Live Jazz: Charles Lloyd and Bill Frisell in a CAP UCLA concert at Royce Hall

November 19, 2013

By Don Heckman

Charles Lloyd made one of his rare Southland appearances Saturday night a Royce Hall in a CAP UCLA (Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA) concert. And, as often happens with the iconic jazz saxophonist and flutist, one couldn’t help but wish that Lloyd would leave his Santa Barbara home for more frequent local appearances.

Every Lloyd concert is unique. And this one, with special guests Bill Frisell  and Greg Leisz, was a striking display of contemporary jazz improvisation at its finest.

Barely a word was spoken from the stage during the entire 90 minute set (followed by a generous encore of several songs). Instead, Lloyd, with guitarist Frisell, bassist Reuben Rogers, drummer Eric Harland and steel guitarist Leisz simply moved smoothly from one piece into another. Some were based on familiar source material – including at one point an unlikely passage from “Abide with Me” to “Red River Valley,” no doubt inspired by Frisell’s America interests. Other selections tapped into everything from Lloyd originals to traditional tunes and pieces by Gabor Szbo and Leonard Bernstein’s “Somewhere” (from West Story).

Charles Lloyd

Charles Lloyd

Lloyd is a fascinating performer to watch. Slender and lithe, his movements were intimately related to the flow of the music, whether he was playing or not. When he dug into an especially mobile improvisational passage of his own, he became more involved with the music, lifting one leg after the other in his own unique dance moves.

Since the mid-sixties and the unexpected success of his live performance of “Forest Flower” Lloyd’s career has embraced everything from avant-garde jazz to some intriguing episodes with the Beach Boys. Over the course of the past four or five decades, he has firmly established himself as one of the most musically independent jazz artists of his generation. And, in this memorable performance, his inventive playing offered convincing evidence of his still vital, still imaginative skills.

Bill Frisell

Bill Frisell

But the performance offered more, its numerous fascinations triggered primarily by the continuing interaction between Lloyd and Frisell, supported the sturdy rhythm work of Rogers and Harland, as well as the dark, roving steel guitar work of Leisz. At the heart of it all, each of the players tailored their individual musical explorations to a non-stop musical journey shared by everyone, on stage and in the audience.  The results illuminated the essence of collective jazz improvising at its finest.

And it was Frisell who – in a conversation with the UCLA Daily Bruin – best described the essence of the interplay between the musicians:

“On stage with (Lloyd),” said Frisell, “there is no competition. There are no worries, no mistakes, no rights or wrongs….When you’ve been playing your whole life, you don’t need to talk about (music) in that way. I feel at home when I’m on stage with Charles Lloyd.”

By the end of the Lloyd quintet’s performance, it’s a fair bet to say that most members of the responsive Royce Hall audience also felt very much “at home” with every note played by Lloyd and his gifted musical associates.


Picks of the Week: April 10 – 14

April 10, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Chick Corea

Chick Corea

- April 10 – 14.  (Wed. – Sun.)  Chick Corea Trio.  With bassist Stanley Clarke and drummer Ronald Bruner, Jr.  Corea’s musical activities lately have ranged in all directions.  But here’s an irresistible opportunity to hear his uniquely inventive playing in an illuminating piano trio setting.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (223) 466-2210.

- April 10. (Wed.)  Max Raabe and the Palast Orkester.  The glorious jazz and pop music of the ‘20s and ‘30s comes vividly to life in the early big band music of Germany’s Palast Orkester and singer/leader Raabe.  Disney Hall.    (323) 850-2000.

- April 10. (Wed.)  Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Ensemble. The seven gifted young musicians of the Monk Institute Jazz Ensemble – Mike Cottone, Josh Johnson, Eric Miller, Jonathan Pinson, David Robaire, Miro Sprague and Diego Urbano – make a rare public performance. Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- April 10 & 11. (Wed. & Thurs.)  Gypsy All Stars.  Gypsy Kings alumni Ced Leonardi and Mario Reyes are keeping alive the surging rhythms and soaring melodies of the Indo-Gypsy fusion of the original Kings. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- April 14. (Sun.)  Los Angeles Master Chorale. The stunningly versatile singers of the LAMC take on the music of  Poulenc and Vaughan Williams, a pair of composers stylistically positioned on opposite sides of the English Channel.  Disney Hall.   (323) 850-2000.

San Francisco

Ute Lemper

- April 10 & 11. (Wed. – Thurs.)  Ute Lemper.  The amazing Ms. Lemper calls up memories of German cabaret in general and the music of Kurt Weill in particular.   SFJAZZ Center, Miner Auditorium.   (866) 920-5299.

Seattle

- April 11 – 14. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Kenny Garrett Quintet.  Grammy-winning alto saxophonist Garrett’s resume reaches from Duke Ellington to Miles Davis.  At 52, he’s one of the most inventive players of the post-Coltrane generation.   Jazz Alleyt (312) 360-0234.

Boston

- April 12 & 13. (Fri. & Sat.)  Michel Camilo Trio. Born in the Dominican Republic, pianist Camilo brings the panoramic rhythms and hues of the Caribbean to his inventive jazz stylings.  Regatta Bar.    (617) 661-5000.

New York City

Al DiMeola

April 10 – 14. (Wed. – Sun.)  Al DiMeola and Gonzalo Rubalcaba Duo.  Guitarist DiMeola and pianist Rubalcaba are a well-matched musical team, moving amiably across jazz stylels.  The Blue Note.    (212) 475-8592.

- April 11 – 14. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Eric Harland and Voyager. Drummer Harland, a first-call jazz rhythm section player, steps into the spotlight with his own group of talented young players, including Julian Lage, guitar, Taylor Eigsti, piano, Harish Raghavan, bass, Walter Smith III, tenor saxophone.  The Jazz Standard.    (212) 576-2232.

London

- April 14. (Sun.) Natalie Williams Soul Family.  Call it a delightful evening of soul music at its finest with Williams, her band and special guest JP CooperRonnie Scott’s.    +44 20 7439 0747

Copenhagen

Stefano Bollani

Stefano Bollani

- April 11 – 13. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Stefano Bollani.  Milan-born pianist Bollani moves eclectically from jazz to classical music and beyond, establishing himself as one of Europe’s most gifted musical artists.  He performs here with bassist Jesper Bodlisen and drummer Morten LundJazzhus Montmartre.    +45 31 72 34 94.

Milan

- April 13. (Sat.)  Kazumi Watanabe, Jeff Berlin and Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez.  Guitarist Watanabe, one of Japan’s most prominent fusion/jazz-rock artists, has performed with players ranging from Wayne Shorter to Richard Bona.  He’s backed by the equally versatile bassist Berlin and drummer Hernandez.  Blue Note Milano.     +39 02 6901 6888

Tokyo

Helen Merrill

Helen Merrill

- April 10 – 12.  (Wed. – Fri.)  Helen Merrill. Jazz vocalist Merrill’s imaginiative skills have established her as a musicians’ singer, highly regarded by Japanese jazz fans.  She sings with the Masahiko Satoh Trio and special guest Hozan YamamotoBlue Note Tokyo.    +81 3-5485-0088.

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Chick Corea photo by Bonnie Perkinson.


Preview: The Monterey Jazz Festival 56

April 6, 2013

By Michael Katz

MFor those of us in love with the Monterey Jazz Festival, the longest six months of the year are the time between the final note of the last Sunday night show at the fairgrounds and the April 1 announcement of artists for the next MJF. That wait ended Monday morning with the lineup for MJF 56, on September 20-22. Putting together a festival of this repute is no small task for Artistic Director Tim Jackson. He’s got to book enough legitimate headliners to satisfy a sometimes prickly Arena ticket base, while maintaining the diversity and inventiveness that makes MJF such a treasure.

My immediate reaction: good news for Arena season ticket holders, with jazz virtuosos at every stop; good news for Grounds attendees, with the usual mix of big names and intriguing new performers visiting the four smaller venues, and challenging news for those of us who like to float between stages. There are just too many shows that you wouldn’t want to miss.

Gregory Porter

Gregory Porter

The three evening Arena lineups are especially loaded.  For those of us who caught part of vocalist Gregory Porter’s rousing set at the Night Club last fall and wished we had seen more, wish granted. Porter will be opening the show Friday night. Next up is the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, playing a specially commissioned tribute to the late Dave Brubeck. Filling out the usual Latin jazz spot capping the Friday night program is Cuba’s Buena Vista Social Club. That is quite an opening night slate.

Joe Lovano

Joe Lovano

Saturday evening promises to be one of the most creative in recent memory. Leading off is Artist-In-Residence saxophonist Joe Lovano, teaming with trumpeter Dave Douglas, performing Sound Prints, music inspired or composed by Wayne Shorter. The middle slot is led by bassist Dave Holland, an MJF favorite. He brings his quartet, Prism, featuring guitarist Kevin Eubanks, pianist Craig Taborn and superb drummer Eric Harland. Closing out the show is Bobby McFerrin, touring with his Spirityouall release.

Diana Krall

Diana Krall

The Sunday show is opened by Wayne Shorter, celebrating his 80th birthday, with his all-star quartet featuring Danilo Perez, John Patitucci and Brian Blades. Closing the festival is Diana Krall. There’s little need to embellish; you clearly wouldn’t want to miss any of these shows. And yet…

And yet, check out a few of the artists performing at the Grounds venues: Friday night has pianist Uri Caine playing three sets at the Coffee House and vocalist Carmen Lundy at the Night Club, as well as a reprise performance by Gregory Porter, and separate ensemble appearances by Joe Lovano and Dave Douglas. Saturday night has the Brubeck Brothers quartet with a tribute to their dad; Ravi Coltrane, the Charlie Hunter-Scott Amendola duo, pianists Marc Cary and Craig Taborn, the Douglas-Lovano Sound Prints band, and classic vocalist Mary Stallings.

Wayne Shorter

Wayne Shorter

Sunday features perhaps the festival’s greatest dilemma.  You wouldn’t dare miss Wayne Shorter or Diana Krall, but the annual B-3 organ blowout at Dizzy’s Den opens with guitarist Anthony Wilson’s trio featuring Larry Goldings and Jim Keltner,  and closes with the great Dr. Lonnie Smith. Meanwhile, over in the Night Club, alto player Lou Donaldson opens, and pianist Cedar Walton brings his latest Eastern Rebellion to close the show.  Usually music fans are too exhausted to be running between venues by Sunday night, but MJF 56 may prove to be the exception.

The two afternoon schedules offer their own pleasures: an eclectic mix of jazz, blues, kids, world music and a few things that defy description.  The Saturday line-up has morphed over the years from blues to roots music, to none-of-the-above. This year The Relatives, a gospel-funk group, leads off the Arena show and also gets the 5:30 slot at the Garden Stage. If you haven’t heard them before the festival, don’t worry, you will — along with the hundreds of fans hanging from tree limbs and lined up behind the bleachers.

George Benson

George Benson

George Benson has the headline billing at the Arena.  Benson was on the short list of great post-Wes Montgomery guitarists in the seventies before changing his orientation to R and B type vocals, but he can still “play this-here guitar,” as evidenced by his recent Guitar Man CD. Out on the grounds, the Saturday Garden Stage show is always a blast from start to finish, even if you aren’t familiar with any of the acts. And if you are looking for some straight ahead jazz amidst all the blues-funk-whatever, bari sax and flutist Claire Daly has a Monk-influenced program at 4 pm in the Night Club. And, as per the last several years, one of our favorite vocalists, Judy Roberts, will be performing with sax man Greg Fishman throughout the festival on the Yamaha AvantGrand stage.

David Sanborn

David Sanborn

Sunday afternoon features college and high school bands, highlighted by the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, which will feature a guest appearance by the ubiquitous Mr. Lovano. As usual, I warn all of you not to miss this band – these kids will amaze you. Bob James and David Sanborn are the headliners for the Sunday afternoon show. I’ve always loved Sanborn’s blues and funky rock-tinged tenor sax, and James has done some great work as a composer and keyboardist. They have sometimes tailed off into the Ooze of Smooth, but their band, featuring drummer Steve Gadd, is hitting the major jazz festival circuit this summer, including the Playboy Jazz Festival in LA and the Blue Note Festival in New York, so here’s hoping for some classic jazz riffs from these guys.

I know I’ve left out a few highlights.  There are always acts I haven’t heard of that turn out to be knockouts, and new combinations that enthrall. Add that in with the usual mix of festival food, lovely Monterey weather and the camaraderie of new and old friends, and you’ve got an unforgettable experience.

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To read more iRoM reviews and posts by Michael Katz, click HERE.

To visit Michael Katz’s personal blog, “Katz of the Day,” click HERE.


Picks of the Week: Feb. 12 – 17

February 13, 2013

By The iRoM Staff

Los Angeles

Valentine’s Day

Steve Tyrell- Feb. 13 – 17. (Wed. – Sun.)  Steve Tyrell.  Vocalist Tyrell applies his appealing, jazz-driven style, enhanced by his warm Texas roots, to five evenings of memorable Valentine’s Day celebrating.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Feb. 14 (Thurs.)  Dream Street & Bobbi Page.  The combination of guitarist Stan Ayeroff, the amiable acoustic chamber music of Dream Street, and the tender, evocative singing of Page is a welcome choice for another celebration of the day of love.   Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Feb. 14. (Thurs.)  Carol RobbinsTony Gala.  Harpist Robbins sets the Valentine’s Day mood in the first set, followed by the romantic vocals of Gala.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- Feb. 14. (Thurs.) Nancy Sanchez.  Award-winning jazz vocalist Sanchez displays her many impressive talents.  Steamers.     (714) 871-8800.

Denise Donatelli

Denise Donatelli

- Feb. 14. (Thurs.)  Denise Donatelli.  She was nominated again, but Denise didn’t win a Grammy this year, although she should have.  And here’s a great opportunity to hear why her singing is so special, as she applies her lustrous sound and intimate interpretations to a program of Valentine love songs.  Prestons at the Loew’s Hotel Hollywood.   (323) 491-1000.

- Feb. 14. (Thurs.)  Taylor Eigsti.  Once a youthful piano prodigy, Eigsti is now a fully matured jazz artist.  He’s joined by Dayna Stephens, saxophone, Harish Raghavan, bass and Eric Harland, drums.  Blue Whale.    (213) 620-0908.

Sue Raney

Sue Raney

- Feb. 14. (Thurs.)  “A Gershwin Valentine.”  And a colorful Valentine at that, enhanced by a full spectrum of musical vocalizing from Sue Raney, Michael Dees, Kurt Reichenbach and Pinky WintersA Jazz Bakery Movable Feast at the Kirk Douglas Theatre.    (310) 271-9039.

- Feb. 14 – 16. (Thurs. – Sat.)  “Romance at the Phil”  Celebrate a classical music Valentine’s week with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Charles Dutoit, with soloists Gautier Capucon, cello, and Carrie Dennis, viola, in a program of romantic classics from Mendelssohn, Mozart and Strauss.  Disney Hall.    (323) 850-2000.

- Feb. 14 – 17. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The 13th Annual Newport Beach Jazz Party. It would take much more space than we have to mention all the world-class jazz talent at the annual Newport event.  But trust that – as always – the four engaging days of the Party will offer non-stop jazz at its finest.  The Newport Beach Jazz Party at the Marriott Newport Beach Hotel and Spa.  For details, check the web site.    (949) 759-5003.

And More

Tierney Sutton and the Turtle Island Quartet

Tierney Sutton and the Turtle Island Quartet

- Feb. 15. (Fri.)   Tierney Sutton and the Turtle Island Quartet. “Poets and Prayers.” The unique combination of vocalist Sutton and the Turtle Island players finds inspiration in the music of Joni Mitchell and John Coltrane, and the poetry of Hafiz and Rumi.  A Jazz Bakery Movable Feast at Zipper Hall.    (310) 271-9039.

- Feb. 17. (Sun.)  The Chieftains. The irresistible playing and singing of the Chieftains remind us of the many pleasures of Irish music.  Disney Hall. http://www.laphil.com/tickets/calendar  (323) 850-2000.

- Feb. 17. (Sun.)  Tim Weisberg Band.  Vitello’s.  Flutist Weisberg leads the fine musical collective of keyboardist Barnaby Finch,  bassist David Hughes, drummer David Derge and guitarist/vocalist Chuck AlvarezVitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Feb. 17. (Sun.)  Pat Senatore Trio with Josh Nelson.  Jazz crosses the generations via the well-crafted, veteran bass work of Senatore and the adventurous piano playing of the youthful Nelson.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Feb. 15 & 16. (Fri. & Sat.)  Paco Pena Flamenco Vivo” The brilliant Flamenco guitarist Pena is joined by a dynamic band of guitarists, singers and dancers.   Fri.: Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.      Sat.: Valley Performing Arts Center. (562) 916-8501.     (818) 677-3000.

San Francisco

The Manhattan Transfer

The Manhattan Transfer

- Feb. 15 – 17.  (Fri. – Sun.)  The Manhattan Transfer.  No one does jazz vocal ensemble singing better than the Transfer.  And they’re back to their best with the welcome return (from an illness hiatus) of the superb singing of Cheryl BentyneYoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 128-9200.

Washington D.C.

- Feb. 14 – 17. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Jerry “The Iceman” Butler.  Once the lead singer of the Impressions, soul singer Butler – at 73 – is still out there, fully justifying his entry into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. Blues Alley.    (202) 337-4141.

New York City

- Feb. 12 – 18. (Tues. – Mon.)  The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra.  Monday night big band jazz was a favorite, for years, on the Vanguard stage.  This time, the swinging ensemble is in residency for a week.   The Village Vanguard.    (212) 255-4037.

- Feb. 14 – 17. )Thurs. – Sun.)  Rachelle Ferrell. With a remarkable vocal range and a simmering, blues-driven style, Ferrell knows how to apply it all to her intriguing jazz interpretations.  The Blue Note.    (212) 475-8592.

London

Eliane Elias

Eliane Elias

- Feb. 17. (Sun.)  Eliane Elias, Marc Johnson and Joe LaBarbera.  A world class jazz trio, with Elias’ imaginative piano lines backed by the dynamic rhythm of bassist Johnson and drummer LaBarbera.  Ronnie Scott’s.   +44 (0)20 7439 0747.

Berlin

- Feb. 17. (Sun.)  Cedar Walton Trio.  Pianist Walton, everyone’s favorite rhythm section player, steps out in front, backed by bassist David Williams and drummer Willie Jones III.  A-Trane.  030/313 25 50.

Tokyo

- Feb. 13 – 16. (Wed. – Sat.)  Nicola Conte and Till Bronner.  Versatile Italian guitarist Conte teams up with the equally eclectic German trumpeter Bronner.  The Tokyo Blue Note.     03-5485 0088.

Steve Tyrell photo by Bob Barry

Denise Donatelli and Sue Raney photos by Faith Frenz.


Picks of the Week: Jan. 2 – 6

January 2, 2013

By the iRoM Staff

It’s a light schedule of activities as the Christmas and New Year celebrations wind down.  But there’s still a lot of fine music to hear. 

Los Angeles

Louie Cruz Beltran

Louie Cruz Beltran

- Jan. 3. (Thurs.)  Louie Cruz Beltran.  Louie Cruz is one of the Southland’s busiest musicians.  And with good cause.  This time he balances his charismatic drumming with a vocal survey of everything from pop tunes to Latin specials.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Jan. 3. (Thurs.) Rayford Griffin and “Reflections of Brownie.” Drummer Griffin, the nephew of Clifford Brown celebrates the memorable music of his great, trumpet-playing uncle.   Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

Shoshana Bush

Shoshana Bush

- Jan. 3. (Thurs.)  Shoshana Bush.  At a time when female jazz singers are arriving almost daily, here’s one whose warm voice and convincing style deserve up-close attention.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Jan. 4 – 6. (Fri. – Sun.)  The Los Angeles Philharmonic plays TchaikovksyChristoph Eschenbach conducts Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4.  as well as the U.S. premiere of Tan Dun’s The Tears of Nature, co-commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  Disney Hall.    (323) 850-2000.

Bobby Caldwell

Bobby Caldwell

- Jan. 4 – 6. (Fri. – Sun.)  Bobby Caldwell.  Seventies and eighties hit maker Caldwell (“What You Won’t Do For Love,” among others) continues to be an always-engaging performer.  Expect to hear more of his hits, as well. Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Jan. 5. (Sat.)  Jeff Babko Group.  Keyboardist Babko’s busy career reaches from James Taylor to the Jimmy Kimmel show.  But he’s most fascinating to hear when he’s working on his own music, this time with bassist Tim Lefevbre and drummer Gene CoyeBlue Whale.    (213) 620-0908.

New York

- Jan. 2 – 5. (Wed. – Sat.)  Frank Wess Quintet91st Birthday Celebration.  NEA Jazz Master Wess, a tenor saxophonist and pioneering jazz flutist, celebrates his 91st in his usual briskly swinging fashion.  Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

Chris Botti

Chris Botti

- Jan. 2 – 6. (Wed. – Sun.)  Chris Botti.  Trumpeter Botti, whose musical energies seem to have no limits, wraps up his three week – two performances a day — marathon run at the The blue Note.    (212) 475-8592.

- Jan. 2 – 6. (Wed. – Sun.)  John Abercrombie Quartet.  Always in search of new jazz adventures, guitarist Abercrombie teams up with the inventive playing of Seamus Blake, tenor saxophone, Gary Versace, organ and Adam Nussbaum, drums.  The Jazz Standard.   (212) 447-7733.

Tokyo

Charles Lloyd

Charles Lloyd

- Jan. 3 – 6. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Charles Lloyd New Quartet.  Iconic tenor saxophonist/flutist Lloyd has found a compelling musical environment in his association with pianist Jason Moran, bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Eric HarlandBlue Note Tokyo.    03-5485-0088.

Shoshana Bush photo by Annette Lanzarotta and Talia Londoner.


Picks of the Week: May 22 – 27

May 22, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Kathleen Grace

- May 22. (Tues.)  Kathleen Grace Group.  Singer Grace, a true musical adventurer, combines the folk-based methods of the ‘70s singer songwriters with her jazz roots in her new album, Mirror.   Blue Whale.    (213) 620-0908

- May 22. (Tues.) Otmaro Ruiz/Aaron Serfaty Quartet.  Versatile pianist Ruiz and drummer Serfaty – musical partners for three decades — get together with the solid bass playing of Edwin Livingstone and the lush vocals of Brazilian singer/composer Catina De Luna. Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- May 24. (Thurs.)  Vardan Ovsepian.  Armenia-born pianist/composer Ovsepian celebrates his birthday with a release party for his new CD, ChromaticityBlue Whale.   (213) 620-0908.

- May 24 – 27. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Los Angeles Philharmonic.  Four consecutive nights of Mozart compositions conducted by Gustavo Dudamel,  Thurs. and Sat. will begin the three year Mozart/Da Ponte Trilogy with Don Giovanni. Friday night and Sun. afternoon will feature Exultate, jubilate and the Posthorn Serenade (K. 320) with soprano Kiera DuffyDisney Hall.    (323) 850-2000.

Tierney Sutton

- May 25 – 27. (Fri. – Sun.) Tierney Sutton Band. It’s one of the finest musical partnerships in all of jazz – the almost symbiotic connection between Sutton’s warm, pliable voice and the complimentary responsiveness of her Band.  Hopefully they’ll play some selections from her latest CD, American Road.  Catalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210.

- May 26. (Sat.)  War and Tower of Power. Two of the heavy rhythm, hard charging rock bands of the late ‘60s and beyond, War and Tower of Power impacted much of the crossover music that followed.  And they’re still at it. Greek Theatre.    (323) 665-5857.

- May 27. (Sun.) Alan Broadbent.  The gifted pianist/composer Broadbent, long one of the Southland’s jazz benefits, moved to the east coast last year.  Fortunately he comes back from time to time, so don’t miss this visit, in which he’ll be backed by bassist Pat Senatore and drummer Kendall Kay Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.    (310) 474-9400.

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May 27. (Sun.) The 2012 Playboy Jazz Festival’s Second Community Concert. The Playboy Jazz Festival’s annual free concerts leading up to the Festival itself — which takes place on June 16 & 17 at the Hollywood Bowl – are some of the Southland’s greatest jazz bargains. And this year is no exception.  The second free concert of the 2012 Festival takes place at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.  The featured act is the Jeff Lorber Fusion.

Jeff Lorber

Founded in 1977, the Fusion was a pacemaker in transforming cross-over pop- and rock-influenced jazz into a convincing musical blend.  Since then, Lorber’s done everything from solo recording and production and session work to r&b and video game music.  But his many fans are always delighted on the rare occasions when he once again revives the inimitable Jeff Lorber Fusion.

Also on the bill, the fine playing of the Washington Preparatory High School Jazz Ensemble, another collective of Southland young players convincingly proving that the future of jazz is in fine hands.,  The Second Free Playboy Community Concert at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.        (310) 450-1173.

 San Francisco

- May 25 – 27. (Fri. – Sun.)  Joshua Redman’s James Farm group examines some of the far reaching connections between jazz and contemporary pop sounds.  With pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Matt Penman and drummer Eric HarlandYoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

Chicago

- May 24 – 27. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Gerald Clayton Trio.  Already an impressive pianist when he was in his teens, the twentysomething Clayton has matured into one of the gifted jazz artists of his generation.  Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

New York

Joe Lovano

- May 22 – 26. (Tues. – Sat.)  Joe Lovano US Five. The dynamic tenor saxophonist’s talented young band checks out the music from his Bird Songs album – the still potent pleasures of bebop and its memories.  Birdland.    Bird Songs.  Album  *212( 581-3080.

- May 22 – 27. (Tues. – Sun.)  Fred Hersch Duos & Trio. Pianist Hersch continues his fascinating journey through classically-oriented jazz territories via his work with duos and a trio. The Jazz Standard.    (212) 576-2232.

- May 277. (Sun.)  Ravichandra Kulur.  South Indian flutist Kulur is a master of the Carnatic ragas and talas of his homeland.  His improvisational excursions are aided by Arun Ramamurthy, violin, and Akshay Anantapadmanabhan, mridangam.  Cornelia St. Café.   (212) 989-9319.

London

- May 27. (Sun.)  Sunday Jazz Lunch Celebrating the Modern Jazz Quartet.  The ensemble of Jim Hart, Barry Green, Matt Ridley and Steve Brown perform the memorable music of the legendary Modern Jazz Quartet.  Ronnie Scott’s.   020 7439 0747.

Berlin

Anat Cohen

- May 22 (Tues.)  The Three Cohens.  The gifted Cohen siblings Anat, clarinet and tenor saxophone, Yuval, soprano saxophone, and Avishai, trumpet, display their extraordinary jazz skills in the company of pianist Yonatan Avishai, bassist Omer Avital and drummer Jonathan BlakeA-Trane.  030 / 313 25 50.

Milan

- May 23 – 25. (Wed. – Fri. )  The Yellowjackets.  After more than three decades of musical togetherness, the Yellowjackets continue to bring some impressive jazz essence to their unique blend of fusion and smooth jazz.  Blue Note Milano.   02.69.01.68.88.

Tokyo

- May 22 & 23. (Tues. & Wed.)  The Brian Blade Fellowship Band. Always a much in demand jazz sideman, drummer Blade has recently begun – with his Fellowship Band — to reveal his significant skills as singer and a songwriter.  Blue Note Tokyo.  03-5485-0088.

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Tierney Sutton photo by Tony Gieske.  


Picks of the Week: Feb. 20 – 26

February 20, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Feb. 21. (Tues.)  Strunz & Farah.  Two guitars together don’t get any more exciting than the high speed musical magic of long-time partners Jorge Strunz and Ardeshir Farah.  After more than three decades together, they’re still in rare form.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

Lorraine Feather

- Feb. 22. (Wed.)  “An Evening With Duke Ellington.”  Ted Howe Trio.  Veteran pianist/arranger Howe offers new perspectives on the classic Ellington songbook.  His special guests — Lorraine Feather, Sweet Baby Jai and Mark Winkler — add some equally compelling vocal contributions. Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Feb. 23. (Thurs.)  Judy Carmichael.  Count Basie called her “Stride,” and with good reason.  Carmichael’s fast fingers and energetic style are keeping alive one of the great jazz piano styles.  She’s backed in this rare L.A. club appearance by guitarist Larry Koonse and saxophonist Harry Allen.  Click HERE to read an iRoM Q & A conversation with Judy Carmichael.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Max Raabe and the Palast Orchester

- Feb. 23. (Thurs.)  Max Raabe and Palast OrchesterOne Cannot Kiss Alone.  The super elegant Max Raabe and the tuxedoed instrumentalists of the Palast Orchester have impressively revived the style, the music and the wit of the ‘20s and ‘30s.  This time out, they feature selections from their best-selling new album.  One Cannot Kiss Alone.  UCLA Live.    (310) 825-2101.

- Feb. 23 – 25. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Stanley Clarke Quartet.  Fresh off a Grammy win with Chick Corea and Lenny White for Forever, the ever-eclectic Clarke is back to leading his own stellar quartet.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Feb. 23 – 25. (Thurs. – Sat.) The Pacific Symphony, conducted by Carl St. Clair, presents an attractive program of works, reaching from the classic to the contemporary.  Vadim Gluzman performs the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto; other pieces include Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings and a pair of new works by Michael Daugherty.  Segerstrom Center for the Arts.    (714) 556-2787.

- Feb. 24. (Fri.)  David Binney. Despite his dozen or so albums and appearances with the likes of Jim Hall, Maria Schneider and others, alto saxophonist Binney still hasn’t received the broad acknowledgement that his adventurous style deserves. He makes a rare Southland appearance. The Blue Whale.    (213) 620-0908.

Jill Schoelen

- Feb. 25. (Sat.)  “Late Night Love Songs.”  Jill Schoelen.  One of the “scream queen” film heroines of the ‘80s, Schoelen began moving into the jazz vocal area with the late bassist Dave Carpenter with appealing results.  She’s backed here by guitarist Larry Koonse and bassist Dave Robaire. Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Feb. 25. (Sat.) Kurt Rosenwinkel Standards Trio. Guitarist Rosenwinkel’s versatility allows him to cruise comfortably across styles.  But he’s especially appealing when he’s applying his imaginative variations to the classic standards of American song.  He performs with Eric Revis, bass and Justin Faulkner, drums.  A Jazz Bakery Movable Feast.  The Musicians Institute.   (310) 271-9039.

- Feb. 25. (Sat.)  Monica Mancini and Arturo Sandoval. Expect musical and lyrical fireworks and drama. Mancini is a singer who knows how to tell a musical story.  And Sandoval, who will be leading his big band, is equally adept at producing musical pyrotechnics on trumpet, percussion and piano.  Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.   (562) 916-8501.

- Feb. 25. (Sat.)  BRAZILIAN : EXOTICA.  Brazilian Nites’ 12th annual celebration of  carnaval features an all-star Brazilian band with non-stop music and dance.  From 8 p.m. until 2 a.m. revelers will have the opportunity to celebrate the euphoric holiday in true Brazilian style.  Featured performers include SambaDá, Chalo Eduardo’s All Star Band, featuring vocals by Andrea Ferraz, a pageant of samba dancers, capoeira martial artists, and an inaugural parade by the Los Angeles Samba SchoolBrazilian Carnaval: Exotica.  Club Nokia/LA Live.  (818) 566-1111.

- Feb. 25. (Sat.)  The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Conductor Jeffrey Kahane is the musical tour guide in this Discover Concert performance of J.S. Bach’s Magnificat.  The L.A.C.O. is joined by the USC Thornton Chamber singers and soloists for this magnificent choral work.  A Q&A with Jeffrey Kahane follows the performance.  The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra at Ambassador Auditorium.  (213) 622-7001.  Ext. 1

- Feb. 26. (Sun.)  Russell Ferrante Duo.  A founding member of the Yellowjackets, keyboardist Ferrante was instrumental in the two nominations the dynamic band received this year.  Here’s a chance to hear him in the most intimate of musical settings, working with the solid rhythmic support and improvisation sensitivity of bassist Pat SenatoreVibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

San Francisco

Dave Holland

- Feb. 24. (Fri.)  Dave Holland Overtone Quartet.  To call bassist Holland’s Overtone Quintet an all-star ensemble still wouldn’t come close to acknowledging the high quality of this extraordinary collection of players: saxophonist Chris Potter, pianist Jason Moran and drummer Eric Harland.  Expect to hear state of the art, 21st century jazz at its very finest.  Palace of Fine Arts Theatre. An SFJAZZ concert.  (866) 920-5299.

- Feb. 24. (Fri.)  Hubert Laws.  The master of the jazz flute, a master who is fully capable of crossing over into pop, classical and beyond, Laws was justifiably honored with an NEA Jazz Masters award in 2011.   Yoshi’s San Francisco.    (415) 655-5600.

Chicago

Feb. 23 – 26. )Thurs. – Sun.)  Larry Coryell Trio. Guitarist Coryell has been crossing over from rock to blues to jazz and beyond since the ‘60s, having a powerful impact on the fusion of the post bop era.  And he’s still doing it, while offering his wisdom to a new generation of guitarists.  Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

New York 

Cyrus Chestnut

- Feb. 21 – 26. (Tues. – Sun.)  Cyrus Chestnut Quartet.  Pianist Chestnut says he likes to “construct melodies that tell stories.”  It’s an admirable, and often too rare, trait for a jazz improviser.  And it’s amply present, whether he’s in the mood for straight ahead jazz, gospel or soul food.  Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.  (212) 258-9800.

Feb. 24 – 26.  (Fri. – Sun.)  Benny Green Trio.  There may be traces of Bud Powell and Oscar Peterson in Benny Green’s approach to the piano, but his irresistible sense of swing and far-ranging melodic imagination are all his own.  He performs here with Peter Washington (Feb. 24 & 26) or Ben Wolfe (Feb. 25), bass and Kenny Washington, drums.  Jazz Standard.   (212) 576-2232.

- Feb. 25. (Sat.)  Dave Liebman, Richie Beirach Duo.  A pair of indefatigable music explorers come together to scour the boundaries of contemporary improvisation.  The results will be both enlightening and entertaining.  Cornelia St. Café.   (212) 989-9319.

Boston

- Feb. 24. (Fri.)  POEMJAZZ.  With pianist Laurence Hobgood and poet Robert Pinsky. A fascinating creative meeting between Grammy-winning jazz pianist Hobgood and the poetic melodies and rhythms of Pinsky, the only three-term U.S. Poet Laureate.  Regatta Bar.    (617) 661-5000.

London

Courtney Pine

- Feb. 23 – 24. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Courtney Pine.  Europa. English multi-instrumentalist Pine, whose honors include an Order of the British Empire (OBE) and a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (COBE), has been bringing a far ranging collection of ideas and sounds to English jazz for the past few decades.  This time out, he’ll feature the bass clarinet driven selections from his latest album, Europa. Ronnie Scott’s.    020 7439 0747.

Paris   

- Feb. 25. (Sat.)  The Cookers. The name is perfectly chosen for this sturdy collection of take-no-prisoners, hard swinging jazz veterans: Billy Harper, Eddie Henderson, George Cables, Cecil McBee, Victor Lewis, David Weiss, and Craig HandyNew Morning.     01 45 23 51 41.

Milan

- Feb. 23 (Thurs.)  Bennie Maupin Quintet.  The influential musical textures of Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, Big Fun, Jack Johnson and more wouldn’t have been the same without the dark, woody sound of Maupin’s bass clarinet.  But he’s a master of other wind instruments as well, always ready to explore new sounds and ideas.  Blue Note Milano.    02.69.01.68.88.


Picks of the Week: Jan. 24 – 29

January 24, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

The Jazz & Blules Review: Courtney Lemmon, Gina Saputo, Dianne Wright, George Kahn

- Jan. 25. (Wed.) The Jazz and Blues Review.  Featuring Courtney Lemmon, Gina Saputo and Dianne Wright.  Backed by the George Kahn Quintet.  They’ve been called “a journey through blues and jazz, from New York to Los Angeles, from the Andrews Sisters to the Pointer Sisters at the intersection of Jump St. and Boogaloo Ave.”  Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- Jan. 25. (Wed.)  The London Handel Players.  The English ensemble makes its West Coast debut performing the music of Handel (of course), J.S. Bach and C.P.E. Bach in one of the Southland’s grand locations.  Chamber Music in Historic Sites.  The Grand Salon at the Ebell of Los Angeles.     (213) 477-2929.

- Jan. 25 – 29. (Wed. – Sun.)  Roy Hargrove Quintet.  The versatile, pocket rocket trumpeter gets into a straight ahead grove with his dynamic quintet.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Jan. 26. (Thurs.)  Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra“Baroque Conversations 1”  The first of the LACO’s performances of Baroque music – mostly Bach in this case – with music introduced from the stage by the artists, and open questioning from the audience to conclude the evening.  Oboist Alan Vogel leads the 14 piece ensemble of singers and instrumentalists.  Zipper Concert Hall.    (213) 622-7001 ext. 1.

- Jan. 26. (Thurs.)  Frank Potenza Quartet.  Guitarist Potenza has assembled an intriguing international ensemble, with the versatile Doug Webb, saxophones, ever-swinging Paul Kreibich, drums and – from New Caledonia – Michel Benebig, Hammond organ and Shem Benebig, vocals.  Brasserie Jazz Lounge, Crowne Plaza Hotel.  (310) 258-1333.

Lucinda Williams

- Jan. 27. (Fri.)  Lucinda Williams and Blake Mills. Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Williams – named “America’s best songwriter” in 2002 – shares the stage, in solo and duo sets, with young guitarist Mills.  UCLA Live.  Royce Hall.  (310) 825-2101.

- Jan. 27. (Fri.)  Chuck Manning . Tenor saxophonist Manning’s versatility is always on display.  “No matter what the context, his mix of smarts and heart will get two you,” wrote Brick Wahl in the L.A. Weekly.  He’s backed by Theo Saunders, piano, Pat Senatore, bass and Jimmy Branley, drums.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- Jan. 28. (Sat.)  Simplexity.  What is Simplexity?  An assemblage of all-star, first-call jazz players, led by bassist John von Seggern, coming together in a project that blends electronic ambient sounds and textures, contemporary dance beats and the soul of jazz improvisation.  Should be an evening to remember. Blue Whale. (213) 620-0908.

- Jan. 28. (Sat.)  They Might Be Giants.  The pioneering alternative rock band celebrates its 30th anniversary with a pair of Royce Hall appearances.  The family show, at 3 p.m. will draw on award-winning kids’ albums.  The evening program, at 8 p.m. will be highlighted by their latest album, Join Us.  Folk singer/songwriter Jonathan Coulter opens the show.  UCLA Live.  Royce Hall.  (310) 825-2101.

San Francisco

Wesla Whitfield

- Jan. 26. (Thurs.)  Wesla Whitfield with the Mike Greensil Trio.  Cabaret singer Whitfield and her husband, pianist Greensil have been offering definitive interpretations of classics from the Great American Songbook for decades.  Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

- Jan. 26 – 28. (Thurs. – Sat.)  The Stanley Clarke Band.  Always adventuring into new combinations, the current Clarke band includes regulars Ruslan Sirota, keyboards and Ronald Bruner, drums, with the added contributions of the eclectic young violinist, Zach BrockYoshi’s San Francisco.    (415) 655-5600.

New York

- Jan. 24 – 28. (Tues. – Sat.)  The Tierney Sutton Band.  There’s nothing quite like the combination of Sutton’s airy vocals with the ever-compatible musical embrace of the players – pianist Christian Jacob, bassists Kevin Axt and Trey Henry and drummer Ray Brinker — she has been performing with for two decades. Birdland.   (212) 581-3080.

- Jan. 26 – 29. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Billy Childs Quartet.  Pianist/composer Childs takes a break from his jazz chamber ensemble to groove hard with Steve Wilson, alto saxophone, Hans Glawischnig, bass and Eric Harland, drums.  Jazz Standard.  (212) 576-2232.

- Jan. 27. (Fri.)  Manhattan School of Music Jazz Philharmonic Orchestra.  Conducted by Justin DiCioccio.  A celebration the Stan Kenton Centennial, featuring the music of Kenton’s Innovations Orchestra.  Among the works that will be featured are Bill Russo’s “Improvisation,” Pete Rugolo’s “Interlude,” Robert Graettinger’s “City of Glass” and Stan Kenton’s “Artistry in Rhythm.”  RoBorden Auditorium at the Manhattan School of Music.  (917) 493-4428.

Boston

Ron Carter

- Jan. 27 – 28. (Fri. & Sat.)  The Ron Carter Trio. Every version of the Carter Trio is classy, and none more so than this high flying combination of bassist Carter, Russell Malone, guitar and Donald Vega, piano.  Regatta Bar.

Paris

- Jan. 28. (Sat.)  Renaud Garcia-Fons.  The brilliant bassist has created one of the unique sounds and styles in contemporary music, playing his five stringed acoustic instrument in works that blend, jazz, flamenco, folk music, classical and “new musette.”  New Morning.  01 45 23 51 41.

Copenhagen

- Jan. 26 & 27. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Jacky Terrasson.  French pianist Terrasson leads a stellar European jazz piano trio, with Thomas Fonnesbaek, bass and Alex Riel, drums.  Jazzhus Montmartre.    (+45) 70 15 65 65.

Jazz & Blues Review photo by Mara Zaslove.

Ron Carter photo by Tony Gieske


Picks of the Week: Sept. 26 – Oct. 2

September 27, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Herbie Hancock

- Sept. 27. (Tuesday)  Opening Night Gala at Disney Hall.  The new season kicks off with a performance of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, performed by the stellar combination of Herbie Hancock, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.  Also on the program, An American in Paris and the Cuban Overture. Disney Hall.   (323) 850-2000.

- Sept. 27. (Tuesday).  Barbara Morrison Benefit.  Another opportunity to help one of Southland jazz’s greatest jazz vocal treasures in her hour of need.  Morrison’s medical expenses – the result of surgery associated with diabetes – have escalated, and she needs support.  The program of performers is unannounced at the moment.  Check with the club for details.  Vibrato Jazz Grill…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Sept. 27. (Tues.)  Emmylou Harris and her Red Dirt Boys.  12-time Grammy winner Harris brings rich expressiveness to everything she sings – whether interpreting other songwriters’ works or her own emotionally illuminating songs.  Also on the program – special guests Patty Griffin and Buddy Miller. The Greek Theatre.

- Sept. 28. (Wed.)  Marilyn Scott.  Veteran singer Scott has moved easily across the boundaries between jazz and pop, creating expressive pleasures wherever she goes.  She performs with Jimmy Haslip, Mitch Forman, Gary Novak and Mike Miller.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Sept. 29. (Thurs.)  “Stormy Weather: The Lena Horne Project”  Mary Wilson of the Supremes applies her elegant vocal skills to songs associated with the legendary actress/singer,  James Gavin narrates material from his Horne biography, accompanied by rare audio and video clips.  A Jazz Bakery Movable Feast.  The Musicians Institute.  (310) 271-9039.

Ravi Shankar

- Sept. 29. (THurs.)  Ravi Shankar.  The pioneer of Indian classical music, Pandit Shankar has been – since the ‘50s – bringing the subtle, complex, but immensely engaging music and rhythms of ragas and talas to Western audiences.  Disney Hall.   (323) 850-2000.

- Sept. 29 – Oct. 1. (Thurs. – Sat.) Tierney Sutton Band. Note that the title is not “Tierney Sutton and her Band.”  Because Sutton’s long term relationship with pianist Christian Jacob, bassists Trey Henry and Kevin Axt and drummer Ray Brinker has been one of complete musical (and practical) togetherness.  The results show up in every expressive note the band plays (and Sutton sings).  The performance celebrates her new recording – American Road, a compelling tour through musical Americana.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Sept. 30. (Fri.)  Bill Cantos. He sings, and plays piano with the kind of subtle support that delights any one who works with him – especially singers. Add to that Cantos’ skill at crafting original songs with the sensitivity and rich lyricism of the Great American Songbook.  He’ll be in the company of his wife — singer/pianist Mari Falcone, bassist Hussain Jiffry and drummer Michael ShapiroVitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Esperanza Spalding

- Sept. 30. (Fri.)  Esperanza Spalding. “Chamber Music Society.”   Singer/bassist Spalding is the hottest property in jazz after her 2011 Grammy award for Best New Artist.  But there’s a depth of art in her musicality that reaches well beyond her current visibility.  Still in her twenties. Spalding’s career looks to be long and fulfilling – for her, for her listeners and for jazz.  The Orpheum Theatre.    (877) 677-4386.

- Sept. 30 – Oct. 2. (Fri. – Sun.)  The Angel City Jazz Festival.  On Friday: The Nick Mancini Trio with Otmaro Ruiz and the Edgar Castaneda Trio with Andrea Tierra at Zipper Hall in the Colburn School of Music.  On Saturday: The Pan Afrikan People’s Arkestra, Satoko Fujii & Natsuki Tamura, The Kandinsky Effect and Rudresh Mahanthappa & Samdhi at the Ford Amphitheatre.  On Sunday: For People in Sorrow – an Homage to Alex Cline, and the Roscoe Mitchell Trio at REDCAT.  The Angel City Jazz Festival.

- Oct. 1. (Sat.)  The Strawbs and the Zombies.  Original Zombies members Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone headline the 2011 incarnation of the sixties hit-makers.  The pop-rock Strawbs, who have passed through numerous editions since the sixties are also n the bill. The Canyon Club. (818) 879-5016.

- Oct. 2. (Sun.)  The New Directions Veterans Choir.  Made up of formerly homeless veterans of American military services, the Choir has appeared on America’s Got Talent, at the White House, on YouTube and numerous television shows.  Even more importantly, the members have found the choir to be a vehicle to help them find the help they need.  They are currently recording their first album, produced by veteran singer/arranger/a cappella expert Morgan Ames.    Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

San Francisco

James Carter

- Sept. 30 – Oct. 2. (Fri. – Sun.)  James Carter Organ Trio. Master of a full range of saxophones, Carter sets up in the blues driven environment of the classic jazz organ trio format. Yoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.

Seattle

- Sept. 27 – 29. (Tues. – Thurs.)  James Farm.  Joshua Redman, Aaron Parks, Matt Penman, Eric Harland. Redman’s too modest to describe James Farm as an all-star ensemble, but that’s what it is – a quartet made up of four of the contemporary jazz world’s most musically adventurous artists.  Jazz Alley.     (206) 441-9729.

Chicago

- Sept. 29 – Oct. 2. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Eric Reed. Pianist Reed spent some of his growing up years in L.A.  But, after Wynton Marsalis discovered him, while still a teen-ager, his career took off on a rising arc – everyone’s A-list piano player of choice. Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

New York

- Sept. 27 – Oct. 1. (Tues. – Sat.)  The Music of Bud PowellEthan Iverson, piano, Tim Hagans, trumpet, Greg Osby, alto saxophone, Joey Baron, drums, Lonnie Plaxico, bass, perform the music of one of bebop’s Olympian figures.  Expect to hear such classics as “Tempus Fuget,” “Un Poco Loco,” “Bouncin’ With Bud” and more. Birdland.   (212) 581-3080.

Daryl Sherman

- Sept. 27. (Tues.) Daryl Sherman.  Gifted singer/pianist Sherman brings wit, lyrical insights and musicality to everything she does.  This time she ushers in Rosh Hashanah with Cab Calloway’s “A Bee Gezindt” (“Abi Gezunt” ).  Don’t Tell Mama.      (212) 757-0788.

- Sept. 28 – Oct. 2. (Wed. – Sun.)  The Coca Cola Generations in Jazz Festival: Gerald Wilson and the Julliard Jazz Orchestra.  The Legacy Suite, with Anthony Wilson and Eric Otis.  Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.  (212) 258-9800.

- Oct. 2. (Sun.)  Creole Choir of Cuba.  Cuban only begins to describe this musical melting pot of singers/instrumentalists from the Camaguey.  Descendants of Haitians, they have created music rich with Cuban rhythms – the son and salsa – and Creole melodies, underscored by rich African chants and dance movements.  This is their first American tour.  Symphony Space.    (212) 864-5400.

Boston

- Sept. 30 – Oct. 1. (Fri. & Sat.)  Kenny Barron.  The lyrical, imaginative pianist has a resume reaching from Freddie Hubbard and Bobby Hutcherson to Stan Getz and Ella Fitzgerald.  But he’s best heard on his own, when his soaring melodies and pastel harmonies are front and center. Regatta Bar Jazz.    (617) 395-7757.

Miami

- Sept. 30 – Oct. 2.  Gunther Schuller. The full scope of composer/writer/educator/French horn player Schuller is hard to imagine.  His commentaries on jazz, classical music, ragtime and French horn technique have had a powerful influence throughout the music world.  His extensive activities (including several compositions that led the way during the Third Stream era) have earned him such recognitions as a Pulitzer Prize, a MacArthur “genius” award and acknowledgment as an NEA Jazz Master.  Schuller’s long weekend appearance at the University of Miami Frost School of Music includes: Friday: a lecture in Clarke Recital Hall; Sat: a concert featuring Schuller’s Concerto No. 1 for Horn; Sun. The Frost Chamber Players, with Schuller conducting his new composition Quintet for Horn and Strings  Gunther Schuller at the University of Miami.      (305) 284-4940.

London

Roberta Gambarini

- Sept. 27. (Tues.) Roberta Gambarini.  She may have been born in Italy, but Gambarini’s mastery of jazz singing stamps her as a world class original, regardless of origin.  Whether she’s finding the emotional heart of an American Songbook standard or scatting with the most fleet, swinging precision since the salad days of Ella Fitzgerald, she should be heard, at every opportunity.  Ronnie Scott’s.   020 7439 0747.

Tokyo

- Sept. 26 – Oct. 3. (Mon. – Mon.)  Natalie Cole.  Very much Nat “King” Cole’s daughter, Natalie Cole cruises the same eclectic musical waters, a convincing pop artist who has no difficulty dipping into the rhythms of jazz.  Blue Note Tokyo.    03-5485-0088.

Herbie Hancock photo by Faith Frenz.

Esperanza Spalding photo by Tony Gieske.


Live Jazz: The 54th Monterey Jazz Festival — Saturday

September 18, 2011

By Michael Katz

Monterey, California.  Saturday at the Monterey Jazz Festival was a journey through eras, river basins, continents, climate zones, you name it. Mostly the volume was turned up, but if you navigated carefully, you could find some quiet pools for reflection amidst the soul, funk and a respectable helping of jazz, too.

For the second straight year, the gang from Treme took over the Arena for the afternoon show. This time there was no Trombone Shorty to tear the place up, but two groups, the Soul Rebels Brass Band and Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk, combined under the stage direction of actor Wendell Pierce serving as MC.  The Soul Rebels marched through the front of the Arena and then onto the stage, bringing bright sunshine with them, blasting through Stevie Wonder’s “Livin’ For the City” and a stew of contemporary NOLA favorites.

Kermit Ruffins

Trumpeter Kermit Ruffins, who acts in HBO’s Treme, was a featured soloist with both the Soul Rebels and Dumpstaphunk. Trombonist Glen David Andrews had to bow out because of illness and was replaced by Terence Blanchard, so for the second day in a row, the Arena audiences was treated to some sizzling horn battles. Dizzy Gillespie’s “Night In Tunisia,” the one Diz standard that was left out of Poncho Sanchez’s set Friday night, got the sizzling treatment from Blanchard and Ruffins. They provided a number of other highlights, including “Shake it Off” and “Turn It Up,” which could have been the theme song for the afternoon.

Huey Lewis and the News was the headliner for the afternoon, and they brought a large and devoted following to the Arena. His latest CD,  Soulsville, featured the Memphis sound of Stax records and included hits such as the Staple Singers’ “Respect Yourself,” the title tune, and some lesser known songs such as “Um, Um, Um” recorded by Major Lance. There’s a lot of talent in the News, starting with Lewis’s still robust voice and harmonica playing. He talked about both his and drummer Bill Gibson’s late fathers being longtime MJF attendees, and the Soulsville selections blended in perfectly with the Saturday afternoon atmosphere. Of course Huey and the News are a rock and roll band, and with 90 minutes to perform they rewarded their loyal following with their own hits, including “Heart of Rock and Roll” and “I Want A New Drug,” as well as a blues vamp at the end of the set.

Huey Lewis and the News

By late afternoon the Treme gang had commandeered the Garden Stage, for a repeat of last year’s Trombone Shorty spectacular, but I was in the mood for something a little quieter so I went to the Coffee House Gallery to see this year’s version of the Berkeley School of Music Ensemble, which was a Flamenco quintet that enthralled the capacity crowd. Led by Ariadne Castellanos of Madrid, this international group took the Spanish flamenco folk rhythms and wove them into a spellbinding performance.  Ali Amr, from Ramallah on the West Bank, played the Qunan, an Egyptian string instrument that is something of a cross between a zither and a small harp. Enrique Kalani, listed from Trinidad but announced from Puerto Rico, played a sparkling flute, offering up superb glissandos and more serene moments as well. Spaniard Sergio Martinez on percussion and Israeli bassist Noam Wiesenberg were a sterling rhythm section.  Castellanos had a beautiful interpretation of a Paco de Lucia song, and Amr had several lovely solos on the Qunan.  The only drawback to the show was the sweltering condition of the room, due to NPR’s streaming of the event. They dictated the suspension of fans and air conditioning, causing many folks to leave. It’s a tribute to the performers that so many stayed until the end. It’s nice that NPR is involved in the festival, but inconsiderate to the paying customers.

Richard Bona

The evening performances presented the toughest choice I had to make, as Geri Allen was performing the commissioned piece in the Arena and one of my favorites, Richard Bona, was performing in duet with Columbian singer/guitarist Raul Midon at the Garden Stage. I’d hope to catch a little of each, but sound problems delayed the start of the Bona/Midon set, so I waited it out and never left. I’d previously seen Bona, a singer/bassist from Cameroon, in settings with a larger, more percussive group, so it was a different experience seeing him with Midon, performing tunes from their Dulawa Malambo Project. Certainly the sound crew did their jobs; both voices were clear, both with engaging qualities, Midon singing in English, Bona mostly in a lilting Douala. It’s a lovely sounding language – much like Portuguese, it is pleasant to listen to even if you don’t understand any of the words. Playing in this duet setting, Bona has a gentle touch on the electric bass, sometimes playing along with the lyrical beat, other times countering it.  Midon, meanwhile, played several acoustic guitars. His lyrics tend to be slyly simple. “Don’t Be A Silly Man” was a response from a fawned-upon musician, with a touch of Paul Simon playfulness. He sometimes employs a tap style to his guitar, other times picking out melodies between the rhythms. At one point, performing solo, Midon, who is blind, had a surprise drop-in from singer India.Arie, who performs on the main stage this afternoon. Midon also employs a muted trumpet effect, which adds another instrument to the mix.  On top of everything else, both Midon and Bona  have infectious personalities that, combined with their delightful playing and singing, showed there was plenty of room on Saturday for a more subtle musical tone.

Joshua Redman

It was back to the Arena for Artist-In-Residence Joshua Redman’s set, with his band James Farm that featured Aaron Parks on piano, Matt Penman on bass and Eric Harland on drums. The first thing you notice these days about Redman is his robust tone. He gets such a full, rich, sound out of the tenor, particularly in the mid to lower registers of the horn. It’s a pleasure to hear him stretch out, and he had plenty of opportunities to do so. The set featured original compositions by all four members of the group, starting out with bassist Penman’s “1981” which began with Redman in a reflective mood, offering an expansive solo followed by Parks taking the baton on piano. “If By Air,” the next song, was Redman’s, followed by Parks’ elegant theme “Bijou.”  As the set went on, it seemed the compositions were less individual expressions than movements in a suite. It speaks to the overall cohesion of the group. The interweavings of Parks and Redman, backed by the rhythms of Penman and Harland make for a tantalizing hour. It’s a distinct, harmonic sound, though lacking a little in the lyrical sense. You don’t walk away humming any of the tunes.

Herbie Hancock was closing out the night at the Arena, but I opted for a quieter end to the evening. I returned to the Coffee House to see Bill Carrothers’ piano trio with Drew Gress on bass and Bill Stewart on drums. The crowd was rather sparse to start, but Carrothers adapted easily, speaking to the gathering without a microphone, playing a mix of originals and standards, slightly altered in his own off center way. “Peg,” named for his wife, was an introspective piece, given to  long harmonic interplays with bassist Gress. He followed with a playfully dark version of “Keep Your Sunny Side Up,” again with nice bass work from Gress. There was an unnamed up tempo piece, which gave Stewart a chance to work out on the drums, and an engaging version of Clifford Brown’s “Gerkin for Perkin.”  A few more folks had straggled in by that point, looking for a last dollop of music to finish off a long, often loud, adventurous day. There was something poignant when Carrothers gently touched the keys with the opening to “In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning.” You felt for a moment like you were alone in a bar somewhere. You didn’t really want the set to end, but it was the perfect ending. It was a  lovely version, a soft goodbye, then back out into the chill night Monterey air.

To read Michael Katz’s review of Monterey Jazz Festival Friday click HERE.

To read Michael Katz’s review of Monterey Jazz Festival Sunday click HERE.


 

 


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