Picks of the Week: Feb. 14 – 19

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

– Feb. 14. (Tues.)  Nedra Wheeler.  Bassist/vocalist Wheeler is a convincing performer as an instrumentalist and a singer. and she’ll no doubt be in rare form with the backing of  Lanny Hartley, piano, Clarence Webb, saxophone and Munyungo Jackson, drums.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

Spanky Wilson

– Feb. 15. (Wed.)  Spanky Wilson. With a style that runs the gamut from soul, blues and funk to warmly communicative jazz, Wilson has always been one of a kind.  She makes a rare Los Angeles appearance, backed by pianist Dennis Hamm, saxophonist/flutist Louis Van Taylor and drummer Lyndon Rochelle.  Culvers Club for Jazz.  (310) 216-5861.

– Feb. 15. (Wed.)  The Assads.  Brothers Sergio and Odair, offspring of an extraordinary family of musicians, have been performing world class duo guitar music – of every style — since the late ‘70s.  Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.  (562) 916-8501.

– Feb. 15. (Wed.)  The John Proulx Duo.  Pianist/singer Proulx combines solidly swinging pianistic skills with a mellow voice and a rich understanding of musical storytelling.  The other half of the duo is the ever-dependable bassist Pat Senatore, whose far-reaching resume (from Stan Kenton and the Tijuana Brass to Freddy Hubbard, Joe Henderson and beyond) underscores his great creative versatility.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

– Feb. 15. (Wed.)  The Phil Norman Tentet.  West Coast jazz of the fifties, with its cool and swinging sound, is vividly alive in the music of the Tentet, enhanced by a contemporary view that convincingly blends old and new.  Click HERE to read a recent iRoM review of the Norman Tentet.   Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

Itzhak Perlman

– Feb. 16. (Thurs.)  Itzhak Perlman.  16-time Grammy winner (including a Lifetime Achievement Award), Perlman’s virtuosic skills are still in full bloom.  Performing with pianist Rohan De Silva, a frequent partner, he will play Schubert, Brahms and Prokofief.  Royce Hall.  A UCLA Live concert.    (310) 825-2101.

– Feb. 16. (Thurs.)  The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.  “Baroque Conversations: The Art of Baroque Dance.”  The LACO’s Baroque Conversations programs are both entertaining and musically illuminating, never more so than in this engaging view of the Baroque era linkages between music (by the LACO players) and dance (by dancers Jill Chadroff and Linda Tomko).  Zipper Concert Hall. (212) 622-7001.

– Feb. 16. (Thurs.) Chucho Valdes and the Afro Cuban Messengers, Poncho Sanchez and His Latin Jazz Band with Terence Blanchard.  The great Cuban pianist Valdes teams up with Sanchez and Blanchard to dig into the roots of Latin jazz via a tribute to the legendary conguero Chano Pozo and the incomparable bebop trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie.   Disney Hall.    (323) 850-2000.

– Feb. 17. (Fri.)  Jessy J.  Saxophonist/singer Jessy J. mixes the hot rhythms of her Mexican heritage with her cool but intense saxophone stylings.  Hopefully she’ll hit some of the irresistible highlights from her latest album, the appropriately titled Hot Sauce, Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Bob Sheppard

– Feb. 18. (Sat.)  The Lounge Art Ensemble.  It’s an amusing name for a band, but when it comes right down to basics, it’s saxophone jazz at its finest, with Bob Sheppard taking on the challenging task of performing with only bass and drums – capably handled by Darek Oles and Peter Erskine. Sonny Rollins did it beautifully.  So will Sheppard. Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

– Feb. 18. (Sat.)  The Shoemake/Morgan Jazz Ensemble.  The “Famous Jazz Artist Series” – one of the primo jazz events of the Central Coast – begins a monthly run in Solvang.  Featured performers are Charlie and Sandi Shoemake, vibes and vocals, Lanny Morgan, alto saxophone, Joe Bagg, piano, Tony Dumas, bass and Steve Schaeffer, drums.  The Terrace Dinner Theatre. Solvang.    (805) 691-9137

San Francisco

– Feb. 16 & 17. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Leo Kottke.  He’s a guitarists’ guitarist, at the cutting edge of improvisatory acoustic guitar playing since the 70’s  Plagued by tendonitis in later years, he developed a new playing style to compensate, and he remains one of the definitive acoustic guitar masters.   Yoshi’s San Francisco.    (415) 655-5600.

– Feb. 17. (Fri.)  Enrico Rava Tribe and the John Abercrombie Trio. Italian trumpeter Rava leads an assemblage of talented young European improvisers.  And the current Abercrombie trio takes on the classic jazz organ trio sound, with B-3 star Gary Versace and drummer Adam NussbaumThe Herbst Theatre.  An SFJAZZ Spring Season event.    (866) 920-5299.

Portland, Oregon

Branford Marsalis

– Feb. 17 – 26. (Fri. – Sun.(26)).  The Portland Jazz Festival.  Rapidly becoming one of the counry’s most attractively programmed jazz festivals, Portland offers a banquet of musical delights.  This year’s line-up includes Branford Marsalis, Joey Calderazzo, Roy Haynes, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Bill Frisell, Charles McPherson, Charlie Hunter, Vijay Iyer, Enrico Rava and many more. The Portland Jazz Festival.    (503) 228-5299.  To read more about the Festival in a Q & A with Managing Director Don Lucoff click HERE.

Boston

– Feb. 16. (Thurs.)  Tim Berne. Alto saxophonist Berne has built an extensive career emphasizing the outer limites of jazz improvisation.  He celebrates the release of his new album, Snakeoil. Regatta Bar.    (617) 395-7757.

New York

Jay Clayton

– Feb. 14. (Tues.)  Jay Clayton.  With John di Martino, piano.  jazz vocal artists have been coming and going with great frequency in the last few years.  But Clayton, like Sheila Jordan, continues to be a standard of creativity that sets the pace.  One of the great originals, she should be heard at every opportunity.  Cornelia St. Café.   (212) 989-9319.

– Feb. 14 – 16. (Tues. – Thurs.  Sachel Vasandani.  Chicago-born singer Vasandani is gradually establishing himself as one of the significant voices in the relatively slim gathering of male jazz singers.  The Jazz Standard.     (212) 576-2232.

– Feb. 14 – 19.  Tues. – Sun.  David Sanborn.  The Blue Note.  One of the  most influential  alto saxophonists of the past few decades, Sanborn’s blues based, passionately vocalized sound is heard, to varying degrees, in many of the best new young saxophonists.   The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

Paris

Steve Kuhn

– Feb 14. (Tues.)  Steve Kuhn.  Pianist Kuhn’s long, checkered career has journeyed through every aspect of jazz, from the envelope-stretching sixties to authoritative mainstream playing.  His innate lyricism was especially apparent during a long musical partnership with singer Sheila Jordan, and his solo playing reveals the true depths of his creative imagination.  New Morning.   01 45 23  51 41.S

London

– Feb.15 – 18.  (Wed. – Sat.)  Billy Cobham Band.  The drumming engine that propelled both the Miles Davis band and the Mahavishnu Orchestra in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Cobham remains one of the definitive masters of rock and funk-driven fusion jazz.  Ronnie Scott’s.   020 7439 0747.

Itzhak Perlman photo by Akira Kinoshita.

Bob Sheppard photo by Tony Gieske.

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