Picks of the Week: Aug. 20 – 26

August 21, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Alison Balsom

- Aug. 21. (Tues.)  McGegan conducts Haydn.  Nicholas McGegan conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a program of Papa Haydn’s finest, including the Alleluia Symphony and the Drumroll Symphony.  Add to that an appearance by the brilliant British trumpeter Alison Balsom performing the Haydn Trumpet Concerto.  The Hollywood Bowl. (323) 850-2000.

- Aug. 22. (Wed.) Anita Baker.  Esperanza Spalding.  A pair of the finest jazz/pop/r&b crossover singers in the world make a rare Bowl appearance.  Baker will no doubt perform her  new hit digital single, “Lately,”  “Sweet Love” and “Giving You the Best That I’ve Got” and Spalding will display some of the dynamic singing and bass playing that brought her a Grammy new star award.  (323) 850-2000.  The Hollywood Bowl. 

- aug. 22. (Wed.) Annie Sellick.  I once described singer Sellick as “an utterly unique personality.”  And she’s accomplished that by transforming influences — such as Janis Joplin — toher own personal (and personable) style.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Aug. 22. (Wed.) Kofi Baker’s Tribute to Cream.  Up close and personal with one of the great rock bands.  Baker (son of Ginger Baker), drums.  Fran Banish, guitar, Rick Fierabracci, bass.  Baked Potato.    (818) 980-1615.

- Aug. 23. (Thurs.)  Midsummer Mozart.  Nicholas McGegan again conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a program of delightful summer music — this time by Mozart.  The featured solo artist will be Norwegian violinist Henning Kraggerud, making his debut Bowl appearance in a performance of the Mozart Violin Concerto No. 4.  (323) 850-2000.  The Hollywood Bowl.

Christian McBride

- Aug. 23 – 26. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Christian McBride Quartet.  He was everybody’s first call bassist when he was barely out of his teens.  But McBride’s ambitions have reached out to embrace big band writing (and leading) and wide activities as an educator, curator and administrator.  Here, he’s back to basics, leading his own fine trio.  Catalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210.

- Aug. 24. (Fri.)  The Kevin Toney 3.  The “New American Suite” tour.  Composer/pianist Toney introduces selections from the classically-inspired compositions in his new recording.  He’ll be backed by bassist Michael Bradford and drummer Chris Coleman.  Vitello’s.

Diana Krall

- Aug. 24 & 25. (Fri. & Sat.)  Diana Krall.  It’s been less than two decades since jazz singer/pianist Diana Krall released her first album, at a time when she was honing her skills in L.A. — much admired, but with low visibility.  Since then, she’s become an international star, selling albums in the millions, maturing into one of the finest jazz vocalists of this, or any, generation.   Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- Aug. 25.  (Sat.)  Dale Fielder Quartet.  Saxophonist Fielder’s versatility reaches across saxophones  from the baritone up to the soprano.  But his versatility is not simply technical, it’s enhanced by a rich musical understanding of the qualities of each instrument, combined with an inventive musical imagination.  He’ll perform with bassist Pat Senatore, pianist Theo Saunders and bassist Ramon BandaVibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

San Francisco

- Aug. 24 – 26. (Fri. – Sun.)  A Tribute to Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgmery.  Organ jazz trios and quartets never got any more exciting and imaginative than they did in the hands of Smith and Montgomery.  But this ensemble, celebrating the masters, comes close.  And how could it be otherwise, with Joey DeFrancesco, Jimmy Cobb, Larry Coryell and Steve Cotter.  Yoshi’s Oakland.  http://www.yoshis.com/oakland/jazzclub/artist/show/2768  (510) 238-9200.

Seattle

Lee Ritenour and Dave Grusin

- Aug. 21 – 26. (Tues. – Sun.)  Lee Ritenour and Dave Grusin.  A pair of the path-finding masters of the music generally grouped under the titles of smooth jazz, funk, crossover and instrumental pop get together for one of their many musical encounters.  Expect to be hugely entertained by a pair of guys who have never abandoned their straight ahead roots. Jazz Alley.   (206) 441-9729.

Chicago

- Aug. 23 – 26. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Ira Sullivan Quartet.  81 year old Sullivan is a truly iconic jazz figure — a superb player on trumpet, saxophone and flute, whose playing career has reached from gigs with Charlie Parker, Lester Young and Roy Eldridge to Pat Metheny, Jaco Pastorius and beyond.  Still a remarkable improvisational artist, he should be heard at any opportunity.   Jazz Showcase.     (312) 360-0234.

New York

Michael Brecker

- Aug. 21 – 23.  (Tues. – Thurs.)  Celebrating Michael Brecker.  The music of the late, great saxophonist is featured in all its far-reaching glories by a band with all the skills to do it right: Joey Calderazzo, piano and musical director, Ravi Coltrane, saxophones, James Genus, bass and Jeff “Tain” Watts, drums.  With special guests.  The Blue Note.  (212) 475-8592.

- Aug. 21 – 26. (Tues. – Sun.)  Trio Da PazThe Music of Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto.  The Trio Da Paz — guitarist Romero Lubambo, bassist Nilson Matta and drummer Duduka da Fonseca reach back into the roots of bossa nova with the spendid aid of saxophonist Harry Allen, vibist Joe Locke  and singer Maucha AdnetDizzy’s Club Coca Cola.  (212) 258-9595.

London

- Aug. 25. (Sat.)  A Portrait of Jaco”  The Laurence Cottle Big Band.  Bassist Laurence Cottle, a world class instrumentalist in his own right, showcases the influences — both instrumental and compositional — that have impacted him from the legendary bassist Jaco Pastorius.  Ronnie Scott’s. (0) 20 7439 0747.

Berlin

Celine Rudolph

- Aug. 21 – 25. (Tues. – Sat.  Celine Rudolph.   Singer Rudolph’s urban oriented jazz  blurs the boundaries between musical styles, finding common ground where little seems to exist.  Appropriately, her musicians come from locations such as Lisbon, Paris and Berlin.  She’ll no doubt feature songs from her CD, Salvador. A-Trane.    030/313 25 50.


Picks of the Week: July 18 – 22

July 18, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- July 18. (Wed.) The  Chris Walden Big Band with special guest Tierney Sutton. Walden takes a break from his busy schedule of studio arranging and composing to lead his always dynamic big band.  And it will be especially fascinating to hear the versatile Ms. Sutton singing in a setting very different – but no doubt equally compelling — from that of her own band.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

John Pizzarelli

- July 18 – 21. (Wed. – Sat.)  John Pizzarelli Quartet.  He plays the guitar, he sings, he’s as witty and humorous as a stand-up comic.  And he does it all with warm amiability.  If all that isn’t enough, check out his ear-grabbing scatting in unison with his fast-fingered guitar soloing.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- July 19. (Thurs.)  Joshua Bell and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  The gifted violinist performs the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto and joins up with Edgar Meyer to perform the bassists Double Concerto for Violin and Double Bass. The Philharmonic, under Ludovic Morlot, also plays Weber’s Der Freischutz and Oberon overtures. The Hollywood Bowl.    (323) 850-2000.

- July 19. (Thurs.) Nick Mancini.  Vibes artist Mancini, one of L.A.’s busiest studio players, takes a break to showcase his own Mancini Collective.  And what better way to hear first rate  jazz than in Descanso Gardens.  Bring a blanket, picnic food and friends for a laid-back, relaxed musical evening.  Seating on a first come basis.  Descanso Gardens.  (818) 949-4200.

- July 19. (Thurs.)  Judi Silvano.  One never knows what to expect from singer/composer Silvano other than the certainty that she will offer an evening of music that constantly intrigues and entertains.  She’ll be working with pianist Theo Saunders, bassist Pat Senatore and drummer Kendall Kay. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.     (310) 474-9400.

- July 20. (Fri.)  The Josh Nelson Group. Pianist Nelson is in the vanguard of the Southland’s most gifted young jazz artists, releasing  his first recording at 19.  This time out he’s stretching the envelope in the company of guitarist Larry Koonse, trumpeter John Daversa and live sci-fi video art.  The Blue Whale.     (213) 620-0908.

Smokey Robinson

- July 20 & 21. (Fri. & Sat.)  Smokey Robinson.  Blessed with superb songwriting skills and one of the most warm and soothing voices in all of pop music, it’s no wonder Robinson has long been called the King of Motown. The Hollywood Bowl.    (323) 850-2000.

- July 21. (Sat.)  The Gift: the stellar assemblage of pianist Alan Pasqua, saxophonist Bob Sheppard, drummer Peter Erskine and bassist Darek Oles offer the gift of their world class accompaniment as a belated birthday present to singer April Williams, in the room she has established as one of L.A.’s best jazz venues.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- July 21. (Sat.)  The Pasadena POPS with Marvin Hamlisch and Michael Feinstein.  Conductor Hamlisch and the POPS open the summer season with a program featuring the master of the Great American Songbook.  The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden.  The Pasadena Symphony and Pops.   (626) 793-7172.

San Francisco

Leo Kottke

- July 22. (Sun.)  Leo Kottke.  Veteran guitarist Kottke is an entertaining artist, illuminating his vocals with humorous monologues.  But it is his impressive, finger-picking guitar playing that is the centerpiece of his performances.  Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

New York

- July 17 – 22. (Tues. – Sun.)  Igor Butman & the Moscow State Jazz Orchestra.  Saxophonist/bandleader Butman is the Wynton Marsalis of Russia, using his connections with the power elite to support the growing presence of jazz in his country.  His Orchestra includes some of Russia’s finest players. Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.    (212) 258-9800.

- July 18. (Wed.)  A CIM Faculty Concert.  Four cutting edge improvisational artists from the Center for Improvisational Music — pianist Andy Milne, trumpeter Ralph Alessi, bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Tom Rainey – will perform works by all members of the group.  The Cornelia St. Café.   (212) 989-9319.

- July 19. (Thurs.)  An Enchanted Evening: The Songs of Richard Rodgers. “Enchanted” is the right word to describe an evening of Rodgers performed by the ensemble of Bill Charlap, piano / Barbara Carroll, piano & vocals / Sachal Vasandani, vocals / Warren Vaché, cornet /Jon Gordon, alto sax / John Allred, trombone / Jay Leonhart, bass / Sean Smith, bass / Tim Horner, drums.  The 92nd St. Y.   (212) 415-5500.

London

Stanley Clarke

- July 20 & 21.  (Fri. &.  Sat.)  The Stanley Clarke/Stewart Copeland Band.  A pair of world class jazz individualists – bassist Clarke and drummer Copeland – combine their unique visions into an irresistible blend of jazz, fusion and rock with an occasional tinge of classical.  They’re joined by keyboardist Ruslan Sirota and guitarist Brady Cohen.    Ronnie Scott’s.

Paris

- July 21. (Sat.)  The Christian Scott Quintet. Trumpeter Scott has been a vital new figure on the jazz scene since his first album, Rewind That, was released in 2006.  He’ll no doubt feature pieces from his latest album, Christian aTunde Adjua. arrival in   New Morning.    01 45 23 51 41.

Milan

- July 21. (Sat.) Esperanza Spalding. Winner of the Best New Artist award in the 2011 Grammys, bassist/singer Spalding has been crossing genres ever since.  She has modeled her career, she says, on those of Madonna and Ornette Colema.  Blue Note Milan.    02.69.01.68.88.

Tokyo

Dionne Warwick

- July 19 – 21. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Dionne Warwick. Iconic pop singer Warwick was one of the big hit-makers of the rock era.  Best known for association with songwriters Burt Bacharach and Hal David, she is a five-time Grammy winner (plus seven other nominations). And she’s still going strong. Blue Note Tokyo.   03.5485.0088.


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.

Seattle

- 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.

London

- 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.

Tokyo

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: Feb. 28 – Mar. 4

February 28, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Carol Robbins

- Feb. 29. (Wed.)  Carol Robbins. She’s that rare musical combination – a jazz harpist.  And Robbins has brought it off in convincing style, playing with everyone from Frank Sinatra and the Manhattan Transfer to Billy Childs and Dianne Reeves.  This time out, Robbins does it her way. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Feb. 29. (Wed.)  Jimmy McHugh Music Celebrates Black History Month.  He doesn’t seem to be mentioned as often as Gershwin, Porter and Kern, but McHugh’s list of contributions to the Great American Songbook is just as impressive.  To mention only  a few: “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” “I’m in the Mood For Love” and dozens more.  The McHugh songs will be interpreted by John Proulx, piano and vocals, singers Sherry Williams and Deana Martin (McHugh’s goddaughter), with Chuck Berghofer, bass, Joe LaBarbera, drums.  Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- Mar. 1 (Thurs.)  Aaron Serfaty/Otmaro Ruiz Quartet, Drummer Serfaty and keyboardist Ruiz, long-time musical companions, have assembled a new quartet, featuring Catina De Luna, voice/percussion, and Johnathan Richards, bass, blending Brazilian rhythms with a Venezuelan twist.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Mar. 1. (Thurs.)  Raya Yarbrough. CD release party.  Singer Yarbrough’s far-reaching musical skills – as a performer, a songwriter, arranger and more — shine through in everything she sings.  She’ll be featuring selections from a new album. Blue Whale.  (213) 620-0908.

Oleta Adams

- Mar. 1 – 3 (Thurs. – Sat.)  Oleta Adams.  The evocative, soul-filled voice of Adams has been a memorable experience since her 1991 debut album, Circle of One, with its impassioned single, “Get Here.”  Don’t miss this rare opportunity to hear her up close and personal. Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Mar. 2. (Fri.)  Danny Janklow.  Twenty-two year old alto saxophonist Janklow has already been acknowledged by Wynton Marsalis as an outstanding talent, and he’s performed with the likes of Benny Golson, James Moody, and Marsalis, among others.  The gifted young artist displays his skills here in the company of Theo Saunders, piano, Pat Senatore, bass, and Kendall Kay, drums.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

Bernadette Peters

- Mar. 3. (Sat.)  An Evening with Bernadette Peters.  Fresh off a six month run of the revived Follies on Broadway, Peters does a solo stint, recalling some of her stellar moments from Into the Woods, Sunday in the Park with George and others.  The inimitable Peters will no doubt also include something from Follies, as well.  Valley Performing Arts Center.    (818) 677-3000.

- Mar. 3. (Sat.)  The Estrada Brothers Latin Jazz Band.  Together for decades, the Estrada Brothers Band has seen some shifting personnel.  But the group’s fundamental ability to bring life, spirit and believability to their view of Latin jazz has continued to get better over the years. Steamer’s.   (714) 871-8800.

San Francisco

- Mar. 3. (Sat.)  Ladysmith Black Mambazo.  The South African choral group made its international breakthrough via their presence on Paul Simon’s Graceland.  Since then, they have established their own credibility, introduced the world to the fascinating choral sounds and musical culture of South Africa, and won three Grammys.  Palace of Fine Arts Theatre.  An SFJAZZ 2012 Spring Season event. (866) 920-5299.

- Mar. 4. (Sun.)  Liz Story.  One of Windham Hill’s early New Age artists, Story’s piano playing and composing possessed far more compelling musical elements than most of the wallpaper music of the style.  Her current work is even better, finding the compatible territory between classical, jazz, pop and pure contemplative sounds. Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

Seattle

Benny Golson

- Feb. 28 & 29. (Tues. & Wed.)  Benny Golson Quartet. Tenor saxophonist and composer of a string of jazz classics, Golson seems to like nothing better than getting on stage and playing a straight ahead jazz set.  As he does here, backed by bassist Ray Drummond, drummer Jason Marsalis and pianist Sharp RadwayJazz Alley.   (206) 441-9729.

Washington, D.C.

- Mar. 1 – 4. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Mike Stern & Dave Weckl.  A pair of jazz fusion masters, guitarist Stern and drummer Weckl find common jazz cause with the empathic assistance of bassist John Pattitucci and saxophonist Bob Francheschini.  Blues Alley.    (202) 337-4141.

New York

John Pizzarelli

- Feb. 28 – Mar. 3. (Tues. – Sat.) John Pizzarelli Quartet.  Singer guitarist Pizzarelli, as musically intriguing as he is entertaining, is always fun to hear in the intimacy of a night club setting.  Hopefully he’ll play some of the intriguing musical collages from his new CD, Double Exposure.  Click HERE to read an iRoM review of a recent Pizzarelli performance.    Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.

- Feb. 28 – Mar. 4. (Tues. – Sun.)  Monty Alexander continues his musically eclectic residency at the Blue Note.  With special guests Sly & Robbie, Harlem Kingston Express and others.  (Check club website for schedule).  The Blue Note.    (212) 475-8592.

- Feb. 28 – Mar. 4. (Tues. – Sun.)  Matt Wilson Arts & Crafts Quartet. There’s plenty of artfulness and a lot of craft, too, in the all-star band drummer Wilson has put together, with trumpeter Terell Stafford, keyboardist Gary Versace and bassist Martin Wind Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.   (212) 258-9800.

Sheila Jordan

- Feb. 29. (Wed.)  Sheila Jordan and Jay Clayton. A summit meeting of two great jazz masters.  Jordan and Clayton are utterly unique stylists, but they share the singular belief in the limitless possibilities of the jazz vocal art.  They’re backed by Cameron Brown, bass and Jack Wilkins, guitar.  Cornelia St. Café.   (212) 989-9319.

- Mar. 3. (Sat.)  Maria Jacobs.  A jazz-driven singer, Jacobs brings musicality, persuasive story-telling skills and a warm and supple voice to her intimate readings of the Great American Songbook.  The Metropolitan Room.    (212) 206-0440.

Berlin

- Mar. 3. (Sat.)  Chris Potter Quartet.  Saxophonist Potter is arguably one of the most gifted practitioners on his instrument of the past decade or two.  He’s at his best backed by the solid rhythm team of Adam Rogers, guitar, Craig Taborn, keyboards, Nait Smith, drums.  A-Trane.   030/313 25 50.

Tokyo

- Mar. 1 – 4.  (Thurs. – Sun.)  Helen Merrill.  Veteran singer Merrill, whose remarkable skills have not always received the attention they deserve in her native U.S.  But wise Japanese jazz fans have accorded her much warranted musical stardom.  Blue Note Tokyo.    03.5485.0088.


Picks of the Week: Jan. 24 – 29

January 24, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

The Jazz & Blules Review: Courtney Lemmon, Gina Saputo, Dianne Wright, George Kahn

- Jan. 25. (Wed.) The Jazz and Blues Review.  Featuring Courtney Lemmon, Gina Saputo and Dianne Wright.  Backed by the George Kahn Quintet.  They’ve been called “a journey through blues and jazz, from New York to Los Angeles, from the Andrews Sisters to the Pointer Sisters at the intersection of Jump St. and Boogaloo Ave.”  Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- Jan. 25. (Wed.)  The London Handel Players.  The English ensemble makes its West Coast debut performing the music of Handel (of course), J.S. Bach and C.P.E. Bach in one of the Southland’s grand locations.  Chamber Music in Historic Sites.  The Grand Salon at the Ebell of Los Angeles.     (213) 477-2929.

- Jan. 25 – 29. (Wed. – Sun.)  Roy Hargrove Quintet.  The versatile, pocket rocket trumpeter gets into a straight ahead grove with his dynamic quintet.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Jan. 26. (Thurs.)  Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra“Baroque Conversations 1”  The first of the LACO’s performances of Baroque music – mostly Bach in this case – with music introduced from the stage by the artists, and open questioning from the audience to conclude the evening.  Oboist Alan Vogel leads the 14 piece ensemble of singers and instrumentalists.  Zipper Concert Hall.    (213) 622-7001 ext. 1.

- Jan. 26. (Thurs.)  Frank Potenza Quartet.  Guitarist Potenza has assembled an intriguing international ensemble, with the versatile Doug Webb, saxophones, ever-swinging Paul Kreibich, drums and – from New Caledonia – Michel Benebig, Hammond organ and Shem Benebig, vocals.  Brasserie Jazz Lounge, Crowne Plaza Hotel.  (310) 258-1333.

Lucinda Williams

- Jan. 27. (Fri.)  Lucinda Williams and Blake Mills. Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Williams – named “America’s best songwriter” in 2002 – shares the stage, in solo and duo sets, with young guitarist Mills.  UCLA Live.  Royce Hall.  (310) 825-2101.

- Jan. 27. (Fri.)  Chuck Manning . Tenor saxophonist Manning’s versatility is always on display.  “No matter what the context, his mix of smarts and heart will get two you,” wrote Brick Wahl in the L.A. Weekly.  He’s backed by Theo Saunders, piano, Pat Senatore, bass and Jimmy Branley, drums.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- Jan. 28. (Sat.)  Simplexity.  What is Simplexity?  An assemblage of all-star, first-call jazz players, led by bassist John von Seggern, coming together in a project that blends electronic ambient sounds and textures, contemporary dance beats and the soul of jazz improvisation.  Should be an evening to remember. Blue Whale. (213) 620-0908.

- Jan. 28. (Sat.)  They Might Be Giants.  The pioneering alternative rock band celebrates its 30th anniversary with a pair of Royce Hall appearances.  The family show, at 3 p.m. will draw on award-winning kids’ albums.  The evening program, at 8 p.m. will be highlighted by their latest album, Join Us.  Folk singer/songwriter Jonathan Coulter opens the show.  UCLA Live.  Royce Hall.  (310) 825-2101.

San Francisco

Wesla Whitfield

- Jan. 26. (Thurs.)  Wesla Whitfield with the Mike Greensil Trio.  Cabaret singer Whitfield and her husband, pianist Greensil have been offering definitive interpretations of classics from the Great American Songbook for decades.  Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

- Jan. 26 – 28. (Thurs. – Sat.)  The Stanley Clarke Band.  Always adventuring into new combinations, the current Clarke band includes regulars Ruslan Sirota, keyboards and Ronald Bruner, drums, with the added contributions of the eclectic young violinist, Zach BrockYoshi’s San Francisco.    (415) 655-5600.

New York

- Jan. 24 – 28. (Tues. – Sat.)  The Tierney Sutton Band.  There’s nothing quite like the combination of Sutton’s airy vocals with the ever-compatible musical embrace of the players – pianist Christian Jacob, bassists Kevin Axt and Trey Henry and drummer Ray Brinker — she has been performing with for two decades. Birdland.   (212) 581-3080.

- Jan. 26 – 29. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Billy Childs Quartet.  Pianist/composer Childs takes a break from his jazz chamber ensemble to groove hard with Steve Wilson, alto saxophone, Hans Glawischnig, bass and Eric Harland, drums.  Jazz Standard.  (212) 576-2232.

- Jan. 27. (Fri.)  Manhattan School of Music Jazz Philharmonic Orchestra.  Conducted by Justin DiCioccio.  A celebration the Stan Kenton Centennial, featuring the music of Kenton’s Innovations Orchestra.  Among the works that will be featured are Bill Russo’s “Improvisation,” Pete Rugolo’s “Interlude,” Robert Graettinger’s “City of Glass” and Stan Kenton’s “Artistry in Rhythm.”  RoBorden Auditorium at the Manhattan School of Music.  (917) 493-4428.

Boston

Ron Carter

- Jan. 27 – 28. (Fri. & Sat.)  The Ron Carter Trio. Every version of the Carter Trio is classy, and none more so than this high flying combination of bassist Carter, Russell Malone, guitar and Donald Vega, piano.  Regatta Bar.

Paris

- Jan. 28. (Sat.)  Renaud Garcia-Fons.  The brilliant bassist has created one of the unique sounds and styles in contemporary music, playing his five stringed acoustic instrument in works that blend, jazz, flamenco, folk music, classical and “new musette.”  New Morning.  01 45 23 51 41.

Copenhagen

- Jan. 26 & 27. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Jacky Terrasson.  French pianist Terrasson leads a stellar European jazz piano trio, with Thomas Fonnesbaek, bass and Alex Riel, drums.  Jazzhus Montmartre.    (+45) 70 15 65 65.

Jazz & Blues Review photo by Mara Zaslove.

Ron Carter photo by Tony Gieske


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 28 – July 4

June 28, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- June 28. (Tues.)  Satoko Fujii.  The envelope stretching music of pianist Fujii, a brilliant composer/improviser will be enhanced by the presence of the similarly adventurous trumpeter (and her husband) Natsuki TamuraThe Blue Whale.    (213) 620-0908.

Bob Sheppard

- June 29. (Wed.)  Bob Sheppard’s East West Band. Saxophonist-flutist Sheppard can always be counted on for a provocative evening of world class jazz.  This time out, he juxtaposes East Coast and West Coast, with Larry Koonse (L.A.), guitar. Anthony Pinciotti (N.Y.) drums, Ed Howard (N.Y.), bass.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- June 29. (Wed.)  Rene Marie.  She got a late start as a jazz singer, but Marie hasn’t wasted any time since she made her professional debut after she turned 40.  She’ll celebrate the release of her fascinating new CD, Voice of My Beautiful Country. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- June 30. (Thurs.)  Elliot Caine Quartet.  Music on the Main Jazz Series.   Trumpeter/eye doctor Caine and his players perform bebop driven jazz in what is surely one of the summer’s most appealing musical settings.  Descanso Gardens .  (818) 949-4200.

- June 30. (Thurs.)  Janis Mann Quartet. Singer Mann’s rich-toned voice and intimate way with a song affirm her status as one of the Southland’s finest jazz vocal artists. Charlie O’s.   (818) 994-3058.

Rondi Charleston

- June 30. (Thurs.) Rondi Charleston. A story teller at heart, Charleston applies her warm singing style to an exploration of the inner essence of a song.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- July 1. (Fri.)  Brian Scanlon Quartet.  Versatile saxophonist Scanlon’s resume reaches from solid jazz with Dizzy Gillespie to a stint with the NBC Orchestra and a busy schedule as a studio musician.  In his spare time he teaches jazz at Pepperdine.  But on this night, he’ll be doing it all his own way, backed by pianist Theo Saunders, bassist Pat Senatore and drummer Kendall KayVibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

Ballet Folclorico do Brasil

- July 2. (Sat.)  Ballet Folclorico do Brasil. Expect an evening of colorful, high energy, terpsichorean delights when the dancers, capoeiristas and musicians of the Folclorico take the stage with their far-reaching expressions of the rich pleasures of Brazilian culture. Ford Amphitheatre.    (323) 461-3673.

- July 2 – 4. ( Sat. – Mon.)  July 4th Spectacular with Hall & Oates. The pop hit-making duo of Daryl Hall and John Oates showcase an evening of their classics with Thomas Wilkins and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.  And don’t forget the always sensational July 4th fireworks.  The Hollywood Bowl. (323) 850-2000.  

San Francisco

- July 1 – 3. (Fri. – Sun.)  James Cotton’s Superharp Band.  The Fourth of July Weekend Blues Festival.  Blues legend Cotton has shared stages with everyone from the Rolling Stones and Janis Joplin to  B.B. King and Sam & Dave.  On this blues driven appearance, he’ll be trading licks with harpist Momo Buford and guitarist Hubert SumlinYoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.

- July 1 – 3. (Fri. – Sun.)  Ottmar Liebert & Luna Negra.  Multiple Grammy Award-nominated guitarist Liebert has been defining the nouveau flamenco style since the ‘90s.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.     (415) 655-5600.

Seattle

Milton Nascimento

- June 28 & 29. (Tues. & Wed.)  Milton Nascimento.  He’s one of the great Brazilian artists of song – as a performer and a writer.  Approaching 69, he is still a vibrant performer, his music reaching out to bring Brazilian roots and American jazz and rock into a warm embrace.  Jazz Alley.    (206) 441-9729.

Chicago

- June 30 – July 3. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Larry Coryell Trio.  Guitarist Coryell has been crossing over from rock to blues to jazz and beyond since the ‘60s.  Although he doesn’t often receive the credit he deserves, his impact on the fusion of the post bop era was vital.  Jazz Showcase.   (312) 360-0234.

New York

- June 28 – July 3. (Tues. – Sun.)  Django Reinhardt Festival, starring the Young Lions of Gypsy Jazz.  Featuring Samson Schmitt, guitar, Ludovic Beier, accordion, Pierre Blanchard, violin, Andreas Oberg, guitar, Brian Torff, bass.  With special guests Anat Cohen, James Carter, Joel Frahm, Edmar Castaneda, Claudio Roditi. Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

Jon Hendricks

Annie Ross

- June 28 & 29. (Tues. & Wed.) Jon Hendricks and Annie Ross.  Don’t miss this one.  Two of the great principals of the legendary Lambert, Hendricks & Ross trio get together for a stirring reunion.  The presence of the lively, teen-age jazz singer Nikki Yanofsky on Tuesday will undoubtedly spice things up even more.  The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

London

July 4 & 5. (Mon. & Tues.)  The Gary Burton Quartet.  Vibist Burton’s world class ensemble features his frequent musical companion, rising young guitarist Julian Lage, drummer Antonio Sanchez and bassist Jorge RoederRonnie Scott’s.    020 7439 0747.

Paris

Lee Ritenour

- July 30 (Wed.)  Lee Ritenour and Friends.  Guitarist Ritenour continues his European tour with a stop in France, displaying the far-ranging versatility and imagination that have made him one of the prime contemporary jazz practitioners of his art.  New Morning.    01 45 23 51 41.

Tokyo

- June 3 – 6. (Sun. – Wed.)  Sadao Watanabe.  Alto saxophonist Watanabe is one of Japan’s finest gifts to jazz.  Although his style is rooted in the complexities of bebop, he enhances it with a rich improvisational imagination of his own.  Blue Note Tokyo.   03-5485-0088.

Bob Sheppard and Annie Ross photos by Tony Gieske.


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