Picks of the Week: Sept. 20 – 25

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Chick Corea

– Sept. 20. (Tues. ) Return To Forever IV.  The latest installment of Chick Corea’s enormously influential, new jazz perspective brings even more creative illumination via the presence of violinist Jean-Luc Ponty and guitarist Frank Gambale. The Greek Theatre.   (323) 665-5857.

– Sept. 20. (Tues.)  Robert Davi Sings Sinatra.  He was the villain Franz Sanchez in the 1989 James Bond film, Licenxe to Kill and Agent Malone in NBC’s Profiler – among other roles in his busy acting career.  But Davi is a singer, too, and thoroughly in touch with Sinatra and the Great American Songbook.  Vibrato Jazz Grill…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

– Sept. 22. (Thurs.)  Misha Piatogorsky and Sketchy Black Dog.  Pianist Piatogorsky, a Thelonious Monk competition winner, brings his rich background – as a Russian-Jewish émigré – to his dynamic, jazz-driven style.  He performs, with Sketchy Black Dog, as a piano trio with strings, playing material comfortably reaching across genre borders. Vibrato Jazz Grill…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

– Sept. 22. (Thurs.)  K.T. Sullivan.  Name a musical theatre or a cabaret venue, and Sullivan’s been there, bringing musical and dramatic enlightenment to every phrase she sings.  Here’s a chance to hear her in an intimate club setting.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

Sonny Rollins

– Sept. 22 (Thurs.)  Sonny Rollins.  The great, iconic jazz tenor saxophonist, still going strong as he celebrates his 81st birthday, makes one of his too-rare Southland appearances.  To read a recent iRoM review of Rollins’ remarkable performance Sunday at the Monterey Jazz Festival click HERE.  UCLA Live.  Royce Hall.     (310) 825-2101.

– Sept. 22 – 25.  (Thurs. – Sun.) The Angel City Jazz Festival.  The Southland’s most determinedly cutting-edge jazz event kicks off its week-long series of far-ranging musical happenings via six programs in the first four days.  On the schedule: Thursday: The Necks at The Blue Whale.  Friday:  Shutz Vtet and the Larry Karush Quintet, at LACMA.  Saturday: Burkina Electric with D.J. Spooky at The Echoplex.  Sunday: Theo Blackman and Todd Sickafoose & Tiny Resistors, both at REDCAT.   For detailed information about the individual artists, schedules, locations etc. check the ACJF web site here: Angel City Jazz Festival.

– Sept. 23. (Fri.)  Cheap Trick’s Dream Police.  After four decades of frequent touring Cheap Trick continues to produce music that underscores why Japanese audiences view the band with a passion approaching Beatlemania.  The Greek Theatre.   (323) 665-5857.

– Sept. 23. (Fri.)  Janis Siegel.  The Manhattan Transfer’s veteran singer demonstrates, in her too-rare solo performances, an engaging combination of musicality, lyrical sophistication and an unerring rhythmic drive.  Don’t miss this chance to hear her in action.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

– Sept. 23 – 25. (Fri. & Sat.)  Joey DeFrancesco.  The master of the Hammond B-3, and the continuing winner of the Down Beat Readers and Critics Polls, demonstrtes his irresistible sounds and rhythms in the company of bassist Ramon Banda and guitarist Rick Zunigar.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

Christian McBride

– Sept. 24. (Sat.)  The Symphonic Jazz Orchestra featuring Christian McBride.  The S.J.O. presents a free, family concert.  The highlight event will be the world premiere of a new work for bassist McBride and the Orchestra composed by S.J.O. co-director George Duke.   UCLA Live.  Royce Hall.

(310) 825-2101.

– Sept. 24. (Sat.)  Balkan Beat Box. A night of global beats from a band whose musical interests embrace Balkan-Mediterranean sounds, electronica, punk intensity, jazz, hip hop and more.  Expect your body to move.  The Conga Room.    (213) 745-0162.

– Sept. 24. (Sat.)  Alan Pasqua with Larry Koonse.  Pianist Pasqua and guitarist Larry Koonse are at the top echelon of anyone’s list of prime Southland jazz players.  Together, as a duet, they make for an unbeatable musical combination,  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

– Sept. 25 (Sun.)  Niyaz featuring Azam Ali.  Persian poetry, global trance rhythms, traditional Middle East folk songs and the inimitable voice of Azam Ali are just a part of what makes performances by Niyaz utterly mesmerizing.  The El Rey.    (323) 936-6400.

San Francisco

Judy Collins

– Sept. 21 – Oct. 1. (Tues. –  )  Judy Collins.  Blessed with one of the memorable voices in pop music history, Collins – now in her early seventies – still sings with the soaring beauty of a nightingale.  Rarely seen in a club performance, she’ll be doing this one for two weeks, on Tuesday through Sunday.  Don’t miss it.  The Rrazz Room.    (415) 394-1189.

– Sept. 21 – 15. (Tues. – Sun.)  Branford Marsalis.  He may not be as visible to non-jazz fans as his brother Wynton, but Branford’s saxophone work places him in the top class of players in his generation. Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.


– Sept. 22 – 25. (Wed. – Sun.)  Dr. John and the Lower 911.  New Orleans funk doesn’t get any better than Dr. John’s ineffible, groove-driven music.  Jazz Alley.    (206) 441-9729.

New York

Magos Herrera

– Sept. 20 – 21 (Tues. & Wed.)  Magos Herrera. Vocalist Herrera’s deep Latin jazz roots are the foundation for a style that brings creative illumination to everything she sings, which can range from imaginative non-verbal vocal sounds to deeply intimate balladry.  She’s one of a kind.  Jazz Standard.    (212) 576-2232.

– Sept. 20 – 24. (Tues. – Sat.)  Coltrane Revisited.  Pianist Steve Kuhn, who spent some serious time in John Coltrane’s rhythm section, revisits that music in the company of trumpeter Tom Harrell, saxophonist Vincent Herring, drummer Andrew Cyrille and bassist Lonnie PlaxicoBirdland.    (212) 581-3080.

– Sept. 22. (Thurs.)  Madeline Eastman.  One of the Bay area’s most convincing jazz vocal artists, puts her impressive skills on display for a New York crowd.  If she can make it there, she can make it anywhere.  The Kitano. (212) 885-7119


– Sept. 21. (Wed.)  Stacey Kent.  The Grammy-nominated jazz singer’s admirable skills continue to be heard more often in Europe than the U.S.  This time, she’ll be in Milan, no doubt offering selections in French from her latest album, Raconte-Moi.   Blue Note Milano.


– Sept. 23 – 25. (Fri. – Sun.)  Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band.  Bandleader Goodwin is one of the very few leaders who’s managed to keep a high quality ensemble performing and recording on a regular basis.  And the togetherness shows in the Phat Band’s stirring bg band jazz swing.   Blue Note Tokyo.   03.5485.0088.

Chick Corea photo by Tony Gieske


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