Live Jazz: International Jazz Day at Herb Alpert’s Vibrato Grill Jazz. Etc.

May 2, 2013

By Don Heckman

Bel Air, CA. International Jazz Day was celebrated in high spirited fashion Tuesday night at Herb Alpert’s Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  The room’s Music Director and bassist Pat Senatore, who schedules an appealing flow of jazz talent in the attractive Bel Air club, picked many of his regular players to perform in a 3 ½ hour sequence of virtually non-stop spontaneous jazz.

It wasn’t exactly a jam session, but there were times when it came close: the players making spontaneous on-stage decisions about what tunes to play, shifting from number to number and group to group, tossing ideas back and forth, working out endings on the spot.

Bob Sheppard, Putter Smith, Dontae Winslow

Bob Sheppard, Putter Smith, Dontae Winslow

The horn players covered a complete gamut of styles and methods – exactly what one might expect from the presence of such sterling talents as saxophonists Bob Sheppard, Tom Peterson and Chuck Manning, trumpeters Steve Huffsteter and Dontae Winslow and trombonist Bob McChesney.

And with rhythm teams that included pianists Joe Bagg, Ed Czach and Otmaro Ruiz, bassists John Belzaguy, Chris Colangelo, Jeff D’Angelo, Putter Smith and Pat Senatore, and drummers Matt Gordy and Dick Weller, it was no surprise that there was no let-up in the music’s propulsive rhythmic drive.

There were plenty of highlights in this extraordinary evening. To mention a few of the sounds still ringing through my mind after the performance, as we drove down Beverly Glen’s twists and turns to the Valley:

- The opening set by a gifted group of teen-age jazz players, whose convincing program reached from a fast-paced “Donna Lee” to a lyrical “Passion Flower.”

Steve Huffsteter, Pat Senatore, Tom Peterson

Steve Huffsteter, Pat Senatore, Tom Peterson

- A quintet that matched Tom Peterson and Steve Huffsteter in a set of beautifully played versions of “Alone Together,” “Body and Soul” and a simmering bossa nova.

- Another quintet featuring Bob Sheppard and Dontae Winslow – a pair of horn players with fine intuitive interaction, doing their imaginative takes on “Autumn Leaves” and “Straight, No Chaser.”

- Trombonist McChesney’s remarkably fast-paced, articulately expressive soloing in a surprisingly high speed romp through “I Love You,” and Chuck Manning’s similarly fast-paced, spontaneous take on “I Hear Music.”

- And a final set pairing of Sheppard and Huffsteter on a warmly intimate ballad rendering of “I Can’t Get Started” and “Yesterdays” (the Cole Porter, not the Beatles version).

Jazz at its best, in other words.  Precisely the sort of inventive, briskly swinging improvisational music that was being celebrated in locations around the world for International Jazz Day.

Give Pat Senatore, his players and Vibrato lots of credit for the way they handled their share of the celebration, reminding one and all of the Southland’s vital role as one of the important sources of jazz at its finest.

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Photos by Faith Frenz.


Picks of the Week: Sept. 11 – 16

September 11, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Sarah Chang

- Sept. 11. (Tues.)  Sarah Chang. A gifted child prodigy, violinist Chang has matured into a superb interpretive artist. In this far-reaching program, she performs a suite from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story with the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Bramwell Tovey.  Also on the bill – works by Copland and Gershwin.  The Hollywood Bowl.    (323) 850-2000.

- Sept. 12. (Wed.)  Dave Matthews Band.  Hollywood Bowl. Twenty years after singer/songwriter/guitarist formed the Band, the Grammy-winning ensemble continues to produce fascinating music – most recently in the just released CD Away From the World.   The Hollywood Bowl.    (323) 850-2000.

- Sept. 13. (Thurs.)  Patrick Berrogain’s Hot Club Combo.  The hard swinging sounds and rhythms of Django Reinhardt’s gypsy jazz are alive and well in the hands of Berrogain’s Hot Club.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.    (310) 474-9400.

Itzhak Perlman

- Sept. 13. (Thurs.)  Itzhak Perlman plays Tchaikovsky. The final classical concert of the 2012 Bowl season climaxes, appropriately, with the incomparable Perlman, performing the irresistible Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Bramwell Tovey.  Call it a winning combination.  The Hollywood Bowl.  The Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

- Sept. 13. (Thurs.)  Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. “Music and Story” The LACO’s first “Westside Connection” of the new season features writer Mark Salzman in a musical narrative piece describing the way Bach’s Cello Suite No. 3 (here performed by Andrew Shulman) relieved his struggles with writers’ block.  The Broad Stage.  (213) 622-7001.

- Sept. 13. (Thurs.)  Sons of Etta.  A celebration of the life and music of the great Etta James.  Featured performers include Thelma Jones, saxophonist/harmonica player Jimmy Z and Donto James – the Grammy-winning son of James and the leader of her Roots Band. Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Sept. 14. (Fri.)  Sascha’s Bloc Band.  A stirring evening of music tinged with an Eastern European flavor, while reaching out to encompass gypsy jazz, contemporary jazz, flamenco, swing, blues and country.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Fiona Apple

- Sept. 14. (Fri.)  Fiona Apple. The Grammy winning singer/songwriter celebrates the release of The Idler Wheel…, her first album in seven years.  The Greek Theatre.    (323) 665-5857.

- Sept. 14. (Fri.)  Joe Bagg Organ 4.  Keyboardist Bagg brings some ear-opening new ideas to the traditional organ jazz trio, with the enthusiastic aid of trumpeter Ron Stout, guitarist Jamie Rosenn and drummer Ryan Doyle.  The eminently listenable duo of pianist Jeff Colella and pianist Putter Smith open the evening.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.    (310) 474-9400.

- Sept. 14 – 16. (Fri. – Sun.)  Brian Setzer OrchestraThe Fireworks Finale.  The Grammy winning rockabilly swingster leads his big band, aided by conductor Thomas Wilkins and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra in a glorious, season-topping grand finale.  The Hollywood Bowl. The Hollywood Bowl.    (323) 850-2000.

- Sept. 16. (Sun.)  Phil Norman Tentet.  Swinging West Coast jazz of the ‘50s is alive, well, and completely contemporary in the arrangements and the playing of Norman’s talented Tentet.  Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

San Francisco

- Sept 14 – 16. (Fri. – Sun.)  John Scofield Trio.  Guitarist Scofield’s eclectic musical path has now arrived at a classic musical encounter with a pair of gifted musical associates – bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Bill Stewart. Yoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.

Seattle

Pat Metheny

- Sept. 13 – 16. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Pat Metheny Unity Band.  Ever on the lookout for new ideas, guitarist Metheny now finds inspiration in an older instrumentation – the jazz quartet, with the stellar aid of Chris Potter, saxophones, Ben Williams, bass and Antonio Sanchez, drums.  Jazz Alley.  (206) 441-9729.

Chicago

- Sept. 13 – 16. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Mulgrew Miller Trio.  Everybody’s a-list pianist, Miller – active as a musician and an educator – steps into the spotlight to display his invigorating improvisational style.  Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

Boston

- Sept. 13 & 14. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Joe Lovano “Us Five.”  Saxophonist Lovano’s new band is overflowing with talent: Grammy-winning bassist/singer Esperanza Spalding, pianist James Weidman, and drummers Francisco Mela and Otis Brown IIIScullers.    (617) 562-4111.

New York

- Sept. 11. (Tues.)  Roz Corral and Judi Silvano.  A pair of the jazz vocal art’s most adventurous practitioners share the stage with equally venturesome accompanists – Alan Broadbent and Boris Kozlov with Corral, and Frank Kimbrough and Ben Allison with Silvano.  Expect to experience some compelling musical surprises.  Cornelia St. Cafe.   (212) 989-9319.

- Sept. 11 – 15.  (Tues. – Sat.)  The Dave Liebman Group. NEA Jazz Master Liebman continues to set the contemporary jazz pace on the soprano saxophone, while adding in some impressive flute and tenor saxophone playing, as well.  Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

Randy Brecker

- Sept. 11 – 16. (Tues. – Sun.)  The Brecker Brothers Band Reunion.  A revival of one of the jazz world’s great fraternal ensembles, in memory of the incomparable Michael Brecker.  With Randy Brecker, trumpet, Mike Stern, guitar, Rodney Holmes, drums, Ada Rovati, saxophone, George Whitty, keyboards, Will Lee, bass and Oli Rockberger, vocals and keyboards.  The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

- Sept. 13 – 16. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Oliver Lake.  The veteran alto saxophonist performs in three very different musical settings.  On Thurs. with the Oliver Lake Organ Quartet; on Fri. with the Oliver Lake Big Band; on Sat. and Sun. with the Oliver Lake Trio (with Reggie Workman, Andrew Cyrille and speial guest Geri Allen).  Jazz Standard.    (212) 576-2232.

London

Frank Sinatra Jr.

- Sept. 13 – 15. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Frank Sinatra, Jr.  The entertainment world is filled with Sinatra tributes and imitators.  But no one comes closer to the original than #1 son, Frank Sinatra, Jr.  Hearing his familiar vocal timbre and well-crafted phrasing in the Sinatra classics is an experience to remember.  Ronnie Scott’s.     (0) 20 7539 0747.

Milan

- Sept. 12. (Wed.)  Benny Golson. Saxophonist Golson has composed some memorable jazz classics, among them “I Remember Clifford,” “Killer Joe,” “Whisper Not,” “Along Came Betty” and more.  Here’s a chance to hear them from the originator. The Blue Note Milano.  02.69016888.

Tokyo

- Sept. 11 &o 12. (Tues. & Wed.)  Joe Sample.  Keyboardist and one of the founders of the Jazz Crusaders, performs selections from his new album, Creole Joe Band.  Blue Note Tokyo.    03-5485-0088.


Live Jazz: The John Daversa Quartet at Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.

August 6, 2012

By Don Heckman

There’s a lot to be said for the kitchen at Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  The cuisine is not only haut, it’s also tasty, diversified and appealing.  Just like the music.  And there’s a lot to be said for that, too. Combined, they make for memorable evenings.

The club’s Music Director and resident bassist, Pat Senatore enhances his far-ranging choice of performers with a regular seasoning of L.A.’s finest local artists.  In any given week, there are frequent opportunities to sample the Southland’s extraordinary range of musical talent.

On Saturday night, it was trumpeter John Daversa, backed by the stellar rhythm team of pianist Otmaro Ruiz, drummer Kendall Kay and bassist Senatore.

Otmaro Ruiz, Pat Senatore, John Daversa, Kendall Kay

Daversa comes by his playing skills naturally.  (His father is the well-known trumpeter Jay Daversa, whose playing can be heard on more than 200 movies and television shows.) But John has more than found his own way in the past decades.  Working as a busy sideman, fronting his own groups – including a big band performing his envelope-stretching arrangements – and teaching jazz classes at CalState Northridge, he’s thoroughly established his own significant presence among the L.A. jazz elite.

“But I like gigs like this, too, as much as the more high visibility dates,” said Daversa between sets.  “Sometimes it’s fun to just play tunes.”

Which is exactly the feeling that resonated through the two sets of mostly familiar tunes by Daversa, Ruiz, Kay and Senatore.  Each was a delight in itself.

Opening with “Bye, Bye Blackbird, Daversa’s warm, vocalized tone was applied to the familiar line with the same kind of respect for space present in Miles Davis – clearly an influence on Daversa’s musical thinking.

“Sunny Side of the Street” was done in a gentle groove, with Daversa leading the way, and Senatore stepping to stage center with an articulate bass solo.

On “Corcovado,” Daversa switched to a mellow-sounding flugel horn, and pianist Ruiz uncovered his best, guitar-like bossa nova comping. And here, too, Daversa’s phrasing was everything, telling a melodic story in a style perfectly reflecting Miles Davis’ famous insistence that “the silences are as important as the sounds.”

Other tunes were equally appealing:  among them, an intimate take on Cole Porter’s “I Love You” featuring atmospheric soloing from Ruiz and Kay, and a lyrical, but swinging “Like Someone In Love.”

The only flaw in this otherwise utterly engaging evening – which had opened with the superb duo of pianist Jeff Colella and bassist Putter Smith – was the familiar noisy crowd at Vibrato’s bar.  On most nights, it’s pretty much of a given that anything short of a roaring big band is going to have to deal with waves of competitive, bar-generated audio (noise).

Fortunately, in the capable hands of artists such as the Daversa quartet and the Colella duo, the music has so much of a life of its own that it doesn’t just survive, it triumphs.  And that’s another one of the good things to be said about Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.

Photo and video by Faith Frenz.


Picks of the Week: May 15 – 20

May 15, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Jack DeJohnette

- May 15 – 20. (Tues. – Sun.)  Jack DeJohnette, Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke celebrate Jack’s 70th birthday. It would be hard to ask for a more stellar trio than this.  Don’t miss this rare opportunity to hear three authentically iconic jazz artists performing together.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- May 16. (Wed.)  Gary Foster/Tom Ranier Quartet.  And speaking of stellar, here’s a quartet — including Putter Smith, bass and Joe LaBarbera, drums – that shines pretty brightly, as well.  They may be based solely in L.A., but they’ve got world class jazz credentials..  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- May 16. (Wed.)  Bern.  Drummer Bernie Dresel leads his 12 piece, supercharged, funk-driven band in an evening at the Valley’s newest jazz room.  The Federal.   (818) 980-2555.

- May 17. (Thurs.)  Annie Trousseau.  This multi-lingual world music sextet is led by Colombian/America singer/songwriter Ana Maria Lombo in a program reaching from Edith Piaf to Antonio Carlos Jobim. Vibrato.    .(310) 474-9400.

Barbara Cook

May 19. (Sat.)  Barbara Cook. Tony Award-winning (for Music Man) Cook has been concentrating on cabaret and concert music for the past four decades.  And, at 84, she is still a captivating singer.  Valley Performing Arts Center.  (818) 677-3000.  The Valley Performing Arts Center regretfully announces that due to an unexpected reaction to medication, Barbara Cook has been forced to postpone her performance originally scheduled at the Valley Performing Arts Center Great hall on Saturday, May 19, 2012.  This concert has been rescheduled to Saturday, June 30, 2012 at 8 pm.  Tickets for the May 19 date will be honored on June 30.  Requests for refund must be made to the VPAC box office by June 5.

- May 19. (Sat.)  Elaine Stritch“Singin’ Sondheim…One Song at a Time.”  One of the great, charismatic Broadway performers, Stritch makes her Disney Hall debut with what will surely be a memorable program.  Disney Hall.    (323) 850-2000.

 

- May 19. (Sat.) Luckman Jazz OrchestraA Tribute to Charlie Parker.  The LJO pays much deserved tribute to alto saxophonist Parker, one of the two or three most powerfully influential figures in the history of jazz.  Luckman Performing Arts Center. (323) 323-4600.

San Francisco

- May 18 – 20.  (Fri. – Sun.)  The Brad Mehldau Trio. Firmly established as a vital, influential pianist, Mehldau’s current group – with bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard — has set high standards for the contemporary jazz piano trio.  An SFJAZZ 2012 Spring Season event at the YBCA Forum.  (866) 920-5299.

Roy Haynes

Washington, D.C.

- May 17 – 20. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Roy Haynes Fountain of Youth Band. The name is well chosen for drummer Haynes, who – at 87 – continues to superbly lead groups consisting of players young enough to be his grand children.  Blues Alley.   (202) 337-4141.

New York

- May 15 – 19. (Tues. – Sat.)  Joey DeFrancesco Trio with special guest George Coleman. It’s a great combination – the effervescent B-3 organ drive of DeFrancesco with the solid, blue-inflected saxophone of Coleman.   Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

- May 16 – 19. (Wed. – Sat.)  Brian McKnight and the Duke Ellington Orchestra. The rich, golden voice of McKnight surrounded by the incomparable Ellington Orchestra timbres – should make for a great musical evening.  McKnight’s  The Blue Note.    (212) 475-8592.

- May 17 – 20. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Gil Evans Centennial Project.  Directed by Ryan Truesdell.  A different Evans program will be presented on each night by a prime New York big band, reaching from Evans’ work for the Claude Thornhill Band to his own recordings in the ‘50s and ‘60s.  The Jazz Standard/red/index.html  (212) 576-2232.

London

- May 16 – 18. (Wed. – Fri.)  Al Di Meola World Sinfonia.  Always versatile, moving across stylistic areas with ease, guitarist Di Meola’s current group cruises affectingly through lush harmonies and stirring world rhythms.  Ronnie Scott’s.   020 7439 0747.

Lynne Arriale

Berlin

- May 16. (Wed.)  The Lynne Arriale Trio featuring Benny Golson.  Pianist Arriale and veteran composer and saxophonist Golson get together for some lively, cross-generational jazz.  A-Trane.    030 / 313 25 50.

Milan

- May 17 & 18. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Lee Ritenour and Dave Grusin. Guitarist Ritenour and keyboardist/composer Grusin are long time musical companions, recording and playing together frequently over the yeas.  Hopefully they’ll offer some selections from their superb Two Worlds album. The Blue Note Milano.    02.69.01.68.88.


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: 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.


Picks of the Week: Oct. 12 – 17

October 12, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Oct. 13. (Wed.)  Wayne Bergeron Big Band. Trumpeter Bergeron, whose skills reach from superb section work to solid soloing, steps into the spotlight as a leader.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- Oct. 13. (Wed.)  Ed Vodicka Big Band with Marlene VerPlanck. New York singer VerPlanck brings an imaginative slant to the Great American Songbook, backed by Vodicka’s stirring ensemble. Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

Ludovico Einaudi

- Oct. 13 – 17. (Wed. – Sun.) (H)IT Week. The pop music of Italy – from rock to dance to electronica — fills the Los Angeles air in four dynamic evenings.  Oct. 14: singer Ludovico Einaudi and Oct. 15: Singer Elisa and La Blanche Alchimie at The Ford Amphitheatre. Oct. 16: Rock band Negrita and Oct. 17: Pianist Giovanni Allevi at The El Rey.  (323) 936-6400.

- Oct. 14. (Thurs.)  Ann Walsh Quartet.  Walsh’s expressive vocals display a unique empathy for the music of Brazil.  Crowne Plaza Brasserie Jazz Lounge.   (310) 642-7500.

- Oct. 14 – 16. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Stanley Clarke.  Bassist Clarke, always looking in different musical directions, performs with a quartet that includes keyboardist Deron Johnson, pianist Ruslan Sirota and drummer Ronald BrunnerCatalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

- Oct. 14 & 16. (Thurs. & Sat.)  Chucho Valdes and the Afro-Cuban Messengers.  The great Cuban pianist returns to the U.S. for the first time in seven years, fronting an ensemble that digs into the irrepressible links between jazz and Afro-Cuban music. Thurs.: Irvine Barclay Theatre.  (949) 854-4646    Sat.: Luckman  Fine Arts Complex.   (323) 343-6600.

Gustavo Dudamel

- Oct. 14 – 17. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Los Angeles PhilharmonicGustavo Dudamel conducts a rare performance of Olivier Messiaen’s Turangalila Symphonie, a ten-movement, 80 minute work, written when Messiaen – who described the composition as a “love song” — was focusing on the Tristan and Isolde story.  In addition to full orchestra and piano, the score also includes the ondes Martenot, one of the earliest electronic instruments.  Disney Hall.   (323) 850-2000.

- Oct. 14 & 17. (Thurs. & Sun.) Oran Etkin.  Clarinetist Etkin celebrates the release of his CD Wake Up, Clarinet! in a pair of Southland performances. On Thursday he’s at The Skirball Center he appears with his group, Kelenia.  (310) 440-4500.  On Sunday he presents a children’s/family show at McCabe’s. (310) 828-4497.

Charmaine Clamor

- Oct. 15 – 17. (Fri. – Sun.) The Asian American Music Festival. The music of the Pacific rim provides a bountiful collection of sounds and rhythms for this creatively eclectic, far-ranging festival.  Friday’s program features hip-hopster Kero One, Dana Leong’s Milk & Jade’s electronica sounds, and Japanese rapper Shing02.  The inimitable Leroy Downs is the host.  Saturday afternoon’s bill includes two extraordinary pianists, Jon Jang and Gary Fukushima.  The Pan Asian Arkestra and the Taiko Project will also present the world premiere of Jang’s Concerto For Jazz Orchestra and Taiko.  Saturday night showcases the amazing ukulele playing of Jake Shimabukuro and the quartet of Abe Lagrimas, Jr. and Noel Okimoto.  Sunday afternoon features the Japanese-American pop-jazz singer Ernie Meyer and the hip-hop electronica of the Shanghai Restoration Project.  And the festival soars to a close on Sunday night when a pair of extraordinary jazz vocalists take center stage: Charmaine Clamor and Sachel Vasandani, with the amiable Bubba Jackson hosting.  The Asian American Music Festival.  The Japanese American National Museum.  (213) 545-1330.

- Oct. 15. (Fri.)  Peter Erskine Quartet.  Erskine follows up last year’s Grammy-nominated Standards album with selections from his new CD, Standards 2: Movie Music. LACMA (323) 857-6000.

Chris Bennett

- Oct. 15. (Fri.)  Chris Bennett Band.  Bennett, who brings style and substance to everything she sings, will feature selections from her recently released album Sail Away: The Tahiti Sessions. The Culver Club at the Radisson.  (310) 649-1776 ext. 4137.

- Oct. 16. (Sat.)  Madeline Eastman with the Randy Porter Trio.  Bay area jazz singer Eastman is always a pleasure to hear.  She doesn’t come south often, so don’t miss this one.  Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- Oct. 16. (Sat.) Paul Weitz.  Guitarist Weitz and his quartet perform  with the gifted singer/songwriter Jelsa PalaoBack Room at Henri’s. (818) 348-5582.

- Oct. 16. (Sat.)  Gary Foster and Putter Smith.  It’s an unusual combination – alto saxophone and bass – but Foster and Smith have the skills and the imagination to make it into a fascinating musical encounter.  Jazz Bakery Movable Feast.  At the Boston Court in Pasadena. (310) 271-9039.

- Oct. 17. (Sun.)  Judy Wolman’s Sing! Sing! Sing! Wolman’s singalong afternoons offer spirited opportunities to share the memories and the pleasures of the Great American Songbook.  This time it’s the arching melodies and sophisticated word play of Rodgers and Hart.  12 – 3 p.m.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

San Francisco

Chick Corea

- Oct. 12 – 14. (Tues. – Thurs.) Chick Corea Trio (w. Christian McBride and Brian Blade). It’s as all-star as it gets, and a chance to hear Corea in a basic, piano trio setting. Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

- Oct. 13. (Wed.) Tom Harrell Quintet.  Trumpeter Harrell’s warm sound, rich melodic imagination and rhythmic drive lead the way for his stellar quintet. Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

- Oct. 15 – 17. (Fri. – Sun.)  Michael Franks. Singer/songwriter Franks has been coming up with memorable songs for more than three decades.  Expect to hear “Popsicle Toes,” “The Lady Wants To Know” and, hopefully, a few of his Brazilian inspired works. Yoshi’s Oakland. (510) 238-9200.

New York

- Oct. 12. (Tues.)  Italian Jazz Days. The title says it all.  A quintet of Italy’s finest jazz descendants in action: Saxophonist Joe Lovano, trumpeter Dominick Farinacci, pianist Antonio Ciacca, bassist Joseph Lepore, drummer Luca SantanielloDizzy’s Club Coca Cola.   (212) 258-9595.

- Oct. 12 – 17. (Tues. – Sun.) John Abercrombie Quartet. Guitarist Abercrombie has a long history of stretching the musical envelope, and he continues to do so with his current players – violinist Mark Feldman, bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joey Baron. Birdland.   (212) 581-3080.

- Oct. 14 – 17. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Apex: Rudresh Mahanthappa & Bunky Green. A pair of alto saxophonists with very different musical roots work – with remarkable success – at finding common ground. The Jazz Standard.   (212) 447-7733.

Chick Corea photo by Tony Gieske


Picks of the Week: Sept. 7 – 12

September 7, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Tierney Sutton

- Sept. 7. (Tues.)  Chris Walden’s Big Band with Tierney Sutton.  The combination of Walden’s well-crafted arrangements, a band full of L.A.’s finest players, and the superb musicality of Sutton’s vocals should make for a memorable, entertaining  evening.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- Sept. 9. (Thurs.) Music of the Dance. The Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Bramwell Tovey, explores music created for the dance stage, including Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. The evening’s special event features the Diavolo Dance Theatre in a newly commissioned work set to John Adams’ Fearful SymmetriesThe Hollywood Bowl. (323) 850-2000.

- Sept. 9. (Thurs.)  Salaam Ensemble.   Music of the Near and Middle East is the specialty of the Salaam players, who bring authenticity to their rendering of selections from Persian, Arabic, Turkish and Armenian traditions.  Levitt Pavilion.  Free concert in MacArthur Park.  (213) 384-5701.

- Sept. 9. (Thurs.)  Phil Norman Tentet.  It’s West Coast cool jazz revisited in the contemporary setting of Norman’s stellar Tentet.  Charlie O’s.   (818) 994-3058.

- Sept. 9. (Thurs.)  Bruce Babad’s Jazz Cadre.  Alto saxophonist Babad, a first call sideman, steps into the spotlight as a leader, backed by Joe Bagg, piano, Dr. Joe Jewell, guitar, Roger Shew, bass, Matt Johnson, drums.  Steamers.  (714) 871-8800.

- Sept. 10. (Fri.) Sheryl Crow.   Nine-time Grammy award winner Crow leads a new band in a performance showcasing 100 Miles From Memphis, her new, eighth top-ten album.  Also on the bill, singer-songwriter Colbie CaillatThe Greek Theatre.   (323) 665-3125.

Maria de Barros

- Sept. 10. (Fri.)  Maria de Barros.  Although she’s often associated with the morna songs of Cape Verde, de Barros’ musical versatility and charismatic stage presence are the qualities of a world class performer.  Don’t miss this one – it’s one of the bargains of the week.  The Levitt Pavilion.  A free concert in MacArthur Park.   l (213) 384-5701.

- Sept. 10. (Fri.)  Janis Siegel. The Manhattan Transfer’s Siegel makes a rare, solo night club appearance.  Superb as an ensemble singer, she’s equally entrancing in her own unique musical persona. Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Sept. 10. (Fri.)  Dave Pell & Med Flory Jazz Quintet. Two of the Southland’s finest veteran jazz saxophonists display their wares.  Expect a combination of musical fun and fireworks. The Backroom at Henri’s (818) 348-5582.

- Sept. 10. (Fri.)  Richie Cole & Alto Madness.  Bebop lives in Cole’s energized alto saxophone, backed by a sextet that somehow manages to produce the drive and the power of a big jazz band.  The Culver Club at the Radisson.   (310) 649-1776 ext. 4137.

Les McCann

- Sept. 10. (Fri.)  Les McCann with the Javon Jackson Quintet.  Iconic jazz pianist McCann receives the 2nd “LA Jazz Treasure” award. Hopefully he’ll also perform a few of his classics with the Jackson Quintet. LACMA.   (323) 857-6000.

- Sept. 10 & 11. (Fri. & Sat.)  Freda Payne.  She brings a stage to life no matter what she’s singing, but she’ll undoubtedly be even more vibrant when she gives her own musical spin to songs associated with Ella Fitzgerald and Lena Horne. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.  .

- Sept. 10 – 12. (Fri. – Sun.)  Pink Martini.  The Fireworks Finale of the 2010 Hollywood Bowl season features the eclectic stylings of Oregon’s entertaining Pink Martini.  Accompanied by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, conducted by Thomas Wilkins, the program will no doubt range from French chanson and Argentine Tango to meringue, bolero and Pink Martini’s own version of vintage lounge.  Also on the bill, singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright.   The Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- Sept. 11. (Sat.)  Don Preston Tribute Concert. A collection of adventurous players – from LA. And beyond – celebrate the life and music of keyboardist Preston.  Among the participants: Tony Levin, Roberto Miranda, Putter Smith, Bobby Bradford, Alex Cline, Bunk Gardener, Vinnie GoliaSouth Pasadena Music Center and Conservatory.  (626) 403-2300.  

- Sept. 12. (Sun.)  Jacqui Naylor.  Her engaging vocals slip and slide easily across boundaries, bringing imagination and emotion to jazz, pop, folk and all stops in between.    Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Sept. 12. (Sun.)  Opera & Broadway Gala“Music of the Night.” It’ll be a grand banquet of songs, from favorite arias to some of the most celebrated musical theatre melodies.  Featuring soprano Demetra George and tenor Eduardo Villa with Music Director Frank Fetta. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- Sept. 12. (Sun.)  5th Annual Brazilian Day in L.A.  A celebration of everything Brazilian – which is a lot, embracing art, dance, music, cuisine and much more.  Performers include the samba funk group Muamba, singer Renni Flores and the samba/pagode band Sambajah.  The gardens of the Page Museum.  Free.  5th Annual Brazil Day.

San Francisco

Issac Delgado

- Sept. 10 – 12 (Fri. – Sun.)  Issac Delgado with Freddy Cole.  It’s an unusual but intriguing combination: a live presentation of a new album from Cuba’s superstar Delgado recreating – with Cole’s aid – 12 Spanish songs originally sung by Nat “King” Cole.  Yoshi’s Oakland.  (510) 238-9200.

New York

- Sept. 7 – 11. (Tues. – Sat.)  Steve Kuhn, Dave Liebman, Steve Swallow, Billy Drummond.  Four great jazz veterans, all still at their peak performance levels, bringing the wisdom of experience to everything they play. Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.

- Sept. 7 – 12. (Tues. – Sun.)  The Count Basie Orchestra .  The hits will just keep coming from this current installation of the Basie ensemble.  Their performance at the Hollywood Bowl a few weeks ago affirmed the vitality of their dedication to the classic Basie canon. ( Click HERE to see a review of that performance.)  Special guest, Ledisi, will fill in the vocal chores.  The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.


Picks of the Week: April 12 – 18

April 12, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- April 12 & 13. (Mon. & Tues.)  Miles Evans Band.  Trumpeter Evans, named after Miles Davis, is the son of equally legendary arranger Gil Evans.  His current mission, he says, is to explore, with his eight piece band, the music that had been planned for an Evans/Jimi Hendrix collaboration that was cancelled after Hendrix’s premature death.  Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

- April 12 & 13. (Mon. & Tues.)  The Constellations. The Atlanta-based buzz band is making a big push in advance of the release of their debut CD, Southern Gothic. Mon.: Spaceland.  (213) 833-2843 Tues.: Cinespace.  (323) 817-3456.

- April 13. (Tues.) Bill Frisell debuts his new trio, with Jason Moran, piano and Kenny Wollesen, drums.  Largo at the Coronet.  (310) 855-0347.

- April 13. (Tues.)  Steve Huffsteter Quartet.  Trumpeter Huffsteter’s warm sound and articulate phrasing are well matched with the backing of Larry Koonse, guitar,  Putter Smith, bass and Dick Weller, drums.  Charlie O’s. (818) 994-3058.

Susan Egan

- April 14. (Wed.)  Susan Egan.  Local girl Egan was nominated for a Tony Award for her role as Belle in the original Broadway production of “Beauty and the Beast.”  She is equally skilled with her interpretations of classic cabaret numbers and material from the Great American Songbook  Smothers Theatre Pepperdine. (310) 506-4522.

- April 14. (Wed.)  Jennifer Leitham Trio.  Bassist Leitham wings it back to LA for a couple of educational workshops and a performance with her sterling trio — with Josh Nelson on piano and Randy Drake on drums.  Café 322. (626) 836-5414.

- April 15. (Thurs.) Caetano Veloso.  One of the great figures of late 20th century Brazilian music, Veloso continues, at 67, to be an artist who creates musical magic with every performance.  With luck, the ever-adventurous Veloso may offer a preview of the hip-hop fusion song he’s allegedly been working on with Sean P-Diddy Combs.   The Greek Theatre.   (323)  665-5857.

Willie Nelson

- April 15. (Thurs.) Willie Nelson.  One of the few, still-performing musical artists who can genuinely be referred to as iconic, Nelson’s going strong, surging on the crest of last-year’s much-praised collection of standards, American Classic. Grove of Anaheim. (714) 712-2700.

Leonardo Suarez Paz

- April 16. (Fri.) Leonardo Suarez Paz“Romance de Tango.” Tango, in all its rich manifestations – music, dance, poetry and more – is presented by Grammy-nominated violinist Suarez Paz’s gifted company of musicians and dancers.  Beckman Auditorium. CalTech.  Pasadena.   (626) 395-4652.

- April 16. (Fri.)  Arlo GuthrieThe Guthrie Family rides Again. And they really do – across the generations – starting with Woody Guthrie’s songs and working through the singing and playing of Arlo, his son Abe, daughters Cathy, Annie and Sarah Lee, and various grandkids.  Royce Hall.  UCLA Live. (310) 825-2101.  (Also at the Irvine Barclay Theatre on Sat.  See below)

- April 16 – 18. (Fri. – Sun.)  Oleta Adams.  She puts it all together – jazz, soul, r&b, gospel and pop – into an utterly believable vocal package.  Catalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210.

- April 16, 17 & 20. (Fri., Sat. and Tues.)  The Eagles. Thirty-five years together have generated a ton of Eagles hits, and they’ll no doubt perform most of them.  Adding some spice and diversity to the evening, the opening acts are the Dixie Chicks (on stage for the first time in four years) and country singer/songwriter Keith Urban.   The Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

Baaba Maal

- April 17.  (Sat.)  Baaba Maal.  Senegal’s Maal has been doing a masterful job of creating a musical vision that embraces contemporary elements, of every sort, without losing contact with his rich, traditional roots.  Royce Hall.  UCLA Live. (310) 825-2101.

- April 17. (Sat.)  Arlo Guthrie. The Guthrie Family Rides Again.  Their second Southland date in two days.  (See above at Royce Hall on Friday.)   Irvine Barclay Theatre. (949) 854-4646.

- April 17. (Sat.) Bill Cunliffe Big Band. Pianist/composer Cunliffe leads a 17 piece big band in a performance of Cunliffe originals, as well as his Grammy-winning arrangement of a “West Side Story Medley.”  Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

Alessandra Belloni

- April 17. (Sat.)  A Gershwin Celebration. A quartet of engaging, Broadway musical veterans – Raymond Saar, Diane Ketchie, Valeri Perri and Scott Harlan take on the full gamut of the remarkable Gershwin catalog of songs. CSUN Performing Arts Center.   (818) 677-1200

- April 17 & 18. (Sat. & Sun.)  Alessandra Belloni.  The percussionist, dancer and master of traditional Southern Italian music leads a Weekend Drum and Dance Workshop.   Afternoons: “Rhythm is the Cure” with Special Healing Drum Stretch and Dance Workshop.  Evenings: Concert of music and dance.  Remo Performance Center.

- April 18  (Sun.) Los Angeles Jazz Collective “Spring Jazz Fest.” Five ensembles take center stage for the LAJC’s festival: the Brian Carmody Trio, The Ryan Seward/Josh Welchez Group, Sigmund Fudge, the Los Angeles Jazz Quartet and Brian Swartz and the Gnu SextetVitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

San Francisco

Omar Sosa

- April 16 – 18. (Fri. – Sun.)  Omar Sosa Afreecanos Quintet. Adventurous pianist/composer Sosa’s Afreecanos ensemble also features the vocals and instrumental work of Senegalese musician Mola Sylla, and the envelope-stretching saxophone playing of Peter Apfelbaum Yoshi’s Oakland. (510) 238-9200.

- April 17 – 18. (Sat. & Sun.)  Andrae Crouch.  Seven-time Grammy winner Crouch has done it all in the gospel music world – from performer and songwriter to arranger and producer.  Inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame a decade ago, he’s still a marvel to hear.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655-5600.

St. Louis

- April 15 – 17. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival.  Lots of big band action at this year’s festival.  Headliners include Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, Conrad Herwig’s Latin Side All-Stars, UM-St. Louis Jazz Ensemble directed by Jim Widner. Also on the bill, lots of young, upcoming talent from the area’s many jazz education programs.  The Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival at the Touhill Performing Arts Center.  http://www.gsljazzfest.com (866) 516-4949.

New York

Ron Carter

- April 13 – 18. (Tues. – Sun.)  Kenny Werner’s stellar Quintet features the clarion trumpet work of Randy Brecker and the always solid bass of John PatitucciThe Blue Note. l (212) 475-8592.

- April 13 – 18. (Tues. – Sun.)  Julliard Jazz Quintet.  A high level combination of cross-generational jazz masters: bassist Ron Carter, pianist Benny Green, drummer Carl Allen, saxophonist Ron Blake and trumpeter Eddie Henderson Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.   (212) 258-9800.

- April 14 – 18. (Wed. – Sun. Dave Grusin. The pianist/composer makes a rare club performance in the company of Nestor Torres, flute, Steve Turre, trombone, Peter Washington, bass, Kenny Washington, drums.  Iridium.   (212) 582-2121.

- April 15 – 18 (Thurs. – Sun.)  Don Byron Groups.  Clarinetist Byron displays his versatility with three different ensembles.  Thurs. and Fri.: the New Gospel Quintet.  Sat.: The Ivey-Divey Trio. Sunday: Swiftboat Jazz Standard.   (212) 576-2232.

Magos Herrera

- April 15 & 21. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Magos Herrera. The Mexican singer brings a rich, dark, sound and a stirring rhythmic flow to her music.  She’ll perform tunes from her Grammy nominated album, Distancia.  Thurs 15: Galapagos Art Space.  (718) 222-8500.  Fri. 21: BAMcafe Live.   (718) 636-4100.

- April 17 (Sat.) Rokia Traoré.  Mali’s dynamic singer/songwriter is a musical whirlwind in her live performances.  She’ll be showcasing songs from her new Nonesuch album, TchamantchéThe Highline Ballroom.  (212) 414-5994.


Live Jazz: The Grammy Museum Salutes the Jazz Bakery, with Hubert Laws, Alan Bergman, Tierney Sutton, Bill Henderson, Mike Melvoin, Kenny Burrell, Jeff Garlin, Alan Broadbent and more

July 20, 2009

By Michael Katz

Perhaps you came from a musical family. Perhaps you remember those holiday dinners, when your mother would proudly call you and your siblings to gather around the piano and sing, strum or toot what you’d recently studied when the other kids were out playing ball. Now, close your eyes and pretend that your sister is Tierney Sutton and your brother is Hubert Laws and that legendary uncle who went off to the Coast to write music for the movies makes an appearance, and it’s Alan Bergman. Now you’re getting an idea of the atmosphere at the Grammy Museum Sunday night, when Ruth Price’s extended musical family gathered in support of her impending autumn relocation of the Jazz Bakery (location TBD). Ten musicians, working in a variety of settings, jamming with familiar tunes and vamping with impromptu lines, put on a memorable show in the Grammy Museum’s terrific, small theatre setting at the Nokia/LA Live complex.

Jeff Garlin, best known for his role as Larry David’s manager on the HBO series, “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” was an amiably goofy host, tying the program together with amusing stories and references to himself as a jazz comedian (“If I was a rock comedian, I wouldn’t be available, I’d have a gig somewhere”). First up was the Alan Broadbent Trio, with Putter Smith on bass and Paul Kreibich on drums. Broadbent, a native New Zealander who has written and arranged for everyone from the Woody Herman band to Diana Krall, began with his trademark, elegantly swinging style on “How Deep Is The Ocean.” He then welcomed Alan Bergman to sing a trio of his compositions, beginning with “The Windmills Of Your Mind.”

alan-bergman

Alan Bergman

The Grammy Museum, with its intimate 200 seat theatre and pristine acoustics, was the perfect setting for Bergman, whose voice carried perfectly and whose stories were a gentle accompaniment to the familiar lyrics. He followed with “Nice and Easy,” a song originally performed by Frank Sinatra, and augmented by a wonderful solo by Broadbent. The evening’s first of several indelible moments occurred next, when Bergman called Tierney Sutton and Hubert Laws to join him for “What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life.” They had heard the brief rehearsal and asked to sit in, Sutton alternating the lyrics with Bergman while Laws improvised beside them on flute. Moments like these are rare even in a city as full of virtuosity as LA; the audience responded with a standing ovation.

Tierney Sutton 2

Tierney Sutton

Tierney Sutton stayed on and asked Hubert Laws to do the same. She started her own segment with “Lullaby Of The Leaves,” establishing the melody and then vamping, scatting, changing tempos, with Laws matching her riff for riff. She then did a duet with Alan Broadbent, singing “Heart’s Desire,” a lovely tune composed by Broadbent with lyrics by Dave Frishberg. When Sutton sang “Dream your dream and make it grow, you’re luckier than most you know…” it seemed especially poignant in the circumstances, and the opportunity to perform it with Broadbent was another highlight of this night. She finished up with a rousing, up tempo version of “East of the Sun (and West of the Moon).”

Bill Henderson(pic 1)

Bill Henderson

The next segment brought up pianist Mike Melvoin and vocalist Bill Henderson. Melvoin may be one of LA’s most under-appreciated talents. His performance with Henderson was less an accompaniment than a duet of voice and piano. Their set opened with “All The Things You Are,” the two of them trading choruses, with Henderson in fine voice despite having sustained a fall at home that afternoon. Melvoin and Henderson have performed together for over forty years, and their versatility was in evidence as they covered material from Elton John’s “Sorry Is The Hardest Word,” to a Melvoin original ballad, to the highlight of the set — a rousing rendition of Johnny Mandel’s “Vacation From The Blues.”

Hubert_Laws

Hubert Laws

Next up was a remarkable duet performance by Kenny Burrell and Hubert Laws. Burrell has been an anchor of jazz in LA, through his stellar guitar work, his teaching presence at UCLA and his status as Dean of all things Ellington. Hubert Laws, for many of us who first started listening to jazz in the late sixties/early seventies, defined the jazz flute. He was ubiquitous during the CTI years, both as leader and sideman to Freddie Hubbard, George Benson and others, then seemed to be drowned out by the disco years and faded from the scene for much of the 80’s and 90’s. Happily he has been much more visible of late, and his duets with Burrell were inspired. After opening with a JJ Johnson tune, Kenny Burrell led the audience with a rhythmic “Jazz Bakery” chant, which served as the backdrop for an entirely improvised blues line, with Burrell and Laws trading licks. It wouldn’t be a Burrell set without an Ellington number; they followed with “Sophisticated Lady,” Burrell introducing the theme and Laws exploring the melody, building his solos with staccato bursts. The audience reacted with long and sustained applause.

ruth-price

Ruth Price

The program ended with Mike Melvoin back at the piano and Putter Smith and Paul Kreibich rounding out the rhythm trio, with Laws and Burrell out front in a swinging version of “Summertime.” All in all it was a reminder of the panoply of remarkable talent in this community, and the spirit generated by Ruth Price that can bring it all together for a night like this.

To read more posts by Michael Katz click here.


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