Picks of the Week: June 9 – 14

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

– June 9. (Tues.) Kim Richmond Concert Jazz Orchestra. The sixth annual KKJZ-sponsored Wine, Jazz & Moonlight Series at Hollywood & Highland features a performance by saxophonist Kim Richmond’s 23-piece Concert Jazz Orchestra. From 7 – 9 p.m. in the Central Courtyard. Free admission. A donation of $10 to Project Angelfood will get you two classes of wine and a box of cheese and crackers. Wine, Jazz & Moonlight. (323) 467-6412.

– June 9. (Tues.) The John Altman Quartet. Altman’s resume reaches from composing and arranging for films (“Titanic”), television (“Peak Practice”), thousands of commercials and writing the now famous arrangement for Monty Python’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” to leading a big jazz band, as well as session work and gigs with the likes of Jimi Hendrix Phil Collins, Sting and Fleetwood Mac. Amazingly, he also manages to keep up his chops as a first rate jazz alto saxophonist. Charlie O’s. (818) 994-3058.

– June 10. (Wed.) Elaine Miles’ velvet-dark sound and exquisite way with a song aren’t nearly as well known as they should be. Here’s an opportunity to experience the gifted, Connecticut-born singer’s compelling take on standards, both old and new. Steamers. (714) 871-8800

– June 10 (Wed.) Ron Stout Quartet. A third generation musician and a professional since he was 15, Stout’s first call skills combins imaginative soloing with superb craftsmanship as a section player. Here’s a chance to hear him stretch out on his own. Sangria. (310) 990-0323.

Brian Blade

– June 10 – 13. (Wed. – Sat.) Brian Blade and the Fellowship Band. Blade has been at the top of everyone’s list of musically sensitive drummers – and performing superbly as a regular member of Wayne Shorter’s quartet. But he’s also reserved some imaginative creativity for his own Fellowship Band and, most recently, for his debut as a singer/songwriter on his new CD, “”Mama Rosa.” Catalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210.

– June 11. (Thurs.) Playboy Jazz on Film. Every year, jazz film historian Mark Cantor assembles a fascinating array of clips displaying jazz artists in action. The program is the final event in the free jazz programs leading up to this weekend’s Playboy Jazz Festival. Expect to see clips of Freddie Hubbard, Duke Ellington, Bill Evans, Louis Bellson, Fats Waller, Lennie Tristano and others. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

– June 11. (Thurs.) Dale Fielder Quartet. The versatile Fielder handles four saxophones with ease, from soprano down to baritone. And he does so with the rare ability to play in a style that is characteristic to each of the instruments. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400

– June 11 (Thurs.) Denise Donatelli applies her captivating vocal style to selections from her latest CD, “What Lies Within,” backed by an all-star band – guitarist Larry Koonse, pianist Bill Cunliffe, saxophonist Bob Sheppard, bassist Hamilton Price and drummer Mark Ferber. Upstairs at Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

– June 11, 12, 13 and 19. (Thurs., Fri. Sat. and Fri.) Boston-based jazz singer Amanda Carr makes a string of Southland stops. Crowne Plaza Hotel, Thurs. (310) 642-7500; Spaghettini in Seal Beach, (562) 596-2199, Fri.; Café Metropol, Sat. (213) 613-1537

– June 11 – 21. (Thurs.,… ) La Didone. Cavalli’s 1641 Baroque opera from 1641 is performed by the Wooster group in a radical production that blends in electric guitar, elements from Mario Bava’s 1965 Sci-FI Cult film, Planet of the Vampires. REDCAT (213) 237-2800.

– June 12. (Fri.) James Newton The virtuosic jazz flutist, composer and educator makes a rare appearance. The World Stage. (323) 293-2451.

– June 12 (Fri.) “When Love Happens: The Loving Day Concert.” Singer Sandra Booker, pianist Tamir Hendleman and the Elevation Strings in a performance “celebrating the legalization of interracial marriage, couples and families in America.” The Madrid Theatre. (818) 347-9419.

Highlight: The Playboy Jazz Festival

-June 13 & 14 (Sat. & Sun.) It’s that time of year. The annual two day, non-stop, let’s-have-a-ball jazz party featuring a pair of gold anniversary celebrations. First: the 50th anniversary of the first Playboy JazzPlayboy logoFestival in Chicago, in 1959. Next: the 50th anniversary of the release of Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue,” the best selling jazz album of all time – with Jimmy Cobb (the sole surviving member of the original “Kind of Blue” ensemble) leading his So What Band in a celebration of the music from that classic recording. Saturday’s festivities include (in addition to Cobb’s group) the Neville Brothers, the Jon Faddis Quartet, the Jack Sheldon Orchestra, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, the Pete Escovedo Orchestra, Esperanza Spalding, the New Birth Brass Band, Summer Storm, the Cos of Good Music and the L.A. County High School for the Arts Jazz Ensemble. Sunday’s line-up includes the Wayne Shorter Quartet, Kenny G, Patti Austin, King Sunny Ade, the Dave Holland Big Band, Monty Alexander’s Jazz & Roots, Oscar Hernandez and the Conga Room All-Stars, the Anat Cohen Quartet, Alfredo Rodriguez and the North Hollywood High School Jazz Ensemble. Bill Cosby is in his usual role as Master of Ceremonies and the conductor (and organizer) of the Cos of Good music group. The Playboy Jazz Festival. The Hollywood Bowl. (310) 450-1173.

San Francisco

– June 8 – 10. Charlie Haden, Bobby Hutcherson and George Cables. The first ever meeting of a group of veteran all-stars who describe their trio as “The Three Friends.” (Yoshi’s has a special deal for this and other Charlie Haden shows. Buy one ticket and get a voucher for a future Yoshi’s San Francisco show — at equal or lesser value.) For information, click here: Yoshi’s San Francisco. (415) 655-5600.

– June 9 – 27. (Tues. – ) “Porgy and Bess.” Eric Owens and Laquita Mitchell star in Francesca Zambello’s highly praised Washington National Opera version of the classic Gershwin work. The San Francisco Opera version will include an expanded chorus and orchestra and an expanded scenic setting. The War Memorial Opera House. San Francisco. (415) 864-3330.

– June 10 – 12. “Kind of Blue at 50” Jimmy Cobb’s So What Band. Recalling the pleasures of “Kind of Blue,” the best selling jazz record of all time. With Wallace Roney, Javon Jackson, Vincent Herring, Larry Willis, Buster Williams. Yoshi’s Oakland. (510) 238-9200.

Lee Konitz

– June 12 – 14. (Fri. – Sun.) Charlie Haden, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Lee Konitz. A rare combination of seemingly disparate elements – in an exclusive set of performances that someone will hopefully have the good sense to record. (This also is another of the special deals for Charlie Haden shows. Buy one ticket and get a voucher for a future Yoshi’s San Francisco show — at equal or lesser value.) For information, click here: Yoshi’s San Francisco (415) 655-5400.

– June 13 & 14. (Sat. & Sun.) Christian McBride and Inside Straight. Bassist McBride’s new group – featured on the just-released album “Kind of Brown,” brings him back into the acoustic contemporary mainstream, after various flirtations with funk and groove. But McBride, as any musician who’s worked with him will tell you, can play anything with authenticity and imagination. Yoshi’s Oakland. (510) 2389200.

Santa Rosa

– June 12 – 14. (Fri. – Sun.) The Harmony Festival. Thirty-one years after founder Debra Giusti started it all at Sonoma State University, the Harmony Festival continues to the pleasures of a music festival with the values of “new ideas, community activism, environmental awareness, spiritual wisdom and holistic products.” The far reaching programs of music and seminars include Michael Franti & Spearhead, India.Arie, Matisyahu, The Refugee All Stars, Balkan Beat Box, The Spirit of Miles Davis (feat. Airto, Mike Stern, Eddie Henderson, Azar Lawrence, etc.), Kitaro, Julia Butterfly Hill, Starhawk, and many others. The Harmony Festival. Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Santa Rosa.


– June 11 – 14. (Thurs. Sun.) Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. A four-day, camp-out, multi-stage, 100 acre, Tennessee version of Woodstock. The stellar line-up of acts includes Bruce Springsteen, Phish, Beastie Boys, Nine Inch Nails, David Byrn, Al Green, Snoop Dog, Elvis Costello, Erykah Badu, Merle Haggard, Ani DiFranco, Bela Fleck, Femi Kuti and dozens of others. Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. Manchester, Tennessee.

New York City

– June 8. (Mon.) Guitarist Andreas Oberg still doesn’t have very high visibility. But if there’s any justice in the jazz world, the spotlight should be brightening soon. He performs with pianist Donald Vega, bassist James Genus and drummer Billy Kilson. The Blue Note.(212) 475-8592.

Lisa Sokolov
Lisa Sokolov

– June 9 – 14. (Tues. – Sun.) The Vision Festival. As it opens its 14th year, the Vision Festival is now New York City’s only summer jazz festival. The six day event, with its strong orientation toward cutting edge music, features performances by, among others, Marshall Allen and the Sun Ra Arkestra, Peter Brotzmann’s Full Blast, Roy Campbell’s Ayler project, the Milford Graves Quartet, Joe McPhee’s Trio X, the Lisa Sokolov Trio, Jason Kao Hwang’s Spontaneous River (a 25 piece string ensemble) and Lawrence (Butch) Morris’ performance of Conductions No. 187: Erotic Eulogy with a chorus of poets and a string ensemble. The Abrons Art Center @ the Henry St. Settlement. (212) 766-9200.

Highlight June 12 (Fri.) The Russians Are Coming

Cyril Moshkow, Russia’s best-known jazz journalist contacted me recently to let me know about a performance in Brooklyn by an especially interesting Russian jazz group, The Second Approach. Rather than say something about the band myself, I asked Cyril – who knows the players personally — to make a few comments, and he was kind enough to send some information about the band. Here are his thoughts:

The Russians Are Coming: The Second Approach in Brooklyn
By Cyril Moshkow

A great new jazz trio from Moscow, The Second Approach, is going to perform at Brooklyn’s Ibeam Studio on June 12. Yes, they are friends of mine, but that’s not the point. The point is that they are great musicians — not exactly straight-ahead jazz, but still thoroughly enjoyable, and their only NYC performance is not to be missed (they also play at the Rochester Jazz Festival on June 15 and 16.) Russia has a new jazz scene, however small it may Second Approachbe, with musicians who do not imitate anybody; they follow their own patterns. For that reason, it’s quite difficult to put the Second Approach on a narrow genre shelf. What they play includes jazz, modern classical, and post-modern ethno/jazz crossover at the same time, rooted in native Russian music rather than in anything else. For a few tunes the trio (Andrey Razin, the piano player and composer; Tatiana Komova, the singer; and Igor Ivanushkin, the bass player) will be joined by the great American trombonist Roswell Rudd, who is also featured on the Second Approach’s new CD, “The Light” (SoLyd Records, 2009). If you can come and see them, please do. It’ll be worth it. And if you can help spread a word about it, please do that, too. We want as many people as possible to experience and appreciate the musical values of Russian jazz and The Second Approach. Ibeam Music Studio.

– June 12 & 13. (Fri. & Sat.) Miles Okazaki’s “Generations.” With Dan Weiss, drums, Jen Shyu, voice, Hans Glawischnig, bass and David Binney, Miguel Zenon and Chrisof Knoche, alto saxophones. The Jazz Gallery. (212) 242-1063

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