Picks of the Week: Nov. 16 – 21

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Johnny Mandel

– Nov. 16. (Tues.)  Johnny Mandel Big Band. Multiple Grammy winner, gifted composer/arranger/songwriter Mandel is one of the Southland’s true musical treasures.  This rare appearance with a big band serves as an early celebration of his 85th birthday on November 23.   Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400. 

– Nov. 16. (Tues.)  Tamir Hendelman Trio.  Versatile pianist Hendelman – a favorite of Barbra Streisand’s – celebrates  the release of his new Destinations CD.  With Ryan McGillicuddy, bass, and Dean Koba, drums.  Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

– Nov. 16. (Tues.)  Le Kat.  “Jazzy, bluesy and a lil’ naughty” is the way Le Kat’s ultimate cabaret act – with its mix of swing, blues and bohemian sophistication – is described.  Ivan Kane’s Café Was. (323) 466-5400.

– Nov. 17. (Wed.)  Bill Cantos.  Pianist/composer Canto’s skills reach from primo accompaniment and solid solo work to the writing of songs with the distinct qualities of the Great American Songbook.  He appears with his wife, singer Mari FalconeVibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

– Nov. 17. (Wed.)  Jair Oliveira. The son of Brazil’s singer Jair Rodrigues, Oliveira is a gifted singer/songwriter/instrumentalist in his own right, bringing a contemporary touch to classic Brazilian rhythms.   The dynamic, always exciting singer/dancer Katia Moraes opens the show.   Conga Room. (213) 745-0162.

Lainie Kazan

– Nov. 18 – 20.  (Thurs. – Sat.)  Lainie Kazan. Name an area of the entertainment business and Kazan’s been there, as a star, from Broadway and cabaret to films and television.  But there’s nothing quite like hearing her bring songs to life in an intimate jazz setting.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

– Nov. 18. (Thurs.)  Grand opening of the LAX Jazz Club.  The jazz room at the Crowne Plaza LAX is transformed into the Southland’s newest .  The Dee Dee McNeil QuintetWith Rickey Woodard, saxophone, Theo Saunders, piano, Richard Simon, bass and Quentin Denard, drums.  LAX Jazz Club.   (310) 258-1333.

– Nov. 19. (Fri.)  The John Altman Big Band. Alto saxophonist Altman’s resume also includes a long list of genre-crossing successes as a composer and arranger.  This time out, he fronts a group of L.A.’s finest players performing a collection of his swinging big band charts.  LACMA.   (323) 857-6000.

Richard Thompson

– Nov. 19. (Fri.)  Richard Thompson with Harry Shearer and Judith Owen “Cabaret of Souls.” Thompson’s musical satire — direct from London’s Royal Festival Hall — is a collection of new songs and music by the veteran guitarist, songwriter and former member of Fairport Convention.  With other guests, as well as the Idyllwild Arts Academy Orchestra.   UCLA Live at Royce Hall. (310) 825-2101.

– Nov. 19 & 20. (Fri. & Sat.)  Renaud Garcia-Fons.  Bassist Garcia-Fons takes his five-string instrument on a tour of music embracing jazz, classical, flamenco, new musette and stops in between.  Samueli Theatre OCPAC.  (714) 556-2787.

– Nov. 20. (Sat.)  Menahem Pressler and Richard Stoltzman with the New York Chamber Soloists Orchestra.  An evening of piano and clarinet classics from Mozart and Brahms.  Pianist Pressler performs Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17 in G Major. Stoltzman displays Mozart’s magical touch with the clarinet in the Clarinet Concerto in A Major. And together, they perform Brahms’ Sonata No. 1 for Clarinet and Piano. UCLA Live at Royce Hall.  (310) 825-2101.

Billy Childs

– Nov. 20. (Sat.)  Billy Childs Jazz Chamber Ensemble.  Childs continues his adventurous exploration of the common ground between jazz and classical with the Sonus String Quartet and his own group of regulars — Bob Sheppard, saxophones and flute, Larry Koonse, guitar, Carol Robbins, harp and Marvin “Smitty” Smith, drums.  Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

– Nov. 21. (Sun.)  Sylvia Brooks.  The elegant Ms. Brooks applies her dark sound and sophisticated style to songs from her latest album Dangerous Liaisons.  Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

– Nov. 21. (Sun.)  Tom Scott. Saxophonist Scott takes a break from his busy career as an arranger, composer and conductor to reaffirm his impressive chops as an adventurous jazz player.   KJAZZ Sunday Champagne Brunch.    (323) 491-1000.

San Francisco

– Nov. 16 & 17. (Tues. & Wed.)  Nnenna Freelon. Six-time Grammy nominee Freelon is one of the uniquely original voices in the growingly crowded field of female jazz singers.   Yoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.

– Nov. 17. (Wed.)  Kyle Eastwood.  Bassist and film composer Eastwood leads a sterling quintet of rising jazz artists.  Yoshi’s San Francisco. (415) 655-5600.

Denny Zeitlin

– Nov. 20. (Sat.)  Denny Zeitlin.  Solo jazz piano.  Musician/psychiatrist Zeitlin is always a pleasure to hear.  But never more so than when he’s playing solo, exploring the outer limits of his far-reaching improvisational imagination.  Piedmont Piano Company, Oakland.  

– Nov. 21. (Sun.) Dave Mason.  Founding member of Traffic and a Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, guitarist Mason is out there, affirming his credentials as a rock star.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655-5600.

New York

Sheila Jordan

– Nov. 16 & 17. (Tues. & Wed.)  Sheila Jordan and Steve Kuhn82nd Birthday Celebration. Numbers don’t mean a thing when it comes to the birthdays of Sheila Jordan.  Still vivacious and full of spunk, she continues to define the meaning of great jazz singing.  And with long time associate Steve Kuhn at the piano, it gets even better.  Jazz Standard. (212) 447-7733.

– Nov. 16 – 20.  (Tues. – Sat.)  Phil Woods Quintet.  Veteran alto saxophonist Woods has surrounded himself with a group of the finest contemporary players: Brian Lynch, trumpet, Bill Mays, piano, Steve Gilmore, bass and Bill Goodwin, drums.  Birdland.   (212) 581-3080.

– Nov. 18 – 21. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Paul Bley and Charlie Haden.  Pianist Bley and bassist Haden have a history going back to the ‘60s.  Their empathic musical connections will be apparent in every fascinating note they play.   The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

Billy Childs photo by Bobby Colomby.

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