Live Jazz: The Jennifer Scott Trio in a Siskiyou Music Project performance at the Paschal Winery.

August 4, 2015

By Don Heckman

Talent, Oregon. Singer/pianist Jennifer Scott drove through the forest fire smoke in southern Oregon Sunday to perform a memorable evening of jazz versions of Great American Songbook classics – and a lot more. Her Trio included her husband, bassist Rene Worst, and guitarist Ed Dunsavage.

As the creative director of the Siskiyou Music Project‘s programming, Dunsavage has produced dozens of fine jazz programs. And this was one of his best, in part because of the superb musicality of the Canadian couple of Scott and Worst. But also, too, due to Dunsavage’s own impressive jazz skills.

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott

The Scott Trio has been playing dates together recently, and the blend between these three gifted players might best be described as creatively symbiotic music-making.

Scott was the focus of an essentially vocal evening of music. And with good reason. Blessed with a voice that soars across octaves, she also possesses a warmth and intimacy of tone, and the interpretive musical skills of a born story teller. And she sounded completely at home in the company of her Trio’s bass, guitar and her piano, a setting that also provided ample space for each player to solo freely.

Well thought-out arrangements added an additional touch to an evening of music further enhanced by the colorful setting of the Paschal Winery.

Rene Worst and Ed Dunsavage

Rene Worst and Ed Dunsavage

Scott’s choice of songs was superb, ranging from blues to bossa nova, from standards to songs of the sixties. And she handled each genre with interpretive authenticity.

The blues came early, starting with “Rocks In My Bed” followed much later by a closing jam showcasing Scott’s impressive scat singing.

The Brazilian material included “Sonho Meu,” a song associated with Maria Bethania, and the Jobim classic “Agua De Beber.” Add to this the gorgeous Italian song “Estate,” often sung with a bossa nova foundation. And here, too, Scott revealed yet another convincing musical perspective – with the aid of Worst and capturing the subtle flow of Brazilian rhythms.

And there was more: An impressive display of Scott’s solid jazz skills in stunning romps through Thelonious Monk’s “Play Twice” and Chick Corea’s “Armandos Rhumba.” Here, as elsewhere, her piano comping and soloing also provided full and equal improvisational partnership to the bass and guitar.

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott

Add to that the stylistic authenticity of Scott’s interpretations of standards such as “I’m Old Fashioned,” “Bye Bye Blackbird,” “I’ve Never Been in Love Before” and “My Foolish Heart,” as well as such ’60s items as James Taylor’s “The Secret of Life.”

Then, calling upon her enthusiastic listeners to join in, she offered an emotionally touching reading of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” with everyone joining in on the chorus. It was the perfect climax to a perfect musical evening. Thanks to the Siskiyou Music Project for showcasing the Jennifer Scott Trio in a performance to remember.

The Siskiyou Music Project’s 2015 season closes on August 22 with “Celebrating Sinatra: Leslie Kendall and Friends.”

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Photos by Faith Frenz.

 


Doc Wendell’s Prescription For Bass BeBop: Paul Chambers: “1st Bassman” (Vee Jay Records)

August 3, 2015

Devon “Doc” Wendell

By Devon Wendell

Paul Chambers or “Mr. P.C.” was one of the most prolific and inventive bassists to emerge from the hard-bop era. His presence was so strong on classic albums by Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, J.J. Johnson, Sonny Rollins, Art Pepper, Bill Evans, and Thelonious Monk, (to name only a few) that his aggressive playing often rivaled the many jazz icons he “backed up.” He never overstepped his boundaries and he could be a very subtle player. But like bassists before him such as Oscar Pettiford, Milt Hinton, Ray Brown, and Percy Heath , he helped to bring the bass to the forefront of jazz. Chambers was young and hip. He took chances which gave him an edge that was relentlessly burning.

Paul Chambers

On May 12, 1960, Chambers lead an all-star band (Wynton Kelly, piano, Lex Humphries, drums, Curtis Fuller, trombone, Yusef Lateef, tenor saxophone and flute, and Tommy Turrentine on trumpet) for what turned out to be his last studio session as a band leader. The results were fantastic.

Lateef wrote all of the material for the album – 1st Bassman – (with the exception of Cannonball Adderley’s “Who’s Blues.”) Chambers creates some of the hardest swinging, funkiest grooves imaginable. On “Melody” and the modal “Bass Region,” Lateef’s tenor lines are tasteful and wonderfully original. Lateef had already established a style that was unique and that could fit in both hard-bop and more avant-garde settings. Humphries’ drumming is subtle and in the pocket, in the vein of Art Taylor or Kenny Clarke.

Fuller and Turrentine play melodically, dancing around the beat. Wynton Kelly always finds a way to explore new harmonic possibilities that fit perfectly within a given arrangement and composition. And Chambers’ solos are adventurous without losing sight of the grooves.

Paul Chambers

Paul Chambers

“Retrogress” and “Mopp Shoe Blues” feature Kelly, Lateef, Fuller, and Turrentine all soloing around Chambers’ bass lines. Lateef’s horn arrangements have a big band feel to them. Chambers is the man in front and on top and everyone present knows how to swing elegantly in orbit around him.

“Blessed” is a gorgeous ballad featuring some of Chambers’ most inventive and soulful bass bowing. The delicate horn arrangements glide softly below, punctuating some of Chambers’ masterful phrasing. Lateef’s flute solo is gracefully melodic and perfect. Turrentine’s muted trumpet solo and Fuller’s trombone lines are brief and poignant. Wynton Kelly’s piano solo is thematic and wonderfully complex.

The album finishes with “Who’s Blues,” a pure, slow blues that opens up even more room for everyone to solo. Cannonball Adderley makes a special guest appearance here (not credited because he was under contract with Riverside Records at the time) and plays one of his trademark hard swinging blues-bop solos on alto sax. Chambers’ leaps from the lower register of the bass to the upper with ease as Kelly’s rollicking solo takes you right to the heart of the blues. Everyone is cooking here and they know it.

1st Bassman is a unique album on all levels. Chambers reprograms the listener into not only accepting the bass as a lead instrument of a jazz sextet, but also makes it feel as though this is how it should be and that nothing else could be as hip. This album is an underrated gem that should heard by all music lovers.

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To read more posts, reviews and columns by Devon Wendell click HERE.


HIGHLIGHT OF THE NEW YORK WEEKEND: SINGER/SONGWRITER/PIANIST ELLA LEYA PERFORMS SUNDAY NIGHT AT JOE’S PUB

July 31, 2015

By Don Heckman

Singer/songwriter and pianist Ella Leya makes her New York debut at Joe’s Pub on Sunday night.  It’s a rare performance by a gifted artist who should not be missed.

“It’s the voice of Ella Leya that first grabs you,” wrote the Los Angeles Times in reviewing her first album releases. “Simmering with a dark timbre, its velvet surface is occasionally tinged with flashes of sunlight.”

Add to that gently floating rhythms, and the story telling phrases which bring every song she sings vividly to iife.

Ella Leya

Ella Leya

Ella, who was born in Baku, Azerbaijan and emigrated to the U.S. in 1990, eventually reaching the current identity she describes humorously as a “Russian/Californian living in London.”

All of which is true, as well as a creative history which reaches from a career as a well-known Russian jazz singer to more jazz singing in the U.S., followed by a sequence of albums that includes such well reviewed titles as Queen of Night, Secret Lives of Women and Russian Romance., film and television music for Ocean’s Twelve, Dirty, Sexy Money and more.

Her recent album, Russian Romance showcases one of the most irresistibly passionate Russian art song forms, often described as “Russian blues.” The album features combinations of  the lyrical music she has composed to the passionate, often erotic, poetry of some of her favorite Russian poets, including Alexander Pushkin, Anna Akhmatova and others.

As if all that wasn’t enough, Ella’s first novel, The Orphan Sky — which takes place in Communist Baku of the ’70s and ’80s — was described by the New York Journal of Books as “visceral and exotic as any spy novel and as authentically convincing as The Kite Runner.”

Ella Leya’s performance at Joe’s Pub will touch upon the full range of her creative life, including her captivating vocals, songs and piano stylings as well as a brief reading or two from The Orphan Sky.

Her set will also include a special guest artist: Janina Gavankar, star of True Blood and the Mysteries of Laura.

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Ella Leya sings her song “I Wish I Could” (from The Secret Lives of Women) in a video featuring Janina Gavankar.


Doc Wendell’s Prescription For Saxophone Bop: “The Johnny Griffin Sextet” (Riverside)

July 28, 2015

Devon “Doc” Wendell

By Devon Wendell

By 1958, Johnny Griffin was known as the fastest tenor saxophonist to emerge from the hard-bop era. Griffin’s dexterity combined with his ability to make you feel every soulful note that he played made him one of the most spectacularly brilliant and original musicians in the world.

Griffin had replaced John Coltrane in Thelonious Monk’s band in 1958. Griffin proved to not only understand the harmonic complexities of Monk’s music, but he also “got” that playing with Monk meant having to be able to improvise thematically instead of just blowing over some chord changes.

Johnny Griffin

Johnny Griffin

Griffin applied those same thematic sensibilities to his own playing and writing as a fearless bandleader. Griffin was a unique arranger whose love of both bebop and big band jazz were prevalent throughout his illustrious yet unpredictable recording career.

The Johnny Griffin Sextet was recorded for the Riverside label on February 25th, 1958. It features Griffin paired with some of the all-time greatest musicians in jazz: Kenny Drew, piano, Donald Byrd, trumpet, Pepper Adams, baritone sax, Wilbur Ware, bass, and Philly Joe Jones on drums.

The Album opens with “Stix Trix” which is a loving tribute to drummer Philly Joe Jones. The song’s arrangement brings to mind Dizzy Gillespie’s big band bop sound of the mid- to late 1940s. Drew’s masterful piano solo is percussive yet elegant. Pepper Adams delivers one of the hardest swinging solos of his career. Donald Byrd’s solo soars. Griffin comes in playing more economically than usual, singing confidently through his horn in perfect time. He then swings in a more syncopated fashion, gleefully playing with the song’s tempo.

Griffin and the sextet’s version of “What’s New?” is a definite highlight of his entire career and my favorite rendition of this Johnny Burke and Bob Haggart ballad. Griffin plays soft and sweetly. Lester Young’s influence can be heard in each note that rings out with a rich, slow vibrato and long, soulful bends in the horn’s upper register. Byrd’s amazingly cocky and frenetic solo is the perfect counterpoint to Griffin’s. Adams almost steals the show with his mournful and harmonically stellar baritone lines.

Philly Joe Jones’ rhythmically complex drumming on Dizzy Gillespie’s “Woody N’ You” makes this one of the most original arrangements of this daddy of all bebop songs. Griffin and Ware “stroll” alone as the rest of the band lays out, a style first made popular by Sonny Rollins when Rollins recorded with Miles Davis in 1954 on the Prestige label.

Jones eventually comes back in and trades eights with Griffin, Ware, and Drew. Ware’s bass is the perfect anchor for Jones’ rhythmic explorations. The entire band is burning.

“Johnny G.G.” and “Catharsis” also have big band style arrangements to them. Everyone is grooving in time here, and there isn’t much fast pyrotechnics or over blowing which makes these number swing even harder. The rhythm section of Ware and Jones are the driving force and the rest of the band not only knows it, but relishes in this fact. These are two of the hippest sextet recordings made during this time. Byrd and Adams play a little double time but quickly fall back into the groove. Wilbur Ware (who also played in Monk’s band shortly before this recording) lets it be known that he was one of the most original and tasteful bass players to emerge from the 1950s.
The Johnny Griffin Sextet showcases Griffin’s complex yet soulful approach to soloing as well as his uniquely distinct abilities as a master arranger and composer. This album is a perfect example of how Johnny Griffin could transform his love and mastery of both bebop and big band jazz into something fresh and timeless.

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To read more posts, reviews and columns by Devon Wendell click HERE.

 


Record Rack: “Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio” and “Ode to Thinking”

July 27, 2015

 

Brian Arsenault

By Brian Arsenault

Claude Bolling’s Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio  (Steve Barta Music)

Arranged by Steve Barta

But (Not Too) seriously, folks.  I am pretty far over my head reviewing Steve Barta’s new arrangement of Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio.

For one thing, I don’t know Claude Bolling’s 1975 original work. In ’75 I was more concerned about the direction of The Who and horrified at the popularity of The (self aggrandizing hipper than thou treacherous) Eagles.

For another, while I’m reasonably conversant with jazz up to a point, I don’t even know most of the vocabulary of the classical.

So here I am listening raptly to a reworking of a piece that bravely combines the two and, I’m told, had the misfortune of being popular so it wasn’t particularly well liked by critics of either genre. Additionally, in Barta’s update, a jazz trio is brought together with a string quartet and a full orchestra.

Sound intimidating? I thought so but therein is the remarkable thing. It’s immediately accessible to all. All at least who can journey from the joyous to the reflective, from lilting laughter vanishing quickly in the air to moments of sadness that are never maudlin. Beauty is what pleases, Acquinas said, and this album pleases on so many levels.

It’s theme music for a rainy Sunday morning that brings the brightness to the day. The album combines instruments and clusters of instruments that one seldom hears played together. Yet it never jars. Baroque flows into blues into a jazz rift and a symphonic echo. I think it must be complex to assemble and yet it flows into the ear as smoothly as air itself.

And how did I get this far into the review without remarking on the flute of Hubert Laws and the piano of Jeffrey Biegel? They can hear each other. They can “speak” to each other. They can interweave their charms and celebrate the many other fine musicians to be heard here. The notes and the silences both pure.

I was deep in my own thoughts and then suddenly the album was over. The room seemed just a little empty.

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Bobby Long

Ode to Thinking (Compass Records)

I’m sorry, Bobby. I’ve liked and reviewed an earlier album. I was impressed by your book of poetry. But good god, man, I got about halfway through your new album, read on to the lyrics of some of the later songs, and decided that good mental health required that I stop listening.

We’ve all heard and loved tunes about bad love affairs and the miserable state of the world, both realities no doubt. Yet if your lovers have all been as bad as you say perhaps you need to rethink your mutual selection procedures. And I need some insight into the misery of the world, not simply your seeming regret that most of us are stupid.

The blues were about how rough life can be but they were largely made to help folks feel better. On this album, you’re like a tourniquet closing off any sense of joy. That place you liked when you were young that burned down. No wonder you’re “not going out tonight.” Too depressed. And the purple prose (poetry) of the lover who will “drink my blood like wine.” Oh please. And anyway I think you missed that vampire as sexy thing.

I am not saying there isn’t intelligence in the verse. There clearly is. And you can turn a phrase with lyrics like an “empty wishing well” and “the CD players start to rust.”
But perspective please. Irony please. Humor please. Self taken less seriously. The age of consumptive poets is over. Or ought to be.

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To read more posts, reviews and columns by Brian Arsenault click HERE

 


Live Music: Barenaked Ladies, The Violent Femmes, and Colin Hay at the Greek Theatre

July 27, 2015
Mike Finkelstein

Mike Finkelstein

By Mike Finkelstein

Last Tuesday night, a good old-fashioned triple bill pulled into town at the Greek theater, a triple bill headlined by Barenaked Ladies, and supported by the Violent Femmes and Colin Hay. It seems that in recent times, acts don’t interact much on stage during one of these tours. They simply go onstage in their respective bubbles and do their shows. This was happily not the way things would play out Tuesday night. Members of all three acts came and went throughout each other’s sets and there was clearly camaraderie between them. This made for a very entertaining night of shared music.

Colin Hay

Colin Hay

The evening began early, at 7 o’clock with Colin Hay, whom most of us who were listening to radio in the 80’s will remember from his days with Men at Work. There is something reaffirming about watching one guy with an acoustic guitar an hour before sundown playing masterfully to an audience that would only be accurately described as sparse. It didn’t matter to Colin, he sounded great and the audience dug it, giving him a standing “O” at the end.

A song like Men at Work’s “Overkill” works beautifully as a solo acoustic number. Hay has a very warm way of stroking the right blend of vocals and guitar to bring out the essence of a tune. His last tune, a fine little folk song named “Next Year People,” featured an appearance by Barenaked Ladies’ Kevin Hearn on accordion, and worked the theme of overcoming metaphorical drought. Hay’s set was short but sweet and he definitely earned that warm reception.

Next up were the Violent Femmes. There were shirts being sold at the merch stand, which advertised that the Violent Femmes have been making American music since 1981! Thirty-four years of longevity, even with a hiatus or two in there. Their backline and instruments were in place during Hay’s set and one really couldn’t help notice the humungous saxophone, a B flat tubax, located center-stage, wondering how it was going to figure in with the VF’s show (it sounded so low that it became a bit obscured in the mix). Sitting there so mysteriously, it had to be close to 8 feet tall looking like some sort of machine from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

Violent Femmes

Violent Femmes

The Femmes hit the ground running with their most popular tune, “Blister in the Sun,” and with that, they had the rapidly expanding crowd on it’s feet and in the palms of their hands. The vibe onstage was a lot like one of those times where a group of street musicians has attracted a huge throng of people and are just killing it for the folks. At different times there were anywhere from six to ten players onstage, including the ubiquitous Kevin Hearn on accordion. Because the stage was arranged with all the stations next to each other, their were several different pockets of activity to swing the focus to. The VFs feature three unorthodox yet super-engaging instrumentalists in bassist Brian Ritchie, drummer Brian Viglione, and saxophonist Blaise Garza. All three performed with a lot of motion, but it always looked natural, not a put-on for the big stage. Ritchie is a tall guy with a big hat, a huge stage presence, and he usually plays an acoustic bass guitar, (a bass with a much deeper than normal body). Viglione plays a drum kit full of not-so-ordinary drums and he does it vigorously while standing. Garza was all over the stage and was never far from that towering tubax.

The 45 minute set blew by. Perhaps the best tune of their program was “Gone Daddy Gone.” The chords to this tune are pretty much “I’m Not Your Stepping Stone,” played backwards and forwards, but the VFs put their style all over the bare bones. Brian Ritchie had to play marimbas to give the song its signature sound, which allowed for Barenaked Ladies’ bassist Jim Creegan to come out and play Ritchie’s bass part like a champion. At the end of the marimba break, Ritchie reached dramatically over the whole set of marimbas to peel off the last run. It was a necessary move but it looked mighty cool, and it made for fine showmanship during a great song. And, of course, Kevin Hearn was up there with his trusty accordion.

Barenaked Ladies

Barenaked Ladies

Barenaked Ladies were top billed Tuesday night, though on this particular occasion the Violent Femmes may have had as many fans in the house and could have easily have pulled off headlining. BNL turned in a crisp set punctuated with clever little tidbits of between-the-tunes banter. Several of their songs I recognized, although I never knew it was them before. Before the night was over there were a whole string of tunes I wanted more of. “The Old Apartment” is a great tune, a 4/4 rocker with a weave of crunch, jangle, and open space about the powerful memories in a home from the past. The next tune was “Odds Are,” which built on the same quick strummed acoustic guitar sound but with catchier hooks and a near rap delivery of the verses. If it sounds good, use it.

Barenaked Ladies have two very engaging players in bassist Jim Creegan, and keyboardist/lead guitarist Kevin Hearn. Creegan was probably their most compelling figure. He’s all long legs, arms, and fingers and with his long antelope strides, he covered a whole lot of stage surface. Creegan also spent much of the evening playing a rockin’ style of standup bass. To get that much motion while tethered to such a large instrument is a bit of true showmanship. Hearn, for his part, pushed the tunes along on keys but when he played lead guitar he shined the brightest. He took “Pinch Me” to another level. And, considering that Colin Hay was already onstage singing with the boys, an already great song went a little higher.

The BNLs also like to deliver their lyrics in raps when the mood strikes them. And when they splice it together with a catchy guitar riff, the result is a fun song like “One Week.” Moments like these, when a familiar song becomes something bigger live, are the payoff for going to see live music. The show wound down with an off the wall medley of everything from the Cars to Queen and even a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll.” But, before this started they played their own wistful-yet-kinda-silly “If I Had A Million Dollars.” This song is so pretty in its simplicity, and with an exemplary sing along chorus, that it couldn’t help but satisfy.

In the end, I had the opportunity Saturday night to see two bands I’d always meant to catch up with, and one singer/songwriter whom I’ll always be up for seeing. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear a Violent Femmes’ or Barenaked Ladies’ tune or two at the next campfire I happen to. The tunes are that good.

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To read more posts by Mike Finkelstein click HERE.


The Central Avenue Jazz Festival This Weekend

July 25, 2015
Brick Wahl

Brick Wahl

By Brick Wahl

In my heart of hearts, my favorite jazz festival ever has always been the one held every year on Central Avenue in the shadow of the Dunbar Hotel. It’s close to the roots of jazz in this town, it has band after swinging band, the musicians play like their lives depended on it, and the crowd is serious jazz loving people. Not college kids or rich westsiders or hipsters or tourists or even jazz critics, just people. Jazz people.

And it’s back again this weekend, both Saturday and Sunday, for the twentieth time. Not sure how many I’ve been to but enough that I keep bumping into people I remember on the street there. I’m gonna run through the acts and time and location and incredibly groovy parking set up (Secure lots! Shuttles! Free!) but if you’re already bored by my banter you can head straight through this link to the Central Avenue Jazz Festival itself and read the same thing but with less words and better graphics.

First, where is it? It takes place on Central Avenue, the epicenter for all that was glorious in west coast jazz in the thirties and forties and even into the fifties, between Vernon Avenue and Martin Luther King Boulevard. Take the 110 to the MLK exit and head east to Central Avenue. You’ll run right into it.

Parking info is linked here and it’s dreamy. A block shy of Central Avenue on Martin Luther King is Wadsworth Elementary School. It’s free, secure, plentiful and best of all there’s a regular air conditioned shuttle service to carry you the three city blocks to the Festival. It winds you through the charming neighborhood and then stops and the doors open and the sounds of pure jazz fill the bus. You are there. And there’s even another elementary school–Harmony Elementary–that is the same thing. Secure, free and only a block away from the grounds. There’s even a shuttle from there as well, though you can walk the block faster. It’s up to you and your aging knees.

Food and non-alcoholic drink galore, all of it good, some awesome. Peach cobbler to die for. The bean pie man. All that soul food your doctor warned you about. Who knows what else. Plus fruit drinks you are not allowed to pour anything stronger into by law. You read it here first.

There is lots of seating, lots and lots, but never enough. Feel free to bring your own. It is so casual and live-and-let-live no one will care. While people listen here, seriously listen, the vibe is more like the very back of the Hollywood Bowl during the Playboy Jazz Festival, but without the inflatable furniture. Or spliffs. Or smooth jazz.

The Central Avenue Jazz Festival

Because there will be no smooth jazz at the Central Avenue Festival. None that I can see on the schedule this year. Evil types had forced some bogus stuff on the bill the last couple years but from the looks of the schedule this year, all those evil types have been purged. There is not an act this year that is not 100% the real thing. If I am wrong, I will eat my hat, and it’s a big hat.

There are two stages, one at either end, and acts will be appearing in shaded comfort in the lobby of the Dunbar Hotel as well. One stage has more of the main acts, the other more of the newer acts. That varies a bit but that is the gist. Let’s look at the line up on Saturday:

MAIN STAGE 

Saturday, July 25 

11:45 am   LAUSD Beyond The Bell All-City Jazz Big Band–the newest jazz generation cooks.
1:00 pm  Henry Franklin: The Skipper and Crew–They call him Skipper (dig the hat) and he has a kicking quintet that wails in a mid-period kind of John Coltrane way. This crowd brings out the best in them.
2:30 pm Alfredo Rodriguez Trio A phenomenal young pianist from Cuba (if I remember right), he puts on a ferocious show of virtuosity and energy and is a blast to watch. Nice guy, and another of Quincy Jones’ discoveries, and lets hope Quincy is there to dig the scene as well.

 4:00 pm Gerald Wilson Orchestra—We just lost Gerald who would be a ninety-something dervish in front of the most exciting big band on the planet, and between tunes he’d regale the crowd of his days living at the Dunbar hotel seven decades ago and playing at the Club Alabam just next door. It never got more magical than that for me. His extraordinarily talented son Anthony Wilson is leading the band now, and the talent on stage are all superstars, even if the jazz world isn’t yet aware of it. Kamasi Washington–a genuine star–should be there too, just erupting in molten tenor flight the likes of which you have not heard in a long time. (And then he’s over at California Plaza the same night!)

5:30 pm And Poncho Sanchez takes us out, and my guess is he’ll really be working the Stax soul and bugulu as well as his signature Latin jazz sound. Groovin’ to say the least.
And that’s only one stage, there’s another:

 2ND STAGE

  Saturday, July 25

There’s three great sounding saxophonists in a row here. I’ve written about the astonishing talent of Glendale’s own Christopher Astoquilca, and caught Aaron Shaw and Braxton Cook on YouTube. All three are highly recommended so tear yourself away from the main stage for a spell and check some of each. I love how the Festival is booking these brand new jazz artists like this. And the crowd pleasing teenaged bluesman Ray Goran plays some searing guitar to finish out the day on the second stage.

12:00 pm saxist Aaron Shaw Quintet
1:00 pm Christopher Astoquilca A-Tet
2:20 pm Saxophonist Braxton Cook Quartet
3:40 pm 15 years old blues guitarist Ray Goran

And then inside The Dunbar Hotel there are two acts, both featuring community programs nurturing the youngest jazz player:

 Saturday, July 25
  A Place Called Home’s band

2:00 pm Beyond the Bell Combo (LAUSD jazz with I believe Ndugu Chancler directing)
OK, that was all just Saturday. Sunday is just as brilliant:

 MAIN STAGE

Sunday, July 26
11:30 am Jazz America–more of the scary talented young people

12:45 pm  Barbara Morrison The indomitable singer–one of LA’s best ever–will lord it over the stage and owning every song she performs, no matter who did it first. Essential viewing.

2:15 pm John Beasley & MONK ‘estra It’s hard to say too much about how great this band is. It’s pure John Beasley, in that’s he’s taken all the Monk compositions, rendered them new without reducing their Monkishness one iota, and the result is thrilling. State of the art jazz that never gets bogged down by art…this is maybe the best new big band on the planet. Not that I’ve heard every new big band on the planet, but I’d be shocked as hell to hear anything better than Beasley’s mad contraption. Basically, ya gotta be there.

3:40 pm Arturo O’Farrill Quintet The son of NYC latin jazz legend Chico O’Farrill, he had been leading an orchestra doing his pop’s arrangement. Can’t wait to see what this five piece will do.

5:10 pm  Kenny Burrell Big Band You’ve heard of this absolutely legendary jazz guitar player (who, if I remember right, was Duke Ellington’s favorite guitarist). This band recently did a wildly successful show at the John Anson Ford and here he is repeating that success. As you might have guessed, when an icon is leading a band, the ranks are filled with incredible players. What a way to finish he weekend on the main stage.
Of course, there’s a whole other stage:

2ND STAGE

Sunday, July 26 

12:00 pm Saxist Tony White Quintet. Apparently this outfit cooks. Old pals of mine Gary Fukushima (on piano) and Mike Alvidrez (bass) are in the ranks so I will be down there taking notes and making them nervous.

1:25 pm Excellent young pianist Jamael Dean and his quintet.

2:50 pm I’ve seen violinist Dayren Santamaria steal the show at a couple Mongorama gigs and here she is with her own band  Made In Cuba. Can’t imagine this being less than great.

4:20 pm Trombonist Ryan Porter and his group shook the festival to the foundations last year.You’ve seen him with Kamasi Washington, and Kamasi and much the same crew should be back for this one, grooving massively.

And then inside The Dunbar Hotel on Sunday: 

12:00 pm Very talented, very young saxophonist Devin Daniels

2:00 p  A Place Called Home group back one more time.
OK….be there. Hell, it’s free, the parking is there, there’s a freaking shuttle, and the jazz should be absolutely wonderful. Get off the couch and go. OK, gotta run, I’m late for a klezmer gig. (I am, seriously.)

See ya down there people. It’ll be good to see so many of you again….
Brick


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