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.


Picks of the Week: Sept. 13 – 18

September 13, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Sept. 13. (Tues.)  Mozart’s Requiem.   The Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Master Chorale, conducted by Bramwell Tovey, perform the masterpiece work, appropriately, two days after the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks.  The Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

Carol Chaikin

- Sept. 14. (Wed.)  Carol Chaikin quartet.  Saxophonist/flutist Chaikin was often identified, early in her career, as a jazz rarity – a high quality female horn player.  But she’s past that now, fully deserving of attention for her first rate playing. regardless of her gender.  She’ll be backed by the Pat Senatore trio. Vibrato Jazz Grill…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Sept. 15. (Thurs.) String Theory. The multi-media performance group transforms their performing space into an instrument in itself, filled with strings and sound and visual producing devices.  Video projections and songs are added by special guest David Poe.  Ford Amphitheatre.  (323) 461-3673.

- Sept. 15. (Thurs.)  Los Van Van.  One of the great Cuban bands, Los Van Van have been generating rhythmic chills in ecstatic crowds for decades.  They don’t make many club appearances in the U.S., so don’t miss this one.  The Conga Room.  (213) 745-0162.

- Sept. 15. (Thurs.)  Friends of Jeff Golub All Star Benefit Concert.  Veteran contemporary jazz guitarist Jeff Golub has lost his eyesight, triggering mounting medical costs.  This special performance is a fund-raiser to help out; 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the Jeff Golub Medical Fund.  The impressive list of musicians who have made a commitment to perform at the event includes Mindi Abair, Alonzo Bodden (comedian), Rick Braun, Brian Culbertson, Richard Elliott, Jeff Lorber, Jeff Golub, Eric Marienthal, Phillipe Siasse, Peter White, Kirk Whalum, John Waite, Michael Lington, Boney James, Henry Butler, David Peck, and more.  Hyatt Regency Newport Beach.  Information and ticket sales click HERE.

- Sept. 15. (Thurs.)  Eliane Elias.  There’s never been any doubt about Sao Paulo-born Elias’ extraordinary skills as a jazz pianist.  But her new album, Light My Fire, thoroughly authenticates her equally impressive abilities as a singer.  Performing in a brilliantly produced set of songs, she brings stunning new perceptions to every thing she sings, from the incredibly atmospheric title track to an unexpected, but delightful version of Paul Desmond’s “Take Five.”  Zipper Hall, Colburn School.  A Jazz Bakery Movable Feast(310) 271-9039.

Bill Holman

- Sept. 16. (Fri.)  Bill Holman Big Band. One of the truly unique and original voices in big jazz band arranging and composing, Holman creates music that is both engaging and complex.  No wonder musicians love to play his charts, to participate and be surrounded by the textures that flow from his remarkable imagination.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Sept. 16 – 19. (Fri. – Sun.) Fireworks Finale: A Night at the Moulin Rouge: A Magical Evening in Paris.  The Fireworks Finale for the 2011 Bowl season is a dazzling array of music and dance from the City of Light.  Thomas Wilkins conducts the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, the Paris Combo adds cabaret sounds and the Dancers from the Moulin Rouge spice it all with their high kicks and colorful costumes. The Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- Sept. 17. (Sat.)  Don Henley. A founding member of the Eagles, Henley’s solo career has also generated a string of memorable hits.  Also on the bill, three-time Grammy Award winner Lucinda Williams.  The Greek Theatre.    (323) 665-5857.

Louie Cruz Beltran

- Sept. 17. (Sat.)  Third Annual LAVida Music Festival. Master percussionist and dynamic entertainer Louie Cruz Beltran and his Jazz Orchestra headline the third LAVida Festival in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month.  Also on the bill: multi-platinum recording artist Al B. Sure, the Mariachi Divas, Fuego Flamenco, Chalo Eduardo and comedienne Kiki MelendezThe Ford Amphitheatre.   (323) 461-3673.

- Sept. 18. (Sun.)  Andy Garcia and the Cineson All Stars Band.  He’s a much honored actor with a highly visible career, but Garcia is also an enthusiastic drummer who expresses his deep love for jazz and Latin rhythms whenever he has the opportunity.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

Monterey

- Sept. 16 – 18.  The Monterey Jazz Festival.  The longest-running and arguably one of the finest jazz festivals in the world kicks off its 54th edition on Friday.  For a complete Guide to the Festival and how to enjoy it, click HERE. Also information and access to tickets from the Festival website click HERE.

San Francisco

- Sept. 14. (Wed.)  Jai Uttal.  A pioneer in blending the sounds of East and West within the Indian call and response music known as “kirtan,” Uttal has assembled an eleven piece ensemble of singers and instrumentalists.  The music, as Uttal explains it, is designed to “create bridges, to unite hearts and cultures.” Yoshi’s San Francisco.    (415) 655-5600.

- Sept. 16 – 18. (Fri. – Sun.)  Eliane Elias.  Pianist/singer Elias continues her West Coast tour, celebrating the release of her latest album, the mesmerizing Light My Fire.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

Seattle

Branford Marsalis

- Sept. 15 – 18. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Branford Marsalis. He may not be as well known to non-jazz fans as his brother Wynton, but saxophonist Branford Marsalis has thoroughly established himself as one of the most original jazz instrumentalists of his generation.  Jazz Alley.    (206) 441-9729.

New York

- Sept. 12 – Jan. 1. Follies.  The new revival of Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman’s 1971 classic musical opened Monday night to rave reviews from the critics. “A vigorous heart now beats at the center of this revitalized revival,” says the New York Times.   “A Tony Awards front-runner” adds the Los Angeles Times.  (It’s also worth noting that one of the most dynamic members of the cast is Susan Watson, whose husband, Norton Wright, is an occasional and much valued contributor to this site.)  The Marquis Theater.  (877) 250-2929.

- Sept. 13 – 17. (Tues. – Sat.)  The Lee Konitz & Tomasz Stanko Quintet. Lee Konitz’s remarkable history reaches back to a performance at Birdland’s opening night, Dec. 16, 1949.  This time, happily recovered from some recent health problems, he’s partnering with the atmospheric trumpet playing of Poland’s Stanko.  Expect a magical evening of music. Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

- Sept. 13 – 18. (Tues. – Sun.)  The Brecker Bros. Band Reunion: Randy Brecker, Mike Stern and Dave Weckl. It won’t be the same without the presence of the sadly departed Michael Brecker, but the music by this stellar ensemble will always be a provocative display of contemporary jazz.  With Ada Rovatti, saxophone, George Whitty, keyboards, Will Lee, bass and Oli Rockberger, vocals & keyboards.  The Blue Note.    (212) 475-8592.

Miguel Zenon

- Sept. 15 – 18. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Miguel Zenon Quartet. Alto saxophonist Zenon has deservedly won prestigious awards from the Guggenheim and MacArthur foundations for the compelling originality of his musical vision.   Jazz Standard.    (212) 576-2232.

London

- Sept. 15 – 17. (Thurs. – Sat.) Pee Wee Ellis.  From Jazz to Funk and Back. It’s the perfect title for an evening of irresistibly rhythmic stylings from the saxophonist who earned his early credentials backing James Brown. Ronnie Scott’s.    020 7439 0747.

Tokyo

- Sept. 14 – 17. (Wed. – Sat.) Dave Koz and Peabo Bryson.  Two of the best established icons of smooth jazz take their instrumental prowess and soaring vocals to the Far East.   Blue Note Tokyo.


Picks of the Week: Aug. 23 – 28

August 23, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Aug. 23. (Tues.)  Clay JenkinsGood Signs  CD concert.  Trumpeter Jenkins celebrates the September release of his new CD with the stellar band on the album — guitarist Larry Koonse, bassist Tom Warrington and drummer Joe LaBarbera Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Aug. 24. (Wed.)  Alan Ferber Quartet. Versatile trombonist Ferber moves easily across numerous jazz styles, always with imaginative creativity.  Here he makes one of his rare Southland appearances, working with bassist Pat Senatore, pianist Josh Nelson, and his brother, Mark FerberVibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

Omara Portuondo

- Aug. 24. (Wed.)  Arturo Sandoval, Natalie Cole, the Buena Vista Social Club with Omara Portuondo and Ninety Miles, featuring Stefon Harris, David Sanchez and Christian Scott.  The Bowl sizzles with a far-ranging evening of Latin jazz in a wide array of manifestations and styles.  Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000

- Aug. 25. (Thurs.) Theo Saunders Quartet with Dave Binney.  Pianist Saunders, a probing musical artist on his own, gets together with alto saxophonist Binney, whose career has been filled with adventurous musical explorations.   Charlie O’s. (818) 994-3058.

- Aug. 25. (Thurs.)  Mr. Vallenato.  The Skirball’s free Sunset  Concerts for 2011 close with a performance by Jorge Villarreal. a Mexican-American accordion virtuoso whose emotional romps through cumbia and vallenato music have prompted some reviewers to compare the excitement of his playing to that of the legendary Jimi Hendrix.  The Skirball Cultural Center.   Free.  Doors open at 7 p.m. for an 8 p.m. performance.  (310) 440-4500.

- Aug. 25. (Thurs.)  Ken Peplowski.  Clarinetist Peplowski has been doing an effective job of keeping the jazz clarinet alive (along with his equally impressive tenor saxophone work.  He’s backed by pianist Mike Wofford, bassist Chuck Berghofer and drummer Paul Kreibich LAX Jazz Club Crowne Plaza Hotel.    (310) 642-7500.

Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr.

- Aug. 25 – 27. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr.  Married for more than forty years, McCoo and Davis continue to celebrate the entertaining music of the group that brought them together, the Fifth Dimension.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Aug. 26 & 27. (Fri. & Sat.) John Williams, Maestro of the Movies.  With one of the most impressive catalog of film scores in his resume, Williams fully deserves the “Maestro” title.  He conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a collection of his memorable music.  In an added highlight, James Taylor will be guest narrator.  Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

- Aug. 27. (Sat.)  Brian Wilson.  One of the rock music figures who truly warrant the label “legendary” makes a rare concert appearance.  Wilson – whose awards reach from Kennedy Center honors to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – will offer selections from many of his greatest Beach Boys hits.  Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.    (562) 916-8501.

San Francisco

Oliver Lake

- Aug. 25. (Thurs.)  Oliver Lake Organ Quartet.  Alto saxophonist Lake, a true Renaissance man, is also a poet, painter and performance artist.  For this appearance, he’ll focus on expanding the arena of the jazz organ quartet with organist Jared Gold, trumpeter Freddie Hendrix and drummer Chris Beck. Yoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.

Chicago

- Aug. 25 – 31. (Thurs. – Wed.)  Ira Sullivan and Friends. Eighty year old multi-instrumentalist Sullivan has always been one of jazz’s most impressive, but also elusive performers, sticking close to the Chicago area.  Here he is again in his home territory, displaying his remarkable skills as a trumpeter, saxophonist, flutist and composer.   Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

New York

- Aug. 23 – 27. (Tues. – Sat.)  Richie Beirach Quintet. Veteran pianist Beirach burst onto the jazz scene in the early ‘70s with Stan Getz.  And his multi-layered style is still a marvel of improvisational imagination.  He performs with the cutting edge ensemble of Randy Brecker, trumpet, Gregor Huebner, violin, George Mraz, bass and Billy Hart, drums.  Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.

Jon Faddis

- Aug. 23 – 28. (Tues. – Sun.)  Jon Faddis Quartet with special guests Sean Jones and Terell Stafford.  Trumpeter Faddis, a protégée of Dizzy Gillespie, does his own mentoring in the company of young trumpeters Jones and Stafford.  The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

London

- Aug. 23. (Tues.)  Buddy Greco and Lezlie Anders.  Veteran pianist/singer Greco, who turned 85 earlier this month, is still adeptly offering the blend of bop-tinged piano and soaring vocals that have characterized his music since he left the Benny Goodman band in the late ‘40s for a solo career.  He’ll perform with his wife, singer Lezlie Anders.  Ronnie Scott’s.   020 7439 0747.

Tokyo

- Aug. 23 – 25. (Tues. – Thurs.)  Ramsey Lewis Electric Band.  Pianist/keyboardist Lewis continues to tour with his five piece electric band, mixing standards and new works with material from his 1974 gold album, Sun Goddes.   The Blue Note Tokyo.   03-5485-0088.


Picks of the Week: June 6 – 12

June 5, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- June 6. (Mon.)  Candi Sosa: Bolero Meets Jazz.  Cuban born singer Sosa finds surprisingly compatible musical linkages between jazz and the lyrical Latin ballad style. Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- June 7. (Tues.)  Jennifer Leitham Trio.  Bassist/singer Leitham celebrates the release of her DVD, The Real Me Live!, the chronicle of an extraordinary talent and an amazing life.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

Sally Kellerman

- June 8. (Wed.) Sally UnpluggedSally Kellerman.  Hot Lips returns with a bundle of songs reaching from jazz and blues to country and pop.  And she does them all with utter authenticity, finding the heart of the story in everything she sings. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- June 9 – 11. (Thurs. – Sat.)  “Rhapsody in Blue.”  The Pacific Symphony conducted by James Gaffigan, performs a program of Gershwin (the Rhapsody in Blue and Variations on I Got Rhythm) and Rachmaninoff (Symphony No. 2).  Orion Weiss is the piano soloist for the Rhapsody.  Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.   (714) 556-2787.

- June 9 – 11. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Diane Schuur.  Deedles, as she is known to friends and fans alike, makes a few of her too-rare appearances in the Southland, celebrating the release of The Gathring, her debut album on Vanguard.  On Thurs. she’ll be at the Grammy Museum.    And on Fri. and Sat. at Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- June 10. (Fri.)  Julie Kelly.  Versatile in everything from atmospheric Brazilian music to jazz balladry and lively scatting, Kelly’s singing is always a pleasure to hear.  She’s backed by the John Heard Trio.   Charlie O’s.   (818) 994-3058.

- June 11. (Sat.)  Jethro Tull.  More than four decades since Ian Anderson first demonstrated the potential for the flute as the lead instrument in a rock group, he’s still romping with Jethro Tull.  The band will perform their Aqualung album in its entirety, with a sampling of other hits, as well. The Greek Theatre.  (323) 554-5857.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK

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- June 11 & 12. (Sat. & Sun.)  The Playboy Jazz Festival.  The Hollywood Bowl.  It’s that time again.  The weekend that jazz fans anticipate with pleasure.  A two day jazz party in the sun, filling every nook and cranny of the Hollywood Bowl with all the amazing sounds grouped under the broad colorful umbrella of contemporary jazz.  This year’s program includes:

Saturday

Dianne Reeves

Dianne Reeves, The Roots with Terence Blanchard, Fourplay, Eddie Palmieri’s Salsa Orchestra, the SFJAZZ Collective, A Night in Treme with the Rebirth Brass Band (and guest artists Donald Harrison, Jr., Kermit Ruffins, Dr. Michael White and Big Sam Williams), Bill Cosby’s Cos of Good Music (featuring Geri Allen, George Bohanon, Dwayne Burno, Ndugu Chancler, Anat Cohen and Babatunde Lea), The Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet and the LASUD All City HS Big Band (directed by Tony White and J.B. Dyas).

Sunday

Buddy Guy

Buddy Guy, the Lee Konitz New Quartet, John Scofield and Robben Ford, Naturally 7, Harmony 3 with Ronnie Laws, Walter Beasley and Stanley Jordan, Geri Allen’s Timeline Band, Still Black, Still Proud: An African Tribute to James Brown (featuring Pee Wee Ellis, Fred Wesley and Vusi Mahlasela), Bill Cunliffe with the Resonance Big Band in a Tribute to Oscar Peterson, featuring Marian Petrescu, Carlos Varela and the Pullum HS Jazz Big Band (directed by Fernando Pullum).  The Playboy Jazz Festival.     (310) 450-1173.

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- June 12. (Sunday)  Gerald Wilson Orchestra.  One of the great masters of large ensemble jazz composition and orchestration, ninety-two year old Wilson still knows how to lead a band with enviable dynamic energy.  Don’t miss him in action.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

San Francisco

- June 10 & 11. (Fri. & Sat.)  The Yellowjackets with special guest Robben Ford.  Fusion, funk, groove masters the Yellowjackets team up with the equally blues-driven guitarist Ford.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

Karrin Allyson

- June 11 & 12. (Sat. & Sun.)  Karrin Allyson Quartet.  A singer who brings musicality, believability and a gorgeous vocal instrument to all her songs, Allyson appears on the crest of her new album, ‘Round Midnight.  Pianist Bruce Barth is featured in her fine back-up group. Yoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.

Healdsburg

Denny Zeitlin

- June 6 – 12. (Mon. – Sun.))  The Healdsburg Jazz Festival continues with its presentation of world class jazz in delightful settings.  Among the highlights: Mon: John Stowell Guitar Trio; Tues.: SF Jazz High School All-Stars; Wed.: Sandy and Natalie Cressman.  Thurs: Geri Allen, solo piano; the Babatunde Lea Quintet in a tribute to Leon Thomas.  Friday: Sangam with Charles Lloyd, Zakir Hussain and Eric Harland.  Saturday: Denny Zeitlin, solo piano; the John Heard Trio; George Cables All Stars.  Sunday: Charlie Haden and Allen Broadbent.  At the Raven Theatre and other locations in Healdsburg, CA.  The Healdsburg Jazz Festival.  (707) 433-4633.

Seattle

- June 9 – 12 (Thurs. – Sun.)  Earl Klugh.   One of Detroit’s finest products, guitarist Klugh’s articulate style brings life and substance to the smooth jazz/fusion genre.  Jazz Alley.    (206)441-9729

New York

Ron Carter

- June 6. (Mon.)  Jim Hall and Ron Carter Duo“Alone Together, Again.”  A pair of the great jazz masters in action.  One only hopes that they continue to do these “Alone Together” gigs – again and again.  The Blue Note.    (212) 475-8592.

- June 7 – 12. (Tues. – Sun.) The Joe Lovano Nonet.  Saxophonist Lovano’s Grammy winning Nonet admirably carries the torch lit by the Miles Davis’ Birth of the Cool band.  Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.    (212) 258-9800.

- June 9 & 10. (Thurs. & Fri.)  The Steve Cropper Band.  Guitarist, songwriter and producer Cropper has backed the likes of Booker T., Sam & Dave, Otis Redding and many others, while writing tunes good enough to trigger his induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.  Iridium.    (212) 582-2121.

Washington D.C.

- June 12. (Sun.)  Jazz on the National MallClaudia Acuna Quartet, Roy Hargrove’s RH Factor, Eddie Palmieri All-Star Orchestra, Frederic Yonnet, Toby Foyeh and Orchestra Africa.  A free, live performance of world class jazz, presented by the D.C. Jazz Festival.  Jazz on the Natonal Mall.    The National Mall, Washington, D.C.  (202) 457-7628.

Jerusalem

Noa

- June 9 & 11. (Thurs. & Sat.) Noa.  Israeli/American singer Noa (her full name is Achinoam Nini) is as comfortable and effective with a symphony orchestra as she is with the guitar of her frequent musical companion, Gil Dor.  But no matter what she’s singing, whether it be rock, blues, Yemenite or folk, in Italian, French, Hebrew or Arabic, she’s one of the world’s great vocal artists.  Here, she performs with Dor, as well as the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, celebrating the release of her new album, The Israeli Songbook.  The Henry Crown Hall, Jerusalem.    1-700-70-4000.

London

- Jan 7 – 9. (Tues. – Thurs.)  Michel Legrand.  The French pianist/composer combines an appealing jazz performance style with a catalog of superb, memorable songs.  He’ll be backed in this relatively rare night club performance by Ronnie Scott’s All-Stars.   Ronnie Scott’s.   020 7439 0747 4000.

Istanbul

Dervish Aziz

- June 9. (Thurs.)  Yuval Ron Ensemble.  Oud master Yuval Ron has assembled a remarkable array of musicians for  “A Concert For Peace in the Middle East.”  The participants include whirling Dervish Aziz, qawwali master Sukhawat Ali Khan, Armenian woodwind master Norik Manoukian, Israeli-Yemenite singer Maya Haddi, and Virgine Alimian, playing kanoun, Jamie Papish and David Martinelli on percussion.  FREE but reservations for the free tickets are required. Please email for the free tickets to: sevdearpaci@gmail.com. “A Concert For Peace in the Middle East.”   Sultanahmet Square AmpheTheatre. Istanbul.

Tokyo

- June 8 – 11. (Wed. – Sat.)  The Mike Stern Band featuring Randy Brecker.  Guitarist Stern, a six-time Grammy nominee, leads the solid ensemble of bassist Tom Kennedy and drummer Dennis Chambers in a multi-layered set of sounds reaching across the spectrum from groove blues to straight ahead jazz.  The Blue Note Tokyo.

Sally Kellerman, Dianne Reeves, Buddy Guy and Ron Carter photos by Tony Gieske.


Picks of the Week: Mar. 14 – 20

March 14, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Mar. 15. (Tues.)  Misha Piatigorsky Trio and String Quartet.  Russian pianist/composer Piatigorsky, the winner of the 2004 Thelonious Monk Composers Competition, showcases his far-reaching compositions in a blend of his jazz trio with the classical sound of a string quartet.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- Mar. 15. (Tues.)  Luther Hughes “Cannonball Coltrane Project.” The recorded encounter between Cannonball Adderley and John Coltrane was a rare and memorable musical blend.  Hughes’ group digs into some of the classic selections from that recording.  Charlie O’s. (818) 994-3058.

Kevin Mahogany

- Mar. 16. (Wed.)  Kevin Mahogany.  “A Night of Romance” Celebrating the Life and Music of Johnny Hartman.  The rich, dark timbre and smooth phrasing of Mahogany’s style makes him one of the few singers who can capture the Johnny Hartman magic. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- Mar. 16. (Wed.)  Maya Angelou.  Her elegant, articulate writing beautifully blurs the line between poetry and prose.  Angelou’s presence has enlivened American culture for decades.  UCLA Live.  Royce Hall.  (310) 825-2101.

- Mar. 17 – 20. (Thurs. – Sun.) Pharoah Sanders Quartet.  Tenor saxophonist Sanders is often identified as a disciple of the John Coltrane style of the ‘60s.  But he’s much more than that, an important and imaginative voice in contemporary jazz.  Catalina Bar & Grill.     (323) 466-2210.

- Mar. 17 – 20. (Thurs. – Sun.) Dudamel Conducts Mozart and Beethoven.  The dynamic conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic gets down to basics with Mozart’s Symphony No. 35 (“Haffner”) and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1. (with pianist Jeremy Denk).  Disney Hall.  (323) 850-2000.

Janis Mann

- Mar. 18. (Fri.) Janis Mann.  Vocalist Mann has the voice, the imagination and the creativity to sing jazz in the most emotionally and musically engaging fashion.  She’ll perform with the solid support of the John Heard Trio.  Charlie O’s. (818) 994-3058.

Mar. 19. (Sat.)  Jim Snidero.  Alto saxophonist Snidero is an A-list New York player who doesn’t make a lot of appearances in L.A.  Too bad, because he’s a player with something to say musically, beyond his admirable skills as a teacher and dependable sideman.   Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- Mar. 19. (Sat.)  Rosanne Cash. Singer/songwriter Cash has moved well beyond her roots (as the daughter of Johnny Cash) to fashion an intriguing musical identity of her own, reaching across country, roots music, rock and pop.  Valley Performing Arts Center.    (818) 677-8800.

- Mar. 19. (Sat.)  Ticket To Ride MusicalA Fusion of Theatre and Beatles Music.  The award-winning show is a delightful musical biography of the Beatles, as seen through the eyes of their long time manager, Brian Epstein.  Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.   (562) 916- 8501.

Wu Man

- Mar. 20. (Sun.)  Wu Man. One of the world’s leading masters of the lute-like pipa, Wu Man has designed a stylistically transcendent show supporting the current Getty exhibition, Brush and Shutter: Early Photography in China. The Getty Center.  (310) 440-7300.

New York

- Mar. 15 – 20. (Tues. – Sun.)  Kenny Werner Quintet.  With special guests Randy Brecker and David Sanchez. Pianist, composer and bandleader Werner has also written an imporant inner guide to the practice of music – Effortless Mastery:Liberating the Inner Musician Within. The Blue Note.  (212) 475-8592.

- Mar. 15 – 20. (Tues. – Sun.)  The Heath Brothers.  Drummer Albert “Tootie” Heath and saxophonist Jimmy Heath get together to recall and celebrate the admirable legacy of the Heath family and the memory of brother Percy Heath.   Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.  (212) 258-9800.

San Francisco

- Mar. 17. (Thurs.) Steve Coleman and the Five Elements.  Alto saxophonist Coleman’s probing musical imagination has been impacting progressive jazz thinking for several decades via his work for the M-Base ensemble as well as his own, always compelling groups.  Yoshi’s Oakland. (510) 238-9200.


Picks of the Week: Dec. 7 – 12

December 7, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Neil Sedaka

- Dec. 8. (Tues.)  Neil Sedaka.  Hitmaker Sedaka showcases his memorable catalog of songs in a performance replacing a date cancelled in late October. Disney Hall.   (323) 850-2000.

- Dec. 8. (Wed.)  Carol Welsman Canadian-born Welsman has the rare ability to surround the supple timbres of her voice with an intimate piano style.  Her versatility reaches from American standards to songs in French, Italian and Portuguese.  With any luck, she’ll offer her intimate version of the lovely Italian song, “Estate.”  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- Dec. 8. (Wed.)  Emil Richards/Joe Porcaro Quartet.  Featuring Abraham Laboriel, bass and Mike Lang, piano. A quartet of veteran players reveal the broad, generational reach of masterful jazz.  Charlie O’s. (818) 994-3058.

- Dec. 8. (Wed.)  The Celtic Tenors Holiday Show. An evening of musical holiday cheer from the soaring voices of the Celtic tenors, embracing classical, Celtic, Americana and pop music.  Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.  (562) 916-8501.

Natalie Cole

- Dec. 9. (Thurs.)  Natalie Cole.  The eclectic Cole, who – like her Dad – reaches convincingly across genres from jazz to blues and pop, makes her Disney Hall debut.  Disney Hall.   (323) 850-2000.

- Dec. 9. (Thurs.)  Adam Schroeder.  Rising star jazz saxophonist Schroeder hosts a pair of release parties for his new CD, A Handful of Stars.  W. Graham Dechter, guitar, John Clayton, bass, Jeff Hamilton, drums.  Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.   Also Dec. 10 (Fri.) at the The Culver Club for Jazz at the Radisson L.A. West Side Hotel.   (310) 649-1776 Ext. 4137.

- Dec. 9. (Thurs.)  Eric Reed Trio.  Once a teen-age pianistic jazz prodigy, Reed is now firmly established as mature jazz star.  He performs with Hamilton Price, bass, Kevin Yokota, drums.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Dec. 9. (Thurs.)  Denise Donatelli. The Southland is blessed with an impressive array of gifted jazz vocalists.  Donatelli’s one of the best – here and elsewhere.  To read a recent iRoM performance review click HERE. Charlie O’s. (818) 994-3058.

- Dec. 9 – 11. (Thurs. – Sat.)  The Pacific Symphony with pianist Kirill Gerstein in an evening of memorable classics.  On the program: the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto #2 and Dvorak Symphony #9 (from the New World).  Segerstrom Concert Hall, Orange County Performing Arts Center.   (714) 556-2787.

- Dec. 9 – 12. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Mike Stern Quartet.  Guitarist Stern leads an ensemble of guys, all of whom, fly freely across a colorful array of jazz genres.  With Randy Brecker, trumpet, Dennis Chambers, drums and Anthony Jackson, bass.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Dec. 10 – 12. (Fri. – Sun.)  Hilary Hahn and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  Hahn applies her rich, interprettive style to the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, and Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos conducts the LA Phil in Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique Disney Hall. (323) 850-2000.

James Ingram

- Dec. 11 & 12. (Sat. & Sun.)  The Colors of Christmas.  It’s been one of the annual pleasures of Christmas for nearly two decades, with Peabo Bryson, James Ingram, Oleta Adams and Stephanie Mills bringing holiday musical joy to the season.  Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.  (562) 916-8501.

- Dec. 12. (Sun.)  Red Holloway and Plas Johnson.  Two of the most inimitable jazz tenor saxophonists in the business team up for a holiday jazz celebration.  The irrepressible Bubba Jackson hosts.   KJAZZ Sunday Champagne Brunch.   (323) 491-1000.

- Dec. 12. (Sun.)  Kate McGarry and Keith Ganz.  Grammy-nominated McGarry performs selections from her album, Less Is More, Nothing is Everything, with her husband, guitarist Keith Ganz.  The Royal T. (310) 559-6000.

San Francisco

Charlie Hunter

- Dec. 9 – 12. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Charlie Hunter.  Guitarist Hunter, who sometimes manages to make his diverse guitar playing sound like a one man band, arrives for his eleventh annual December appearance at Yoshi’s Oakland. (510) 238-9200.

- Dec. 9 – 12. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Los Van Van.  The great Cuban band, crossing genres in every stylistic direction, and doing it with vitality and substance, makes a rare San Francisco appearance.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

New York

- Dec. 7. (Tues.)  Theo Bleckmann & Ben Monder Duo.  The unique duo of Bleckmann and Monder trigger musical magic via the blending of voice, live electronics and guitar.  The Cornelia St. Café. (212) 989-9319

- Dec. 7 – 11. (Tues. – Sat.)  The Roy Haynes Quartet.  Ageless, 85 year old drummer Haynes, continues to give seminars in the art of swinging, backed by his Fountain of Youth Quartet.  Birdland.   (212) 581-3080.

- Dec. 7 – 12. (Tues. – Sun.)  Robert Glasper Trio.  Pianist Glasper is one of the rare young jazz artists who can bring authenticity to the combination of jazz, rock, hip hop and more.   Village Vanguard.   (212) 929-4589.

Manhattan Transfer

- Dec. 7 – 12. (Tues. – Sun.)  The Manhattan Transfer. Vocal music – jazz, pop, blues and beyond – doesn’t get any better than the Transfer. Forty years together and their performances are still utterly mesmerizing.  The Blue Note. (212) 475-8592.

- Dec. 9 – 12. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Patricia Barber. Pianist/singer Barber is one of a kind, opening new vistas in every song she sings.  Hopefully she’ll play an advance tune or two from her upcoming album, The Storyteller, due out in 2011.   Jazz Standard (212) 576-2232.


Picks of the Week: Nov. 30 – Dec. 5

November 30, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Dec. 1. (Wed.) A Celtic Christmas.  Irish Storyteller Tomaseen Foley creates a traditional night before Christmas, filled with dancing, music-making and holiday joy.  Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts. (562) 916-8501.

John McLaughlin

- Dec. 1. (Wed.)  John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension. The ever-exploratory guitarist performs with a group reaching across genres, styles and generations: multi-instrumentalist Gary Husband on percussion and keyboards, Mark Mondesir on drums and Etienne Mbappe, a young Cameroonian, on bass.  A UCLA Live concert at Royce Hall.   (310) 825-2101.

- Dec. 1 & 2. (Wed. & Thurs.)  Raga Bop Trio.  With Steve Smith, drums, George Brooks, saxophone and Prasanna, guitar and vocals.  The name says it all for this high octane trio that cruises convincingly in the territory between Indian ragas and bebop.  Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

Jackie Ryan

- Dec. 3. (Fri.) Jackie Ryan.  She’s one of a kind, a vocal artist who’s traveled her own musical path, escorting her many fans through one unique musical adventure after another.  Making one of her too-rare performances in the Southland, she sings with pianist Jon Mayer, bassist Carlito Del Puerto and drummer Dean KobaThe Culver Club for Jazz at the Radisson L.A. West Side Hotel.   (310) 649-1776 Ext. 4137.

- Dec. 3 & 4. (Fri. & Sat.)  6th Annnual Filipino-American Jazzfest. The list of impressive jazz artists with Filipino roots grows longer every year.  Highlight of this year’s Jazzfest is a CD release celebration on Saturday for jazz singer Charmaine Clamor’s stellar new CD, Something Good. Also on the schedule, Abe Lagrimas, Annie Brazil, Johnny Alegre, JP Maramba, Bo Razon and introducing Carlo David Catalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210.

- Dec. 4. (Sat.)  “Holiday on Broadway” Raymond Saar, Diane Ketchie, Valerie Perri and Scott Harlan celebrate the holidays with a program of festive music from Broadway, film and television, with a few whimsical twists and seasonal classica.  CSUN Valley Performing Arts Center.  Plaza del Sol Performance Hall.  (818) 677-3000.

- Dec. 4 (Sat.)  “Music and Conversations” A convivial interface between classical music, jazz and interesting people.  Featuring Susan Greenberg, flute, Alyssa Park, violin, Timothy Loo, cello, Delores Stevens and Alan Broadbent, piano, Putter Smith, bass.  Performing the music of Ravel, Brahms and Jane Brockman, with jazz improvisations by Broadbent and Smith.  Music and Conversations.  High Profile Productions, Culver City.  (310) 876-1188.

Bill Cunliffe

- Dec. 4. (Sat.)  Bill Cunliffe.  At 8 p.m.: “A Jazz Compass Christmas” featuring Cunliffe’s piano with drummer Joe LaBarbera, guitarist Larry Koonse and bassist Tom Warrington playing selections from their Jazz Compass CD Snowfall.  At 9 p.m.  The Bill Cunliffe Big Band, playing holiday and jazz selections, including the Grammy-winning West Side Story. With special guest vocalist, Daniela SpagnoloVitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Dec. 4 (Sat.)  Tapestry.  The elegant sound of the four voices of Tapestry soars through a collection of music illuminating the common ground between Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Tibetan cultures.  Presented in the atmospheric setting of the St. Basil Catholic Church. Chamber Music in Historic Sites.   (213) 477-2929.

- Dec. 4 & 5. (Sat. & Sun.) Symphonic Mariachi ChristmasJose Hernandez and Latin Grammy nominated Mariachi del Sol join with Sinfonia Mexicana in an evening of grand arrangements of Mexico’s holiday classics.  Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.  (562) 916-8501.

Alice Coltrane

- Dec. 5. (Sunday) Alice Coltrane Tribute.  The life, music and philosophy of the late pianist and musical and spiritual explorer is celebrated by a diverse line up of musical artists: McCoy Tyner, Kyp Malone, Nels Cline, Han Bennink, Daniel Carter, Michael White & Leisei Chen, Radha Botofasina, Flying Lotus and special guests.   A UCLA Live concert at Royce Hall.   (310) 825-2101.

- Dec. 5 & 12. (Sundays) Los Angeles Childrens’ Chorus.  The 25th Annual Winter Concert by an enthusiastic collection of children, aged 6 to 18, singing the music of 20 composers from 10 nations.  Pasadena Presbyterian Church.  http;//http://www.lachildrenschorus.org.  (626) 793-4231.

San Francisco

- Dec. 3 – 5. (Fri. – Sun.)  Ravi Coltrane Quartet.  Saxophonist Coltrane has moved far beyond the shadow of his iconic father, into an expressive and adventurous musical world of his own making.Yoshi’s Oakland.  (510) 238-9200.

- Dec. 3 – 5. (Fri. – Sun.)  Mike Stern Band. Guitarist Stern, one of his instrument’s most eclectic stylists, performs with a group of equally enterprising players: trumpeter Randy Brecker, drummer Dennis Chambers and bassist Anthony JacksonYoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655-5600.

New York

- Nov. 30 – Dec. 4. (Tues. – Sat.)  Frank Wess Quintet.  Approaching his 88th birthday, Wess is still one of the flute’s most masterful practitioners, as well as a tenor saxophonist who keeps the spirit of early bebop alive.  He performs with special guest Kenny Barron and Roni Ben Hur, guitar, Victor Lewis, drums, Santi Debriano, bass.  Birdland.   (212) 581-3080.

Fred Hersch

- Nov. 30 – Dec. 5 (Tues. – Sun.)  Fred Hersch, solo piano. After enduring a life threatening two months in a coma in 2008, Hersch literally had to work his way back to playing the piano again.  And he did so magnificently, as his listeners will realize in these evenings of challenging, but expressive, solo performances.  Village Vanguard.  (212) 255-4037.

Dec. 2 – 5 (Thurs. – Sun.)  Tango Meets Jazz Festival. The tenth annual celebration of the linkages between American jazz and the music often called Argentina’s blues.  Featuring Latin Grammy winning Pablo Ziegler with his Quartet.  With guest stars tenor saxophonist Prometheus Jenkins (you’ll immediately know who it is when you see him) and violinist Regina Carter. Jazz Standard. (212) 576-2232.


Picks of the Week: Nov. 1 – 7

November 1, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Nov. 2. (Tues.)  John Pisano’s Guitar NightBrasil Night.  Pisano expands his usual two-guitar format into an evening simmering with the irresistible rhythms of Brazil. With Federico Ramos, guitar, Jose Marino, bass, Enzo Todesco, drums.  Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

Ornette Coleman

- Nov. 3. (Wed.) Ornette Coleman.  Jazz in the post-bebop era wouldn’t have been what it was without the arrival of alto saxophonist and creative revolutionary Coleman on the scene.  More than fifty years after  he startled the New York City jazz crowd — musicians and fans — with his improvisationally free-flying ensemble, he’s still insists upon stretching the envelope of what jazz can’t and can do.  As one of the important iconic figures in jazz history, he should be heard at every opportunity.  A UCLA Live concert at Royce Hall.  (310) 825-2101l.

- Nov. 4. (Thurs.)  Sally Kellerman. Hot Lips is back.  With hot jazz, cool jazz, a seasoning of country and a lot of stops in between.   Vitello’s (818) 769-0905.

- Nov. 4. (Thurs.)  Scott Whitfield Quartet.  Trombonist Whitfield takes time off from his busy arranging, conducting and producing chores to lead a stellar L.A. ensemble featuring Roger Neumann, reeds, Corey Allen, piano, Adam Cohen, bass and Roy McCurdy, drums. And with luck, maybe Ginger Berglund will sit in for a number or two.  Charlie O’s. (818) 994-3058.

- Nov. 4. (Thurs.) The Spanish Harlem Orchestra. Celebrating their 10th anniversary, the Grammy Award-winning Orchestra, led by keyboardist/arranger Oscar Hernandez revives and re-interprets the sounds and the rhythms of New York City’s salsa duraThe Conga Room.  (213) 745-0162.  (Also at Yoshi’s Oakland on Tues. & Wed.)

- Nov. 4. (Thurs.)  Betty Bryant. She’s celebrating her 81st birthday, but Bryant’s ability to combine her smoky voice with her lush and rhythmic piano is as appealing as every.  She’ll be aided by the engaging vocals of her special guest, singer Mark MillerJazz at the Crowne Plaza.  (310) 642-7500.

- Nov. 4 – 7. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Steve Tyrell.  Multi music hyphenate Tyrell has moved from the business side to a performance persona aimed at keeping the American songbook alive via recordings and performances dedicated to the great standards.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

Djavan

- Nov. 5. (Fri.) Djavan.  Brazilian superstar Djavan has successfully blended Brazilian rhythms with pop, jazz, funk and beyond.  Magnetic as a performer, he also has written memorable songs covered by the likes of Carmen McRae, Al Jarreau, the Manhattan Transfer and others. Club Nokia.   (213) 765-7000.

- Nov. 5. (Fri.)  Denise Donatelli.  Performing in support of her new album, When Lights Are Low, Donatelli performs in the warm and friendly atmosphere of Charlie O’s laid-back jazz bar.   To read a recent iRoM review of Donatelli click HERE. Charlie O’s.   (818) 994-3058.

- Nov. 5. (Fri.)  Cheryl Wheeler. Folk singer/songwriter Wheeler’s songs recall a folk era when ideas and points of view were essential elements in a songwriter’s bag of musical tools.  McCabes. (310) 828-4497.

- Nov. 5. (Fri.)  Ryuchi Sakamoto.  El Rey.  Pianist, composer, environmental activist Sakamoto performs pieces that reach from his catalog of film music to his fascination with the link between ambient sound and composed textures.  The El Rey.   (323) 936-4790.

- Nov. 5. (Fri.)  Dontae Winslow Quartet.  Trumpeter, composer and all around musical renaissance man Winslow’s resume reaches from USC’s Monk Institute of Jazz to gigs with Queen Latifah, Snoop Dog, Christina Aguilera and more.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Nov. 6. (Sat.)  Ron Jones Jazz Influence Orchestra.  It’s big band Saturday night, with the added pleasures of vocalists Calabria Foti and Seth MacFarlane.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.  To read a recent iRoM review of the Jazz Influence Orchestra click HERE.

Pablo Heras-Casado

- Nov. 6 & 7. (Sat. & Sun.)  The Los Angeles PhilharmonicPablo Heras-Casado conducts Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, Debussy’s Jeux, Takemitsu’s riverrun and Stravinsky’s Concerto For Piano and Winds with pianist Peter Serkin Disney Hall. (323) 850-2000.

- Nov. 7. (Sun.)  Bobby Vinton.  It’s hard to believe, but true, that singer Vinton – now 75 – had more Billboard #1 hits between 1962 and 1972 than any other male artist.  His soaring voice, at its best in songs such as “Roses Are Red” and “Blue Velvet” are among the most memorable items from the soundtrack of the ‘60s.  Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts. (562) 916-8500.

San Francisco

- Nov. 2 & 3. (Tues. & Wed.)  The Spanish Harlem Orchestra. Celebrating their 10th anniversary, the Grammy Award-winning Orchestra, led by keyboardist/arranger Oscar Hernandez revives and re-interprets the sounds and the rhythms of New York City’s salsa duraYoshi’s Oakland.  (510) 238-9200.  (Also at the Conga Room in Los Angeles on Thurs.)

- Nov. 5. (Fri.)  Ray Manzarek and Roy Rogers.  Keyboardist and co-founder of The Doors Manzarek gets together with premier slide guitarist Rogers in search of some new takes on classic Doors songs.  Yoshi’s San Francisco. (415) 655-5600.

Gil Scott-Heron

- Nov. 5 & 6. (Fri. & Sat.)  Gil Scott-Heron.  Before there was rap and hip-hop there was the remarkable blend of politically charged poetry that made Scott-Heron one of the important voices of the ‘70s civil rights movement.  He’ll be performing selections from an upcoming album, his first since the early ‘90s.  Yoshi’s Oakland.  (510) 238-9200.

- Nov. 6. (Sat.)  Roy Haynes Fountain of Youth Band.  At 85, drummer Haynes – who’s worked with everyone from Charlie Parker to Pat Metheny – continues to lead and usually outshine groups of players two generations younger than he.   An SF Jazz Festival event at the Herbst Theatre.  (866) 920-5299.

- Nov. 7. (Sun.)  The Yellowjackets and the Jeff Lorber Fusion. A pair of bands who successfully prove that popularity doesn’t have to mean diminished musicality.  Lorber’s Fusion features the dynamic presence of trumpeter Randy Brecker and saxophonist Eric Marienthal.  But expect fireworks from both these fine ensembles. An SF Jazz Festival event at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre.   (866) 920-5299.

New York

- Nov. 2 – 7. (Tues. – Sun.)  Lou Donaldson Quartet.  Alto saxophonist Donaldson, at 84, continues to perform impressively with the ear-catching combination of bebop, the blues and soul that have characterized his playing since the ‘50s.  Village Vanguard. (212) 929-4589.

- Nov. 2 – 7. (Tues. – Sun.)  Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Stars.  Gillespie’s ability to surround himself with extraordinary young talent is on full display in this memorable celebration of his birthday. Featuring Wallace Roney, Jimmy Heath, Randy Brecker, Eric Alexander, Antonio Hart and Claudio Roditi.  (Check club for schedule.)  The Blue Note.  (212) 475-8592.

- Nov. 2 – 7. (Tues. – Sun.)  The 11th Annual Django Reinhardt N.Y. Festival.  “Schmitt Family Tributel” Night after night of gypsy jazz, featuring guitarists Dorado Schmitt and Samson Schmitt with special guests Anat Cohen, Miguel Zenon and others.  Birdland.   (212) 581-3080.

Eliane Elias

- Nov. 3 – 7. (Wed. – Sun.)  Eliane Elias Quartet. Sao Paulo-born Elias’ most recent albums Bossa Nova Stories and Eliane Elias Plays Live reveal how completely she has merged her remarkable jazz instrumental skills with the Brazilian heartbeat of her warmly intimate vocals.   She’s truly one of a kind.  Iridium.      (212) 582-2121.


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