Picks of the Week: April 26 – May 1

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

– April. 26. (Tues.)  “The Music of Sonny Rollins.”  Tenor saxophonist Benn Clatworthy takes on the challenging task of exploring the music of a great jazz master.  Expect intriguing results.  With the Chris Colangelo Trio.  Charlie O’s.  (818) 994-3058.

Phil Upchurch

– April 27. (Wed.)  Phil Upchurch Quartet. Master blues and jazz guitarist Upchurch has been the go-to guy for jazz-driven funk, groove and beyond since the 1961 release of his platinum album, You Can’t Sit Down.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

– April 27. (Wed.) Gregg Bendian Trio Pianissimo.  Drummer Bendian, pianist Dave Witham and bassist Joel Hamilton get together to explore the adventurous arenas of Bendian’s compositional imagination.  Royal T.   (310) 559-6300.

– April 28. (Thurs.)  Orchestre SurrealElvis Schoenberg (the musical nom de plume for composer Ross Wright), has assembled a large collective of studio musicians to leap the boundaries between jazz, classical, hip hop, funk and beyond. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.  .

– April 29. (Fri.)  Norman Brown.  Guitarist/singer Brown invests his smooth jazz style with invigorating traces of Wes Montgomery, George Benson and r & b. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.    (562) 916-8501.

Bobbi Page

– April 30. (Sat.) Bobbi Page and the Dream St. Band.  Singer Page, guitarist Stan Ayeroff and their talented Dream St. Band are creating some compelling chamber jazz sounds with an unusual instrumentation that includes cello, bassoon, violin, bass, guitar, percussion and Page’s multi-hued voice. Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

– April 30. (Sat.) Brian Stokes Mitchell.  He’s starred in everything from Kiss Me Kate to Kiss of the Spider Woman, bringing everything he sings to life with his rich baritone and convincing interpretive style.  Valley Performing Arts Center.   (818) 677-8800.


Justo Almario

– May 1. (Sun.) Justo Almario Afro-Colombian Ensemble and Tamir Hendelman Trio.  Versatile saxophonist Almario leads an energetically charged journey through the rhythmic pleasures and improvisational inventiveness of Latin jazz.   The eclectic Hendelman, born in Israel, has developed a musical versatility that reaches from his role as Barbra Streisand’s accompanist to his own ever-evolving vision of the imaginative potential of the jazz piano trio.  Almario and Hendelman are featured in the first of 2011’s free Playboy Jazz Festival community concerts.  Beverly Hills Civic Center.  3:30 – 5 p.m.    (310) 450-1173.


– May 1. (Sun.)  Bill Cantos Duo. Singer/songwriter/pianist Cantos displays some of the fine entries in his growing book of songs. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

Angelique Kidjo

– May 1. (Sun.)  Angelique Kidjo.  There’s nothing quite like the Angelique Kidjo experience, nothing like the emotional high she creates whenever she steps on stage.  A small, but utterly irrepressible package of sheer energy, the Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter from Benin matches her dynamism with superb musicality and gripping story-telling powers — whatever language she is singing.  She should be heard — and experienced — at every opportunity.   Luckman Fine Arts Complex.    (323) 343-6600

– May 1. (Sun.)  A Tribute to Billy Higgins.  The first annual KPFK 90.7 Hero Award has chosen the late, great drummer Higgins as its first honoree.  The musical tributes will be offered by a stellar ensemble that includes Charles Lloyd, George Duke, Stanley Clarke, Cedar Walton, Gerald Wilson and more.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.


April 25 & 27. (Tues. & Wed.)  Pinetop Perkins TributeHubert Sumlin and Willie ‘Big Eyes” Smith recall the compelling music of the late blues pianist, who passed away in March at the age of 97.  Jazz Alley.   (206) 441-9729.

 San Francisco

John Scofield

April 29. (Fri.)  John Scofield Solo. Guitarist Scofield, whose versatility seems limitless, performs as a soloist in the resonant, echoing acoustic environment of Grace Cathedarl.  SFJazz Spring Season.    (866) 920-5299.

 New York

– April 26 – May1. (Tues. – Sun.)  Samba Jazz and the Music of JobimDudka Da Fonseca and Helio Alves with special guest Tonino Horta bring an irresistible air of musical authenticity to the linkages between samba, jazz and the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim.  Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.   (212) 258-9800.

– April 30. (Sat.) Music of Steve Reich.  The 75th birthday of one of America’s most idiosyncratic composers is celebrated with New York premieres of three recent works, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Double Sextet.  Performers include the Bang on a Can All-Stars, the Kronos Quartet and more.  Carnegie Hall.     (212) 247-7800.

 Washington D.C.

Manhattan Transfer

– April 26 – May 1. (Tues. – Sun.)  The Manhattan Transfer.  Decades together and the singers of Manhattan Transfer continue to surprise, enlighten and thrill their audiences with mesmerizing images of vocal jazz at its best.  Blues Alley.     (202) 337-4141.


– April 27 – 29. (Wed. – Fri.) Eddie Palmieri and the AfroCaribbean Jazz All Stars.  Multiple Grammy-winning pianist Palmieri has been revealing the intimate connections between jazz and Latin music for decades. He appears with his stellar collective for a dynamic three night run. Ronnie Scott’s.   020 7439 0747.


– April 26 & 27. (Tues. & Wed.)  Patricia Barber.  Pianist/singer/songwriter Barber has authoritatively established herself as one of the world’s fine jazz cabaret artists.  And what better place for her to display her skills than in the city that virtually invented the cabaret genre.  New Morning.  01 45 23 51 41.


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