Here, There & Everywhere: The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts

May 15, 2014

By Don Heckman

Describing Herb Alpert as a philanthropist doesn’t accurately identify the full generosity of his activities over recent decades. Many of his awards have been institutional, to UCLA, USC, CalArts and beyond. And in each of those cases, his generosity has had a significant impact upon the effectiveness of their music education programs.

But Alpert has done much more. For the past twenty years, his Herb Alpert Award in the Arts has annually given $75,000 prizes each to five mid–career, risk–taking artists in dance, film/video, music, theatre, and visual arts.

“Over the last twenty years,” says Alpert, “we’ve been lucky enough to have given a boost to choreographers, musicians, visual and media artists, and theatre makers, those who keep on searching, and making powerful, spirited work. For all of us to enjoy…or not.”

Last Friday, Alpert and his wife Lani Hall hosted the announcement of his year’s awards at an annual award lunch. And, once again, the line up of winners included an impressive array of creative artists.

Michelle Dorrance, Matana Roberts, Deborah Stratman, Herb Alpert, Lani Hall Alpert, Annie Dorsen, DAniel Joseph Martinez

Michelle Dorrance, Matana Roberts, Deborah Stratman, Herb Alpert, Lani Hall Alpert, Annie Dorsen, Daniel Joseph Martinez

Here are the winners in the various categories, along with comments from Irene Borger, Director of the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, regarding the reasons for their selection:

- Dance: Tap dancer Michelle Dorreance. Chosen for her “inventive sophistication and transporting the field into radically new places.”

- Music: Composer, avant-garde saxophonist and sound artist Matana Roberts. Chosen for her charismatic, powerful renderings of sound.”

- Film/Video: Documentary Filmmaker Deborah Stratman. Chosen for her “important body of films, and the ways she grapples with tough issues.”

- Theatre: Theatre artist Annie Dorsen. Chosen for her “audacious investigations, unrelenting pursuit of ideas, and new theatrical forms.”

- Visual Arts: Post-conceptual artist Daniel Joseph Martinez. Chosen for his “his fearless, continually evolving practice, unwavering commitment to art and politics, to the field, and to Los Angeles.”

Alpert summed up the significance of the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts in a final comment, perfectly reflecting the adventurousness of his own long career as an imaginative, improvising jazz artist always in search of new ideas:

“What happens,” says Alpert, “when you support artists with that special spark? You don’t know — and that’s exactly part of the magic.”

It’s a magic that Alpert has either been creating or supporting – and sometimes both – over the course of the music he’s been making from the early days of the Tijuana Brass to his most recent recordings and performances with his wife Lani Hall Alpert.

Add to that the equally magical works Alpert has been producing in his remarkable career as a highly regarded painter and sculptor. No wonder he relates so empathically with the simlarly imaginative winners of his Herb Alpert Award in the Arts.

* * * * * * * *

Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision courtesy of the Herb Alpert Foundation.

 

 


Here, There & Everywhere: The 2012 Alpert Award in the Arts

May 11, 2012

By Don Heckman

Herb Alpert has had more successes – creative and financial – than most artists can dream of experiencing.  And to his credit he’s handled them with remarkable finesse and generosity.  Music programs at UCLA and CalArts have benefited from his multi-million dollar grants to each institution.

Herb Alpert

Today, another impressive display of the Alpert munificence took place with the presentation of the 2012 Alpert Awards in the Arts, a combined effort of the Herb Alpert Foundation and CalArts. The Awards, now in their 19th installment, recognize mid-career achievements in Music, Dance, Film/Video, Theatre and Visual Arts.

All of the winners — as well as Alpert, CalArts faculty members and some of the panel members who made the Awards selections — were in attendance earlier today for a celebratory party at the Alpert Foundation offices in Santa Monica. Each receives a $75,000 award.

Jazz fans can be especially pleased that the Music Award was granted to pianist/composer Myra Melford, whose ground breaking, exploratory recordings have provided some of the most fascinating improvisational journeys of the past two decades.

Myra Melford

According to Irene Borger, Director of the Alpert Award in the Arts, Melford was honored “for her ascending and expansive trajectory, and great, generous musical mind…her willingness to dive into the deep end of the pool and her ability to take multiple musical traditions into another sphere.”

Ms. Borger also announced the reasoning behind the other awards:

Nora Chipaumire

Dance: Nora Chipaumire, “for her profound movement intellirgence, steaming hot and extraordinary presence, the dialogue she creates with audiences, and her visceral struggles with critical issues of the day.”

* * * *

Kevin Everson

Film/Video: Kevin Everson, “for his relentless curiosity, sustained inquiry, for elevating the visual power of expressive quotidian gestures of working people, and for his aesthetic caring gaze.”

* * * *

Eisa Davis

Theatre: Eisa Davis, “for her profound multiple gifts as playwright, performer and musician, her portrayal of the complex richness of our American character, and her work’s relevance and epic sweep, expanding our notion of how one might live in the 21st century.”

* * * *

Michael Smith

Visual Arts: Michael Smith, “for subversively using the visual languages of popular and corporate culture to take on big issues, for pioneering narrative within video art practice, and for rendering the everyday as truly strange….”

Alpert’s smiling presence underscored the satisfaction he must feel for the display of yet another of his vital contributions to the arts.  He could, after all, have bought an island (or two or three) in the Caribbean and retired to a life of luxurious beach-combing, painting, sculpting and some trumpet playing on the side.  Not that he’s given up on the latter three.  Not at all.  His fascinating paintings and sculptures are omnipresent in the Foundation offices, his home near Malibu and his Bel Air jazz club, Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. And he and his wife, the gifted singer Lani Hall, continue to record and tour with their stellar group.

But Alpert also expresses his creativity via his beneficence – via his generous financial support for the arts as a vital, continually expressive element in American life.

* * * * * *

Photos courtesy of the Herb Alpert Foundation.


Live Music: Bryan Adams Bare Bones Tour at UCLA’s Royce Hall

April 10, 2011

By Mike Finkelstein

There is an undeniably universal appeal in a guy singing love songs with a guitar.  Ladies love the high level of simple romantic communication in it, and upon seeing this, most men certainly recognize the power of the medium to grab a woman’s attention by the heartstrings.  Over the past 30 or so years, one of the most successful practitioners of this format is Bryan Adams and on Saturday night he brought his stripped-down/acoustic Bare Bones Tour to a packed house at UCLA’s Royce Hall.

There was a very tangible anticipatory buzz in the air as the audience strolled into the theater.  There was also an abundance of beautiful women, on dates or in small groups on girls’ night out.  The show started about 15 minutes late but the place was packed by then and erupted when Adams, in jeans and a black shirt, strode onstage with a top hat in one hand and a beautiful brown Martin guitar in the other.

True to the Bare Bones concept, the large Royce Hall stage was nearly bare with only a grand piano and a mike stand to receive Adams’ guitar and voice.  Also true to the concept was the clever idea of using the bare back wall of Royce Hall as the back drop.  It’s as beautiful and old as the building itself with gorgeous wrought iron and brickwork above an impressive old sliding iron backstage door.  Bathed in red or blue light, the wall provided a very tasteful backdrop for Adams and keyboardist Gary Breit.

The first song was “Run to You,” and from the opening notes of its signature guitar tag, the audience seemed to literally know every change and every word of each song Adams played.  Pianist Gary Breit shuttled on and off the stage all night, but for the vast majority of songs it was just Adams and his guitar.

Hit song after memorable hit song revealed the level of Adams’ successes.  Nearly every one of Adams’ best known songs is simply about love, whether it’s the pursuit of love (“Do I Have To Say The Words”), the faith in love (“This Time,” “Heaven”), the definition of love(“Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman”), or several other angles on heartbreak (“Cuts Like a Knife”) and love delivered (“Can’t Stop This Thing We’ve Started”).  All of his songs ring very true emotionally and people connect strongly with truth.  In a radio friendly rock format, the appeal is tremendous.   His songs were once ubiquitous on FM radio, and anyone whose ears have been open at all since the early 80’s has heard dozens of his songs many times.  Although FM radio isn’t now the beacon it once was, his songs remain FM staples.

But the memories of those splendidly simpler times live on, and when it was time for audience participation, it was impressive that so many people still knew all the words. During sing-along time the sound of the audience voice was definitely female, which was a beautiful thing.  Adams seemed clearly aware of this all night as they hooted song requests.  And many of the men in the audience couldn’t help but notice the purity in the reactions so many of the babes at the show had to these songs.  These ladies had clearly lived through the emotions many times and likely sung them silently or aloud nearly as many times.

Adams did have the crowd in the palm of his hand, with plenty of memorable musical moments Saturday night.  How often will we see a bagpiper walk in and out of a B.A. show without missing a note on the chorus of “Cuts Like a Knife?” Pianist Breit’s adaptation of the flamenco guitar feel in “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman” was similarly grand.  Add to that Adams’ memorable little gem, “Walk on By,” finger-picked and given the full B.A. treatment.

In the stripped down format, Adams’ voice had all kinds of room to expand, soar, and howl.  It was as loud as the piano, but his tone was the remarkable thing.  His voice straddled the line between polished and raspy — at once rough enough to mean tough business and polished enough to deliver line after line about romantic love.  It’s a great rock voice, as superb in getting the tenderness across as it is for the power vocals.  It’s a fine line Adams walks, and he has made a hugely successful career of merging the two realms in simple songs that appeal to everybody’s heart of hearts.

A heaping handful of his hits were written at the age of 23 or thereabouts.  Listening to them unplugged on Saturday reminded people that these songs must have sounded quite similar when they were nurtured along in his Canadian apartment back in the ‘80s.    What a treat to hear these songs in this format!

The Bare Bones show underscored for all to see why guys will continue to pick up guitars and begin singing from their hearts to reach the women in their world.  Depending on how good a guy’s songs and voice are, well, the world could just be his oyster.  Bryan Adams is living proof of this idea.

To read more reviews by Mike Finkelstein click HERE.


Live Jazz: Chick Corea and Gary Burton at Royce Hall

March 6, 2011

By Michael Katz

Chick Corea and Gary Burton are two exquisite musicians, who in their duets have found a way to channel their talents into a performance both unified by their sensibilities and singular in their contributions. Saturday night, in a UCLA Live presentation before an appreciative audience at Royce Hall, they brought out some familiar material from past albums, interlaced with material they are developing for a new collection of standards, though not in the sense you might suspect.

Chick Corea and Gary Burton

The first two numbers, “Love Castle” and “Native Sense,” were a reminder that both piano and vibes are nominally placed in the rhythm section. They featured Corea and Burton exploring rhythmic patterns, ebbing and flowing into each other’s leads. The sound of Burton’s vibraharp, clear,  crisp and amplified in a way unlike the piano, can appear to lead the way when the two are in harmony; Corea, implicitly acknowledging this, offered more chordal support, waiting for Burton to step back before offering his own solos.

Chick Corea

Both men took turns introducing numbers with self-deprecating humor, Corea unfolding voluminous charts of new arrangements, as if to belie the supposition that all jazz  is improvised. The so-called standards for the upcoming CD were less old chestnuts than nods to their musical antecedents,  from Mozart to Bud Powell to Lennon/McCartney. “Can’t We Be Friends” was a tune performed by Art Tatum and, while not familiar to the audience, gave Corea an opportunity to demonstrate his chops, which at age 70 are not in the slightest bit diminished.

It was the next number, Jobim’s “Chega De Saudade” (aka “No More Blues”), with its more familiar melody, that really garnered an appreciation of their approach. Corea and Burton both played with Stan Getz early in their careers, Burton on several of the seminal bossa nova records and Corea later, in a more contemporary setting that featured many of his own compositions. Their approach was a reflection of both periods: a counterintuitive introduction, setting off a percussive line and backing into the melody, the samba insinuating itself into the performance. Burton is a visual wonder as well, wielding two double mallets, their blue tips a blur. Unlike the pianist whose fingertips never leave the keyboard, Burton seems more the acrobat, albeit with little time for the audience to contemplate the daring, or to wonder how the mallets never miss their targets.

Gary Burton

It was interesting to note their different relationship to Beatles music, Corea explaining that he was barely aware of them, ensonced in Trane and Bird and Miles in the ‘60s, while Burton attended the Beatles’ famous 1965 Shea Stadium concert. When Corea announced the next tune as a Lennon/McCartney number, you could sense the anticipation as they worked their way through an opening bridge, which revealed the familiar chords to “Eleanor Rigby.” Burton led the way with a sometimes jarring line that still managed to retain the essential theme of loneliness, implicit even without the lyrics.

“No Mystery,” though originally recorded by Corea’s Return To Forever band, seemed ideal for the duo, its clear and simple melodic line intoned perfectly by Burton, with Corea intricately weaving in a counter melodic backing.

The second set was an equally enthralling musical journey, beginning with Corea’s homage entitled “Bud Powell,”  and continuing with “Alegria,” a flamenco style tune that began with Burton and Corea tapping rhythms on opposite ends of the piano and continuing in the Spanish tinged harmonies that have been a staple of Chick’s work. That was followed by Bill Evans “Time Remembered” and one of Monk’s lesser known tunes, “Light Blue.”  But the highlight of the second set was “Mozart Goes Dancing,” in which Corea imagined  Mozart confronting African rhythms and dancers. There were snatches of classical phrasing from Chick, interspersed with Burton’s lilting rhythms, weaving the jazz and classical forms with panache.

The perfect coda to the evening was the encore,  this time devoid of charts. Corea and Burton fell easily into a joyous version of “Blue Monk.”  There were no intricate arrangements here, just the two of them riffing as if it was a late night jam session. And it was late, at least in the sense of a concert venue.  But the UCLA crowd, which often dissipates early to beat the parking jam, stayed around until the final note.  Had there been a third set few people would have left, but instead it was emblematic that this musical pairing of virtuosos can still leave an audience asking for more.

Photos by Andrew Elliott courtesy of UCLA Live.

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


Live Blues: Taj Mahal and Vieux Farka Toure at Royce Hall

October 31, 2010

By Mike Finkelstein

Legendary blues man Taj Mahal’s performance last week at a UCLA Live concert in Royce Hall drew a large and enthusiastic audience.  It was a night in which we saw an integration of musical styles from many different points on the planet, ranging from the Mississippi Delta to Mali.   In the capable hands of a winsome character like Taj, the program was hugely entertaining.   Though he has recorded material in many styles, using instruments ranging from steel drums to a kora – and everything standard in between – on this night he stuck to stripped down blues arrangements.

With only drums and bass to back him, Taj hit the stage right on time, dressed in white linen slacks and a black sport shirt, spangled with what looked like assorted exotic birds and a wide brimmed white hat.   He immediately plugged into one of several acoustic/electric guitars and played “TV Mama”  which evoked the old Elmore James riff in “Dust My Broom” and featured a very crisp guitar solo.  Though he was not playing slide guitar, he made the riff sound as though he was.

Taj Mahal

Three songs into the set, it was time to wipe his brow and this seemingly routine motion offered a glimpse into how someone with real presence, like Taj, seems to look all the more memorable in a hat. He held the hat up, looked it over like a trusted pet, and observed in a warm, low voice that the hat had attitude, and that it was just looking for a head to sit on.  It wasn’t simply his words that impressed, it was also how he physically assured us of the idea.   Similarly, the graceful arc he displayed in strapping on a new guitar spoke subtly to anyone who was watching.

Throughout the show Taj cycled through guitar, keyboard and banjo, always maintaining a fine balance between singing, strumming, soloing or even whistling.  He seemed to be moderating a charismatic dialogue between these components on each song.  He has one of the most expressive voices you could hope to find.  At times he sounded angelic, other times warm and immediate, and occasionally like a big ‘ol bullfrog.  The rhythm section of Kester Smith and Bill Rich served up streamlined, catchy grooves that fit the tunes like a glove.

Vieux Farka Toure

Songs such as “Blues With a Feeling,” “Corrina, Corrina,” and “Zanzibar” were eagerly received by an audience that seemed fully familiar with Mahal’s repertoire.   On “Blues With a Feeling” he was joined onstage by Vieux Farka Toure, the rising star guitar player from Mali who opened the show.  When these fellows jammed it was an interesting contrast in roots and style.  On this set of standard blues changes Taj veered towards the pentatonic end of the spectrum and Vieux worked more with the major scale, which actually made his own blues licks jump up out of the mix.

The opening set by Toure, son of the legendary Ali Farka Toure, was also very well received.   Playing a Joe Satriani model Ibanez guitar, dressed in authentic Malian garb, Toure and his band proceeded to keep the audience engaged and bopping for an hour.  His set consisted of songs that featured several different sets of three or four chord changes and a whole lot of guitar soloing on top of it all.  Although the words to his songs were not in English he was very explanatory between songs as he politely relayed to the audience how he was finding America.

Watching the young man from Mali arrive on the UCLA campus, then play the blues onstage with Taj Mahal on a Korean made guitar, which was designed by an American rock ‘n roller, really made the world seem just a little bit smaller — if only for the length of an entertaining evening.

Taj Mahal photo courtesy of UCLA LIVE.

To read more reviews by Mike Finkelstein click HERE.


Live Jazz: Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette at Royce Hall

March 12, 2009

By Don Heckman

When three musicians have been playing together as long as Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette have, it’s not unreasonable to expect a certain amount of repetitiveness to surface in their performances.  Even the Duke Ellington Orchestra, for all its vaunted longevity, spent a good deal of its onstage time playing arrangements they’d played for decades.  And, of course, the audiences for pop acts such as the Rolling Stones, would surely rattle the cage if the program didn’t included a healthy serving of familiar classics.

jarrett-trio-by-sventheilmannSmall jazz groups, however, afford the opportunity to try something new every night, even between the same players.  And few have made more – or even as much – of that opportunity as Jarrett, Peacock and DeJohnette, who have basically been on an exploratory improvisational journey together for more than twenty-five years.  Yes, they often repeat the same tunes.  But once the melodies are stated – often in dramatically different fashion – and the soloing begins, repetition comes to an end.

The trio’s appearance at Royce Hall Thursday night in a UCLA Live concert came barely a year after their previous booking in the same venue.  Interestingly, there were a pair of tunes on the program that were also played in 2008: Thelonious Monk’s “Straight, No Chaser,” and the old Jo Stafford pop hit song, “You Belong To Me.”  And each was approached in a fashion recalling the earlier performance: the Monk blues as a wildly spontaneous, avant-garde tinged romp; “You Belong To Me” as a sweetly lyrical ballad.  Yet, even in this relatively repetitive context, there was an exploratory feeling in the playing – stretching the envelope with the former, finding the melodic soul of the latter.

Jarrett, Peacock and DeJohnette typically spend a good portion of their sets playing standards, and this program was no exception, with the inclusion of the familiar – “Autumn Leaves,” “I Thought About You” and “Life Is Just A Bowl of Cherries – and the less well-known “Once Upon A Time” and “No Lonely Nights.”  The slower tunes were stunning displays of Jarrett’s capacity to make his lines sing, to find emotional timbres via the sensitivity of his touch.  In the faster numbers, his bebop chops reigned, enhanced by occasional passages of impromptu counterpoint, several stunning long lines reaching playfully across the phrases of the song, some surprisingly Shearingesque block chording, and the empathic rhythmic groove carved by Peacock and DeJohnette.

In addition to “Straight, No Chaser,” a trio of jazz lines roved through the music’s stylistic history: Miles Davis’ “Solar,” introduced by a characteristically layered drum solo from DeJohnette; a light-hearted celebration of Clifford Brown’s “Joy Spring”; and, unexpectedly, a stride style updating of James P. Johnson’s “Carolina Shout.”

All jazz groups – and especially those that deal primarily in improvisation – are potentially subject to inspirational hills and valleys.  And the first half of the Jarrett/Peacock/DeJohnette performance had a few slopes in which imagination seemed less than optimal.  But the second half – after the obligatory piano tuning – more than made up for the slight lapse.  And it was in that segment that this remarkable collective again reaffirmed – as they have so often done in the past – the life, the vigor and the ever-fascinating new information that improvisational jazz, at its best, can offer.


Picks of the Week: Feb 2 – 8

February 2, 2009

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Feb. 2. (Mon.)  Emerson String Quartet.  The veteran, eight Grammy Award-winning ensemble performs amid a major retrospective showing of the art of painter Roberta Eisenberg.  The program includes Beethoven, Ravel, Webern and Schubert.  Cal State Polytechnic.  Pomona. (310) 216-5861.  http://www.csupomona.edu/~kellogg_gallery/.

jacky-terrasson

Jacky Terrasson

- Feb. 4 – 7.  (Wed. – Sat.)  Jacky Terrasson Trio.  The always-intriguing French pianist makes a rare L.A. stop.  The Jazz Bakery  (310) 271-9039.  www.jazzbakery.com.

- Feb 5.  (Thurs.)  Klezmerata Fiorentina.  How’s this for eclecticism: Four principal players from Florence’s Orchestra del Maggio Musicale, performing Ukrainian-Jewish instrumental music in an improvisatory style. Expect to hear lots of tapping feet.  Skirball Cultural Center.  (310) 440-4500.  www.skirball.org.

- Feb. 5.  (Thurs.)  Ron Eschete Trio. The master of the seven string jazz guitar in action.    Steamers. (714) 871-8800  www.steamersjazzcafe.com.

steve-tyrell

Steve Tyrell

- Feb. 5 – 8  (Thurs. – Sun.) and Feb. 12 – 15 (Thurs. – Sun.)  Singer Steve Tyrell does his unique take on the Great American Songbook.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.  www.catalinajazzclub.com

Feb. 6.  (Fri.)  Master Musicians of Jajouka.  William S. Burroughs described it as the “music of a 4,000 year old rock & roll band.”  But even that colorful beat generation description misses the intensity of the Jajoukas’ music, with its plangent reeds, wailing flutes and roiling percussion.  UCLA Royce Hall. (310) 825-2101.  www.uclalive.org.   (Also Feb. 11 and 12 at Yoshi’s San Francisco. (415) 655-5600.  www.yoshis.com.)

orchestra_otmani_1

Orchestra Otmani

- Feb. 6.  (Fri. ) Orchestra Otmani of Fes.  A rare opportunity to hear Moroccan music in the Andalusian style.  Orchestra Otmani performs in both secular and Sufi traditions, and features the singing of 21 year old vocal prodigy Marouane Hajji.  Zipper Concert Hall at the Colburn School.  (866) 468-3399. http://www.zipperhall.com/.

- Feb. 6, 8, 13 and 15.  (Fri,, Sun., Fri. & Sun.)   Le Nozze di Figaro.  “Figaro” is always fun.  But rarely more so than in this self-described “boisterous new production” by Opera UCLA.  Schoenberg Hall. (310) 825-2101  www.arts.ucla.edu

- Feb. 6 & 7.  (Fri. & Sat.)  Another jazz saxophone weekend at Charlie O’s, with the boppish stylings of Lanny Morgan on Sat. and the Pink Panther tenor of Plas Johnson on Saturday.  Charlie O’s.  818- 994-3058.  www.charlieos.com.

- Feb. 7.  (Fri.)  An Evening with Edward Albee. The great American playwright tells how it’s done.   Royce Hall UCLA.  UCLA Royce Hall. (310) 825-2101.  www.uclalive.org.

azamali2

Azam Ali

-Feb. 7.  (Sat.)  Niyaz.  The cross-cultural ensemble of singer Azam Ali, multi-instrumentalist Loga Ramin Torkian, oud player Naser Musa, tabla player Salar Nadar, bassist Miles Jay and keyboardist Ray Lee explore the surprisingly compatible linkages between Persian, Indian, Turkish and Western dance music.  The El Rey.  (323) 936-6400.  http://www.theelrey.com/.   Also Fri., Feb. 7 at Cal State Fullerton Performing Arts Center.  (714) 278-3371.   http://www.fullerton.edu/arts/events.

- Feb. 7.  (Fri.)  Rahim AlHaj and Souhail Kaspar.  Iraqi oud virtuoso AlHaj is joined by Lebanese percussionist Souhail Kaspar in a presentation of music from his latest CD, “Home Again.”  The Getty. http://www.getty.edu/.

kodo1

KODO

- Feb. 8.  (Sun.) Kodo Drummers.  Disney Hall.  No that’s not the big one you hear, although it sometimes approaches the intensity of a major temblor.  It’s Japan’s Kodo Drummers, filling Disney Hall with their incomparable blend of sheer showmanship and body-shaking percussion sounds.  Walt Disney Concert Hall. (323) 850-2000.  http://www.laphil.org.

San Francisco

- Feb. 2 & 3.  (Mon. & Tues.)  Chris Hillman & Herb Pederson with John McEuen.  California country, rock and bluegrass lives.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655-5600.  www.yoshis.com.

New York City

- Feb. 3 – 8.  (Tues. – Sun.)  The perfect contemporary jazz storm: The Yellowjackets’ irrepressible beat  and Mike Stern’s take-no-prisoners guitar playing. Blue Note.  (No wonder they have two Grammy nominations.)  (212) 475-8592. http://www.bluenote.net/newyork/index.shtml.

- Feb. 4 – 7  (Wed. – Sat.)  Drummer Lewis Nash steps to the front of the stage with his own sterling quintet  (Jeremy Pelt, trumpet, Jimmy Greene, tenor saxophone, Renee Rosnes, piano, Peter Washington, bass)  Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.  www.birdlandjazz.com.

- Feb. 6.  (Fri.)  Up and coming pianist Helen Sung combines her youthful perspective with veteran bassist Ron Carter‘s ever-adventurous overview.  Rubin Museum of Art. (212) 620-5000.  www.rmanyc.org.

- Feb. 6 & 7.  (Fri. & Sat.)  Pianist Mike Melvoin, bassist Jay Leonhart and drummer Bill Goodwin make a convincing case for the fact that jazz can be simultaneously lyrical, elegant, imaginative and hard-swinging.  The Kitano.  (212) 885-7000.  http://www.kitano.com.  Also at Scullers Jazz Club in Boston on Tues., Feb. 10.  (617) 562-4111.  http://www.scullersjazz.com.

- Feb. 6 & 7.  (Fri. & Sat..)  (10:30 & 12:00 AM)  Tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake‘s envelope-stretching quintet, with pianist Dave Kikoski, guitarist Lage Lund, drummer Bill Stewart and bassist Matt Clohesy.  Smalls.  (212) 252-5091.  http://www.smallsjazzclub.com/.

Knoxville, Tennessee

- Feb. 6 – 8  (Fri.  -  Sun.) Big Ears Festival.  A cross-genre music and arts festival combining art installations, exhibitions, performance art, seminars with artists, and interactive experiences.  Confirmed artists include Philip Glass, Jon Hassell, Pauline Oliveros, and numerous others.  At locations around Knoxville, Tenn.    (865).684-1200 Ext. 2.    www.bigearsfestival.com.


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