Picks of the Week in Los Angeles, Seattle, New York City, London, Copenhagen and Tokyo

March 23, 2015

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Manhattan Transfer

Manhattan Transfer

– Mar. 23 & 24 (Mon. & Tues.) Manhattan Transfer and Take 6.  The two most masterful vocal ensembles of the past few decades get together for the first time. No wonder it’s called “The Summit” as they perform at the start of a national tour. Catalina Bar & Grill .

(323) 466-2210.

Michael TIlson Thomas

Michael TIlson Thomas

– Mar. 24. (Tues.) The London Philharmonic conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas with pianist Yuja Wang. Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F, Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2 and Bitten’s Four Sea Interludes. Disney Hall. (323) 850-2000.

– Mar. 26. (Thurs.) Sue Raney. She’s been receiving accolades for her singing sine she was a teen-ager, and Sue Raney is as dynamic and musically compelling as she was shen she first stepped on stage. Sue’s celebrating the release of her album, Late in Life.        Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

Bob Sheppard and Pat Senatore

Bob Sheppard and Pat Senatore

– Mar. 27 (Fri.) Bob Sheppard with the Pat Senatore Trio. A musical encounter not to be missed. Sheppard is one of the jazz world’s most versatile,saxophonists, and equally gifted on clarinet and flute. He’ll be backed by bassist Senatore’s equally adept rhythm section. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400

–  Mar. 27. (Fri.) George Benson. Hitmaker singer/guitarist Benson is always entertaining, always disovering new jazz territories. Expect to hear some familiar songs. Segerstrom Center for the Arts. (714) 556-2787.

Art Pepper

Art Pepper

– Mar. 27. (Fri.) An All Star Celebration of Art Pepper. With Richie Cole, Doug Webb, Don Shelton, Gaspare Pasini, the Art Pepper Quartet Reunion and more. Presented by Ken Poston’s West Coast Jazz Heritage Series. Hermosa Beach Community Theatre. Reservations: (562) 200-5477.

Seattle

– Mar. 26. (Thurs.) Great Guitars! Featuring Bucky Pizzarelli, John Pisano and Mundell Lowe. “Great Guitars” doesn’t begin to describe this encounter between such Olympian players. Don’t miss this one; it’s a true musical rarity. Jazz Alley. (206) 441-9729.

New York City

 

Dee Dee Bridgewater

Dee Dee Bridgewater

– Mar. 24 – 29. (Tues. – Sun.) James Moody 90th Birthday. Saxophonist/singer Moody was a much loved and honored jazz artist. He was also a friend to almost everyone he met. So it’s no surprise that this tribute has attracted such stellar participants. Featured peformers include Dee Dee Bridgewater, James Carter, Antonio Hart, Russle Malone, Randy Brecker, Roberta Gambarini, Roy Hargrove, Janis Siegel and more. Call the club for schedules. The Blue Note. (212) 475-8592.

London

– Mar. 24 – 26. (Tues. – Thurs.) The Bireli Lagrene Gypsy Project. Gypsy jazz at its best. Calling up memories of Django Reinhardt and the unque, swinging improvisational style he brought to the jazz world. Ronnie Scott’s. +44 20 7439 0747

Copenhagen

– Mar. 26 – 28. (Thurs. – Sat. Rosa Passos Quartet. Passos is one of the true blenders of jazz and Brazilian rhythms. She’s been doing it a long time, and she still does better than most. Jazzhus Montmartre. +45 31 72 34 94

Tokyo

Gerald Albright

Gerald Albright

 

– Mar. 24. (Tues.) Gerald Albright. Name a jazz genre and Gerald Albright can play it convincingly.  And he’s equally adept as an instrumentalist, moving easily from world class saxophone playing to bass, keyboards,, vocals and more.  Don’t miss him in action.  Blue Note Tokyo.  +81 3-5485-0088.


Live Brazilian Music: Teka at Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.

October 22, 2014

By James M. DeFrances

Bel Air, CA. Teka Penteriche’s performance at Vibrato last Sunday night had the approval of everyone in the crowd, including veteran crooner Tom Jones.

Teka

Teka

The smooth sounds of the Brazilian born singer-guitarist and her New Bossa Band filled the air of Herb Alpert’s cozy and elegantly appointed club in Bel Air. Her song choices too were apparently just what the doctor ordered for the late night weekend patrons in West LA.  Over a glass of white wine and a bowl of the club’s extraordinary Cream of Mushroom soup I too was able to experience first hand what everyone had told me about,

Teka is sensational. Her set list offered a wide variety of Brazilian jazz with songs sung in both Portuguese and English. Teka’s arrangements and adaptations are uniquely her own and her voice and the band synced up the way every band hopes for. Highlights of the evening included her renditions of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s classics — including a beautifully done version of “Aguas de Marco” and the song that the audience seemed to appreciate the most “Summer Samba” the crowning achievement of Brazilian composer Marcos Valle.

Teka and her New Bossa Band

Teka and her New Bossa Band

She was backed superbly by her New Bossa band – saxophonist/flutist Doug Webb, pianist Tom Zink, bassist Randy Tico and percussionist Kevin Winard.

Teka and her husband Paris had to make quite the trip down from Santa Barbara but it was a trip well taken as the audience was ready for more, even at the conclusion of her second and final set. Many audience members purchased a CD from Teka’s collection of albums as they left the club – a solid indication that her performance was a hit!

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Photos by James M. DeFrances.


CD Review of the Day: Teka’s “So Many Stars”

April 16, 2014

Teka

So Many Stars (Blue in Green Productions)

By Brian Arsenault

I think my biggest miss of 2013 may have been not hearing Teka’s marvelous bossa nova infused album So Many Stars. If you missed it too, here’s another chance. Especially for those of us in northern climes in this cold, cold endless winter.

Teka

Teka

Bossa nova almost always warms with its calls to romance and dance. In a harsh world it shows that the finer tender emotions are still possible. So there really is some place other than LA it’s warm this March. Really. And it may be the heart.

Good example, Teka and her teen daughter Luana Psaros provide two slightly different shades of sunlight on water in Aguas de Marco (Waters of March). Luana sounds like a younger skylark, not a lesser one, on this achingly alluring duet.

The album’s title song is also its message. So many stars, so many dreams. Taken as a whole, the album is rather dreamlike and it is a sweet dream.

For one reason, a different band member is featured in combination with Teka’s voice on nearly every song:
Randy Tico’s bass on “So Many Stars,” Doug Webb’s sax on “You Stepped Out of Dream” and “April Child”, Ruben Martinez bass flute on “April Child,” Ian Bernard’s piano on “Skylark.” More. All first rate.

Teka is a fine guitarist in her own right as amply demonstrated on “Bluesette.”

Teka

Teka

“Skylark” is one of the highlights of the album and one of the few non-bossa nova styled songs. Rather it is a wonderful slow jazz arrangement of the great Johnny Mercer/Hoagy Carmichael tune.

The Gershwin’s “S’Wonderful” closes the album with Teka teaming again with Luana for a light hearted take. Smiles all around. Chuckles at the end.   For most of the time, though, we are in the world of Mendes and Jobim and, as noted, it is a warm world of dancing in the dark and counting stars.

Teka has a summer evening breeze quality to her voice always. She is as smoooooooooooth as bossa nova can be and that is very smooth indeed.

Surprises on the album? Maybe one. Her choice to include Kurt Weill’s “Speak Low,” lyrics by Ogden Nash. The central lyric of the song, though, fits the mold: “Speak low when you speak of love” for fear it might disappear.

There is a longing in bossa nova as well as a sweetness.  Teka sings in both English and Portuguese on the album but it is the Portuguese that best brings us the poetry of the music. Even if you don’t speak the language.

The pacing is where American audiences have their biggest problem. Bossa nova after a burst of popularity in the States in the 60s has been largely relegated to secondary status except among aficionados and Brazilian and other Latin communities.

Part of its charm is a pace that is never fast, never hurried and Norteamericanos sometimes need things hot and fast, not warm and romantic.

Still, we are open to “so many dreams,” aren’t we?

Teka and her New Bossa Trio perform at The Gardenia in Hollywood on Wednesday Ap[ril 30.  The Gardenia is at 7066 Santa Monica Blvd.  The phone number is (323) 467-7444.

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


Picks of the Weekend: Jan. 30 – Feb. 2

January 30, 2014

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Stanley Clarke

Stanley Clarke

- Jan. 30 – Feb. 1 (Thurs. – Sat.) Stanley Clarke Trio and the Harlem Quartet. Eclectic bassist and band leader Clarke blends his always-fascinating trio work with the unique sounds of the Harlem
Quartet. Catalina Bar & Grill (223) 466-2210.

- Jan. 30. (Thurs. Lauren Kinhan. A CD Release party for a young singer with a voice to remember. Vitello’s (818) 769-0905.

- Jan. 31. (Fri.) Billy Childs Electric Band. Pianist/composer Childs’ versatility runs the complete gamut of jazz genres. This time out, it’s all electric. The Blue Whale.  (213) 620-0908.

Hilary Hahn

Hilary Hahn

- Jan. 31. (Fri.) Hilary Hahn and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Russian conductor Andrey Boreyko leads violinist Hahn and the L.A. Phil in a program of Nordic music by Sibelius, Nielsen and Swedish composer Anders Hillborg. Disney Hall.  (323) 850-2000.

- Jan. 31. (Fri.) Gina Saputo. A rising star if there ever was one, Saputo’s vocals are the product of a compelling young talent. Steamer’s.  (714) 871-8800.

Gary Foster

Gary Foster

- Feb. 1. (Sat.) Gary Foster Quartet. Saxophonist Foster has been one of L.A.’s prime first call players for years. Here, he’s in action fronting his own band. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc (310) 474-9400.

- Feb. 2. (Sun.) The Webb All-Stars. All-Stars is an appropriate title for a band featuring Doug Webb, saxophones, Mitch Forman, keyboards, John Ziegler, guitar, Jimmy Earl, bass, Danny Carey, drums. The Baked Potato.  (818) 980-1615.

Seattle

Bill Frisell

Bill Frisell

- Jan. 30 – Feb. 2. (Thurs. – Sun.) Bill Frisell’s “Guitar in the Space Age.” Always on the crest of trying something new, Frisell’s latest effort features Greg Leisz, Tony Scherr and Kenny Wollesen. Jazz Alley,  (206) 441-9729.

Washington D.C.

- Jan. 29. (Wed.) Diane Marino. The warm and engaging voice of singer Marino offers a performance celebrating the relese of her latest CD, Loads of Love. Blues Alley.  (202) 337-4141.

New York City

John Abercrombie

John Abercrombie

- – Jan. 30 – Feb. 1. (Thurs. – Sat.) John Abercrombie Quartet. Guitarist Ambercrombie does a convincing job of blending fun, fusion and straight ahead bebop. The Jazz Standard.  (212) 447-7733.

Copenhagen

- Jan. 30 – 31. (Thurs & Fri.) Dado Moroni: “The Legacy of John Coltrane.” An international all-star jazz ensemble commemmorates the incomparable music of the great John Coltrane. Featuring pianist Moroni from Italy, vibist Joe Locke from the U.S., tenor saxophonist Max Ionata and bassist Marco Panascia from Italy, and drummer Morten Lund from Denmark. Jazzhus Montmartre.  +45 31 72 34 94.

Milano

Billy Cobham

Billy Cobham

= Jan. 30 – Feb. 1. (Thurs. – Sat.) Billy Cobham Spectrum 40. Drummer Cobham’s crisply rhythmic Spectrum features the guitar work of Dean Brown, the keyboards of Gary Husband and the bass of Ric Fierabracci. Blue Note Milano.  +39 02 6901 6888.


Picks of the Week: October 2 – 6

October 2, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Diane Hubka

Diane Hubka

– Oct. 2. (Wed.) Diane Hubka. Singer/guitarist Hubka celebrates the release of her new CD, West Coast Strings. She’ll be backed by a prime group of players: Guitarists John Pisano, Barry Zweig & David Eastlee, organist Bobby Pierce, bassist Jeff D’Angelo and drummer Kendall Kay. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

– Oct. 2. (Wed.) Teka & New Bossa. Brazilian singer/guitarist Teka displays her authentic view of Brazilian music, backed by Quinn Johnson on piano, Kevin Winard on percussion, Doug Webb on saxophone and Randy Tico on bass. Vitello’s (818) 769-0905.

Christian McBride

Christian McBride

– Oct. 3 – 6. (Thurs. – Sun. Christian McBride Trio. Bassist Christian McBride, every leader’s first call for a world class rhythm section, plays selections from his album Out There with pianist Christian Sands and drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr,. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

– Oct. 4. (Fri.) Lucy Guerin Inc. Weather. Australia’s much-honored choreographer presents a new work that “embodies human patterns within those of the elements.” CAP UCLA at Royce Hall.  (310) 825.2101.

Anat Cohen

Anat Cohen

– Oct. 4 – 6. (Fri. – Sun.) The 6th Annual Angel City Jazz Festival begins with a weekend brim full of musical activity. On Fri.: Free concert at LACMA with the Zach Ramacier Group and Nicole Mitchell Sun Dial Ensemble. On Sat: Dave Holland Prism and the John Scofield Uberjam Band. CAP UCLA at Royce Hall. On Sun: Richard Sears group, Albert Tootie Heath, Kneebody, Yosvany Terry Quintet, Greg Osby Group with special guest Anat Cohen. Ford Amphitheatre. The Angel City Jazz Festival.

– Oct. 5. (Sat.) Sandi Patty. One of the major stars of Christian music, Patty is a uniquely talented singer whose work is not limited by her popularity in the Christian music genre. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.  (562) 916-8501

– Oct. 6. (Sun.) Carol Duboc. Versatile Duboc, a singer/composer and actress, celebrates the release of her latest album, Smile, in the musical companionship of Jeff Lorber, keyboards, and Jimmy Haslip, bass. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

San Francisco

Miguel Zenon

Miguel Zenon

– Oct. 5. (Sat.) SFJAZZ Collective Jam Session. The SFJAZZ Collective has thoroughly established itself as one of the irresistiblly appealing contemporary jazz ensembles. The gifted players include Miguel Zenón alto saxophone, David Sánchez tenor saxophone, Warren Wolf vibraphone, Edward Simon piano, Matt Penman bass, and Obed Calvaire, drums. An SFJAZZ event at the Joe Henderson Lab. (866) 920-5299.

Seattle

– Oct. 3 – 6. (Thurs. – Sun.) Karrin Allyson. Grammy-nominated jazz singer Allyson continually reveals a musical curiosity that has taken her from bossa nova and the blues to John Coltrane. Jazz Alley.  (206) 441-9729

Chicago

– Oct. 3 – 6. (Thurs. – Sun.) Bobby Watson Quartet. Eclectic alto saxophonist Watson has moved convincingly from bebop and hard bop to cutting edge contemporary jazz. Jazz Showcase.  (312) 360-0234.

New York City

Donald Harrison

Donald Harrison

– Oct. 3 – 6. (Wed. – Sun.) The Messenger Legacy Celebrating Blakey. Drummer Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers legacy is celebrated by Brian Lynch, trumpet, Donald Harrison and Billy Pierce, saxophones, Donald Brown, piano, Reggie Workman, bass, Ralph Peterson, drums. Jazz Standard.  (212) 576-2232.

– Oct. 4 & 5. ( Fri. & Sat.) John Mayall and Friends. The influential English blues artist, whose influence reaches from Eric Clapton to Mick Fleetwood and beyond, celebrates his 80th birthday. The Iridium. h ( 212) 582-2121.

Copenhagen

– Oct. 3. (Thurs.) Soren Kristiansen. Pianist Kristiansen, largely viewed as one of Denmark’s finest, most imaginative jazz artist, displays influence from Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans and Art Tatum in a stellar evening of solo piano jazz improvisations. Jazzhus Montmartre.  +45 31 72 34 94.

Milan

– Oct. 3. (Thurs.) Nicholas Payton. Trumpeter Payton, a world class, Grammy-winning product of New Orleans music, is always a pleasure to hear in action. Blue Note Milano.  +39 02 6901 6888.


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

December 18, 2012

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 music of Bach and Vivaldi, performed by the Los Angeles Master Chorale, to a big jazz band in action.  And “big” is precisely the right word for this organization, which expands the usual 17 to 18 piece big band instrumentation to 22 players, including a French horn section.

Add to that the announcement the evening would include an extremely rare performance by singer April Williams, whose management of Vitello’s Upstairs Jazz Room has established one of the Southland’s important new jazz venues.

April Williams with the Ron Jones Jazz Influence Band

April Williams with the Ron Jones Jazz Influence Band

Combined, it was all too good to miss.

Vitello’s was jammed when we arrived, the tables and booths overflowing with listeners, as the Jones players filled the stage from one side of the room to the other. Fortunately we found a nook where we could sit, drink some wine, and prepare to expand our evening of Christmas music from Baroque to bebop.

Not all bebop, that is.  But plenty of it in the vigorous soloing of players such as saxophonists Fred Selden, Pete Christlieb, Doug Webb and Gene Cipriano, pianist Alan Steinberger, trumpeter Bob Summers and trombonist Bob McChesney.

Most of the music in the set, however, was dedicated to Christmas songs, arranged to apply the rich tonal resources and jazz-driven rhythms of the 22 piece ensemble to the familiar canon of Christmas classics.,

“It Came Upon A Midnight Clear” arrived in a lushly harmonized medley with “Silent Night.”  Contrastingly, “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” and “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” surfaced with a briskly jaunty rhythmic underpinning, driven by Dave Tull’s energetic drumming.

Thad Jones’ lovely “A Child Is Born” was next.  It hasn’t become a Christmas classic yet, but it should.  Especially via the beautifully arranged version by the Jones Influence Orchestra, with musically touching contributions from pianist Steinberger.

Johnny Mandel’s Grammy- and Academy Award-winning “The Shadow Of Your Smile” generated yet another perspective. Not exactly a Christmas item, it added a unique touch to the fascinating program via an arrangement featuring the fine French horn playing of Tawnee Lillo and Jean Marinelli.

The performance peaked with the arrival of April Williams on stage with a puckish smile on her face, clearly in the mood to have fun.  And she did, singing Steve Allen’s “Cool Yule,” making the most of lyrics announcing the arrival of St. Nick:

           “From Coney Island to The Sunset Strip
           Somebody’s gonna make a happy trip
          Tonight, while the moon is bright.”

Clearly enjoying every moment she had with the backing of the Jones Jazz Influence Band, April topped off the number with a call for everyone to:

“Have a Yule that’s cool
Yeah, a cool Yule.”

It was the perfect climax to an evening that had begun with Bach and Vivaldi and wound up with big band jazz, all of it illuminating the far-ranging musical inspiration that Christmas has created over the centuries.  And there’s still another week and a half to hear even more Christmas music before the joyous day arrives.

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To read the iRoM review of the Los Angeles Master Chorale at Disney Hall click HERE or scroll up.


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

November 4, 2012

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 – trumpet, trombone and saxophone sections supported by a three or four person rhythm section – as the symphony orchestra of America’s twenty century jazz and pop music, reaching from the Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson and Paul Whiteman bands of the ‘20s and ‘30s through Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Stan Kenton and Oliver Nelson into the present. Whether it was performing music for dancing, for backing singers, for sheer jazz excitement or for movie soundtracks, classic big band sounds have been (and continue to be) an assemblage of tonal textures and rhythms with a seemingly limitless array of possibilities.

And Bill Holman has explored the full fledged expression of those qualities for six decades with a seemingly limitless range of inventive creativity.  As he did at Vitello’s.

The Bill Holman Big Band

Standing amid the tables to implement his characteristically modest conducting, he led his assemblage of world class L.A. master players in a stunning collection of classic big band arrangements and originals.

Holman’s unique style, first heard during his early writing for Stan Kenton in the ‘50s, has remained one of the most uniquely original big band arranging techniques.  Combining contrapuntal methods rarely heard in big jazz band arranging, often interlacing individual instruments from different sections, Holman does so while still retaining deeply intimate contact with the propulsive rhythmic swing essential to jazz.

Given both the challenges and the pleasures of performing his charts, it’s no wonder that Holman’s band was a stellar gathering, glittering with the presence of some of the finest, most musically sophisticated musicians in Los Angeles (or anywhere).

Pete Christlieb and Doug Webb

The program of Holman arrangements and originals kept offering one fascinating piece after another.  Among the many high points:

– A hard-driving, entertaining tenor battle between saxophonists Pete Christlieb and Doug Webb.

– An unlikely, but delightfully offbeat new view of the ‘30s Dorothy Lamour hit, “The Moon of Manakoora.”

– “No Joy In Mudville,” a jaunty Holman original inspired by the popular baseball-inspired poem, Casey at the Bat.

– Holman’s atmospherically perfect interpretations of several jazz classics, including Thelonious Monk’s “Misterioso” and Sonny Rollins” “St. Thomas” and “Airegin.”

– A rendering of “Lover Man” featuring Bruce Babad’s superb, bebop-driven soloing.

– Along with prime solo contributions from, among numerous others, Ron Stout, Carl Saunders and Bob Summers

But, as always, it was the combination of Holman’s uniquely stylistic writing, performed by an impressive array of players, that made the program so memorable.  Which is usually the case when the Holman Big Band performs.

Reminding us of the importance of hearing the live music of a jazz giant – Holman, in this case – whenever the opportunity arises.

To read an iRoM Q & A with Bill Holman, click HERE.  https://irom.wordpress.com/2011/01/31/q-a-bill-holman-composer-arranger-bandleader

Photos by Faith Frenz.


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