Picks of the Week: June 8 – 13

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

– June 8. (Tues.) Guitar night with John Pisano. Tuesdays are always great nights for jazz when the veteran guitarist Pisano jams with some of his most gifted six string compatriots. This week, he exchanges riffs with busy studio guitarist Mike Anthony, backed by the solid bass support of Chris Connor. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

– June 9. (Wed.) Jose James. James has always had a heathy seasoning of jazz in his pop, soul and hip hop tinged music.  But his latest album, For All We Know, pairs him with Jef Neves in a vibrantly spontaneous voice and piano tour through a set of standards.  Here’s a chance to hear it live.  Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

– June 10. (Thurs.) Nora Rothman, She’s still in her teens, but the slender, graceful Rothman sings with the sort of imaginative musicality and crisp phrasing that suggest a potentially significant talent in the making. Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

– June 10. (Thurs.) Roberta Donnay. With a voice that combines qualities of Blossom Dearie and Billie Hoiday with her own warm sound, Donnay brings standards to life with engaging ease. Donnay sings with pianist George Kahn and bassist Larry Steen. Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

– June 11 & 12. (Fri. & Sat.) Barbara Morrison. The lady who does it all is doing it again in a venue that knows how to showcase her tempting palette of blues, ballads and bebop. Steamers.

– June 13. (Sun.) Alan Broadbent/Pat Senatore Duo. Grammy-winning pianist Broadbent is also a superb composer/arranger. In a duo setting, backed by the flowing, supportive bass rhythms of Senatore, Broadbent creates stunning, spontaneous solos that reach beyond improvisation and into the area of instant composition. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.



– June 12 & 13. (Sat. & Sun.) The Playboy Jazz Festival. The 32nd installment of L.A.’s major annual jazz event is once again – no surprise – brimming with its usual combination of iconic talent and colorfully diverse views of jazz as the global art it has become. But Playboy is always more than a non-stop flow of music. Each hour of the day flows with its own unique qualities, from the sun-baked afternoon hours to the wine-inspired dancing in the aisles near the dinner hour and the enthusiastic reception of the schedule’s headliners. A free-floating party for every taste.

Saturday’s line up features Chick Corea, Gerald Albright, Jeff Lorber, Kurt Elling, Pete Escovedo, Marcus Miller, Javon Jackson, Les McCann, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Naturally 7, Jake Shimabakuru and Trombone Shorty.

Sunday sparkles with Esperanza Spalding, George Benson, Manhattan Transfer, Bobby Hutcherson, Salif Keita, Robert Randolph’s Family Band, Irving Mayfield, Jazz Mafia, Bill Cosby and the Cos of Good Music and Tiempo Libre. Each day opens with a performance by one of the Southland’s fine youth jazz ensembles — the El Dorado Band on Saturday, the L.A. All District High School Jazz Band on Sunday. And Bill Cosby, in addition to leading his Cos of Good Music All-Stars, will provide his usual emcee blend of wit and whimsy. The Playboy Jazz Festival. Hollywood Bowl.


– June 13. (Sun.) Corky Hale and Friends. Jazz pianist, harpist and singer Hale plays hostess to an elegant line up irresistible female talent. With Corky leading the way, the gathering includes Sally Kellerman, Freda Payne, Ariana Savalas, Tricia Tahara and Brenna Whitaker. Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

San Diego

– June. 11. (Fri.) Javon Jackson and Les McCann. A generational jazz mix – the much-praised, adventurous saxophone work of Jackson juxtaposed against the inimitable, grooving drive of the veteran McCann. Catch them on the evening before their Playboy Jazz Festival appearance.. Anthology. San Diego.  (619) 595-0300.

San Francisco

June 11 – 13. (Fri. – Sun.) The Jack DeJohnette Group. Drummer and avid musical adventurer has assembled a boundary-leaping group of conemporary stars, featuring alto saxophonist Rudress Mahanthappa, guitarist David Fiuczynski, pianist George Colligan and bassist Jerome Harris. Yoshi’s Oakland.

New York

– June 8 & 9. (Tues. & Wed.) Jeff Beck and “A Celebration of Les Paul.” Beck takes a break from supporting his emotionally gripping guitar-with-strings-and-guests album, Emotion and Commotion, to celebrate the life of the guitarist whose instrumental and recording innovations continue to impact popular music. Iridium. (212) 582-2121.

– June 11 – 13. (Fri. – Sun.) The Dave Brubeck Quartet. How often do you have the chance to hear a jazz icon in action — and in action at a club that brings you up close and personal to every aspect of the music? Not often, at all. So don’t miss this chance to hear Brubeck, well into his ’80s, but still playing music filled with vitality, adventure and, yes, with youth. The Blue Note. (212) 475-8592


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