Picks of the Week: August 4 – 10 in Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, New York City, London, Berlin, Stockholm, Moscow and Tokyo

August 4, 2014

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Aug. 5. (Tues.) John Pisano’s Guitar Night. The official release party for Pat Kelley‘s new CD, Overtones 4 Two Guitars. With Pisano, Kelley, Kendall Kay, drums, and John Belzaguy, bass. Viva Cantina. (818) 845-2425.

- Aug. 5 & 6. (Tues. & Wed.) The Gypsy Allstars. If you like the Gipsy Kings, you’ll be equally impressed by the Gypsy All-Stars who play a similar repertoire, energized by Gipsy Kings alumni Ced Leonardi and Mario Reyes. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

Herbie Hancock

Herbie Hancock

- Aug. 6. (Wed.) Herbie Hancock and Gregory Porter. A classic jazz night at the Bowl. On the bill: orchestral renderings (arranged by Vince Mendoza) of selections from the Hancock songbook; and a program of song by jazz vocal star, Porter. The Hollywood Bowl. (323) 850-2000.

- Aug. 7. (Thurs.) The Haden Triplets. Charlie Haden’s talented three daughters carry on the Haden tradition of family music making Skirball Cultural Center.  (310) 440-4500.

- Aug. 7. (Thurs.) Michael McDonald and Toto. McDonald and Toto have been getting together to make music for years, dating back to the 1986 album, Farenheit.  Expect musical excitement from this compelling musical reunion.  The Greek Theatre. (323) 665-5857

 

Judy Wexler

Judy Wexler

- Aug. 7. (Thurs.) Judy Wexler. The versatile musical story-teller with a briskly swinging style performs with the sterling backing of Jeff Colella, piano, Kenny Wild, bass and Devin Kelly, Drums. The Merc at 42051 Main St. in Temecula. (866) 653-8696.

- Aug. 8. (Fri.) Kamasi Washington and the Next Step. Saxophonist Washington is rapidly establishing himself as one of the Southland’s must-hear jazz artists. Jazz at LACMA. (323) 857-6000.

- Aug. 8 & 9. (Fri. & Sat.) Gladys Knight and Kool and the Gang. Grammy-winning soul queen Knight is joined by funksters Kool and the Gang for an evening of rhythmic and vocal delights. The Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- Aug. 8 & 9. (Fri. & Sat.) Jay Leonhart and Josh Nelson. Bassist Leonhart is often called “the wittiest man in jazz” for his whimsical narratives, but he’s also a world class player as well. Writing in the L.A. Times, Don Heckman described Leonhart as “the Fred Astaire of jazz.” The pairing of Leonhart with the gifted young pianist Josh Nelson should produce some irresistibly intriguing musical results. On Friday at Vitello’s;  on Saturday at Cornerstone Music Conservatory on West Pico Blvd.

Stanley Jordan

Stanley Jordan

- Aug. 8 – 10. (Fri. – Sun.) Stanley Jordan Trio. There’s no one quite like Jordan, who plays guitar with a tapping technique that allows him to create textures, sounds and harmonic clusters rarely heard on the instrument. Add to that his inventive gifts as a jazz improviser. Don’t miss this chance to hear this remarkable artist in action. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Aug. 9. (Sat.) The Susie Hansen Latin Jazz Band. Violinist Susie Hansen may be a blonde mid-Westerner, but she’s been leading authentically exciting Latin jazz bands for more than two decades. since the early ’90s. As Don Heckman noted in the L.A. Times, “Susie creates a brand of music that is as physically moving as it is intellectually stimulating.” Knott’s Berry Farm. 8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park.  (714) 220-5200.

- Aug. 9. (Sat.) The Tom Peterson Quartet. Saxophonist and woodwind artist Peterson is a first call player, with good reasons. Here’s a chance to hear him in the spotlight with a stellar rhythm section. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

Seattle

Fourplay

- Aug. 7 – 10. (Thurs. – Sun.) Fourplay. Bob James, Chuck Loeb, Nathan East, Harvey Mason. They’ve got a reputation for funk and contemporary styles, but this veteran band of superb, veteran jazz artists bring everything they have to whatever genre-of-the-moment they’re playing. Jazz Alley.  (206) 441-9729.

Chicago

- August 7. (Thurs.) Charles McPherson. Well-known for his long run with the Charles Mingus band of the ’60s, alto saxophonist/flutist McPherson is also a convincing practitioner of classic bebop. Jazz Showcase.  (312) 360-0234.

New York City

- Aug. 5 – 10. (Tues. – Sun.)Django Reinhardt NY Festival “15th Anniversary Celebration.” It’s one of the great annual jazz celebrations, recalling the glories of the great Django Reinhardt with some of his finest musical descendants. Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.

London

Michel_Legrand

Michel_Legrand

- Aug. 8 & 9. (Fri. & Sat.) Michel Legrand Trio. Pianist/composer/songwriter does it all – writing songs (often with the Bergmans), scoring films, performing with his jazz trio – and he does it with stunning brilliance. He isn’t heard often in clubs, so don’t overlook this rare opportunity to hear him. Ronnie Scott’s  +44 (0)20 7439 0747.

Berlin

- Aug. 6 & 7. (Wed. & Thurs.) Roy Hargrove Quintet. Trumpeter Hargrove and his band were in Paris last week. Keeping his numerous European fans happy, Hargrove appears this week in Berlin. A-Trane Jazz. +49 30 3132550.

Stockholm

- Aug. 9. (Sat.) Sonny Fortune Quintet. “In the Spirit of Miles.” Alto saxophonist/woodwind player Fortune, a veteran of Miles Davis’ group of the mid-’70s – brings striking authenticity to his Davis musical celebration. Fasching Jazz Nightclub.  08-20 00 66.

Moscow

- Aug. 5. (Tues.) Alexander Vinitsky. Russian guitarist Vinitsky may not be well-known (yet) in the U.S., but he’s a gifted player who deserves wider international exposure. Igor Butman Jazz Club.  (+7 495) 792-21-09.

Tokyo

- Aug. 9 & 10. (Sat. & Sun.) Akiko Yano Trio. Eclectic artist Yano moves comfortably from piano playing to composition to singing and songwriting. This time out, she’s in a trio setting with bassist Will Lee and drummer Chris Parker. Blue Note Tokyo.  +81 3-5485-0088.


Picks of the Week: July 29 – Aug. 3 in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington D.C., New York City, London, Paris and Tokyo

July 29, 2014

By Don Heckman

It’s another hot week, with a lot of venues still in the midst of their Summer hiatuses.  But there’s still some fine, selective music to hear.

Los Angeles

Amanda McBroom

Amanda McBroom

- July 29. (Tues.) Amanda McBroom and George Ball. Musical theatre and cabaret star Amanda McBroom and actor/singer George Ball present a program of classic songs. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- July 30. (Wed.) Lola Haag, Mark Massey and Friends. The sultry voice of Lola Haag is backed by the jazz piano stylings of Mark Massey and his stellar group. Steamers7.  (714) 871-8800.

- July 31. (Thurs.) Chuck Manning & Steve Huffsteter Quartet. A pair of Los Angeles’ world class jazz artists – saxophonist Manning and trumpeter  Huffsteter take a break from their busy bookings as sidemen to step into the spotlight.  They perform in a piano-less quartet with bassist Pat Senatore and drummer Matt GordyVibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- Aug. 1 – 3. (Fri. – Sun.) “Hair.”  The classic rock musical of the sixties takes over the Bowl for a rare three night run. A must-see for all boomers. Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

Strunz and Farah

Strunz and Farah

- Aug. 2. (Sat.) Strunz & Farah. The dynamic guitar duo of Costa Rica’s Jorge Strunz and Iran’s Ardeshir Farah are back, making a second L.A. appearance in the past two weeks. Don’t miss them. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

San Francisco

(July 31 – Aug. 3.(Thurs. – Sun.) Vinicius Cantuaria Sings Jobim. Guitarist/singer Canturia, one of bossa nova’s most authentic interpreters, illuminates the Antonio Carlos Jobim catalog of songs. SFJAZZ event at Joe Henderson Lab.  (866) 920-5299.

Washington D.C.

Melba Moore

Melba Moore

- Aug. 1 & 2. (Friday & Sat.) Melba Moore. Grammy-nominated, Tony-Award winning r&b, soul, and blues singer Moore is a master of contemporary pop music styles with hits reaching back to the ’70s. Blues Alley.  (202) 337-4141.

 New York City

- July 31 – Aug. 3. (Thurs. – Sun.) The legendary Count Basie Orchestra. The irresistible rhythms and big band classics of the Count Basie Orchestra live on, with trumpeter Scotty Barnhart leading the way. The Blue Note.  (212) 475-8592.

London

- July 28 – Aug. 2 (Mon. – Sat.) The Average White Band. Four decades after their hit-making years of the ’70s and ’80s, the Scottish Average White Band is still playing their soul, r&b and funk classics. Two original members – Alan Gorrie and Onnie McIntyre – are still present, along with three new members from the U.S. Ronnie Scott’s.  +44 (0)20 7439 0747.

Paris

Roy Hargrove

Roy Hargrove

Aug. 1 ;& 2. (Fri. & Sat.) The Roy Hargrove Quintet. Versatile trumpeter Hargrove steps away from his big band to lead a swinging quintet of jazz stars. Paris New Morning.  +33 1 45 23 51 41.

Tokyo

- July 29.  ( Tues.)  The Preservation Hall Jazz Band.  The classic sounds of New Orleans jazz are alive and well in the swinging playing of the preservation Hall Jazz Band.  The Blue Note Tokyo.  +81 3-5485-0088.

 


Picks of the Week: Sept. 4 – 8

September 4, 2013

By Don Heckman

It’s a light, holiday week, with 100-plus temperatures here in L.A.  But there’s still some very fine music to hear in various parts of the world.

Los Angeles

Roy Hargrove

Roy Hargrove

- Sept. 4 – 8. (Wed. – Sun.) The Roy Hargrove Quintet. Trumpeter Hargrove has appeared frequently with his big band lately. But this time he fronts a straight-ahead quintet, showcasing his fine solo work. Catalina Bar and Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Sept. 4. (Wed.) Bruce Forman Quartet. Guitarist, novelist and educator Forman, a true multi-hyphenate, takes a break from his many activities to do a live performance. Don’t miss it. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- Sept. 6. (Fri.) Richie Cole Quartet. Bebop is always on the loose when alto saxophonist is in the room. And especially so when he’s backed by the propulsive backing of pianist Lou Forestieri, bassist Chris Colangelo and drummer Dick Weller. Jazz at the Radisson Hotel.

Blue Man Group

Blue Man Group

- Sept. 6 & 7. (Fri.& Sat.) The Blue Man Group. The musically and visually eccentric members of the Blue Man Group have brought a new supply of unique instruments to an evening of new music with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- Sept. 8. (Sun.) ABBA Fest. A non-stop evening of music by the hit-making Swedish band. First, via a competition of collegiate a cappella Abba groups; second via a performance by the great tribute band ABBA, the Concert. Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

ABBA Fest

ABBA Fest

San Francisco

- Sept. 5 – 8. (Thurs. – Sun.). Terence Blanchard is always in search of new musical adventures. This time out, his Sextet features saxophonist Ravi Coltrane and and African jazz guitarist Lionel Loueke. SFJAZZ. The SFJAZZ Center, Miner Auditorium.  (415) 398-5655.

Seattle

- Sept. 5 – 8. (Thurs., – Sun.) Larry Coryell and the Eleventh House Reunion Band. Guitarist Coryell revives the music of the fusion band he led in the’70s. Jazz Alley.  (206) 441-9729.

Washington, D.C.

- Sept. 6 – 8. (Fri. – Sun.) Patricia Barber. Singer/pianist Barber continues her quest to find new creative ways to approach the songs of the Great American Songbook. Blues Alley.  (202) 337-4141.

New York City

- Sept. 4. (Wed.) J.D. Walter. Jazz Standard. Walter is a singer who prefers to take adventurous musical pathways… which may explain why he hasn’t yet received the attention his singing deserves. The Jazz Standard.  (212) 576-2232.

Cassandra Wilson- Sept. 5 – 8. (Thurs. – Sun.) Cassandra Wilson. The jazz vocal genre has largely been dominated lately by fast-arriving young female artists. But Wilson continues to be a pathfinder with her own inimitable style. The Blue Note. (212) 475-8592.

- Sept. 7. (Sat.) Barbara Carroll. She was described in 1947 by Leonard Feather as the “first girl to play bebop piano.” And, at 88, she’s still going strong, performing here in duo with bassist Jay Leonhart. Birdland. http://www.birdlandjazz.com/event/350551-barbara-carroll-new-york (212) 581-3080.

Berlin

- Sept. 4 – 7. (Wed. – Sat.) Sommerwochenkonzert. Don Grusin and Chuck Loeb. Keyboardist Grusin and guitarist Loeb display their easygoing blend of mainstream and crossover jazz genres.. A-Trane.  +49 30 3132 ext. 550.

Copenhagen

- Sept. 6 – 7. (Fri. & Sat.) Dado Moroni, Reuben Rodgers, Alex Riel. The Art of the Trio. Italian jazz pianist Moroni has been delivering his authentic jazz perspectives since the ’80s. He’s backed here by American bassist Rodgers and Danish drummer Alex Riel. Jazzhus Montmartre.  +45 31 72 34 94.

Tokyo

- Sept. 3 – 5. (Tues. – Thurs.) Bob James & David Sanborn. James and Sanborn have pioneered their swinging versions of contemporary jazz fusion and crossover for decades – and doing it in memorable fashion. They’re accompanied on this tour by the equally imaginative drummer Steve Gadd and bassist James Genus. Blue Note Tokyo.  03 5485 0088.

Gregory Porter

.

- Sept. 6. (Fri.) Gregory Porter. At a time when the distaff side has been dominating most of the newly released jazz recordings, the warm baritone of Porter has been bringing impressive new interpretations to the the world of jazz vocalizing. Blue Note Tokyo.  03 5485 0088.


Picks of the Week: August 21 – 25

August 21, 2013

By Don Heckman

It’s a short week of Picks, largely impacted by the end-of-Summer distractions and the frequent August closure of jazz clubs around the world. But there’s still a lot of music happening.

 Los Angeles

- Aug. 21 (Wed.) Buddy Guy and the Funky Meters. The veteran blues great matches classic riffs with the latest installment of the Meters. Read Michael Katz’s iRoM review here tomorrow. Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- Aug. 22. (Thurs.) “Magnificent Mendelssohn.” Nicholas McGegan conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic in an evening devoted to the music of Mendelssohn with violinist Ray Chen performing the Violin Concerto. Read my iRoM review here on Friday. Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- Aug. 22. (Thurs.) The John Pisano Quartet. Guitarist Pisano takes a break from his Guitar Night performances to get together with guitarist Jim Fox, drummer Enzo Todesco and bassist Pat Senatore, his old bandmate from the Tijuana Brass. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474.9400.

- Aug. 23 & 24. (Fri. & Sat.) Marilyn Maye. Singer Maye, who has moved smoothly from cabaret to pop music, has been a busy performing artist since she was in her mid-teens. And she’s still going strong. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Aug. 24. (Sat.) The Billy Childs Trio. Vitello’s. Pianist/composer Childs takes a break from his busy schedule to perform in the appealing format of a piano jazz trio, with bassist Jimmy Johnson and drummer Gary Novak. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- Aug. 24. (Sat.) The Memphis Music Fest. It’s an evening of blues, soul and r&b in its many intriguing formats. With Booker T. Jones, the Bar-Kays, William Bell, Eddie Floyd and Jean Knight. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.  (562) 916-8501.

San Francisco

- Aug. 23 & 24. (Fri. & Sat.) Gary Bartz, Nicholas Payton, Kevin Toney perform selections from the Donald Byrd acoustic and electric sessions. Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655-5600.

Chicago

- Aug. 23 – 25. (Fri. – Sun.) Ira Sullivan Quartet. Multi-instrumentalist Sullivan is one of the rare jazz artists to perform convincingly on brass and woodwind instruments. Here’s a rare opportunity to hear him in action. Jazz Showcase. (312) 360-0234.

New York City

- Aug. 21 – 25. (Wed. – Sun.) Roy Hargrove Big Band with special guest Roberta Gambarini. This is an evening not to be missed – trumpeter Hargrove’s swinging big band providing the perfect setting for the irresistibly appealing singing of Gambarini. The Blue Note.  (212) 475-8592.

- Aug. 23 – 25. (Fri. – Sun.) Gregory Porter. Convincing male jazz singers have been in short supply lately. But the arrival of Porter has brought a new and appealing aspect to the largely female-oriented current jazz vocal scene. The Jazz Standard.  (212) 576-2232.

London

- Aug. 23 & 24. (Fri. & Sat.) Tania Maria Trio. Rio’s Tanya Maria sings, she plays piano, and she continues to discover attractive linkages between jazz and Brazilian music.  Ronnie Scott’s.  +44 20 7439 0747.

Copenhagen

- Aug 22 – 24 (Thurs. – Sat.) The Diego Figueiredo Trio. Talented guitarist Figueiredo has been drawing attention with his rapid-fire technique and imaginative improvising. He performs with Yasser Pino, bass and Milton Batera, drums. Jazzhus Montmartre. +45 31 72 34 94.

Tokyo

- Aug.24 & 25. (Sat. & Sun.) Matt Bianco. It sounds like a person’s name, but Matt Bianco is actually a U.K. Band that has been exploring Latin jazz since the mid-’80s. Blue Note Tokyo.  +81 3-5485-0088.


Radio Jazz: Time To Get Sirius?

July 29, 2013

By Michael Katz

There is nothing like driving around in a remote area to underline the virtues of good music. So I’d like to say a few kind words about Sirius XM. And also Avis, whose rental car was equipped with it. I recently spent a week in Yellowstone National Park, the setting for my new novel, Dearly Befuddled.

Yellowstone is a driver’s paradise or nightmare, depending on the vagaries of bison and elk, and the tourists who want to photograph them. A typical day checking out the geyser basins, waterfalls and hiking trails involves at least several hours on the road. Thanks to Sirius, I was able to share them with Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Freddie Hubbard, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, and many others.

I’m sure those of you with functioning long term memories can remember when driving across lonesome stretches of the West meant searching through the vast emptiness of AM radio, where the choices were country music, country music, Jesus, Jesus en Espanol, country music en Espanol, and a fading baseball game from Mars. Sirius offers something for everyone, and multiple versions of it. There are several jazz channels, but Channel 67 (Real Jazz) seemed to be more Straight Ahead, as the late, great DJ Chuck Niles would have said. In addition to Miles and Stan and Freddie, my relatively brief sampling had favorites such as Stanley Turrentine, Hank Mobley, Dave Brubeck, as well as current names like Warren Wolf, Marcus Miller, the Clayton Brothers and Roy Hargrove.   The DJs, including Miller and Mark Ruffin, are knowledgeable, although chat is at a minimum. There are live recordings of concerts, too, from Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola at Lincoln Center.

I’ve got to admit it is pretty amazing to walk  away from the eruption of Giant Fountain Geyser and listen to Shirley Horn sing “I’ve Got The World On A String.”

Giant Fountain Geyser

Or drive away from the Black Sand Basin as Jackie Terrason plays “Smile.”

Black Sand Basin

Then there is the question, what do you do while you are stuck in traffic, while, unknown to you, a bison is playing Grand Marshal to the Road To West Yellowstone Parade.

I am somewhere behind the bison.

The answer is, you switch to B.B. King’s Bluesville on Channel 70 and listen to Buddy Guy, Junior Wells and Doug MacLeod. “Got them Wanderin’ Bison, Rubberneck Tourist Blues.” The time just flies by, really.

This begs the question, should I pay up and subscribe at home. I’ve tried to be loyal to our local station, KJazz 88.1. I understand the importance of a local station, promoting local players and events (if only…). In Kjazz’s defense, they cannot run separate channels for blues and smooth jazz as Sirius does. But in the end, we all vote with our feet (or our index fingers). And Kjazz needs to spend more time with current and/or local artists, and less time recycling the same hackneyed playlist over and over.

In the meantime, if you are hitting the road, don’t leave home without Sirius.

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

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


Picks of the Week: Dec. 26 – 31.

December 26, 2012

By the iRoM Staff

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

NEW YEAR’S EVE (DEC. 31)

Los Angeles

Jane Monheit

Jane Monheit

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

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

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

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

Anna Mjoll

Anna Mjoll

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

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

San Francisco

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

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

Chicago

Roy Hargrove

Roy Hargrove

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

New York

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

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

Wynton Marsalis

Wynton Marsalis

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

Washington D.C.

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


An Appreciation: Remembering Dave Brubeck

December 12, 2012

By Mike Katz

When Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” became a runaway hit, it was 1959 and I was in the third grade.  By the time I started seriously listening to jazz, in the late sixties, Brubeck’s original quartet had broken up and the jazz scene was in a flux. Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis were going electric. Freddie Hubbard and Stanley Turrentine, among others, had gravitated to the CTI label and would soon be flirting with disco. The jazz that found its way onto the college campuses Brubeck once cultivated had been repackaged as fusion, backing up bands like Blood Sweat & Tears or Chicago.

“Take Five,” meanwhile, had become sort of a pre-curser to Pac-Man, munching up everything else the Brubeck quartet had produced.  That would be some considerable munching, since Brubeck, Paul Desmond and company had spent a decade atop the charts, playing to SRO crowds, with Dave becoming the first jazz artist to grace the cover of Time Magazine long before the Time Out LP was ever conceived.  But for the general audience, “Take Five” was Brubeck and to a certain extent always would be.

One 1970-ish day I was idly flipping through a record store in Evanston and found a double album compilation of the Brubeck quartet called Adventures In Time. It had all of the famous Brubeck tunes (most of them unknown to me): “Blue Rondo a la Turk,” “Three To Get Ready,” “It’s a Raggy Waltz,” “Unsquare Dance,” many of them in different takes or performances than the originals. All the songs but one were composed by members of the quartet. All but one were in time signatures other than  4/4.  Listening and listening and listening some more, until the grooves were worn down, I finally figured out what these guys were doing – not that it was really necessary. Incessant foot tapping and aimless humming as I wandered the Northwestern campus were explanation enough.

Looking back, it seems strange that Brubeck endured criticism for not being, for lack of a better word, jazzy enough. Jazz is improvisation and experimentation, and what could be bolder than taking the basic 4/4 march time, not only of jazz but all popular music, and standing it on its ear? And there was more. When Brubeck, in 1957, released “Dave Digs Disney,” there was much sniggering from critics, yet “Someday My Prince Will Come” became a standard for Miles Davis and “Alice In Wonderland” one of Bill Evans’ best known tunes from the Village Vanguard sessions.  Still, while jazz searches for the “next” Miles Davis or John Coltrane or Bill Evans, we never hear about the “next” Dave Brubeck.

Perhaps that is because he really never left.

Although it’s been written that he devoted much of his post-original quartet years to larger orchestrations and cantatas, there was plenty of jazz left in the Brubeck oeuvre. Most musicians would have loved to have the mid-life career Brubeck shared with Gerry Mulligan in his second major quartet.  The baritone sax may seem the polar opposite to Paul Desmond’s “sound of a dry martini,” but it still sounded great. Check out LPs like Last Set At Newport, or some of the tracks with Mulligan on the Monterey Jazz Festival’s  release Live At The MJF. Brubeck continued to compose in the jazz space as well. His 1995 release Young Lions and Old Tigers featured lovely themes for Roy Hargrove, James Moody and flugelhornist Ronnie Buttacavoli, as well as two wonderful tunes with Mulligan and a duet with George Shearing on Brubeck’s classic, “In Her Own Sweet Way.” And that is just one CD out of dozens.

One of the joys of becoming a regular at the Monterey Jazz Festival was getting to see Brubeck perform live in a milieu that had become in many ways a second home for him. He was “discovered” by festival  co-founder Jimmy Lyons, played at MJF 1, MJF 50, MJF 52 and many, many times in between.  Two of my favorite memories are the cantata, co-written with his wife, Iola, based on John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, featuring Roberta Gambarini and Kurt Elling, performed at MJF 49 in 2006; and his MJF 50 duet with Jim Hall the next year. Their rendition of “Take Five” was stunning, and one can only hope both those performances, now in the MJF archives, will someday be shared with the public.

So, finally, Dave Brubeck has left us. Certainly “Take Five” never will, as long as there is someone walking down the street, humming and tapping and daydreaming.

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

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


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