Picks of the Week: July 21 – 27 In Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, London, Paris and Tokyo

July 21, 2014

By Don Heckman

It’s another warm Summer week, with many international jazz clubs shuttered in their annual July -August hiatus. But there’s still some fine music to be heard.

Los Angeles

Strunz and Farah

Strunz and Farah

– July 22. (Tues.) Strunz and Farah. The dynamic guitar duo of Costa Rica’s Jorge Strunz and Iran’s Ardeshir Farah, showcase their irresistibly eclectic playing in one of their rare L.A. Appearances. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

– July 22 & 24. (Tues. & Thurs.) Dudamel & Beethoven. The Los Angeles Philharmonic, under the kinetic conducting of Gustavo Dudmel illuminates a July evening with an all-Beethoven’s program featuring the classic Symphony No. 5 and the fascinating Triple Concerto. The Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

Robert Davi

Robert Davi

– July 24. (Thurs,) Robert Davi. “Davi Sings Sinatra.” Actor/singer Davi’s association with Frank Sinatra dates back to the 1977 film Contract on Cherry St. Since then he has become the most musically convincing of the Sinatra-styled singers, applying his own creative imagination to the “Blue Eyes” style. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

– July 24. (Thurs.) Noura Mint Seymali. The compelling voice of Mauritanian singer is featured in the opening event in the Skirball Cultural Center’s 18th Free Sunset Concert Series. The Skirball Cultural Center.  (310) 440-4500.

– July 24 – 26. (Thurs. – Sat.) The Ron Carter Trio. Ron Carter may well be the most recorded bassist in jazz history. But he’s also a fine composer and the leader of his own impressive trios. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (223) 466-2210.

Gloria Estefan

Gloria Estefan

– July 25 – 26. (Fri. & Sat.) America & Americans Festival: Gloria Estefan. The L.A. Phil’s celebration of the music of North and South America continues with an appearance by Grammy-nominated vocalist Setefan with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra conducted by Thomas Wilkins. The Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

– Juy 26 (Sat.) Elliott Deutsch Big Band. Trumpeter/arranger/composer Deutsch leads his briskly swinging ensemble with the skills that have made him the arranger of choice for the likes of Cheryle Bentyne, Bill Watrous and others. Vitello’s.  (213) 620-0908.

– July 26 & 27. (Sat. & Sun.) The Central Ave. Jazz Festival. A spectacular assemblage of world class jazz in L.A.’s most memorable jazz setting. Featured artists include Kamasi Washington and Next Step, Patrice Rushen & Ndugu Chancler, Mongorama, The Gerald Wilson Orchestra, Michael Session, Ernie Andrews, Dr. Bobby Rodriguez and more. Admission is free. The Central Ave. Jazz Festival.

– July 27. (Sun.) Peggy King and Corky Hale. She may be best known as “pretty, perky Peggy King” on the ’50s George Gobel television show. But in her later career, King’s matured into an impressive vocal artist. She performs with the superb accompaniment of pianist Corky Hale, who has been at the keyboard (or the harp) with everyone from Billie Holiday to Frank Sinatra.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (223) 466-2210.

San Francisco

Tierney Sutton

Tierney Sutton

– July 24 – 27. (Thurs. – Sun.) Tierney Sutton. “Songs of Joni Mitchell.” A gifted vocalist with an emotionally rich style of her own, Sutton is one of the rare singers to have the musicality and the interpretive skills to handle the complex Mitchell catalof of songs. Click HERE to read an earlier iRoM review of Sutton singing Mitchell. An SFJAZZ event at Joe Henderson Lab. (866) 920-5299.

New York City

– July 22 – 26. (Tues. – Sat.) John Pizzarelli and the Swing Seven. Singer/guitarist Pizzarelli is in his most appealing medium when he’s digging into the pleasures of Swing, backed by an equally swinging bunch of players – as he is here. Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.


Randy Brecker

Randy Brecker

– July 22 – 24. (Tues. – Thurs.) The Brecker Bros. Reunion Band. Trumpeter Randy Brecker and saxophonist Michael Brecker were one of the gifted brother acts in modern jazz. Since the death of Michael in 2007, Randy has kept the memories of the Brecker Bros. Band alive and well. He’s joined by his wife, Ada Rovatti, in the band’s saxophone chair. Ronnie Scott’s. +44 (0)20 7439 0747.


– July 24. (Thurs.) The Mike Stern & Bill Evans Band. Expect some blues grooves and fusion fireworks when Stern and Evans get together with drummer Dennis Chambers and bassist Tom Kennedy. New Morning Paris.  +33 1 45 23 51 41.


– July 25 – 27. (Fri. – Sun.) Jose James. In his own unique way, vocalist James is searching for, and often finding, a blend between jazz, soul and hip-hop. Will it please the fans of each genre? Check him out and see. Blue Note Tokyo.  +81 3-5485-0088.




Live Jazz: A Tribute to Bill Henderson at Catalina Bar & Grill

April 20, 2013

By Don Heckman

Hollywood, CA.  The line waiting to get in to Catalina Bar & Grill at 7:30 Thursday night stretched all the way back to the jazz venue’s nearby garage.  And it was moving slowly.  But there was no sign of anyone leaving.  Not for this performance.  Not with a stellar assemblage of talented performers awaiting their turns to celebrate the remarkable life and musical accomplishments of veteran singer/actor Bill Henderson.

Bill Henderson

Bill Henderson

And the anticipation was enhanced by the awareness that the 87 year old Henderson was already in the club, surrounded by friends, waiting for the music to begin.

Before the live entertainment began, however, the full house audience was treated to a video documentary.  Produced by Merle Kreibich, the video chronicled the remarkable Henderson career – as a singer and an actor whose impressive talents were apparent even in the black and white images of his youthful appearances on film and recordings.

But the live show was the heart of the evening, a  procession of singers and musicians, all eager to offer their own unique tributes to Henderson. Here’s the line up:

Melissa Morgan

Melissa Morgan


First up: singer Melissa Morgan offering soul styled renditions of ‘Sleeping Bee” and “Accentuate the Positive.”  Filled with energy and spunk, she got the evening underway with a hard driving take off.

Denise Donatelli

Denise Donatelli


Next: Denise Donatelli applied her warm, embracing  voice and intimate story-telling to a contrasting pair of appealing tunes, “Social Call” and “Skylark.” Donatelli can do no wrong as an interpretive vocalist.  And her reading of the Mercer/Carmichael standard was one of the evening’s memorable highlights.

Billy Valentine’s two songs – “I’ve Got A Woman” and “You Don’t Know Me” – delivered with convincing intensity – were reminders of the blues roots in Henderson’s music.

The musical emphasis shifted dramatically with the arrival on stage of Finis Henderson, Bill Henderson’s nephew.  Offering a soaring, musically dramatic interpretation of Puccini’s tenor aria “Nessun Dorma” from the opera Turandot, he affirmed the diverse musical talent in the Henderson genes.

Janis Mann

Janis Mann

Jazz singer Janis Mann added her soaring, Sarah Vaughan influenced style to a diverse pair of tunes, moving from the rhythmic groove of “Old Devil Moon” to the lyricism of  “You Taught My Heart To Sing.”  She was backed by Eric Reed, ably replacing Mike Lang in the piano chair.

Mark Winkler was up next, enjoying every minute of his delightful encounter with Bobby Troup’s “I’m Such A Hungry Man,” and wrapping his solo set with a selection from his new album of Laura Nyro songs.

Mark Winkler and Cheryl Bentyne

Mark Winkler and Cheryl Bentyne

Before he left the stage, however, he was joined by Cheryl Bentyne, pairing up on a joyous romp through Paul Desmond’s “Take Five.”

Kenny Burrell

Kenny Burrell

Next, in the evening’s highlight instrumental set, veteran guitarist Kenny Burrell showcased his always appealing blend of rhythmic swing and melodic tenderness with a .  warm take on “It Might As Well Be Spring.”

Ernie Andrews

Ernie Andrews

Appropriately, the non-stop music reached a climax with the arrival on stage of the inimitable Ernie Andrews.  Two years younger than Henderson, but very much the same generation, Andrews recalled an era in which jazz artists were not embarrassed to reach out to their audiences in entertaining fashion.  His jaunty versions of “Time After Time” and “All Blues” were the perfect climax for a memorable musical tribute.

Live performance photos by Faith Frenz.

Picks of the Week: April 17 – 21

April 17, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Corky Hale plays for Billie Holiday

Corky Hale plays for Billie Holiday

– April 17. (Wed.)  Corky Hale and special guest Kathy Sledge of Sister Sledge perform selections from the Billie Holiday songbook. Pianist/harpist Hale, who accompanied Holiday in the ‘50s, is well qualified for the job.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

April 17. (Wed.)  Julian Coryell.  The son of fine veteran guitarist Larry Coryell, Julian – an impressive guitarist in his own right, as well as a singer – is carving out a prime career. Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

– April 17. (Wed.)  Andras SchiffThe Bach Keyboard Cycle.  Schiff performs the French Suites and the French Overture as part of his survey of the complete solo keyboard works of J.S. Bach.  Disney Hall.    (323) 850-2000.

– April 18. (Thurs.)  Judi Wexler Birthday Bash.  The critically praised Wexler displays the far ranging, richly interpretive qualities that are at the heart of her singing.  Mambo’s Café.   (818) 545-8613.

Bill Henderson

Bill Henderson

– April 18. (Thurs.)  A Tribute to Bill Henderson.  A celebration of the music and life of the creative versatility of 87 year old singer/actor Henderson.  The program features the Eric Reed Trio, with special guests Denise Donatelli, Kenny Burrell, Janis Mann, Ernie Andrews, Mark Winkler, Cheryl Bentyne  and others.  Bubba Jackson hosts the performance.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

– April 20. (Sat.)  Jimmy Cobb and the So What Band.  Drummer Cobb is the last surviving member of the Miles Davis band that created the best selling album, Kind of Blue.  Here, leading a world class band, he revisits the classic numbers from that iconic jazz recording.  Valley Performing Arts Center.    (818) 677-8800.

– April 21. (Sun.)  Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.  Music Director Jeffrey Kahane conducts and performs the Mozart Piano Concerto No. 22. The program also includes Handel’s Concerto Grosso in A Major, Ginastera’s Variaciones Cncertantes and a newly commissioned work by Andrew NormanCAP UCLA at Royce Hall.   (310) 825-2101.

Catalina Popescu

Catalina Popescu

– April 21. (Sun.)  The Arturo Sandoval Big Band is the centerpiece in the California Jazz Foundation’s annual Benefit Concert, this time honoring the decades of jazz support from Catalina Popescu, the owner of Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

– April 21. (Sun.)  Sherry Williams. With a voice as smooth and sweet as honey, Williams is always a pleasure to hear in her blues-tinged interpretations.  She’ll be backed by Joe Bagg, piano, Pat Senatore, bass, Mark Ferber, drums.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

San Francisco

– April 19. (Fri.)  Raquel Bitton. With special guest Rebeca Mauleon. Paris Meets Havana is the subtitle of a program featuring Bitton’s French and Mauleon’s Cuban classics, performed with full orchestra. Yoshi’s San Francisco.    (415) 655-5600.

– April 20. (Sat.)  Bill Frisell.  The ever-adventurous guitarist/composer Frisell provides original music for a reading of Hunter S. Thompson’s The Kentucky Derby.  An SFJAZZ program at Miner Auditorium.    (866) 920-5299.


Diane Schuur

Diane Schuur

– April 18 – 21. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Diane Schuur.  “Deedles,” as she is known to friends and fans alike, still possesses one of the most musically malleable voices in jazz – always a pleasure to hear. Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

Washington D.C.

– April 17. (Wed.)  The Stan Kenton Alumni BandMike Fax conducts a program of music ranging across the full musical panorama of Kenton’s remarkable big band history.  Blues Alley.    (202) 337-4141.

New York City

– April 17 – 20. (Wed. – Sat.)  The John Scofield “Hollow Body Band” is an aptly titled musical exchange with special guest guitarist Mike SternBirdland.      (212) 581-3080.

Steve Wilson

Steve Wilson

– April 18 – 21. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Steve Wilson Quintet.  Alto saxophonist Wilson’s resume includes recordings and performances ranging from Chick Corea and Lionel Hampton to Joe Henderson, Ron Carter and beyond.  But it’s always great to hear him on his own.  In this case he’s backed by Alex Sipiagin, trumpet, George Cables, piano, Larry Grenadier, bass and Ulysses Owens, Jr., drums.  The Jazz Standard.    (212) 576-2232.

– April 19. (Fri.)  Ana Popovic.  A blues guitarist and singer from Serbia may seem unlikely, but Popovic has been solidly proving her skills in both those areas.  The Iridium.    (212) 582-2121.


– April 21 (Sunday)  Joyce.  Described by Antonio Carlos Jobim as “one of the greatest singers of all times” Brazil’s Joyce has convincingly blended jazz and Brazilian music in her far-reaching recordings and performances.  Ronnie Scott’s.   +44 20 7439 0747.


Judy Niemack

Judy Niemack

– April 18. (Thurs.)  Judy Niemack.  She has been praised for the beauty of her voice, but Niemack is also a superb interpretive singer, who blends technical skill and far-reaching imagination.  A-Trane.   030 / 313 25 50.


– April 20. (Sat.)  Dave Holland with the Pepe Habichuela Flamenco Quintet. Always in search of new areas of musical expression, bassist Holland dips into the pleasures of flamenco.  The Blue Note Milano.    +39 02 6901 6888.

Buenos Aires

Maria Puga Lareo

Maria Puga Lareo

– April 18. (Thurs.)  Maria Puga Lareo and Bob Telson.  Argentine singer Lareo, highly regarded for her jazz skills, performs every Thursday night in April with American jazz and film composer/pianist Telson.   Clasica Y Moderna.   +54 11 4813-9517.


– April 19 & 20.  (Fri. & Sat.)  Karen Souza.  Latin American singer Souza’s fascination with the jazz swing era is an essential element in her music.  Click HERE to read a recent iRoM review of Karen Souza.   Tokyo Blue Note.   +81 3-5485-0088.

Picks of the Week: July 25 – 31.

July 25, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Justo Almario

– July 26. (Tues.)  Justo Almario Quartet.  Saxophonist/flutist Almario is one of the Southland’s great jazz treasures, a player who moves convincingly across every jazz arena. Vibrato.  (310) 474-9400.

– July 27. (Wed.)  Gladys Knight and James Ingram.  The one and only Grammy-winning Empress of Soul shares the stage with the smooth sounds of balladeer Ingram.   Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2040.

– July 28. (Thurs.)  David Angel’s Saxtet.  Angel continues his quest to showcase the jazz saxophone in all its glories.   Charlie O’s.  (818) 994-3058.

– July 28. (Thurs.)  Red Baraat.  The band that has convincingly married the Punjabi bhangra percussion rhythms with spunky New Orleans brass makes its West Coast premiere appearance.  The Skirball Cultural Center.   Free.  Seating on first come basis.  (310) 440-4500.

Ann Hampton Callaway

– July 28 – July 30.  (Thurs. – Sun.) Ann Hampton Callaway.  Blessed with one of the jazz vocal world’s most gorgeous, emotionally pliant voices, Callaway is also a convincing pianist and a masterful musical storyteller. Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

– July 29. (Fri.)  Los Lonely Boys and Los Lobos.  One of the major pop music breakthroughs of the past decade, the Grammy winning, platinum producing Lonely Boys share the stage with the older, more established, but no less compelling Los Lobos. The Greek Theatre.  (323) 665-5857.

– July 29. (Fri.)  John Proulx, Kristin Korb and Dave Tull. Trio’s like this don’t come along very often.  Pianist Proulx, bassist Korb and drummer Tull are all first rate instrumentalists  But each of them is also an appealing jazz vocalist.   Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

– July 29 & 30. (Fri. & Sat.) Michael Feinstein and the Singing Stars of Television.  Pianist/singer Feinstein, who matches his musical adroitness with a dedication to the glories of American song, performs with Wayne Brady, Florence Henderson, Cheyenne Jackson and Dick Van Dyke.   Hollywood Bowl.    (323) 850-2040.

– July 30. (Sat.)  Trouble in Tahiti. The too-rarely seen Leonard Bernstein one-act opera receives a rare and unusual performance in a night club setting.  Jessica Marney and Phil Meyer star.   Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

– July 30. (Sat.)  Shoghaken Ensemble and Tigran.  An evening overflowing with the colorful, far-reaching melodies and rhythms of Armenia.  Grand Performances.

(213) 687-2159.

– July 30. (Sat.)  Chuck Manning Quartet.  Versatile tenor saxophonist Manning brings an inventive point of view to his bop-influenced, straight ahead style.  His stellar backing includes Jay Daversa, trumpet, Pat Senatore, bass and Jimmy Branley, drums.  At 6:30 and 10:30, the Otmaro Ruiz duo.   Vibrato.  (310) 474-9400.

Peter Frampton

– July 30. (Sat.)  Peter Frampton.  One of the icons of classic rock, Frampton was a co-founder of the group Humble Pie when he was only eighteen.  Still a star, this time out he performs his multi-platinum album Frampton Comes Alive! in its entirety.  Greek Theatre.   (323) 665-5857.

– July 30 & 31. (Sat. & Sun.)  The Central Avenue Jazz Festival.  The 16th annual festival, always a showcase for the Southland’s finest, takes place in one of the founding places of Los Angeles jazz.  This year’s line up includes: on Saturday: Pete Escovedo, Kamasi Washington, the Pan Afrikan People’s Arkestra, Karen A. Clark Project, Ashley Siris, Dorian Holley, The LAUSD All-City High School Jazz Band.  On Sunday: The Gerald Wilson Orchestra, Katia Moraes and Sambaguru, Deacon Jones with Ray Goren, Ernie Andrews, Jazz America tribute to Buddy Collette.  The Central Avenue Jazz Festival takes place on Central Ave. between 42nd and 43rd streets.  Free.  (213) 473-2309.

San Francisco

New West Guitar Group

– July 27. (Wed.)  New West Guitar Group. A trio of gifted young guitarists – John Storie, Perry Smith and Jeff Stein, the New West players have thoroughly authenticated their ability to move freely and imaginatively across jazz, rock, folk and beyond.  Freight & Salvage.   http://www.thefreight.org  (510) 644-2020.

– July 29. (Fri.)  Lavay Smith’s Crazy in Love with Patsy Cline.  The one and only sultry siren finds entertaining common ground between jazz, blues and country.  Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse.   (510) 644-2020.

– July 31 – 31. (Sat. & Sun.)  The Fab Four.  Tribute bands seem to be proliferating in every direction.  But none do a more entertaining job of it than the Fab Four’s ear and eye catching versions of the Beatrles. Yoshi’s San Francisco.    (415) 655-5600.

New York

– July 26 – 30. (Tues. – Sat.)  Leny Andrade“From Rio With Love.”  The title is great, but it doesn’t say it all.  Andrade, in fact, has for years been one of Brazil’s most proficient jazz vocal artists, combining her deep understanding of Brazilian rhythms with an equally inventive jazz style.  Birdland.     (212) 581-3080.

– July 26 – 31. (Tues. – Sun.)  Fourplay. Guitarist Chuck Loeb joined founding Fourplay members Bob James, keyboards, Nathan East, bass and Harvey Mason, drums in 2010.  The result has been a further musical enhancement of a group that has always had the ability to find the creative heart of whatever style they elect to play.  The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

Claudia Acuna

– July 26 – 31. (Tues. – Sun.)  Claudia Acuna.  In a jazz world overflowing with talented female vocal artists, Acuna continues to soar freely at the highest levels of the art.  Chilean born, she mastered the basics quickly, but what makes her special is the way she has shaped her version of those basics into her own mesmerizing musical story telling. (212) 258-9800.   Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.


– July 29. (Fri.)  Ravi Coltrane Quartet.  Tenor and soprano saxophonist Coltrane has successfully accomplished the difficult task of creating his own convincing musical identity, expanding inventively from year to year, inspired but undistracted by the greatness of his father.  New Morning.    01 45 23 51 41.

Justo Amario photo by Tony Gieske.

Picks of the Week: July 5 – 10

July 5, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Ernie Andrews

– July 6. (Wed.)  The Ernie Andrews Quartet. The stylish, versatile Andrews – as convincing with a ballad standard as he is with the blues — performs with the bebop-driven alto saxophone of Richie Cole, and the stellar rhythm section of Art Hllary, piano, Richard Simon, bass and Ralph Penland, drums.  “Sunset Jazz at Newport.”   The Rose Garden of the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel and Spa.  (949) 759-5003.

– July 6. (Wed.)  Chieli Minucci.  Guitarist/composer/producer divides his time between his Grammy nominated contemporary jazz group Special EFX and his busy schedule as an A-list sideman and composer for television and film.  He makes his first Special EFX appearance at the Baked Potato with special guest, keyboardist Lao TizerBaked Potato.    (818) 980-1615.

– July 6. (Wed.)  Quattro.  With four skilled player/singers – Giovanna Clayton, cello, Lisa Dondlinger, violin, Kayta Matsuno, guitar and Jorge Villanueva, percussion – and an unusual instrumentation, Quattro is all set to produce an evening of fascinating sounds. Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

– July 7. (Thurs.)  The Fred Horn Quintet“A Tribute to Horace Silver.”  The inimitable Brick Wahl describes saxophonist Horn’s Silver tribute with a single, laudatory word: Cool.  And Brick, as usual, is right on target.  LAX Jazz Club in the Crowne Plaza LAX Hotel.    (310) 642-7500.

– July 7. (Thurs.) Bobbi Page & Dream Street.  Singer Page receives beautifully textured support from the lush timbres and subtle swing of Dream Street.  It’s a great combination.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

– July 8. (Fri.)  The 18th Annual Brazilian Summer Festival.  Call it Carnaval in the Summertime.  A celebration of the irresistible rhythms of Brazil — samba, frevo, bossa nova, batucada.  Headlining the festivities — Grammy winner Diogo Nogueira, the singing offspring of a family of samba artists.  Also on the program, the dynamic music of Chalo Eduaro’s “Brazilian Beat” band and the shimmering costumes and energetic choreography of the Brazilian Nites Samba Dancers.  A Brazilian Nites production at the Roxy Theatre.  (818) 566-1111.

– July 8 & 9. (Fri. & Sat.)  Steely Dan.  The Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famers perform two separate, but equally compelling programs.  On Friday night they perform Aja and their greatest hits.  On Saturday, a fan-voted set list.  Greek Theatre.  Special guest Sam Yahel.    (323) 665-5857.

Nellie McKay

– July 9. (Sat.)  Nellie McKay.  The seemingly limitless talents of McKay – singer, pianist, songwriter, actress, satirist and more – are currently focused on an inventive musical reconstruction of the 1958 film, I Want To Live. Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

– July 9. (Sat.)  Gary Foster/Alan Broadbent Quartet. It’s a combination that’s guaranteed to produce jazz at its finest.  Foster’s saxophone playing and Broadbent’s piano come from the same imaginative perspective.  And, with Broadbent planning to move to New York, he should be heard at every opportunity.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

– July 9 & 10. (Sat. & Sun.)  The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles“Totally: Our ‘80s Show”  The vocally adept, musically eclectic singers of the GMCLA call up plenty of memories with a program of songs by Cindy Lauper, Michael Jackson,  Depeche Mode, Pat Benatar and more.   The Avalon Hollywood.    (424) 239-6514.

San Francisco

– July 8 – 10 (Fri. –Sun.)  Michael Franks. It’s been more than three decades since Franks’ “Popsicle Toes” and “Lady Wants To Know” announced the arrival of a skilled new singer/songwriter witj a distinct jazz orientation.  And he’s still going strong. Yoshi’s Oakland.  (510) 238-9200.

New York

– July 5. (Tues.)  Leni Stern.  Guitarist Stern showcases her fascination with African rhythms with an ensemble that comfortably crosses the boundaries between jazz and Africa.  55 Bar.   (212) 929-9883.

Carmen Lundy

– July 8 – 10.  (Fri. – Sun.)  Carmen Lundy.  The many musical gifts of Lundy have been apparent for years.  But she’s never put them quite as prominently up front as she does on her latest album, Solamente, on which she plays all the instruments, sings all the songs and has written most of the music.  She is truly one of a kind. The Blue Note.  (212) 475-8592.


– July 7 – 10. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Mose Allison. The bayou philosopher manages to sneak a bit of home grown wisdom into most of his songs.  And he does so with memorable melodies, buoyant swing and an ever present sense of humor.  Jazz Alley.  (206) 441-9729.  (206) 441-9729.


– July 7 – 10. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Judy Roberts Trio.  Chicago’s favorite female jazz singer/pianist  gets together with frequent musical companion, saxophonist/flutist Greg FishmanJazz Showcase  (312) 360-0234.


Jeff Lorber

– July 6. (Wed.)  Jeff Lorber Fusion. Keyboardist Lorber’s pioneering Fusion group of the ‘70s and ’80 set the pattern for many of the contemporary jazz groups to follow.  But none did it any better than the music Lorber has produced, then and now.  Ronnie Scott’s  020 7439 0747.


– July 6 & 7. (Wed. & Thurs.)  Bitches Brew Beyond.   Trumpeter Wallace Roney’s mastery of the Miles Davis trumpet style makes him the ideal candidate for this re-imagining of the classic Bitches Brew material.  Further enhancing the authenticity, Vince Wilburn, Jr. (Davis’ nephew) is in the drum chair.   New Morning. 


– July 8 – 10. )Fri. – Sun.)  Bob James Trio.  Keyboardist James takes a break from his heavy schedule with Fourplay to dig into a straight ahead, piano jazz trio set.  He’ll also feature bassist Shadu ShahBlue Note Tokyo.  03 5485 0088.

Picks of the Week: Dec. 28 – Jan. 2

December 26, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Gerald Clayton

– Dec. 28. (Tues.)  Gerald Clayton Trio. Grammy nominated pianist Clayton has moved rapidly from being an upcoming L.A. prodigy to an emerging new jazz star.  He’s based in New York City now, so don’t miss this fairly rare opportunity to hear him back in the Southland.  Steamers. (714) 871-8800

– Dec. 28. (Tues.)  Mitchel Forman Quartet. Versatile keyboardist Forman’s credits reach from the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Wayne Shorter to Manhattan Transfer, Pat Metheny and beyond.  But it’s always fascinating to hear him leading his own musical aggregation. Vibrato.  (310)  474-9400.

– Dec. 28 – Jan. 2. (Tues. – Sun.)  Jane Monheit.  What better time to hear the gorgeous voice of Monheit than during the holiday season, especially when she’ll be singing songs from her lovely new album, Home. Catalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210.

– Dec. 30. (Thurs.)  Joe La Barbera Quintet. The drummer everyone likes to hear in the rhythm section, LaBabera steps out front to lead the stellar ensemble of Bob Sheppard, Clay Jenkins, Tom Warrington and John Campbell.   Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

– Dec. 30. (Thurs.) Janis Mann Quartet.  Mann’s latest album, Blow Away, is a compelling display of classic standards sung in richly atmospheric interpretations.  Here’s a chance to hear them performed live.  Charlie O’s. (818)  994-3058.

San Francisco

Fee Waybill

– Dec. 29. (Wed.)  The Tubes.  The wildly theatrical band of the ‘70s and ‘80s is still breaking out of the envelope, with the unique voice of Fee Waybill leading the way.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655-5600.

– Dec. 29. (Wed.)  Roberta Donnay Jazz Trio.  Singer Donnay takes a break from her gig  as a member of Dan Hicks’ Hot Licks to showcase her impressive jazz vocal skills.  The Union Room at Biscuits and Blues.   (415) 292-2583.

New York.

– Dec. 27 – Jan. 2. Chris Botti.  Trumpeter Botti’s holiday month musical marathon continues.  The Blue Note. (212) 475-8592.

Dec. 28 – 31. (Tues. – Fri.)  The Bad Plus.  Contemporary, cutting edge piano jazz is alive in the hands of this musically vibrant trio.  Village Vanguard. (212) 255-4037.


(Fri., Dec. 31)

Los Angeles

Baked Potato. Don Randi & Quest bring in the New Year at their home base with a line up of special guests.  (818) 980-1615.

Jane Monheit (Photo by Tony Gieske)


Catalina Bar & GrillJane Monheit. Continuing her week-long run (through Sunday) with a holiday celebration.  (323) 466-2210.

Charlie O’s. Don Menza, Tom Ranier, John Heard and Roy McCurdy.  Saxophonist Menza fronts a stellar ensemble of L.A. jazz veterans.   (818) 994-3059.

Chateau Ballroom.   Susie Hansen Latin Jazz Band. Hansen’s electric violin and rhythm happy ensemble provide the perfect setting to salsa in the New Year. 213-746-4490

Chaya Brasserie. “Roaring 20’s New Year’s Eve.” John Reynolds and the Blue Four, featuring singer Molly Ryan.   (310) 859-8833.

Culver Club Radisson Hotel. Ernie Andrews struts his inimitable musical way into the New Year.  (310) 649-1776.  Ext. 4137.

Steamers. The Chris Williams Sextet.  Canadian-born singer/percussionist Williams leads his rhythmically energized sextet in a holiday celebration.  (714) 871-8800.

Barbera Morrison

Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. Barbara Morrison keeps the blues and everything else alive, this year and every year.  (310) 474-9400.

Vitellos. Nutty. An evening of classic Frank Sinatra Ratpack frivolity and jazz to bring in the New Year.    Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

Walt Disney HallKristin Chenoweth. Emmy and Tony award winner Chenowith celebrates the arrival of 2011 with a back up crew of singers, dancers and musicians, performing selections from Glee, Promises, Promises, Wicked and a lot more.  (323) 850-2000.

San Francisco

Yoshi’s Oakland. Lalah Hathaway. Soulful stylist Hathaway brings emotional life to everything she sings.  Hopefully she’ll include her Grammy-nominated “Forever, For Always, For Love.”  (510) 238-9200.

Yoshi’s San FranciscoDianne Reeves. Reeve’s sumptuous voice will be ably backed by the superb ensemble of Peter Martin, Romero Lubambo, Reginald Veal and Terreon Gully.   (415) 655-5600.

New York

Hilary Kole

BirdlandThe Birdland Big Band directed by Tommy Igoe and featuring the warm-toned vocals of Hilary Kole top off a rare week-long run with a climactic, bring-in-the-New-Year set.   (212) 581-3080.

Blue Note. Chris Botti.  Trumpeter Botti heads toward the climax of his annual holiday run at the Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. “Celebration in Swing” It’s an apt title for a performance by the all-star ensemble of Cyrus Chestnut, Benny Green, Jimmy Heath, Nicholas Payton, Dezron Douglas and Willie Jones, III.  (212) 258-9800.

Iridium. The Mike Stern Band with Victor Wooten, Dave Weckl and Bob Malach.  And here’s another all-star ensemble determined to celebrate the New Year in hard swinging fashion.  (212) 582-2121.

Jazz StandardDr. Lonnie Smith Big Band.  Dr. Lonnie, who usually works in trio format, displays his dynamic style in a roaring, big band setting. Jazz Standard.   (212) 447-7733.

Village Vanguard. The Bad Plus.  The trio of Ethan Iverson, Reid Anderson and Dave King continue to expand the envelope of the jazz piano trio.   (212) 255-4037.

Picks of the Week: Aug. 30 – Sept. 5

August 30, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Karen Lovely

– Aug. 31. (Tues.)  The Karen Lovely Band. Rising vocal star Lovely is applying her powerful singing to classic blues, richly investing the  styles of the ’30s and ’40s — Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, etc. — with her uniquely contemporary perspective.   Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

– Aug. 31. (Tues.)  Lisa Hilton. Jazz pianist Hilton leads her quartet — saxophonist J.D. Allen, bassist Gregg August and drummer Rudy Royston —  focusing on her playing and her compositions in a performance that will no doubt include some selections from her recently released CD, Nuance. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.  .

– Aug. 31. (Tues.)  John Altman. He’s been a visible factor in jazz and pop music for decades, as a composer, arranger, producer and conductor.  But Altman’s also an impressive alto saxophonist as well.  Hear him in one of the Southland’s most laid back jazz settings.  Charlie O’s.   (818) 994-3058.

– Aug. 31. (Tues.)  Yuval Ron EnsembleSeeker of the Truth. The Ron Ensemble performs ecstatic music of the Sufi and Jewish traditions, with the Whirling Dervish Aziz and sacred dance artist Maya Karasso.  Also on the program, the vocals of Maya Haddi and the qawwali singing of Pakistan’s Sukhawat Ali KhanSeeker of the Truth.  Morgan-Wixson Theatre, Santa Monica.    Info: (818) 505-1355.

– Aut. 31. (Tues.)  John Pisano’s Guitar Night.  With Howard Alden.  You may not recognize Alden by sight, but you’ve heard his playing if you saw Woody Allen’s Sweet and Lowdown, in which it was dubbed over Sean Penn’s air guitar.  Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

Herbie Hancock

– Sep. 1. (Wed.)  Herbie Hancock Seven Decades – The Birthday Celebration. The Hollywood Bowl’s jazz highlight of the summer season.  The program includes selections from Hancock’s new crossover album,  The Imagine Project.  Among his stellar companions for the night: Wayne Shorter, India.Arie, Jack DeJohnette, Zakir Hussain, Juanes, Esperanza Spalding, Lisa Hannigan, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi and others.  The Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.  Click HERE to read Herbie Hancock’s conversation with iRoM about the making of  “The Imagine Project.”

– Sept. 2. (Thurs.) Leonard Bernstein’s Candide.  A Los Angeles Philharmonic concert staging of Bernstein’s operetta featuring singers Anna Christy, Alek Shrader and Richard Suart with the LA Master ChoraleThe Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

– Sept 2. (Thurs.)  Dr. John and the Lower 911.  New Orleans rhythms take over the Santa Monica Pier for a dynamic summer evening.  Dancing, if there’s room, is optional, but probably irresistible.  With Eddie Baytos and the Nervis BrothersTwilight Dance at the Santa Monica Pier.  (310) 458-8900.

– Sept. 2. (Thurs.)  Gail Pettis.  She spends most of her time in her Seattle orthodontist’s office, but Pettis has all the qualities of a breakout jazz vocalist.  She’s not here often, so don’t miss the opportunity to hear her.Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400. 

Gaea Schell

– Sept. 1 & 2. (Wed, & Thurs.) Gaea Schell Quartet Pianist/singer Schell, whose vocals are intimately blended with her articulate piano work, makes a pair of appearances, backed by bassist Essiet Essiet at Vibrato , (310) 474-9400, on Wednesday, and with Essiet, saxophonist Chuck Manning and drummer Sylvia Cuenca at the Crowne Plaza Brasserie Jazz Lounge,  (310) 642-7500, on Thursday.

– Sept. 2 – 5. (Thurs. – Sun.) Mary Wilson You know her from her chart busting performances with the Supremes, and Wilson continues to honor that legacy.  But she’s also emerged as a talented, jazz and blues artist in her own right.  Catalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210.  .

– Sept. 3 & 4. (Fri. & Sat.)  Earth, Wind & Fire celebrate their 40th anniversary, performing with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and FireworksThe Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

– Sept. 3 – 6. (Fri. – Mon.)  Sweet & Hot Music Festival.  The 15th installment of this annual event celebrates the great jazz mainstream – from up tempo swing to seductive blues and balladry.  Featured artists include  Ernestine Anderson, Herb Jeffires, Banu Gibson, Jack Sheldon Orchestra, The Mills Brothers, Harry Allen, Howard Alden and dozens of others.  Over 200 musicians performing at eight different locations in 180 events, with four dance floors encouraging fancy footwork. .  LAX Marriott Hotel.  Sweet & Hot Music Festival.   (909) 983-0106.

Louie Cruz Beltran

– Sept. 5. (Sun.)  La Vida Music Festival.   An evening of music celebrating L.A.’s rich array of Latin musical cultures.  With Louis Cruz Beltran, Poncho Sanchez.  Real Tango, the Mariachi Divas, Robert Kyle’s Brazilian Quartet and Chalo Eduardo’s Brazilian BeatTommy Hawkins hosts.  Ford Amphitheatre. (323) 461-3673

– Sept. 6. (Mon.) Fantasea One Labor Day Yacht Party.  A mini-cruise and barbeque with four decks of live entertainment, DJs, games, free barbeque, cabanas and more.  Departing from Marina Del Rey at 4 p.m., returning at 8 p.m.  (310) 821-5371.   8th Annual Labor Day Yacht Party.

San Francisco

– Aug. 31 – Sept. 1. (Tues. – Thurs.) Jacky Terrasson.  France’s Terrason burst onto the jazz stage in 1993 as the winner of the Thelonious Monk Piano Competition.  And he didn’t stop there, receiving a pair of Grammy nominations and a string of awards inhis native country.  Always compelling, he makes few West Coast appearances.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655-5600. 

– Sept. 2 – 4 (Thurs. – Sat.)  Marlena Shaw. She’s been crossing genre boundaries – from jazz to soul, disco and beyond – since the mid-‘60s.  And she’s still in rare form.  The Rrazz Room.   (415) 394-1189.

– Sept. 3 – 5. (Fri. – Sun.)  Kenny Burrell Quintet.  Veteran guitarist/educator Burrell leads the scintillating ensemble of saxophonist Tivon Pennicott, bassist Roberto Miranda, pianist Mike Wofford and drummer Clayton Cameron.  To read a recent iRoM review of the Burrell Quintet click HEREYoshi’s Oakland.  (510) 238-9200.


Roy Haynes

– Sept. 3 – 6. (Fri. – Mon.)  31st Detroit International Jazz Festival.  This year’s event has as stellar a line up as any jazz festival of the year.  But the price is right for this one.  Here are some of the highlight performers: Roy Haynes and his Fountain of Youth Band, Maria Schneider, Branford Marsalis, Myra Melford, Freddy Cole, Ledisi, Mulgrew Miller & Kenny Barron Duo, Ray Brown Tribute, Danilo Perez, Tower of Power,  Ernie Andrews, Kurt Elling, Ernie Watts, Tower of Power, Gerald Wilson, The Manhattan Transfer and much more.   Free Event.  Detroit International Jazz Festival. At locations in downtown Detroit.


– Sept. 2 – 5. (Fri.- Sun.)  The 32nd Annual Chicago Jazz Festival, presented by CareFusion.  Another grat Midwest jazz festival, also priced for everyone’s pocketbook.  Here are some of the high points of a line up that also includes an array of Chicago-based talent of all ages.  Brad Mehldau, Henry Threadgill, Kurt Elling, Rene Marie, Ramsey Lewis, Chuchito Valdes, Brian Blade Fellowship Band, Charisma with a Lee Morgan Tribute, Ted Sirota.  Free Event.  At locations throughout Chicago.  Chicago Jazz Festival (312) 427-1676.   (313) 447-1248.

New York

– Aug. 31 – Sept. 1 (Tues. & Wed.) Jimmy Scott.  He’s been one of jazz, soul and r&b’s most unique stylists since he first arrived on the scene.  Still a master of interpretation, he performs here in the companly of jazz harmonica player Gregoire MaretThe Blue Note (212) 475-8592.

Leny Andrade

– Aug. 31 – Sept. 4. (Tues. – Sat.)  Leny Andrade“Return to Birdland: Bossas, Boleros and Jazz.” Andrade’s ability to illuminate the natural jazz roots of bossa nova has made her one of Brazil’s finest jazz vocal artists.  Birdland.   (212) 581-3080.

– Aug. 31 – Sept. 5. (Tues. – Sun.)  Paul Motian, Joe Lovano, Bill Frisell.  It’s as all-star as it gets, with three masters of their art working in spontaneous tandem.  Don’t miss this one.  Village Vanguard.   (212) 255-4037.

– Sept. 1. (Wed.)  “Endangered Species; The Music of Wayne Shorter” The Irididium opens Big Band Month with a performance by the Wayne Shorter Tribute Big BandDavid Weiss leads the ten piece ensemble in a program surveying music from the full breadth of Shorter’s remarkable catalog of compositions.  Iridium.   (212) 582-2121.

– Sept. 2 – 5. (Wed. – Sun.)  Tuck & Patti.  They started out as a definitive jazz voice and guitar duo, and they continue to bring imagination and musicality to everything they perform.  The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 255 other followers