By Don Heckman
– Nov. 30. (Mon.) Gala Opera Night. Demetra George and Ralph Cato perform “Villains and Heroines at the Opera,” selections from Puccini, Verdi and Strauss. Frank Fetta is music director. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.
– Nov. 30. (Mon.) Slide FX Trombone Tentet. Not quite enough trombones to play “76 Trombones,” but enough to produce a surprisingly appealing array of sounds and swing. Steamers. (714) 871-8800. http://www.steamerscafe.com
– Dec. 1. (Tues.) “Christmas in Ireland” The veteran Irish ensemble Danu combines with a choir to bring an Irish Christmas celebration –An Lollaig in Eirnn – to Southland audiences. The Cerritos Center. (562) 916-8501.
– Dec. 1. (Tues.) Gordon Goodwin Big Phat Band. Goodwin’s band is that rarity – a big jazz ensemble with steady personnel delivering performances that match well-rehearsed craftsmanship with inventive playing and imaginative arrangements. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.
– Dec. 1. (Tues.) Henry Franklin Quartet. Bassist “Skipper” Franklin plays with most of the hard driving ensemble from his recently released CD, “Home Cookin’”: Azar Lawrence, tenor saxophone, Theo Saunders, piano, Ramon Banda, drums. Charlie O’s. (818) 989-3110.
– Dec. 1 & 2. (Tues. & Wed.) Hilary Kole. The critically praised New York jazz singer makes her West Coast debut, backed by the sterling ensemble of Alan Broadbent, piano, Larry Koonse, guitar, Tom Warrington, bass and Kendall Kay, drums. . Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.
– Dec. 2. (Wed.) Peter Marshall sings “TIME WAS: Music of the Thirties and Forties.” No Hollywood Squares in this evening of delightful musical nostalgia. Upstairs at Vitellos. (818) 769-0905.
– Dec. 2. (Wed.) Judy Wexler. Gifted with a smoky sound, thoughtful phasing and a solid sense of rhythm, Wexler applies those qualities to her ever-intriguing jazz interpretations. Café 322. (626) 836-5787.
– Dec. 3. (Thurs.) Tom Rainier. With Trey Henry, bass and Ralph Humphrey, drums, the trio serves as the rhythm section for “Dancing with the Stars.” But here they are, in a very different setting, doing their own thing. Upstairs at Vitellos. (818) 769-0905.
– Dec. 3, 4 & 5. (Thurs, Fri. & Sat.) Charlie Hunter. The adventurous guitarist brings his cross-genre style to a pair of L.A. appearances. Thurs., Saint Rocke, Hermosa Beach. 310-372-0035. Fri. & Sat. The Mint. 323-954-9400.
– Dec. 3. (Thurs.) West Coast Left Coast: Leonard Slatkin with the Kronos Quartet and the Los Angeles Philharmonic perform works by Gladsmith, Bates, Waxman and Newman in the continuing series. Disney Hall.
– Dec. 4. (Fri.) Gaea Schell Trio. A hard-swinging, inventive pianist, Schell brings the qualities of an instrumentalist to her laid-back, but always intriguing vocals. This time out, she celebrates the release of her new CD, “After the Rain.” Café 322. (626) 836-5787.
– Dec. 4 & 5. (Fri. & Sat.) 5th Annual Fil-Am Jazzfest. Any original doubts about the reality of Filipino jazz have been thoroughly removed by these stirring annual events. This year’s featured artists include Charmaine Clamor, Mon David, Tateng Katendig, Abe Lagrimas, Angelo Pizzaro, Sandra Viray and a special appearance by Eddie Katendig. . Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.
– Dec. 5. (Sat.) The Nutcracker Suite. The State Street Ballet Company brings an unusual slant to Tchaikovsky’s holiday classic with a newly choreographed production featuring Art Deco sets and 1930’s costumes.. 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. CSUN Performing Arts Center. (818) 677-5768.
– Dec. 5. (Sat.) Carol Welsman. Canadian pianist/singer Welsman illuminates songs associated with (or written by) Peggy Lee in her new album, “I Like Men.” Spazio. (818) 728-8400.
– Dec. 5. (Sat.) David Ornette Cherry and Organic Roots. Following in the footsteps of his father, Don Cherry, and his namesake, Ornette Coleman, Cherry’s envelope-stretching music also embraces eclectic aspects of cultures from around the globe. World Stage Performance Gallery. (323) 293-2451.
– Dec. 5. (Sat.) Herb Alpert & Lani Hall. Show biz power couple Alpert and Hall also happen to be imaginative musical artists. Performing selections from their recent album, “Anything Goes,” Alpert’s trumpet and Hall’s vocals make an appealingly intimate jazz marriage. Orange County Performing Arts Center. (714) 556-2787.
– Dec. 5 & 6. (Sat. & Sun.) Lisa Mezzacappa. San Francisco bassist/composer Mezzacappa says her music lives “at the intersection of music and composition.” She brings her imaginative musical perceptions to a pair of Southland performances. Sat.: Café Metropole, / Sun: Eagle Rock Center for the Arts.
– Dec. 6. (Sun.) Inner Voices. “Christmas A Cappella Brunch.” L.A.’s most fascinating vocal ensemble – musically, harmonically and stylistically – present their annual look at the rich, creative potential of the familiar songs of Christmas. Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.
Dec. 2 – 6. (Wed. – Sun.) The Taj Mahal Trio. The blues legend displays his inimitable guitar and voice in the intimate frame work of a trio. Yoshi’s Oakland. (510) 238-9200.
– Dec. 1. (Tues.) Jackie Ryan. Praised from every direction, Ryan’s extraordinarily versatile voice, her buoyant swing and gifted story telling abilities will be backed by a pair of superb instrumentalists — trumpeter Jeremy Pelt and saxophonist Eric Alexander. Birdland. (212) 581-3080.
Dec. 1 – 6. (Tues. – Sun.) Anat Cohen Quartet. In addition to her powerful – and often funky – tenor saxophone work, Cohen is bringing vital new life to the too-often under-appreciated jazz clarinet. She performs with Howard Alden, guitar, Carlos Enriquez, bass and Herlin Riley, drums. Village Vanguard. (212) 255-4037.
– Dec. 2. (Wed.) Bob Brookmeyer celebrates his 80th birthday with the Eastman New Jazz Ensemble. Kilbourn Hall at the Eastman School of \Music. Rochester, N.Y. (585) 454.2100.
– Dec. 2 – 5. (Wed. – Sat.) Christine Ebersole and Billy Stritch. “A Town and Country Christmas.” A pair of musical theatre and cabaret veterans come together for an evening of inspired song. Birdland. (212) 581-3080.
– Dec. 3 – 6. (Thurs. – Sun.) The Chano Dominguez Flamenco Quartet perform “The Flamenco Side of Kind of Blue” – a fascinating musical concept that will be the final concert series of the Voll-Damm Barcelona International Jazz Festival, The Jazz Standard. http://www.jazzstandard.net (212) 447-7733.
– Dec. 4 – 6. (Fri. – Sun.) Madeleine Peyroux. “Remembering Lady Day: 50 Years.” Given the Holiday qualities that are such a distinct part of the Peyroux style, this should be among the more intriguing live performances of recent memory. Blue Note. The Blue Note. (212) 475-8592.
– Dec. 6. (Sun.) Sonny Rollins. The icon of the tenor saxophone appears in a benefit Concert for Pete Seeger’s Clearwater. He’s backed by his regular ensemble: Clifton Anderson, trombone; Bobby Broom, guitar; Bob Cranshaw, bass; Kobie Watkins, drums and Victor See-Yuen, percussion. Tarrytown Music Hall or call 877-840-0457.
– Dec. 6. (Sun.) Alessandra Belloni. “The Voyage of the Black Madonna,” written and directed by Belloni, with music composed and arranged by John La Barbera. The work features healing chants, ritual drumming and dances from Southern Italy performed by Alessandra Belloni with La Barbera playing guitars, mandolin, and Susan Eberenz playing flute, piccolo and recorders. St. Mary’s Church, 521 W. 126 St. (212) 864-4013.