Brick Wahl Keeping It Real: Checking Out Charmaine Clamor’s New CD

February 23, 2014

By Brick Wahl

Heard several tracks in progress from Charmaine Clamor’s new recording recently. Quite a selection of tunes – none of the usual jazz standards at all.

Charmaine Clamor

Charmaine Clamor

Instead there’s a remarkable take on “Imagine” (a tune that rarely survives covering) propelled by some really striking rhythmic piano by Laurence Hobgood. There’s a surprising ”O Shenandoah,” a George Harrison tune, a Carole King, a take (in Spanish) on a Mercedes Sosa tune, which she nails, and at long last she’s recorded her knock out interpretation of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

Very passionate vocals even by Charmaine’s standard – that’s always been her thing, the passion – and she’s showing subtleties untapped till now. The sound is full and warm and rich. This thing has crossover potential I think (KCRW and that end of the dial definitely) without selling out to commercialism even one iota.

Ernie Watts by the way, sits in and kills it, and drummer Abe Lagrimas picks up the ukulele in about as uncliched way as you can imagine. One of my favorite pianists around town, Andy Langham, even takes the bench for a couple numbers. And while I can’t say enough about Hobgood’s presence here, it’s Charmaine’s record through and through, it’s her feel, even on the instrumental passages it never gets away from her.  Anyway, I totally dug it.

This is major label stuff if I ever heard it.

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The album, which will be titled “The Better Angels,” will be released soon.

Photo by Faith Frenz

To read more fascinating essays from Brick Wahl, check out his personal web by clicking HERE.

Picks of the Week: January 8 – 12

January 8, 2014

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

– Jan. 8. (Wed.) Jim Cox Trio. Pianist Cox has long been one of the Southland’s first call pianists and arrangers. Here he is, on his own, backed by bassist Domenic Genova and drummer John Ferraro. Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

Laura Benanti

Laura Benanti

– Jan. 8 & 9. (Wed. & Thurs.) Laura Benanti. Tony Award-winning Broadway star Benanti starred in last year’s NBC-TV production of The Sound of Music. This week, she celebrates the release of her album, In Search of the Right Kind of Attention. Catalina Bar & Grill (223) 466-2210.

– Jan. 9. (Thurs.) Frank Petrilli Quartet.The accordion is very much alive and swinging in the hands of the gifted Petrilli. He’s backed by the equally stellar playing of John Chiodini, guitar, Pat Senatore, bass and Enzo Todesco, drums. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

Tom Wopat

Tom Wopat

– Jan. 10. (Fri.) Jan. 10. (Fri.) Tom Wopat.  Actor/singer Wopat’s busy career reaches from his starring role in the hit TV series The Dukes of Hazard to prominent appearances in Broadway musicals such as Annie Get Your Gun.  But his warm baritone and buoyant rhythms are also well heard in recordings — most recently, I’ve Got Your Number — showcasing his jazz-tinged interpretations.  Rockwell Table and Stage.  (323) 669-1550.

– Jan. 10 – 12. (Fri. – Sun.) The Los Angeles Philharmonic performs a gripping program of Dvorak and Beethoven. Edo de Waart conducts Symphony No. 9 (New World) with violinist Augustin Hadelich soloing in the Beethoven Violin Concerto. Disney Hall (323) 850-2000.

Lee Ritenour

Lee Ritenour

– Jan. 10 – 12. (Fri. – Sun.) Lee Ritenour. He’s a guitarist for all seasons, earning Ritenour the nickname of “Captain Fingers. And in this three night run, he’s surrounded by a line up of all-star guests. On Friday and Sunday: Patrice Rushen, Abe Laboriel and Sonny Emory. And on Saturday: Dave Grusin, Ernie Watts and John Beasley. Catalina Bar & Grill. (223) 466-2210.

– Jan. 11. (Sat.) Jennifer Logan and Bryan Pezzone. “A Different Quiet.”The title should be right on target for this intriguing ensemble, with Bezzone, piano, Logan, electro-acoustics, Tim Emmons, bass and MB Gordy, percussion. Vitello’s (818) 769-0905.

– Jan. 11. (Sat.) Tom Peterson. Saxophonist/woodwind player Peterson, one of Minnesota’s many gifts to jazz, balances first rate playing with a busy career as a producer, educator, clinician and more. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

Lenore Raphael

Lenore Raphael

– Jan. 11. (Sat.)  Lenore Raphael Quartet. Pianist Raphael’s briskly rhythmic style has earned her the title of “Queen of Swing.”  And with Howard Alden, guitar, Chris Colangelo, bass and Roy McCurdy, drums, she’ll fully justify the label.  She’ll also play selections from the Oscar Peterson Songbook and share anecdotes about Peterson himself.   Jazz at the Radisson LAX.  (310) 670-9000.

San Francisco

– Jan. 10 – 12 (Fri. – Sun.) Tower of Power. The horn-driven funk, blues, soul and jazz of Tower of Power reach back to the ‘sixties, and they’re still going strong. Yoshi’s Oakland (510) 238-9200.


Jeff Lorber

Jeff Lorber

– Jan 9 – 12. (Thurs. – Sun.) Jeff Lorber Fusion. Keyboardist Lorber, one of the innovative artists of the crossover and fusion era. His all star band includes bassist Brian Bromberg, saxophonist Patrick Lamb and drummer Gary Novak. Jazz Alley (206) 441-9729.

Washington D.C.

– Jan. 9 – 12. (Thurs. – Sun.) Gerald Albright. Blues Alley. (202) 337-4141. Saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist Albright is a versatile master of styles reaching across the gamut of contemporary jazz styles. Blues Alley. (202) 337-4141

New York City

John Pizzarelli

John Pizzarelli

– Jan. 11 & 12. (Sat. & Sun.) The John Pizzarelli Quartet with special guest Jane Monheit. A pair of the contemporary jazz world’s finest vocalists team up for a scintillating tour through the pleasures of the Great American Songbook. The Blue Note (212) 475-8592.


– Jan. 10. (Fri.) Naturally 7. There’s nothing quite like the remarkable a cappella vocals of Naturally 7, who call their rich-textured, mesmerizing performances “Vocal Play.” New Morning +33 1 45 23 51 41.


– Jan. 10 & 11. (Fri. & Sat.) The Steen Rasmussen Quartet Plays Jobim. Brazilian sounds at their finest come to Denmark in the capable hands of Steen Rasmussen, (piano), Josefine Cronholm (vocals), Fredrik Damsgaard (bass ) and Alfonso Corrêa, (drums, percussion). Jazzhus Montmartre +45 31 72 34 94.


Tania Maria

Tania Maria

Jan. 10 & 11. (Fri. & Sat.) Tania Maria Trio. Pianist/singer Maria is one of the world’s most engaging ambassadors of Brazilian music. Blue Note Milano +39 02 6901 6888.


– Jan.12. (Sun.) Edmar Castaneda and Gonzalo Rubalcaba. It’s a fascinating musical encounter, blending the far-ranging harp music of Castaneda and the stillunder-appreciated jazz piano of Rubalcaba. Blue Note Tokyo.  +81 3-5485-0088.

Live Music: “Jazz At The Philharmonic.” The KJAZZ Radio Summer Benefit Concert At Walt Disney Concert Hall.

June 26, 2013

By Norton Wright

Los Angeles, CA.  Over eleven hundred jazz buffs streamed into the Walt Disney Concert Hall last Saturday night for the first every KJAZZ Radio Summer Benefit Concert to hear three separate groups, each with its own unique style. There was something for every taste.

Kicking off the evening was Harvey Mason’s powerhouse, cutting-edge fusion sextet “Chameleon” —

Followed by the nostalgia of 60-year-old songstress Diane Schuur backed by pianist Alan Broadbent’s quintet. Schuur’s singing of jazz standards still brave and swinging –

And for the concert’s finale, the smooth jazz of pianist David Benoit’s and his quintet — but with an exciting surprise in store!

Walt Disney Concert Hall is an acoustic marvel, so the performances of the evening’s individual soloists were dramatic and wonderfully defined. You’ve got to love the positionings of the “Chameleon” sextet. Harvey Mason at his drum set stage left — Bill Summers stage right with his confectionary of four conga drums, a giant, rattle shaker gourd. assorted bells, chimes, and whistles and a beer bottle (to be explained)! Two keyboardists upstage, Mark De Clive-Lowe on piano and John Beasley on his two synthesizers — And downstage center, Jimmy Haslip playing his throbbing 5-string electronic bass, and Kamasi Washington, the LeBron James of tenor men, a giant stage presence structuring his solos with the power and finesse of a Dexter Gordon.

Harvey Mason

Harvey Mason

With Mason opening his set with Wayne Shorter’s composition, “Footprints,” the musical exchanges between “Chameleon’s” all-stars took off. Hard-driving arrangements were juxtaposed with diaphanous, almost mystical ballads. At one point, keyboardists Beasley and Clive-Lowe sitting side by side improvised a duet on their separate synthesizer keyboards creating a mosaic of wind-chime beauty.

And when Mason chose to solo toward the end of the set, instead of a show-off  “dreaded drum solo,” his work was organic to the tune being played and a delight to listen to. To fully appreciate the unfolding of Mason’s percussive tapestry, the listener does well to remember the drum figure just played and then hear how it leads on to Mason’s subsequent and inventive variation.

And finally for “Chameleon” fun, Bill Summers abandoned his conga drums, gourd shaker, and tambourine to wow the audience by playing the top of a beer bottle like a flute and creating a series of breathy, reggae-styled whoops and licks. At his solo’s end Summers drank the remaining beer and toasted the audience with his bottle raised on high! He got a standing ovation.

Diane Schuur

Diane Schuur

Diane Schuur has always been for me brave and beautiful. Blind since birth, she still comes on stage in a sparkly gown, wearing dark glasses and guided by a friend. And now after three decades of performing, she gleefully acknowledged the applause by bowing so deeply to the audience that her head almost touched the floor. Affection spilled out over the footlights in both directions.

Seated on a stool and backed by pianist Alan Broadbent’s quintet, Diane kicked into an up-tempo “’S Wonderful” and moved easily into Jobim’s “How Insensitive.” Suddenly it seemed like it was 1985 again. Deedles scatted through “I’ll Remember You” and then wrung our hearts so intensely with “Didn’t We” that Broadbent and his band, Ernie Watts (sax), Larry Koonse (guitar), Scott Steed (bass), and Clayton Cameron (drums) joined the audience in applauding her!

For a finale surprise, onto the stage walked Diane’s old pal, singer Steve Tyrell, and together they winged it on “How High The Moon” with Diane going stratospheric on the last note before she and Tyrell took a final bow to another standing ovation.

There are all kinds of beauty in the world. Certainly Diane Schuur doesn’t possess the physical beauty of the Alicia Keys cadre, but what spirit, gumption, and tenacity she’s displayed over the years! That’s another kind of beauty — and whether it’s Deedles with the Count Basie Orchestra back in 1987 or with Alan Broadbent’s combo today in 2013, she’s given the jazz world a bounty of beauty and meaning with her songs.

A special word is in order about Alan Broadbent who arranged all the songs for Schuur in this KJazz concert. Alan is that rare artist who provides marvelous support for a singer without overshadowing her with his own spectacular talent.

Note: Alan’s extraordinary piano work can most recently be heard on his solo album, Heart to Heart, (available on and on the CD Baby online music store) in which he dazzles with such complex and intricate keyboard work that without overdubbing, it still sounds as if he were playing duets with himself – probably with his rumored twenty-one fingers and a couple of toes!

In the KJazz Concert, Alan and his combo of all-stars provided solid backing for Schuur: Ernie Watts taking a particularly cool sax break on “I Remember You”; Larry Koonse’ guitar solo perfectly attuned to Diane’s bluesy feel on “Didn’t We”; Scott Steed’s bass solo providing a complex and nuanced reprise of the melody on the same number; and throughout Diane’s set, the reserved but tasty brush work of drummer Clayton Cameron.

And to end Diane’s set with a pyrotechnic change of pace, she and the band invited brush master Cameron to explode on “For Once in My Life” with a thunderous and mesmerizing drum solo featuring brushes and sticks on snare and bass drums, tom-toms, timbales, on an array of sparkling cymbals, and with the rarity of brushes played on bongos. Each percussion instrument was played with different combinations of brushes, drumsticks, timpani mallets, and pom pom sticks — each brush or stick set discarded onto the floor after its particular use. At solo’s end, a joyous Cameron sat atop of a mound of his exhausted and discarded brushes and drumsticks. This is a percussionist who is as much fun to watch as he is to hear.

David Benoit

David Benoit

In the concert’s finale, pianist David Benoit and his smooth jazz quintet paid homage to Benoit’s early idol, Vince Guaraldi, with a take on the “Charlie Brown/Peanuts” theme. But a surprise was in the offing as guest artist Christian Scott joined the ensemble with his crackling trumpet reminding so much of Freddy Hubbard’s aggressive drive on “Walking in Space.”  Scott lifted Benoit’s band into unexpected funky territory. Guitarist Grant Geissman caught fire on his solos with the feel of down-home, country blues. Tenor man David Sills, urged on by Benoit and Scott, began to wail. Bassist David Hughes and drummer Jamey Tate followed suit. With his piano lines becoming more muscularly baroque than his expected decorative rococo, Benoit was into robust stride piano licks by evening’s end, and he and his quintet ended the concert up-tempo and gutsy.

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To read more posts by and about Norton Wright click HERE.

Picks of the Week: June 5 – 10

June 5, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

– June 5. (Tues.)  “And Then She Wrote.”  Peter Marshall, Carol Welsman, Calabria Foti.  Five time Emmy Award-winning Marshall (Yes, he sings, too) is joined by the lovely singer/instrumentalists Welsman and Foti in an evening of great standards written by women. Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

– June 5. (Tues.)  Corliss Dale and Lou Forestieri.  Pianist/arranger  Forestieri’s impressive resume reaches from Stanley Clarke to Mel Torme and beyond.  He and his singing wife Dale have released a pair of impressive albums of standards; Fascinating Rhythms and Crazy Rhythm.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.     (310) 474-9400.

– June 6. (Wed.)  The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses.  The music from one of the most popular video games of all time is performed by a full orchestra.  The program features music based on story lines from “Ocarina of Time,” “The Wind Waker,” “Twilight Princess” and “A Link to the Past.” The Greek Theatre.  (323) 665-5857.

Fabiana Passoni

– June 7. (Thurs.) Fabiana Passoni.  Her sultry vocals have earned Passoni the title of Best Brazilian Singer Living in the U.S. from the Brazilian International Press.  Despite the difficult interruptions of a three year battle with cancer, her musical journey has continued to discover new areas of creativity.  She’ll be backed by a ten piece band featuring the stellar presence of, among others, pianist Bill Cantos and guitarist Kleber Jorge. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.    (310) 474-9400.  Also at Yoshi’s San Francisco on Sun. (See below.)

– June 7 – 9. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Freddy Cole Quartet.  If the voice sounds familiar, don’t be surprised.  He’s Nat Cole’s younger brother, and he’s fashioned those memorable vocal timbres into an appealing style all his own.  At a time when engaging male jazz singers are in short supply, don’t miss the chance to hear Cole in action.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

– June 7 – 9. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Peter Cetera.  If the name doesn’t instantly ring a bell, think “Chicago.”  And, no, not the city, the great rock group of the ‘70s that rode to fame on Cetera’s memorable vocals.  Segerstrom Center for the Arts.     (714) 556-2787.

– June 8. (Fri.) Primus.  For nearly three decades Primus has been stretching the envelope in the style of Frank Zappa and Pink Floyd.  Also on the bill, Fishbone, a high visibility presence in L.A.’s alternative rock scene since the ‘80s.  Greek Theatre.   (323) 665-5857.

Ernie Watts

– June 8. (Fri.)  Ernie Watts.  Grammy-winner Watts’ versatile saxophone playing has been heard over the past four decades on more than 500 recordings in the company of artists reaching from Cannonball Adderley to Frank Zappa.  And he’s still going strong.  LACMA.    (323) 857-6000.

– June 8. (Fri.) Big Phat BandGordon Goodwin’s collection of L.A. all-stars perform selections from his always-swinging book of originals and re-invented standards.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

– June 10. (Sun.)  Los Angeles Master Chorale. Tribute to Gorecki.  The superb voices of the LAMC close the season with a trio of sonically mesmerizing works by the great Polish composer, as well as the Brahms motet for chorus, Schaffe in mir, Gott, ein rein Herz.  Disney Hall.   (323) 850-2000.

– June 10. (Sun.)  Chickenfoot.  All-star rock group Chickenfoot – Joe Satriani, Kenny Aronoff, Michael Anthony and Sammy Hagar – arrive in support of their latest album, Chickenfoot III.  Also on the bill – Black Stone Cherry. Greek Theatre.  (323) 665-5857.

San Francisco

Rick Braun

– June 8 – 10.  (Fri. – Sun.)  Rick Braun. Trumpeter/vocalist Braun, following in the Chet Baker footsteps, combining his warm and amiable vocals with an appealingly melodic trumpet style.  Yoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.

June 10. (Sun.)   Fabiana Passoni.  Brazilian singer Passoni makes her second California appearance this week.  See above L.A. entry for more details.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.    (415) 655-5600.

Washington D.C.

– June 8 – 10.  (Fri. – Sun.)  Kenny Garrett. Cutting edge alto saxophonist Garrett’s early roots trace to a five year stint with Miles Davis’ electric bands.  But he’s traveled his own path since then, fully apparent in his latest album, Seeds From the Underground.  Blues Alley.  (202) 337-4141.

New York

Karrin Allyson

– June 5 – 9. (Tues. – Sat.)  Karrin Allyson. Twenty years after her debut album, I Didn’t Know About You, was released, Allyson continues to set standards for what great jazz singing can and should be – via her superb musicality, rich sense of swing and her utterly engrossing storytelling abilities.  Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

– June 5 – 10. (Tues. – Sun.)  Renee Rosnes Quartet.  Pianist Rosnes, always a jazz adventurer, checks out fascinating territories with the world class companionship of Steve Nelson, vibes, Peter Washington, bass and Lewis Nash, drums.  Village Vanguard.   (212) 929-4589.

– June 5 – 10. (Tues. – Sun.)  Dudka Da Fonseca & Helio Alves.  “Samba, Jazz and the Music of Jobim”  An evening revealing, in delightfully rhythmic fashion, the creatively compelling links between jazz and the music of Brazil. With Anat Cohen, Claudio Roditi, George Mraz and Maucha Adnet.  Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.    (212) 258-9800.

– June 7 – 10. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Charles McPherson. Alto saxophonist McPherson has been convincingly carrying the torch for bebop since he performed on the soundtrack of Clint Eastwood’s 1988 Charlie Parker film, Bird.   Jazz Standard.   (212) 576-2232.


Danilo Perez

– June 6 (Wed.)  Danilo Perez.  Panama-born pianist/composer/educator Perez’s career arc reaches from intimate musical relationships with Dizzy Gillespie to Wayne Shorter.  With a lot of stops in between, thoroughly establishing himself as one of the influential jazz voices of his generation.  Ronnie Scott’s.   020 7439 0747.

Picks of the Week: May 9 – 13

May 9, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

– May 10 & 11. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Peter Eldridge: Foolish Hearts.  Grammy winning pianist/vocalist Eldridge is joined by bassist Matt Aronoff for an intimate musical excursion through originals and standards.  Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

Gustavo Dudamel

– May 10 – 12. (Thurs. – Sat.)  The Los Angeles PhilharmonicGustavo Dudamel conducts a sparkling evening of Mozart (the Overture to Le Nozze di Figaro and the Posthorn Serenade), and a featured appearance by young virtuoso violinist Alina Pogostkina performing Distant Light by Latvian composer Peteris VasksDisney Hall. (323) 850-2000.

– May 10 – 13. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Kenny Garrett Quintet.  Cutting edge alto saxophonist Garrett makes his musical intentions clear when he says, “Don’t look for me to sound like my last record.”  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

– May 11. (Fri.)  Danny Janklow.  Rapidly rising jazz alto saxophonist Janklow is backed by solid support from the trio of pianist Theo Saunders, bassist Pat Senatore and drummer Jimmy BranleyVibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

– May 12. (Sat.)  Kristin Chenowith.  Emmy and Tony Award winner Chenowith, a Broadway star of the highest voltage, launches her debut world tour with a stop at the Greek Theatre.    (323) 665-5857.

John Pizzarelli and Jane Monheit

– May 12 (Sat.)  John Pizzarelli Quartet with Jane Monheit. What a great pairing – the loose, swinging guitar playing and jaunty vocals of Pizzarelli combining perfectly with the gorgeous sound and soaring intimacy of Monheit’s singing.   Valley Performing Arts Center.    (818) 677-3000.

New York

– May 9 – 12. (Wed. – Sat.)  Steve Kuhn, Steve Swallow and Joey Baron.  There’s a lot of musical history between pianist Kuhn and bassist Swallow, and it all pays off musically with the dynamic addition of drummer Baron.  Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

– May 9 – 13. (Wed. – Sun.)  The Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big BandPaquito Rivera conducts an assemblage of the Big Apple’s finest jazz talent in a program celebrating the memory and the music of the incomparable Gillespie.  The Blue Note.    (212)  475-8592.

Paula West

– May 10 – 13. (Thurs. – Sun.) Paula West“A Tribute To George Mesterhazy.”  The superb San Francisco-based jazz singer, never fully appreciated for her extraordinary talents, performs in honor of her late accompanist, musical director and close friend.  The Jazz Standard.   (212) 576-2232.


– May 9 – 12. (Wed. – Sat.)  The Kyle Eastwood Band.  Bassist Eastwood, an impressive talent who seems to improve with every outing, bringing some tough, straight ahead qualities to a listenable contemporary sound.  Ronnie Scott’s.  020 7439 0747.


Ernie Watts

– May 10. (Thurs.)  Ernie Watts Quartet. The saxophone playing jazz pride of Los Angeles displays his considerable talents – on tenor and soprano – with a trio of first rate European players.  The Blue Note Milano.


– May 10 – 12. (Thurs. – Sat.)  STAX!.  The incomparable groove of the famous Stax sound is alive and well in the gifted hands of veterans Steve Cropper, guitar, Duck Dunn, bass and Eddie Floyd, drums.  Blue Note Tokyo. 03-5485-0088.

Live Music: Quincy Jones’ Global Gumbo All Stars at the Hollywood Bowl

September 9, 2011

By Michael Katz

In 1970, when I started collecting jazz albums, one of my first was Quincy Jones’ Walking In Space.  I’d heard the title tune from the show Hair on the radio, along with the killer version of Benny Golson’s “Killer Joe.” I’d recognized many of the soloists: Hubert Laws, Freddie Hubbard, Toots Thielemans. But who was this Quincy Jones guy? I thought I’d discovered someone. Of course, he’d already had a career most people would envy by that time. The big bands, the film and TV scores, the work with Sinatra and Basie. And he was just getting started.

Quincy Jones

When the opening notes of Quincy’s still-fresh arrangement of “Killer Joe” introduced his six-decade retrospective at the Hollywood Bowl Wednesday night, it was clear that Q’s jazz roots would be well represented. The All-Star big band behind him included Tom Scott and Ernie Watts on saxophones, Gary Grant and Jumaane Smith on trumpets, Andy Martin and Bill Reichbach on trombones, Nathan East, the musical director, on bass. There was also a lively performance of Q’s first recorded composition, “Kingfish.”

But it was the diversity and continued vitality of his life that dominated the evening. His Global Gumbo All-Stars ranged from nine year old pianist Emily Bear and seventeen year old jazz vocalist Nikki Yanofsky to veteran Brazilian percussionist Paulinho Da Costa. The sounds were Brazilian and Cuban and Japanese; jazz, blues,  rhythm and funk.  ”Fly Me To The Moon” to “Moonwalk.” All of them brought together by the man who has seemingly been everywhere and done everything in music, with an unerring sense of what will touch the public consciousness.

Alfredo Rodriguez

It would be hard to pick out one star, but Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodriguez showed he was ready to break out on his own. Those of us who’d seen him before were familiar with his dazzling technique, but in his one solo, “El Guije,” he showed his ability to weave in classical themes while sensitively alternating tempos, capturing the large Bowl crowd in uncharacteristic silence. Later, he teamed up with bassist/vocalist Richard Bona and percussionist Francisco Mela on Bona’s “O Sen Sen.” Although Bona’s vocals were a bit over-amped, these were three dynamic artists you would love to see record together.

An impressive group of female vocalists assembled to perform “Miss Celie’s Blues” from The Color Purple. Gloria Estefan, Patti Austin, Siedah Garrett, Nikki Yanofsky (with Emily Bear on piano) were spirited as a group, then shone individually throughout the program. Seiko Matsuda performed “Sukiyaki” in lovely fashion.

Patti Austin

The second half of the program was largely devoted to the rhythm and funk of the last few decades, with James Ingram singing “Just Once” and teaming up with Patti Austin for a soulful “Baby Come To Me.” The Brothers Johnson rocked the house with three numbers, then gave way to an extended Michael Jackson tribute.

Throughout the evening, Quincy Jones lent his own observations to the proceedings. He noted poignantly that when Jackson passed away, he was the same age as Quincy was when he produced Thriller.  Jones then left the Thriller tribute in the hands of the songwriters. Steve Porcaro, assisted by old friends and bandmates David Paitch and Steve Lukather performed a rousing “Human Nature” and Siedah Garrett shone in her rendition of “Man In The Mirror.”

From a jazz standpoint, Quincy saved the best for last. He led the band in the Dizzy Gillespie/Chano Pozo classic “Manteca,” with special guest stars Arturo Sandoval providing ear-shattering trumpet cadenzas and Andy Garcia sitting in on bongos. Andy Martin contributed a rousing trombone solo and Alfredo Rodriquez gave another demonstration of his fireworks. It reminded one of how much Quincy Jones’ heart and soul remains in the large jazz ensembles.

To close the show, Q led the audience in a type of benediction, the crowd holding hands and repeating pledges to care for each other, strive to make the world a better place – the biggest applause came from his plea to halt the “dumbing down of the culture” and the biggest laugh his plea for others to “stop stealing music.”  It uplifted the entire crowd. For a few moments everyone could feel like ingredients in the Quincy Jones Global Gumbo, a singular achievement in today’s fractured world.

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

Picks of the Week: Aug. 15 – 21

August 16, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Herbie Hancock

– Aug. 17. (Wed.)  Joni’s Jazz. With Herbie Hancock, Chaka Khan, Kurt Elling,Wayne Shorter, Tom Scott, Cassandra Wilson, etc. Hancock’s fascination with Joni Mitchell’s music resulted in the 2008 Grammy winning Album of the Year, River.  Here he goes again, with a stellar line up to illuminate Mitchell’s compelling songs.  Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

– Aug. 17. (Wed.)  The Go-Go’s.  Thirty years after Beauty and the Beast, the Go Go’s return, proving in bright, living color that their ‘80s successes were more than just a passing California fancy.  The Greek Theatrets  (323) 665-5857.

– Aug. 18. (Thurs.) Jeff Colella/Pat Senatore/Kendall Kay Trio. Three veteran players — who spend most of their time as sidemen, making other leaders sound great – join together to display their impressive individual and collective skills. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

– Aug. 18. (Thurs.)  Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks Unlimited.  He’s called the “Lion of Zimbabwe” with good reason.  Mapfumo’s remarkable voice and his hook-oriented songs transcend boundaries, resulting in a truly global musical expression.  The Skirball Center.  (31) 440-4500.

Barbara Morrison

– Aug. 18. (Thurs.)  Friends of Barbara.  Dana Bronson presents a benefit concert in support of the great jazz/blues vocalist Barbara Morrison, who is experiencing serious health problems.Call the club for the line-up of performers.   Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

– Aug. 18 & 19. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Death Cab For Cutie. They may have initially been best known for their cutting edge videos, but DCFC also provide that a good band can actually break through as an indy, even before being signed by a major label.  The Greek Theatre.    (323) 665-5857.

– Aug. 19. (Fri.)  Anthony Wilson Quintet.  Guitarist Wilson has worked a lot with Diana Krall.  But he’s even more impressive, with his own group, playing his own break-out compositions.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Wilson Phillips

– Aug. 19. (Fri.)  Wilson Phillips. They’ve been together only intermittently since they burst on the scene in 1990 with a parade of hit songs.  But now the offspring of Brian Wilson and John and Michelle Phillips are getting together again, displaying their impressive, inherited musical skills.  Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.  (562) 916-8501.

– Aug. 20. (Sat.)  Rique Pantoja & Friends.  With friends like Abraham Laboriel, Ernie Watts, Alex Acuna and Mitchell Long on stage with him, Pantoja will no offer an evening of definitive Latin jazz with a distinctly Brazilian slant.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

San Francisco

– Aug. 16 & 17. (Tues. & Wed.)  Sophie Milman.  Russian-born, Canadian singer Milman made an impressive debut in 2004 with her first album.  Expect to hear some selections from her upcoming new release, In the Moonlight.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.     (415) 655-5600.


– Aug. 18 – 21. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Spyro Gyra. Before there was smooth jazz, there was Spyro Gyra.  The band’s 25 albums, reaching back to the ‘70s, defined the blend of r&b, flunk and instrumental pop that has come to be known as the smooth jazz genre.  Jazz Alley.    (206) 441-9729.

New York

Steve Kuhn

– Aug. 16 – 20. (Tues. – Sat.)  The Masters Quartet: Steve Kuhn, Dave Liebman, Steve Swallow and Billy Drummond. One couldn’t find a more appropriate label for this quartet of extraordinary veteran players.  To make it even better, they’ve performed together often in the past in many musical settings, so expect musical magic.  Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

– Aug. 16 – 21. (Tues. – Sun.) “Tribute To Ray Brown.”  Christian McBride and Dee Dee Bridgewater.  Bassist McBride and singer Bridgewater honor Brown’s extraordinary skills as a bassist and as an astute accompanist to some of the great jazz vocalists. The Blue Note.    (212) 475-8592.

– Aug. 16 – 21. (Tues. – Sun.)  “The Music of Antonio Carlos Jobim and Stan Getz.”  With Trio Da Paz, Joe Locke, Harry Allen and Maucha Adnet.  It’s an unusual assemblage – the Brazilian authenticity of Trio Da Paz and singer Maucha Adnet with the straight ahead jazz chops of Locke and Allen.  Should make for an intriguing musical evening.  Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.    (212) 258-9800.


– Aug. 16 – 20. (Tues. – Sat.)  The Wynton Marsalis Quintet. The chances to hear the Marsalis Quintet in a club setting are rare – in London and elsewhere.  Tickets may be hard to come by, but it’s worth doing whatever you can to experience Wynton in an intimate performance arena. Ronnie Scott’s.    020 7439 0747.

Herbie Hancock photo by Tony Gieske. 


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