Picks of the Week: June 12 – 17

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

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

The 34th Annual Playboy Jazz Festival:

Saturday and Sunday, June 16 & 17

The Playboy Jazz Festival umbrella seems to get bigger year by year.  And this year is no exception, with a program that reaches into every area of jazz and blues related music.  Once again, the inimitable Bill Cosby hosts the Festival and leads his own all-star band, The Cos of Good Music.

Christian McBride

Saturday’s program features: The Christian McBride Big Band, Boney James, Ozomatli, Sheila E.,  Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings,  The Soul Rebels,  The Global Gumbo All-Stars,  The Cos of Good Music, Louie Cruz Beltran.  And the LAUSD All City Jazz Band.

Ramsey Lewis

Sunday’s program features: The Ramsey Lewis Electric Band., Robin Thicke,  The Preservation Hall Jazz Band,  Keb’ Mo’,  Terri Lyne Carrington’s Mosaic Project, The Cookers,  Spectrum Road,  Chico Trujillo,  Kg Omulo.  And the Calabasas High School Jazz A Band.

Among the many musically intriguing aspects of this far reaching program is the presence of no less than three world class female jazz drummers: Sheila E., Terri Lyne Carrington and (performing with Spectrum Road) Cindy Blackman.  How often does that happen?

Bill Cosby

So long, Cos.  But the most memorable aspect of all in this 34th Playboy Jazz Festival may well be the fact that it showcases Bill Cosby‘s final appearance as Master of Ceremonies.  After 30 years of introducing such iconic figures as Benny Goodman, Sarah Vaughan, Lionel Hampton, Herbie Hancock, Ray Charles, Wynton Marsalis, Grover Washington, Jr.,  Joni Mitchell, Weather Report, Al Jarreau, Tony Bennett, Bobby McFerrin and dozens of others, Cos will pass on the microphone after this year’s shows.  And his warm, witty and immensely informative presence will be deeply missed.

For informaton about the 34th Playboy Jazz Festival, call the Festival hot line —  (310) 450-1173 — or click HERE.

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– June 12. (Tues.)  Dolores Scozzesi. Crossing freely from jazz to cabaret and beyond, Scozzesi is a true mistress of song, finding the many layers of meaning in everything she sings.   Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

– June 13. (Wed.)  Joe Bagg Organ Trio. Keyboardist Bagg’s greatest attribute is his ability to adapt his improvisational inventiveness to whatever instrument he’s playing.  This time out, it’s his effective way with the lush sounds of the Hammond B-3 organ. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.    (310) 474-9400.

– June 13. (Wed.)  Eric Reed Quintet.  A rapidly rising young jazz star while still in his teens, pianist/composer Reed has matured into an important musical voice, with a string of charting albums.  He performs with Dale Fielder, saxophones, Nolan Shaheed, trumpet, Hamilton Price, bass and Kevin Kanner, drums.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

– June 14 & 15. (Thurs. & Fri.)  The Bob Mintzer Big Band.  Saxophonist/composer Mintzer – a long time member of the Yellowjackets, is also busy composer/arranger, leading his own impressive big band in his spare moments.  Here’s a chance to experience the full breadth of his talents.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Freda Payne

– June 15 & 16.  (Fri. & Sat.)  Freda Payne. The one and only “Band of Gold” hit-maker, Payne’s skills reach across the gamut of theatre, recordings, television and beyond.  The gorgeous diva is at her best in the up close and intimate setting of a warm jazz room such as Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

– June 16. (Sat.)  Billy Childs Quartet. Pianist/composer Childs selects the small jazz band format from his many musical personas, leading a small but stellar band that includes saxophonist Bob Sheppard, bassist Reggie Hamilton and drummer Michael BakerBlue Whale.   (213) 620-0928.

San Francisco

Dr. John

– June 15. (Fri.)  “Another Night In Treme.”  The atmosphere of the hit HBO televison series, Treme, is vividly brought to life by the inimitable Dr. John and the Lower 911 and the Soul Rebels.  An SFJAZZ 2012 Spring Season event at the Paramount Theatre.   (866) 920-5299.


– June 14 – 17. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Bill Frisell.  The versatile guitarist performs selections from his 2011 John Lennon tribute album, All We Are Saying.  Jazz Alley.    (206) 441-9729.

New York

– June 12 – 16. (Tues. – Sat.) Stacey Kent. American jazz singer, Kent, who spends most of her time in the U.K. and Europe, celebrates the release of Dreamer in Concert, recorded live in La Cigale in Paris – Kent’s first ever live album. Birdland.     (212) 581-3080.

Savion Glover

– June 12 – 17. (Tues. – Sun.) Savion Glover.  The amazing dancer Glover, who can tap with the crisply swinging rhythms of a prime jazz drummer, performs with special guests McCoy Tyner (Tues. & Wed.), Jack DeJohnette (Thurs. & Fri.) and Roy Haynes (Sat. & Sun.)  The Blue Note.    (212) 475-8592.


– June 14 – 16. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Reuben Wilson, Bernard “Pretty” Purdie and Grant Green.  Once known, with good reason, as the “Godfathers of Groove,” the trio of veterans dig into the deep funk rhythms they helped create.  Ronnie Scott’s.   020 7439 0747.


– June 13 – 17. (Wed. – Sun.)  The Mike Stern Band featuring Randy Brecker. Guitarist Stern infuses his dynamic, contemporary style playing with a solid foundation of straight ahead skills.  Trumpeter Brecker, similarly versatile, is a perfect musical companion.  The Blue Note Tokyo.   03.5485.0088.


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