Picks of the Week: Aug 10 – 15

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

B.B. King

– Aug. 11. (Wed.) B.B. King, Buddy Guy. The blues at its best by a pair of venerable masters.  The Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

– Aug. 11. (Wed.) Bennie Maupin Ensemble.  Maupin’s mastery of the tenor saxophone, flute and bass clarinet has reached from Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock to his own envelope-stretching outings.  He’s not heard often enough, though, so don’t miss this one.  Armand Hammer Museum, UCLA.

– Aug. 11. (Wed.) Carol Robbins Quartet.  Harp hasn’t had a lot of presence in jazz, but in Robbins’ hands it steps impressively into the spotlight.  She’s backed by Pat Senatore, bass, Josh Nelson, piano and Jimmy Branley, drums.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.  .

– Aug. 11 – 15. (Wed. – Sun.)  John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey. Television variety shows featuring the music and humor of, among others, Sonny & Cher, the Smothers Brothers, etc. are a thing of the past.  If anyone has the charm, the wit and the musicality to bring them back, it’s the entertaining husband and wife team of Pizzarelli and Molaskey.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

– Aug. 12. (Thurs.) Soulive and Breakestra. Jazz funk on the loose, from the organ trio rhythms of Soulive to the hip hop and soul of the ten piece Breakestra.  Twilight Dance at the Santa Monica Pier.   (310) 458-8900.

– Aug. 12. (Thurs.)  La Excelencia.  The twelve piece salsa band with an upfront social awareness bring a revolutionary attitude to a traditional form. The Skirball Center.   (310) 440-4500.

– Aug. 12. (Thurs.)  Charlie O’s 10th Anniversary Party.  Jo-Anne and her staff celebrate ten years of providing first rate jazz in an intimate, up close and personal setting.  Expect to see a lot of familiar faces as Bill Cunliffe leads the Charlie O’s All-Stars.  Charlie O’s.   (818) 994-3058.

– Aug. 12. (Thurs.)  Jennifer Hart and Llew MathewsHart & Soul.  The duo of singer Hart and pianist (and sometimes singer) Mathews is bringing new life to everything from Lambert, Hendricks and Ross’ version of “Centerpiece” to their touching take on “Here’s To Life.  .Steamers.   (714) 871-8800.

Robin McKelle

– Aug. 13. (Fri.)  Robin McKelle.  McKelle’s latest album, Mess Around, combines her solid jazz skills with her affection for blues, soul and the music of the ‘60s.  Café Metropol.   (213) 613-1537.

– Aug. 13. (Fri.)  Carlos Santana, Lila Downs, Pete Escovedo and Zach de la Rocha. Latin music in many of its rich, colorful forms, from the blues driven explorations of Santana to Downs’ gripping musical intimacy, Escovedo’s classic Latin jazz and the rap and poetry songs of De la Rocha.  The Greek Theatre.   (323) 665-3125.

– Aug. 13 & 14. (Fri. & Sat.)  Harry Connick, Jr. Connick may have too much talent for his own good, given the many twists and turns of his career.  But when he’s playing piano, singing, leading a big band  in many of his own arrangements, he seems to be exactly where he belongs.  He’ll also perform with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The Hollywood Bowlhttp://www.hollywoodbowl.com (323) 850-2000.

– Aug. 13 & 14. (Fri. & Sat.)  Erin Boheme. Young, rapidly rising singer Boheme has the chops, the rhythm and the looks to claim a spot for herself in the upper reaches of the jazz vocal constellation.  Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

– Aug. 13 – 15. (Fri. – Sun.) The Long Beach Jazz Festival.  What a great way to spend a summer weekend, in the laid back setting of Rainbow Lagoon, listening to The Original Jazz Crusaders, a Tribute to Grover Washington, Jr., Dave Koz, Sheila E., Jonathan Butler, George Duke, Marcus Miller, Christian Scott, the Al Williams Jazz Society and many more.  Rainbow Lagoon in Long Beach.  The Long Beach Jazz Festival.

Seu Jorge

– Aug. 14. (Sat.) Seu Jorge and Almaz. Jorge has crossed convincingly from his Brazilian samba to a breakout role in global pop, singing the music of David Bowie (among others) with as much panache as his gripping takes on Gilberto Gil, Milton Nascimento, etc.  He’ll feature music, recorded with Almaz, from his new CD, Seu Jorge and AlmazClub Nokia.  (213) 765-7000.

– Aug. 14. (Sat.)  Pasadena Symphony and PopsAll That Jazz. The gifted young Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodriguez and jazz singer Valarie Pettiford are featured in a laid back summer jazz evening.  The Lawn adjacent to the Rose Bowl.  All That Jazz. (626)793-7172.

– Aug. 14. (Sat.) Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.  Put on your dancing shoes and get ready to move with the jump and jive rhythms of the Voodoo Daddies.  To make the performance even more tempting, the price is right — Free — and the setting is the pleasant environs of the Orange County Great Park.  Flights and Sounds Summer Festival.   (914) 854-4646.

– Aug. 15. (Sun.) Aloha Fest! Songs and Dances From Paradise. Natalie Ai, Hula Hulau O Lilinoe and Nonosina Polynesia bring to life the lush sounds and driving rhythms of Tahiti, Hawaii and beyond.  The Ford Amphitheatre.   (323) 461-3673.

– Aug. 15. (Sun.)  Levon Helm & Jenny Lewis.  With Steve Earle.  An evening of diversity, featuring the soulful voice and crisp drumming of Helm, Lewis’ dynamic voice and songs, and the Grammy-winning Earle in a program of songs by the late Townes Van Zandt (from the new CD, Townes.)  The Greek Theatre.   (323) 665-3125.

– Aug. 15. (Sun.)  John Proulx.  Pianist Proulx is also a gifted songwriter and an intriguing vocalist.  Let’s  hope he performs some selections from his Chet Baker tribute album, Baker’s Dozen: Remembering Chet BakerVibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.  .

– Aug. 15. (Sun.)  Smooth Summer Jazz.  The title says it all – a stellar evening for fans of the easygoing rhythms and pleasing timbres of smooth jazz.  Featured artists include Brian McKnight, Rick Braun and Richard Elliot, Patrice Rushen, Spencer DayThe Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

San Francisco

Amina Figarova

– Aug. 10. (Tues.)  Amina Figarova.  Azerbaijan pianist and composer Figarova makes a rare West Coast tour, celebrating the release of her musically compelling new CD, Sketches.   Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.  Also Kuumbwa in Santa Cruz on Thurs., Aug. 12  and the San Jose Jazz Festival (Aug 15)  on Sun., Aug. 15.   

– Aug. 13 & 14. (Fri. & Sat.)  Betty Buckley and Alice Russell.  An evening of musical delights from a pair of ladies who know how to bring a song to life and an audience to its feet.  Yoshi’s San Francisco. (415) 655-5600.

– Aug. 13 – 15. (Fri. – Sun.)  Toumani Diabate and the Symmetric Orchestra. Mali’s Diabete performs on the traditional African instrument the kora with such virtuosic energy that he has been called “the Jimmy Hendrix of the kora.”  Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200. 

– Aug. 14 – 15. (Sat. & Sun.)  Outside Lands Music & Art Festival.  It’s the kind of event, with tributaries into ecology, technology, activism, food and the counterculture that could probably only take place in San Francisco.  Among the acts: Kings of Leon, Further with Phil Lesh and Bob Weir, Social Distortion, Al Green, Gogol Bordello, the Levon Helm Band, Sierra Leon’s Refugee All-Stars, Vieux Farka Toure, the Rebirth Brass Band, Garage A Trois and many others.    Outside Lands Music & Art Festival in Golden Gate Park.

San Jose

George Clinton

– Aug. 13 – 15. (Fri. – Sun.)  The San Jose Jazz Festival. Always one of the West Coast’s most attractive summer festivals, San Jose keeps its standards high once again, with programming that includes Amina Figarova, Bobby Matos, George Clinton and Funkadelic, Vijay Iyer, Irma Thomas, John Handy, Maceo Parker, Nnenna Freelon, Pete Yellin, Ray Obiedon, Gretchen Parlato, Marcus Miller, Tower of Power and many others.  The San Jose Jazz Festival.

New York

– Aug. 10. (Tues.)  Art Lillard’s Heavenly Band with Mary Foster Conklin, Andrea Wolper and Alan Esses. Drummer Lillard is carrying the torch for big band music by performing new music in classic Swing style.  Vocalists Conklin, Wolper and Esses add their atmospheric takes to this fascinating blend. The Iridium.  (212) 582-2121.

– Aug. 10 – 14. (Tues. – Sat.)  George Coleman Quartet.  Seventy-five year old Coleman’s resume reaches from Miles Davis the Chet Baker, but he’s never quite received the credit his strong tenor saxophone work deserves.  He performs here with Harold Mabern, piano, John Weber, bass, Joe Farnsworth, drums.  Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.

– Aug. 10 – 15. (Tues. – Sun.)  Cedar Walton Quintet.  Veteran pianist Walton displays his wares with a solid collective of younger stars: Vincent Herring, alto sax, Steve Turre, trombone, David Williams, bass and Willie Jones III, drums.  Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.   (212) 258-9595.

– Aug. 13 – 15. (Fri. – Sun.)  Lenny White’s Anomaly. Drummer White features the music of his new recording, also called Anomaly – music which is aimed, he says, “at putting the rock back into jazz rock.”  The Iridium.  (212) 582-2121.


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