Picks of the Week: July 19 – 25

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

– July 19. (Mon.)  Rachael Sage.  The music of New York singer/songwriter Sage has been described as “Elton John Meets Kate Bush,” but she’s a lot more unique than that – a musical happening in her own right.  Genghis Cohen.  (323) 653-0640.

– July 19. (Mon.) Elvis Schoenberg’s Orchestre Surreal.  With a stage name derived from Elvis Presley and Arnold Schoenberg, composer Ross Wright has assembled a 20+ piece ensemble for whom “eclectic” only begins to describe what they do. Typhoon Restaurant. (310) 390-6565.

The Labeque Sisters

– July 20. (Tues.) and July 22 (Thurs.)  Magnificent Mozart. Mozart is always “magnificent,” of course.  And especially so when Katia and Marielle Labèque are playing the Concerto for Two Pianos, K.365.  Nicholas McGegan also conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the Symphony No. 36. (Linz), K.425.  The Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

– July 20. (Tues.) James Taylor and Carole King.  For anyone who remembers the ‘70s, it doesn’t get any more nostalgic than this.  Taylor and King may be in their sixties, but they still know how to get to the heart of a song.  The Honda Center, Anaheim.   (714) 704-2500.

– July 20. (Tues.) John Pisano’s Guitar Night.  Pisano and guitarist Federico Ramos bring a touch of Rio to Studio City, backed by bassist Jose Marino and drummer Enzo TodescoVitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

– July 20. (Tues.)  Johnny Crawford Orchestra.  Crawford and his line-up of veteran big band players celebrate the Artie Shaw centennial with “Begin the Beguine” and much more.  Typhoon Restaurant.   (310) 390-6565.

– July 21. (Wed.)  Melissa Sweeney and Bill Cunliffe. Singer Sweeney and pianist Cunliffe are both show biz hyphenates – Sweeney as a film producer (Split Ends), Cunliffe as a Grammy winning arranger/composer.  Performing together, their unique talents combine into an impressive musical blend. Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

Jamie Cullum

– July 21. (Wed.)  Jamie Cullum.  Every Cullum performance is an adventure, enlivened by his intriguing vocals and his unpredictable piano work (sometimes on the keys, sometimes on the strings, sometimes elsewhere.  He’s a true original, quirky, but always musical and always a pleasure to hear.  Ford Amphitheatre.  (323) 461-3673.

– July 21. (Wed.)  Joe Bagg Organ Trio. Keyboardist Bagg displays his proficiency on the B-3, backed by guitarist Jamie Rosenn and drummer Ryan Doyle. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

– July 21. (Wed.)  Lee Ritenour and Dave GrusinJazz at the Bowl brings an impressive group of six-stringers to interact with Ritenour and Grusin: Keb Mo, Taj Mahal and John Scofield. Dianne Reeves adds her virtuosic vocal stylings.  The Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

– July 22. (Thurs.) Jovanotti.  One of Italy’s most charismatic performers brings his highly personal blend of song, funk, rapping and an occasional classical touch to Twilight Dance at the Santa Monica Pier.   (310) 458-8900.

– July 22. (Thurs.)  Pinky Winters.  With a career that reaches back to the ‘50s, Winters’ fine jazz singing has been in action only intermittently over the decades.  But she’s back in action and very much worth hearing.  Charlie O’s.  (818) 994-3058.

– July 22. (Thurs.)  Parno Graszt.  The Skirball’s Sunset Concert Series opens with a no doubt high spirited performance by a Hungarian Gypsy folk band that always manages to get a crowd to their feet.  The Skirball Center.   (310) 440-4500.

Billy Childs

– July 23. (Fri.)  Billy Childs Trio.  Taking a break from his globe-hopping gig with Chris Botti, Childs gets down to piano trio basics.  Expect the best.   Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

– July 22 – 24. (Thurs. – Sat.) Joan Rivers Live! Yes, live, to be sure.  The one and only, as sardonic as ever, making an extremely rare Los Angeles club appearance.  Don’t miss this one.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.  .

– July 23. (Fri.)  Tom Peterson Quartet. Saxophonist Peterson is everyone’s first call player, fully capable of fitting into any setting.  But here we get to hear him in his own solidly swinging, ever-inventive mode, backed by the Pat Senatore Trio.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

– July 23. (Fri.) “Music at the Zoo: Classic Rock Night” And classic rock it will be, with Eagles, Beatles, the Grateful Dead and Heart tribute bands, as well as the songs of The Doors, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Jimi Hendrix and more.  The Los Angeles Zoo.  6 p.m.   (323) 644-6042.

– July 23. (Fri.) Jackson Browne and special guest David Lindley.  Singer/songwriter Browne and guitarist Lindley have been making music together at various times for nearly 40 years.  Their current appearance celebrates the release of the dynamic duo’s Love Is Strange. a 2-CD live recording of their Spanish tour in 2006. The Greek Theatre.  (323) 665-3125.

Ernie Andrews

– July 23. (Fri.) Ernie Andrews.  The male jazz singer field may be relatively sparse these days, but we can always be thankful for the presence of Andrews, who sings anything and everything with style and substance.  The Culver Club in the Raddison. (310) 649-1776 ext. 4137.

– July 23 (Fri.)  Bern.  Drummer Bernie Dresel leads his wildly versatile band of singers and musicians in the first appearance at The Baked Potato.  (818) 980-1615.

– July 24. (Sat.)  Mercury Falls and painter Norton Wisdom. Mercury Falls – saxophonist Patrick Cress, guitarist Roger Riedlbauer, bassist Eric Perney and drummer Tim Bulkley – perform their ambient jazz textures, while Wisdom paints spontaneous images to capture the musical moment.  Royal-T.  (310) 559-6300.

– July 25. (Sun.) Louis Prima: Star on Hollywood Blvd. Trumpeter Prima, whose career reached from his mid-‘30s hit, “Sing, Sing, Sing” to his ‘50s trend-setting lounge act with Keely Smith, receives his star on the Walk of Fame.  Prima’s son, Louis Prima, Jr., performs some of the classics after the ceremony.  11617 Vine St., south of Hollywood Blvd.  11:30 a.m.

San Francisco

– July 19 & 20. (Mon. & Tues.)  Ricardo Lemvo and Makina Loca. Lemvo’s turbulent Congolese percussion rhythms are skillfully blended by his Makina Loca players into a tasty gumbo of salsa, rumba and soukous. Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

– July 21. (Wed.) Etran Finatawa. The trance-like grooves of Niger’s “Stars of Tradition” are as mesmerizing as ever in their new album, Tarkat Tajje/Let’s Go!Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

New York

Carol Welsman

– July 19. (Mon.)  Carol Welsman Quartet with Harry Allen.  Welsman’s velvety vocals, rich sense of swing and embracing balladry are backed by saxophonist Allen’s driving mainstream style.   Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.  (212) 258-9595.  

– July 20 – 24. (Tues. – Sat.)  The Maria Schneider Orchestra. Arguably among the most adventurous of the contemporary big bands, Schneider’s stellar players make the most of her atmospheric charts.  Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.

– July 20 – 25. (Tues. – Sun.)  The Barry Harris Trio. Bebop still lives, in every sense of the word, in Harris’ ineffable piano.  Village Vanguard. (212) 255-4037.

– July 20 – 25. (Tues. – Sun.)  Monty Alexander: Harlem-Kingston Express. Jamaica’s Alexander finds common ground between uptown jazz and Caribbean rhythms. Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.  (212) 258-9595.  

– July 22 – 25. (Thurs. – Sun.) Larry Willis Quintet.  Keyboardist Willis has proved his chops in every imaginable setting, from Jackie McLean and Stan Getz to Carmen McRae and Blood, Sweat & Tears.  This time out, he leads the quintet of saxophonist Joe Ford, trombonist Steve Davis, bassist Steve Novosel and drummer Billy Williams. The Jazz Standard. (212) 576-2232.

– July 21 & 22. (Wed. & Thurs.)  Jeff Lorber Fusion. Keyboardist Lorber led the way in the early years of fusion, and he continues to stretch the envelope, this time celebrating the appropriately titled new recording, Now is the Time, dipping into the jazz roots that have always been the foundation of his music.  Iridium.  (212) 582-2121.

– July 23 – 25. (Fri. – Sun.) Geri Allen and Timeline. Pianist Allen showcases selections from a pair of new albums – the tap dancing sounds of Live (Dig) and the solo piano excursions of Flying Toward the Sound. Iridium.  (212) 582-2121.

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