Picks of the Week: June 24 – 29

June 24, 2014

By Don Heckman

Summer has arrived, with all its distractions, and many of the music venues — in the U.S., Europe and beyond — are either closed or booking with reduced schedules.  But there’s still good music to be heard.

Los Angeles

Annie Trousseau

Annie Trousseau

- June 25. (Wed.) Annie Trousseau. Multi-lingual singer Trousseau is described in her press material as offering “some impressive musical reminders of Edith Piaf and Marlene Dietrich.” Which should make for an evening of eminently fascinating music. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- June 26. (Thurs.) “Tenors For Two” Tenor saxophonists Tom Peterson and Roger Neumann recall the jazz glory days of the “battling tenors.” Expect these two fine players to stretch the limits. Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- June 26. (Thurs.) Heartbeat Brazil. They may be Los Angeles-based, but Heartbeat Brazil approaches classic Brazilian music with a convincingly authentic approach to bossa nova, samba, etc. And the highlight of the night may well be the presence of guest singer, Jason Gould, Barbra Streisand’s son. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

Jack Jones

Jack Jones

- June 27 & 28. (Fri. & Sat.) Jack Jones. Jones’ mellow, baritone voice carried the torch for traditional pop music during the rock ‘n’ roll sixties. And the Grammy winner is still going strong, still recalling the glories of the Great American Songbook. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (223) 466-2210.

- June 27 & 28: (Fri.,  & Sat.)  Andrea Marcovicci. Actress, singer, and “Queen of Cabaret,” Marcovicci’s resume reaches from the White House and Carnegie Hall to films and television.  She returns to celebrate her 29th Anniversary at The Gardenia with a program of torch songs titled “Let’s Get Lost.”  The Gardenia.

- June 28. (Sat.) KJAZZ Summer Benefit Concert. Aways one of the most memorable musical experiences of the year, the annual KJAZZ Benefit concert features Steve Tyrell, Jane Monheit, Jason Moran and David Benoit. Don’t miss this one. Disney Hall.  (562) 985-2999.

- June 29. (Sun.) Moulin Russe. Cabaret meets jazz when the Moulin Russe performers bring the delights of traditional French music, in all its glories, to Los Angeles. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (223) 466-2210.

San Francisco

Rickie Lee Jones

Rickie Lee Jones

- June 27 & 28. (Fri. & Sat,) Rickie Lee Jones. Crossing comfortably from jazz to pop in the ’70s and ’80s, identifying herself as a high visibility star and winning Grammys along the way, Jones was one of the most signigicant artists of her generation. Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655-5600.

Boston

- June 26. (Thurs.) Sadao Watanabe. One of the rare Japanese to break into the national jazz arena, Watanabe thoroughly established himself as a significant player; and he’s still going strong at 80. Regatta Bar.  (617) 661-5000.

New York City

Tierney Sutton

Tierney Sutton

- June 24 – 28. (Tues. – Sat.) The Tierney Sutton Quartet. “After Blue: The Joni Mitchell Project.” Sutton and her band have been creating some of the most impressive vocal jazz of the past decade. The stunning versions of Joni Mitchell classics featured on her most recent CD will provide the centerpiece for her current tour. Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.

- June 25 – 28. (Wed. – Sat.) Stanley Jordan. Famous for his unique method of playing the guitar with a string tapping technique, Jordan creates some of the jazz world’s most appealing sounds. Iridium.  (212) 582-2121.

London

- June 24 – 28. (Tues. – Sat.) Curtis Stigers. Singer/saxophonist continues to establish himself as one of the rare male jazz vocal artists on the current scene. Ronnie Scott’s.  (0)20 7439 0747.

Tokyo

- June 28 – 30. (Sat. – Mon.) Pete Escovedo Latin Jazz Orchestra. Featuring Sheila E. It’s always family time when the Escovedos get together on stage. And anyone who hears them in action leaves with significant musical memories. The Blue Note Tokyo.  +81 3-5485-0088.

 

 

 


Live Jazz: the 35th Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl (Day #2)

June 18, 2013

Review by Devon Wendell

Photos by Bonnie Perkinson

Hollywood, CA.  For the most part, it’s not just the music that has made The Annual Playboy Jazz Festival a Los Angeles summer tradition, but instead, it’s the music combined with the ever present party atmosphere.  And this year was no different. Amidst the clouds of pot smoke and spilled beer on the ground, The 35th Annual Playboy Jazz Festival featured an eclectic blend of artists in the genres of jazz, funk, pop, blues and more.

Before getting to my highlights of Sunday’s program, I thought I’d include just a few exciting additions from Saturday’s show to follow up on Mike Katz’s coverage.

Grace Kelly

Grace Kelly

From pop to bop, the amazing 21 year old saxophone titan Grace Kelly played a stellar set which included be-bop and pop influences, playing bop style instrumentals and catchy pop infused jazz vocal tunes.  Kelly proved to be one of the most original and fascinating new faces in jazz. Her childlike vocals on “Nighttime Star,” fused with her vast knowledge of both bop and post-bop saxophone playing was astounding.  When she plays alto sax, you can hear Bird, Art Pepper and Jackie Mclean, but with a new, youthful, feminine and energetic swing to it.

Kelly was joined by the legendary Phil Woods (also a major influence on her alto sax playing) for “Man With The Hat,” which the two had recorded together in 2011.

Woods was in strong form and Kelly played like a waterfall, with endless ideas and a superb technique. This was easily one of the finest moments of the festival.

Gregory Porter

Gregory Porter’s performance at the festival demonstrated why he has received so many accolades from all over the world. This time out, Porter focused more on his gospel and R&B influences than jazz during his brief set, which made it all the more interesting.

This was the case on Porter’s rendition of Cannonball Adderley’s “Work Song,” in which Porter opened the song with a few verses of Leadbelly’s “Alberta.” Porter’s controlled and carefully crafted phrasing along with his magnetic stage presence brought the Bowl crowd to church.

Sunday’s program had a lot more fire and electricity than Saturday’s.

It’s hard to imagine combining jazz and rock piano with a dance ensemble but acclaimed pianist Elew (joined by Jazzantiqua Dance Ensemble) did just that and made it work.

Elew and Jazzantiqua Dance Ensemble

Elew and Jazzantiqua Dance Ensemble

Elew stood up while playing, looking like a mad scientist while he stared intensely at the audience. The Jazzantiqua Dance Ensemble did graceful, ballet interpretations of Elew’s readings of The Cranberries’ “Zombie” and The Killer’s “Mr. Brightside.”

Elew fused the stride piano styles of James P. Johnson with Horace Silver. Though asking a lot of the festival audience, this was a fascinating experiment both visually and sonically.

Chris and Dan Brubeck

Chris and Dan Brubeck

One of the purest jazz acts of the festival was The Brubeck Brothers, lead by Dave Brubeck’s sons, Chris Brubeck on bass and trombone, and Dan Brubeck on drums.

The two were joined by Mike Demicco on guitar and Chuck Lamb on piano, making up a tight, focused, and dynamic quartet. The brothers paid a warm, heartfelt Father’s Day tribute to their legendary father, Dave Brubeck who passed away on December 5, 2012.

Their set included many Brubeck classics such as; “Kathy’s Waltz,” “Blue Rondo A La Turk,” and “Take Five.” The group performed these songs with elegance, dynamics, and devotion. Pianist Lamb’s use of well spaced block chords were reminiscent of the late Brubeck’s piano style and Chris’s fusion style electric bass locked in tight with Dan’s soft and melodic drumming. Demicco’s guitar solos were tasteful and served the compositions perfectly.  Altogether, they produced a terrific performance – one that Dave Brubeck would surely have been proud of.

Taj Mahal

Very few artists know the history of American blues like Taj Mahal. At The festival, Mahal was joined by The Real Thing Tuba Band which consisted of four tuba players (Earl McIntyre, Howard Johnson, Bob Stewart, and John Daley) with Mahal playing acoustic guitar, dobro and harmonica. John Simon played keyboard, with Buddy Williams on drums and Larry Fulcher on guitar.

If anyone else tried this format, it would be a cluttered mess but Mahal had the brilliance and wit to pull it off.

The Mahal set consisted of country blues standards that he has been performing for decades – tunes such as his own, “Going Up To The Country, Paint My Mailbox Blues,” “EZ Rider,” as well as Fats Dominos’ “Hello Josephine,” Charlie Patton’s “You’re Gonna Need Somebody On Your Bond” and “Way Back Home.”  The tubas played the harmony parts that would normally be sung by background singers, while occasionally soloing tastefully.  Mahal and the band’s set brought some much needed blues to the festival, taking the audience on a journey back down South to the true roots of American music.

Quincy Jones

Quincy Jones

To celebrate Quincy Jones’ 80th birthday, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra performed a set of such Jones big band classics as “The Birth Of A Band,” “G’Wan Train,” “Nasty Madness” (which Jones had written for Count Basie) and Jones’ arrangement of  Bobby Timmons’ “Moanin’.”

The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra

The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra

The Clayton-Hamilton Orchestra, conducted by John Clayton, was superb on these big band swing blues classics. After a proud Jones took a bow from his Bowl seat, The great jazz flutist Hubert Laws (who’s known and worked with Jones since 1969) joined the Orchestra on “Hello” and “Killer Joe.” Laws’ fluid and melodic style danced over the slick and funky rhythms with syncopation and ease.  This was not only a touching tribute to Jones but a wonderful insight into big band arrangements which were inspired by Count Basie, and Jay Mcshann’s earliest works.

Very few artists can combine traditional forms of jazz with pop and fusion like Bob James and David Sanborn. Together with James Genus on bass, and Steve Gadd on drums, James and Sanborn brought their smooth and soulful sound to the festival.

Bob James and David Sanborn

Bob James and David Sanborn

James’ fluid and inventive piano style blended perfectly with Sanborn’s confident, melodic playing and it’s always great hearing Steve Gadd on drums in any setting. The high point of the set was Sanborn’s composition “In The Weeds.” Here, Sanborn broke free from many of his smooth jazz clichés and played some hard-bop tenor sax in the vein of John Coltrane and Joe Henderson.

India.Arie

India.Arie

India.Arie brought her unique style of “acoustic soul” to the festival. Arie’s songs, such as “Because I Am Queen,” “I Am Light” and “I Am Not My Hair, were filled with self empowering lyrics and a sound that fused vintage soul with gospel, hip-hop, and even folk rock and reggae. Arie’s vocals were at moments sweet and delicate, then tough and preachy. Her graceful stage presence and physical beauty provided a perfect match for her songs of inner strength and spirituality.  Unlike so many female R&B artists of the day, Arie has a style of her own with soulfully crafted arrangements and poignant lyrics.

Sheila E rocked The Playboy Jazz Festival last year. Although her set this year felt a little more laid back and less focused than last year, no one puts on a show like Sheila E.

Sheila E and Pete Escovedo

Sheila E and Pete Escovedo

Her set opened with The USC Trojan Drumline marching onto the stage, followed shortly by Sheila, who raced to her drum kit in a short black leather skirt. After several long drum and conga solos, she welcomed her father Pete Escovedo to the stage for a Father’s Day jam on Tito Puente’s classic “Oye Como Va.” Escovedo played timbales while his daughter pounded furiously on congas.

Sheila E

Sheila E

Pop Escovedo departed, and Sheila dug into some of her biggest hits of the ‘80s: “Love Bizarre,” “Holly Rock,” “Koo Koo” and a steamy version of “Erotic City”, written by her longtime collaborator Prince.

Though Sheila E’s set consisted of too many over indulgent jams with drum solo after drum solo, followed by the guitar hysterics of her bandmate, Nate Mercereau, it was Sheila’s sensual stage presence and magnetism that had the entire Bowl crowd on its feet.

She brought audience members up onstage to dance and engaged in many crowd pleasing sing alongs, as she danced suggestively from her drum kit, to her congas and her timbales.

And, as the final act, Sheila E’s success at getting everyone on their feet was the best way to end the 35th Annual Playboy Jazz Festival.

And so another Playboy Jazz festival has come and gone. Though there were no conga lines going through the crowd this year, the lineup had something for everyone, a little jazz, rock, pop, blues, funk, Salsa, fusion, but most importantly, a lot of fun.

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


Picks of the Week: Dec. 26 – 31.

December 26, 2012

By the iRoM Staff

With only a few short days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, and with numerous clubs (especially in Europe) closed for the holiday week, we’ve decided to concentrate this week’s Picks on the celebratory musical pleasures of bringing in 2013.

NEW YEAR’S EVE (DEC. 31)

Los Angeles

Jane Monheit

Jane Monheit

- Dec. 26 – 31. (Wed. – Mon.) Jane Monheit.  Monheit’s glorious voice and briskly swinging style make a welcome return holiday visit to the club that perfectly showcases her many talents.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Dec. 31. (Mon.) Frank Stallone.  Grammy and Golden Globe nominated actor/singer Stallone is an entertaining performer, with material reaching from standards to his own originals.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Dec. 31. (Mon.)  Idina Menzel.  Tony Award-winning singer/actress Menzel, the star of Broadway’s Wicked, was also in the original production of Rent.  Disney Hall.    (323) 850-2000.

- Dec. 31. (Mon.) Don Randi and Quest.   Keyboardist Randi – who also owns the Baked Potato – has played on hundreds of recording sessions and numerous hit recordings.  Here he celebrates the holiday with his own band, in  his own venue, with many special guests.  The Baked Potato.    (818) 980-1615.

Anna Mjoll

Anna Mjoll

- Dec. 31. (Mon.) Anna Mjoll.  Iceland’s gift to jazz continues to affirm her vocal jazz authenticity with every performance.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- Dec. 31. (Mon.)  Vardan Ovsepian Chamber Ensemble with special guest David Binney. Armenia-born pianist Ovsepian brings a view to jazz that is colorfully enhanced by his classical and Eastern European background.  Blue Whale.   (213) 620-0908.

San Francisco

- Dec. 28 – 31. (Fri. – Mon.)  Pete Escovedo & Sons Latin Jazz Orchestra. Expect musical fireworks and an exciting transition to 2013 while enjoying the irresistible rhythms of the Escovedo family.  Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

- Dec. 28 – 31. (Fri. – Mon.)  Maceo Parker’s Funky New Year’s Party.  James Brown and the Funkadelics wouldn’t have been quite the same without the funk-driven saxophone of Parker.  He’s doing it on his own now, but he’s no less soulful than he was four decades ago.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.    (415) 655-5600.

Chicago

Roy Hargrove

Roy Hargrove

- Dec. 26 – 31. (Wed. – Mon.)  The Roy Hargrove Quintet. Trumpeter Hargrove continues to display his versatility in a busy touring schedule featuring his various groups.  This time it’s his always exciting quintet.  Jazz Showcaset  (312) 360-0234.

New York

- Dec. 26 – 31.  Wed. – Mon.) (Continuing through Sun. Jan. 6.)  Chris Botti. Trumpeter Botti – whose dedicated following has made him one of the world’s most popular jazz artists – continues his annual long holiday run at the Blue Note.  Don’t miss the chance to hear him up close and personal.   Click HERE.To read iRoM’s review of Chris’s New Year’s Eve performance at the Blue Note in 2012    The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

- Dec. 31.  (Mon.)  The Mingus Big Band.  What better way to celebrate the newly arriving year than with the ever-appealing music of Charles Mingus, performed accurately by the ensemble that continues to keep his classic jazz catalog alive.  Jazz Standard.   (212) 576-2232.

Wynton Marsalis

Wynton Marsalis

- Dec. 31.  (Mon.)  Wynton Marsalis Meets Vince Giordano.  Trumpeter Marsalis honors one of his great influences with The Louis Armstrong Continuum – Music of the Hot Fives and the Hot Sevens.   Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.    (212) 258-9800.

Washington D.C.

– (Dec. 27 – 31).  Thurs. – Mon.)  Monty Alexander.  Jamaican-born pianist Alexander brings it all together – convincing bebop, a solid blues foundation and gently floating Caribbean rhythms.  Blues Alley.    (202) 337-4141.


Live Jazz: Mike Katz’s Monterey Jazz Festival Top Ten

September 13, 2012

By Mike Katz

Every year the Monterey Jazz Festival program features a Top Ten list from Artistic Director Tim Jackson, and I always think that’s interesting, but what does he tell everybody else? And how can he not mention (your favorite here). So I figured I’d take a stab at my own Top Ten, but with a slightly different angle, for this year’s Festival, which begins Fri. Sept. 21.  Here in LA we get to see a good deal of the major touring names (Trombone Shorty, Esperanza Spalding, Eddie Palmieri) as well as others who live or have lived here (Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, Tierney Sutton, Gerald Clayton, among others.)

I always look forward to new configurations of talent, and introductions to new players, as well as a few familiar names that we don’t see too often on the Left Coast. So here’s my list, in order of appearance, with a special effort to highlight most of the festival’s venues.

1. Mulgrew Miller,  Coffee House.  8, 9:30, 11, Friday night.   Every year I promise myself I will get to see at least one set in the cozy Coffee House, which features small groups playing before appreciatively quiet audiences. What better way to start off  the festival than with Mulgrew Miller, whose bright, swinging touch belies his impressively large physique.

Jack DeJohnette

2. Jack DeJohnette, Dizzy’s Den. 8:30 Friday night; Arena w/ Pat Metheny and Christian McBride, 9:20 Sat. night; Dizzy’s Den, Sunday night, 7:30 with Bill Frisell. The Festival’s Showcase artist, DeJohnette’s multi-faceted talents are reflected in these three different settings. I don’t know yet who the personnel will be in the Friday night  group but it is bound to be interesting; the Metheny trio can’t help but be great and I hope to catch at least part of the duet with guitarist Frisell on Sunday.

3. Gregoire Maret Quartet, Night Club, 9:30 Friday night. When you think about the harmonica in jazz, Toots Thielemans comes to mind, and then there is a long pause. Maret, from Geneva, Switzerland, has been getting some attention as Toots’ heir apparent, so here’s a chance to check him out.

Ali Ryerson and Mimi Fox

4. Ali Ryerson-Mimi Fox Duo, Night Club, 2:30 Saturday Afternoon. Take a break from the raucous atmosphere at the Arena and check out flutist Ali Ryerson and guitarist Mimi Fox, both of them notable for exquisite phrasing. You’ll still have time to get back for most of Trombone Shorty’s set.

5. Tribute To Cal Tjader, Dizzy’s Den, 8  Saturday night.  Pianist Michael Wolff, who played with Tjader in the ‘70s, has assembled an all-star group that features Warren Wolf on vibes, along with Pete Escovedo, John Santos, Robb Fisher and Vince Lateano.

Bill Frisell

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6. Bill Frisell Big Sur Quintet, Arena, 8  Saturday night.  Night Club, 10:30 p.m. I know, you can’t be two places at once. Frisell’s commissioned piece promises to be a highlight. Visit the special Cloning Tent right next to the funnel cake stand.7.

Pat Metheny

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7. Pat Metheny, Arena, 9:20 Saturday night (See above) and 7 Sunday night. Unity Band with Chris Potter, Antonio Sanchez, Ben Williams. Two arena appearances for Metheny. The trio appeals to me the most, but you can’t lose with either one.

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8. Tony Bennett, Arena, 10:50 Saturday night. Need we say more?

9. Next Generation Band, Arena, 1:10 Sunday Afternoon. Yes, you have tickets for Esperanza Spalding. Don’t think it’s cool to skip the opening student groups. Last year’s NGB knocked everybody out. Artist-in-Residence trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire sits in.

10.  Mads Tolling Quartet. Garden Stage, 4 Sunday afternoon. The mid-afternoon sets at the Garden Stage are always great fun. Turtle Island Quartet violinist Tolling fronts his own group.

Dee Dee Bridgewater

11.  MJF ALL-STARS w/ Dee Dee Bridgewater, Chris Potter. Bennie Green, Christian McBride, Ambrose Akinmusire, Lewis Nash, Arena, 9  Sunday night and Dizzy’s Den, 11 Saturday Night. This super group closes out the festival at the Arena, but you might have just as much fun seeing them Saturday night at Dizzy’s Den.

Okay, that’s 11. And I didn’t even mention Judy Roberts and Greg Fishman at the Courtyard Stage throughout the Festival.

But…but…what about…Melody Gardot, Christian Scott, Robert Randolph?….excuse me, I’ve got to run. See ya next week.

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

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


Live Jazz: Bonnie Bowden at Vitello’s

May 8, 2012

By Norton Wright

It was such a class act, it reminded me of those sophisticated nights long ago at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City where the ballroom shows were graced by the likes of Lena Horne and Peggy Lee.

So it was no surprise that jazz songstress Bonnie Bowden’s date on Sunday afternoon at Vitello’s was sold out a week in advance and the waiting list went on forever.  Elegant, sexy, and engaging, Bowden dished up a clinic on how to present a musically delicious show. Here were some of the ingredients:

How to achieve a compelling start?  Enlist a great quartet like Llew Matthews (piano and arranger), Ricky Woodard (tenor sax), Luther Hughes (acoustic bass), and Ralph Penland (drums) and then turn them loose all by themselves to hot up the audience with an opening seven-minute, up-tempo take on the standard “Day By Day.”  And have Ricky Woodard do some great and serious blowing so all in the jam-packed room know it’s time to stop lunching and talking and do some serious listening. This opener was so good, we thought we could have just listened to the band for the rest of the afternoon. I mean, could things get any better? YOU BET!

The star’s entrance:  Quickly and from the very back of the house so everyone in an instant caught the flash of her dramatic crimson blouse, black slacks, and blonde hair pulled back into a diamond clip, Bowden made her way through the audience, up onto the stage, and into her first number. The lyrics told the audience exactly what the ebullient Ms. Bowden wanted them to know, “I Love Being Here With You!”

What’s the show about? Bowden’s easygoing intros to her songs are brief and tell her listeners something about the composers and lyricists and why the songs are special to her. We’re amazed that she’s self-taught in a broad range of music from coloratura opera to country to Broadway, but she loves jazz best, and we’re going to be treated this afternoon to The Great American – and sometimes Great Brazilian — Songbook  by composer/lyricist icons like Jimmy McHugh, Frank Loesser, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Gus Kahn, Hal David/Burt Bachrach, Edu Lobo, Alan & Marilyn Bergman, and the list was to go beautifully on and on as the afternoon progressed.

Variety: Bowden has the rare capacity to convincingly turn her song renditions on an emotional dime, and so she paces the running order of her tunes so the moods do change quickly and with lots of surprises. “You Are So Beautiful” by Billy Preston & Bruce Fisher was given a soulful jazz treatment, and the audience figured Bowden was talking directly to them. Her take on “Ain’t We Got Fun” was humorous and satiric, the lyric, ‘The rich get rich and the poor get children’ as biting today as it was when penned by Gus Kahn back in 1922. And in a hot, hip-swivelin’, honkey-tonkin’ surprise, the lissome Ms. Bowden laid a jazz take on Willie Nelson’s country tune, “Crazy,” and risked prompting all the males in the audience to immediately lust after her — and this on a Sunday afternoon!

What can a singer do during the instrumental breaks in the songs she’s singing? Sometimes singers today seem to forget they’re still on stage, and during their band’s instrumental breaks they often search for something to do — like reaching down for a water bottle, publicly gurgling the H20, and then awkwardly regarding their surroundings until it’s time to resume singing… Bonnie Bowden answers the problem by turning to listen intently to each member of her band, genuinely enjoying them and in doing so, becoming at one with her audience. There’s something outright communal in a group of listeners sharing their appreciation of a band’s grooving, and Bowden doesn’t hide the fact that she digs listening to her guys.

Spontaneity: Finally, if the opportunity is there, go for it! Bowden’s affection for Brazilian jazz springs from her singing with Sergio Mendes’ Brazil ’77, and at Vitello’s by mid-set she got into an Ipanema groove singing Edu Lobo’s haunting ballad “Adeus” (“To Say Goodbye”) in perfect Portuguese and then in English. Maybe it was time then to return to the American Songbook, but spotting in the audience the legendary percussionists Paulinho Da Costa from Brazil and Mexican-American Pete Escovedo, she invited them to join with her on stage for composer Jorge Ben’s high-energy, bossa nova song, “Mais Que Nada.” The result was a gas! These two gents can play at least 200 different percussive instruments but with only shakers in Escovedo’s hands and a tambourine in those of Da Costa, they tagged Bowden’s song with such a feast of polyrhythmic accents that she and the audience just loved the fun and surprise of it. Good guys, Bowden gave them kisses, and her band and the audience gave them a great big hand.

Closing out the show were the love songs: “Why Did I Choose You” during which Bowden found a warm and beautifully textured timbre almost indistinguishable from that of Doris Day.  Then a quick change of pace to Jimmy McHugh & Harold Adamson’s  “I Just Found Out About Love”  which Bowden ended on a stratospheric note toward the top of her amazing four-octave range.  And for a finale, Jerome Kern &  Otto Harbach’s  “Yesterdays” in an unconventional and swinging tempo that gave the audience something happy to end on and propelled them to their feet. To see a crowd of 120 people of all ages spontaneously erupt into a standing and joyous ovation was enough to make you believe that Dionysus lives!

Given that competing with Bowden’s show for afternoon attention were the NBA playoffs, various Cinco de Mayo weekend celebrations, a host of tentpole movies, and a Dodger home game, Vitello’s jazz entrepreneur April Williams deserves plaudits for courageously expanding her jazz programs into daytime hours.  And on this particular Sunday afternoon, the sunshine outside Vitello’s was niftily matched inside by the bright glow of Bonnie Bowden, a jazz artist and consummate entertainer whom we’ll be seeing a lot more of.

Congratulations to both Bowden and Williams for trying something new and succeeding. Encore, encore!

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Photos by Bob Barry.

To read more reviews and posts by Norton Wright 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.


Picks of the Week: Feb. 8 – 14

February 8, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

John Daversa

- Feb. 8. (Tues.)  The John Daversa Progressive Big Band. Trumpeter/composer/arranger  Daversa takes the big band instrumentation into fascinating new musical areas.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- Feb. 8. (Tues.)  Lianne Carroll.   BBC Jazz Award winner Carroll, who accompanies her vibrant vocals with equally dynamic piano playing, makes her North American debut. Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

- Feb. 9. (Wed.)  The Clare Fischer Voices and Latin Jazz Group. A fascinating blend of vocal and instrumental jazz from Clare Fischer’s prolific musical imagination.  Brent Fischer directs the ensemble.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Feb. 9. (Wed.)  The John Altman Quartet.  Busy alto saxophonist Altman takes a break from his composing, arranging and producing for laid back jazz jam with Mike Lang, piano, Frank De Vito, drums, Putter Smith, bass.  Charlie O’s.

Nadja Salerno Sonnenberg

- Feb. 9. (Wed.)  Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg with the New Century Chamber Orchestra. Now the conductor of the NCCO, violinist Salerno-Sonneberg joins with the ensemble in a diverse program of Bartok, Piazolla and Tchaikovsky.  The Broad Stage.   (310) 434-3200.

- Feb. 9 & 10. (Wed. & Thurs.) Oz Noy.  Israeli-born guitarist Noy leads a jazz/rock/fusion trio with Dave Weckl on drums and Darryl Jones (of the Rolling Stones) on bass. Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

- Feb. 10. (Thurs.)  Kodo.  The entertaining Japanese percussion collective bring their colorful collection of instruments and irresistible rhythms to Disney Hall.  (323) 850-2000.

Lorraine Feather

- Feb. 10. (Thurs.)  Lorraine Feather.  Singer/songwriter Feather writes songs in which jazz is the root and poetry the blossom.  There’s no one quite like her, and she should be heard at every opportunity.  Backing her: Russell Ferrante, piano and Mike Valerio, bass.  Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- Feb. 10 & 11. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Natalie Cole. She’s a beyond definition artist, as comfortable with jazz as she is with the blues and classic pop songs.  No doubt she’ll be unforgettable (and probably sing it, as well) with the Pacific Symphony, conducted by Richard Kaufman. Segerstrom Concert Hall (714) 556-2787.

- Feb. 10 – 13. (Thurs. – Sun.)  and Feb. 17 – 20. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Who’s “Tommy. It’s one of the classics of the sixties, still a compelling work of musical art.  This version is a Chance Theatre Production. Segerstrom Concert Hall Segerstrom Center for the Arts. (714) 556-2787.

- Feb. 11 (Fri.)  Tessa Souter.  Souter’s warm sound and intimate interpretive style are backed in this pre-Valentine’s Day celebration, by the solidly supportive playing of guitarist Larry Koonse, bassist Hamilton Price and drummer Steve Haas.  Musicians Institute. A Jazz Bakery Movable Feast.  (310) 271-9039.

Larry Karush

- Feb. 11 & 12. (Fri. & Sat.)  Larry Karush Solo & Quartet. Pianist/composer Karush, ever in search of new musical horizons, displays his creative adventures in both a solo and an ensemble setting.  The Blue Whale.   (213) 620-0908.

- Feb. 11 – 14. (Fri. – Mon.) and Feb. 17 – 20 (Thurs. – Sun.)  Steve Tyrell.  Singer Tyrell’s nouveau-pop style, with its traditional pop echoes, is successfully aimed at finding the life in great American song.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Feb. 12. (Sat.)  Inner Voices“An A Cappella Valentine Show.” The Southland’s masterful a cappella ensemble apply their extraordinary vocal magic to a program of Valentine standards. Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- Feb. 12 & 13. (Sat. & Sun.)  The Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Jazz at Lincoln Center OrchestraLeonard Slatkin conducts Gershwin’s An American In Paris, Shostakovich’s Jazz Suite No.1 and the West Coast premiere of Wynton MarsalisSwing Symphony (commissioned by the LAPA).  Disney Hall. (323) 850-2000.

- Feb. 13. (Sun.) Herb Alpert and Lani Hall.  The music world’s ultimate power couple.  And they can still deliver it.  Hall has been, and remains, one of the underrated jazz singers.  And trumpeter Alpert knows how to find both the space and the center in an improvisation. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

Charmaine Clamor

- Feb. 14. (Mon.)  Charmaine Clamor.  .  Jazz vocalist Clamor is rapidly establishing herself as one of the uniquely creative, rising vocal stars.  The equally incomparable Bubba Jackson hosts.  KJAZZ Valentine’s Day Jazz Dinner The Twist Restaurant in the Renaissance Hollywood \Hotel.  (562) 985-2999.

San Francisco

Maria Volonte

- Feb. 8. (Tues.) Maria Volonte.  Argentine singer/songwriter/guitarist Volonte’s music is an appealing blend of traditional roots rhythms – tango, candomble, etc. – with the sounds of contemporary jazz, pop and funk.  The Rrazz Room. (415) 394-1189. To read an earlier iRoM review of Volonte click HERE.

- Feb. 8 & 9 (Tues. & Wed.) Kenny Garrett Quartet. Grammy award-winning alto saxophonist Garrett has a resume reaching from Duke Ellington to Miles Davis.  This time out, he offers his envelope-stretching sounds at the front of  his own quintet.  Yoshi’s Oakland (510) 238-9200.

- Feb. 10 – 14. (Thurs. – Mon.)  Pete Escovedo Latin Jazz Orchestra.  Pete Escovedo and the Escovedo family have been energizing Latin jazz since the ‘60s.  And they’re all still at it.  This time out, the band includes special guests Sheila E. and Peter Michael EscovedoYoshi’s San Francisco. (415) 655-5600.

New York City

Gato Barbieri

- Feb. 10 – 12 (Thurs. – Sun.) Gato Barbieri.  Tenor saxophonist Barbieri’s long, checkered career has reached from the avant-garde years of the ‘60s through his Grammy-winning score for The Last Tango In Paris to more recent smooth jazz outings.  The Blue Note.  (212) 475-8592.

- Feb. 8 – 13. (Tues. – Sun.)  Chris Potter Trio. Tenor saxophonist Potter takes on the familiar Sonny Rollins challenge of performing with only bass and drums as a rhythm team.  His companions: bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Eric Harland. Village Vanguard.   (212) 255-4037.

- Feb. 8 – 13. (Tues. – Sun.)  Freddy Cole “Valentine Swing” with Harry Allen.  Cole’s sound and style are clearly, and unabashedly, influenced by his big brother Nat.  But Cole has a way of adapting those qualities to his own engaging musical identity.  Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola (212) 258-9800.

- Feb. 8 – 14. (Tues. – Mon.)  Hilary Kole.  Jazz singer Kole, who usually hosts Birdland’s Sunday Jazz Party, does a full week’s run at the club.  And her rich way with a ballad is the perfect lead-in to Valentine’s Day.  Birdland.   (212) 581-3080.

Denise Donatelli

- Feb. 11 & 14. (Fri. & Mon.). Denise Donatelli.   Grammy-nominated singer Donatelli makes a pair of too-rare Manhattan appearances which will inform New York jazz fans about what Angelenos have known for years — that she is a singer with the sound, the skill and the imagination to be included at the top levels of the jazz vocal art.  Donatelli is backed by the Geoff Keezer arrangements and quartet featured on the Grammy-nominated “When Lights Are Low.”  Fri.: Coca-Cola Circle of Fashion Lounge, Time Warner Center, 6:30 p.m.  Mon.: Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, 7:30, p.m.  (212) 258-9800.


Live Music: Pete Escovedo, Carlos Santana, Lila Downs, and Zach De La Rocha At The Greek Theater For Dolores Huerta’s 80th Birthday Benefit Concert “Weaving Movements Together”

August 15, 2010

By Devon Wendell

Social and political activist Dolores Huerta celebrated her 80th birthday at The Greek Theatre on Friday with a night of music, movie stars, and politicians called Weaving Movements Together, a benefit concert with performances by Pete Escovedo and his band, Lila. Downs, Zach De La Rocha (with his latest group One Day As A Lion), and Carlos Santana with the Pete Escovedo band.

Although this was an important event for a very important lady, the presence of the music was diminished by drawn out speeches from Hollywood celebs and political figures such as Martin Sheen, Ed Begley Jr., Danny Glover, Benjamin Bratt, Mayor Villaraigosa, and even President Obama via satellite, who wished Huerta a happy birthday.  It eventually became clear that Huerta’s message was most powerful and eloquent coming from her own lips, rather than those of the dignitaries.  And the influence and energy that music brings to political change should have been acknowledged with more performance space.

Pete Escovedo

Opening the show, Pete Escovedo and his band were joined by his two sons Juan on percussion and Peter Michael on drums. Escovedo played his signature Latin jazz swing on three instrumentals — the most impressive  a composition called Samba.” Aside from the thunderously brilliant percussion by the Escovedos, which drove the music, veteran saxophonist George Shelby played a wonderfully melodic flute solo followed by the imaginative keyboard work of Joe Rotondi.  But trombone great Arturo Velasco could have been louder in the mix.  And guitarist Michael “Angel” Alvarado’s phrasing sounded a bit too close to that of Carlos Santana’s, and too prominent in contrast to the other band members.

But after three numbers, as Escovedo and his band seemed to be just warming up, their set was concluded for a well intentioned speech and happy birthday wishes to Huerta by actor and activist Ed Begley Jr.

Mexican/U.S. singer songwriter Lila Downs followed with an incredible set that was one of the highlights of the night. Opening with the politically charged “Land/Pastures Of Plenty.” which had a reggae feel, Downs’s unique voice and wide vocal range combined superbly with lyrics about the plight of the farm workers.  It was a song that spoke more to the message and legacy of Huerta than the offerings of any other musician, politician, or actor on the program.

Lila Downs

Downs’ Minimum Wage,” about over-worked and under-paid immigrant workers, explored one of the many causes Huerta has fought for in a clear and concise manner. This composition had a country and blues feel and Downs sang in a low register with a surprisingly Johnny Cash-like sound.  Guitarist Rafael Gomez’s lead phrasing was menacing and bluesy. This number and others displayed the versatility and sense of adventure driving Downs and her band, with Mike Bolger a standout instrumentalist, alternating between fluid trumpet lines and haunting accordion textures.

The performance of  “La Llorona” (“The Crying Woman”), based on a popular Hispanic legend of love, murder, and rejection stimulated Downs’ best vocal performance of the set. But her program wasn’t all seriousness.  Songs such as “Los Pollos” had her dancing across the stage like a chicken, with Bolger’s accordion giving the music a danceable Cumbia feel.

It was no surprise that De La Rocha’s mix of hip-hop and hard rock sounded like Rage Against The Machine.  But the set was impacted by the fact that his vocals were amplified with too much reverb and delay, making the lyrics totally inaudible.  Jon Theodore’s drums and the overly distorted keyboard work of Joey Karam were too loud and many of the numbers sounded the same.

Carlos Santana

At this point, Huerta was finally introduced and spoke of her continuing fight against the war, the immigration issue, and the struggle for equal rights.  After a host of stars saluted her with “Happy Birthday,” Huerta introduced Carlos Santana as “The Ambassador of Peace,” with Pete Escovedo’s band.   The pair had toured together for three years in the ‘70s, and recorded three albums — Moonflower, Oneness, and Inner Secrets — so this was a joyous reunion, triggering relentlessly powerful energy and symmetry between these two musical titans.

The set began with the up-tempo Latin funk of “Corazon Espinado,” which immediately displayed Santana’s bright, singing tone and fiery blues phrasing, fused with Escovedo’s salsa percussion.  Seventy-five years young, Escovedo attacked the timbales with a youthful energy that pushed Carlos to add even more sparks to his playing.

Santana’s classic, jazz-flavored instrumental ballad “Samba Pa Ti” had him playing his most soulful as his guitar cried and screamed like B.B. King meets Jimi Hendrix, who were both major influences on Santana’s guitar style and musical approach.  His focus on dynamics and finesse was awe inspiring, making this the high point of the set. The music continued with Santana crowd pleasers such as “Black Magic Woman” and his take on Tito Puente’s “Oye Como Va,” opening more space for Escovedo and his sons to lay down strong polyrhythmic grooves. Bassist Marc Van Wageningen kept a steady pulse as Santana and the Escovedos took flight into joyous abandon. And Joe Rotondi supplied subtle yet colorful synthesizer work which added to the mood.

The show ended with Escovedo’s classic R&B salsa swing “Whatcha Gonna Do,” and by this point the energy level was at its highest point, as Santana and Escovedo fed off each other’s raw energy.  But, after a short drum solo by Peter Michael Escovedo and a wah-wah guitar run by Santana, it was time to stop, even though the band sounded and looked as though they could keep playing all night.

Although there was an excess of talk and frills at Dolores Huerta’s Weaving Movements Together benefit concert, the real message of the evening proved once again that the power of music and the fight against social and political injustice still go hand in hand.

Escovedo and Santana photos by Tony Gieske.  View more of Tony’s photos here.


Picks of the Week: Aug 10 – 15

August 10, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

B.B. King

- Aug. 11. (Wed.) B.B. King, Buddy Guy. The blues at its best by a pair of venerable masters.  The Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- Aug. 11. (Wed.) Bennie Maupin Ensemble.  Maupin’s mastery of the tenor saxophone, flute and bass clarinet has reached from Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock to his own envelope-stretching outings.  He’s not heard often enough, though, so don’t miss this one.  Armand Hammer Museum, UCLA.

- Aug. 11. (Wed.) Carol Robbins Quartet.  Harp hasn’t had a lot of presence in jazz, but in Robbins’ hands it steps impressively into the spotlight.  She’s backed by Pat Senatore, bass, Josh Nelson, piano and Jimmy Branley, drums.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.  .

- Aug. 11 – 15. (Wed. – Sun.)  John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey. Television variety shows featuring the music and humor of, among others, Sonny & Cher, the Smothers Brothers, etc. are a thing of the past.  If anyone has the charm, the wit and the musicality to bring them back, it’s the entertaining husband and wife team of Pizzarelli and Molaskey.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Aug. 12. (Thurs.) Soulive and Breakestra. Jazz funk on the loose, from the organ trio rhythms of Soulive to the hip hop and soul of the ten piece Breakestra.  Twilight Dance at the Santa Monica Pier.   (310) 458-8900.

- Aug. 12. (Thurs.)  La Excelencia.  The twelve piece salsa band with an upfront social awareness bring a revolutionary attitude to a traditional form. The Skirball Center.   (310) 440-4500.

- Aug. 12. (Thurs.)  Charlie O’s 10th Anniversary Party.  Jo-Anne and her staff celebrate ten years of providing first rate jazz in an intimate, up close and personal setting.  Expect to see a lot of familiar faces as Bill Cunliffe leads the Charlie O’s All-Stars.  Charlie O’s.   (818) 994-3058.

- Aug. 12. (Thurs.)  Jennifer Hart and Llew MathewsHart & Soul.  The duo of singer Hart and pianist (and sometimes singer) Mathews is bringing new life to everything from Lambert, Hendricks and Ross’ version of “Centerpiece” to their touching take on “Here’s To Life.  .Steamers.   (714) 871-8800.

Robin McKelle

- Aug. 13. (Fri.)  Robin McKelle.  McKelle’s latest album, Mess Around, combines her solid jazz skills with her affection for blues, soul and the music of the ‘60s.  Café Metropol.   (213) 613-1537.

- Aug. 13. (Fri.)  Carlos Santana, Lila Downs, Pete Escovedo and Zach de la Rocha. Latin music in many of its rich, colorful forms, from the blues driven explorations of Santana to Downs’ gripping musical intimacy, Escovedo’s classic Latin jazz and the rap and poetry songs of De la Rocha.  The Greek Theatre.   (323) 665-3125.

- Aug. 13 & 14. (Fri. & Sat.)  Harry Connick, Jr. Connick may have too much talent for his own good, given the many twists and turns of his career.  But when he’s playing piano, singing, leading a big band  in many of his own arrangements, he seems to be exactly where he belongs.  He’ll also perform with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The Hollywood Bowlhttp://www.hollywoodbowl.com (323) 850-2000.

- Aug. 13 & 14. (Fri. & Sat.)  Erin Boheme. Young, rapidly rising singer Boheme has the chops, the rhythm and the looks to claim a spot for herself in the upper reaches of the jazz vocal constellation.  Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- Aug. 13 – 15. (Fri. – Sun.) The Long Beach Jazz Festival.  What a great way to spend a summer weekend, in the laid back setting of Rainbow Lagoon, listening to The Original Jazz Crusaders, a Tribute to Grover Washington, Jr., Dave Koz, Sheila E., Jonathan Butler, George Duke, Marcus Miller, Christian Scott, the Al Williams Jazz Society and many more.  Rainbow Lagoon in Long Beach.  The Long Beach Jazz Festival.

Seu Jorge

- Aug. 14. (Sat.) Seu Jorge and Almaz. Jorge has crossed convincingly from his Brazilian samba to a breakout role in global pop, singing the music of David Bowie (among others) with as much panache as his gripping takes on Gilberto Gil, Milton Nascimento, etc.  He’ll feature music, recorded with Almaz, from his new CD, Seu Jorge and AlmazClub Nokia.  (213) 765-7000.

- Aug. 14. (Sat.)  Pasadena Symphony and PopsAll That Jazz. The gifted young Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodriguez and jazz singer Valarie Pettiford are featured in a laid back summer jazz evening.  The Lawn adjacent to the Rose Bowl.  All That Jazz. (626)793-7172.

- Aug. 14. (Sat.) Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.  Put on your dancing shoes and get ready to move with the jump and jive rhythms of the Voodoo Daddies.  To make the performance even more tempting, the price is right — Free — and the setting is the pleasant environs of the Orange County Great Park.  Flights and Sounds Summer Festival.   (914) 854-4646.

- Aug. 15. (Sun.) Aloha Fest! Songs and Dances From Paradise. Natalie Ai, Hula Hulau O Lilinoe and Nonosina Polynesia bring to life the lush sounds and driving rhythms of Tahiti, Hawaii and beyond.  The Ford Amphitheatre.   (323) 461-3673.

- Aug. 15. (Sun.)  Levon Helm & Jenny Lewis.  With Steve Earle.  An evening of diversity, featuring the soulful voice and crisp drumming of Helm, Lewis’ dynamic voice and songs, and the Grammy-winning Earle in a program of songs by the late Townes Van Zandt (from the new CD, Townes.)  The Greek Theatre.   (323) 665-3125.

- Aug. 15. (Sun.)  John Proulx.  Pianist Proulx is also a gifted songwriter and an intriguing vocalist.  Let’s  hope he performs some selections from his Chet Baker tribute album, Baker’s Dozen: Remembering Chet BakerVibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.  .

- Aug. 15. (Sun.)  Smooth Summer Jazz.  The title says it all – a stellar evening for fans of the easygoing rhythms and pleasing timbres of smooth jazz.  Featured artists include Brian McKnight, Rick Braun and Richard Elliot, Patrice Rushen, Spencer DayThe Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

San Francisco

Amina Figarova

- Aug. 10. (Tues.)  Amina Figarova.  Azerbaijan pianist and composer Figarova makes a rare West Coast tour, celebrating the release of her musically compelling new CD, Sketches.   Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.  Also Kuumbwa in Santa Cruz on Thurs., Aug. 12  and the San Jose Jazz Festival (Aug 15)  on Sun., Aug. 15.   

- Aug. 13 & 14. (Fri. & Sat.)  Betty Buckley and Alice Russell.  An evening of musical delights from a pair of ladies who know how to bring a song to life and an audience to its feet.  Yoshi’s San Francisco. (415) 655-5600.

- Aug. 13 – 15. (Fri. – Sun.)  Toumani Diabate and the Symmetric Orchestra. Mali’s Diabete performs on the traditional African instrument the kora with such virtuosic energy that he has been called “the Jimmy Hendrix of the kora.”  Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200. 

- Aug. 14 – 15. (Sat. & Sun.)  Outside Lands Music & Art Festival.  It’s the kind of event, with tributaries into ecology, technology, activism, food and the counterculture that could probably only take place in San Francisco.  Among the acts: Kings of Leon, Further with Phil Lesh and Bob Weir, Social Distortion, Al Green, Gogol Bordello, the Levon Helm Band, Sierra Leon’s Refugee All-Stars, Vieux Farka Toure, the Rebirth Brass Band, Garage A Trois and many others.    Outside Lands Music & Art Festival in Golden Gate Park.

San Jose

George Clinton

- Aug. 13 – 15. (Fri. – Sun.)  The San Jose Jazz Festival. Always one of the West Coast’s most attractive summer festivals, San Jose keeps its standards high once again, with programming that includes Amina Figarova, Bobby Matos, George Clinton and Funkadelic, Vijay Iyer, Irma Thomas, John Handy, Maceo Parker, Nnenna Freelon, Pete Yellin, Ray Obiedon, Gretchen Parlato, Marcus Miller, Tower of Power and many others.  The San Jose Jazz Festival.

New York

- Aug. 10. (Tues.)  Art Lillard’s Heavenly Band with Mary Foster Conklin, Andrea Wolper and Alan Esses. Drummer Lillard is carrying the torch for big band music by performing new music in classic Swing style.  Vocalists Conklin, Wolper and Esses add their atmospheric takes to this fascinating blend. The Iridium.  (212) 582-2121.

- Aug. 10 – 14. (Tues. – Sat.)  George Coleman Quartet.  Seventy-five year old Coleman’s resume reaches from Miles Davis the Chet Baker, but he’s never quite received the credit his strong tenor saxophone work deserves.  He performs here with Harold Mabern, piano, John Weber, bass, Joe Farnsworth, drums.  Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.

- Aug. 10 – 15. (Tues. – Sun.)  Cedar Walton Quintet.  Veteran pianist Walton displays his wares with a solid collective of younger stars: Vincent Herring, alto sax, Steve Turre, trombone, David Williams, bass and Willie Jones III, drums.  Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.   (212) 258-9595.

- Aug. 13 – 15. (Fri. – Sun.)  Lenny White’s Anomaly. Drummer White features the music of his new recording, also called Anomaly – music which is aimed, he says, “at putting the rock back into jazz rock.”  The Iridium.  (212) 582-2121.


Picks of the Week: July 6 – 11

July 6, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Arturo Sandoval

- July 6. (Tues.)  Arturo Sandoval’s Big Band.  The versatile Sandoval showcases his trumpet playing, piano playing, percussion and vocals in the company of a powerful large ensemble,  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- July 6. (Tues.) A Glorious Celebration. The Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Master Chorale launch the 2010 classical season at the Bowl with a program of works by Handel, Haydn, Vivaldi and Poulenc.  The Hollywood Bowl. (323) 850-2000.

- July 6. (Tues.)  The Kate Reid Trio. Singer/educator Reid takes time away from the classroom for a practical application of her vocal skills. Charlie O’s.   (818) 994-3058.

- July 7. (Wed.)  Femi Kuti, Terence Blanchard, Richard Bona, Lula Washington Dance Theatre.  Hollywood Bowl. 2010 Jazz at the Bowl opens the season by reaching out to display the wide array of sounds, rhythms and movements that co-exist comfortably under the jazz umbrella. Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

Kellye Gray

- July 8. (Thurs.)  Kellye Gray.  San Francisco based Gray is as impressive with her riffing up-tempos as she is with her poignant ballad interpretations.  She’s backed by Otmaro Ruiz, Hamilton Price and Jimmy BranleyCrowne Plaza. (310) 642-7500.

- July 8. (Thurs.)  Kristin Korb.  Bassist Korb has moved from her role as a first call sideperson into the spotlight as a charismatic singer/instrumentalist. Steamers. (714) 871-8800.

- July 9. (Fri.)  John Proulx.  Impressive as a jazz pianist, Proulx has been displaying considerable vocal ability as well.  This time out, he plays and sings selections from his Chet Baker tribute CD Baker’s Dozen: Remembering Chet Baker. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- July 9. (Fri.) “Music in the Zoo.” World Music Night. The summer music season at the Zoo begins with an entertaining gumbo of world music performances.  On the bill: John Bilezikjian (Middle Eastern), the Marieve Harrington Band (French), Billy Mitchell presents World Music Featuring Marisa Kosugi (Japanese) and “Cui Cui” Rangel” (Mexican), Incendio (Salsa), Paddy’s Pig (Irish), Espino (Latin) and Masanga Marimba (Zimbabwean).  The Los Angeles Zoo.  6 p.m.   (323) 644-6042.

- July 9. (Fri.)  Yes.  Peter Frampton.  The Grammy Award winning progressive rock band Yes and the eclectic Frampton were a pair of the most ground-breaking musical artists of the seventies.  And they’re still going strong, with Frampton showcasing selections from his just-released CD Thank You Mr. ChurchillGreek Theatre (323) 665-3125.

Bill Holman (photo by Lesley Bohm)

- July 9. (Fri.)  Bill Holman Orchestra. An innovative composer and arranger for large jazz ensembles, Holman has been an utterly original stylist for more than five decades.  Far too rarely heard in person, the 80-something jazz icon leads a collection of L.A.’s finest in a program guaranteed to delight the senses and nourish the musical mind.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- July 9. (Fri.)  Bill Cantos. Singer/pianist/songwriter Cantos spends a lot of time making other performers sound good.  Here’s a chance to hear him in action with his own fine songs.  The Culver Club in the Raddison.   (310) 649-1776 ext. 4137.

- July 9 & 10. (Fri. & Sat.)  Todd Murray.  Romantic balladeer Murray’s title for this latest show is Croon, which gives a pretty good indication of the engaging style he brings to material from the Great American Songbook.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- July 9 – 11 (Fri. – Sun.)  A Beatles Celebration. Classic Beatles songs performed by a stylistically diverse line-up of singers, including Patti Austin, Joe Jackson, Rob Laufer, Betty LaVette, Brian Stokes Mitchell.  Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.  Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- July 10. (Sat.)  Chris Botti.  Botti’s rich-toned trumpet, fluent improvisations and imaginative way with a ballad have established him as one of the jazz world’s most popular artists.  And watch out for Katharine McPhee, whose electrifying singing has the potential to steal a show from anybody.  Greek Theatre.  (323) 665-3125.

- July 10. (Sat.)  Steve Wilson Quartet. Alto saxophonist Wilson has been receiving – with good reason — critical notices identifying him as one of the important new jazz arrivals. Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- July 10. (Sat.)  Kayhan Kalhor.  Persian kamancheh virtuoso performs a program of traditional and improvised music from Iran and Turkey.  He’s backed by Turkish master baglama player, Erdal ErzincanGrand Performances.  (213) 687-2159.

Susie Hansen

- July 11. (Sun.)  The Susie Hansen Latin Jazz Band.  The dynamic five-string electric violinist, her exciting band and her irresistibly rhythmic Latin Jazz for dancing begin an every-Sunday gig at the Sage Restaurant and Lounge in Whittier with a celebration of the release of her new CD, Representante de la SalsaSage Restaurant and Lounge. (562) 945-1204.

- July 11. (Sun.)  The Phil Norman Tentet. Performing material composed and arranged by some of the Southland’s finest writer’s Norman’s Tentet revives the cool West Coast jazz sound into a briskly swinging contemporary experience.  Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

- July 11. (Sun.)  The Steve Miller Band. The platinum-selling Steve Miller Band hit #1 with their first single, then topped it with the ever-memorable “Fly Like An Eagle.”  Their most recent effort, “The Town and the City” affirmed that the Band is still in rare and entertaining form.  Greek Theatre.  (323) 665-3125.

San Francisco

- July 5 & 6. (Tues. & Wed.) Richard Bona. The African bass master has been using his mesmerizing blend of traditional African sounds with contemporary jazz elements to set new standards for his instrument. Tues.:Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.  Wed.: Yoshi’s Oakland.  (510) 238-9200.

- July 10. (Sat.)  Paul McCartney. Sir Paul brings his current group into a Beatles-sized venue – the official home of the San Francisco Giants.  Expect to hear some nostalgic classics.  AT&T Park.  San Francisco.

San Diego

Pete Escovedo

- July 9 & 10.  (Fri. & Sat.)  Pete Escovedo. 75th Birthday Celebration.  After demonstrating his potent rhythmic wares at the Playboy Jazz Festival, Escovedo and his talented offspring continue the joyous celebration of his extraordinary life and music.  Anthology, San Diego.  (619) 595-0300

New York

July 6 – 10. (Mon. – Sat.)  Louis Hayes Quintet Veteran drummer Hayes leads a stellar group – alto saxophonist Vincent Herring, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, pianist Rick Germanson and bassist Richie Goods in a tribute to his old boss with “The Cannonball Adderley Legacy.” Birdland. (212) 581-3080.

July 6 – 11. (Mon. – Sun.)  Enrico Pieranunzi.  The Italian pianist’s superb playing provides convincing evidence of the growingly global reach of first rate jazz artistry. Village Vanguard (212) 255-4037.

- July 6 – 11. (Mon. – Sun.)  Ben E. King.  The great ‘60s and ‘70s soul singer – the composer of “Stand By Me” — still knows how to find the heart of a song. The Blue Note. l (212) 475-8592.


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