Picks of the Week: May 10 – 16

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

– May 11. (Tues.)  John Pisano’s Guitar Night .  Larry Koonse, the guitarist who can play almost anything, takes a break from making everyone else sound great, and steps onto center stage alongside Steve Cardenas.  Vitello’s.  http://www.vitellosrestaurant.com (818) 769-0905.

– May 12. (Wed.)  Chuck Berghofer’s Midnight Jazz Band.  Featuring Gary Foster and Terry Trotter. A group of L.A.’s (and the world’s) fine jazz veterans remind us of the pleasures of classic improvising.  Charlie O’s.    (919) 994-3058.

– May 12. (Wed.)  Sierra Leone’s Refugee All-Stars.  Organized in a refugee camp, using battered old instruments, the All-Stars have emerged as an engaging collection of genre-crossing world musicians.  The Roxy.

– May 12. (Wed.) Ron Kalina.  Harmonica is one of the rare jazz instruments, but Kalina brings it impressively into the jazz mainstream.  He’s backed by the Pat Senatore Trio.  Vibrato.   (310) 474-9400.

Sally Kellerman

– May 13. (Thurs.)  Sally Kellerman.  She may be best known for her role as Hot Lips Houlihan in the film M*A*S*H, but Kellerman’s also a jazz singer with convincing musical credentials.   Vitello’s.

– May 13 – 15. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Earl Klugh Quartet. Guitarist Klugh brings both listenability and musical authenticity to the smooth jazz/fusion jazz genres. Catalina Bar & Grill  http://www.catalinajazzclub.com (323) 466-2210.

– May 14. (Fri.)  Thom Rotella Quartet.  Expect musical sparks to fly when guitarist Rotella digs into his straight ahead jazz roots with the all-star quartet of Theo Saunders, Rickey Woodard, Kevin Brandon, Roy McCurdy Culver Club Radisson Hotel.  (310) 649-1776 Ext. 4137.

Michael Wolff

– May 14. (Fri.)  Michael Wolff.  Vitello’s.  He was the leader of the band on the Arsenio Hall Show, and pianist Wolff co-stars with his two sons, Nat and Alex on Nickelodeon’s Naked Brothers Band.  But he’s also a first rate jazz pianist in his own right.  And he’ll no doubt be at his best, working with the superb musical companionship of Bob Sheppard, Brian Bromberg and Michael Barsimento. Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

– May 14. (Fri.)  “Wavefest.” Don’t let the “Wave” title fool you.  This is a program that reaches across several musical genres, all of them appealing.  With Michael McDonald, Chaka Khan, Poncho Sanchez, Mindi Abair and more.  The Greek Theatre. (323) 665-5857.

– May 14. (Fri.) Dave Pell & Med Flory Quintet.  Pell and Flory find new life in the alto & tenor front line sound.  They’ll also be joined by talented young tenor saxophonist Chloe FeoranzoBack Room at Henri’s.   (818) 348-5582.

– May 14. (Fri.)  Kristin Korb.  Bassist/vocalist Korb shows off her versatile skills with the supportive backing of Llew Matthews and Paul Kreibich.   Hip Kitty. (949) 447-6700.

Alyssa Graham

– May 14 & 15. (Fri. & Sat.)  Alyssa Graham. The warm voice and intimate style of Graham has been compared – with good reason, to Helen Merrill, Karen Carpenter and other fine vocal models.  Café Metropol.  (213) 613-1537.

– May 15. (Sat.)  Patti Lupone. “Matters of the Heart.” The gifted Lupone moves effortlessly from the big stage of musical theatre to the short story songs of Randy Newman, Brian Wilson, Stephen Sondheim, Joni Mitchell and others.   Disney Hall.  (323) 850-2000.

– May 15. (Sat.)  Dwight Trible and John Beasley. Pianist Beasley’s far-ranging musical imagination provides the perfect setting for Trible’s equally adventurous vocalizing. Boston Court Theatre.  Pasadena.  Jazz Bakery Moveable Feast (310) 271-9039.

– May 16. (Sun.)  Sonny Rollins.  He’s inarguably one of the jazz world’s major iconic figures.  And he’s still fully capable of creating magic every time he picks up his horn.  Disney Hall.  (323) 850-2000.

– May 16. (Sun.)  Nedra Wheeler. Wheeler’s performed with everyone from Ella Fitzgerald to Ravi Coltrane.  But it’s always fun to hear her upfront, doing her thing with her own group.  And no better place to do it than the pleasant setting of a KJAZZ Sunday Brunch.  Twist Restaurant at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel.   (562) 985-2999.

Bill Cosby

– May 16. (Sun.) Bill Cosby.  Cosby has always been much more than a joke-telling comedian.  His story-telling, his slice of life memories, his capacity to riff on a theme are the verbal equivalents of a world class jazz performance. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.  (562) 916-8500.

– May 16. (Sun.)  Mitch Forman All-Star Jazz Band. The title is well-chosen.  Forman the real thing as a keyboardist.  And his associates are fully up to his level: Walt Fowler, trumpet, Brandon Fields, saxophone, Ernest Tibbs, bass, Joel Taylor, drums and Munyungo Jackson, percussion.  The Baked Potato.   (818) 980-1615.

– May 16. (Sun.)  Denise Thimes. The pride of St. Louis brings her unique style – with her transformative touches of Carmen McRae, Ella Fitzgerald and others – to a far too-rare appearance in the Southland.  A Frame Jazz.   (310) 659-9169.

San Diego

– May 14. (Fri.)  Spyro Gyra.  Smooth jazz and fusion have always been too limiting a labels for a band with the ability to stretch easily into bebop and the mainstream, as well. Anthology.   (619) 595-0300.

– May 15. (Sat.)  Richie Havens.  Approaching seventy, Havens can still set a stage on fire with the power of his strummed guitar and his inimitable voice.  Let’s hope he sings “Freedom.”   Anthology.   (619) 595-0300.

San Francisco

– May 11 & 12. (Tues. & Wed.)  Stanley Clarke Band, featuring Hiromi.  Bassist Clarke and pianist Hiromi have discovered a surprisingly compatible musical connection between their individually diverse styles. Yoshi’s Oakland.  (510) 238-9200.   Also May 13 & 14 (Thurs. & Fri.) at Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655-5600.

Wesla Whitfield

– May 11 – 16. (Tues. – Sun.)  Wesla Whitfield and the Mike Greensill Trio. “We’re In The Money.” A couple in music and life, Whitfield and Greensill have been defining the contemporary cabaret art since they first got together in the ‘80s.  They’ll perform songs from films such as An American In Paris, Meet Me In St. Louis, The Wizard of Oz and more. The Rrazz Room.  The Rrazz Room. (415) 394-1189.

New York

– May 11 – 16. (Tues. – Sun.)  The trio of Chick Corea, Eddie Gomez, Paul Motian cover a lot of territory in six short days.  On Tues. – Thurs they appear with Joe Lovano, Greg Osby, John Scofield, Hubert Laws.  (Check with club for schedule).  On Fri. – Sun. they delve into the fascinating area of  “Further Explorations of Bill Evans.”  Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

– May 11 – 16. (Tues. – Sun.)  Nnenna Freelon. Multi-Grammy nominee Freelon celebrates the release of her new Concord album, Homefree. Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola. (212) 258-9595.

– May 13 – 16. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Andy Bey Trio. At a time when jazz is flooded with a wave of female singers, Bey carries the torch for the male side of the art, doing so with an incomparably individual sound and style.  Jazz Standard.   (212)  576-2232.

Maria Raducanu

– May 15. (Sat.)  “Wall To Wall Behind the Wall.” An all-day program of Eastern European music from the end of WWI, through the Cold War to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.  Compositions by Shostakovich, Penderecki, Lutoslawski, Part, Bartok and many others, will be performed by the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic and Poland’s Silesian String Quartet.  Also on the program – a performance by Romanian jazz singer Maria Raducanu and a Russian jazz set by Lanny Myers, Clare Daly, Mary Ann McSweeney and Greg Joseph The Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Symphony Space. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.  Free.    (212) 864-5400.

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