Live Jazz: Charmaine Clamor at Catalina Bar & Grill

April 2, 2013

By Don Heckman

It’s been a few years since I first reviewed jazz singer Charmaine Clamor.  I was powerfully impressed by what I heard on her debut CD, Searching For the Soul..  And I was even more impressed by what I heard in her performance at Catalina Bar & Grill on Sunday night.

The presentation was titled “Hallelujah! A Celebration of Rebirth and Renewal,” an appropriate label for an Easter Sunday event, further underscored by Charmaine’s parallel work as a physical therapist.  The mesmerizing quality of her Catalina performance, however, suggested that her evolutionary growth as a singer is probably not going to allow much time for anything other than the expansion of her career as a musical artist.

Everything was right about this program, starting with Charmaine’s singing. Over the course of the few years in which I’ve heard her perform, there’s been a continuing interpretive growth.  Early on, she was closely identified with a blend of jazz and Filipino traditional music, earning the title the Queen of Jazzipino music.

As intriguing as that material may have been, Charmaine brought much more to the stage this time around.  Her eclectic program of songs began with a distinct gospel touch via Ethel Waters’ hit, “His Eye Is On the Sparrow” and Duke Ellington’s “Come Sunday,” following up with Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”  She sang each in authoritative fashion, without resorting into an overflow of too-familiar melismatic phrasing.

Charmaine was equally convincing with the old standard, “’Til There Was You,” the Italian classic “Estate,” “I Believe In Love” (based on Joshua Redman’s “Wish” with lyrics by Eli Brueggemann), a jaunty romp through “Pick Yourself Up” and a dramatically climactic “Here’s To Life.”  Add to that some of her original items and one couldn’t have asked for a broader, more engaging set of songs.

She delivered them with stunning effectiveness, balancing the lush timbres of her voice with the dramatic gestures and gripping expressiveness of a born musical story-teller.  And it didn’t hurt that Charmaine is a gorgeous woman, enhancing her slender appeal in a shimmering gold gown.

She was ably aided by the steady, solid support of her musicians: pianist Andy Langham, bassist Dominic Thiroux and drummer Abe Lagrimas.  Responding with near empathic back-up, subtly flowing in sync with her confident musicality and her rich, emotional qualities, the trio provided an encompassing musical embrace for an artist whose career is clearly heading skyward.

Expect much more from Charmaine Clamor (and let’s hope the Grammy voters are paying attention).

* * * * * * * *

Photos by Faith Frenz. 

Here, There & Everywhere: Dolores Scozzesi at Vitello’s

June 21, 2012

By Don Heckman

The Playboy Jazz Festival, as well as the lead-in to the Festival, tended to dominate our view screens here at iRoM for the last week or so.  And that’s cool.  It is, after all, one of the major musical events of the year.

But other music has been taking place, as well.  And now that the Playboy Festival madness is over, I want to be sure to call attention to another performance that took place last Tuesday.  It may not have been high visibility, and — in its single night at Vitello’s — it drew a considerably smaller crowd than the 18,000 who showed up for each of the Festival’s two days.  But for listeners attuned to fine music, convincingly done, it was a memorable night.


So let’s take a look back at Tuesday, and the appearance of jazz singer Dolores Scozzesi, backed by Andy Langham, piano, Lyman Medeiros, bass, Abe Lagrimas, Jr., drums, at Vitello’s.

It became apparent, almost immediately, that there was stunning musical empathy between Scozzesi and her musicians.  At its best, it recalled the kind of creative intimacy that exists in the Tierney Sutton Band, a group that’s been together for two decades.

Add to that the range of selections in the program.  Scozzesi’s first few choices, reaching from “Listen Love,” a tender song by the too little acknowledged singer/songwriter of the ‘70s, Jon Lucien, to Ann Peebles’ “I Can’t Stand the Rain” and such standards classics as “Night and Day,” “Body and Soul” and “What Now My Love?” underscored both her creative eclecticism and her far ranging musical interests.

As intriguing as her song choices were – also embracing such equally compelling tunes as “When Did You Leave Heaven?” “I’m Going To Sit Right Down and Right Myself A Letter” and “Love Look Away” – what really mattered was what Scozzesi did with this abundant collection.  Gifted with a mature, dark timbred voice, capable of using it across a rich emotional palette, she reached deeply into the heart of each song’s story.  And with especially convincing intensity in an English and French version of “Autumn Leaves” that included a newly conceived segment inspired by a Stan Getz solo, with lyrics by Scozzesi.  Call it a highlight in an evening of memorable songs.

I learned a long time ago that one of the most meaningful estimates of a performance’s impact often lies in the feelings it generates after the program.  Sure, one wants to be captivated by the music while it’s taking place.  But it’s equally important, maybe even more so, to be so stimulated by what one has heard that it stays with you, triggering new feelings and thoughts long after the performance is over.

The experience, to me, is similar to what it used to be like to see an especially impactful movie, back in the time before “films” became the operative word.  In those days, coming out of a movie theatre with a companion, eagerly discussing high points in the story, re-living aspects of the plot, feeling strongly – pro or con – about what we had just seen, was an essential part of seeing a movie.

Driving home from Scozessi’s performance at Vitello’s, Faith and I experienced similar feelings, recalling the pleasure of hearing such a fine array of songs, delivered with so much musical authenticity.  We even had a small disagreement, disputing whether or not Scozessi had tended to make too liberal use of her sometimes edgy chest tones.  But there was no dispute over the quality of the strains of music that remained with us, soothing our ears well into the high decibel sounds of the Playboy Jazz Festival weekend.

Full disclosure: I wrote the liner notes for Dolores Scozessi’s album, “A Special Taste.”  Fortunately writing liner notes does not cause me to lose my sense of musical objectivity.

Picks of the Week: Dec. 12 – 18

December 12, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

– Dec. 12. (Mon.)  Handel’s Messiah Singalong. It’s an annual delight for anyone who’s ever sung in a choir – and even those who haven’t – to share in the magic of Handel’s classic.   The L.A. Master Chorale leads the way.  Disney Hall.   (323) 850-2000.

Charmaine Clamor

– Dec. 13 (Tues.)  The 7th Annual Fil-Am Jazz & World Music Festival. Hosted by Charmaine Clamor. A decade ago, few jazz fans were aware that the Philippines were – and had been – producing world class jazz artists.  But all that changed with the start of the Fil-Am Jazz Festival and the arrival of Clamor, the Queen of the unique blend of jazz and traditional Filipino sounds called Jazzipino.  This year’s celebration, also hosted by the inimitable Bubba Jackson, features guitarist Vincent Reyes, vocalists Angela Vicente and VJ Rosales, pianist/harmonica player Noel Melanio, pianist Winston Raval and drummer/ukulele player Abe Lagrimas, JrCatalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

– Dec. 13 & 14. (Tues. & Wed.)  The Messiah. Handel not only composed The Messiah in little more than three weeks, he also orchestrated several different versions.  Here, it’s performed in historically authentic fashion by San Francisco’s period instrument-playing Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and the Philharmonia ChoraleDisney Hall.    (323) 850-2000.

The Canadian Tenors

– Dec. 14. (Wed.)  The Canadian Tenors.  Moving easily from dramatic classical singing to dynamic pop, the four gifted Canadian Tenors are stirring performers in their own right, as well as a stunning musical ensemble.  Their Christmas recording, The Perfect Gift, hit the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s classical music chart.  The Cerritos Performing Arts Center.   (562) 916-8501

– Dec. 14 & 15. (Wed. & Thurs.)  The Moscow Classical Ballet.  “The Nutcracker Suite.”  In contrast to the Joffrey Ballet’s intriguing Nutcracker seen here in early December (click HERE to read the iRoM review), the Moscow company’s version closely follows the classic Russian version of the ballet.  The contrast should be fascinating. Valley Performing Arts Center.  (818) 677-3000.

– Dec. 15. (Thurs.) A Chanticleer Christmas. Described as an “orchestra of voices,” the 12 Grammy-nominated male singers of Chanticleer move freely and impressively from Renaissance madrigals to contemporary pop, jazz and gospel.  Disney Hall.     (323) 850-2000.

Marilyn Scott

– Dec. 15. (Thurs.)  Marilyn Scott.  She’s got a resume that reaches with ease across smooth jazz, pop, blues, soul and beyond.  But the inner reality of Scott’s singing has always flowed from an irresistible jazz heartbeat.  She performs with the stellar backing of Mitch Forman, piano, Brian Bromberg, bass and Joel Taylor, drums.  Vibrato Jazz Grill…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

– Dec. 15 – 17. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Stanley Jordan Trio.  Well known to jazz and guitar fans for his unique “tapping” method of playing his instrument, Jordan has used the technique to create an ever-fascinating jazz style. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

– Dec. 15 & Dec. 18. (Thurs. & Sun.) Inner Voices Christmas Holiday Show.  The annual holiday performances of Morgan Ames’ gifted vocal collective are always among the musical highlights of the season.  Thurs.: 8 p.m.  Sun.: 1 p.m.  Vitello’s.     (818) 769-0905.

– Dec. 16. (Fri.)  The Baked Potato All-Stars.  “All-Stars” is exactly the right title for this assemblage of some of the Southland’s jazz masters: Ernie Watts, saxophones, Russell Ferrante, keyboards, Brian Bromberg, bass, Alex Acuna, drums, Jeff Richman, guitar.  The Baked Potato.   (818) 980-1615.

Aaron Neville

– Dec. 17. (Sat.)  Aaron Neville.  Multi-Grammy award winner Neville has one of the most recognizable – and most appealing – vocal sounds in all of pop music.  This time out, he’ll apply that signature sound and style to a program of seasonal favorites.  Luckman Performing Arts Complex.   (323) 343-6600.

– Dec. 17 & 18. (Sat. & Sun.)  Manhattan Transfer.  They’ve won 12 Grammys and deserved every one – and maybe a few more.  Not only are they a convincing jazz vocal ensemble, they’re also superb individual artists who bring imagination, insight and rich subtlety to everything they do. Broad Stage.(310) 434-3200.

– Dec. 17 & 18. (Sat. & Sun.)  The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles.  The more than 200 members of the GMCLA have established it as an extraordinary musical organization, as well as an important service to the community.  This year’s holiday show is titled, with characteristic humor, Naughty and Nice, and features special guest, Melissa Manchester.  The Alex Theatre in Glendale.    (818) 243-2539.

– Dec. 18. (Sun.) The MessiahLos Angeles Master Chorale. One of the world’s finest vocal ensembles, the LAMC has played a vital role in the L.A. music scene since the mid-‘60s.  In a week in which The Messiah will be performed in many different fashions, the Chorale’s version is one not to be missed.  Disney Hall.  (323) 850-2000.

Gerald Wilson

– Dec. 18. (Sun.)  The Gerald Wilson Orchestra.  At 93, the great arranger/composer/bandleader is still going strong, still matching his fine compositional skills with a capacity to bring a performance by his band to life via the sheer magnetism of his presence.  Don’t miss any chance to hear and see him in action.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

San Francisco

– Dec. 12 & 13. (Mon. & Tues.)  Women of Jazz Celebrate the Holidays.  It’s a double bill showcasing the wealth of distaff talent in the Bay area.  Mon. night features singer Roberta Donnay and her Jass Ensemble and  New Orleans-born vocal stylist Chelle! On Tues., harpist Destiny Muhammed’s Jazz Trio and pianist (and keyboardist with Stevie Wonder) Victoria Theodore are showcased.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.    (415) 655-5600.

– Dec. 14 & 15. (Wed. & Thurs.  Tuck and Patti: Season of Giving. The ultimate jazz duo, guitarist Tuck and singer Patti have been together for nearly three decades.  And their deeply intimate musical and personal relationship seems to improve and mature like fine wine. Yoshi’s San Francisco.    (415) 655-5600.


Taj Mahal

– Dec. 13 – 18. (Tues. – Sun.)  Taj Mahal Trio.  Blues is at its best in the capable hands and the remarkable voice of Taj Mahal.  He celebrates his nearly five decade career with selections from his most recent album, Maestro.  Jazz Alley.    (206) 441-9729.

New York

– Dec. 13 – 18. (Tues. – Sun.)  “Samba, Jazz and the Bossa Nova Years.”  The musically layered connections between samba, jazz and bossa nova are displayed in their full glory by a band adept in all areas: drummer Duduka Da Fonseca, singer Maucha Adnet, guitarist Romero Lubambo, pianist Helio Alves, trumpeter Claudio Roditi and bassist Hans GlawischnigDizzy’s Club Coca Cola.    (212) 258-9800.

– Dec. 15. (Thurs.)  Spike Jones’ 100th Birthday Celebration. The wild and crazy musical capers of Spike Jones’ slapstick musical comedy are revived in a “Challah-Daze Spectacular” by the group Polygraph Lounge.   Joe’s Pub.    (212) 539-8778.

– Dec. 15 – 18. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Trumpeter Chris Botti — one of the most in-demand (with good reason) performers in the jazz world — begins his annual holiday residency at the Blue Note.  He’ll continue, performing two shows a night, until Jan. 1.  The Blue Note.    (212) 475-8592.


– Dec. 15. (Thurs.) Paula Morelenbaum and the Renova Bossa Trio.  Morelenbaum’s subtle singing style has been carrying the torch for classic bossa nova for years.  Here she performs in the Renova Bossa Trio with pianist Ralf Schmid and trumpeter Joo KrausA-Trane Berlin.    030 / 313 25 50.


Diane Schuur

– Dec. 13 – 17. (Tues. – Sun.)  Diane Schuur. Always a versatile singer with the capacity to move convincingly across genres, Schuur – “Deedles” to friends and fans — has returned to emphasizing the abundant jazz skills in her musical portfolio.  The Blue Note Milano.   02 69 01 58 88.


– Dec. 13. (Tues.)  Pharaoh Sanders Quartet.  Seen by many as the successor to John Coltrne, tenor and soprano saxophonist Sanders has moved beyond the comparison into a deeply expressive improvisational style of his own.  New Morning Jazz Club  01 45 23 51 41.


– Dec. 17 & 18. (Sat. & Sun.)  Stefon Harris, David Sanchez and Christian Scott.  The world class trio of young jazz lions showcase music from their highly praised new recording, Ninety Miles.  The Blue Note Tokyo.   03 5485 0088.

Gerald Wilson photo by Tony Gieske

Picks of the Week: Nov. 30 – Dec. 5

November 30, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

– Dec. 1. (Wed.) A Celtic Christmas.  Irish Storyteller Tomaseen Foley creates a traditional night before Christmas, filled with dancing, music-making and holiday joy.  Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts. (562) 916-8501.

John McLaughlin

– Dec. 1. (Wed.)  John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension. The ever-exploratory guitarist performs with a group reaching across genres, styles and generations: multi-instrumentalist Gary Husband on percussion and keyboards, Mark Mondesir on drums and Etienne Mbappe, a young Cameroonian, on bass.  A UCLA Live concert at Royce Hall.   (310) 825-2101.

– Dec. 1 & 2. (Wed. & Thurs.)  Raga Bop Trio.  With Steve Smith, drums, George Brooks, saxophone and Prasanna, guitar and vocals.  The name says it all for this high octane trio that cruises convincingly in the territory between Indian ragas and bebop.  Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

Jackie Ryan

– Dec. 3. (Fri.) Jackie Ryan.  She’s one of a kind, a vocal artist who’s traveled her own musical path, escorting her many fans through one unique musical adventure after another.  Making one of her too-rare performances in the Southland, she sings with pianist Jon Mayer, bassist Carlito Del Puerto and drummer Dean KobaThe Culver Club for Jazz at the Radisson L.A. West Side Hotel.   (310) 649-1776 Ext. 4137.

– Dec. 3 & 4. (Fri. & Sat.)  6th Annnual Filipino-American Jazzfest. The list of impressive jazz artists with Filipino roots grows longer every year.  Highlight of this year’s Jazzfest is a CD release celebration on Saturday for jazz singer Charmaine Clamor’s stellar new CD, Something Good. Also on the schedule, Abe Lagrimas, Annie Brazil, Johnny Alegre, JP Maramba, Bo Razon and introducing Carlo David Catalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210.

– Dec. 4. (Sat.)  “Holiday on Broadway” Raymond Saar, Diane Ketchie, Valerie Perri and Scott Harlan celebrate the holidays with a program of festive music from Broadway, film and television, with a few whimsical twists and seasonal classica.  CSUN Valley Performing Arts Center.  Plaza del Sol Performance Hall.  (818) 677-3000.

– Dec. 4 (Sat.)  “Music and Conversations” A convivial interface between classical music, jazz and interesting people.  Featuring Susan Greenberg, flute, Alyssa Park, violin, Timothy Loo, cello, Delores Stevens and Alan Broadbent, piano, Putter Smith, bass.  Performing the music of Ravel, Brahms and Jane Brockman, with jazz improvisations by Broadbent and Smith.  Music and Conversations.  High Profile Productions, Culver City.  (310) 876-1188.

Bill Cunliffe

– Dec. 4. (Sat.)  Bill Cunliffe.  At 8 p.m.: “A Jazz Compass Christmas” featuring Cunliffe’s piano with drummer Joe LaBarbera, guitarist Larry Koonse and bassist Tom Warrington playing selections from their Jazz Compass CD Snowfall.  At 9 p.m.  The Bill Cunliffe Big Band, playing holiday and jazz selections, including the Grammy-winning West Side Story. With special guest vocalist, Daniela SpagnoloVitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

– Dec. 4 (Sat.)  Tapestry.  The elegant sound of the four voices of Tapestry soars through a collection of music illuminating the common ground between Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Tibetan cultures.  Presented in the atmospheric setting of the St. Basil Catholic Church. Chamber Music in Historic Sites.   (213) 477-2929.

– Dec. 4 & 5. (Sat. & Sun.) Symphonic Mariachi ChristmasJose Hernandez and Latin Grammy nominated Mariachi del Sol join with Sinfonia Mexicana in an evening of grand arrangements of Mexico’s holiday classics.  Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.  (562) 916-8501.

Alice Coltrane

– Dec. 5. (Sunday) Alice Coltrane Tribute.  The life, music and philosophy of the late pianist and musical and spiritual explorer is celebrated by a diverse line up of musical artists: McCoy Tyner, Kyp Malone, Nels Cline, Han Bennink, Daniel Carter, Michael White & Leisei Chen, Radha Botofasina, Flying Lotus and special guests.   A UCLA Live concert at Royce Hall.   (310) 825-2101.

– Dec. 5 & 12. (Sundays) Los Angeles Childrens’ Chorus.  The 25th Annual Winter Concert by an enthusiastic collection of children, aged 6 to 18, singing the music of 20 composers from 10 nations.  Pasadena Presbyterian Church.  http;//  (626) 793-4231.

San Francisco

– Dec. 3 – 5. (Fri. – Sun.)  Ravi Coltrane Quartet.  Saxophonist Coltrane has moved far beyond the shadow of his iconic father, into an expressive and adventurous musical world of his own making.Yoshi’s Oakland.  (510) 238-9200.

– Dec. 3 – 5. (Fri. – Sun.)  Mike Stern Band. Guitarist Stern, one of his instrument’s most eclectic stylists, performs with a group of equally enterprising players: trumpeter Randy Brecker, drummer Dennis Chambers and bassist Anthony JacksonYoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655-5600.

New York

– Nov. 30 – Dec. 4. (Tues. – Sat.)  Frank Wess Quintet.  Approaching his 88th birthday, Wess is still one of the flute’s most masterful practitioners, as well as a tenor saxophonist who keeps the spirit of early bebop alive.  He performs with special guest Kenny Barron and Roni Ben Hur, guitar, Victor Lewis, drums, Santi Debriano, bass.  Birdland.   (212) 581-3080.

Fred Hersch

– Nov. 30 – Dec. 5 (Tues. – Sun.)  Fred Hersch, solo piano. After enduring a life threatening two months in a coma in 2008, Hersch literally had to work his way back to playing the piano again.  And he did so magnificently, as his listeners will realize in these evenings of challenging, but expressive, solo performances.  Village Vanguard.  (212) 255-4037.

Dec. 2 – 5 (Thurs. – Sun.)  Tango Meets Jazz Festival. The tenth annual celebration of the linkages between American jazz and the music often called Argentina’s blues.  Featuring Latin Grammy winning Pablo Ziegler with his Quartet.  With guest stars tenor saxophonist Prometheus Jenkins (you’ll immediately know who it is when you see him) and violinist Regina Carter. Jazz Standard. (212) 576-2232.

Live Jazz: Mon David at the Culver Club in the Hotel Radisson

August 1, 2010

A New Male Jazz Singer on the Scene

By Roger Crane

To a jazz writer and jazz fan, there is little that is more satisfying than discovering new worthy talent.  And when that new talent is a male jazz singer, it is time to shout “hallelujah” from the rooftops. In recent years, there have been many singers who can stand before a band and sing in a style resembling jazz. These singers are often jazz influenced and can swing. Michael Buble comes to mind, but Mon David (pronounced dah-VEED) is the real deal, an uncompromising, straight-ahead, no adjectives needed jazz vocalist.

David, a Filipino, has been in the States for three years. He was doing well in his home country but observed that “It was a major move, starting all over again in the USA, but it was important to do. America is a bigger playground – one that I wanted to explore and learn from.”

David has performed at the Jazz Bakery and other venues. I caught him Friday night at the Radisson Hotel Culver Club where he worked with a stellar trio comprised of pianist Theo Saunders.  Dominic Thiroux at the bass and Abe Lagrimas behind the drumset. These four were in lockstep throughout the evening.

Repertoire seems to be one of David’s many strengths. His selections stretched from Legrand and Jobim to Carmichael and Sting, even including a version of Wayne Shorter’s “Footsteps” into which he added a few Filipino asides. Some of his material came from the Bill Evans canon, including “Waltz for Debby,” a song that Evans wrote, and also songs — such as Leonard Bernstein’s “Some Other Time” — that Evans brought into the jazz lexicon.

David is a masterful jazz singer who improvises rhythmic dances with his voice, weaves new melodic lines and sweeps through the harmonic changes with the assurance of a horn player. But unlike a horn player, along with his musical daring David never forgets that he has text to deal with and he honors the lyrics. Thankfully. unlike some newer jazz singers, David did not feel a need to scat on every song. Too many scatters are high on pyrotechnics and short on poetry. But David exhibits taste and his occasional scatting is un-histrionic and true as an oboe. A good example was his rendition of the warhorse “There Is No Greater Love” which he sang with only Thiroux’s bass accompaniment. David, at all times, employed scatting as an additional channel of communication, not an opportunity for show-off  “look at me” vocalizing.  No need for a reconnaissance mission to discover Isham Jones’ beloved melody.

But it was not a night of wall-to-wall up tempo tunes and scatting. Like Mark Murphy, whose singing his work at times resembles, David can swing you into bad health and then, turn around and  break your heart with a ballad. In fact, contrary to what they teach in that fictional course “Singing in the Clubs 101,” David had the courage to begin both sets with ballads, opening the night with a slow, mesmerizing interpretation of “My One and Only Love.” It takes both talent and charisma to shut up a hotel lounge crowd, but quiet them he did. Speaking of ballads, I have not heard a more satisfying version of the complex Strayhorn gem, “Lush Life.” It is a difficult song to sing well, but David brought the sadness and loneliness of this unique song to life. He maneuvered the mine fields of Strayhorn’s lyrics very well and made the listener a believer in his “jazz and cocktails” saga. Strayhorn would surely have embraced this rendition of his masterpiece.

Mention should also be made of David’s stage presence. The art of performing is separate from the art of making music. We all know jazz singers who sing “to the walls” and cabaret singers who grin while singing “Cry Me a River.” Therefore, it is so nice when performance, taste and talent all reside in the same person. David is warm, self-effacing and provided just the right amount of patter. The man is genuine and demonstrates the joy needed to make an audience happy. Jazz is experience — heart and intent are not enough. Watching and listening to Mon David, you are aware that this man has, as the saying goes, been there and done it with grace.

Pop singers present a song, whereas the true jazz singer creates one. There can be no doubt that Mon David is a jazz singer. Each of his songs was steeped in bravura, wrapped in ideas and presented with a bold sense of adventure. That is jazz, folks. As writer Whitney Balliett famously said, “Jazz is the sound of surprise” and David was surprising us – and delighting us – all evening.

So, whenever you begin to despair about the dearth of really fine male jazz vocalists, seek out Mon David. His latest album is Coming True, on the FreeHam Records label.  And when you seek a really good jazz supper club, go to the Radisson Hotel Culver Club on a Friday night and say thanks to Merle Kreibich for helping to keep live jazz vibrant.

For  recordings and more details check Mon David’s website:

To read more of Roger Crane’s reviews and articles check out his personal website, The Song Scout.

Picks of the Week: Nov. 30 – Dec. 6

November 30, 2009

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Demetra George

– Nov. 30. (Mon.)  Gala Opera NightDemetra George and Ralph Cato perform “Villains and Heroines at the Opera,” selections from Puccini, Verdi and Strauss.  Frank Fetta is music director.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

– Nov. 30. (Mon.)  Slide FX  Trombone Tentet.  Not quite enough trombones to play “76 Trombones,” but enough to produce a surprisingly appealing array of sounds and swing.   Steamers. (714) 871-8800.

– Dec. 1. (Tues.)  “Christmas in Ireland” The veteran Irish ensemble Danu combines with a choir to bring an Irish Christmas celebration –An Lollaig in Eirnn – to Southland audiences.  The Cerritos Center. (562) 916-8501.

– Dec. 1. (Tues.)  Gordon Goodwin Big Phat Band.  Goodwin’s band is that rarity – a big jazz ensemble with steady personnel delivering performances that match well-rehearsed craftsmanship with inventive playing and imaginative arrangements.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

– Dec. 1. (Tues.)  Henry Franklin Quartet.  Bassist “Skipper” Franklin plays with most of the hard driving ensemble from his recently released CD, “Home Cookin’”: Azar Lawrence, tenor saxophone, Theo Saunders, piano, Ramon Banda, drums.  Charlie O’s.   (818) 989-3110.

Hilary Kole

– Dec. 1 & 2. (Tues. & Wed.)  Hilary Kole. The critically praised New York jazz singer makes her West Coast debut, backed by the sterling ensemble of Alan Broadbent, piano, Larry Koonse, guitar, Tom Warrington, bass and Kendall Kay, drums.  . Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

– Dec. 2. (Wed.)  Peter Marshall sings “TIME WAS: Music of the Thirties and Forties.”  No Hollywood Squares in this evening of delightful musical nostalgia.  Upstairs at Vitellos.  (818) 769-0905.

– Dec. 2. (Wed.)  Judy Wexler. Gifted with a smoky sound, thoughtful phasing and a solid sense of rhythm, Wexler applies those qualities to her ever-intriguing jazz interpretations.  Café 322 (626) 836-5787.

– Dec. 3. (Thurs.)  Tom Rainier.  With Trey Henry, bass and Ralph Humphrey, drums, the trio serves as the rhythm section for “Dancing with the Stars.”  But here they are, in a very different setting, doing their own thing.  Upstairs at Vitellos. (818) 769-0905.

– Dec. 3, 4 & 5. (Thurs, Fri. & Sat.)  Charlie Hunter.  The adventurous guitarist brings his cross-genre style to a pair of L.A. appearances.  Thurs., Saint Rocke, Hermosa Beach. 310-372-0035.  Fri. & Sat. The Mint.  323-954-9400.

Gaea Schell

– Dec. 3. (Thurs.)  West Coast Left Coast: Leonard Slatkin with the Kronos Quartet and the Los Angeles Philharmonic perform works by Gladsmith, Bates, Waxman and Newman in the continuing series.  Disney Hall.

– Dec. 4. (Fri.)  Gaea Schell Trio.  A hard-swinging, inventive pianist, Schell brings the qualities of an instrumentalist to her laid-back, but always intriguing vocals. This time out, she celebrates the release of her new CD, “After the Rain.” Café 322. (626) 836-5787.

– Dec. 4 & 5. (Fri. & Sat.)  5th Annual Fil-Am Jazzfest.  Any original doubts about the reality of Filipino jazz have been thoroughly removed by these stirring annual events.  This year’s featured artists include Charmaine Clamor, Mon David, Tateng Katendig, Abe Lagrimas, Angelo Pizzaro, Sandra Viray and a special appearance by Eddie Katendig.   . Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

– Dec. 5. (Sat.)  The Nutcracker SuiteThe State Street Ballet Company brings an unusual slant to Tchaikovsky’s holiday classic with a newly choreographed production featuring Art Deco sets and 1930’s costumes..  2 p.m. and 7 p.m.  CSUN Performing Arts Center.  (818) 677-5768.

– Dec. 5. (Sat.)  Carol Welsman. Canadian pianist/singer Welsman illuminates songs associated with (or written by) Peggy Lee in her new album, “I Like Men.”   Spazio. (818) 728-8400.

Herb Alpert & Lani Hall

– Dec. 5. (Sat.)  David Ornette Cherry and Organic Roots.  Following in the footsteps of his father, Don Cherry, and his namesake, Ornette Coleman, Cherry’s envelope-stretching music also embraces eclectic aspects of cultures from around the globe.  World Stage Performance Gallery.  (323) 293-2451.

– Dec. 5. (Sat.)  Herb Alpert & Lani Hall. Show biz power couple Alpert and Hall also happen to be imaginative musical artists.  Performing selections from their recent album, “Anything Goes,” Alpert’s trumpet and Hall’s vocals make an appealingly intimate jazz marriage. Orange County Performing Arts Center. (714) 556-2787.

– Dec. 5 & 6. (Sat. & Sun.)  Lisa Mezzacappa.  San Francisco bassist/composer Mezzacappa says her music lives “at the intersection of music and composition.”  She brings her imaginative musical perceptions to a pair of Southland performances. Sat.: Café Metropole, / Sun: Eagle Rock Center for the Arts.

– Dec. 6. (Sun.) Inner Voices. “Christmas A Cappella Brunch.” L.A.’s most fascinating vocal ensemble – musically, harmonically and stylistically – present their annual look at the rich, creative potential of the familiar songs of Christmas.  Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

San Francisco

Dec. 2 – 6. (Wed. – Sun.)  The Taj Mahal Trio.  The blues legend displays his inimitable guitar and voice in the intimate frame work of a trio.  Yoshi’s Oakland.  (510) 238-9200.

New  York

– Dec. 1. (Tues.)  Jackie Ryan.  Praised from every direction, Ryan’s extraordinarily versatile voice, her buoyant swing and gifted story telling abilities will be backed by a pair of superb instrumentalists — trumpeter Jeremy Pelt and saxophonist Eric AlexanderBirdland. (212) 581-3080.

Anat Cohen

Dec. 1 – 6. (Tues. – Sun.)  Anat Cohen Quartet.  In addition to her powerful – and often funky – tenor saxophone work, Cohen is bringing vital new life to the too-often under-appreciated jazz clarinet.  She performs with Howard Alden, guitar,  Carlos Enriquez, bass and Herlin Riley, drums.  Village Vanguard.  (212) 255-4037.

– Dec. 2. (Wed.)  Bob Brookmeyer celebrates his 80th birthday with the Eastman New Jazz EnsembleKilbourn Hall at the Eastman School of \Music.  Rochester, N.Y.   (585) 454.2100.

– Dec. 2 – 5. (Wed. – Sat.)  Christine Ebersole and Billy Stritch“A Town and Country Christmas.” A pair of musical theatre and cabaret veterans come together for an evening of inspired song.  Birdland(212) 581-3080.

– Dec. 3 – 6. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Chano Dominguez Flamenco Quartet perform “The Flamenco Side of Kind of Blue – a fascinating musical concept that will be the final concert series of the Voll-Damm Barcelona International Jazz Festival,  The Jazz Standard (212) 447-7733.

– Dec. 4 – 6. (Fri. – Sun.)  Madeleine Peyroux“Remembering Lady Day: 50 Years.” Given the Holiday qualities that are such a distinct part of the Peyroux style, this should be among the more intriguing live performances of recent memory.  Blue Note.  The Blue Note. (212) 475-8592.

Sonny Rollins

– Dec. 6. (Sun.)  Sonny Rollins.  The icon of the tenor saxophone appears in a benefit Concert for Pete Seeger’s Clearwater.  He’s backed by his regular ensemble: Clifton Anderson, trombone; Bobby Broom, guitar; Bob Cranshaw, bass; Kobie Watkins, drums and Victor See-Yuen, percussion. Tarrytown Music Hall or call 877-840-0457.

– Dec. 6. (Sun.)  Alessandra Belloni“The Voyage of the Black Madonna,” written and directed by Belloni, with music composed and arranged by John La Barbera.  The work features healing chants, ritual drumming and dances from Southern Italy performed by Alessandra Belloni with La Barbera playing guitars, mandolin, and Susan Eberenz playing flute, piccolo and recorders.  St. Mary’s Church, 521 W. 126 St. (212) 864-4013.


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