Live Jazz: The Johnny Mandel Big Band

By Don Heckman Johnny Mandel was at Vitello’s again Saturday night, leading a big band at the venue for the third time in a year.  Despite the familiarity of the music – or, perhaps, because of it — one couldn’t ask for better evidence of the long term quality of his achievements, as a composer,… Read More Live Jazz: The Johnny Mandel Big Band

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Live Jazz: A Busy Friday Night at Vitello’s and the Out Take Bistro

By Don Heckman Studio City, CA.  Sometimes a music reviewer just has to do a lot in a single night – often unexpectedly.  As I did on Friday.  Even though it hadn’t actually started out that way. My schedule for the evening originally included a stop at Vitello’s  to hear the Bill Cunliffe big band… Read More Live Jazz: A Busy Friday Night at Vitello’s and the Out Take Bistro

Live Jazz: The Ron Jones Jazz Influence Orchestra with April Williams at Vitello’s

By Don Heckman On the way home from Disney Hall Sunday, the traffic on the 101 magically – and unexpectedly —  opened up, and we suddenly realized we could reach Vitello’s just in time to catch the second set by the Ron Jones Jazz Influence Orchestra. Call it an unusual sequence – from the Christmas… Read More Live Jazz: The Ron Jones Jazz Influence Orchestra with April Williams at Vitello’s

Live Jazz: The Johnny Mandel Big Band at Vitello’s

By Don Heckman Studio City, CA.  It wasn’t quite Johnny Mandel’s birthday last night.  Not yet.  But it was close enough to the actual date – November 25 – to celebrate the 87th anniversary of the great composer and arranger. And the packed crowd at Vitello’s enthusiastically joined in a group singing of “Happy Birthday.” … Read More Live Jazz: The Johnny Mandel Big Band at Vitello’s

Live Jazz: The Bill Holman Big Band Upstairs at Vitello’s

By Don Heckman Bill Holman and his big band made one of their rare but always welcome Southland appearances Friday night at Vitello’s.  And, with a packed house listening avidly to every note, Holman once again displayed his remarkable mastery of the big band format. One could make a good case for big band instrumentation… Read More Live Jazz: The Bill Holman Big Band Upstairs at Vitello’s

Live Jazz: The Johnny Mandel Big Band at Vitello’s

By Don Heckman Vitello’s was packed to the gills Saturday night.  And with good reason.  Johnny Mandel was making one of his rare appearances, leading an assemblage of Southland jazz all-stars in an evening surveying his long, productive career as a composer, arranger and songwriter. At 86, recovering from hip problems and walking with a… Read More Live Jazz: The Johnny Mandel Big Band at Vitello’s

Live Jazz: The Bill Cunliffe Quartet and Big Band at Vitello’s

By Don Heckman Grammy Award-winning pianist/composer/arranger Bill Cunliffe put all his talents on display Saturday night for an early celebration of the holidays.  All of which made for a broad tapestry of musicians spread across a jam-packed stage, a full house audience and a virtually non-stop program of music. The opening set was devoted to… Read More Live Jazz: The Bill Cunliffe Quartet and Big Band at Vitello’s