Picks of the Week – Oct. 24 – 28

October 24, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Sally Kellerman

- Oct. 34 (Wed.)  Sally Kellerman.  Hot Lips herself, in action.  But Sally’s a one of a kind vocalist, too, bringing interpretive magic to everything she sings. Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Oct. 24. (Wed.)  Gabriel Johnson.  Emerging jazz trumpeter Johnson has been praised by Clint Eastwood and Chris Botti, and performed with everyone from Gladys Knight to Gerald Albright.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.     (310) 474-9400.

- Oct. 25. (Thurs.)  Robert Glasper Experiment.  Adventurous pianist Glasper has been pioneering the territory between jazz and contemporary pop.  His special guests include Jose James, Taylor McFerrin and Austin PeraltaCAP UCLA at Royce Hall.   (310) 825-2101

- Oct. 25. (Thurs.)  Ariana Savalas. Singer/songwriter/actress Savalas, the offspring of a show biz family, is making her own way as a rising vocalist.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.     (310) 474-9400.

- Oct. 25. (Thurs.)  Kathy Kosins.  “The Ladies of Cool.”  Singer Kosins celebrates the work of such West Coast-oriented jazz vocalists as June Christy, Julie London, Anita O’Day and Chris Connor.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Bob Dylan

- Oct. 26. (Fri.)  Bob Dylan and Mark Knopfler.  The legendary Dylan makes a rare appearance in Los Angeles in companionship with the British singer/songwriter/guitarist best known for his work with the band Dire Straits.  The Hollywood Bowl.     (323) 850-2000.

- Oct. 26 & 27. (Fri. & Sat.) Eddie Daniels.  The great clarinetist – and fine saxophonist, as well – makes his annual L.A. appearance, reminding us that the clarinet is still a great jazz instrument.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Oct. 26 – 28. (Fri. – Sun.)  Buster Williams Quartet.  Versatile bassist Williams leads a stellar group of Southland players — keyboardist Patrice Rushen, saxophonist Mark Gross and drummer Ndugu ChanclerCatalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Oct. 27. (Sat.)  Ron Carter Quartet.  Carter – for decades everyone’s first call bassist — has also offered some breakthrough music of his own. This time out he performs with the cutting edge musical ideas of the Robert Glasper TrioCAP at UCLA Royce Hall.  (310) 825-2101.

- Oct. 27. (Sat.) Michael Feinstein.  “The Sinatra Project.”  One of the champions of the Great American Songbook, singer/pianist Feinstein interprets a program of songs associated with Frank Sinatra.  Segerstrom Hall at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.    (714) 556-2746.

Leon Russell

San Francisco

- Oct. 24. (Wed.)  Leon Russell.  One of the vital singer/songwriters of the rock era, Russell, at 70 is still going strong.  Don’t miss this rare club appearance.  Yoshi’s Oakland.      (510) 238-9200.

New York

- Oct. 24 – 28. (Wed. – Sun.).  Jimmy Heath 86th Birthday Celebration.  NEA Jazz Master Heath goes back to his roots to celebrate his 86th birthday with the Jimmy Heath Big Band — an assemblage of New York’s stellar players.  The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

- Oct. 26. (Fri.)  Kendra Shank.  The ever-adventurous, always musically engaging  Shank performs the last Friday of every month at the 55 Bar.   (212) 929-9883.

London

- Oct. 26. (Fri.)  Steve Smith and Vital Information.  Smith has been voted #1 All-Around Drummer by Modern Drummer magazine five years in a row.  In addition to his far-ranging pop and rock activities, he also leads the high energy jazz group Vital Information  Ronnie Scott’s.   (0) 20 7439 0747.

Copenhagen

- Oct. 24 & 25. (Wed. & Thurs.)  Roditi/Ignatzek/Rassinfosse.  The remarkable trio of trumpeter Claudio Roditi, pianist Klaus Ignatzek and bassist Jean-Louis Rassinfosse have been performing together for 25 years, emphasizing the Brazilian songbook and the repertoire associated with Chet Baker.  Jazzhus Montmartre.    (+45) 70 15 65.

Milan

- Oct. 25. (Thurs.)  Kenny Werner.  Versatile pianist, composer and writer arrives in Italy with a world class ensemble: saxophonist David Sanchez, trumpeter Randy Brecker, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Antonio SanchezBlue Note Milan.    02. 69016888.

Tokyo

The Manhattan Transfer

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- Oct. 24 – 26. (Wed. – Fri.)  The Manhattan Transfer.  Nearly four decades in the jazz world spotlight, and the gifted members of the Transfer continue to produce music that brilliantly defines and expands the potential in vocal ensemble jazz.  Blue Note Tokyo.


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.


Picks of the Week: June 12 – 17

June 12, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

* * * * * *         HIGHLIGHT          * * * * * *

The 34th Annual Playboy Jazz Festival:

Saturday and Sunday, June 16 & 17

The Playboy Jazz Festival umbrella seems to get bigger year by year.  And this year is no exception, with a program that reaches into every area of jazz and blues related music.  Once again, the inimitable Bill Cosby hosts the Festival and leads his own all-star band, The Cos of Good Music.

Christian McBride

Saturday’s program features: The Christian McBride Big Band, Boney James, Ozomatli, Sheila E.,  Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings,  The Soul Rebels,  The Global Gumbo All-Stars,  The Cos of Good Music, Louie Cruz Beltran.  And the LAUSD All City Jazz Band.

Ramsey Lewis

Sunday’s program features: The Ramsey Lewis Electric Band., Robin Thicke,  The Preservation Hall Jazz Band,  Keb’ Mo’,  Terri Lyne Carrington’s Mosaic Project, The Cookers,  Spectrum Road,  Chico Trujillo,  Kg Omulo.  And the Calabasas High School Jazz A Band.

Among the many musically intriguing aspects of this far reaching program is the presence of no less than three world class female jazz drummers: Sheila E., Terri Lyne Carrington and (performing with Spectrum Road) Cindy Blackman.  How often does that happen?

Bill Cosby

So long, Cos.  But the most memorable aspect of all in this 34th Playboy Jazz Festival may well be the fact that it showcases Bill Cosby‘s final appearance as Master of Ceremonies.  After 30 years of introducing such iconic figures as Benny Goodman, Sarah Vaughan, Lionel Hampton, Herbie Hancock, Ray Charles, Wynton Marsalis, Grover Washington, Jr.,  Joni Mitchell, Weather Report, Al Jarreau, Tony Bennett, Bobby McFerrin and dozens of others, Cos will pass on the microphone after this year’s shows.  And his warm, witty and immensely informative presence will be deeply missed.

For informaton about the 34th Playboy Jazz Festival, call the Festival hot line —  (310) 450-1173 — or click HERE.

* * * * * * * *                 * * * * * * * *

- June 12. (Tues.)  Dolores Scozzesi. Crossing freely from jazz to cabaret and beyond, Scozzesi is a true mistress of song, finding the many layers of meaning in everything she sings.   Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- June 13. (Wed.)  Joe Bagg Organ Trio. Keyboardist Bagg’s greatest attribute is his ability to adapt his improvisational inventiveness to whatever instrument he’s playing.  This time out, it’s his effective way with the lush sounds of the Hammond B-3 organ. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.    (310) 474-9400.

- June 13. (Wed.)  Eric Reed Quintet.  A rapidly rising young jazz star while still in his teens, pianist/composer Reed has matured into an important musical voice, with a string of charting albums.  He performs with Dale Fielder, saxophones, Nolan Shaheed, trumpet, Hamilton Price, bass and Kevin Kanner, drums.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- June 14 & 15. (Thurs. & Fri.)  The Bob Mintzer Big Band.  Saxophonist/composer Mintzer – a long time member of the Yellowjackets, is also busy composer/arranger, leading his own impressive big band in his spare moments.  Here’s a chance to experience the full breadth of his talents.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Freda Payne

- June 15 & 16.  (Fri. & Sat.)  Freda Payne. The one and only “Band of Gold” hit-maker, Payne’s skills reach across the gamut of theatre, recordings, television and beyond.  The gorgeous diva is at her best in the up close and intimate setting of a warm jazz room such as Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- June 16. (Sat.)  Billy Childs Quartet. Pianist/composer Childs selects the small jazz band format from his many musical personas, leading a small but stellar band that includes saxophonist Bob Sheppard, bassist Reggie Hamilton and drummer Michael BakerBlue Whale.   (213) 620-0928.

San Francisco

Dr. John

- June 15. (Fri.)  “Another Night In Treme.”  The atmosphere of the hit HBO televison series, Treme, is vividly brought to life by the inimitable Dr. John and the Lower 911 and the Soul Rebels.  An SFJAZZ 2012 Spring Season event at the Paramount Theatre.   (866) 920-5299.

Seattle

- June 14 – 17. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Bill Frisell.  The versatile guitarist performs selections from his 2011 John Lennon tribute album, All We Are Saying.  Jazz Alley.    (206) 441-9729.

New York

- June 12 – 16. (Tues. – Sat.) Stacey Kent. American jazz singer, Kent, who spends most of her time in the U.K. and Europe, celebrates the release of Dreamer in Concert, recorded live in La Cigale in Paris – Kent’s first ever live album. Birdland.     (212) 581-3080.

Savion Glover

- June 12 – 17. (Tues. – Sun.) Savion Glover.  The amazing dancer Glover, who can tap with the crisply swinging rhythms of a prime jazz drummer, performs with special guests McCoy Tyner (Tues. & Wed.), Jack DeJohnette (Thurs. & Fri.) and Roy Haynes (Sat. & Sun.)  The Blue Note.    (212) 475-8592.

London

- June 14 – 16. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Reuben Wilson, Bernard “Pretty” Purdie and Grant Green.  Once known, with good reason, as the “Godfathers of Groove,” the trio of veterans dig into the deep funk rhythms they helped create.  Ronnie Scott’s.   020 7439 0747.

Tokyo

- June 13 – 17. (Wed. – Sun.)  The Mike Stern Band featuring Randy Brecker. Guitarist Stern infuses his dynamic, contemporary style playing with a solid foundation of straight ahead skills.  Trumpeter Brecker, similarly versatile, is a perfect musical companion.  The Blue Note Tokyo.   03.5485.0088.


Picks of the Week: May 2 – 6

May 1, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Arturo Sandoval

- May 2. (Wed.)  Arturo Sandoval Big Band. He plays the trumpet, the piano and the drums, and he sings, too.  The musical multi-hyphenate from Cuba showcases his dynamic versatility in the second installment of the new jazz series at The Federal.    (818) 980-2655,

- May 2. (Wed.) Llew Matthews and Pat Senatore.  Pianist Matthews is a much desired singers’ accompanist and a valued first call sideman.  But he’s also an engaging solo artist as well.  Here he performs with the equally sensitive backing of bassist Senatore. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.     (310) 474-9400.

– May 3. (Thurs.)  Gerald Wilson Orchestra. Watching the marvelously energetic, 93 year old Wilson lead a band of L.A. all-stars through a program of his compositions and arrangements is one of the truly memorable jazz experiences. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

Simon Rattle

- May 3 – 6. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Return of Simon Rattle.  Rattle conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Disney Hall for the first time.  The Central European-oriented program includes works by Ligeti, Wagner, Mahler and Bruckner.  Rattle’s wife, mezzo soprano Magdalena Kozena sings Mahler’s Ruckert-Lieder.  Disney Hall.  (323) 850-2000.

- May 4. (Fri.)  Mark Winkler and Mary Foster Conklin.  When a pair of beyond-definition singers – who move easily from cabaret to jazz standards — get together for a vocal jam session, expect an unusually enlightening evening of song.   Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- May 4 & 5. (Fri. & Sat.)  Strunz and Farah.  Performing together since 1980, the duo guitar team of Jorge Strunz and Ardeshir Farah create incomparable musical banquets overflowing with sounds and rhythms reaching from jazz and flamenco to the Middle East, spiced with their own musically rich imaginations.  Click HERE to read iRoM’s most recent review of Strunz & Farah. Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

Perla Batalla

- May 5. (Sat.)  Perla Batalla.  Blessed with a rich-toned voice, fascinated with a broad range of music, Batalla tells an engaging story with everything she sings.  Broad Stage.   (310) 424-3200.

- May 5. (Sat.)  Reflections on Frank Sinatra.  A band of Southland all-stars — Ralph Penland, Jim Hughart, Ron Anthony, Llew Matthews and Bill Kerr – team up with singers Melodye and Luca Ellis, and comedian Tony Russell in a tribute to the Chairman of the Board. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- May 6. (Sun.) Bonnie Bowden and Sony Holland.  Vitello’s.  It’s a day filled with some prime jazz vocalizing.  In the afternoon, Bowden displays her airy timbre, soaring range and convincing way with a song.  In the evening, Holland adds her tender, gripping voice and subtle rhythmic swing.  Sony Holland.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- May 6. (Sun.) Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra“Mozart and Me.”  Another of the LACO’s delightful introduction to classical music for young people.  The program features LACO musicians with the Pasadena Master Chorale, a talented ten year old pianist from the Colburn School and an actor garbed as Mozart himself.  The Alex Theatre.  2 p.m.  (213) 622-7001 Ext 1.

Susan Egan

- May 6. (Sun.) Susan Egan.  She starred on Broadway and has proven herself as a convincing cabaret artist.  This time, Egan uses both those skills in an intimate presentation of some of Broadway’s greatest hits.  The Carpenter Theatre.    (562) 985-7000.

- May 6. (Sun.)  REO Speedwagon, Styx and Ted Nugent.  Three classic rock groups, Greek Theatre favorites, return for yet another episode in their long-running musical shows.  Greek Theatre.

- May 6. (Sun.) The 2012 Playboy Jazz Festival First Community Concert. The Playboy Jazz Festival’s annual free concerts leading up the the Festival itself — which takes place on June 16 & 17 at the Hollywood Bowl – are some of the Southland’s greatest jazz bargains. And this year is no exception. Sunday’s program at the Beverly Hills Civic Center Plaza, featuring a performance by Jose Rizo’s Mongorama, is a tribute to one of the great innovators of Latin jazz: Mongo Santamaria.

Jose Rizo’s Mongorama

Mongorama offers a stunning revival of Mongo’s music, discovering vividly alive qualities still coursing through the legendary percussionist’s greatest hits. Also on the bill, the remarkably mature playing of the Beverly Hills High School Jazz Band, a collective of young players convincingly proving that the future of jazz is in fine hands., The First Playboy Free Community Concert at the Beverly Hills Civic Plaza. (310) 450-1173.

San Francisco

- May 5. (Sat.)  Rosanne Cash.  The daughter of Johnny Cash, Rosanne Cash has thoroughly established herself as an artist whose skills embrace far more than country music.  A writer and novelist, she invests her music with the far-reaching subtleties of her literary viewpoints.  An SFJAZZ concert in the Herbst Theatre.   (866) 920-5299.

Chicago

- May 3 – 6. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Cyrus Chestnut Trio.  Pianist Chestnut’s musical roots are deeply invested in the Rgospel music that invests his playing with a rich, creatively passionate intensity and a solid rhythmic drive. Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

New York

- May 2 – 5. (Wed. – Sat.)   The Heath Brothers. Saxophonist Jimmy Heath and drummer Albert “Tootie” Heath are the surviving members of the musically gifted Heath family, still going strong after a century-plus experience and more than 900 recordings. Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

Randy Brecker

- May 2 – 6. (Wed. – Sun.)  Randy Brecker and Pop.  Versatile trumpeter Brecker, who’s played with the finest jazz and pop artist leads his now group “Pop,” featuring an all-star band performing the songs of Frank Zappa, Steely Dan, Bette Midler, Paul Simon, The Average White Band, Blood Sweat & Tears, and others, arranged and re-imagined by Kenny Werner.  The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

- May 2 – 6. (Wed. – Sun.)  The Julliard Jazz Orchestra with Frank Wess.  Veteran saxophonist Wess is the headliner in a performance of the msic of Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie.  Conducted by James Burton IIIDizzy’s Club Coca Cola.    (212) 258-9595.

London 

- May 3 – 5 (Thurs. – Sat.)  Manu Dibango and Soul Makossa.  Dibango is an iconic master of world music/funk/jazz crossover.  He’ll lead the Soul Makossa gang in a stirring evening of everything from pop, electro rock, hip hop and beyond.  Ronnie Scott’s.    020 7439 0747.

Berlin

Judy Niemack

- May 5. (Sat.)   Judy Niemack.  She’s a constantly captivating singer, bringing musicality, imagination and interpretive excellence to everything she touches.  Which makes for a perfect musical marriage in this program devoted to the music of Miles Davis – “All Blues,” “Time After Time,” Boplicity,” “Round Midnight” and more.  A-Trane.    030 / 313 25 50.

Tokyo 

- May 3 – 5. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Omara Portuondo and Chucho Valdes.  A pair of legendary Cuban artists blend their dynamic abilities into an evening rich with traditional rhythms and soaring musical delights.  Blue Note Tokyo.   02-5485-0088.


Here, There & Everywhere: The 2012 Jazz Grammy Winners

February 13, 2012

By Don Heckman

The 2012 Grammys are in, and once again there’s not much sound of surprise in the results.  Certainly nothing in the same ballpark as last year’s Best New Artist award for Esperanza Spalding.  That’s not to say that any of the wins were undeserved.  Because they all were the products of gifted artists doing their best. Nor were any of the nominees any less deserving than the winners.

Still, both the awards and the Recording Academy’s current approach to jazz raise some questioning observations.  Take, for example, the inclusion of Terri Lyne Carrington’ s The Mosaic Project in the Jazz Vocal grouping.  Doesn’t it seem inevitable that a collection of songs by such major names as Dianne Reeves, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Cassandra Wilson and, yes, Esperanza Spalding (among others) is going to have a major head start in any competition against recordings by single artists?  What chance did the other nominees – especially the unusually superlative trio of albums from Tierney Sutton, Roseanna Vitro and Karrin Allyson – have against a full line-up of such musical heavyweights?

Notice, too, some of the repetitions: multiple nominations for Randy Brecker, Fred Hersch and Sonny Rollins.  Great artists, all, but where are the nominations for the youngest generation of jazz players?  It’s worth noting that Gerald Clayton is the only nominee still in his twenties.  And Miguel Zenon is the only nominee still in his thirties.

Add to that several aspects in this year’s awards procedures that underscore the diminishing role that jazz is playing in the Grammy overview.  Start with the reduced number of categories.  In 2011 there were six: Contemporary Jazz Album, Vocal Album, Improvised Jazz Solo, Jazz Instrumental Album (Individual or Group), Large Jazz Album and Latin Jazz Album.

This year, there are four: Best Improvised Jazz Solo, Best Jazz Vocal Album, Best Jazz Instrumental Album and Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album. Some jazz fans won’t miss the Contemporary category, despite the fact that its absence eliminates the presence of some fine, pop-oriented jazz stylists.  But the Latin Jazz omission is unforgivable, and should receive careful re-consideration in the planning for next year’s Grammys.

In the listings below, I’ve also included Best Instrumental Arrangement and Best Instrumental Composition, because, in these nominees, the emphasis is almost completely in the direction of jazz.  They could easily have had different orientations — pop, rock, electronica, classical and otherwise — given the all-inclusive nature of the descriptions “Instrumental Arrangement” and “Instrumental Composition.”

Ultimately, the single word that comes to mind in considering all the above is “irrelevant.”  Receiving a Grammy award continues to be one of the music world’s greatest honors – for the individual artist.  And every jazz player –like every other musical artist – has to be delighted to receive the gold statuette.  But the overall significance of the Grammys to jazz, the Awards’ full commitment to honoring one of America’s greatest cultural contributions, continues to diminish.  And if it continues in its current direction, the long, historical Grammy/jazz connection won’t just be irrelevant, it’ll be non-existent.

Here are this year’s awards:

Best Improvised Jazz Solo

 Winner.  Chick Corea : “Five Hundred Miles Highfrom Forever.

Other Nominees:

Randy Brecker: “All or Nothing at All” from The Jazz ballad Song Book

Ron Carter: “You Are My Sunshine” from This Is Jazz.

Fred Hersch: “Work” from Alone at the Vanguard.

Sonny Rollins: “Sunnymoon For Two: from Road Shows, Vol. 2.

Best Jazz Vocal album

Winner: Terri Lyne Carrington and Various Artists: The Mosaic Project.

Other Nominees:

Tierney Sutton Band: American Road

Karrin Allyson: ‘Round Midnight.

Kurt Elling: The Gate.

Roseanna Vitro: The Music of Randy Newman.

Best Jazz Instrumental Album

Winner: Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke & Lenny White.  Corea, Clark & White.

Other Nominees:

Gerald Clayton: The Paris Sessions.

Fred Hersch: Alone at the Vanguard.

Joe Lovano/Us Five: Bird Songs.

Sonny Rollins: Road Shows, Vol.2

Yellowjackets: Timeline.

Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album

Winner: Christian McBride Big Band. The Good Feeling.

Other Nominees:

Randy Brecker with the WDR Big Band: The Jazz Ballad Song Book.

Arturo O’Farrill & the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra: 40 Acres and a Burro.

Gerald Wilson Orchestra; Legacy.

Miguel Zenon: Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook

Best Instrumental Arrangement

Winner: Gordon Goodwin: Rhapsody in Blue.

Other Nominees:

Peter Jensen: ‘All or Nothing At All” (for Randy Brecker with the GDR Big Band)

Clare Fischer: “In the Beginning: (from the Clare Fischer Big band’s Continuum.)

Bob Brookmeyer: “Nasty Dance.” (from the Vanguard Jazz Orchstra’s Forever Lasting).

Carlos Franzetti: “Song Without Words” (from Alborada).

Best Instrumental Composition

Winner: Bela Fleck and Howard Levy: “Life In Eleven” from Rocket Science.

Other Nominees:

John Hollenbeck: “Falling Men” from Shut Up and Dance.

Gordon Goodwin: “Hunting Wabbits 3 (Get Off My Lawn) from That’s How We Roll.

Randy Brecker: “I Talk To The Trees” from The Jazz Ballad Song Book.

Russell Ferrante: “Timeline” from Timeline.


Picks of the Week: Jan. 16 – 22

January 15, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Clare Fischer

- Jan. 16. (Mon.)  Clare Fischer Big Band.  The multiple Grammy-winning composer/arranger/pianist (and more) has a resume reaching from Dizzy Gillespie and Donald Byrd to Prince and Paul McCartney, with numerous stops in between.  His own groups have reached from small to large, covering a brilliantly eclectic array of creative styles.  This time out, it’s his dynamic, colorful music for big band.  However, because Fischer is recovering from a recent heart attack, the performance will be conducted by his son, arranger/composer Brent FischerVitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Jan. 17. (Tues.)  Pia Zadora. Singer, actress, Golden Globe winner and Grammy nominee Zadora has always been at her best in live performances, when her natural skills as an entertainer are on full display, as they undoubtedly will be here. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- Jan. 17 – 21. (Tues. – Sat.)  Gilad Hekselman.  Critically praised Israeli jazz guitarist Hekselman is the winner of the 2005 Gibson Guitar Competition.  This week he introduces himself to the Southland via a string of appearances around L.A., mostly with Ben Wendel, tenor saxophone, Dave Robair, bass and Ferenc Nemeth, drums.  On Tues. with John Pisano and Robair at Vitello’s.  On Wed. with the Matt Otto Quartet at the Blue Whale.  On Thurs. with his Quartet at Alva’s Showroom.  On Friday with his Trio  at Agoura High School.  And on Saturday with his Quartet at the Blue Whale.

- Jan. 19. (Thurs.) Billy Childs Electric Band.  Ever eager to take his probing musical curiosity into different territories, pianist/composer Childs takes a break from his chamber jazz ensemble to turn on the switches of his Electric Band.  The Baked Potato.  (818) 980-1615.

- Jan. 19 – 21. (Thurs. – Sat. ) Chris Minh Doky.  Danish bassist/producer Doky has thoroughly established himself – via his own groups, his producing, and the band he formed with his brother, Chris – as one of the vital players in today’s contemporary, crossover jazz scene.  His group, the Nomads, is energized by the vibrant drumming of Dave Weckl. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Jan. 20. (Fri.) OVOCirque d’Soleil’s latest extraordinary adventure opens at the Santa Monica Pier. This time out, the company’s incredibly gifted performers, musicians and artists take on the world of insects, a world enlivened by elements that are “tender and torrid, noisy and quiet, peaceful and chaotic. ” All of which becomes even more engaging when a mysterious egg appears in their midst.  Cirque d’Soleil’s  OVO.  Under the big top at the Santa Monica Pier.

- Jan. 20. (Fri.) KALPA.  A fascinating multi-media event takes place in the wide open spaces of the Getty Center Entrance Hall Steps and Arrival Plaza.  Created by Hirokazu Kosaka, it has a score by Yuval Ron.  Performers include Tetsuya Nakamura, harmonica and Japanese circular pan flute, Yuval Ron, autoharp and electronics, Rafael Lopez-Barrentez, vocals.  The Getty Center.    (310) 440-7300.

Elis Regina

- Jan. 21.  (Sat.)  “Elis: A Celebration.”  Singer/dancer Katia Moraes has assembled a tribute to the legendary Brazilian singer, Elis Regina – an influence on Moraes’ musical growth from the time she was a teen-ager.  The event includes a photo art exhibition, a video screening, and a live performance, all focused on memories of the remarkable Elis.  Brasil Brasil Cultural Center.   (310_ 397-3667.

- Jan. 21. (Sat.) Kathleen Battle.  The gorgeous voice of soprano Battle is applied to a program of spirituals, backed by pianist Cyrus Chestnut and the Albert McNeil Jubilee Singers.  Royce Hall. UCLA Live.    (310) 825-2101.

Gretchen Parlato

- Jan. 21. (Sat.)  Gretchen Parlato.  In a jazz world populated by a continuing line of newly arriving female singers, Parlato continues to hold her own.  Applying her subtle range of vocal sounds with creative insights, telling musical stories enriched with flowing rhythms, she is a memorable performer – one of a kind. The Musicians Institute Concert Center.  A Jazz Bakery Movable Feast.    (310) 271-9039.

Jan. 21 – 22. (Sat. & Sun.)  New Shanghai Circus.  Acrobats, tumblers, contortionists and strong men, aerial ballet and flying trapeze acts  – and that’s just the beginning of the astonishing sights presented by this extraordinary collection of talented artists.  Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.    (562) 916-8501.

- Jan. 22.  (Sun.)  Los Angeles Chamber OrchestraMostly MozartAndrew Shulman conducts the versatile and gifted players of the LACO in Mozart’s Symphony No. 29, the Violin Concerto No. 3 (featuring violinist Nigel Armstrong) and the Walton Sonata For Strings. Royce Hall.  UCLA Live.   (310) 825-2101.

Ojai

Ron Eschete

- Jan. 21. (Sat.)  Ron Eschete Trio.  Seven string guitar master Eschete joins forces with Joe Bagg, B-3 organ and piano and Paul Kreibich, drums, to generate an irresistible example of the musical pleasures of the classic jazz organ/guitar/drums trio,.  Ojai Jazz Concerts at the Ojai Valley Community Church.    (805) 746-0936.

San Francisco

- Jan. 20 – 21. (Fri. & Sat.)  Bobby Hutcherson Birthday.  The veteran vibist shares the excitement of his 71st birthday (On Jan. 27) via a musical celebration featuring a musical encounter with the impressive young vibes player, Warren WolfYoshi’s San Francisco.     (415) 655-5600.

Santa Cruz

- Jan. 19. (Thurs.)  Mads Tolling.  A Grammy-winning, former member of the Turtle Island String Quartet, Danish-American violinist Tolling offers a musical tribute to electric violin path-finder, Jean-Luc Ponty.   Kuumbwa Jazz.   (831) 427-2227.

San Diego

- Jan. 18. (Wed.)  The Family Stone. Some of the most electrically exciting music of the ‘70s is still vibrantly alive in the hands of original members of Sly’s Family Stone: Cynthia Robinson, Jerry Martini and Greg ErricoAnthology.    (619) 595-0300.

Seattle

- Jan 19 – 22. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Jeff Lorber Fusion.  When keyboardist Lorber first came up with the concept of jazz fusion in the late ‘70s, it was invigorated by deep jazz roots.  As it is today, especially with a line up like this, with Randy Brecker, trumpet, Eric Marienthal, alto saxophone, Lionel Cordew, drums and Ron Jenkins, bass.  Jazz Alley.     (206) 441-9729.

Washington, D.C.

Rudresh Mahanthappa

- Jan. 19. (Thurs.)  Rudresh Mahanthappa.  Rapidly establishing himself as one of the most critically praised new voices on the jazz alto saxophone, Mahanthappa is bringing new ideas and sounds to jazz.  He’s featured here as one of four India-related jazz artists (with Sachel Vasandani, Sanjay Mishra and Rez Abbasi) appearing in the “Indian Jazz Series” from Monday through Thursday.  Blues Alley.   (202) 337-4141.

Boston

- Jan. 21. (Sat.)  Pat Martino Organ Trio. Despite a pair of career absences that took him completely away from music for more than a decade (the first due to a brain aneurysm, the second when his parents became ill) Martino – one of jazz’s most virtuosic guitarists – has continued to build a solid musical career.  Here he performs in classic organ trio setting. Regatta Bar.    (617) 661-5000.

New York

- Jan. 17 – 22. (Tues. – Sun.)  The Chris Potter Quartet.  Sometimes taken for granted, for his ability to make other groups sound compelling, tenor saxophonist Potter is nonetheless a unique talent in his own right, one who deserves every jazz listener’s full attention.  The Village Vanguard.    (212) 255-4037.

- Jan 17 – 22.  (Tues. – Sun.)  Bill Frisell, Ron Carter and Joey Baron. It would be hard to imagine a more inventively adept, musical versatile trio of players than this stellar group.  Expect something new and magical every night. The Blue Note.    (212) 475-8592.

Lou Donaldson

- Jan. 19 – 22. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Lou Donaldson Quartet.  At 85, alto saxophonist Donaldson is still going strong.  The traces of his early allegiance to Charlie Parker are still present, but Donaldson long ago embraced them with his own stirring improvisational methods.  The Jazz Standard.    (212) 889-2005.

- Jan. 22. (Sun.)  Carnatic Sundays.  South Indian music is on full display in this intriguing evening of music.  Karavika is a string and tabla ensemble exploring the intersection between Carnatic music and American blues, jazz and folk music. The Arun Ramumurthy Quartet features the virtuosic violin of Ramumurthy in a quartet with bass, jazz drum set and the two-headed South Indian mridangam drum.  Cornelia St. Café.    (212) 989-9319.

London

- Jan. 16 & 17. (Mon. & Tues.)  Carmen Lundy. Singer/songwriter/actress Lundy is a jazz rara avis, a female  vocalist who also writes her own songs.  And who does so with imaginative skill.  Add to that the fact that Lundy also finds new stories in the standard jazz songbook, bringing fascinating perspectives to material old and new.  Ronnie Scott’s.  020 7439 0747.

Milan

- Jan 17. (Tues.)  John Abercrombie and Mark CoplandSpeak To Me, the first duo recording of guitarist Abercrombie and pianist Copland, released late 2011, was a classic display of subtle, thoughtfully conceived jazz interplay at its most mesmerizing.  The Blue Note Milano.   02.69.01.68.88.

Tokyo

Pat Metheny

- Jan. 20 – 28.  (Fri. – Sat.)  An Evening With Pat Metheny.  With frequent musical associate bassist Larry Grenadier on hand, inventive Metheny will no doubt offer the  full range of sounds and music – hopefully including his 42 string Pikasso guitar – he’s been exploring lately in his constant creative adventuring.   The Blue Note Tokyo.    03.5485.0088.

Ron Eschete photo by Bob Barry.


Picks of the Week: Dec. 6 – 11

December 6, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Sophie Milman

- Dec. 6 & 7. (Tues. & Wed.)  Sophie Milman.  The young Russian/Canadian singer has thoroughly established herself as one of the important new arrivals on the jazz scene.  She’ll hopefully do a few selections from her latest CD, In the Moonlight.  Catalina Bar & Grill   (323) 466-2210.

- Dec. 7. (Wed.)  Keb’ Mo’  It’s blues on the loose whenever Keb’ Mo’ is on stage.  This time out he’ll no doubt sprinkle some holiday selections among his acoustic repertoire. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.

- Dec. 8. (Thurs.)  Larry Koonse Quartet.  He’s a second generation all-star guitarist, but Larry Koonse has also established a style, an attitude and a visibility all his own.  He’s frequently seen in some one else’s rhythm section, so don’t miss this chance to see and hear him in the spotlight.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- Dec. 8 – 10. (Thurs. – Sat.)  The Four Seasons.  Amid all the holiday music of the season, it’ll a distinct alternative pleasure to hear Norwegian violinist/conductor Henning Kraggerud perform the always-engaging Vivaldi work – and especially the Winter segment — with the Pacific Symphony Segerstrom Center for the Arts.    (714) 556-2787.

Thomas Wilkins

- Dec. 8, 9 & 11. (Thurs., Fri. & Sun.)  “The Hollywood Sound.”  Thomas Wilkins conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic in an evening of memorable film music by the likes of Erich Korngold, Bernard Herrman, Elmer Bernstein, John Williams and more.  The performance is part of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time program.  Disney Hall.    (323) 850-2000.

- Dec. 9 – 11. (Fri. – Sun.)  Kenny Werner Band.  A pianist, composer and Guggenheim Fellowship winner, Werner leads a world-class jazz ensemble, featuring trumpeter Randy Brecker, saxophonist David Sanchez, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Antonio SanchezCatalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210..

- Dec. 9. (Fri.)  Holiday Pop!  The Glendale Pops Orchestra is conducted by Matt Catingub in a program of holiday classics.  Also featured: pianist David Benoit doing material from Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas  and Grammy winner Taylor Dayne adds her own Christmas favorites.  The Alex Theatre.    (818) 243-2611.

Peabo Bryson

- Dec. 10. (Sat.)  The Colors of Christmas. This always festive holiday program has been arriving every year for nearly a decade.  The current line up includes Grammy winners Peabo Bryson and Jennifer Holiday, Broadway star Lea Salonga and Tony award winner Ben VereenCerritos Center for the Performing Arts.    (562) 916-8501.

- Dec. 10 & 11. (Sat. & Sun.)  Reflection”  The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. The Southland’s most gifted and adventurous chamber ensemble brings a colorful array of music to the holiday season in a program of  Ravel, Tchaikovsky, Thomas Ades and Respighi.  Jeffrey Kahane conducts and cellist Ralph Kirshbaum solos.  Sat. The Alex Theatre. (818) 243-2539.   Sun.  Royce Hall.  (310) 825-2101.

- Dec. 10 & 11. (Sat. & Sun.)  Scarlet Stone.  A mixed-media (music/dance/animation) look at ancient Persian mythology, Scarlet Stone also portrays to the current struggles within Iran.  Freud Playhouse, U.C.L.A.    (310) 825-2101.

- Dec. 11(Sun.)  Rejoice: A Classical Christmas. Los Angeles Master Chorale. The gorgeous voices and articulate musicality of the LAMC are heard in a program of compelling Christmas compositions by Poulenc, Distler, Ferko and Lauridsen.  Disney Hall.    (323) 850-2000.

Otmaro Ruiz

- Dec. 11. (Sun.)  Otmaro Ruiz.  Sunday night piano and bass duos at Vibrato are always sure to produce intriguing music. Expect that and more with the creative interaction between the adventurous composer/pianist Ruiz and the versatile bassist Pat SenatoreVibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- Dec. 11. (Sun.) ASMAC 2011 Holiday Celebration.  The American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers celebrates the season with a Holiday Party, Silent Auction and More.  The John Clayton Holiday Quartet performs, with Clayton, bass, Tamir Hendelman, piano, Graham Dechter, guitar, Kevin Kanner, drums.  Brunch at 11:30 a.m.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

San Francisco

- Dec. 10. (Sat.)  Ahmad Jamal.  The pianist Miles Davis often cited as a master or rhythmic space and time, Jamal is still demonstrating the essentials of how to bring life to the beat and imagination to the music.   The Herbst Theatre.  An SFJAZZ concert.   (866) 920-5299.

Chicago

= Dec. 8 – 11. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Benny Golson Quartet. Veteran tenor saxophonist and composer of some of the most memorable works in the Great American Jazz songbook, Golson in live performance is always something to remember.  Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

New York

- Dec. 6 – 10. (Tues. – Sat.)  The Frank Wess Quintet.  Approaching his ninetieth birthday in January, multi-instrumentalist Wess continues to be one of the definitive jazz flutist as well as a superb saxophonist.  Birdland.   (212) 581-3080.

The Manhattan Transfer

- Dec. 8 – 11. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Manhattan Transfer.  For almost four decades the Transfer has been an incomparable model for jazz ensemble singing of every imaginable style, always done with impeccable musicality.   Amazingly, they’re still at their best.  Hear them at every opportunity. The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

- Dec. 8 – 11. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Trumpeter Dave Douglas displays his full range of jazz versatility via performances with four different groups:  Thurs.: the Key Motion Quintet. Fri.: So Percussion.  Sat.: Orange Afternoons Quintet.  Sun.: Brass Ecstasy.  The Jazz Standard.  (212) 576-2232.

London

- April 6 – 10. (Tues. – Sat.)  Motown Christmas Review.   Natalie Williams and her Soul Family Band celebrate the holiday season with the music of Smoky Robinson, Gladys Knight, Marvin Gaye, the Supremes, Michael Jackson and a lot more.  Ronnie Scott’s.    020 7439 0747.

Tokyo

- April 10 – 12.  (Sat. – Mon.)  Kyle Eastwood.   Bassist Eastwood has garnered a great deal of visibility as the son of jazz fan Clint Eastwood.  But Kyle is a solid talent on his own well on his way to a sterling career as a talented bassist. Blue Note Tokyo.    03–5485-0088.


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