By Don Heckman
– 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.
– 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, Jr. Catalina 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 Chorale. Disney Hall. (323) 850-2000.
– 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.
– 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.
– 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 Messiah. Los 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.
– 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.
– 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.
– 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.
– 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 Glawischnig. Dizzy’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 Kraus. A-Trane Berlin. 030 / 313 25 50.
– 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.