Picks of the Week: Sept. 21 – 27 in Los Angeles, Oregon, Chicago, New York, London, Copenhagen, Milan and Tokyo.

September 21, 2015

By Don Heckman

 Los Angeles

Laura Dickinson

Laura Dickinson

– Sept. 23. (Wed.) Laura Dickinson. She’s probably your nine year-old daughter’s favorite singer, her voice familiar from the Disney Channel’s animated hits Phineas and Ferb and Sofia The First. But Dickinson’s vocal skills also include far-reaching jazz abilities, as well. She will offer them in an evening that celebrates her birthday with the introduction of her new big band. In addition, the opening set will be provided by the Eliot Deutsch Big Band. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

Denise Donatelli


– Sept. 24. (Thurs.) Denise Donatelli. Grammy-nominated Donatelli – with her warm, embracing voice, her lively sense of swing and her irresistible musical storytelling – celebrates the release of her new CD, Find A Heart, in a performance and party at Catalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210.

– Sept. 24. (Thurs.) :Gianni Schicci. LA Opera presents a rare opportunity to experience Placido Domingo in a prime production of Puccini’s one act comic opera based on an incident in Dante’s Divine Comedy. The Music Center. The LA Opera at the Music Center.  (213) 972-0777.

Bob Sheppard

Bob Sheppard

– Sept. 24. (Thurs.) Bob Sheppard. Straight Ahead. The Southland music world’s busiest, most in demand saxophonist steps to the front of the stage in a rare evening as a front man. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear and see Sheppard in the spotlight with keyboardist Otmaro Ruiz, bassist Chris Colangelo and drummer Christian Euman. The Baked Potato. . (818) 980-1615.

– Sept. 25 – Oct. 11. (Fri. – Sun.) The Angel City Jazz Festival. Rapidly establishing itself as one of the jazz world’s most creatively ambitious events. The ACJF justifiably prides itself as the expanding stage for the discovery of new, gifted talent. This year’s program takes place in such varied locations around Los Angeles as Barnsdall Art Parker, Blue Whale, LACMA, REDCAT and more. For more information and a list of artists, click HERE. / (323) 573-2110.

– Sept. 26. (Sat.) The Los Angeles Master Chorale. The gifted vocal artists of the L.A. Master Chorale bring their vocal versatility to a performance titled “The Russian Evolution.” The program encompasses a century of great Russian works from composers such as Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Grechaninov, Ilyashenko and more. Walt Disney Hall.  (877) 689-2356.

– Sept. 26. (Sat.) The Isley Bros. One of the great veteran r&b groups, the Isleys’ stellar career reaches back to the early ’60s. Don’t miss this rare chance to hear the current line up of brothers Ronald and Ernie.  Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts. (562) 916-8500.

Carmen Lundy

Carmen Lundy

– Sept. 26. (Sat.) Carmen Lundy. Carmen is a jazz vocalist who much deserves her frequent rave reviews. But she’s also a gifted songwriter, arranger, actress and painter. Like all imaginative musicians, she’s always a pleasure to hear in a live setting. Blue Whale.  (213) 620-0908.


Sept. 23. (Wed.) Ashland. The Parisian Musette Trio. “Musette Explosion.” French musette music is an irresistible blend of French folk and cabaret, American jazz and Italian instrumentation. The result is utterly compelling. And the Parisian Musette TrioWill Holshouser on accordion, Ron Horton on trumpet and tuba and David Phillips on bass – have made the most of all those elements. “Musette Explosion,” noted Down Beat, “has respectfully reclaimed 1930’s Paris for the 21st century.” The program is another prime entry in the 2015 Siskiyou Music Project series. It takes place in the unlikely elegance of Ashland’s Old Siskiyou Barn. The Parisian Musette Trio at The Skiskiyou Music Project.  (541) 488-3869.

New York City

Steve Kuhn

– Sept. 22 – 26. (Tues. – Sat.) Coltrane Revisited. What would have been Coltrane’s 89th birthday is celebrated by a band led by his former pianist, Steve Kuhn, along with Coltrane-influenced saxophonist Eric Alexander, drummer .Steve Smith, and bassist Lonnie Plaxico. Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.


– Sept. 24 – 27. (Thurs. – Sun.) The Ravi Coltrane Quartet. Tenor saxophonist Coltrane has convincingly taken his impressive skills well beyond the far-reaching shadow of his iconic father. The Jazz Showcase.  (312) 360-0234.


– Sept. 21 & 22. (Mon. & Tues.) The Music of Charlie Parker. Gilad Atzmon. Israeli alto saxophinst Atzmon revives the classic Parker with Strings performances. Ronnie Scott’s. +44 (0)20 7439 0747.


Ronnie Cuber

– Sept. 24 & 25. (Fri. & Sat.) Ronnie Cuber and the Nikolaj Bentzon Trio. American baritone saxophonist Cuber gets together with Danish pianist Bentzon’s Danish/Hungarian trio. Jazzhus Montmartre.  +45 31 72 34 94.



Bebel Gilberto

Bebel Gilberto

– Sept. 23 – 26. (Wed. – Sat.) Bebel Gilberto. The daughter of Brazilian bossa nova master Joao Gilberto, Bebel has built a major career on her own impressive vocal skills. The Blue Note Milano.  +39 02 6901 6888.


– Sept. 23 & 24. (Wed. & Thurs.) Dave Weckl with Makoto Ozone lead a band underscoring the truly international qualities of contemporary jazz. Featuring Tom Kennedy and Gary Meek. Tokyo Blue Note. +81 3-5485-0088.

CD Review: Dave Stryker’s “Messin’ With Mister T”

March 25, 2015

By Devon Wendell

What could be better than guitarist Dave Stryker and his famed organ trio (Jared Gold: Hammond B3 organ, and McClenty Hunter: drums with Mayra Casales guesting on Percussion) paying tribute to Stryker’s ex-employee and mentor, the legendary tenor sax giant Stanley Turrentine? On Messin’ With Mister T (Strikezone), Stryker has assembled an all-star lineup of some of the finest tenor sax players in jazz to do just that.

And the results are marvelous. Although Turrentine passed away 15 years ago; his spirit is felt throughout this loving homage.

Stryker and the band kick things off with a stellar take on Turrentine’s “La Place Street” with Houston Person blowing for “Mr. T.” At times, Person’s fat, warm, bluesy tone and phrasing are very similar to Turrentine’s style. Stryker’s fluid and melodic arpeggios weave in and out of the melody with elegance and soul. Gold’s B3 playing is reminiscent of Jack Mcduff and Groove Holmes in that it is rhythmic yet subtle and funky.

Let’s check out the action on all the other tracks.

Mike Lee is the featured tenor player on Michel Legrand’s mid-tempo ballad; “Pieces Of Dreams.” Lee’s playing is sweet and economical. Stryker is the shinning star on this number, with some thoughtful, understated, and swinging guitar phrasing.

Don Braden plays it cool without venturing too far from the melody line on the album’s title track, which is a straight blues.

An absolute album highlight is hearing Jimmy Heath blowing his soul out on Duke Ellington’s “In A Sentimental Mood.” Heath and Stryker never play a note or phrase that doesn’t belong exactly where these men have so masterfully placed them.

urrentine, Freddie Hubbard and others.

Dave Stryker with Freddie Hubbard, Stanley Turrentine and others in New York City in June 1987.

Chris Potter seams to get better and better every time he picks up his horn. His playing on John Coltrane’s “Impressions” is daring, original, and hard swinging.
Hunter’s drumming drives the band and goes into strong be-bop mode.

But a rendition of Freddie Hubbard’s “Gibraltar” is an unusual choice for a Turrentine tribute. Although Bob Mintzer plays some strong tenor lines, this arrangement goes a little too far into smooth jazz turf for my liking.

Like Chris Potter, Eric Alexander is always on the move and constantly developing his style. His playing on Milton Nascimento’s “Salt Song” is no exception. Stryker’s guitar lines dance and swing with the Brazilian percussion rhythms laid down by Mayra Casales.

Javon Jackson and the band stay true to that jazz-soul sound on Turrentine’s “Sugar.” You can feel Jackson reeling himself in so as not to over-blow, which would not fit this particular piece, which is more about groove than hard-bop acrobatics.

That groove feel continues on “Sidesteppin” featuring Steve Slagle, who really lays back with the band on this funky Stryker original.

Completing the album is a brilliant reading of Turrentine’s “Let It Go.” Tivon Pennicott’s tenor explorations are the most adventurous on the whole album. Pennicott’s bop playing pushes the band to greater heights and soon everyone is cooking like they should. Stryker’s guitar attack is more percussive and daring.

Messin’ With Mister T (the album will be released by Strikezone Records on April 7th) is a soulful, well thought out tribute album to one of the greats. Stanley Turrentine would surely be proud of Stryker and all of the truly dedicated musicians who gave their all on this delightful project.

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To read more posts, reviews and columns by Devon “Doc” Wendell click HERE.

Picks of the Week: July 23 – 28.

July 23, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

– July 23.  (Tues.)  The Postal Service.  The electropop band – featuring Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello – celebrate their 10th anniversary.  Greek Theatre   (323) 665-5857.

– July 24. (Wed.)  Dave Damiani and the No Nonsense Orchestra.  Vocalist and leader Damiani sings with the colorful sounds and swinging rhythms of his No Nonsense Orchestra.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

Josh Nelson

Josh Nelson

– July 24. (Wed.) Josh Nelson: A Tribute to Mulgrew Miller.  Pianist Nelson, rapidly emerging as one of the stellar pianists of his generation offers a tribute to one of his influences.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

– July 25. (Thurs.)  Bill Cunliffe’s Imaginacion Quintet. Composer/arranger/pianist Cunliffe displays his affection for Latin jazz in a collection of his fine arrangements. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

– July 26. (Fri.)  Geoffrey Keezer “Heart of the Piano.”  Grammy-nominated Keezer celebrates the release of his CD, Heart of the Piano, his first solo project in 13 years.   Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

– July 27 & 28. (Sat. & Sun.)  Chicago: The MusicalThe six Tony Award-winning show receives a sensational production on the stage of the Hollywood Bowl.  Brooke Shields directs, and Samantha Barks performs the role of Velma.  The Hollywood Bowl. (323) 850-2000.

Amy Grant

Amy Grant

– July 28. (Sun.)  Amy Grant.  Grammy Award-winning Grant stretches her appealing vocal skills from gospel to pop.  The Greek Theatre.   (323) 665-5857.

San Francisco

– July 27 – 28. (Sat. & Sun.)  The John Pizzarelli Quartet with Jessica Molaskey.  Guitarist/singer Pizzarelli and his wife, musical thatre star Molaskey have become an always-entertaining, musically fascinating performance act.  Yoshi’s Oakland.     (510) 238-9200.


Diane Schuur

Diane Schuur

– July 25. (Thurs.)  Diane Schuur. As she approaches 60, Schuur continues to develop the musical possibilities of a beautifully soaring voice and a Sarah Vaughan-influenced style. Jazz Alley.    (206) 441-9729.


– July 25 – 28. (Thurs. – Sun.)   The Ron Blake Quartet. Fast-fingered, improvisationally adept saxophonist Blake continues to expand his impressive jazz skills.  Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

New York City

– July 23 – 28.  (Tues. – Sun.)  The Fred Hersch Trio with Joe Lovano. A pair of jazz veterans, each a deeply imaginative artist get together for a rare and compelling exchange of improvisational ideas.  The Village Vanguard.   (212) 255-4037.

– July 23 – 27. )Tues. – Sat.)  The Masters Quartet.  The title – “Masters” – doesn’t overstate it at all.  How else to describe a quartet that includes pianist Steve Kuhn, saxophonist Dave Liebman, bassist Buster Williams and drummer Billy HartBirdland.    (212) 581-3080.


Wynton Marsalis

Wynton Marsalis

– July 23 & 24. (Tues. & Wed.)  The Wynton Marsalis Quintet. London is gifted with a very rare opportunity to hear the always-compelling playing of trumpet/impresario Marsalis in a night club setting. Ronnie Scott’s.    +44 20 7439 0747.


Robert Glasper

Robert Glasper

– July 25 & 26.  (Thurs. & Fri.)  Robert Glasper Experiment. Pianist/composer Glasper is in an exploratory phase, producing live performances and recordings revealing a creatively curious, musically questioning mind.  Paris New Morning.    +33 1 45 23 51 41.


Eric Alexander

Eric Alexander

– July 27 (Sat.)  Eric Alexander Quartet. Saxophonist Alexander finished just behind Joshua Redmand and ahead of Chris Potter in the 1991 Monk Saxophone Competition.  And he’s been aiming for the sun ever since with his articulate, hard-swinging style. Tokyo Blue Note.   +81 3-5485-0088.

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Wynton Marsalis photo by Tony Gieske

Robert Glasper photo by Bonnie Perkinson.

Picks of the Week: Sept. 18 – 23

September 18, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Catharine Russell

– Sept 19. (Wed.) Catharine Russell.  Her resume includes gigs and recordings with the likes of Paul Simon, Steely Dan, David Bowie, Michael Feinstein.  But she’s very much the “real thing” according to critic Nat Hentoff.  And why not?  Her father, pianist Luis Russell, was Louis Armstrong’s music director.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

– Sept. 20. (Thurs.)  Stephanie Haynes & the Karen Hammack Trio. A decade or two ago Haynes was one of the Southland’s most admired jazz singers.  Now, after a too-long absence, she’s on the comeback trail, backed by the vocalist-friendly pianist Hammack and her trio.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

– Sept. 20. (Thurs.)  Gabriel Johnson.  Yet another trumpeter/vocalist, Johnson – highly praised by Clint Eastwood – celebrates the release of his new CD, Introducing Gabriel Johnson. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

– Sept. 21 & 22.  (Fri. & Sat.) Rhinoceros by Eugene Ionescu.  U.C.L.A.’s new performing arts entity – “Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA” – begins its debut season with Ionescu’s classic absurdist play, as performed by the Theatre de la Ville-Paris.  It’s done in French with English supertitles.   CAP UCLA.  Royce Hall.  (310) 825-2101.

Karrin Allyson

– Sept.21–23. (Fri. – Sun.)  Karrin Allyson. Admired by musicians as well as her enthusiastic audiences for her far reaching musicality, Allyson moves convincingly across stylistic lines while always maintaining her jazz roots.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

– Sept. 22. (Sat.) Larry Goldings, Peter Bernstein and Greg Hutchinson.  A classic jazz organ trio – with Goldings at the B-3, Bernstein on guitar and Hutchinson on drums – at its very best.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

– Sept. 22. (Sat.) Sing-A-Long Sound of Music. If you wake up on Sat. morning with an irresistible urge to sing some of the songs from Sound of Music, here’s the solution – the Bowl’s annual all-join-in event.  And don’t forget to wear your costume.  Hollywood Bowl.    (323) 850-2000.

– Sept. 22. (Sat.)  Gregory Porter.  It’s an L.A. week filled with impressive jazz vocal performances, and Porter’s warm, engaging voice and sturdy jazz vocalizing are among its major highlights. The Mint.   (323) 954-9400.

– Sept. 22. (Sat.)  Pianist Laurence Hobgood is rightly praised for his excellent work as an accompanist and arranger.  But there are other equally impressive aspects to his skills, and they’ll all be on display in this quartet performance with saxophonist Ernie Watts, bassist Hamilton Price and drummer Dan SchnelleThe Blue Whale.  (213) 620-0908.

Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard

– Sept. 22. Sat.) Merle Haggard and Kris Kristofferson.  “Legendary” is a word that actually makes sense when applied to these great folk and country music artists.  Hearing them together will be one of the memorable musical experiences of a lifetime  Click HERE to read a recent iRoM review of Haggard and Kristofferson in action. Valley Performing Arts Center. (818) 677- 3000.

– Sept. 22. (Sat.) Emil Richards Quartet.  Veteran vibist’s resume is covered with all-star performances.  But he’s at his best when he steps into the spotlight with equally stellar backing from the likes of Mike Lang, piano, Mike Valerio, bass and Ralph Humphrey, drums.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

– Sept. 23. (Sun.) Carol Robbins.  She’s everyone’s first call harpist, as well as one of the rare practitioners of jazz on her instrument.  Robbins will be celebrating the release of her new CD in the company of Billy Childs, Larry Koonse, Rob Lockart, Darek Oles and Dan SchnelleVitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

San Francisco

– Sept. 19 – 21. (Wed. – Fri.)  Pat Metheny Unity Band.  Always in search of challenging new musical settings, Metheny finds an exciting new musical environment with Chris Potter, Antonio Sanchez and Ben WilliamsYoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.


Jeff Lorber

– Sept. 20 – 23.  (Thurs. – Sun.)  Jeff Lorber Superband. The label is right on target.  Keyboardist Lorber’s led some impressive bands over the course of his long career.  Add this one to the list, with Brian Bromberg, bass, Everette Harp, saxophones, Gary Novak, drums.  Jazz Alley.  (206) 441-9729.


– Sept. 20 – 23. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Fred Hersch Trio. With John Hebert, bass, Eric McPherson, drums. Pianist Hersch, a master of the jazz piano trio format, celebrates the release of his new album Live at the Vanguard.  The Jazz Showcase.   (212) 360-0234.

New York

– Sept. 18 – 22.  (Tues. – Sat.)  Coltrane Revisited. Pianist Steve Kuhn’s Coltrane credentials reach back to his early days on the jazz scene.  He makes the journey back in the company of trumpeter Tom Harrell, saxophonist Eric Alexander, drummer Andrew Cyrille and bassist Lonnie PlaxicoBirdland.    (212) 581-3080.

Anat Cohen

– Sept. 18 – 23. (Tues. – Sun.)  Anat Cohen Quartet. The lovely Anat Cohen isn’t just re-inventing the clarinet in contemporary jazz, she’s also a powerfully original tenor saxophonist, as well.  She performs with Jason Lindner, piano, Joe Martin, bass, Daniel Freedman, drums.  Village Vanguard.  (212) 255-4037.


– Sept. 18. (Tues.)  Patricia Barber.  Pianist/singer/songwriter Barber’s adventurous music – with her own works as well as the interpretations of others – is always a fascinating display of creative imagination.  Ronnie Scott’s.    (0) 020 7439 0747.

– Sept. 21 – 23. (Fri. – Sun.)  Mindi Abair. Smooth jazz saxophonist Abair finds intriguing areas of expression within the instrumental pop format.  Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho. 0845 6027 017.


– Sept. 20 & 21. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Nicola Stilo Jazz & Latin Quartet. Versatile Italian musician Stilo (he plays adroitly on guitar, flute and piano) came to maturity as a regular with Chet Baker and Rahsaan Roland Kirk.   Jazzhus Montmartre.  http://www.jazzhusmontmartre.dk/home.html  (+45) 70 15 65 65.


Chris Bennett

– Sept. 20 & 21. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Chris Bennett. Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter/pianist Bennett has proven her far-ranging skills with Tina Turner, Donna Summer and others.  But she’s also an impressive and imaginative jazz artist.  A Trane Jazz.  030/313 25 50.


– Sept. 21 & 22. (Fri. & Sat.)  Richard Galliano.  “Piazzolla Forever.”   French accordionist Galliano, a master of the instrument in his own right, honors the music of the great Argentine composer/accordionist. Blue Note Tokyo.    03.5485.0088.

Picks of the Week: Oct. 4 – 9

October 3, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Patti Lupone

– Oct. 4. (Tues.) Patti Lupone. The versatile, two-time Tony Award winning artist presents “Gypsy in My Soul,” a set of songs illuminating her life on and off stage.  Royce Hall.    (310) 825-2101.

– Oct. 5 & 6. (Wed. & Thurs.)  Further (Phil Lesh and Bob Weir)  The spirit of the Grateful Dead still lives in the playing of Lesh and Weir.  Expect to hear familiar classics and experience an irresistible Grateful Dead jam.  Greek Theatre.    (323) 665-5857.

– Oct. 6. (Thurs.) Patty AscherBossa, Jazz ‘n’ Samba.  Sao Paulo’s Ascher lays it all out in the title of her approach to Brazilian music.  Richly experienced in both Brazilian music and jazz, she combines the two in her own uniquely appealing fashion.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

– Oct. 6. (Thurs.)  Trombone Shorty and Orleans Ave. Trombone Shorty (who also plays scintillating trumpet) has brought Hollywood Bowl crowds to their feet at Playboy Jazz Festivals.  Here’s a chance to experience that energy up close and personal.  The El Rey.    (323) 936-6400.

– Oct. 6. (Thurs.)  Fabiana Passoni. It’s a great night for Brazilian music in L.A.  Passoni has survived challenging health problems to establish a fascinating, utterly unique blend of Brazilian and American musical forms.   Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

– Oct. 7. (Fri.)  Tamela D’Amico with the Pat Longo Big Band.  Multi hyphenate D’Amico – a jazz singer, actress, director and producer – takes a break from her other activities to display her appealing interpretations of American songbook classics, backed by Longo’s stirring big band charts.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

Merle Haggard and Kris Kristofferson

– Oct. 7. (Fri.)  Merle Haggard and Kris Kristofferson.  A pair of country music’s iconic figures get together for a rare and, no doubt, wonderful tour through their well known classics.  Greek Theatre.    (323) 665-5857.

– Oct. 7. (Fri.)  Kevin Mahogany.  At a time when male jazz singers have been in relatively short supply, Mahogany continues to apply his rich sound and easygoing swing to everything he sings.  Culver’s Club for JazzAt the Double Tree L.A. Westside Hotel.   (310) 649-1776 Ext. 4137.

– Oct. 7. (Fri.)  Amanda McBroom and Lee Lessack.  A classic night of cabaret, at its very best.  McBroom’s expressive storytelling finds the inner heart of everything she sings; Lessack adds appealing interpretations from his own, different, but appealing perspective.  Ford Amphitheatre.  (323) 461-3673.

– Oct. 9. (Sun.)  Josh Nelson & Pat Senatore Duo.  An intriguing cross generational encounter, between pianist Nelson’s vibrant, thoughtful style and Senatore’s richly mature foundation.  Call it an evening of deep musicality. Vibrato Jazz Grill…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

San Francisco

– Oct. 5. (Wed.)  Mingus Amungus.  Bay area-based Mingus Amungus continue to be one of the most effective celebrants of Charles Mingus’ music, bringing it to life in a way that would surely have pleased Mingus himself.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

Baaba Maal

– Oct. 5 & 6. (Wed. & Thurs.)  Baaba Maal.  Senegalese master Maal performs an unplugged and impromptu set of his music, after a discussion of his life and times with music journalist Chris Salewicz.  Yoshi’s Oakland.  /show/2112  (510) 238-9200.


– Oct. 6 – 9.  (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Family Stone.  Original members of Sly & the Family Stone revive some of the biggest hits of the seventies – “I Want To Take You Higher,” “Everyday People” and “Dance to the Music” among them.  Jazz Alley.  (206) 441-9729.


– Oct. 6 – 9. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Eric Alexander with the Harold Mabern Quartet. Hard-driving, intensely articulate saxophonist Alexander finds the right backing for his powerful style in pianist Mabern.  Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

New York

– Oct. 4 – 9. (Tues. – Sun.) Italian Jazz Days.  The Anthony Ciacca Quintet. One of the highlights of a weeklong celebration of the prominent role Italian jazz musicians have played in the expansion of contemporary jazz.  With trumpeter Dominic Farinacci, saxophonist George Garzone, guitarist Steve Kirby and Special GuestsDizzy’s Club Coca Cola.    (212) 258-9800.

– Oct. 7 – 9. (Fri. – Sun.)  Larry Goldings, Peter Bernstein, Bill Stewart. An All-Star Organ trio would be the proper label for this impressive group of young players, as they bring new delights to one of jazz’s classic instrumental formats.  Jazz Standard.    (212) 576-2232.

Washington D.C.

Roy Hargrove

– Oct. 5 – 9. (Wed. – Sun.)  The Roy Hargrove Quintet. Grammy-winning trumpeter Hargrove’s busy schedule reaches from his big band to solo outings.  And, especially, to his excursions across the length of contemporary jazz with his own quintet.  Blues Alley.   (202) 337-4141.


– Oct. 7 & 8. (Fri. & Sat.)  Robert Glasper. Pianist Glasper has established himself as a musical voice capable of reaching across genre boundaries to attract young audiences to jazz.  His current group features Derrick Hodge, bass, with Mark Colenburg, drums.  The Regatta Bar.    (617) 661-5000.


– Oct. 6. (Thurs.)  Pat Martino. Guitarist Martino had to literally learn to play his instrument again after a brain aneurysm in 1980.  Incredibly, he did so with astonishing success, thoroughly establishing himself as one of the principal creative voices among the large array of contemporary jazz guitarists.  New Morning.  01 45 23 51 41.


Carol Welsman

– Oct. 4. (Tues.)  Carol Welsman with Ken Peplowski and the Benny Goodman Orchestra. Pianist/singer Welsman is a superb jazz artist in her own right. Here, she takes a different role, performing many of Peggy Lee’s familiar Swing Era hits with the Goodman Orchestra.  Nakano Sun Plaza.   03 3388 2893.

– Oct. 6 – 8. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Tania Maria.  Grammy-nominated, Brazil-born singer/pianist Maria has been a dynamic figure in the crossover area between jazz and Brazilian music since the ‘70s.  And she’s still going strong.  Blue Note Tokyo.    03 5485 0088.

Picks of the Week: May 17 – 22

May 17, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Bill Cunliffe

– May 18 (Wed.)  Bill in Brazil.  Grammy-winning pianist Bill Cunliffe, always unpredictable, displays his fascination with Brazilian music.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

– May 18. (Wed.)  John Proulx Trio.  Pianist/singer Proulx mixes his crisp piano styings with the gentle vocals of his Chet Baker-inspired singing. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

– May 18. (Wed.)  Jane Harvey.  Vocalist Harvey brings a lot of music business history to her performances.  She replaced Peggy Lee with the Benny Goodman Band and followed Doris Day with the Les Brown Band.  She’ll know doubt touch on that part of her career, as well as her jazz versions of Sondheim, all of it delivered in her convincing interpretations.   Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

– May 19. (Thurs.)  Terry Trotter and Chuck Berghofer.  Pianist Trotter and bassist Berghofer, a pair of the Southland’s finest veteran players, get down to essential jazz basics. Charlie O’s.   (818) 994-3058.

– May 20. (Fri.)  Johnny Mandel Big Band.  Composer/arranger/songwriter Mandel is a master craftsman of big band writing.  Here’s a chance to hear his work up close and personal.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Lani Hall

– May 20. (Fri.)  Herb Alpert and Lani Hall. The music world power duo are on the road again, blending Hall’s rich, emotional songs with Alpert’s laid back trumpet.  Add a few tunes from the Tijuana Brass book to spice up the evening.  Segerstrom Center for the Arts.    (714) 556-2787.

– May 20 – 22. (Fri. – Sun.)  Lee Ritenour.  Captain Fingers, as he was once called, plays a rare club date showcasing his unique blend of guitar-driven, foot-tapping jazz. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.  .

– May 21.  (Sat.)  An Evening with Patti Lupone and Mandy Patinkin.  A pair of the Broadway musical theatre’s brightest stars get together for an evening of irresistible song.  The Valley Performing Arts Center.    (818) 677-8800.

– May 21. (Sat.) A Tribute to Clifford BrownThe Luckman Jazz Orchestra. Brown’s far too brief life nonetheless left behind a memorable catalog of music.  It’s explored here in the passionate big band sounds of the LJO.   Luckman Fine Arts Complex.    (323) 343-6600.

– May 22. (Sun.) Katia Moraes and Sambaguru. There will be Brazilian music in all its many shapes, forms and rhythms when the charismatic Moraes and her energetic Sambaguru players take the stage.  WorldFest at Woodley Park, Lake Balboa   (310) 477-7887.

Duke Ellington

– May 22. (Sun.)  Los Angeles Master Chorale.  Performs the best of the Duke Ellington sacred concerts.  Ellington’s sacred works, composed near the end of his life, represent significant entries in his vast catalog of music.  They’re no performed often, and rarely by an ensemble with the quality of the LAMC.  So don’t miss this one. Disney Hall.   (323) 850-2040.

– May 22. (Sun.) The Colin Vallon Piano Trio.   Rruga, the debut ECM recording from this intriguing Swiss group, with Vallon, piano, Patrice Moret, bass and Samuel Rohrer, drums, reveals a musically airy, rhythmically subtle, emotionally layered approach to the piano jazz trio.   A Jazz Bakery Movable Feast program at Keyboard Concepts.  (310) 271-9039.

San Francisco

– May 18. (Wed.)  Eliza Gilkyson. It’s been over 40 years since folk singer/guitarist Gilkyson released her first album.  And she’s still bringing life to every song she touches.  Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse.   (510) 644-2020.

– May 20 – 22. (Fri. – Sun.)  Four Generations of Miles. A celebration of what would have been Miles’ 85th birthday (May 26, actually) with a set of players who performed with him over many decades: guitarist Mike Stern, alto saxophonist Sonny Fortune, bassist Buster Williams and drummer Jimmy Cobb Yoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.


Benny Green

– May 19 – 22.  (Thurs. – Sun.)  Benny Green Trio. Pianist Green showcases his bop-driven, hard swinging wares in the company of Kenny Washington, drums and Peter Washington, bass.  Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

New York

May 17 – 22. (Tues. – Sun.)  Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band. And an all-star band it is, including, among others, Jimmy Heath, Eric Alexander, Antonio Hart, Roy Hargrove, Claudio Roditi, Cyrus Chestnut, Lewis Nash and singer Roberta Gambarini The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

– May 19 – 22. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Miles Davis: From Birth of the Cool to Bitches Brew.  Another Davis 85th birthday celebration, this time surveying the length and breadth of his music. Featuring  With Jeremy Pelt, George Cables, Lonny Plaxico, Eddie HendersonIridium Jazz.  (212) 582-2121.

– May 22. (Sun.)  Jane Ira Bloom Trio.  Soprano saxophonist Bloom displays her far-ranging improvisational skills, ranging from acoustic settings to electronic tape loops. Cornelia St. Café.   (212) 989-9319/


– May 19. (Thurs.)  Lullaby of Birdland: Remembering George Shearing. Pianist James Pearson and the Ronnie Scott All Stars celebrate the memory of fellow Brit Shearing with a program of pieces reaching from the early trios to the classic guitar/vibes and rhythm sound.  Ronnie Scott’s.    020 7439 0747.


Robert Glasper

– May 21. (Sat.)  Robert Glasper.  Pianist Glasper presents one of his “Experiment in Jazz” performances, finding common ground in territories reaching from hip-hop and rap to Thelonious Monk.  New Morning.   01 45 23 51 41.

Bill Cunliffe photo by Tony Gieske.

Lani Hall photo by Bonnie Perkinson.

Picks of the Week: May 3 – 8

May 3, 2011

By Don Heckman

 Los Angeles

Leon Russell

– May 3. (Tues.)  Leon Russell.  One of the great iconic figures of the golden era of rock makes a rare local appearance in a relatively small venue.  There’ll also be a special performance by Booker T. JonesThe El Rey.   (323) 936-6400.

– May 3. (Tues.)  Emil Richards, Mike Lang, Abraham Laboriel, Joe Porcaro.   A quartet of L.A.’s finest, veteran jazzmen get together to provide a few effortlessly swinging lessons in the benefits of bebop and beyond.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

— May 4 & 5. (Wed. & Thurs.)  Josh Nelson’s “Kansas City-L.A Project.  Pianist Nelson leads  Hermon Mehari, trumpet, Bob Reynolds tenor saxophone, Ben Leiffert, bass and Zack Albetta, drums in a colorful musical excursion.  Wed. at Steamers in Fullerton (714) 871-8800
and on Thursday at the Blue Whale Bar in Los Angeles.   (213) 620-0908.

Roy Hargrovw

– May 4 – 8. (Wed.- Sun.)  Roy Hargrove Quintet. Trumpeter Hargrove is playing in every imaginable setting these days, but it’s always a special pleasure to hear him in a straight ahead, jazz quintet performance.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

– May 5. (Thurs.) Cinco de Mayo at the Conga Room.  For the sheer joy of music and movement, there’s no better place to celebrate Cinco de Mayo than the Conga Room.  And it’s especially sizzling this year with the electro music of Maria Daniela y Su Sonido Lasser, the three piece, electro-pop party band, Cosmopolitan and L.A.’s own Son Jarocho collective, Las CafeterasThe Conga Room.    (213) 745-0162.

– May 5. (Thurs.)  Jon Mayer.  Here’s another performance by a quartet of the Southland’s finest veteran jazzers.  Expect the mood to be swinging and the sounds to be memorable. With Rickey Woodard, tenor saxophone, Chris Conner, bass, Roy McCurdy, drums.   LAX Jazz Club at the Crown Plaza LAX.  (310) 258-1333.

– May 5 – 7. (Thurs. – Sat. )  Ravel with the Pacific Symphony.  Conductor Carlos Miguel Pietro leads the Pacific Symphony in a journey across the Iberian peninsula via the music of Albeniz (Iberia), Sarasate (Carmen Fantasy), De Falla (The Three Cornered Hat) and Ravel (Bolero and Tzigane.  Violinist Philippe Quint solos.  Segerstrom Center for the Arts.   (714) 556-2787.

Shirley MacLaine

– May 6. (Fri.)  Shirley McLaine.  It’s hard to know what to expect from any given appearance by the fascinating Ms. McLaine.  But there’s no doubt she’ll share some of her film moments with some revelations about her life, career and interests in spirituality.  Valley Performing Arts Center.    (818) 677-8800.

– May 6 & 7. (Fri. & Sat.)  The Mikado. One of Gilbert & Sullivan’s most entertaining musical delights, performed by the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players.  Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.   (562) 916-8501.

– May 7. (Sat.)  Ceu.  Brazilian singer Ceu comfortably steps across genres – Brazilian music, pop, rock, jazz – in a single bound.  El Rey.     323) 936-6400.

– May 7. (Sat.)   Wavefest.  The 15th annual Wavefest has morphed into something more than music to relax to.  There’ll be a lot more energy than that, and a lot more interest, too, in a program featuring Roberta Flack, KEM, Macy Gray and Sheila E. & the E. FamilyThe Greek Theatre.   (323) 665-5857.

– May 8. (Sun.)  Alan Broadbent and Pat Senatore.  Pianist Broadbent and bassist Senatore have played with just about everyone in their long productive careers.  Here’s a chance to hear them exchanging musical ideas in an elegant, laid back setting.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

Cameron Carpenter

– May 8. (Sun.)  Cameron Carpenter.  Carpenter isn’t just a brilliantly virtuosic organist, he’s also a charismatic entertainer who understands how to balance his astonishing technical displays with interpretive authenticity.  In this performance he finds the heartbeat of Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture  and Prelude and Fugue in G minor.  Disney Hall.  (323) 650-2000.

 San Francisco

– May 5 – 8. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The CrusadersJoe Sample, Wayne Henderson and Wilton Felder, three of the original Jazz Crusaders, revive their unique blend of jazz, soul, bop, blues and groove.  Yoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.

– May 7. (Sat.)  Yanni.  One of the most popular international artists in the world, Yanni’s lyrical piano playing, combined with his warm and fuzzy orchestrations have sold more than 20 million albums worldwide.  The Warfield.    (415) 345-0900.


May 5 – 8. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Keiko Matsui.  Keyboardist Matsui was one of the first artists to make the most of the fertile territory between smooth jazz, fusion and New Age, and do so with a subtly appealing undercurrent of swing.  Jazz Alley.    (206) 441-9729.

New York

– May 3 – 8. (Tues. – Sun.)  Omar Sosa.  Cuban pianist/composer Sosa’s Afri-Lectric Quintet finds fascinating common ground with special guest Benin-born guitarist Lionel LouekeThe Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

– May 3 – 8. (Tues. – Sun.)  The Julliard Jazz Quintet.  A cross-generational jazz quintet that balances scholarly know-how with inventive swing.  With Ron Carter, bass, Rodney Jones, guitar, Frank Kimbrough, piano, Carl Allen, drums and Ron Blake, saxophone. Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.    (212) 258-9800.

Danny Aiello

– May 4. (Wed.)  Danny Aiello.  He’s given one memorable film performance after another – including a pair of Academy Award nominations along the way.  But Aiello’s singing chops are every bit as impressive.  The New York Times called it right when it said “Aiello has the bounce of his idols Bobby Darin, Frank Sinatra and Louis Prima, and the throaty lyricism of another idol, Tony Bennett.”  The Iridium.    (212) 582-2121.

Washington, D.C.

– May 6 & 7. (Fri. & Sat.)  Azar Lawrence Quintet.  Tough tenor Lawrence applies his muscular style to an encounter with the equally dynamic Eddie Henderson, trumpet, Benito Gonzalez, piano and Billy Hart, drums.  Blues Alley.    (202) 337-4141.


– May 5. (Thurs.)  The Mahavishnu Project. Drummer Gregg Bendian leads his sturdy band of players in the performance of the original Mahavishnu Orchestra’s complete Visions of the Emerald Beyond.  John McLaughlin offers his support: “To hear you guys playing those tunes in such an unbelievable way is quite amazing.”   The Regatta Bar.   (617) 395-7757.


– May 5 – 8. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Eric Alexander/Harold Mayburn Quartet. Fiery saxophonist Alexander combines his hard driving, fast fingered skills with the veteran bop chops of pianist Mayburn.  Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.


PHaroah Sanders

May 2– 4. (Mon. – Wed.)  Pharoah Sanders Quartet. Adventurous, Grammy-winning tenor saxophonist Sanders continues the exploratory journeys he began in the avant-garde ‘60s.  Ronnie Scott’s.    020.7439.0747

May 8. (Sun.) The Atomic Mr. Basie.  Led by Pete Long,the Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra, with its stellar assemblage of U.K. jazz talent, performs the complete program from Basie’s classic 1957 album.  Ronnie Scott’s.    020.7439.0747


May. 6. (Fri.)  The Kora Jazz Trio.  Keyboardist/composer Abdoulaye Diabate, kora player Djeli Moussa Diawara and percussionist Moussa Sissokho are creating a compelling fusion of the Mandinka tradition and the free flying, improvisational qualities of jazz.  New Morning.   01 45 23 51 41.


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