By Don Heckman
– Oct. 7 & 8. (Wed. & Thurs.) The Stanley Clarke Trio with Hiromi and Lenny White. They initially seemed an unlikely musical combination – the Return to Forever team of Clarke and White, with the adventurous jazz fusion pianist Hiromi. But the blend has turned out to be remarkably compatible, especially in the pieces that display Hiromi’s unexpected mainstream skills. Catalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210.
– Oct. 8. (Thurs.) Paco Pena. The great flamenco guitarist performs in his show (and album) A Compas, fronting a stellar group of guitarists and dancers, along with singer Miguel Ortega and percussionist Nacho Lopez. UCLA Live at Royce Hall. (310) 825-4401
– Oct. 8. (Thurs.) The Mike Melvoin Trio. Melvoin and his steady regulars, bassist Tony Dumas and drummer Ralph Penland are always great to hear. But Mike’s been bugged by the recent noise in some of the media about jazz being “in trouble.” “I think,” he says, “that it’s time to disprove that dark vision.” He’ll no doubt have a few special guests show up to give him a hand in that admirable task. Crown Plaza Brasserie Jazz Lounge. (310) 642-7500.
– Oct. 8 – 11. (Thurs. – Sun.) The Inaugural Concert: Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Thursday night’s Inaugural concert introducing the L.A. Phil’s remarkable new Music Director in a performance of Mahler’s celebratory Symphony No. 1 and John Adams’ commissioned composition, City Noir, may well be sold out by now. But it’s worth a try. And if you can’t get into the opening night, Dudamel and the Phil will perform the Mahler Symphony No. 1 with the U.S. premiere of Korean composer Unsuk Chin’s Concerto for Sheng and Orchestra on Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoon. Dudamel and the Phil will also revisit Adams’ City Noir the weekend of Nov. 27. The Inaugural Concert: Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. (323) 650-2000.
– Oct. 9. (Fri.) Azar Lawrence. The strong, vigorous tenor saxophone playing of Lawrence takes center stage, backed by bassist Henry Franklin, pianist Theo Saunders and drummer Ramon Banda. Spazio. (818) 728-8400.
– Oct. 9. (Fri.) Carol Chaikin. She’s been around a while, playing alto saxophone and flute with an ever-adventurous style; but she’s still not heard as much as she should be. So don’t miss this chance. Chaikin performs with pianist John Campbell, bassist Tom Warrington and drummer Ryan Doyle. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.
– Oct. 9 & 10. (Fri. & Sat.) Roberta Gambarini. The Italian songbird may be from Torino, but Gambarini’s singing is rooted in the history and the essence of jazz, and she is one of the rare contemporary vocalists whose scatting simmers with rhythmic swing and harmonic authenticity. The Culver Club in the Radisson Hotel Los Angeles Westside. (310) 649-1776.
– Oct. 9 & 10. (Fri. & Sat.) Ron King and Bobby Shew. It’s trumpet weekend at Charlie O’s with a pair of versatile veterans taking the stage. King performs on Fri., Shew on Sat. with the rhythm section of pianist Andy Langham, drummer Roy McCurdy and bassists Chris Connor (on Fri.) and Darek Oles (on Sat.) Charlie O’s. (818) 994-3058.
– Oct. 9 – 11. (Fri. – Sun.) Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. Forty years as a married couple, hit-makers McCoo and Davis can probably do a complete set of songs – from the Fifth Dimension as well as their own duo recordings – that cruised the tops of the charts. Catalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210.
– Oct. 10 (Sat.) Divas Simply Singing. Sheryl Lee Ralph’s 19th annual celebration of divadom once again features a sterling line-up of high profile talent. The line up includes, in addition to Ralph, Yolanda Adams, Brenda Russell, Loretta Devine, Jennifer Lewis, Yo Yo, Barbara Morrison, Frenchie Davis, N’dambi and Sam Harris. The Saban Theatre. (323) 655-0111
– Oct. 10. (Sat.) Sambajah and Kleber Jorge. Venice Beach is not Ipanema, by any stretch of the imagination, but there’s something special, nonetheless about hearing Jorge’s guitar and songs and the stirring Brazilian rhythms of Sambajah with the Pacific Ocean in the background. The Terrace on the sand walk to the beach. 10 p.m. No cover charge. (310) 578-1530.
– Oct. 10. (Sat.) Kathleen Wilhoite. Actress/singer/songwriter Wilhoite’s resume embraces starring roles in films (The Edge, Pay It Forward) and television (L.A. Law, The Gilmore Girls) as well as the placement of her songs in, among others, Murphy’s Law and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Here’s a chance to hear her do her own thing, up close and personal, Vitellos Restaurant. (818) 769-0905.
– Oct. 10 (Sat.) Babbie Green and John Boswell. Green is show biz second generation, the daughter of composer Johnny Green (“I Cover the Waterfront,” “Body and Soul”) and TV personality Betty Furness. But her catalog of songs stands on its own, surely one of the best – if, sadly, too little known – examples of contemporary songwriting. She performs rarely, so don’t miss this chance to hear her – and her songs – performed with long-time partner, accompanist and singer Boswell. The Gardenia. (323) 467-7444.
– Oct. 8 – 11. (Thurs. – Sun.) Regina Carter. The jazz world’s most versatile violinist – ready, able and eager to expand her already impressive improvisational perspectives. Yoshi’s Oakland. (510) 238-9200.
– Oct. 9 – 11. (Fri. – Sun.) Stanley Clarke Trio with Hiromi and Lenny White. If you missed them at Catalina’s on Wed. and Thurs. (see above), a quick run up to San Francisco will give you a chance to hear this engaging trio. Yoshi’s San Francisco. (415) 655-5600.
– Oct. 5. (Mon.) Girls Like Us. It’s a great title, and a potentially great show, given the material and the cast. The songs of Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carla Simon will be sung by Liz and Ann Hampton Callaway, Jessica Molasky, Barbara Walsh and Capathia Jenkins. The Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Center. (212) 501-3330.
– Oct. 6. (Tues.) Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Raiders. Martin returns to his banjo-picking roots – he really is pretty good – at the start of a 23 city tour tour bringing bluegrass to the masses. Carnegie Hall. Also at the Wang Center in Boston on Wed., Oct. 7. They’ll also be on the Letterman Show tonight – Monday Oct. 5.
– Oct. 6 – 11. (Tues. – Sun.) Diane Schuur. She’s been returning to her jazz roots in the last few years, and the results – especially when Schuur emphasizes her story telling skills – have been impressive. Blue Note. (212) 475-8592.
– Oct. 6 – 11. (Tues. – Sun.) and Oct. 13 – 19. (Tues. – Sun.) The Bill Charlap Trio. Pianist Charlap celebrates his 43rd birthday (on Oct. 15) with a two week run, displaying the versatility that has made him a superb accompanist as well as an important jazz artist in his own right. The Village Vanguard. (212) 255-4037.
– Oct. 11. (Sun.) The Thelonious Monk International Jazz Bass Competition and Gala Concert. Fifteen outstanding young bassist compete before an impressive panel of judges: Ron Carter, Dave Holland, Bob Hurst, Christian McBride, John Patitucci, Charlie Haden and David Baker. The Gala Concert will salute the 70th anniversary of Blue Note Records with appearances by Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, Bobby McFerrin, McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Heath, Joe Lovano, Dee Dee Bridgewater and numerous others. The Kennedy Center. http://www.kennedy-center.org (800) 444-1324.