Picks of the Week: May 31 – June 5

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Bruce Cockburn

– May 31. (Tues.)  Bruce Cockburn and Jenny Scheinman.  Versatile guitarist/composer Cockburn performs selections from his latest album, Small Source of Comfort, with the aid of eclectic violinist Scheinman.  The El Rey. http://www.theelrey.com (323) 936-6400.

– May 31. (Tues.)  Wayne Bergeron Big Band.  One of the jazz world’s finest, most versatile trumpeters, Bergeron displays even more abilities, leading his own stellar big band.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

– June 1. (Wed.) Michael Formanek. Bassist Formanek’s decades long resume includes gigs and recordings with the likes of Freddie Hubbard, Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan, Joe Lovano and beyond.  He makes a rare Southern California appearance with alto saxophonist Tim Berne, pianist Craig Taborn and drummer Gerald Cleaver. Blue Whale.   (213) 620-0908

– June 2 – 5. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Bad Plus.  More than a decade together, pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King have been redefining the inspiration and the territoriality of the jazz piano trio.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

– June 3. (Fri.)  Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt.  An intimate, all-acoustic evening, featuring a pair of veteran singer/songwriters, singing side by side, alternating songs from their remarkable careers.  CSUN.  Valley Performing Arts Center.  (818) 677-3000.

– June 3. (Fri.)  Larry Goldings.  Pianist Goldings finishes up a tour with James Taylor to celebrate the release of his latest recording, In My Room in a concert featuring special guests singer Gaby Moreno and guitarist David PiltchVitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Peter Erskine

– June 4. (Sat.) Peter Erskine.  Drummer Erskine shares his birthday party a day early with a performance by his New Trio – with Vardan Ovsepian, piano, and Damian Erskine, bass.  They’ll perform selections from his new Joy Luck CD.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

– June 4. (Sat.)  REO Speedwagon.  One of the hottest rock bands of the ‘80s, the Speedwagon has had a revolving door of personnel.  But the hits are as appealing as ever.  And for this appearance, the excitement level will no doubt be cranked up by the guest star appearance of Rick Springfield The Greek Theatre.   (877) 686-5366.

– June 5. (Sun.) Playboy Jazz: Patrice Rushen, Ndugu Chancler, The Nikhil Korula Band and Johnny Polanco y su Conjunto Amistad.  The jazz umbrella at the second of 2011’s free Playboy Jazz Festival concerts reaches far and wide.

Patrice Rushen

Start with the agile, hard swinging work of pianist Rushen and drummer Chancler.  Then on to the gumbo of calypso, rock, reggae and jazz from the Korula Band.  Add the irresistible rhythms of Johnny Polanco’s dynamic Conjunto Amistad.  And don’t forget the talented, high achieving youngsters of the Calabasas High School Jazz Band will be opening the show.  And the price is right.  A Playboy Jazz Festival Free Concert  at Warner Center Park in Woodland Hills. 4 p.m. – 8 p.m.     (310) 450-1173.

San Francisco

– May. 31 & June 1. (Tues. & Wed.)  George Winston.  Pianist and multi-instrmentalist Winston has had considerable visibility as an icon of New Age music.  But his skills reach far beyond that limited genre, into stride, blues, Americana and beyond.  Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse.   (510) 644-2020.

– June 2 – 5. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Hiromi: The Trio Project.  With special guests.  Anthony Jackson, bass, Simon Phillips, drums.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.    (415) 655-5600.

– June 4. (Wed.)  The Rova Saxophone Quartet.  More than three decades together, the four members of Rova continue to adventure through musical areas encompassing free jazz, contemporary classical music, rock, traditional and pop music.  They perform with DJ Olive and DJ P-Love.    An SFJAZZ Spring Season event at Swedish American Hall.  (866) 920-5299.


Allen Toussaint

– May 31 & June 1.  (Tues. & Wed.)  Allen Toussaint. One of the iconic figures of New Orleans music, as a pianist, singer, composer, producer and more.  Here’s a chance to hear him up close and personal in a rare Seattle appearance.  Jazz Alley.    (206) 441-9729.



– June 2 – 5.  (Thurs. – Sun.)  Freddy Cole. Like his brother Nat, Freddy plays piano and has the Cole vocal sound.  But what he does with it is all his own.  Jazz Showcase.   (312) 360-0234.

New York

– June 2 – 5. (Thurs. – Sun.) Don Byron.  Clarinetist Byron displays his far ranging abilities in a pair of very different ensembles.  On Thursday and Friday with his Ivey-Divey Trio featuring Geri Allen and Charlie Persip.  On Saturday and Sunday with The New Gospel QuintetJazz Standard. (212) 576-2232.

Eliane Elias

– May 31 – June 5. (Tues. – Sun.)  Eliane Elias Quartet. Elias’ stunning jazz piano credentials were established early in her career.  More recently, she’s added her elegant vocalizing to her creative mix – reaching into unusual musical territory on her new CD, Light My Fire. Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.   (212) 258-9800.

– May 31 – June 5. (Tues. – Sun.)  Lee Konitz, Bill Frisell, Gary Peacock and Joey Baron. It’s hard to beat this lineup.  And it will be especially intriguing to hear the interaction between alto saxophonist Konitz and guitarist Frisell – two of the jazz world’s greatest individualists.  The Blue Note.    (212) 475-8592.

Washington, D.C.

– June 3 – 5.  (Fri. – Sun.)  Pieces of a Dream.  Thirty years since the release of their first album, Pieces of a Dream continue to be one of the definitive smooth jazz groups.  Jazz Alley.   (202) 337-4141.


Cleo Laine

– May 31 – June 2. (Tues. – Thurs.)  Dame Cleo Laine.  Dame Cleo’s versatility has been one of the hallmarks of her career.  She is the only female performer to have received Grammy nominations in jazz, pop and classical categories.  But when she settles into a jazz groove, it’s hard to understand why she hasn’t fully received the accolades from the jazz audience that her brilliant talent deserves.  She’ll be backed by the Ronnie Scott’s All Stars.  Ronnie Scott’s.   020 7439 0747.


– June 2 – 4. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Dionne Warwick.  She’s one of the biggest hit makers of the last decades of the 20th century, with 56 of her singles charting in the Billboard Hot 100.  And with good reason.  Her engaging voice was, and continues to be, one of pop music’s most memorable sounds  The Blue Note.   03-5485-0088.


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