Jazz With an Accent: Music, the Brain and the Internet

May 30, 2012

Twitter Music

By Fernando Gonzalez

A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to hear the David Sanchez Quartet with Stefon Harris in concert. It was, by any reasonable jazz standard, a beautiful performance. The music, for the most part originals, was compelling and nicely designed. The group worked like a chamber ensemble, eschewing look-at-me posturing to actually listen to each other and maintain the music front and center. And when the players did solo, they did it with imagination and eloquence.

What troubled me about the performance had to do with technology, the Internet and my brain.

The Internet

As a music journalist/critic, I am a sort of professional listener. Moreover, I was educated as a musician. I was once a professional player and composer. And yet that Saturday evening, at times, I found myself lost. Worse yet, I found myself getting impatient with the length of a piece or a particular solo. The concert had a break (at the request of the promoter, explained Sanchez) and yet it felt to me like a marathon.

The audience — I’d estimate the average age in the mid-50s — listened politely and applauded at the expected moments, neither particularly engaged, nor actively disapproving.

Perhaps most, if not all, of my issues that night might be chalked up to my own deficiencies and that’s that. Then again, if it didn’t engage me, well, it didn’t engage me. Perhaps the concert was not as good as I thought. Perhaps.

But the experience was also a personal reminder of how technology is rewiring our brains.

“We shape our tools and afterwards our tools shape us,” wrote Marshall McLuhan in his seminal Understanding Media.

Instruments such as Google, tablets and smart phones are profoundly affecting the way we read, look, listen, think and even use our memory. And they do it in ways we are not even aware of. (Quick, write down the phone numbers of three close friends or family members. I thought so.)

“I can’t read War and Peace anymore. I’ve lost the ability to do that. Even blog posts of more than three or four paragraphs are too much to absorb. I skim it,” says a pathologist on the faculty of the University of Michigan Medical School and blogger on Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows, a book on the effects of the Internet on our brains.

What similar impact might our new tools might have upon our listening habits and, inevitably as a result, on the creation, performance, presentation and consuming of music?

Because, after all, as much as many look at the development of jazz with a Great Man Theory of history (say Armstrong to Ellington to Parker to Miles to Coltrane….), other, more mundane factors have played significant roles in shaping the music.

The advent of the long playing disc granted composers, arrangers and improvisers possibilities up to then unthinkable. The size of the clubs in 52nd St. might have played a greater role in the music going from big bands to small groups (and thus spurring on the development of bebop) than the talent of any one particular musician.

We should anticipate that the changes that technology continues to make to the way we process information will also have consequences.

I am not saying anything startlingly new or particularly astute here. In fact others have said it better. (The subject is brilliantly addressed by Carr in The Shallows.)

If there is a (modest) contribution to the discussion here, it is in asking how these changes are affecting our listening to music in general and jazz in particular – and how, in turn, this will shape the way music is created, designed and presented.

After all, music is an art form that happens in time and depends on memory. In the specific case of jazz, even in its most conventional format, to appreciate the reinterpretation and commentary suggested by the improvisation, the listener must be able to have some recall of the original material. Otherwise, it’s gibberish or some form of musical gymnastics.

In other words, as our memory withers, replaced by gadgets, and our attention span gets shorter and shorter, will there be in a few years an audience capable of remembering an eight-bar-theme that happened five, 10 minutes earlier? And if the listeners are not able to recall even the most basic theme, or lack the patience and discipline to connect the dots over a simple musical form, what could they then make of an improvisation?  (Or in classical music: What happens with Bruckner or Mahler?)

And as audiences inevitably get increasingly lost and frustrated and impatient, go looking for something shorter and simpler, what can the composers, improvisers and presenters do?  In all fairness, is there anything they should do?

On that Saturday night, a couple of weeks ago, David Sanchez and his group played a concert that at times had me baffled and irritated because, well, it had no hyperlinks, no keywords, no way to skim over and get faster to the good parts.

What did they expect?

Come to think of it, what do we expect?

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To read more posts from Fernando Gonzalez and “Jazz With An Accent” click HERE.

Picks of the Week: May 29 – June3

May 29, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

– May 30. (Wed.)  Gene Cipriano.  “The World According to ‘Cip”  Veteran saxophonist Cipriano, backed by a band of L.A.’s veteran jazz artists, in an evening of stories and song.  His stellar band includes trombonist Dick Nash, pianist Tom Ranier, bassist Trey Henry and drummer Ralph Humphrey Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

– June 1 & 2. (Fri. & Sat.) Steve Smith and Vital Information.  Former Journey drummer Smith has been leading the crossover jazz ensemble Vital Information for nearly three decades.  And the band continues to be one of the most accomplished musical pathfinders in contemporary jazz.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

Chris Botti

– June 2. (Sat.)  Chris Botti.  Trumpeter Botti is the world’s best selling jazz artist and with good reason.  Not only is he a player with a uniquely personal sound, inventive ideas and a brisk sense of swing – he’s also a performer who knows how to create a connection with his audience.  The Greek Theatre.     (323) 665-5857.  Click HERE to read a recent iRoM review of a Botti performance. 

– June 2. (Sat.)  John Daversa Quartet.  Versatile trumpeter Daversa channels his impressive abilities as a composer/instrumentalist into the improvisational setting of his quartet.   Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.    (310) 474-9400.

– June 2. (Sat.) Grupo Falso Baiano.  The San Francisco based group cruises through traditional and contemporary choro music, blending their dynamic interpretations with a cross-genre seasoning of jazz, flamenco and beyond.  LACMA.   (323) 857-6000.

Johnny Mandel

– June 2. (Sat.)  Johnny Mandel Big Band.  The great composer/arranger/songwriter makes one of his rare appearances, leading a stageful of L.A.’s finest players in a program of his lush, atmospheric charts. Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.  Click HERE to read a recent iRoM review of a Mandell performance. 

– June 3. (Sun.)  Phil Norman Tentet.   Little/big band West Coast jazz of the ‘50s is alive, in briskly swinging contemporary fashion, in the music of the Tentet.  Pasta Sunday at Vitello’s.     (818) 769-0905.  Click HERE to read a recent iRoM review of a Tentet performance. 

San Francisco

– May 31. (Thurs.)  Eliyahu & the Qadim EnsembleNey flutist Eliyahu leads an ensemble performing music ranging across the entire Middle East: Arabic, Jewish, Turkish Sufi, Armenian, Ladino, Moroccan and beyond.  The Qadim’s players include Rachel Valfer Sills on oud and vocals, Faisal Zedan on Arabic percussion, and Gari Hegedus on Turkish saz and oud.   Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse.    (510) 644-2020.


– May 31 – June 3. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Pat Martino Trio. Guitarist Martino’s remarkable recovery from a near fatal brain aneurysm in 1980 has been astonishing.  His most recent album, Undeniable: Live at Blues Alley hit #1 on the jazz charts.  Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

New York

Dee Dee Bridgewater

– May 29 – June 2. Tues. – Sun.)  Dee Dee Bridgewater.  The superb jazz vocalist has had seven Grammy nominations and three wins, as well as a Tony award for her appearance in The Wiz. This time out she shares a celebration of her 62nd birthday with her listeners.  The Blue Note.    (212) 475-8592.

– June 3. (Sun.)  Jane Ira Bloom“All Ballads.”  Bloom, who has been quietly defining an appealing use of the soprano saxophone in contemporary jazz, offers an evening of instrumental balladry.  Cornelia St. Café.    (212) 989-9319.


– May 31 – June 2. (Thurs. – Sat.)  The Ronnie Laws/Tom Browne band.  A pair of veteran players who know all the ins and outs of jazz with a funk accent.  They’re backed by pianist Jason Rebello, bassist Karl Rasheed and drummer Will Calhoun.   Ronnie Scott’s.    020 7439 0747.


– June 1. (Fri.)  Joan Armatrading.  British born, three time Grammy nominee Armatrading has been working the crossover areas between pop, jazz and the blues since the late ‘60s.  And she’s still doing it impressively.  New Morning.    01 45 23 51 41.


Jim Hall

– June 3 – 6. (Sun. – Wed.)  Jim Hall Trio.  He’s every guitarist’s favorite player – and a lot of other instrumentalists’ favorite, as well.  Pat Metheny has described Hall, and with good reason, as “the father of modern jazz guitar.  He performs with Scott Colley, bass and Joey Baron, drums.  Blue Note Tokyo. 03-5485-0088.

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Photos of Chris Botti, Johnny Mandel and Dee Dee Bridgewater by Tony Gieske

Live Jazz : The Jeff Lorber Fusion and The Washington Prep High School Jazz Ensemble in the Playboy Jazz Festival’s Free Community Concert at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza Mall.

May 28, 2012

By Devon Wendell

The Playboy Jazz Festival held its second Free Community Concert at The Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza Mall yesterday, featuring two acts dedicated to the soul of fusion-jazz.

The California weather was sunny and perfect and as the show’s emcee Pat Prescott (KTWV 94.7 The Wave) put it, this was a “Perfect Memorial Day celebration.”

Headlining the show was the Jeff Lorber Fusion featuring Patrick Lamb on soprano and tenor saxes, Gary Novak on drums, and Nathaniel Phillips on bass.  Though Lorber is known as one of the great legends of fusion, it was his strong blues and gospel keyboard work that proved to be the most exhilarating during this set.

Jeff Lorber

The band opened with a track from Lorber’s latest CD, Galaxy (Heads Up/Concord Music Group), entitled “Live Wire” which brought to mind a mid ‘70s Stevie Wonder fusion-soul groove. Patrick Lamb played some impressive soprano sax, though at times it lacked character and originality.

The melody line on “Chinese Herbal Medicine” had an Asian feel at first but it was Phillips’ slap bass and Lorber’s blues runs that brought this tune back to America, more specifically Lorber’s hometown of Philly.

Phillips would get a little too slap happy on bass but he held up the funk end of the rhythm. Novak brought a frenetic be-bop sensibility to the band as Lamb and Lorber soloed and presented the song’s melody lines. Each band member’s identity really came through strongly on this piece making it a set highlight.

The greatest moment of the band’s set was “Tune 88,” in which Lorber and each band member tossed aside the expected fusion and went into straight blues. Lorber seemed most pleased when sounding like an electrified Horace Silver. Lamb switched to tenor and played like he was on the South Side of Chicago. Even Phillips’ bass solo was all blues with guitar-like string bends and trills.  The band’s energy got higher and higher as each member traded solos.

Unfortunately, after the song was done, the energy level took a slight dive. The rest of the set was made up of material that sounded like saccharine, cliched, smooth jazz radio-friendly fusion, giving way to overindulgence that went on a little too long until the final two numbers.  “Montserrat,” “Singaraja,” “Pixel” and “Water Sign” were all examples of this musical approach. The musicianship was outstanding; it was the material that felt  a little pedestrian.

The energy level did pick up on the popular “Rain Dance,” which had such a strong modern r&b groove that “Even Notorious B.I.G and Lil Kim sampled it” as Lorber explained to the enthusiastic crowd. Once again, it was Lorber’s roots based chops and comping that were most fascinating in this fusion context.

For an encore, the band played a version of Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody,” which featured Lamb’s finest tenor sax work of the day. And whenever Lorber began to slip back into fusion style, he quickly loosened up and dove back into the blues.

Although there were a few lackluster moments during their set, the Jeff Lorber Fusion proved that they are a breed apart from other fusion artists in that they blend R&B, funk, blues, gospel, be-bop, and modern jazz stylings without sounding forced. Lorber has certainly earned every bit of his legendary status.

Opening the show was The Washington Prep High School Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Reggie Andrews. Instead of the usual high-school jazz big band, this ensemble was a quintet featuring Paris Tate on trombone, Daniel Del La Cruz on tenor sax, Jameel Bruner on electric keyboard, Jonathan Pena on drums, and Daniel Granados on bass.

Another aspect that set this high school band apart from the others was that there was a wonderfully relaxed arrogance to these youthful players without a hint of self consciousness.

Their set consisted entirely of early jazz-fusion, kicking off with Freddie Hubbard’s “Little Sunflower” and Kenny Dorham’s “Blue Bossa.” It was apparent from the start that the band members were really listening to each other. Tate and Del La Cruz played the melody line in unison then traded solos. Both showed soul, mastery, and most importantly, taste.

On the group’s reading of the Wayne Shorter classic “Footprints”, Del La Cruz, took a more minimalist approach and went for a breathy tone reminiscent of Coleman Hawkins or Ben Webster, which was most refreshing considering the majority of young tenorists who try to go for John Coltrane showboating. The whole band’s approach to this piece was soft and delicate.

Jameel Bruner’s keyboard work was subtle with hints of Chick Corea and late ‘60s Herbie Hancock. His playing added color beneath the two reeds-men.

Closing the set was Freddie Hubbard’s “Red Clay.” Here, bassist Granados’  Marcus Miller style bass lines locked in with Pena’s drums which sounded like that of a young Dennis Chambers, playing both ends of the kit with groove and aggression all at once.

The Washington High Prep School Jazz Ensemble was funky, tight, and well aware of its bright future.

The pairing of the Washington Prep High School Jazz Ensemble with the Jeff Lorber Fusion was as perfect as the weather.  At its best it was another fun way to usher in the 34th annual Playboy Jazz Festival, which arrives at the Hollywood Bowl on June 16th and the 17th.

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To read more posts and reviews by Devon Wendell click HERE

Live Jazz: The Tierney Sutton Band at Catalina Bar & Grill

May 26, 2012

By Don Heckman

One of the great pleasures of writing about music is the opportunity to experience the progress that can take place, over months and years, in the work of gifted artists.  Hearing the Tierney Sutton Band at Catalina Bar & Grill Friday night was a good example.

It had been less than a year since I’d last heard Tierney and the guys in the same venue.  And that performance was admirable in every way.

This time out, some of the material from that show was repeated, notably selections from the TSB’s latest recording, American Road. And there was more – some random choices from the Great American Songbook, medleys of songs from My Fair Lady and Porgy and Bess.  All of it illustrating the creative evolution of this remarkable musical collective.

Regardless of what Tierney sang, it was offered with an almost literary layering of emotional story telling.  The impact began early in nearly every song. Often, starting with the opening Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise, her first expression was a wordless improvised passage.  Some of them recalled the musical intimacy of the Bach Sonatas for Solo Violin.  Others simmered with slipping and sliding jazz accents.

When Tierney moved into the interior of a song, the carefully crafted group arrangements that are an essential characteristic of the TSB took over.  Some of the arrangement elements depicted stylistic aspects of the band’s unique musical identity: shifting from a groove tempo, often in 6/4, to a high speed, autobahn rhythm in 4; using dramatic percussion explosions from drummer Ray Brinker to create emotional transitions; dazzling improvisational interplay between Tierney’s wordless scatting and the fleet-fingered soloing of pianist Christian Jacob.

Tierney celebrated the presence of Alan and Marilyn Bergman in the audience with an exquisite version of “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?” completely capturing the song’s light-hearted poignancy.  Another standard, “I Want To Be Happy,” showcased more of the TSB’s stunning blend of precise, but hard-swinging rhythm and soaring improvisational spontaneity.

Add to that a pair of tunes from the band’s Desire album juxtaposing the sweet sentimentality of “Then I’ll Be Tired of You” with the darker tendencies of “Cry Me A River,”  linked by a surging bass interlude from Kevin Axt. And top it off with Tierney’s rousing romp through “The Lady Is A Tramp.”

As I suggested above, hearing the continually growing artistry of an already masterful jazz ensemble such as the Tierney Sutton Band is one of the great satisfactions in my line of work.  And this performance offered all that and a lot more.

The Tierney Sutton Band performs tonight (Sunday) in the final performance of their three night run at Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.  Don’t miss it.

CD Review; Joe Walsh “Analog Man”

May 25, 2012

 Joe Walsh

Analog Man (Fantasy)

 By Brian Arsenault

Ah, Joe Walsh. You expect big guitar riffs and he doesn’t disappoint. This is a guy who doesn’t need to be anything other than a rock ‘n roll guitarist so you get authenticity, veracity, even tenacity.

You expect humorous, sometimes ironic lyrics.  He doesn’t disappoint even if you also get some sentimentality but, hey, who needs consistency let alone obscurity.

For a while this album seems to be pretty much the Joe Walsh/Jeff Lynne (yes, ELO and The Traveling Wilburys‘ Jeff Lynne) as Lynne produces and plays whatever Walsh doesn’t. But look, here comes Ringo on drums for a song and Crosby and Nash (but no Stills) doing backup vocals on another.

But make no mistake this is not a Ringo’s All Star band or big name collaborative album.  It is Joe Walsh throughout.

Did I mention the big guitar riffs?

The album has just been released — first in vinyl with CD to follow.  Walsh may be an Analog Man but he’s no fool.  He knows that turntable stereos are secreted away by some of us other analogs like short-wave radios hidden by the French Resistance.

The vinyl package even includes a card good for “a free 24 bit 96 KHZ high resolution audio download.” Proud to say I don’t know what hardly any of that means and if Joe doesn’t either he at least knows that you need it.

If it were still possible for a simply good rocker to be a hit single (please tell me it is), “One Day at a Time” would have a real shot even if it is a bit of a lament for hard living older guys.  Did I mention the big guitar licks? An infectious toe tapper for those no longer able to dance the night away.

“Spanish Dancer” might also manage radio play. A neat tribute to a woman who can entrance with a dance, it’s the surprise delight of the album. Oh, and some big guitar licks.

“Band Played On” seems a little George Harrison in instrumentation and lyrical stylings. Probably no mistake that Ringo shows up on this track. Note that I am not mentioning the big guitar licks.

“Funk 50” is, well, funky and “India” is almost completely big guitar licks.

And there are even words to live by. On “Lucky That Way”, Walsh intones “if you just act like you know what you’re doing . . . everybody thinks that you do.”  That’s a pretty good description of my meandering so-called professional life and that of many others.  I also know the converse to be true: that almost nobody knows, so acting like you do is a necessity.

This is not a long album, nor a dreaded “concept” album.  And almost nothing, thank goodness, sounds like the Eagles. There are some recurring themes but it’s mostly just good rock done by an old, make that veteran, master.

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To read more posts and reviews by Brian Arsenault click HERE.

Jazz with an Accent: New CDs from e.s.t., Tania Maria and Eddie Gomez, Alfredo Rodriguez, Diego Schissi, and Christian Escoude

May 23, 2012

By Fernando Gonzalez

The music business might be not much of a business these days, but the quantity, variety and quality of the music being released is quite astonishing. No, not every recording is great or even merely necessary. Few would argue against democratizing the production and delivery process in music – but on the other hand, not everybody who can make a recording should. That said, trying to stay up to date with worthy new releases has become a frustrating proposition. Rather than “Jazz with an Accent” these notes might soon be titled “Running after the Bus.”

Here are some notable new releases.


301 (ACT)

Just about as it was gaining recognition as one of the most promising groups in 21st century jazz the Esbjorn Svensson Trio, or e.s.t., came to a brutally abrupt, tragic end when its pianist and leader died in a scuba diving accident in June, 2008.  The sound of the trio, which included drummer Magnus Öström and bassist Dan Berglund, was an intriguing mix. It could play as cooly lyrical jazz one moment, informed by European classical music and Nordic sensibilities, and blow up as drum’n’bass, with bits of noise and electronics and a ferocious rock energy the next.

Culled from the material developed in two days of jamming in a studio in Sydney, Australia, in 2007 in the off days of an Asia and Australia tour, 301 plays as a terrific summation of the group’s power and music. It is actually the second posthumous recording from those sessions. According to the promotional information, Svensson had edited the material from those sessions down to two albums. Only one was released — Leucocyte (ACT 2008). Edited by Öström, Berglund and the band’s regular sound engineer Ake Linton, 301 (the name refers to Sydney’s Studio 301 where it was recorded) shows a mature, confident group working as a unit, listening hard, paying attention to dynamics and generally pushing and chasing each other down unexpected rabbit holes.  It’s tempting, But pointless, to hear 301 and wonder what might have been. What it is, is remarkable.

* * * * * *

Tania Maria with Eddie Gomez

Tempo (Naïve)

France-based Brazilian pianist and vocalist Tania Maria’s first album of new music in nearly six years is a surprising, small pleasure. A capable pianist who also was once nominated for a Grammy as a jazz vocalist (at one point in time her label promoted her as sounding  “sometimes” like a “Brazilian Aretha Franklin”), Tania Maria gained an international following as a fiery, high-energy performer. But in Tempo, a duet recording featuring bassist Eddie Gomez, her approach, while still full of verve, is pared down to essentials — and made better for it.

Tania Maria’s originals are all instrumentals, none particularly memorable but all well constructed. She draws from Brazilian music, blues and jazz and frames the mix with a pop sensibility.  She sings here, very effectively, in both Italian (“Estate,” an Italian pop hit since turned standard by artists as disparate as Joao Gilberto and Shirley Horn), and Portuguese (“Sentado A Beira Do Camino,” “A Chuva Caiu,” and “Bronzes e Cristais”).

Gomez is an invaluable partner throughout, laying down a solid foundation with a percussive edge, smartly letting the music breathe but also forceful and active when needed. And, no news here, Gomez is an effective soloist,  including  a beautifully bowed performance in Tania Maria’s “Senso Unico.”

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 In short …

 Alfredo Rodriguez: Sounds of Space (Mack Avenue)

The debut recording of LA-based Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodriguez plays like a sampler  –  all original pieces in a variety of styles, both traditional and his own, showcasing his technical breadth and depth.  Consider the opening “Qbafrica,” with its baroque Hermeto Pascoal references, leading into the elegant bolero “Sueño de Paseo,” and back up again to the burner “Silence.” Rodriguez is featured here leading two ensembles, one from Cuba, the other one based on the United States.

 Diego Schissi Quinteto: Tongos (Sunnyside)

Argentine pianist and composer calls his music “not tango, but close.” In fact, his post-Piazzolla tango features a similar instrumentation to that of the maestro’s (violin, guitar, bandoneón, bass and piano) and shares references (Bartok and Stravinsky as well as tango tradition) before going its own way. Not much improvisation here, but smart writing, beautifully shaded, and paced playing and a path to the tango for the 21st century – or something close to it.

Christian Escoudé Plays Brassens (Sunnyside)

How much you may enjoy this release by French guitarist Christian Escoudé does not depends on how much you know about the great poet and songwriter George Brassens. Originally mostly voice-and-guitar songs, Escoudé treats them as standards and arranges them for various sextets. If you know these songs, you´ll appreciate the humor and affection in Escoudé´s versions. But even if you don´t, the pleasures in these well-constructed songs and the unhurried swing and modestly displayed virtuosity of Escoudé and his ensemble (which includes guitarist Birelli Lagrene on one track) need no translation. A delight.

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To read more posts from Fernando Gonzalez and “Jazz With An Accent” click HERE.

Picks of the Week: May 22 – 27

May 22, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Kathleen Grace

– May 22. (Tues.)  Kathleen Grace Group.  Singer Grace, a true musical adventurer, combines the folk-based methods of the ‘70s singer songwriters with her jazz roots in her new album, Mirror.   Blue Whale.    (213) 620-0908

– May 22. (Tues.) Otmaro Ruiz/Aaron Serfaty Quartet.  Versatile pianist Ruiz and drummer Serfaty – musical partners for three decades — get together with the solid bass playing of Edwin Livingstone and the lush vocals of Brazilian singer/composer Catina De Luna. Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

– May 24. (Thurs.)  Vardan Ovsepian.  Armenia-born pianist/composer Ovsepian celebrates his birthday with a release party for his new CD, ChromaticityBlue Whale.   (213) 620-0908.

– May 24 – 27. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Los Angeles Philharmonic.  Four consecutive nights of Mozart compositions conducted by Gustavo Dudamel,  Thurs. and Sat. will begin the three year Mozart/Da Ponte Trilogy with Don Giovanni. Friday night and Sun. afternoon will feature Exultate, jubilate and the Posthorn Serenade (K. 320) with soprano Kiera DuffyDisney Hall.    (323) 850-2000.

Tierney Sutton

– May 25 – 27. (Fri. – Sun.) Tierney Sutton Band. It’s one of the finest musical partnerships in all of jazz – the almost symbiotic connection between Sutton’s warm, pliable voice and the complimentary responsiveness of her Band.  Hopefully they’ll play some selections from her latest CD, American Road.  Catalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210.

– May 26. (Sat.)  War and Tower of Power. Two of the heavy rhythm, hard charging rock bands of the late ‘60s and beyond, War and Tower of Power impacted much of the crossover music that followed.  And they’re still at it. Greek Theatre.    (323) 665-5857.

– May 27. (Sun.) Alan Broadbent.  The gifted pianist/composer Broadbent, long one of the Southland’s jazz benefits, moved to the east coast last year.  Fortunately he comes back from time to time, so don’t miss this visit, in which he’ll be backed by bassist Pat Senatore and drummer Kendall Kay Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.    (310) 474-9400.

* * * * * *       HIGHLIGHT      * * * * * *

May 27. (Sun.) The 2012 Playboy Jazz Festival’s Second Community Concert. The Playboy Jazz Festival’s annual free concerts leading up to the Festival itself — which takes place on June 16 & 17 at the Hollywood Bowl – are some of the Southland’s greatest jazz bargains. And this year is no exception.  The second free concert of the 2012 Festival takes place at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.  The featured act is the Jeff Lorber Fusion.

Jeff Lorber

Founded in 1977, the Fusion was a pacemaker in transforming cross-over pop- and rock-influenced jazz into a convincing musical blend.  Since then, Lorber’s done everything from solo recording and production and session work to r&b and video game music.  But his many fans are always delighted on the rare occasions when he once again revives the inimitable Jeff Lorber Fusion.

Also on the bill, the fine playing of the Washington Preparatory High School Jazz Ensemble, another collective of Southland young players convincingly proving that the future of jazz is in fine hands.,  The Second Free Playboy Community Concert at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.        (310) 450-1173.

 San Francisco

– May 25 – 27. (Fri. – Sun.)  Joshua Redman’s James Farm group examines some of the far reaching connections between jazz and contemporary pop sounds.  With pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Matt Penman and drummer Eric HarlandYoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.


– May 24 – 27. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Gerald Clayton Trio.  Already an impressive pianist when he was in his teens, the twentysomething Clayton has matured into one of the gifted jazz artists of his generation.  Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

New York

Joe Lovano

– May 22 – 26. (Tues. – Sat.)  Joe Lovano US Five. The dynamic tenor saxophonist’s talented young band checks out the music from his Bird Songs album – the still potent pleasures of bebop and its memories.  Birdland.    Bird Songs.  Album  *212( 581-3080.

– May 22 – 27. (Tues. – Sun.)  Fred Hersch Duos & Trio. Pianist Hersch continues his fascinating journey through classically-oriented jazz territories via his work with duos and a trio. The Jazz Standard.    (212) 576-2232.

– May 277. (Sun.)  Ravichandra Kulur.  South Indian flutist Kulur is a master of the Carnatic ragas and talas of his homeland.  His improvisational excursions are aided by Arun Ramamurthy, violin, and Akshay Anantapadmanabhan, mridangam.  Cornelia St. Café.   (212) 989-9319.


– May 27. (Sun.)  Sunday Jazz Lunch Celebrating the Modern Jazz Quartet.  The ensemble of Jim Hart, Barry Green, Matt Ridley and Steve Brown perform the memorable music of the legendary Modern Jazz Quartet.  Ronnie Scott’s.   020 7439 0747.


Anat Cohen

– May 22 (Tues.)  The Three Cohens.  The gifted Cohen siblings Anat, clarinet and tenor saxophone, Yuval, soprano saxophone, and Avishai, trumpet, display their extraordinary jazz skills in the company of pianist Yonatan Avishai, bassist Omer Avital and drummer Jonathan BlakeA-Trane.  030 / 313 25 50.


– May 23 – 25. (Wed. – Fri. )  The Yellowjackets.  After more than three decades of musical togetherness, the Yellowjackets continue to bring some impressive jazz essence to their unique blend of fusion and smooth jazz.  Blue Note Milano.


– May 22 & 23. (Tues. & Wed.)  The Brian Blade Fellowship Band. Always a much in demand jazz sideman, drummer Blade has recently begun – with his Fellowship Band — to reveal his significant skills as singer and a songwriter.  Blue Note Tokyo.  03-5485-0088.

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Tierney Sutton photo by Tony Gieske.  


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