Picks of the Week: Dec. 26 – 29

December 26, 2013

By Don Heckman

The week between Christmas and New Year’s is always light on performances. And this week is no exception. But numerous events, nonetheless, are well worthy of listeners’ attention. Here’s a selective group of some of the many highlights.

Los Angeles

Robert Davi

Robert Davi

- Dec. 26. (Thurs.) Robert Davi. Actor/singer Davi has thoroughly established himself as a Sinatra-inspired vocalist, when he isn’t building an impressive career as a film actor, as well. But he’s also a gifted singer who has created an engaging style of his own. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- Dec. 26. (Thurs.) Vocalist Peggie Perkins, a Los Angeles jazz favorite for decades, performs with the Llew Matthews Quartet, featuring tenor saxophonist Rickey Woodard, bassist John B Williams, guitarist Doug MacDonald and drummer Jimmy Ford. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905

- Dec. 27. (Fri.) The Midnight Jazz Band. A quartet of veteran jazz all-stars, Gary Foster, alto saxophone, Tom Ranier, piano, Chuck Berghofer, bass and Peter Erskine, drums have been among the Southland musical aristocracy for decades. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- Dec, 27 & 28. (Fri. & Sat. ) Broadway on Ice. An impressive holiday presentation, featuring a dynamic creative partnership between Olympic Gold Medalist skater Ekaterina Gordeeva and Broadway singing star Davis Gaines. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.  (562) 916-8510.

Jane Monheit

Jane Monheit

 – Dec. 27 – 31. (Fri. – Tues.) Jane Monheit. Celebrating the 10th anniversary of her recording career, Monheit has thoroughly established herself as a uniquely gifted jazz artist with deep roots in the Great American Songbook. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

 Washington, D.C.

- Dec. 27 – 31. (Fri. – Tues.) Monty Alexander. Jamaica’s Alexander, a prime jazz artist, enlivens much of his music with the appealing rhythms of the Caribbean. Blues Alley.  (202) 337-414.

New York City

Michael Feinstein

Michael Feinstein

- Dec. 26 – 28. (Thurs. – Sat.) Michael Feinstein. The master of the Great American songbook, singer/pianist Feinstein is also a superb entertainer, leading his audiences through the expressive intimacies of every song he offers. Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.

- Dec. 26 – 29. (Thurs. – Sun.) Carmen Lundy. Vocalist Lundy has a full range of creative skills, a rare example of a jazz singer who is also a gifted songwriter. Catch her in action. The Jazz Standard.  (212) 576-2232.


Chris Botti

- Dec. 26 – Jan. 5. (Thurs. – Sun.) Chris Botti. Trumpeter Botti, a stellar performer in his own right, leads an equally world class jazz ensemble in an extended holiday run. Expect to hear some extraordinary music. The Blue Note. (212) 475-8592.


- Dec. 26 – 31. Angels in Harlem Gospel Choir. The touring ensemble of the Harlem Gospel Choir, one of the world’s most prominent gospel groups, the Angels offer a special blend of high spirited gospel music at its finest. Blue Note Milano.  +39 02 6901 6888.





Dec. 28 – 31. (Sat. – Tues.) Hiromi Trio Project. The highly imaginative keyboardist returns to her home country in the company of bassist Anthony Jackson and drummer Simon Phillips. Blue Note Tokyo.  03 5485 0088.

Photo Review: Lyn Stanley at Vitello’s

December 9, 2013

Photos by Bob Barry and Faith Frenz

Studio City, CA. Singer Lyn Stanley’s first creative expression was ballroom dancing. And she did it so well that she won three events and two national titles in ballroom competitions in 2010. But her affection for, and expertise in dancing were always intimately connected to her equally passionate attraction to music in general and singing in particular.

As she began her singing career, strongly motivated by the music that had always been present in her family, Lyn was constantly drawn to the linkages between music and dance. And when she met the legendary jazz pianist and accompanist Paul Smith – whose credits reach from Ella Fitzgerald to Mel Torme — his guidance led her on the path to the creative vocal career she had been seeking. The release of her first album, Lost In Romance, announced the arrival of an intriguing new musical talent.

Lyn’s performance at Vitello’s last Friday was a stirring display of her fascination with song and dance. Further enhancing the evening, April Williams, Vitello’s musical manager, arranged for the installation of a wooden tile floor to encourage dancing, as Lyn featured many of the songs from her new album. All of which motivated us to present a photo review of this impressive new vocalist in action, backed by the stellar band of pianist Bill Cantos, bassist Kevin Axt, guitarist Grant Geissman, saxophonist Rickey Woodard, drummer Kendall Kay and music director Steve Rawlins.

* * * * * * * *

“Little Drummer Boy”

“I Just Want To Make Love To You”

“One For My Baby” with Bill Cantos and Kevin Axt

. “My Foolish Heart”

“What Am I Gonna Do With A Bad Boy Like You” with Kevin Axt

* * * * * * * *

First, third and fourth photos by Bob Barry.  Second and fifth photos by Faith Frenz.

Live Music: Lyn Stanley at Catalina Bar & Grill

August 28, 2013

By Don Heckman

Hollywood, CA.  A celebration of the release of a new CD is a fairly common event at music clubs around town. It is, after all, the chance to attract a presumably supportive roomful of fans and friends. Followed by the opportunity to have the new CD signed personally by the artist.

Singer Lyn Stanley’s appearance at Catalina Bar & Grill Tuesdy night was publicized as just such a CD release party for her new album, Lost in Romance.

As it turned out, it was all that and more.

The program, which was emceed by the inimitible wit and wisdom of KJAZ radio personality Bubba Jackson, actually consisted of three distinct segments.

The first belonged completely to Stanley and her musicians, as she offered a virtual banquet of songs from the new CD. As a former competitive ballroom dancer, her program reflected the dance aspects that continue to play a prominent role in her music career, as well. And it was no surprise that both the CD and her live performance began with the Irving Berlin song Change Partners” and wound up with Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen’s “The Last Dance.”

Lyn Stanley

Lyn Stanley

But that was just the beginning of a string of songs from the CD’s program of far-ranging selections from the Great American songbook. Among the numerous appealing album selections explored by Stanley were “Fever,” “The Nearness of You,” “That Old Black Magic,” “I Just Want To Make Love To You” and the whimsical “What Am I Gonna Do With A Bad Boy Like You,” all sung with the enthusiasm of a vocalist eager to establish her own musical identity.

She was backed by a stellar collection of players that included pianists Mike Lang, Tamir Hendelman and Llew Mathews, bassists Jim DeJulio and Dominic Genova, drummer Bernie Dressel. guitarist Grant Geissman, trombonist Bob McChesney and tenor saxophonist Rickey Woodard, conducted by the album’s producer Steve Rawlins.

That’s as prime a line-up of accompanying musicians as any singer could hope to have. And to Stanley’s credit, she made the most of their melodically supportive, rhythmically swinging back-up.

Maria Nikolishina and Nikolai Vononovich

Maria Nikolishina and Nikolai Vononovich

The program’s second segment further underscored her continuing involvement with ballroom dancing. At one side of the stage, a small area was set aside as a dance stage.

And, for several fascinating interactive songs, Stanley’s singing and her musicians’ playing provided the perfect accompaniment for dance numbers by the Russian duo of Latin dance world champions Maria Nikolishina and Nikolai Vononovich.

Both of the dancers were remarkably attractive, moving with the the grace of ballet artistry and the ease of superb athletes. Interacting with Stanley’s vocals, the combination recalled the inextricable and compelling linkages that have always existed between dance and music.

The final segment of the program was a tribute to the late pianist Paul Smith and his wife, singer and teacher Annette Warren Smith, both of whom were deeply supportive of Stanley’s nascent career as it began to blossom. Mixing a few of Stanley’s vocal versions of tunes favored by Smith with several instrumentals recalling Smith’s long history as a much favored, prominent Los Angeles pianist, the segment provided yet another overview of Stanley’s transformative vocal career.

Full disclosure: I wrote the liner notes for Lyn Stanley’s Lost In Romance before I heard heard her perform live. But her abilities were nonetheless fully apparent on the album – and completely confirmed by this memorable appearance at Catalina’s.

 * * * * * * * *

Photos by Faith Frenz.

Picks of the Week: August 26 – Sept. 1

August 26, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Lyn Stanley

Lyn Stanley

- Aug. 27. Tues.) Lyn StanleyLost in Romance.”  Jazz vocalist Lyn Stanley celebrates the release of her new album in the stellar company of Tamir Hendelman, Mike Lang, Llew Matthews, Dominic Genova, Jim DeJulio, Bernie Dresel, Rickey Woodard, Bob McChesney and Grant Geissman. Add to that an appearance by a pair of pro ballroom dancers, Latin world champions Maria Nikolishina and Nikolai Vononovich. And, topping the evening, a warm tribute to the late pianist Paul Smith, who was instrumental in the early development of Stanley’s career. Smith’s widow, Annette Warren Smith, a veteran film, radio and television singer, will also be in attendance. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Aug. 28. (Wed.) Denise Donatelli and Geoffrey Keezer. The musical partnership of jazz singer Donatelli and pianist/arranger Keezer has resulted in Grammy nominations and some extraordinary music. Here’s a chance to hear them in action, live. Vitello’s. . (818) 769-0905.

- Aug. 28. (Wed.) Wayne Shorter’s 80th Birthday Celebration.  The iconic saxophonist/composer’s 80th birthday provides the ideal motivation for a major musical highlight of the 2013 Summer Bowl schedule.  The stellar line up of performers includes Herbie Hancock, Geri Allen, Terri Lyne Carrington, Esperanza Spalding, Danilo Perez, John Patitucci, Brian Blade, the Imani Winds and the Joe Lovano/Dave Douglas Quintet The Hollywood Bowl.     (323) 850-2000.

- Aug. 29. (Thurs.) Tierney Sutton. “After Blue” One of the more intriguing performances of the week – the musically adventurous Sutton in a preview performance of her “Joni Mitchell Project.” Vitello’s. . (818) 769-0905.

Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr.

- Aug. 30 – Sept. 1. (Fri. – Sun.)  Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr.  The multiple, Grammy-winning duo from the Fifth Dimension showcase their warm and intimate vocalizing. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

Sept. 1. (Sun.) The Modernaires. A performance by the second generation of this great, veteran vocal ensemble features contemporary singers Julie Dickenson, Joe Croyle, Jim Stephens, Ginger Berglund, Scott Whitfield. Vitello’s. . (818) 769-0905.


- Aug. 29 – Sept. 1. (Thurs. – Sun.) Keiko Matsui. 25Th Anniversary Tour & Soul Quest CD release party. Originally known as a smooth jazz keyboardist, Matsui’s musical imagination has taken her in many new areas of expression. Jazz Alley. 441-9729.


Albert Lee

Albert Lee

- Aug. 28. (Wed.) Albert Lee. Finger-picking guitarist Lee has been widely influencing guitarists of all genres since the mid-’60s. Regatta Bar.  (617) 661-5000.

New York City

- Aug. 27 – 31. (Tues. – Sat.) Charlie Parker Birthday Celebration. A congregation of contemporary all -stars get together to celebrate Charlie “Bird” Parker‘s birthday on Aug. 29. The players include Vincent Herring, Tom Harrell, George Cables and Victor Lewis. Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.

- Aug. 29 – Sept. 1. (Thurs. – Sun.) The Mingus Big Band. The memory, the music and the very unique characteristics of the great bassist/composer Charles Mingus are kept alive and well in the work of the Mingus Big Band. The Jazz Standard.  (212) 576-2232.

- Aug. 30 (Fri.) Robert Davi Sings Sinatra. The Sinatra style, as well as the memorable melodies in the Great American Songbook, are all vividly alive in the rich baritone voice of Robert Davi. And here’s a chance to hear him in a free, outdoor concert. Also on the bill: comedian Mike Marino. Bring your own chairs and blankets. Click HERE to read a recent iRoM review of a Robert Davi performance in Los Angeles. The Harry Chapin Lakeside Theatre at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, New York.


- Aug. 26 &O 27. (Mon. & Tues.)  Ginger Baker’s Jazz Confusion. Drummer Baker, well-known for his work with Cream and Blind Faith, explores a wide territory of music with his African-oriented Jazz Confusion. Ronnie Scott’s+44 (0)20 7439 0747


- Aug. 27 – 31. (Tues. – Sat.) “Sommerwochenconzert.” Marilyn Mazurs Celestial Circle in action. In addition to Mazur’s superb drumming her current band includes John Taylor, piano, Josefien Cronholm, vocals, and Klaus Hovman. A-Trane.  030 / 313 25 50.


Sinne Eeg

Sinne Eeg

- Aug. 31 – Sat. 1. (Sat. & Sun.) Sinne Eeeg Quartet. Danish jazz vocalist Eeeg, highly regarded in Europe, has not yet received the recognition her talent deserves. Click HERE to read an iRoM review of a Sinne Eeeg performance in Los Angeles. Jazzhus Montmartre. +45 31 72 34 94.


(Aug. 27 – 31. (Tues. – Sat.) The Mike Stern Band, featuring Makoto Ozone, piano Dave Weckl, drums and Tom Kennedy, bass, move freely and imaginatively from funk and fusion to straight ahead jazz. .. Blue Note Tokyo.  +81 3-5485-0088.

Photo of Sinne Eeeg by Faith Frenz.

Picks of the Week: July 9 – 14

July 9, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Michael Tilson Thomas

Michael Tilson Thomas

- July 9. (Tues.)  Michael Tilson-Thomas conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the Mahler Symphony No. 2. “Resurrection.”  With soprano Kiera Duffy, mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and the Los Angeles Master Chorale.  The Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

- July 10. (Wed.)  Queen Latifa. Roy Ayers.  The 2013 jazz summer season at the Bowl opens with the soaring vocals of Queen Latifa and the irresistible funk rhythms of vibist Ayers. Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- July 10. (Wed.)  Diane Marino. Classically trained pianist/singer Marino makes a rare Southland appearance.  She’s backed by Clayton Cameron, drums, Frank Marino, bass and Rickey Woodard, saxophone & flute.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- July 10. (Wed.)  Josh Nelson and Pat Senatore Duo.  A cross-generational jazz partnership combines rapidly emerging pianist Nelson with veteran bassist Senatore.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

WTrevor Mcshane

WTrevor Mcshane

- July 11. (Thurs.)  Trevor McShane.  It’s really the nom de plume of  singer/songwriter Neville Johnson, an attorney who has been pursuing his musical ambitions since the release of his first album in 2000.  Molly Malones. (323) 935-1577.

- July 12. (Fri.)  Cat Conner, Gene Cipriano, Robert Chiodini and Dick Nash.  This impressive collection of L.A. jazz stars finish up their two year run at the Studio City venue, which is closing for renovations. The Out Take Bistro.   (818) 760-1111.

- July 12. (Fri.)  David Ornette Cherry. Pianist/composer Cherry, the son of adventurous jazz trumpeter Don Cherry, showcases his own ambitious talents in a program combining his original works with compositions by his father. LACMA.    (323) 857-6000.

Barbara Morrison

Barbara Morrison

- Jan. 12 & 13. (Fri. & Sat.)  Barbara Morrison.  The remarkable Ms. Morrison, recovering courageously from serious medical problems, celebrates the release of her new CD, A Sunday Kind of Love.  Catalina Bar & Grill. (223) 466-2210.

- July 13. (Sat.)  Songfest Sings America: Celebrating Leonard Bernstein.  A stirring evening dedicated to the far-ranging music of Bernstein, from West Side Story to On the Town and much more.   Michael Barrett conducts and there will be a pre-performance conversation between Alan Chapman and Bernstein’s daughter, JamieGrand Performances.    (213) 687-2159.

- July 14. (Sun.)  ‘70s Soul JamThe Stylistics, Peaches & Herb, Rose Royce, Main Ingredient featuring Cuba Gooding Sr. and more in an evening of body-moving soul rhythms.  Greek Theatre.     (323) 665-5857.

San Francisco

Halie Loren

Halie Loren

- July 11. (Thurs.)  Halie Loren.  Award-winning singer/songwriter has been establishing herself as one of the most intriguing talents of her generation.  Check HERE to read a recent iRoM review of a Loren CD.     Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.


July 11 – 14. (Thurs. – Sun.)  John Mayall.  He’s not leading his Blues Breakers, but veteran blues rock guitarist is still a dynamically exciting blues performer.  Jazz Alley.   (206) 441-9729.

New York

- July 9. (Tues.)  Geoff Keezer.  Grammy-nominated pianist/arranger/composer Keezer, always a uniquely fascinating performer, celebrates the release of his solo piano album, Heart of the Piano.  Birdland.   (212) 581-3080.

- July 11 – 14. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Duke Ellington Orchestra.  Yes, it’s a “ghost” band, striving with respectful musicality to keep the Ellington repertoire alive and swinging.  The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.


Cassandra WIlson

Cassandra WIlson

- July 9 – 11.  (Tues. – Thurs.)  Cassandra Wilson.  There are plenty of good reasons why jazz vocalist Wilson is a Grammy award winner – all of them present in her intimately engaging sound and rich musicality.  Ronnie Scott’s.   +44 20 7439 0747.


- July 11. (Thurs.)  The Terence Blanchard Quintet.  Trumpeter/composer Blanchard’s far-reaching career has balanced his hard-driving jazz style with frequent assignments (often with Spike Lee) as a film composer. New Morning.    +33 1 45 23 51 41


- July 12 & 13. (Fri. & Sat.)  Pablo Ziegler New York Quartet.  Argentine pianist/composer Ziegler leads his New York players in a program of captivating Nuevo tango.  Tokyo Blue Note.  +81 3-5485-0088.

* * * * * * * *

Barbara Morrison photo by Bonnie Perkinson. 

Picks of the Week: June 27 – July 1

June 27, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Miles Davis

- June 27. (Wed.)  A Celebration of Miles Davis. Herbie Hancock hosts a trio of Davis tributes: Miles’ Electric Band, Marcus Miller leading  “Tutu Revisited” and Jimmy Cobb leading his “So What” band in  “Kind of Blue.” Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

- June 28. (Thurs.)  Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald, Boz Skaggs.  The Dukes of September. Three rock greats get together once again to touch musical high points reaching from the O’Jays to the Doobie Brothers and the Steely Dan catalog. To read an earlier iRoM review of the Dukes of December click HERE.   Gibson Amphitheatre.  (818) 622-4440.

Judy Wexler

- June 28. (Thurs.) Judy Wexler.  The versatile Ms. Wexler’s admirable jazz vocal skills embrace everything from standards and jazz classics to singer/songwriter tunes from the ‘70s – all done with style and imagination.  LACMA.  .

- June 28. (Thurs.)  Ray Brown, Jr.  The adopted son of the great bassist Ray Brown and the equally inimitable Ella Fitzgerald, Brown was raised in a high level musical environment.  No wonder that he became first a drummer, then a singer, adding contemporary qualities to the musical sounds and substance of his youth.  Crown Plaza.  (310) 258-1333.

- June 29. (Thurs.) Sascha’s Bloc Band.  Led by musician/surgeon Alex Gershman (Sascha), the Bloc Band includes players from Ukraine, Russia, the U.S. and beyond, performing  an eclectic blend of European roots music, gypsy jazz, flamenco and much more.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Bob Sheppard

- June 29. (Fri.) Bob Sheppard.  Saxophonist Sheppard, one of the Southland’s prime jazz artists still doesn’t receive the critical attention his far-reaching skills deserve.  He’s backed by Theo Saunders, piano, Pat Senatore, bass and Ferenc Nemeth, drums.   Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- June 29. (Fri.)  The Arte Café opens in the Town Center Plaza in Cerritos with another great Los Angeles saxophonist, Rickey Woodard, leading the way.  He’ll perform with pianist Jon Mayer, bassist Luther Hughes and drummer Roy McCurdy.  For information, call In-House Music at (310)216-5861.

- June 29. (Fri.)  Summerland.  The first ever Summerland tour features an impressive assembly of hit-making bands: Everclear, Sugar Ray, Gin Blossoms, Lit and Marcy PlaygroundGreek Theatre.    (323) 665-5857.

Dave Frishberg

- June 30. (Sat.)  Dave Frishberg.  The Stephen Sondheim of jazz songwriters brings his memorable catalog (“Peel Me A Grape,” “Do You Miss New York?” “My Attorney Bernie,” etc., his engaging vocal style and his crisply swinging piano to town for a too-rare L.A. appearance.  A Jazz Bakery Movable Feast at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. .  (310) 271-9039.

- June 30. (Sat.) B52s and Squeeze.  With over 20 million albums sold in their 35 year career, it’s no surprise that the B52s are called the “World’s greatest party band.”  Expect to feel the pulse when the  hits, old and new, begin.  The popular U.K. band Squeeze opens the performance. Greek Theatre.     (323) 665-5857.

- July 1. (Sun.)  Chuchito Valdes Latin Jazz Band.  Son of the great Cuban jazz pianist Chucho Valdes, Chuchito has followed in his father’s musical foosteps, finding fascinating new territories in the world of Latin jazz. Featured artist with Valdes will be the versatile, multi-saxophone player Laksar Reese.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

Ben Harper

- July 1. (Sun.)  Ben Harper, Fitz and the Tantrums, Vieux Farka Toure. The World Festival 2012 series begins with a trio of unique artists demonstrating the linkages between the blues, soul music and dynamic African rhythms.   Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

San Francisco

- June 28. (Thurs.) Paul McCandless and Antonio Calogero.   A keystone member of the band Oregon and the Paul Winter Consort, McCandless’ wind instrument versatility is one of the unique sounds of the jazz and world music blend.  He appears with the talented young Italian guitarist, Calogero. Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse.   (510) 644-2020 Ext. 20.


- June 28 – July 1. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Diane Schuur. Singer Schuur’s long career has seen her perform  effecttvely in several cross genre styles, from jazz to pop.  More recently, she’s blended all those styles into a unique expressiveness of her own making.  Jazz Alley.    (206) 441-9729.

New York

- June 29. (Fri.)  The Ben Monder Theo Bleckmann Duo.  Grammy-nominated singer/composer Bleckmann and pianist Monder have spent nearly two decades shaping a vocal form that might best be described as “jazz art songs.”  The results are extraordinary.  Cornelia St. Café.   (212) 989-9319.

Harry Allen

- June 29 & 30. (Fri. & Sat.)  Harry Allen Quartet. At a time when the influence of John Coltrane and/Sonny Rollins dominates the tenor saxophone world, Allen – a dedicated traditionalist – strives convincingly to keep the pre-bop styles of Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster and others vividly alive. Smalls.

- June 29 – July 1. (Fri. – Sun.) Charlie Watts: “The A, B, C and D of Boogie Woogie.”  Watts, best known as the drummer with the Rolling Stones, yet always a stalwart fan of jazz, has just released the first album of his Boogie Woogie Band.  They’ll celebrate the release with a live performance of some of the album’s selections.  The band consists of Axel Zwingenberger, piano, Dave Green, bass and Ben Waters, piano and vocals.  The Iridium.   (212) 582-2121.


- June 27 – 29. (Wed. – Fri.)  Curtis Stigers.  Saxophonist/singer Stigers had all the look of a rare, break out jazz vocalist in the ’90s.  His visibility has dimmed somewhat since then, despite his still attractive style.  Give credit to listeners in the U.K. for continuing to recognize his appealing qualities. Ronnie Scott’s.    020 7439 0747.


Hilary Kole

- June 26 & 27. (Tues. & Wed.)  Hilary Kole. The sound alone of Kole’s warm, embracing voice would almost be enough to make anything she does listenable.  But she raises the bar much higher with a combination of attractive musicality and compelling story telling. Blue Note Tokyo.    03.5485.0088.

- June 28 – July 1. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Sadao Watanabe. One of the first Japanese jazz artists to break through to international fame, saxophonist Watanabe, at 79, is still a master of the bebop genre. Blue Note Tokyo. 03.5485.0088.

Picks of the Week: July 12 – 17

July 11, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- July 12. (Tues.)  John Pisano’s Guitar Night.  With Mundell Lowe and bassist Jim Hughart.  Guitar Night’s always a pleasure, but here’s one not to miss – a pair of veteran jazz guitarists in action with the support of a fine bassist.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

Chris Botti

- July 13. (Wed.)  Chris Botti and Bobby McFerrin with the Yellowjackets.  One of the highlights of the Hollywood Bowl summer jazz schedule.  Botti’s trumpet playing, delivered with surging rhythms and an elegantly expressive melodic flow have currently established him as the best-selling American instrumentalist.  McFerrin is always a wonder and even more so when he’s having fun with the dynamic Yellowjackets players.  The Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000

- July 13. (Wed.)  Alex Iles and Bill Reichenbach Quintet.  A pair of primo trombonists get together with a sound and style that will hopefully recall the delights of Kai Winding and J.J. Johnson.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- July 14. (Thurs.)  The Bill Cunliffe Quartet.  “Bill in Brazil The ever-versatile pianist displays his love of the irresistible rhythms and soaring melodies of Brazil.    Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

Della Reese

- July 14. (Thurs.)  Della Reese.  “I’m still here, celebrating my 80th birthday,” says the ever energetic Ms. Reese.  And indeed she is, still singing up a storm, bringing imagination and entertainment to everything she does.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- July 15 & 16. (Fri. & Sat.)  Sarah McLachlan with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Thomas Wilkens conducting.  Multi-Grammy winning McLachlan makes her Hollywood Bowl debut in her first tour with an orchestra.  She’ll sing songs from her recent CD, Laws of Illusion.  Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- July 16. (Sat.)  Golden Boys: Frankie Avalon, Fabian Forte, Bobby Rydell.  Three of the teen idols of the ‘50s and ‘60s appear in the Cerritos season opener.  The Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.   (562) 916-8501.

- July 16. (Sat.)  An Evening with the Monkees. Forty five years after they first hit the television screens original members Davy Jones, Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork revisit their catalog of hits.  Greek Theatre.    (323) 665-5857.

- July 16. (Sat.)   Rickey Woodard with the John Heard Trio.  Saxophonist Woodard’s hard swinging, harmonically and melodically adventurous improvisations are among the Southland’s great jazz delights.  Charlie O’s.  (818) 994-3058.

- July 16. (Sat.)  “From California With Love”  CD release party.  The CD and the performance benefit Japanese disaster relief.  Among the stellar list of performers are Jim Cox, Michael Dees, Sue Raney, Diane Hubka, Pinky Winters and many more.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

Freda Payne

- July 17. (Sun.)  Freda Payne.  The gorgeous Ms. Payne applies her far reaching interpretive skills to a Tribute to the Great Ladies of Jazz: Ella, Lena and Sarah Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

San Francisco

- July 17. (Sun.)  Shahrzad Sepanlou.  The lovely Iranian singers warm, expressive voice moves freely from traditional songs to intimate contemporary balladry.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.    (415) 655-5600.

- July l5 & 16.  (Fri. & Sat.)  Charlie Hunter/Scott Amendola Duo. Hunter’s seven string guitar virtuosity has a chance to fully express itself in the company of Amendola’s subtle drumming.  Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse.    (510) 644-2020.


- July 14 – 17. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Steve Turre Quartet with pianist Willie Pickens. Jazz trombonist and remarkable conch shell player Turre explores colorful jazz territory with Chicago jazz great Pickens.  Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

New York

- July 13. (Wed.)  Jane Bunnett and Hilario Duran.  Soprano saxophonist/flutist Bunnett and pianist Duran display some of the unusually eclectic Cuban material on their new album, Cuban Rhapsody.  Jazz Standard.  http://www.jazzstandard.com/red/index.html  (212) 576-2232.

July 14 – 17. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Airto.  The great Brazilian percussionist, fascinating with a group or as a soloist, plays with the all-star aggregation of  Mark Egan, bass, Jose Neto, guitar, Helio Alves, piano, and Lew Soloff, trumpet.  D Booker, the daughter of Airto and Flora Purim, will sing.  The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.


Charlie Parker

- July 12 & 13. (Tues. & Wed.)  “The Music of Charlie Parker”  Alto saxophonist Gilad Atzmon evokes the spirit and the soul of the great bebop alto saxophonist, performing – with a string ensemble – selections from Bird’s classic “with strings” recordings.  Ronnie Scott’s.    020 7439 0747.


- July 12. (Tues.) Ceu. Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Ceu is an intriguing songwriter and a compelling performer, blending her unique skills with her admiration for Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Lauryn Hill.    New Morning.    01 45 23 51 41.


- July 15. (Fri.)  Return To Forever IVChick Corea, Lenny White, Stanley Clarke, Jean-Luc Ponty, Frank Gambale.  The latest incarnation of Return to Forever may well be the best one yet.  With Ponty and Gambale bringing their fiery skills to the dependable platform provided by Corea, White and Clarke, the results are musically irresistible.The Blue Note Milano.


- July 13 & 14. (Wed. & Thurs.)  Lionel Loueke and Raul Midon, the Duwala Malambo Projekt. A pair of uniquely idiosyncratic guitarist/singers find common ground in a wide open arena of improvisational adventuring they call the Duwala Malambo Projekt.  A-Trane International Jazz Club.   030/313 25 50.

Chris Botti photo by Tony Gieske.

Picks of the Week: June 14 – 19

June 14, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- June 14. (Tues.)  Motley Crue. L.A.’s heavy metal stars of the eighties (and beyond) take over the vast expanse of the Bowl for a tour through the many hits that have made them rock icons.   The Hollywood Bowl.    (323) 850-2040.

- June 15. (Wed.)  Sachel Vasandani Quartet.  At a time when male jazz vocalists are in surprisingly short supply, Vasandani is carving an intriguing musical pathway of his own.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

Angelique Kidjo

- June 16. (Thurs.)  Angelique Kidjo, Youssou N’Dour, Vusi Mahlasela.  A stellar ensemble of great African artists.  Count on them – and Kidjo in particular – to bestow an irresistible display of dynamic, musical excitement on their listeners.  The Greek Theatre.  (323) 554-5857.

- June 15. (Wed.)  Chuck Manning & Sal Marquez Quartet.  Two of the Southland’s most dependably hard swinging players team up for some straight ahead jamming.   Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- June 15 – 19.  (Wed. – Sun.)  The National Ballet of Cuba.  One of the world’s great classical ballet companies, the dancers’ performances reflect the exquisite style established by the founder, prima ballerina Alicia Alonso.  Segerstrom Center for the Arts.    (714) 556-2787.

- June 16. (Thurs.)  Mel Martin Quartet. Saxophonist Martin, who roves freely and impressively across the spectrum from bebop to avant-garde, makes a rare club stop in the Southland.  He’ll be backed by the equally versatile pianist Don Friedman, (who is also rarely seen in L.A., with bassist Tom Warrington and drummer Joe La BarberaVitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- June 16 – 19. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Hiromi.  The Trio Project.  Keyboardist Hiromi, always exploring new musical territory, has a go at the ever-changing vistas of the piano jazz trio.  She performs with bassist Anthony Jackson and drummer Steve SmithCatalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

Harry Connick, Jr.

- June 17.   (Fri.) Hollywood Bowl Opening Night.  Opening nights at the Bowl are always memorable events, glowing with stars.  This year, there will be performances by 2011 Hall of Fame inductees Harry Connick, Jr. and Gloria Estefan.  Also on the program: an exclusive live sneak preview of Cirque du Soleil’s first Hollywood production, IRIS – A Journey Through the World of Cinema.  Dame Helen Mirren hosts the evening, and Andy Garcia and Hilary Swank will serve as guest presenters.  Thomas Wilkens conducts the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra The Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2040.

- June 18. (Sat.)  Filipina Ladies of Jazz.   Following up on last year’s Filipino Gentlemen of Jazz, this year’s program features a splendid array of female Filipina artists.  Pauline Wilson (of the group Seawind) headlines.  She’ll be joined by two rising young artists, Nicole David (who will duet with her father, singer Mon David) and soul jazz singer Jaclyn Rose.  They’ll be backed by the band of saxophonist Michael Paulo.   Ford Amphitheatre.     (323) 461-3673.

- June 18. (Sat.) Rickey Woodard.   Saxophonist Woodard brings high spirited, hard swinging life to every note he plays.  This time out, he’s backed by the John Heard Trio. Charlie O’s.   (818) 994-3058.

- June 18. (Sat.)  Phil Norman Tentet.  Saxophonist Norman’s eminently listenable ensemble is also a briskly swinging show case for many of the Southland’s (and the world’s) finest composers and arrangers.  Add to that a line up of all-star players, and expect an evening of memorable little big band jazz.  Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

Roseanna Vitro

- June 18. (Sat.)  Roseanna Vitro “The Randy Newman Project”  Vitro, always a fascinating jazz singer, expands her horizons with her new CD, in which she explores the far-ranging, emotionally diverse musical catalog of Randy Newman.  It’s a remarkable album, and the live performance of its selections should make for a compelling musical evening.   Jazz Bakery Moveable Feast at Musicians Institute Concert Hall.    (310) 271-9039.

San Francisco

- June 14 & 15. (Tues. & Wed.)  Paula Morelenbaum.  Singer Morelenbaum’s deep linkage to the music of her Brazilian homeland in general, and to bossa nova in particular, reaches back to her work as a young singer with Antonio Carlos Jobim in the ‘80s and ‘90s.  Yoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.

- June 18. (Sat.) Nikki Yanofsky. Still only 17, Yanofky’s recordings and live performances have convincingly established her as a rising star with extraordinary potential.   An SFJAZZ Spring Season concert at Herbst Hall.    (866) 920-5299.


- June 16 – 19. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Ramsey Lewis“The Sun Goddess Tour.”  Keyboardist Lewis leads his electric band in a revisiting of the funk-driven sounds of his cross-over hit album, Sun Goddess.  Jazz Alley.     (206) 441-9729.


Rudresh Mahanthappa

June 16 – 19. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Rudresh Mahanthappa.  Alto saxophonist Mahanthappa, who just received the Jazz Journalists Association Alto Saxophonist of the Year Award, His Indo-Pak Coalition, with Pakistani-American guitarist Rez Abbasi and drummer Dan Weiss is seeking, and finding, ways to synthesize jazz and the improvised musical forms of South Asia.  The results are often extraordinary.   Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

New York

- June 14 & 15. (Tues. & Wed.)  The Dave Brubeck Quartet.  What is there to say that hasn’t already been said about the Brubeck Quartet.  Hearing the group, playing classic selections as well as new ventures, is tapping into living jazz history.  The Blue Note.  (212) 475-8592.

- June 14 – 19.  (Tues. – Sun.)  Chris Potter Underground.  One of the most consistently imaginative saxophonists of his generation, Potter leads a band filled with similarly adventurous players – drummer Nate Smith, guitarist Adam Rogers and bassist Fima EphronVillage Vanguard.   (212) 255-4037.

- June 15 – 19. (Wed. – Sun.)  Monty Alexander and the Harlem-Kingston Express.  Pianist Alexander and his group survey the musically delightful linkages between up town jazz and the rhythms of the Caribbean.   Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.    (212) 258-9800.

Picks of the Week: May 3 – 8

May 3, 2011

By Don Heckman

 Los Angeles

Leon Russell

- May 3. (Tues.)  Leon Russell.  One of the great iconic figures of the golden era of rock makes a rare local appearance in a relatively small venue.  There’ll also be a special performance by Booker T. JonesThe El Rey.   (323) 936-6400.

- May 3. (Tues.)  Emil Richards, Mike Lang, Abraham Laboriel, Joe Porcaro.   A quartet of L.A.’s finest, veteran jazzmen get together to provide a few effortlessly swinging lessons in the benefits of bebop and beyond.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

– May 4 & 5. (Wed. & Thurs.)  Josh Nelson’s “Kansas City-L.A Project.  Pianist Nelson leads  Hermon Mehari, trumpet, Bob Reynolds tenor saxophone, Ben Leiffert, bass and Zack Albetta, drums in a colorful musical excursion.  Wed. at Steamers in Fullerton (714) 871-8800
and on Thursday at the Blue Whale Bar in Los Angeles.   (213) 620-0908.

Roy Hargrovw

- May 4 – 8. (Wed.- Sun.)  Roy Hargrove Quintet. Trumpeter Hargrove is playing in every imaginable setting these days, but it’s always a special pleasure to hear him in a straight ahead, jazz quintet performance.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- May 5. (Thurs.) Cinco de Mayo at the Conga Room.  For the sheer joy of music and movement, there’s no better place to celebrate Cinco de Mayo than the Conga Room.  And it’s especially sizzling this year with the electro music of Maria Daniela y Su Sonido Lasser, the three piece, electro-pop party band, Cosmopolitan and L.A.’s own Son Jarocho collective, Las CafeterasThe Conga Room.    (213) 745-0162.

- May 5. (Thurs.)  Jon Mayer.  Here’s another performance by a quartet of the Southland’s finest veteran jazzers.  Expect the mood to be swinging and the sounds to be memorable. With Rickey Woodard, tenor saxophone, Chris Conner, bass, Roy McCurdy, drums.   LAX Jazz Club at the Crown Plaza LAX.  (310) 258-1333.

- May 5 – 7. (Thurs. – Sat. )  Ravel with the Pacific Symphony.  Conductor Carlos Miguel Pietro leads the Pacific Symphony in a journey across the Iberian peninsula via the music of Albeniz (Iberia), Sarasate (Carmen Fantasy), De Falla (The Three Cornered Hat) and Ravel (Bolero and Tzigane.  Violinist Philippe Quint solos.  Segerstrom Center for the Arts.   (714) 556-2787.

Shirley MacLaine

- May 6. (Fri.)  Shirley McLaine.  It’s hard to know what to expect from any given appearance by the fascinating Ms. McLaine.  But there’s no doubt she’ll share some of her film moments with some revelations about her life, career and interests in spirituality.  Valley Performing Arts Center.    (818) 677-8800.

- May 6 & 7. (Fri. & Sat.)  The Mikado. One of Gilbert & Sullivan’s most entertaining musical delights, performed by the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players.  Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.   (562) 916-8501.

- May 7. (Sat.)  Ceu.  Brazilian singer Ceu comfortably steps across genres – Brazilian music, pop, rock, jazz – in a single bound.  El Rey.     323) 936-6400.

- May 7. (Sat.)   Wavefest.  The 15th annual Wavefest has morphed into something more than music to relax to.  There’ll be a lot more energy than that, and a lot more interest, too, in a program featuring Roberta Flack, KEM, Macy Gray and Sheila E. & the E. FamilyThe Greek Theatre.   (323) 665-5857.

- May 8. (Sun.)  Alan Broadbent and Pat Senatore.  Pianist Broadbent and bassist Senatore have played with just about everyone in their long productive careers.  Here’s a chance to hear them exchanging musical ideas in an elegant, laid back setting.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

Cameron Carpenter

- May 8. (Sun.)  Cameron Carpenter.  Carpenter isn’t just a brilliantly virtuosic organist, he’s also a charismatic entertainer who understands how to balance his astonishing technical displays with interpretive authenticity.  In this performance he finds the heartbeat of Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture  and Prelude and Fugue in G minor.  Disney Hall.  (323) 650-2000.

 San Francisco

- May 5 – 8. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The CrusadersJoe Sample, Wayne Henderson and Wilton Felder, three of the original Jazz Crusaders, revive their unique blend of jazz, soul, bop, blues and groove.  Yoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.

- May 7. (Sat.)  Yanni.  One of the most popular international artists in the world, Yanni’s lyrical piano playing, combined with his warm and fuzzy orchestrations have sold more than 20 million albums worldwide.  The Warfield.    (415) 345-0900.


May 5 – 8. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Keiko Matsui.  Keyboardist Matsui was one of the first artists to make the most of the fertile territory between smooth jazz, fusion and New Age, and do so with a subtly appealing undercurrent of swing.  Jazz Alley.    (206) 441-9729.

New York

- May 3 – 8. (Tues. – Sun.)  Omar Sosa.  Cuban pianist/composer Sosa’s Afri-Lectric Quintet finds fascinating common ground with special guest Benin-born guitarist Lionel LouekeThe Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

- May 3 – 8. (Tues. – Sun.)  The Julliard Jazz Quintet.  A cross-generational jazz quintet that balances scholarly know-how with inventive swing.  With Ron Carter, bass, Rodney Jones, guitar, Frank Kimbrough, piano, Carl Allen, drums and Ron Blake, saxophone. Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.    (212) 258-9800.

Danny Aiello

- May 4. (Wed.)  Danny Aiello.  He’s given one memorable film performance after another – including a pair of Academy Award nominations along the way.  But Aiello’s singing chops are every bit as impressive.  The New York Times called it right when it said “Aiello has the bounce of his idols Bobby Darin, Frank Sinatra and Louis Prima, and the throaty lyricism of another idol, Tony Bennett.”  The Iridium.    (212) 582-2121.

Washington, D.C.

- May 6 & 7. (Fri. & Sat.)  Azar Lawrence Quintet.  Tough tenor Lawrence applies his muscular style to an encounter with the equally dynamic Eddie Henderson, trumpet, Benito Gonzalez, piano and Billy Hart, drums.  Blues Alley.    (202) 337-4141.


- May 5. (Thurs.)  The Mahavishnu Project. Drummer Gregg Bendian leads his sturdy band of players in the performance of the original Mahavishnu Orchestra’s complete Visions of the Emerald Beyond.  John McLaughlin offers his support: “To hear you guys playing those tunes in such an unbelievable way is quite amazing.”   The Regatta Bar.   (617) 395-7757.


- May 5 – 8. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Eric Alexander/Harold Mayburn Quartet. Fiery saxophonist Alexander combines his hard driving, fast fingered skills with the veteran bop chops of pianist Mayburn.  Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.


PHaroah Sanders

May 2– 4. (Mon. – Wed.)  Pharoah Sanders Quartet. Adventurous, Grammy-winning tenor saxophonist Sanders continues the exploratory journeys he began in the avant-garde ‘60s.  Ronnie Scott’s.    020.7439.0747

May 8. (Sun.) The Atomic Mr. Basie.  Led by Pete Long,the Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra, with its stellar assemblage of U.K. jazz talent, performs the complete program from Basie’s classic 1957 album.  Ronnie Scott’s.    020.7439.0747


May. 6. (Fri.)  The Kora Jazz Trio.  Keyboardist/composer Abdoulaye Diabate, kora player Djeli Moussa Diawara and percussionist Moussa Sissokho are creating a compelling fusion of the Mandinka tradition and the free flying, improvisational qualities of jazz.  New Morning.   01 45 23 51 41.

Picks of the Week: Nov. 16 – 21

November 15, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Johnny Mandel

- Nov. 16. (Tues.)  Johnny Mandel Big Band. Multiple Grammy winner, gifted composer/arranger/songwriter Mandel is one of the Southland’s true musical treasures.  This rare appearance with a big band serves as an early celebration of his 85th birthday on November 23.   Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400. 

- Nov. 16. (Tues.)  Tamir Hendelman Trio.  Versatile pianist Hendelman – a favorite of Barbra Streisand’s – celebrates  the release of his new Destinations CD.  With Ryan McGillicuddy, bass, and Dean Koba, drums.  Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

- Nov. 16. (Tues.)  Le Kat.  “Jazzy, bluesy and a lil’ naughty” is the way Le Kat’s ultimate cabaret act – with its mix of swing, blues and bohemian sophistication – is described.  Ivan Kane’s Café Was. (323) 466-5400.

- Nov. 17. (Wed.)  Bill Cantos.  Pianist/composer Canto’s skills reach from primo accompaniment and solid solo work to the writing of songs with the distinct qualities of the Great American Songbook.  He appears with his wife, singer Mari FalconeVibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- Nov. 17. (Wed.)  Jair Oliveira. The son of Brazil’s singer Jair Rodrigues, Oliveira is a gifted singer/songwriter/instrumentalist in his own right, bringing a contemporary touch to classic Brazilian rhythms.   The dynamic, always exciting singer/dancer Katia Moraes opens the show.   Conga Room. (213) 745-0162.

Lainie Kazan

- Nov. 18 – 20.  (Thurs. – Sat.)  Lainie Kazan. Name an area of the entertainment business and Kazan’s been there, as a star, from Broadway and cabaret to films and television.  But there’s nothing quite like hearing her bring songs to life in an intimate jazz setting.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Nov. 18. (Thurs.)  Grand opening of the LAX Jazz Club.  The jazz room at the Crowne Plaza LAX is transformed into the Southland’s newest .  The Dee Dee McNeil QuintetWith Rickey Woodard, saxophone, Theo Saunders, piano, Richard Simon, bass and Quentin Denard, drums.  LAX Jazz Club.   (310) 258-1333.

- Nov. 19. (Fri.)  The John Altman Big Band. Alto saxophonist Altman’s resume also includes a long list of genre-crossing successes as a composer and arranger.  This time out, he fronts a group of L.A.’s finest players performing a collection of his swinging big band charts.  LACMA.   (323) 857-6000.

Richard Thompson

- Nov. 19. (Fri.)  Richard Thompson with Harry Shearer and Judith Owen “Cabaret of Souls.” Thompson’s musical satire — direct from London’s Royal Festival Hall — is a collection of new songs and music by the veteran guitarist, songwriter and former member of Fairport Convention.  With other guests, as well as the Idyllwild Arts Academy Orchestra.   UCLA Live at Royce Hall. (310) 825-2101.

- Nov. 19 & 20. (Fri. & Sat.)  Renaud Garcia-Fons.  Bassist Garcia-Fons takes his five-string instrument on a tour of music embracing jazz, classical, flamenco, new musette and stops in between.  Samueli Theatre OCPAC.  (714) 556-2787.

- Nov. 20. (Sat.)  Menahem Pressler and Richard Stoltzman with the New York Chamber Soloists Orchestra.  An evening of piano and clarinet classics from Mozart and Brahms.  Pianist Pressler performs Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17 in G Major. Stoltzman displays Mozart’s magical touch with the clarinet in the Clarinet Concerto in A Major. And together, they perform Brahms’ Sonata No. 1 for Clarinet and Piano. UCLA Live at Royce Hall.  (310) 825-2101.

Billy Childs

- Nov. 20. (Sat.)  Billy Childs Jazz Chamber Ensemble.  Childs continues his adventurous exploration of the common ground between jazz and classical with the Sonus String Quartet and his own group of regulars — Bob Sheppard, saxophones and flute, Larry Koonse, guitar, Carol Robbins, harp and Marvin “Smitty” Smith, drums.  Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- Nov. 21. (Sun.)  Sylvia Brooks.  The elegant Ms. Brooks applies her dark sound and sophisticated style to songs from her latest album Dangerous Liaisons.  Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

- Nov. 21. (Sun.)  Tom Scott. Saxophonist Scott takes a break from his busy career as an arranger, composer and conductor to reaffirm his impressive chops as an adventurous jazz player.   KJAZZ Sunday Champagne Brunch.    (323) 491-1000.

San Francisco

- Nov. 16 & 17. (Tues. & Wed.)  Nnenna Freelon. Six-time Grammy nominee Freelon is one of the uniquely original voices in the growingly crowded field of female jazz singers.   Yoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.

- Nov. 17. (Wed.)  Kyle Eastwood.  Bassist and film composer Eastwood leads a sterling quintet of rising jazz artists.  Yoshi’s San Francisco. (415) 655-5600.

Denny Zeitlin

- Nov. 20. (Sat.)  Denny Zeitlin.  Solo jazz piano.  Musician/psychiatrist Zeitlin is always a pleasure to hear.  But never more so than when he’s playing solo, exploring the outer limits of his far-reaching improvisational imagination.  Piedmont Piano Company, Oakland.  

- Nov. 21. (Sun.) Dave Mason.  Founding member of Traffic and a Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, guitarist Mason is out there, affirming his credentials as a rock star.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655-5600.

New York

Sheila Jordan

- Nov. 16 & 17. (Tues. & Wed.)  Sheila Jordan and Steve Kuhn82nd Birthday Celebration. Numbers don’t mean a thing when it comes to the birthdays of Sheila Jordan.  Still vivacious and full of spunk, she continues to define the meaning of great jazz singing.  And with long time associate Steve Kuhn at the piano, it gets even better.  Jazz Standard. (212) 447-7733.

- Nov. 16 – 20.  (Tues. – Sat.)  Phil Woods Quintet.  Veteran alto saxophonist Woods has surrounded himself with a group of the finest contemporary players: Brian Lynch, trumpet, Bill Mays, piano, Steve Gilmore, bass and Bill Goodwin, drums.  Birdland.   (212) 581-3080.

- Nov. 18 – 21. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Paul Bley and Charlie Haden.  Pianist Bley and bassist Haden have a history going back to the ‘60s.  Their empathic musical connections will be apparent in every fascinating note they play.   The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

Billy Childs photo by Bobby Colomby.


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