Picks of the Week: June 1 – 7

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

– June 2. (Tues.) Drummer Willie Jones III’s band, with special guest pianist Eric Reed. A summit encounter between a pair of the Southland’s finest home-grown jazz artists. Catalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210.

Sheryl Bailey
Sheryl Bailey

– June 2. (Tues.) John Pisano’s Guitar Night. Pisano trades licks with the fast-fingered, but ever-lyrical guitarist Sheryl Bailey. Bassist John Belzaguy and drummer Kendall Kay provide empathetic backing. Spazio.

– June 3. (Wed.) Gaea Schell. And here’s another blonde jazz singer/pianist from Canada, with a brisk sense of swing and an appealing way with a phrase. Must be something in the water up there. Vibrato Grill Jazz… etc. (310) 474-9400

– June. 5. (Fri.) Joe Cocker. He’s been one of the most recognizable voices in pop music since the ‘60s. And he’s still going strong, touring in support of his latest CD, “Hymn To My Soul.” The.Nokia Theatre L.A. Live. (213) 763-6030

Julia Fordham
Julia Fordham

– June 5 & 6. (Fri. & Sat.) Julia Fordham. The English singer/songwriter has always displayed jazz qualities in her vocals and her songs. Her new CD (her 10th), “China Blue,” brings her moonlit sound and imaginative phrasing even closer to the heart of jazz. Catalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210.

– June 6. (Sat.) Music & Conversations. These events, held at a custom performance space in Mt. Washington, provide a civilized way to experience first rate classical and jazz performances. The program, the final of M & C’s 4th season, includes music by Schubert, Ravel and the series’ producer, Jane Brockman, performed by violinist Alyssa Park, cellist Tim Loo, flutist Susan Greenberg and pianist Delores Stevens. Pianist Bryan Pezzone and percussionist M.B. Gordy add jazz improvisation segments. Admission of $35 ($20 for students) includes hors d’oeuvres and fine wines from Casa Torelli (try the Toscano Rosso). R.S.V.P. by email for directions. Music & Conversations. .

Chita Rivera
Chita Rivera

– June 6. (Sat.) Chita Rivera: “The Secret of Life.” A cabaret style evening celebrating the Tony Award-winning actress-dancer’s performances in “West Side Story,” “Sweet Charity,” “Chicago” and more. Disney Concert Hall. (323) 850-2000.

– June 6. (Sat.) Donovan Leitch: “The Dark Root of the Dream.” A new rock musical, co-written by Leitch (the son of ’60s pop icon Donovan) and guitarist/songwriter Lenny Cordola, has its world premiere. The story follows the “wanderings of an enigmatic rock star, Mr.E, the fictional son of poet Virgina Woolf, as he believes himself to be Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allen Poe and Friedrich Nietzsche, among others.” Largo at the Coronet. (310) 855-0350.

– June 6 & 7. (Sat. & Sun.) The L.A. Acoustic Music Festival. A week-end of ear-caressing sounds in the delightful environment of the Santa Monica Pier. With Nanci Griffith, Bruce Cockburn, Richard Thompson, David Lindley, the Kingston Trio, Natalie MacMaster, David Bromberg, the Refugees, Eliza Gilkyson and others. The L.A. Acoustic Music Festival. Santa Monica Pier. (818) 621-8309.

Terry Gibbs

– June 7. (Sun.) Vibe Summit XVI, honoring Joe Locatelli. A non-stop parade of men with mallets. Featuring Terry Gibbs, Nick Mancini, Emil Richards, Jay Garrett, Frank Marsico, Ander Earles and others. James Janisse hosts. First Lutheran Church, Glendale. 2 – p.m. (818) 994-JAZZ.

– June 7. (Sun.) “Open Hands” — jazz with a Latin tinge, played by a band that knows how to do it. Abraham Laboriel, Sr., bass, Justo Almario, saxophones, Gregg Mathieson, keyboards, Bill Maxwell, drums. The Baked Potato. (818) 980-1615.

San Francisco

– June 2 (Tues.) Julian Lage. He was a young jazz prodigy at eight. His new album, :”Sounding Point,” reveals a 21 year old artist with a mature and adventurous musical vision. Yoshi’s Oakland. (510) 238-9200.

– June 4 – 6. (Thurs. – Sat.) Nancy Wilson. The inimitable Wilson, one of the true iconic figures in vocal jazz history, makes a rare club appearance. Yoshi’s Oakland. (510) 238-9200.

Abdullah Ibrahim
Abdullah Ibrahim

– June 5 – 7. (Fri. – Sun.) Abdullah Ibrahim. The veteran South African pianist, once known as Dollar Brand, was introduced to American audiences by Duke Ellington in the ‘60s. At 74, his playing continues to thrive, in trios, quartets and big band settings. But he’s best heard, as he will be here, in a solo presentation that allows his musical imagination to rove freely. Yoshi’s San Francisco. (415) 655-5600.

– June. 6. (Sat.) Kim Nalley sings the songs of Nina Simone. Nalley’s strong vocal chops and assertive style would seem to make an unlikely connection with the dark, sardonic qualities of Simone. It’ll be interesting to see how well the combination fits together. SFJAZZ. (415) 398-5655.


– June 5. (Fri.) The Chicago Jazz Ensemble closes the 10th American Heritage Jazz Series in a performance with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra of Duke Ellington’s “Black, Brown and Beige” and the “New Orleans Suite.” Jazz violinist Regina Carter guest stars. Symphony Hall. Chicago. (312) 294-3000.

Telluride, Colorado

– June 5 – 7. (Fri. – Sun.) The Telluride Jazz Festival. Fresh Colorado air, a gorgeous setting and a world class jazz program – who could ask for a better way to spend a June weekend. On the bill: The Bill Frisell Trio, Ozomatli, Lizz Wright, Donald Harrison, Christian Scott, Rebirth Brass Band, and more. (970) 728-7009.

Washington, D.C.

– June 5 – 15. (Fri. – Sun.) The Duke Ellington Jazz Festival Celebrating New Orleans. The fifth anniversary of this far-reaching jazz celebration includes over 100 performances in nearly 50 venues. A pair of free all-day concerts – June 13 & 14 at the Sylvan Amphitheatre – feature Terence Blanchard, the Rebirth Brass Band, Buckwheat Zydeco, Nicholas Payton, Irma Thomas and others. And a climactic June 15 concert honors pianist Ellis Marsalis with a rare joint performance by the Marsalis sons – Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason – with Harry Connick, Jr. and Dr. Billy Taylor. At the Kennedy Center and locations around Washington, D.C. (202) 232-1313.

New York City

– June 1 – 4. (Mon. – Thurs.) Fourplay. Bob James, Larry Carlton, Nathan East and Harvey Mason continue to prove that contemporary jazz fusion can move beyond the commercial environment into areas of impressive, creative jazz making. The Blue Note (212) 475-8592.

– June 1, 8 & 15. (Mondays) Daryl Sherman. Cabaret jazz singer Sherman brings her affecting interpretive skills to “Johnny Mercer: A Centennial Tribute” The Algonquin Oak Room. (212) 840-6800.

Kat Edmundson
Kat Edmonson

– June 2. (Tues.) Kat Edmonson. She’s barely arrived on the scene, but Edmonson is already drawing rave reviews. At its best, her coy and sassy style is reminiscent of the little girl sound of Blossom Dearie, with an occasional trace of Peggy Lee brass. Singer-songwriter Kate Schutt is her special guest. Jazz Standard (212) 576-2252.

– June 5 – 7. (Fri. – Sun.) Gato Barbieri. Fifty albums over nearly five decades have thoroughly established Barbieri as one of the rare tenor saxophonists whose sound and style are both utterly unique and instantly recognizable. The Blue Note (212) 475-8592.


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