Live Jazz: Rudresh Mahanthappa with Indo-Pak Coalition and Gamak at Royce Hall

March 3, 2013

By Don Heckman

At first glance, Saturday night seemed to offer one of the intriguing jazz events of the season: alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa appearing with his groups Indo-Pak Coalition and Gamak in a CAP UCLA concert at Royce Hall.  Over the past decade, Mahanthappa, a second generation Indian American, has received significant recognition from the Down Beat Critics Poll and the Jazz Journalists Association, as well as grants from the Guggenheim foundation and the New York Council on the Arts.

His West Coast appearances have been rare.  But anyone who’s dipped into Manhanthappa’s numerous far-ranging, eclectic recordings – as a leader and a sideman – had a fair idea of what to expect at Saturday’s performance.

Rudresh Mahanthappa

Rudresh Mahanthappa

Even so, his first soloing with his Indo-Pak Coalition ensemble – a trio consisting of Mahanthappa, Pakistani guitarist Rez Abbasi and American drummer Dan Weiss – had a startling impact.  The alto saxophone is almost never heard as an instrument of Carnatic music.  One of its pioneers in that genre is Kadri Gopalnath, who partnered with Mahanthappa in the crossover 2008 album, Kinsmen. Both have found ways – perhaps using softer reeds – to bend pitches to the semi-tonal demands of Indian ragas.  And Mahanthappa’s playing began from a close Carnatic perspective filled with bright slashes of jazz lighting, enhanced by Weiss’s extraordinary rhythmic mobility as he moved from a standard drum kit to tabla drums.

The rest of Mahanthappa’s set with the Indo-Pak Coalition moved easily across boundary lines.  His alto saxophone solos, which dominated much of the entire performance, expanded its Carnatic aspects into something resembling the free jazz saxophone methods of the ‘60s associated with Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy and John Coltrane, among others.

In the second half of the program, Mahanthappa performed with Gamak, which also included bassist Francois Moutin, guitarist David Fiuczynski and Weiss, who played drum set, without the tabla drums. The genre scale weighed more heavily in the direction of jazz and jazz-rock with this ensemble.  And, although Mahanthappa reigned at center stage, the powerful guitar of Fiucznski played a vital role in every selection, often enhanced by dynamic duo exchanges between various members of the group – especially those between Fiucznski and Mahanthappa.

At its best, the music showcased a compelling interaction between East and West, finding the common linkages while maintaining firm contact with each genre.

In its less appealing moments, virtuosity appeared to be the prime goal, especially for Mahanthappa, who displayed extraordinary technique.  Often the fast fingers, multi-phonics and semi-tonal melodic phrases were fascinating, especially to other musicians.

Ultimately, however, he clearly authenticated why he has received so much attention from the jazz media and jazz support groups, becoming one of the most compelling saxophonists of his generation.  But, in this performance at least, one couldn’t help but wonder where, and whom, the real Mahanthappa was, amid the surging rhythms, Indian references and blurring bundles of notes.


Picks of the Week: Jan 10 – 15

January 9, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Youngjoo Song

- Jan. 10. (Tues.)  Youngjoo Song.  Korean jazz pianist Youngjoo Song brings an affection for classical music and American gospel song to her creatively eclectic view of jazz, as both a player and a composer.  In this rare Los Angeles appearance, the rising jazz star’s  group features the similarly versatile,  fast-fingered, multi-saxophone playing of  the always inventive Bob SheppardThe Blue Whale.   (213) 620-0908.

- Jan. 11. (Wed.)  Nora Rothman.  The talented young jazz singer/pianist, just barely into her ‘20s, has the skill and the style of a major talent in the making.  She’s backed by Nick Chuba and Charlie Mischer.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

Judy Wexler

- Jan. 12. (Thurs.)  Judy Wexler Quintet.  One of the many great things about hearing jazz singer Judy Wexler in action is the unpredictability of what to expect.  Always compelling, she makes a song her own, whether it’s American Songbook, Jazz Standard, Top 40 Pop or Singer/Songwriter.  The LAX Jazz Club at the Crowne Plaza.  l  (310) 258-1333.

- Jan. 12. (Thurs.)  Paul Jacobs.  The winner of a 2010 Best Solo Instrumental Grammy – the first organist ever to do so – Jacobs presents a challenging program of 20th century works, including Messiaen’s Livre du Saint Sacrement.  Royce Hall Organ Recital.  UCLA Live.   (310) 825-2101.

- Jan. 12. (Thurs.)  Pilc – Moutin – Hoenig.  The world class trio of pianist Jean-Michel Pilc, from France, bassist Francois Moutin, also from France, and drummer Ari Hoenig, from Philadelphia have been affirming the true international nature of jazz for more than a decade with their cutting edge version of the jazz piano trio.  The Musicians Institute Concert Center.  A Jazz Bakery Movable Feast.    (310) 271-9039.

- Jan. 12. (Thurs.)  Kate Reid and Larry Koonse.  Singer/pianist Reid’s recent CD, The Love I’m In, offers a potent display of her rich, intuitive way with a song.  Working in tandem with the superb guitar of Koonse should produce similarly intriguing results.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Jan. 12 – 14. (Thurs. – Sat.)  George Duke’s Fusion Band. He’s got the skills to go in any musical direction.  This time out, celebrating his 66th birthday (on Thurs.) the versatile keyboardist is digging into his rich bag of funk. Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

Gustav Mahler

- Jan. 13. (Fri.) through Feb. 5. (Sun).  The Mahler Project.  9 Symphonies, 3 Weeks, 2 Orchestra, 1 Conductor.  Gustavo Dudamel takes on the Herculean task of conducting Gustav Mahler’s nine completed symphonies in performances by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela at venues in Los Angeles and Caracas.  The Mahler Project.   (323) 850-2000.

- Jan. 13 & 14. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Vardan Ovsepian Chamber Ensemble.  Part I and II.  Armenian-born pianist-composer Ovsepian is musically inhabiting the broad land between jazz and concert music with remarkably intriguing results.  The Blue Whale.    (213) 620-0908.

- Jan. 15. (Sun.)  Sing! Sing! Sing! This week’s singalong with the Sing! Sing! Sing! vocalists and the adroit backing of pianist Judy Wolman focuses on the incredible song catalog of Irving Berlin.  Between songs, Howard Lewis will provide some fascinating nuggets of information about the Great American Songwriter who was born Israel Baline.  Sing! Sing! Sing! 

Seattle

- Jan. 12 – 15. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Arturo Sandoval. The gifted trumpeter/pianist/percussionist/singer (and more) takes a band of L.A.’s finest players up to the Northwest for a display of Southern California/Cuban Latin jazz.  Jazz Alley.    (206) 441-9729.

Boston

J D Souther

- Jan. 12. (Thurs.)  J. D. Souther.  He may be best known as the writer of some compelling hit songs for Linda Rondstat, the Eagles and himself (among others), but Souther – his performances spiced with his affection for jazz – is best to see and hear on his own.  Click HERE to read iRoM’s review of Souther’s latest recording.  Regatta Jazz Bar.   (617) 395-7757.

New York

- Jan. 10 – 12. (Tues. – Thurs.)  The Clayton Brothers. Not just the Clayton Brothers, bassist John and alto saxophonist Jeff, but also the next generation’s impressive new star – John’s son, pianist Gerald Clayton.  All these hugely talented, interrelated genes will be backed by trumpeter Terrell Stafford and drummer Obed CalvaireDizzy’s Club Coca Cola.   (212) 258-9800.

- Jan. 10 – 15. (Tues. – Sun.)  Geri Allen, Esperanza Spalding, Terri Lyne Carrington.  Here they are, all in one incredible package – a trio of three of the contemporary jazz world’s most gifted female artists.  Don’t miss this one.  The Village Vanguard.    (212) 255-4037.

Berlin

Kurt Rosenwinkel

- Jan. 14. (Sat.)  Kurt Rosenwinkel Berlin Quartet.  In a world filled with ambitious guitarists, Rosenwinkel has managed to hold his own, developing a style that is both unique, appealing and immensely musical.  A-Trane.   030/313 25 50. Guitarist Rosenwinkel,


Picks of the Week: April 11 – 17

April 11, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

-  April 11. (Mon.)  Cabaret Cares.  A Song For Japan. A benefit performance to aid the stricken populace of Japan features cabaret artists Andrea Marcovicci, Daisy Eagan, Lee Lessack, Sharon McNight and others.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.  .

John Pisano

- April 12. (Tues.)  John Pisano’s Guitar Night.  With Sid Jacobs and John Leftwich.  Pisano’s Tuesday Guitar Nights just keep on cooking.  And with Jacobs and Leftwich also on stage, the rhythms will be crisp and the imagination wide open.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

-April 12. (Tues.)  John Daversa Big Band.  Trumpeter Daversa’s exploratory approach to big jazz band sounds is producing some consistently adventurous music.  To read a recent iRoM review of the Daversa Big Band click HEREVibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- April. 12. (Tues.)  Gordon Goodwin Big Phat Band. The always swinging, always entertaining Big Phat Band celebrates the release of their new CD, That’s How We Roll. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.  .

- April 13. (Wed.) Mike Lang Trio. Pianist Lang has a resume that includes gigs with the likes of Natalie Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Barbra Streisand and more, recordings with Henry Mancini, John Williams, Elmer Bernstein, and a long string of film and TV credits.  This time out, he’s doing it his own way, backed by bassist Michael Valerio and drummer Jim Keltner Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210. .

- April 14. (Thurs.)  Duran Duran.  They’re back.  The sounds of the eighties that made all the young girls quiver, still playing the hits.  Fox Theatre Pomona.   (909) 784-3671.

Denise Donatelli

- April 14. (Thurs.)  Denise Donatelli. Grammy-nominated Donatelli’s dark-timbred voice and imaginative singing will prove, once again, why she really should have won that award.  Charlie O’s.  (818) 994-3058.

- April 14 – 16. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Victor Wooten Band.  Five time Grammy Award winner Wooten displays the bass playing dexterity and free-roving imagination that make him one of the important artists of his generation.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.  .

- April 15. (Fri.)  Michael Wolff.  Pianist Wolff, heard to rarely in these parts, plays his second Vitello’s gig in a couple of weeks.  This time, his musical companions will be trumpeter Mark Isham, bassist John B. Williams and drummer Michael Barsimento.  Click HERE to read an iRoM review of a recent Wolff performance.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- April 15. (Fri.)  2nd Proverb Trio.  An unusually intriguing approach to small ensemble jazz features Dafnis Prieto, drums, Kokayi, vocals and poetry and Jason Lindner, keyboards.  A Jazz Bakery Movable Feast at  the Musicians Institute Concert Hall.  \.

- April 15. (Fri.)  Tom Peterson/Andy Martin Quartet.  Saxophonist Peterson and trombonist Martin, first call players on their instruments, take a break from playing for everyone else, and step to the front of the stage. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- April 16. (Sat. ) Improvisatory Minds: Chamber Music by Jazz Musicians.  It’s an evening that promises to provide some of the more intriguing musical explorations of recent memory.  On the bill: works by Bevan Manson, Ed Neumeister, and Gernot Wolfgang, with guest composers Billy Childs and Alan BroadbentVitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

Judy Wexler

- April 16. (Sat.)  Judy Wexler.  Versatile Ms. Wexler is a singer who finds the essence of jazz in everything she sings, regardless of genre.  She celebrates her birthday with a prime evening of music.  Café 322.    (626) 836-5414

- April 16 & 17. (Sat. & Sun.)  Rod Stewart and Stevie Nicks.  They may not have found musical companionship in their early years, but Stewart and Nicks seem perfectly attuned to share a stage in the prime maturity of their careers.  Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

- April 16 & 17. (Sat. & Sun.)  The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.  Music Director Jeffrey Kahane leads the LACO in a performance of Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto with pianist Jon Kimura Parker.  Also on the program: Dvorak’s lyrical Serenade in E Major for Strings and composer John Harbison’s whimsical Gli accordi piu usati (“The most often used chords”).  Saturday at the Alex Theatre in Glendale.  Sunday at UCLA’s Royce Hall.  For information click HERE.  (213)  622-7001 Ext. 215.

San Francisco

- April 15. (Fri.)  Dr. Lonnie Smith and Barbara Dennerlein. It’s a night for B-3 organ fireworks.  The groove pyrotechnics of Dr. Lonnie and the hard driving rhythmic charge of German-born Dennerlein.  SFJAZZ Spring Season at the Herbst Theatre.  (566) 920-5299.

- April 15 & 16. (Fri. & Sat.)  Maceo Parker.  Alto saxophonist Parker’s funk roots trace back to his highly visible work with James Brown.  Since then, he’s performed with every imaginable funk band, including his own “greatest little funk band on earth.”  He makes his debut performance at Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

New York

- April 12 & 13.  (Tues. & Wed.)  The Three Cohens.  Tenor saxophonist/clarinetist Anat Cohen, trumpeter Avishai Cohen and soprano saxophonist Yuval Cohen.  Three impressive jazz artists from the same Israeli family are a jazz

Anat Cohen

rarity.  But aside from that, they’re always a pleasure to hear, and never more so than when they’re in an infrequent public family jam.  Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.   (212) (212) 258-9595.

- April 12 – 17. (Tues. – Sun.)  Martial Solal & Francois Moutin Duo. There’s no better proof of France’s love affair with jazz than the teaming of these two extraordinary French artists in a cross generational gig – the great, veteran pianist Solal and the talented young bassist Moutin. Village Vanguard.   (212) 255-4037.

- April 13 (Wed.)  Kendra Shank – Steve Wilson – Frank Kimbrough.  Vocalist Shank, saxophonist Wilson and pianist Kimbrough will be performing standards, originals, songs by the likes of Thelonious Monk, Abbey Lincoln and others.  With the additional highlight of Shank’s imaginative “voice collages” – vocal improvisations with electronic loops.  Kitano Hotel.   (212) 885-7119.

Darcy James Argue

- April 14. (Thurs.)  Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society.  Fast rising composer arranger Argue’s writing for his big band, Secret Society, has been praised in media of every stripe.  Here’s a chance to hear the work of this gifted young artist in an up front and live setting.  Iridium.   (212) 582-2121.

- April 14 – 17. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet. Trumpeter Akinmusire leads a stellar collection of young players in a celebration of the release of his debut album on Blue Note, When the Heart Emerges Glistening. Jazz Standard.  (212) 576-2232.

John Pisano photo by Bob Barry.  Denise Donatelli and Judy Wexler photos by Faith Frenz.  Anat Cohen photo by Tony Gieske.


Picks of the Week: April 5 – 10

April 4, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Junko Onishi

- April 5. (Tues.)  Junko Onishi Trio.  Japanese pianist Onishi confirms her return to jazz action last year after a performance break of nearly a decade.  She kicks off her American tour tonight with the backing of the sterling rhythm team of bassist Dwayne Burno and drummer Gregory Hutchinson.   Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323)466-2210  (Also at Yoshi’s Oakland on April 6.)

- April 5. (Tues.)  Ostad Abbos Kosimov.  Traditional Uzbek and Tajik Percussion Music and Dance. Percussionist Kosimov is one of the world’s masters of the doyra frame drum.  He is joined by the CalArts Persian and World Music ensembles, as well as members of his own Abbos Ensemble in an exploration of the music of Uzbekistan.  Tara Pandeya adds the sensual movements of Central Asian dance.  REDCAT (213) 237-2800.

- April 5. (Tues.)  Lorenzo Lamas.  You may remember him as Jane Wyman’s evil stepson in Falcon Crest. But Lamas (yes, from that family) is also an effective musical purveyor of the romantic side of cabaret.  Vibrato Grill Jazz… (310) 474-9400. 

Kenny Burrell

- April 6. (Wed.) Kenny Burrell Jazz Heritage All Stars.  For once, the label “All-Stars” has real significance.  Veteran guitarist/educator Burrell puts it all together with trumpter (and also educator) Bobby Rodriguez, saxophonist Justo Almario, drummer Clayton Cameron and more.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- April 6. (Wed.)  The Kronos Quartet. The creatively eclectic, Grammy winning string quartet celebrates composer Steve Reich’s 75th birthday with the performance of a newly commissioned work.   Segerstrom Center for the Arts.   (714) 556-2787.

Salif Keita

- April 6. (Wed.)  Salif Keita. The voice of Keita, with its soaring tones, penetrating sound and inspiring rhythms, is one of the great glories of African popular music.  The Conga Room.  (213) 745-0162.

- April 6. (Wed.) Blue Lou Marini.  Veteran New York saxophonist Marini makes one of his rare West Coast appearances, performing with trumpeter Walt Fowler, pianist John Campbell, bassist Chuck Berghofer, drummer Peter Erskine and special guests.  Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- April 7. (Thurs.)  Big Willie’s Burlesque.  Busy drummer Willie McNeil’s Quartet lays down some classic backbeat sounds to inspire the irresistible moves of dancer Carolina Cerisola.   They call it “old school burlesque with a cutting edge, Latin, new school vibe.”   The Edison Downtown.  (213) 613-0000.

- April 7. (Thurs.) V. R. Smith Sextet.  It’s a Smith Family Night.  With vocalist V.R. Smith backed by the band of her husband, bassist Putter Smith with Gary Foster alto saxophone, Chuck Manning, tenor saxophone, Jim Szilagyi, piano and Tim Pleasant, drums.  Charlie O’s.   (818) 994-3058.

- April 7 – 10. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Rachelle Ferrell.  Blessed with one of the most impressive voices in the jazz vocal world, Ferrell is also a uniquely appealing song stylist.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.  .

Arlo Guthrie

- April 8. (Fri.)  Arlo Guthrie and Friends.  Folk music patriarch returns to UCLA, this time with his “Journey On” tour, featuring his son, Abe Guthrie and the folk-rock trio The Burns SistersUCLA Live.  Royce Hall. (310) 825-2101.

- April 9. (Sat.)  Jazz Fundraiser for Japan.  Vitello’s April Williams has assembled an impressive collection of the Southland’s finest jazz artists for a 12 hour fundraiser for Japan.  Among the participants: Alan Pasqua, Peter Erskine, Bob Mintzer, Darek Oles, Alex Acuna, the Wayne Bergeron Big Band, Denise Donatelli, Joe La Barbera, Larry Koonse, Tom Warrington, Bob Sheppard and many more.  11 a.m. to 11 p.m.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- April 9. (Sat.) Plas Johnson.  Although he’s been a vital member of the Southland jazz community for decades, Johnson is best known for his memorable solo work on “The Pink Panther” theme.  But he’s got a lot more than that to offer.  He’ll be playing with pianist Tom Ranier, bassist John Giannelli and drummer Fritz WiseGiannelli Square.  (818) 772-1722.

- April 9. (Sat. ) Wind Soloists of New York and Pedja Muzijevic. The superb wind instrumentalists of this much praised ensemble join with pianist Muzijevic to perform a dynamic program of works by Beethoven, Saint-Saens, Prokofiev and Poulenc.  And they’ll do so in the elegant Pompeian Room of the Doheny Mansion.  The Da Camera Society.  (213) 477-2929.

- April 10 (Sun.)  Greta Metassa.  Seattle-based singer Metassa is far less known than she should be.  In this rare Southland appearance, she’ll deliver her beautifully crafted vocals  in a plush, private mini concert hall in Beverly Hills.   Hopefully, she’ll include songs from her latest CD, I Wanna be Loved.” Backing her: the world class rhythm section of pianist Mike Garson, bassist Clipper Anderson and drummer Bob Leatherbarrow.  To book seats, click on Resonance Records.   Address will be given when the reservation is made.

San Francisco

- April 6. (Wed.)  Junko Onishi Trio.  Japanese pianist Onishi confirms her return to jazz action last year after a performance break of nearly a decade.  She’ll be backed by the sterling rhythm team of bassist Dwayne Burno and drummer Gregory HutchinsonYoshi’s Oakland. (510) 238-9200.

Madeleine Peyroux

- April 8. (Fri.)  Madeleine Peyroux.  Moving beyond the Billie Holiday musical frame that had narrowed her music for too long, Peyroux is now finding her own way, as unique musical persona and an intriguing songwriter.  SF Jazz Spring Season.  Palace of Fine Arts Theatre.   (415) 398-5655.

- April 9. (Sat.)  Max Raabe and the Palast Orchester.  The music of the twenties and thirties comes vividly back to life in the hands of Raabe and his extraordinarily versatile musicians.  Always as musically provocative as they are entertaining, they’re one of a kind. SFJAzz Spring Season.  Paramount Theatre, Oakland. .

- April 10. (Sun.)  The Asaad Brothers Da Volta as Raizes” Offspring of a famouns musical family, the two guitar duo of the Asaad brothers play everything from Bach transcriptions and gypsy jazz to Brazilian samba and the music of the Middle East.  SFJAZZ Spring Season. Palace of Fine Arts Theatre.  (415) 398-5655.

New York

Toshiko Akiyoshi

- April 4 (Mon.) Fund Raising Concert For Japan. The New York jazz community steps up to play a concert in support of the beleaguered people of Japan. Toshiko Akiyoshi; Cecil Bridgewater; Sam Burtis; Jerry Dodgion; Roy Hargrove; Tom Harrell; Barry Harris; Fred Hersch; Rene Manning; Earl McIntyre; Jimmy Owens; Rufus Reid; Marvin Stamm; Lew Tabackin; Kenny Werner and many othersThe Village Vanguard.  (212) 255-4037.

- April 5 – 10. (Tues. – Sun.)  Toots Thielemans with Kenny Werner and Oscar Castro-Neves.  As if that weren’t enough, Werner will also do a set each night with his Quintet featuring Lionel Loueke and Miguel ZenonThe Blue Note. (212) 475-8592.

- April 8. (Fri.)  Rudresh Mahanthappa’s “Gama.” With David Fiuczynski, guitar, Francois Moutin, bass and Dan Weiss, drums.  Altoist Mahanthappa and Fiuczynski have been working together lately in Jack DeJohnette’s band.  Here they dip into some of the fascinating improvisational territory between jazz and Indian music.  Cornelia St. Café.  (212) 989-9319.


Picks of the Week: Jan. Feb. 1 – Feb. 6

February 1, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Feb. 1. (Tues.)  Jules Day.  The rising young jazz singer performs an evening of new, original music from her latest CD, Day DreamsCatalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210.

- Feb. 2. (Wed.)  Teka and Aaron Serfaty.  “Brazilian Jazz.” Guitarist/singer Teka and percussionist Serfaty team up with pianist Otmar Ruiz and bassist Dave Robaire to illuminate the amiable connections between jazz and Brazilian music.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Feb. 3. (Thurs.)  Tom Peterson/Alan Ferber Quartet. Saxophonist Peterson and trombonist Ferber, veterans of the recordinging studios with sounds and styles all their own, take center stage with the sterling backing of pianist Tom Ranier, drummer Kevin Kanner and bassist Pat SenatoreVibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

Sally Kellerman

- Feb. 3. (Thurs.)  Sally Kellerman. The one and only Hot Lips returns to the musical stage.  What new mysteries will be revealed?  Only long, tall Sally knows.  But you can bet they’ll be entertaining.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Feb. 3. (Thurs.)  Ron Eschete Trio.  One of the rare jazz masters of the 7-string guitar, Eschete displays his remarkable skills in the company of bassist Todd Johnson and drummer Kendall KaySteamers (714) 871-8800.

- Feb. 3. (Thurs.) Paul Kreibich’s “Salute To Gene Harris” Drummer Kreibich, a veteran musical companion of the great pianist, in an evening of engaging, briskly swinging Harris reminiscences.  With pianist Bradley Young, guitarist Frank Potenza and bassist Luther Hughes LAX Jazz Club at the Crown Plaza LAX.  (310) 258-1333.

- Feb. 3 – 5. (Thurs. – Sat.)  George Herms: “The Artist’s Life.” The Bobby Bradford Mo’tet, the Theo Saunders Group and the voice of Diana Briscoll come together for the world premiere of a free-jazz opera by one of the founders of the California school of assemblage sculpture.  Plan to experience a spontaneous extravaganza of sights and sounds.  REDCAT.  (310) 237-2800.

- Feb. 3 – 6. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Kenny Garrett Quintet. Grammy award-winning alto saxophonist Garrett has a resume reaching from Duke Ellington to Miles Davis.  This time out, he offers his envelope-stretching sounds at the front of  his own quintet.   Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

- Feb. 4. (Fri.)  The Ethnic Heritage Ensemble. The E.H.E. has been celebrating the confluence of African roots and American jazz from a Chicago perspective for more than three decades.  The group’s current installment features percussionist and founder Kahil El’Zabar, trumpeter Corey Wilkes and saxophonist Ernest Khabeer Dawkins.  They perform for a Jazz Bakery Movable Feast at the Musicians Institute Concert Hall.  (310) 271-9039.

Randy Weston

- Feb. 5. (Sat..) Randy Weston. The sounds that issue from Weston’s piano playing find the essential common ground between African music and jazz by way of Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk and Weston himself.  A Friends of Jazz concert at  Fowler Museum,  UCLA.   (310)  206-3269.

- Feb. 5. (Sat.)  Shawn Colvin and Loudon Wainwright III. A pair of veteran singer/songwriters, each with a fascinating history, tell their irresistible musical tales of whimsy and woe.  CSUN Performing Arts.   (818) 677-8800.

- Feb. 5. (Sat.)  Michael Feinstein. The multiple platinum selling, five-time Grammy nominate singer/pianist/pop historian performs selections from his 2008 album, The Sinatra Project. Disney Hall.  (323) 850-2000.

- Feb. 5. (Sat.) Christian Howes Quartet.  “There’s nobody better than this guy,” said the iconic guitarist Les Paul, while praising jazz violinist Howes’ impressive blend of classical technique with a soaring improvisational imagination.  He’s backed by the equally fine support of Donald Vega, piano, Lyman Medeiros, bass, Bob Leatherbarrow, drums.  Christian Howes performs at Pierre’s Fine Pianos.  (310) 473-0600.

Billy Childs

- Feb. 5. (Sat.)  Billy Childs Chamber Jazz Ensemble with the Sonus String Quartet.  Grammy nominee Childs assembles the full company of his current jazz perspective, linking his atmospheric piano and sterling jazz ensemble with the rich timbres of the Sonus string players.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

San Francisco

- Feb. 2 – 5. (Wed. – Sat.)  The Tony Williams Lifetime Tribute BandJack Bruce, bass and vocals, Vernon Reid, guitar, John Medeski, keyboards/organ and Cindy Blackman, drums get together once again to revive the extraordinary fusion sounds of the Lifetime.  Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

Shawn Colvin

- Feb. 3 & 4. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Shawn Colvin. Two decades after she arrived on the scene from South Dakota, Grammy-winning, platinum-selling songer-songwriter Colvin still has gripping musical stories to tell. Yoshi’s San Francisco. (415) 655-5600.

New York

- Feb. 1. (Tues.) Jean-Michel Pilc, Francois Moutin and Ari Hoenig.  A trio of international players – Pilc and Moutin from France, Hoenig from Philadelphia – demonstrate the irresistible global reach of jazz.  55 Bar.  (212) 929-9883.

- Feb. 1 – 5. (Tues. – Sat.) Saxophone Summit: Joe Lovano, Dave Liebman and Ravi Coltrane. “Summit” is the right word to describe this assemblage of world class tenor and soprano saxophonists.  Don’t miss this one.  Birdland.   (212) 581-3080

- Feb 1 – 6. (Tues. – Sun.)  Aaron Goldberg Quartet.  Pianist Goldberg’s superb quartet – Mark Turner, saxophone, Reuben Rogers, bass and Eric Harland, drums display live versions of selections from his latest album, Home.Village Vanguard (212) 255-4037.

- Feb. 3 – 6. (Thurs. – Sun.)  George Coleman Quintet.  Still going strong at 75, tenor saxophonist Coleman works out his muscular tenor saxophone sounds in the company of Larry Goldings, Hammond B-3, Peter Bernstein, guitar, George Coleman, Jr., drums and Daniel Sadownick, bass.  The Jazz Standard.   (212) 576-2232.

Sally Kellerman, Billy Childs and Randy Weston photos by Tony Gieske.


Picks of the Week: April 27 – May 3

April 27, 2009

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- April 28. (Tues.) The Trio: Terry Trotter, Peter Erskine, Chuck Berghofer. The label might seem a little prepossessive in some hands, but not with these guys, whose playing defines the notion of interactive musical intimacy. Charlie O’s. (818) 994-3058 http://www.charlieos.com.

- April 29. (Wed.) Mitch Forman Trio, with Darek Oles and Gary Novak. Forman and his associates offer a another approach to the piano trio, reaching into areas of free-flying expressionism. Spazio. (818) 728-8400. www.spazio.la/jazz.php

- April 29. (Wed.) Jon Mayer Trio. Mayer’s worked with just about everyone who values sterling piano backing. On his own, he’s even better, finding new riches in the treasure trove of post bebop jazz. Steamers. (714) 871-8800 http://www.steamersjazzcafe.com.

- April 29 – May 2. (Wed. – Sat.) Dave Valentin – Bill O’Connell A pair of always swinging, Latin jazzers present selections from their new CD, “Triple Play.” Jazz Bakery (310) 271-9039. www.jazzbakery.com.

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Sonny Rollins

- April 30 (Thurs.) Sonny Rollins. The master at work. One of the remaining iconic figures of jazz, of course, but beyond that an improviser with an unparalleled capacity to stretch the limits of imaginative jazz invention. Samueli Theatre Orange County Performing Arts Center. http://www.ocpac.org.

- April 30. (Thurs.) Miles Mosley. Bassist Mosely continues his popular residency at the Edison, turning on the crowds with what he describes as “Cadillac Funk.” The Edison. (213) 613-0000. www.edisondowntown.com. (Also May 14 and May 28).

- April 30. (Thurs.) Charles Owens Quartet. Woodwind specialist Owens still hasn’t found a jazz style that he can’t master. Which makes for entertaining performances, no matter what he’s playing The Lighthouse Café. (310) 376-9833. www.thelighthousecafe.net

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Chuck Loeb

- May 1 – 3. (Fri. – Sun.) The Chuck Loeb Trio w. Dave Weckl and Brian Bromberg. Contemporary crossover jazz from three of its masters. Catalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210. www.catalinajazzclub.com.

- May 3. (Sun.) Celtic Spring. The Wood family band of Irish musicians range freely across the Celtic universe, offering selections from Ireland and Scotland to Cape Breton and Nova Scotia. Cerritos Center. (562) 467-8818 www.cerritoscenter.com

- May 3. (Sun.) Playboy Jazz Festival Free Community Concert. Johnny Polanco Y Su Conjunto Amistad, Maurice Spears and Bonesoir. The Playboy Festival kicks off its always entertaining series of free concerts with a sunny afternoon of piquant Latin jazz and briskly swinging, straight ahead trombone sounds. Expect to groove. The Beverly Hills Civic Center. 3 to 5 p.m. Free. (310) 450-1173. www.playboyjazz.com.

San Francisco

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John Handy

May 3. (Sun.) Mingus Dynasty with special guest John Handy — a musical match-up not to be missed. SFJAZZ Festival. Palace of Fine Arts Theatre. San Francisco.

New York City

- April 27 (Mon.) Ari Hoenig Trio w. Jean-Michel Pilc and Francois Moutin. The combination of drummer Hoenig, pianist Pilc and bassist Moutin always ignites cutting edge jazz pyrotechnics. Small’s (212) 252-5091. http://www.smallsjazzclub.com

- April 28 – May 3. (Tues. – Sun.) Samba Jazz and the Music of Antonio Carlos Jobim. Duduka Da Fonseca, Helio Alves, Claudio Roditi, Maucha Adnet, Toninho Horta & special guest Eddie Gomez. With a line-up like this, it’s a fair bet that Jobim would have loved every minute. Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola. (212) 258-9595. www.jalc.org/dccc

- April 28 – May 3. (Tues. – Sun.) Barry Harris Trio with Ray Drummond and Leroy Williams. Bebop at its best; nobody does it better. The Village Vanguard. (212) 255-4037. www.villagevanguard.com.

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Karrin Allyson

- April 29 – May 2. (Wed. – Sat.) Karrin Allyson. The always fascinating Allyson perfroms selections from her latest CD, “Imagina: Songs of Brazil.” Birdland. (212) 581-3080. www.birdlandjazz.com

New Orleans

April 27 – May 3. ( Mon. – Sun.) New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. The line-up for this massive event speaks for itself. To mention only a few scheduled artists: Tony Bennett, Doc Watson, Bonnie Raitt, Esperanza Spalding, Randy Brecker, John Scofield, Nicholas Paytojn, Emmylou Harris, Dr. John, Bon Jovi, the Neville Brothers, Neil Young, and dozens of others.(504) 522-4786. www.nojazzfest.com


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