Picks of the Week: Feb. 16 – 21

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Rickie Lee Jones

– Feb. 16. (Tues.)  Rickie Lee Jones.  Her latest album, Balm in Gilead, affirmed that Jones is still a vital and imaginative singer and songwriter.  She’ll be performing selections from that CD as well as material from her long, productive career.  Vista Theatre, 4473 Sunset Blvd., L.A.  (323) 660-6639.

– Feb. 16. (Tues.)  Guitar Night at Vitello’sJohn Pisano with Dori Caymmi. Guitar night takes on a fascinating Brazilian tone tonight with the presence of Caymmi, a superb guitarist/singer/songwriter from one of Brazil’s first musical families. With luck, Dori will sing and play his lovely song, “O Cantador” (“Like A Lover” in the English version). Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

– Feb. 16. (Tues.)  Maria Volonte. Argentine singer Volonte’s lyrical style has been making convincing connections between the folkloric traditions of her country and the improvisational inventiveness of vocal jazz.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

Houston Person

– Feb. 17. (Wed.)  Houston Person Quartet. Person’s authoritative, blues-driven tenor saxophone is an irresistible pleasure, whether he’s playing a driving up tempo or bringing a classic ballad to full-blooded life.  He’s backed by the sterling trio of pianist Bill Cunliffe, bassist Richard Simon and drummer Ralph Penland Spazio.  (818) 728-8400.

– Feb. 18.  (Thurs.)  Max Raabe & Palast Orchester. With his slicked-down hair, well-tailored tuxedo and jaunty manner, Raabe and his associates provide both a convincing and an immensely entertaining display of German pop music of the Weimar era.  Royce Hall.  UCLA Live.  (310) 825-2101.

– Feb. 18. (Thurs.)  Carol Welsman. Welsman, who celebrated Peggy Lee in her most recent album, “I Like Men,” is an authentic jazz artist.  Not a crossover cabaret performer, not a frustrated pop star – but a confident and gifted singer and pianist who knows, like Lee, the ways in which jazz can bring a song to life.  Spazio.   (818) 728-8400.

– Feb. 18. (Thurs.)  Sofia Rei Koutsovitis. Like Maria Volonte, Koutsovitis – who is based in New York — is an Argentine singer who brings subtle aspects of jazz to the tango rhythms of her roots.   Museum of Latin American Art.  Long Beach. http://www.molaa.org/Programs-and-Events/events-calendar.aspx (562) 437-1689.

– Feb. 18. (Thurs.)  The Midnight Jazz Band.  Chuck Berghofer, Gary Foster, Tom Ranier, Steve Schaffer.  Red Carpet Jazz Series picked the perfect ensemble – a collective of some of the Southland’s finest jazz artists – to celebrate its 1 Year Anniversary.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

– Feb. 18. (Thurs.)  Slumgum. Formed in 2006 when its members were students at CalArts, Slumgum – Jon Armstrong, tenor saxophone, Rory Cowal, piano, David Tranchina, bass and Trevor Anderies, drums – explore some of the outer limits of jazz improvising.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.    (310) 474-9400.

Randy Newman

– Feb. 19. (Fri.) An Evening with Randy Newman. Each of Newman’s songs is a short story in itself, a brief, often sardonic passage in the life of a character who may, or may not, reflect aspects of Newman himself.  His latest album, “Harps and Angels,” affirms that his ability to create these remarkable musical narratives is as powerful as it was when he first arrived on the scene in the ‘60s.  And there’s no better way to experience him than in his rare, live appearances.  Royce Hall.  UCLA Live.  (310) 825-2101.

Sally Kellerman

– Feb. 19. (Fri.)  Sally Kellerman.  She may have been Hot Lips Houlihan at some point in her life, but Kellerman was a singer both before and after M*A*S*H.  And the jazz inflections in her style have become stronger and more adventurous every time she performs.  This time out, she’s backed by Rickey Woodard, tenor saxophone, Joel Scott, piano, Luther Hughes, bass and Paul Kreibich, drums. Jazz at the Radisson.  (310) 649-1776.

– Feb. 19. (Fri.)  Justo Almario.  The versatile saxophonist celebrates his 61st birthday in the rhythmically supportive company of the John Heard Trio.  Charlie O’s.   (818) 994-3058.

– Feb. 20. (Sat.)  Peter Sprague String Consort.  Guitarist Sprague’s ensemble – basically a string quartet with his guitar, Bob Magnusson’s bass and Duncan Moore’s drums – is likely to play anything from Bach to Brubeck, from Chick Corea to Sprague’s own atmospheric compositions.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

– Feb. 20. (Sat.)  Russian National Orchestra. The first Russian orchestra to win a Grammy (for its recording of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf), the RNO will perform the Shostakovich Symphony No. 9 and the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto (with violinist Stefan Jackiw).  Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.   (562) 916-8501.


– Feb. 20. (Sat.) Tinariwen plus special guests.  They started out as ambitious guitar players from the Touareg people of the Saharan desert.  And now, four albums later, their desert-rock blend of blues, Berber and Arabic sounds have made them one of international  music’s most entertaining ensembles.  Royce Hall.  UCLA Live.  (310) 825-2101.

– Feb. 20.  (Sat.)  10th Annual Brazilian Carnaval. The big, flashy Carnaval event takes place this year in the equally flashy environs of Club Nokia. Featured performers are Bahia’s Trio Eletrico Armandinho, Dodo & Osmar.  Three DJs will spin additional Brazilian music all night, and the Brazilian Nites Samba Dancers will heat up the floor. Club Nokia.   (213) 765-7000.

San Francisco

Tuck & Patti

– Feb. 16 & 17. (Tues. & Wed.)  Trio Da Paz.  Guitarist Romero Lubambo, bassist Nilson Matta and drummer Duduka Da Fonseca play together in a style that can best be described as a definitive encounter between jazz and Brazil.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

– Feb. 18 – 20. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Nancy Wilson. She doesn’t play clubs very often, so don’t miss this opportunity to hear one of the great jazz divas in action, up close and personal. Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

– Feb. 21. (Sun.)  “A Great Night in the Fillmore.” An evening filled with musical wonders, as diverse and entertaining as the programs that once took place at San Francisco’s legendary auditorium.  Bobby  Hutcherson, Tuck & Patti, Denny Zeitlin, The Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet, Cultural Heritage Choir with Linda Tillery, John Handy. Hosted by Rita Moreno and Chuy Varela.  A Benefit for the California Jazz Foundation.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

New York

– Feb. 16 & 17. (Tues. & Wed.)  McCoy Tyner Trio. Always eager to stretch musically, Tyner adds some Latin jazz atmosphere with special guests Dave Valentin and Steve TurreThe Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

Ann Hampton Callaway

Feb. 16 – 21.  (Tues. – Sun.)  Ann Hampton CallawaySwings the Great American Songbook.”  She’ll swing it, for sure, but expect Callaway to express the lyrical heartbeat of everything she sings, as well.  Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.  (212) 258-9595.

-Feb. 16 – 21. (Tues. – Sun.) The Robert Glasper Trio.  Pianist Glasper is doing an impressive job of exploring links between mainstream jazz and some contemporary pop genres, without losing the credibility of either.  Village Vanguard(212) 255-4037.

– Feb. 17 – 20. (Tues. – Sat.)  Dave Liebman, Richie Beirach, Ron McClure and Jeff Williams. Liebman’s 1974 album Lookout Farm was one of the innovative jazz albums of the decade.  He revisits it here with Beirach and Williams from the original Lookout Farm, and McClure from a later version of the band.  Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.

– Feb. 17 – 21. (Wed. – Sun.)  Cyrus Chestnut Trio.  Pianist Chestnut follows in the footsteps of Art Tatum, Teddy Wilson, Hank Jones and others, adding his own inimitable qualities of soul and gospel.  Jazz Standard.  (212) 576-2232.

Gay Marshall

– Feb. 18 – Mar. 18. (Thursdays)  Gay Marshall. PIAF: Queen of Heart. Edith Piaf has been receiving a lot of attention lately — all of it well deserved.  But no one is bringing as much creative authenticity to the Piaf revival as Marshall.  Singing in exquisite Parisian French, adding a few tunes done in her own English translations, she uses Piaf classics — “L’Accordeoniste,” “Non, Je ne regrette rien” — and less familiar items (“Avec Ce Soleil”) as the foundation for her own superbly lyrical interpretations.  The ghost of Piaf is there, but the substance is Marshall’s.  She performs every Thursday through March 18.  The Metropolitan Room.  (212) 206-0440.

Santa Cruz

– Feb. 21. (Sun.)  Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill.   (831) 427-2227. Irish fiddle virtuoso Martin Hayes and Chicago guitarist Dennis Cahill play with a depth and intimacy that the New York Times describes as “a Celtic complement to Steve Reich’s quartets or Miles Davis’s Sketches of Spain.”  Kuumbwa.


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