Picks of the Week: May 26 – 31

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

– May 26. (Tues.) Austin Peralta. He’s still a teen-ager, but pianist Peralta has already established his credentials as one of the hot, new jazz up and comers. The Jazz Bakery. (310) 271-9039.

– May 27 – 30. (Wed. – Sat.) Scott Colley, Brian Blade, Ralph Alessi and Kevin Hays. The Jazz Bakery’s last week at its Helms Bakery location spotlights yet another of the world-class ensembles that have been featured at the venue over the past sixteen years. Keep checking the Bakery’s website (as well as here) for information about the new, West L.A. location. The Jazz Bakery. (310) 271-9039.

Karrin Allyson

– May 28 – May 31. (Thurs. – Sun.) Karrin Allyson. The always-musical, always-fascinating Allyson’s career CD retrospective, “By Request: The Best of Karrin Allyson” will be released on Concord in late June. But Allyson’s too musically curious to ever rest on past laurels, so expect to hear something old, something new, something swinging, something blue. Catalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210.

– May 28 – June 2. (Thurs. – Tues.) Spring Festival of World Music and Jazz. Five days of showcase performances by ensembles from the UCLA School of Music. Scheduled world groups include ensembles performing the music of West Africa, Korea, Brazil, China, the Balkans and Bluegrass. Jazz groups included are the UCLA Jazz Combos, directed by Kenny Burrell, George Bohanon, Clayton Cameron, Charles Owens, Michele Weir and Charley Harrison, the UCLA Jazz Orchestra.(directed by Harrison), the UCLA Latin Jazz Ensemble directed by Dr. Bobby Rodriguez, and the Contemporary Jazz Ensemble directed by Burrell and James Newton. All events are free to the public. Spring Festival of World Music and Jazz. Schoenberg Hall. UCLA. (310) 206-3033.

Bill Henderson
Bill Henderson

– May 29. (Fri.) Bill Henderson with the John Heard Trio (bassist Heard, pianist Llew Matthews, drummer Roy McCurdy). Henderson’s captivating style – moving easily from smooth balladry to easygoing blues — is one of the pleasures within the too-narrow field of male jazz vocalizing. Charlie O’s. (818) 994-3058.

– May 29. (Fri.) “Salute to Ella Fitzgerald.” Paul Smith, who was Fitzgerald’s pianist and music director for 22 years, is joined by vocalist Sherry Williams, bassist Jim De Julio and drummer Frank Capp in a tribute to the First Lady of Song. The “Culver Club” for Jazz at the Radisson West Side. (310) 649-1776.

– May 30. (Sat.) The Refugees. Cindy Bullens, Deborah Holland and Wendy Waldman apply their unique individual styles to an appealing combination of folk and country sounds. The Getty. (310) 440-7300. .

– May 30. (Sat.) Chris Botti. Trumpeter Botti is setting all kinds of records in CD sales, concert attendance and across the board audiences. And he’s doing it with jazz credentials that are even more impressive than his soaring popularity. The Cerritos Center. (562)467-8818.

– May 30 (Sat.) George Benson applies his smooth-toned vocals and inimitable guitar work to “An Unforgettable Tribute to Nat ‘King’ Cole.” Segerstrom Hall.  Orange County Performing Arts Center. (714) 556-2787.

– May 31. (Sun.) Jennifer Leitham Trio. The left-handed bassist and vocalist steps into the spotlight at one of the Southland’s legendary jazz spots. The Lighthouse Café. (310) 276-9833.

San Francisco

– May 29. (Fri.) Roy Hargrove & James Carter. The San Francisco Jazz Festival’s “Sacred Space” concerts in Grace Cathedral are remarkable events. Improvisers are presented with a large environment containing extraordinary acoustic qualities and a long reverberation delay. The challenge has produced some remarkable performances over the years, and Hargrove and Carter – each richly creative in his own way – will undoubtedly accept the challenge in their usual imaginative fashion. SFJAZZ. (415) 398-5655.

Healdsburg, CA

Highlight: May 29 – June 7. (Fri. – Sun.).

The 11th Annual Healdsburg Jazz Festival esperanzakicks off a two week-plus run with an opening night performance on Friday night by guitarist Julian Lage’s group, a “Jazz and Wine Pairing” on Saturday afternoon with the Greg Hester Trio, the Esperanza Spalding Quartet on Saturday night, and an impressive “Stars of Brazil” presentation on Sunday night featuring the Trio Da Paz, Toninho Horta, Airto Moreira, Leny Andrade, and others. At locations around Healdsburg, in the heart of the Sonoma wine country. The Healdsburg Jazz Festival. (707) 433-4644.

New York City

– May 28. (Thurs.) Cecil Taylor. There isn’t an abundance of opportunities to hear pianist Taylor – one of the iconic figures of the transitional jazz of the ‘50s and ‘60s – in action. And he’s still adventuring into new territories, so don’t miss this one. The Blue Note. (212) 475-8592.

– May 28 – 31. (Thurs. – Sun.) “Miles From India.” Bob Belden’s remarkable re-imagining of selections from Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue,” “In A Miles From India CDSilent Way” and “Bitches Brew” in a cross-genre recording incorporating elements of classical Indian music is filled with challenging musical encounters. It’s presented live here (during the week of Miles’ 83rd birthday), in a performance with a stellar ensemble that includes trumpeter Nicholas Payton, saxophonists Rudresh Mahanthappa, Bill Evans and Dave Liebman, keyboardist John Beasley, bassist Victor Bailey, guitarist Pete Cosey, drummers Lenny White, Ndugu Chancler and Vince Wilburn, tabla player Badal Roy and Indian musician/singers Hidayat Khan and V.K. Raman. The Iridium. (212) 582-2121.

– May 28 – 31. (Thurs. – Sun.) Steve Turre fronts a world class sextet, with saxophonist Ron Blake, trumpter Christian Scott, pianist Xavier Davis, bassist Ray Drummond and drummer Ignacio Berroa. Hopefully, trombonist Turre will also include his atmospheric conch shell sounds, as well. The Jazz Standard. (212) 576-2561.

– May 29 – 31. (Fri. – Sun.) Frank Sinatra Jr.:”Sinatra Sings Sinatra.” Nobody sounds more like Sinatra, Sr. than Sinatra, Jr. Although he’s sometimes been reluctant to replicate his father’s performances, hearing him perform some of the great classics of American popular song has to be considered an honor, a tribute, and an incomparable experience for his lucky audiences. The Blue Note. (212) 475-8592.

Puerto Rico

Highlight: May 28 – 31. (Thurs. – Sunday).

eddie_palmieriThe Heineken JazzFest 2009. Latin jazz, in all its many colorful manifestations is in the spotlight for this stirring, four day Caribbean celebration. The headliners include the Jack DeJohnette/Danilo Perez/John Patitucci ensemble, Eddie Palmieri’s Afro Caribbean Jazz Octet, Oscar Castro-Neves with “50 Years of Bossa Nova,” Conrad Herwig’s “Latin Side” with special guest Eddie Palmieri, and master conguero Giovanni Hidalgo’s “Silver Gold.” The Heineken JazzFest 2009. At the Tito Puente Amphitheatre in San Juan. (787) 791-6100.


– May 27. (Wed.) Tom Harrell Quintet. The adventurous trumpeter celebrates the release of his new CD, “Prana Dance” with a group that includes saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, pianist Danny Grissett, bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Jonathan Blake. Regatta Bar. (617) 395-7757.

Charleston, South Carolina

– May 26. (Tues.) Buxtehude and Bach at the Spoleto Festival. J.S. Bach allegedly once took a 200 mile hike to hear the music of Dietrich Buxtehude. The Westminster Choir and the Spoleto Festival Orchestra, under the direction of Andrew Megili offer a rare opportunity to hear what it was that fascinated Bach, in a performance of Buxtehude’s cantata cycle, Membra Jesu Nostri. And to keep everything in balance, they also present Bach’s Easter cantata, Christ lag in Todesbanden. The Spoleto Festival. (843) 579-3100.


– May 28 – 31. (Thurs. – Sun.) Eldar Trio. Once a child jazz prodigy, the Kyrgyzstan-born pianist Eldar Djangirov has matured into a cutting edge improviser with the technique of a virtuoso. Jazz Showcase. (312) 360-0234.


– May 28 – 30. (Thurs. – Sat.) Trio Da Paz. triodapaz1It would be hard to imagine a better Brazilian jazz grouping than the line-up of guitarist Romero Lubambo, bassist Nilson Matta and drummer Duduka Da Fonseca. Together for nearly two decades, they offer a masterful overview of the rich, deep linkages between jazz and Brazilian music. Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley. (206) 441-9729.


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