigmatic singer, whose most recent album, Bare Bones, took her in the direction of singer/songwriter, may be unpredictable.  But she’s always worth hearing, and especially so since she’s moved beyond her too obvious affection for Billie Holiday, into her own expressive realm. The Blue Notel (212) 475-8592.

- April 27 – May 2. (Tues. – Sun.)  Samba Jazz & the Music of JobimDuduka Da Fonseca and Helio Alves lead a musical expedition to explore the colorful territory in which jazz and Brazilian music share common ground.  Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.   (212) 258-9595.


Picks of the Week: Nov. 30 – Dec. 6

November 30, 2009

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Demetra George

- Nov. 30. (Mon.)  Gala Opera NightDemetra George and Ralph Cato perform “Villains and Heroines at the Opera,” selections from Puccini, Verdi and Strauss.  Frank Fetta is music director.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Nov. 30. (Mon.)  Slide FX  Trombone Tentet.  Not quite enough trombones to play “76 Trombones,” but enough to produce a surprisingly appealing array of sounds and swing.   Steamers. (714) 871-8800. http://www.steamerscafe.com

- Dec. 1. (Tues.)  “Christmas in Ireland” The veteran Irish ensemble Danu combines with a choir to bring an Irish Christmas celebration –An Lollaig in Eirnn – to Southland audiences.  The Cerritos Center. (562) 916-8501.

- Dec. 1. (Tues.)  Gordon Goodwin Big Phat Band.  Goodwin’s band is that rarity – a big jazz ensemble with steady personnel delivering performances that match well-rehearsed craftsmanship with inventive playing and imaginative arrangements.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- Dec. 1. (Tues.)  Henry Franklin Quartet.  Bassist “Skipper” Franklin plays with most of the hard driving ensemble from his recently released CD, “Home Cookin’”: Azar Lawrence, tenor saxophone, Theo Saunders, piano, Ramon Banda, drums.  Charlie O’s.   (818) 989-3110.

Hilary Kole

- Dec. 1 & 2. (Tues. & Wed.)  Hilary Kole. The critically praised New York jazz singer makes her West Coast debut, backed by the sterling ensemble of Alan Broadbent, piano, Larry Koonse, guitar, Tom Warrington, bass and Kendall Kay, drums.  . Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

- Dec. 2. (Wed.)  Peter Marshall sings “TIME WAS: Music of the Thirties and Forties.”  No Hollywood Squares in this evening of delightful musical nostalgia.  Upstairs at Vitellos.  (818) 769-0905.

- Dec. 2. (Wed.)  Judy Wexler. Gifted with a smoky sound, thoughtful phasing and a solid sense of rhythm, Wexler applies those qualities to her ever-intriguing jazz interpretations.  Café 322 (626) 836-5787.

- Dec. 3. (Thurs.)  Tom Rainier.  With Trey Henry, bass and Ralph Humphrey, drums, the trio serves as the rhythm section for “Dancing with the Stars.”  But here they are, in a very different setting, doing their own thing.  Upstairs at Vitellos. (818) 769-0905.

- Dec. 3, 4 & 5. (Thurs, Fri. & Sat.)  Charlie Hunter.  The adventurous guitarist brings his cross-genre style to a pair of L.A. appearances.  Thurs., Saint Rocke, Hermosa Beach. 310-372-0035.  Fri. & Sat. The Mint.  323-954-9400.

Gaea Schell

- Dec. 3. (Thurs.)  West Coast Left Coast: Leonard Slatkin with the Kronos Quartet and the Los Angeles Philharmonic perform works by Gladsmith, Bates, Waxman and Newman in the continuing series.  Disney Hall.

- Dec. 4. (Fri.)  Gaea Schell Trio.  A hard-swinging, inventive pianist, Schell brings the qualities of an instrumentalist to her laid-back, but always intriguing vocals. This time out, she celebrates the release of her new CD, “After the Rain.” Café 322. (626) 836-5787.

- Dec. 4 & 5. (Fri. & Sat.)  5th Annual Fil-Am Jazzfest.  Any original doubts about the reality of Filipino jazz have been thoroughly removed by these stirring annual events.  This year’s featured artists include Charmaine Clamor, Mon David, Tateng Katendig, Abe Lagrimas, Angelo Pizzaro, Sandra Viray and a special appearance by Eddie Katendig.   . Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

- Dec. 5. (Sat.)  The Nutcracker SuiteThe State Street Ballet Company brings an unusual slant to Tchaikovsky’s holiday classic with a newly choreographed production featuring Art Deco sets and 1930’s costumes..  2 p.m. and 7 p.m.  CSUN Performing Arts Center.  (818) 677-5768.

- Dec. 5. (Sat.)  Carol Welsman. Canadian pianist/singer Welsman illuminates songs associated with (or written by) Peggy Lee in her new album, “I Like Men.”   Spazio. (818) 728-8400.

Herb Alpert & Lani Hall

- Dec. 5. (Sat.)  David Ornette Cherry and Organic Roots.  Following in the footsteps of his father, Don Cherry, and his namesake, Ornette Coleman, Cherry’s envelope-stretching music also embraces eclectic aspects of cultures from around the globe.  World Stage Performance Gallery.  (323) 293-2451.

- Dec. 5. (Sat.)  Herb Alpert & Lani Hall. Show biz power couple Alpert and Hall also happen to be imaginative musical artists.  Performing selections from their recent album, “Anything Goes,” Alpert’s trumpet and Hall’s vocals make an appealingly intimate jazz marriage. Orange County Performing Arts Center. (714) 556-2787.

- Dec. 5 & 6. (Sat. & Sun.)  Lisa Mezzacappa.  San Francisco bassist/composer Mezzacappa says her music lives “at the intersection of music and composition.”  She brings her imaginative musical perceptions to a pair of Southland performances. Sat.: Café Metropole, / Sun: Eagle Rock Center for the Arts.

- Dec. 6. (Sun.) Inner Voices. “Christmas A Cappella Brunch.” L.A.’s most fascinating vocal ensemble – musically, harmonically and stylistically – present their annual look at the rich, creative potential of the familiar songs of Christmas.  Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

San Francisco

Dec. 2 – 6. (Wed. – Sun.)  The Taj Mahal Trio.  The blues legend displays his inimitable guitar and voice in the intimate frame work of a trio.  Yoshi’s Oakland.  (510) 238-9200.

New  York

- Dec. 1. (Tues.)  Jackie Ryan.  Praised from every direction, Ryan’s extraordinarily versatile voice, her buoyant swing and gifted story telling abilities will be backed by a pair of superb instrumentalists — trumpeter Jeremy Pelt and saxophonist Eric AlexanderBirdland. (212) 581-3080.

Anat Cohen

Dec. 1 – 6. (Tues. – Sun.)  Anat Cohen Quartet.  In addition to her powerful – and often funky – tenor saxophone work, Cohen is bringing vital new life to the too-often under-appreciated jazz clarinet.  She performs with Howard Alden, guitar,  Carlos Enriquez, bass and Herlin Riley, drums.  Village Vanguard.  (212) 255-4037.

- Dec. 2. (Wed.)  Bob Brookmeyer celebrates his 80th birthday with the Eastman New Jazz EnsembleKilbourn Hall at the Eastman School of \Music.  Rochester, N.Y.   (585) 454.2100.

- Dec. 2 – 5. (Wed. – Sat.)  Christine Ebersole and Billy Stritch“A Town and Country Christmas.” A pair of musical theatre and cabaret veterans come together for an evening of inspired song.  Birdland(212) 581-3080.

- Dec. 3 – 6. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Chano Dominguez Flamenco Quartet perform “The Flamenco Side of Kind of Blue – a fascinating musical concept that will be the final concert series of the Voll-Damm Barcelona International Jazz Festival,  The Jazz Standardhttp://www.jazzstandard.net (212) 447-7733.

- Dec. 4 – 6. (Fri. – Sun.)  Madeleine Peyroux“Remembering Lady Day: 50 Years.” Given the Holiday qualities that are such a distinct part of the Peyroux style, this should be among the more intriguing live performances of recent memory.  Blue Note.  The Blue Note. (212) 475-8592.

Sonny Rollins

- Dec. 6. (Sun.)  Sonny Rollins.  The icon of the tenor saxophone appears in a benefit Concert for Pete Seeger’s Clearwater.  He’s backed by his regular ensemble: Clifton Anderson, trombone; Bobby Broom, guitar; Bob Cranshaw, bass; Kobie Watkins, drums and Victor See-Yuen, percussion. Tarrytown Music Hall or call 877-840-0457.

- Dec. 6. (Sun.)  Alessandra Belloni“The Voyage of the Black Madonna,” written and directed by Belloni, with music composed and arranged by John La Barbera.  The work features healing chants, ritual drumming and dances from Southern Italy performed by Alessandra Belloni with La Barbera playing guitars, mandolin, and Susan Eberenz playing flute, piccolo and recorders.  St. Mary’s Church, 521 W. 126 St. (212) 864-4013.


Live Music: The Lyle Lovett Large Band and Madeleine Peyroux at the Greek Theatre

August 9, 2009

By Devon Wendell

It was a soulfully fun evening at The Greek Theater Friday night with two diverse acts whose sets were celebrations of true roots music, ranging from blues and bluegrass to country, jazz, and gospel. Kicking off the show, Madeleine Peyroux took the Greek stage with a sense of tradition framing themes of isolation, alcoholism, loss, and redemption. Her opening number, “Don’t Wait Too Long(from the album Careless Love) was a bleak ultimatum of pain: “You can cry a million tears, you can wait a million years, if you think time will change your ways, don’t wait too long.”

Peyroux’s music is heavily steeped in modern Madeleine Peyroux 2folk blues, with arrangements reminiscent of post 70’s Eric Clapton and the darker side of James Taylor with the sleek jazzier sensibilities of Steely Dan. This was clearly evident on “River Of Tears” from her latest album Bare Bones. Not surprisingly, it was co-produced by Steely Dan’s Walter Becker, and a tasty guitar solo from Pat Bergeson echoed Becker’s jazz stylings. Bersegon and the other members of her quartat — keyboardist Gary Versace, bassist Barak Mori and drummer Darren Beckett — were extremely tasteful, not getting in the way of Peyroux’s unique, imagistic lyrics.

Peyroux’s vocals clearly owed a nod to Billie Holiday, though not in a manner that felt forced, or with any feeling of blatant imitation. Her own staccato acoustic guitar playing brought to mind Willie Nelson at his finest — especially on “I’m All Right,” which Peyroux explained was inspired by WC. Field’s quote; “Drown in a cold vat of whiskey? Death where is thy sting,” which perfectly summed up this dark saloon serenade to love gone astray. And her lyrics often recall the hopelessness and despair of Dylan’s more recent recordings, exemplified on “I Must Be Saved,” which Peyroux explained has to do with “loss and questions of salvation.”

The Highlights of Peyroux’s set were ragtimey covers of Serge Gainsbourg’s “La Javanaise,” which featured Versace’s haunting melodica with and Beckett playing brushes on a cardboard box, and Leonard Cohen’s classic “Dance Me To The End Of Love.” A dash of optimism on the horizon was thrown in for good measure to end the program with “Instead” — “Instead of feeling bad, feel glad” — featuring Bergeson’s clean, slide guitar playing in a tune that brought to mind one of Billie Holiday’s rollicking blues with Teddy Wilson’s band. The final number, Something Grand promised a better life down the road and was further proof that Madeleine Peyroux, with her refreshingly pure sound, has matured into one of today’s finest singer/songwriters.

lylelovett-05-bigThe central elements to Lyle Lovett and his Large Band are humor and soul, both of which were definitely present as he opened the program’s second half with his anthem of self gratification, “Choke My Chicken,” a southern fried country romp. Their take on the Tammy Wynette classic, “Stand By Your Man,” delivered with the right sense of irony and wit, was good for a laugh. And they also embraced gospel traditions — as in “I Will Rise Up,” which took Lovett’s devout fans straight to the cotton fields of the deep South and right into church.

“Bluegrass is the dark side of country music”, Lovett informed the crowd as he was joined by Keith Sewell on mandolin, Luke Bulla playing fine fiddle, Buck Reid on steel guitar, colorful cello work by John Hagen, and solid bassist Peter Krausse for a few bluegrass numbers, including the hilarious and risqué “Keep It In Your Pantry,” about bad relationships and food. Another number, the boot stomping “Down In Indiana,” showcased Sewell’s frenetic mandolin playing along with Bulla’s exemplary fiddle work.

Shifting gears, the gut-wrenching minor key blues, “You Were Always There,” opened up room for screaming — but not completely over the top — electric guitar solos by both Ray Herndon and Mitch Watkins with solid drumming support from veteran Russ Kunkel.

Lovett’s own spotlight qualities included playful and imaginative lyrics as well as his witty banter on tunes — “Penguins” and “Home Is Where my Horse Is” among them – which covered everything from road life and beer to football. He also displayed his Johnny Cash-esque finger picking style on the ballads, “Walk Through The Bottomland,” “If I Had A Boat” (a romantic fantasy), “Upon A Pony” and a dark tribute to a traveling lost soul in “L.A. County.” On a pair of numbers he duetted with Chicago native Francine Reed on some gospel and pure Texas swing blues on “What Do You Do”/”The Glory Of Love,” and Ida Cox’s “Women Don’t Get The Blues.”

Lovett and his Large Band closed the set with his gospel hit “Church,” which had the audience on their feet, clapping and singing along, investing the venue with a true Church vibe. Here, as elsewhere throughout the program, the backup singers were outstanding: Sweet Pea Atkinson, Harry Bowens, Francine Reed, and Willie Greene, whose exceptional baritone vocals complimented Lovett’s laid back, droll country tone.

The evening ended with two encores; the whimsical Chicago blues shuffle “My Baby Don’t Tolerate,” and a medley of Leadbelly’s classic “Ain’t No More Cane” and a return toI Will Rise Up.” Capped by Jim Cox’s percussive piano playing over the soulful moans of the vocalists, it was the perfect ending to a down home, cool summer’s evening at The Greek Theater.

To see more posts by Devon Wendell click here.


Picks of the Week: August 3 – 9

August 3, 2009

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Aug. 4. (Tues.) Chuck Berghofer’s Midnight Jazz Band. Whenever bassist Berghofer steps into the leader’s role, you can count on the fact that he’ll be surrounded by world class players. And the Midnight band is no exception, with Gary Foster on alto sax, Tom Ranier on piano and Joe La Barbera on drums. Charlie O’s. 994-3068.

- Aug. 4. (Tues.) Jean Shy. Jazz, Blues, Gospel, Pop, Rock — Jean Shy does it all, investing every note she sings with her own inimitable sense of soul. Bar Melody. (310) 670-1994.

gil-evans-and-miles-davis

Gil Evans and Miles Davis

- Aug. 5. (Wed.) “Miles Davis/Gil Evans: Still Ahead.” Trumpeters Terence Blanchard and Nicholas Payton take on the difficult task of playing the Miles Davis roles in the now classic orchestrations created by Gil Evans for the recordings Porgy and Bess, Sketches of Spain and Miles Ahead. The all-star cast also includes drummer Jimmy Cobb, bassist Christian McBride, drummer Peter Erskine and saxophonist/tubaist Howard Johnson. Vince Mendoza conducts and Miles Evans (Gil Evan’s son) is the music director. The Hollywood Bowl. (310) 850-2000.

- Aug. 5. (Wed.) Frank Potenza. Guitarist, educator (at USC) and protege of Joe Pass, Potenza takes an evening away from the classroom to display his briskly swinging style in an organ trio setting with B-3 master Joe Bagg and drummer Ryan Doyle. They’ll be playing selections from the album Old, New, Borrowed & Blue. Steamers. (714) 871-8800.

- Aug. 5. (Wed.) John Proulx. Pianist/singer performs selections from his new CD, Baker’s Dozen: Remembering Chet Baker. Featuring trumpeter Ron Stout, bassist Chuck Berghofer and drummer Joe LaBarbera. Catalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210.

- Aug. 6. (Thurs.) David Sanborn. Alto saxophonist Sanborn — whose sound and style impacted a generation of young saxophonists — makes a rare local club appearance in the Los Angeles suburb of Agoura Hills. Canyon Club. (805) 583-6700.

Estaire Godinez

Estaire Godinez

- Aug. 6. (Thurs.) Estaire Godinez. She plays wildly diverse percussion, she’s a passionate singer, and she brings dynamic electricity to every song she touches. All of which should make for an exciting night in Bel Air. Vibrato. (310) 474-9400

- Aug. 6. (Thurs.)) Wild Magnolias. Mardi Gras in August. The Magnolias combine roots New Orleans music with wildly colorful, on-stage flamboyance. The Skirball Center, (310) 440-4500

- August 7. (Fri..) Lyle Lovett and Madeleine Peyroux. The perfect match of a pair of popular music’s most idiosyncratic performers. Impossible to lock into any single genre, Lovett and Peyroux always offer compelling performances. The Greek Theatre. (Also at the Santa Barbara Bowl on Sun. Aug. 9.)

Langlang with Herbie Hancock

Herbie Hancock and Lang Lang

- Aug. 7 & 8. (Fri. & Sat.) Herbie Hancock and Lang Lang with the L.A. Philharmonic. Two titans of the contemporary piano world display their very different musical orientations. Let’s hope there’s an opportunity for them to jam together (if they can agree on what to play). The Hollywood Bowl. (323) 850-2000.

- Aug. 7 – 9. (Fri. – Sun.) 22nd Annual Long Beach Jazz Festival. Funk, fusion, crossover and jazz pop in the spotlight with Patti Austin, Norman Brown, David Sanborn, Ledisi, Les McCann, Hiroshima, Ramsey Lewis, Paul Brown, Marc Antoine and numerous others. The Long Beach Jazz Festival. Lagoon Park. http://www.longbeachjazzfestival.com. (562) 424-0013.

Tanya Tagaq

Tanya Tagaq

- Aug. 8. (Sat.) Tanya Tagaq. Tagaq, who has worked frequently with Bjork, is a Canadian Inuit who specializes in the difficult, but always fascinating to hear, throat-singing style. Based in Inuit traditions, she has transformed the style into a strikingly contemporary expression. Solo a cappella artist Hyperpotamus opens the bill. Grand Performances. (213) 687-2190

- Aug. 9. (Sun.) Chris Walden celebrates the 10th anniversary of his Big Band. Special guests include Carol Welsman, Tierney Sutton, Courtney Fortune and Christopher Cross. With possible Surprise guest appearances by Michael Bolton and David Foster. 8 p.m. Catalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-22110.

- Aug. 9. (Sun.) The Lanny Morgan 6. Alto saxophonist Morgan leads his contemporary bebop band of trumpeter Bob Summers, tenor saxophonist Doug Webb, pianist Tom Ranier, bassist Chuck Berghofer and drummer Steve Schaeffer. The Lighthouse Café. (310) 376-9833.

- Aug. 9. (Sun.) “A Tale of Two Princes: Prince William “Buddy” Colette and Prince Charles Mingus.” The music of both composers will be performed, and guest artists will sit in to honor Buddy Colette’s 88th birthday. 11 a.m. brunch. Catalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210.

San Francisco

- Aug. 3. (Mon.) Elin, Rising jazz star Elin has been drawing rave reviews from New York and Miami to Peru and the Canary Islands. Born in Sweden to Peruvian and Irish parents, her comfortable multi-culturalism brings a rich colorful diversity to her music. Brazilian vocalist. Opening for her — San Diego’s talented young vocalist Sacha Boutros. Yoshi’s Oakland. (510) 238-9200

hjf_2008-charlie_haden-2

Charlie Haden

- Aug. 7 – 9. (Fri. – Sun.) Charlie Haden leads his Quartet West in a celebation of his 72nd birthday weekend. With pianist Alan Broadbent, tenor saxophonist Ernie Watts and drummer Rodney Green. Yoshi’s San Francisco. (415) 655-5600.

San Jose

- Aug. 7 – 9. (Fri. – Sun.) The San Jose Jazz Festival. Featuring Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Wild Magnolias, Denise Donatelli, Pete Escovedo, Bill Henderson, Allen Toussaint, Winard Harper, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Lionel Loueke and dozens of others. All in all, there will be over a hundred concerts on nine stages throughout the three days of the Festival. With prices as low as $15 a day ($10 on Friday). with children 12 and under free, it is surely one of the best musical bargains of the summer, anywhere. San Jose Jazz Festival. (408) 288-7557.

New York

Tessa Souter

Tessa Souter

- Aug. 3. (Mon.) Tessa Souter. One of the few exceptional standouts in the crowded field of female jazz singers, Souter performs material from her about-to-be-released CD, Obsession. Her live performances are far too rare, so don’t miss this one. The Blue Note. (212) 475-8592

- Aug. 4 – 6. (Tues. – Thurs.) Greg Osby, Playboy magazine’s “Jazz Artist of the Year,” leads his sextet — vocalist Sara Serpa, guitarist Nil Felder, pianist Frank LoCrasto, bassist Matt Brewer and drummer John Davis – in selections from the album, 9 Levels. The Village Vanguard. (212) 255-4037.

- Aug. 6 – 9. (Thurs. – Sun.) Ernestine Anderson Quartet. At 80-something, Anderson brings a lifetime of atmospheric insight to each phrase, making her performances into virtual master classes in the art of jazz singing. She’s backed by tenor saxophonist Houston Person, whose 30 plus years with Etta Jones taught him something about jazz singing, as well. Jazz Standard. (212) 576-2252.

Boston

CLaudia Acuna 2

Claudia Acuna

- Aug. 7. (Fri.) Claudia Acuna discovered jazz in her native Chile and — even though her last CD, En Este Momento, featured Spanish language songs — her jazz skills continue to grow, enhanced by the velvet sound of her voice. the rhythmic lift of her phrasing, and an unerring way with a lyric. RegattaBar. Cambridge. (617) 395-7757.

- Aug. 7. (Fri.) Leny Andrade. The always-swinging Brazilian jazz/bossa nova singer performs with the Cesar Camargo Mariano/Romero Lubambo guitar duo. Sculler’s. (617) 562-4111

Washington, D.C.

- Aug. 6 – 9. (Thurs,. – Sun.) Freddy Cole. There’s a trace of the same Cole family vocal timbre in his voice that was present in his brother Nat Cole. But Freddy is very much his own man, singing with the interpretive qualities of a jazz master. Blues Alley. (202)337-4141

London

Judy_Carmichael piano

Judy Carmichael

- Aug. 3 – 15. (Mon. – Sat.) (except for the 9th.) Judy Carmichael will be adding vocals to her versatile piano stylings in a performance celebrating her new CD, Come and Get It. The Boisdale of Belgravia. London.


Picks of the Week: June 29 – July 5

June 29, 2009

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- June 29. (Mon.) Tim Garland’s Lighthouse Trio. Saxophonist Garland’s remarkable accomplishments reach from orchestral works to choir music to commissions for an African dance company and pairings with Chick Corea. Hearing him with his Lighthouse Trio reveals the inner essence of his art. Catalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210 .

- July 1 – 3. (Wed. – Fri.) Vital Information with Steve Smith. Drummer Smith’s interests in percussion reach around the globe and across musical genres. And Vital Information – with Smith, bassist Baron Browne, guitarist Vinny Valentino and keyboardist Tom Coster – cover most of those bases in their always-changing sets. Catalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210

- July 2. (Thurs.) “Playing for Change.” The 25th Annual Twilight Dance Series at the Santa Monica Pier opens with the live band version of the startling “Playing for Change” phenomenon that has rapidly moved from the #1 rated YouTube video to a Top 10 release of their 2-disc CD/DVD. Santa Monica Pier Twilight Dance Series. And if you haven’t seen the YouTube video, with its marvelous revelation of the power of music, you should  Here it is: .

john fogerty

John Fogerty

- July 2 – 4. (Thurs. – Sat.) The Hollywood Bowl’s annual Fireworks Spectacular. Featuring John Fogerty with the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by John Morris Russell. Fogarty’s reportedly working on a new country album, but the Bowl audience no doubt will expect a large serving of such Creedence Clearwater Revival hits as “Susie Q” and “Proud Mary.” The fireworks, as always, will be spectacular. Hollywood Bowl. (323) 850-2000.

- July 3. (Fri.) Viver Brasil. “Feet on the Ground/Aiye.” A spectacular evening of sight and sound, with the invigorating songs of Katia Moraes and the high-spirited, roots rhythms and dancing of the amazing artist in the Viver Brasil company. Ford Amphitheatre. (323) 461-3673.

Highlight: July 3 (Fri.)

It’s a great night for jazz canaries in L.A., with three impressive ladies offering their very different, but utterly compelling views of the art of jazz vocalizing at locations across the Southland. (Ahh…for a personal helicopter).

Jackie Ryan. The ever-fascinating, multi-jackie ryan culingual Ryan has emerged, in the past few years as a singer with a stunning blend of creative imagination, musicality and captivating story-telling abilities. She arrives in town celebrating the upcoming release of her latest album, the 2-CD “Doozy” (Openart Records). (Full disclosure: I wrote the liner notes for the set.) She’s at the Culver Club at the Radisson. (310) 649-1776. To sample Jackie Ryan’s recordings, click here.

Carol Welsman. Across the county, Canadian singer/pianist Welsman applies her superb blend of voice and instrument to a carolwelsman2repertoire that is as imaginative and far-reaching as any vocalist on the scene. (Maybe even more so.) Blessed with a whisper-in-your-ear warm sound and a rich harmonic sense, she uses them both to bring a compelling lyricism to her songs. Let’s hope she includes some of the engaging selections from her as yet unreleased tribute to Peggy Lee. Steamers. (714) 871-8800. To sample Carol Welsman’s recordings, click here.

Susan Krebs. Meanwhile, out in the Valley, Krebs brings to her songs her belief that “Being a jazz gardener is really about the art of susankrebs4becoming…whether working with plants or music or with oneself.” Her outdoors fascination reaches up to jazz-in-flight, as well, in her album, “Jazz Aviary,” which features such classics as “Baltimore Oriole,” “Skylark,” and, of course, “Ornithology,” She’s backed by pianist Theo Saunders, bassist Ryan McGillicuddy and drummer Sinclair Lott. Spazio. (818) 728-8400 To sample Susan Krebs’ recordings, click here.

- July 4. (Sat.) Shin Hae Chul and N.E.X.T. The South Korean pop star and his band make a rare American appearance. A liberal political icon as well as a musical headliner, often compared to John Lennon, he is one of the founders of the country’s contemporary Kpop genre. The Ford Amphitheatre. (323) 461-3673.

San Francisco

- July 2 – 5. (Thurs. – Sun.) Mose Allison & Bob Dorough. What a treat – two of the deans of hip jazz vocalizing, on the same stage. The Mississippi blues meet cool urban sophistication. Dorough also does a matinee on Sunday featuring selections from his “Schoolhouse Rock.” Yoshi’s Oakland. (510) 238-9200.

- July 2 – 5. (Thurs. – Sun.) Gerald Albright. The multiple Grammy-nominated saxophonist brings jazz authenticity to the too-often tepid waters of the smooth and contemporary jazz styles. Yoshi’s San Francisco. (415) 655-5600

New York City

Jack_DeJohnette2

Jack DeJohnette

- June 29. (Mon.) Ravi Coltrane & Jack DeJohnette with guests: “A Benefit for JazzReach.” Talk about an opportunity to make a contribution to something worthwhile, and experience some remarkable music in the process – here it is. Two of the jazz world’s most adventurous players, taking an exploratory road together. The Blue Note. (212) 475-8592.

- June 30. (Tues.) Terese Genecco & Her Little Big Band. Retro swing comes alive in the hands of the energy-packed Geneco and her irresistibly swinging seven piece band. Also on the bill, Scott Barbarino & the Bev-Naps re-imagine a combination of Dean Martin-revisited with a doo-wop, a capella vocal group.. The Iridium. (212) 582-2121. (Also the last Tuesday of every month.)

cohenclarinet

Anat Cohen (photo by Tony Gieske)

- June 30 – July 5. (Tues. – Sun.) Anat Cohen. “Clarinet work: Benny Goodman and Beyond. “ It’s been a long time since the clarinet has had an advocate as convincing as the gifted Cohen. Although her work on tenor and soprano saxophones is always a joy to hear, her love for the clarinet, combined with the ability to bring its rich resources of sound to life, is one of the pleasures of the 21st century jazz scene. It’ll be intriguing to hear what she does with Goodman. The Village Vanguard. (212) 255-4037

- July 1 – 4. (Wed. – Sat.) Lew Tabackin & Toshiko Akiyoshi Quartet. The gifted couple – with Tabackin’s envelope-stretching saxophone work and Toshiko’s compositionally structured piano have long been – and continue to be – models of new vista jazz improvisation. Birdland. (212) 581-3080.

Montreal

Pulitzer Arts

Ornette Coleman

- June 30 – July 12. The Montreal Jazz Festival. There are those who fervently believe that the Montreal Fest is North America’s finest music event. And they may be right (although I’d have to place the Monterey Jazz Festival at a similar level). But with settings placed in and around a beautiful city, and a line up like this, it’s hard to go wrong: Ornette Coleman, Oliver Jones, Joe Cocker, Al Jarreau, Jeff Beck, Jackson Brown, Buddy Guy, Tony Bennett, Brian Setzer, Burning Spear, Melody Gardot, Charlie Haden, Jamie Cullum, Al Di Meola, Joshua Redman, Chris Botti, Esperanza Spalding, Dave Brubeck, Madeleine Peyroux and more. The Montreal Jazz Festival. (888) 525-0515

Rothbury, Michigan

- July 2 – 5. (Thurs. – Sun.) The Rothbury Festival. Rothbury describes its mission as a “commitment to harnessing the spirit of the music festival community into a durable social movement.” A lot of performers and fans agree, especially when the Festival is placed in an amiable outdoor setting, and the program includes The Dead, Bob Dylan, String Cheese Incident, Willie Nelson, the Black Crowes, Ani DiFranco, Matisyahu, Femi Kuti and more. The Rothbury Festival. At the Double JJ Ranch in Rothbury, Michigan.


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