Picks of the Week: March 6 – 11

March 6, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

John Pisano

– Mar. 6. (Tues.)  John Pisano’s “Guitar Night.” Pisano takes his ever-entertaining, ever-popular  “Guitar Night” to a new venue.  To celebrate the move, the featured guest is veteran guitarist Mundell Lowe.  Lucy’s 51. Toluca Lake.  (818) 763-5200.

Mar. 6. (Tues.)  The Gonzalo Bergara Quartet.  Guitarist Bergara and his crew bring Django Reinhardt’s gypsy jazz firmly into the 21st century.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

– Mar. 6. (Tues.)  Hod O’Brien and Stephanie Nakasian.  Pianist O/Brien is one of the authentic beboppers, continuing to mine the still rich sounds and rhythms of bop for new musical discoveries.  Here, he also backs his wife, singer Nakasian. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

– Mar. 6. (Tues.)  The CJS Quintet in a “Tribute to Dexter Gordon.”  The CJS Quintat, always eager keep mainstream jazz alive and swinging, explore the muscular music of Dexter Gordon.  CJS is Chuck Johnson, saxes, James Smith, trumpet, Koji Ono, piano, Trevor Ware, bass, Kenny Elliott, drums. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

– Mar. 6 – 11. (Tues. – Sun.)  Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. Dance at its finest is a fundamental aspect of every performance by the Ailey dancers.  Three programs are offered, featuring Ailey classics and contemporary works.  Check website for schedule.   Segerstrom Hall  (714) 556-2787..

Jeffrey Kahane

Mar. 7. (Wed.)  Jeffrey Kahane and members of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra present a 15th Anniversary Celebration of Kahane’s tenure as Director of the LACO.  The program showcases Kahane’s far reaching skills as a pianist in the Bach French Suite, the Brahms Piano Trio No. 1, a broad selection of Chopin works and a new Gabriel Kahane composition.  Disney Hall.    (323) 850-2000.

– Mar. 7. (Wed.)  Tull, Korb, Proulx. An evening featuring a sterling trio of jazz instrumentalist/singers – drummer Dave Tull, bassist Kristen Korb, pianist John Proulx.  To read a recent iRoM review of a Proulx performance, click HEREVitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Nellie McCay

– Mar. 9. (Fri.)  Nellie McKay.  Singer, pianist songwriter McKay is one of a kind, making every performance into a compelling creative adventure.  To read an iRoM review of a recent McKay performance, click HERE. Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

– Mar. 10. (Sat.)  Cecelia Coleman Quartet. L.A. native Coleman, who has been living in New York, returns to remind us of the intriguing qualities of her piano style. She performs with trumpeter Steve Huffsteter, bassist Pat Senatore and drummer Ramon Banda.   Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

– Mar. 11. (Sun.)  Billy Childs Quartet and the Kronos QuartetBill Frisell’s Beautiful Dreamers.  A fascinating evening of jazz and jazz-oriented chamber music.  The Childs Quartet and Kronos play individual sets and then combine to perform a Childs composition.  Frisell opens the show with the engaging sounds of his guitar, viola and drum trio.  Disney Hall.   (323) 850-2000.

San Francisco

– Mar. 8 & 9.  (Thurs. & Fri.) Patricia Barber. Pianist, singer, songwriter Barber brings emotional and intellectual illumination to everything she plays and sings — whether it’s from the Great American Songbook or her own folio of works. Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

– Mar. 10. (Sat.)  Lynne Arriale Trio.  Pianist Arriale combines an airy harmonic imagination with a briskly effervescent rhythmic feeling.  Yoshi’s San Francisco. .  The trio also appears at Jazz Alley in Seattle on Mar. 13 & 14.   (206) 441-0729.

– Mar. 10. (Sat.)  “Salute to Toots Thielemans.”  A stellar assemblage of players,  led by harmonica player Gregoire Maret, come together to celebrate the life and work of the one and only Toots.  The group also includes Oscar Castro-Neves, guitar, Kenny Werner, piano and Airto Moreira, percussion.  Herbst Theatre.  An SFJAZZ 2012 Spring Season event.  Salute to Toots Thielemans.  (866) 920-5299.


David Sanchez

– Mar. 8 – 11. (Thurs. – Sun.)  David Sanchez Quartet. Puerto Rican-born Sanchez, one of the finest saxophonists of his generation, enhances his inventiveness with traces of his Caribbean roots.  Jazz Showcase (312) 360-0234.

New York

– Mar. 6 – 11. (Tues. – Sun.)  Freddy Cole Sextet.  Cole’s conversational vocal style is backed by the richly melodic improvising of saxophonist Harry Allen in a showcase of Cole’s new album, Talk To Me. Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.   (212) 258-9800.

– Mar. 6 & 7. (Tues. & Wed.)  Edmar Castaneda, Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Miguel Zenon.  Expect musical fireworks from this encounter between Castaneda’s fiery harp playing, Rubalcaba’s adventurous piano work and Zenon’s far-ranging saxophone playing.  The Blue Note.  (212) 475-8592.


– Mar. 8. (Thurs.)  Dino Saluzzi, Anja Lechner and Felix Saluzzi Trio. The trio of prominent Argentine musical artists – bandoneonist Dino Saluzzi, his saxophonist brother Felix Saluzzi and cellist Anja Lechner – assemble to play selections from their fine ECM album, Navidad de Los Andes.  A-Trane.   030/313 25 50.


Lou Donaldson

– Mar. 7 – 10. (Wed. – Sat.)  Lou Donaldson. The playing of veteran alto saxophonist Donaldson, still in rare form at 85, provides a compelling link to the bebop era of Charlie Parker and Sonny Stitt.  Blue Note Tokyo.   03-5485-0088.


– Mar. 10. (Sat.)  The Ron Carter Quartet. Bassist Carter, who has played with virtually every major jazz artist of the past five decades, steps out with a group reflecting his own musical thinking: pianist Renee Rosnes, percussionist Rolando Morales-Matos and drummer Payton Crossley.  The Blue Note Milan

John Pisano photo by Bob Barry.

Nellie McCay poto by Tony Gieske.

Picks of the Week: September 1 – 6

August 31, 2009

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

– Sept. 1. (Tues.) Herb Alpert and Lani Hall. Trumpeter Alpert and vocalist Hall discuss their remarkable careers (individually and as a couple) and offer a few of the new slants on standards that make up the program in their impressive new live CD, “Anything Goes.” Grammy Museum.

Tessa souter new– Sept. 1 & 2. (Tues. & Wed.) Tessa Souter. She’s not out on the West Coast very often, so fans of world class jazz vocalizing shouldn’t miss this opportunity to hear Souter’s unique ability to find new musical pleasures in familiar songs. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

– Sept. 2. (Wed.) Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke & Lenny White. Chaka Khan, Jean Luc Ponty, Bill Connors. John Scofield and the Piety Street Band. Corea leads a trio that represents 3/4 of Return To Forever, but with a very different musical perspective. Khan, Ponty, Connors and Scofield add more diversity to one of the summer jazz series most intriguing events. The Hollywood Bowl. (323) 850-2000.

– Sept. 3. (Thurs.) An Evening with Patti Smith. The Twilight Dance Series at the Santa Monica Pier closes the 2009 season with an appearance by the pioneer poet of punk. Twilight Dance Series.  (310) 458-8901.


– Sept. 3 – 6. (Thurs. – Sun.) The 15th Annual West Coast Jazz Party. It’s always one of the don’t-miss musical events of the year, and this year is no exception. From the various indoor and outdoor venues at the Irvine Marriott to the delightful Sunday jazz cruise on the Hornblower Yacht Entertainer, it’s a great TWerry Gibbsway to spend a holiday weekend. Featured performers include Ken Peplowski, the Four Freshmen and Five Trombones, Terry Gibbs, Ernie Andrews, Houston Person, Gary Foster, Peter Erskine, Larry Koonse, Tom Rainier, Byron Stripling, Paul Smith, Marilyn Maye, the Frank Capp Juggernaut Orchestra, and such special events as a Guitar Summitt (w. Mundell Lowe, Mimi Fox and Ron Eschete) and a Tribute to Rosemary Clooney with Debby Boone, Irvine Marriott Hotel and the Hornblower Yacht Entertainer. West Coast Jazz party. (949) 759-5003.

– Sept. 4 – 7. (Fri. – Mon.) The Sweet & Hot Music Festival. And here’s another Banu Gibsondon’t-miss holiday weekend jazz party. The title is right on target — tons of New Orleans, Swing, Mainstream and Straight Ahead jazz presented via virtually non-stop music in eight different venues. The performers include Yves Evans, Jack Sheldon, Gonzalo Bergara, Jennifer Leitham, Herb Jeffries, Banu Gibson, Night Blooming Jazzmen and Janet Klein (with many others), as well as as “Tribute to the King Sisters” (w. Marilyn King), “Prez Conference”, and “Tribute to Johnny Mandel,” plus nightly Midnight Jazz sets.   Too bad the West Coast Jazz Party and the Sweet & Hot Music Festival can’t scedule their equally fascinating productions on consecutive weekends.  The L.A.X. Marriott Hotel. Sweet & Hot Music Festival.   (909) 983-0106.Gina Saputo

– Sept. 4. (Fri.) Gina Saputo. In a crowded field of young female jazz singers, Saputo’s soaring vocals and rhythmic lift suggest that she’s ready to step up from the pack. Steamers.  (714) 871-8800.

– Sept. 4. (Fri.) Denise Donatelli. A warm, seductive sound, the instincts of a true story teller, and the kind of swinging phrasing that stamps her as a true jazz artist — Donatelli’s the real deal. And no better place to hear her than in the laid back vibe of the Southland’s ultimate jazz bar and restaurant. Charlie O’s.  (818) 994-3058

– Sept. 4 – 6. (Fri. – Sun.) Mort Sahl and Dick Gregory. One of the most unusual bookings of this or any other season. But a jazz club’s the right place for them — Sahl and Gregory work with the sort of improvisatory spontaneity and rhythmic propulsion that are essential to the finest jazz. Catalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210.


– Sept. 6 – 7. (Sun. & Mon.) Angel City Jazz Festival. The second installment of this Billy Childsadventurous Festival now takes place in the airy outdoor setting of the Ford Amphitheatre. And the line-up is an impressive collection of some of the contemporary jazz world’s most cutting edge artists and ensembles. The line up includes Dave Douglas & Brass Ecstasy, Bennie Maupin and Dolphyana, Billy Childs Jazz Chamber Ensemble, Alex Cline’s Band of the Moment, Larry Goldings Trio, Wayne Horvitz’s Gravitas Quartet. Larry Karush, Dwight Trible, Satoko Fuji and more. Ford Amphitheatre. Angel City Jazz Festival. (323) 461-3673.

San Diego

– Sept. 3. (Thurs.) Alponse Mouzon. Drummer Mouzon leads his Jazz Project (with Eric Marienthal, Byron Miller, Dean Brown and John Beasley) in a benefit concert for Doctors Without Borders. Anthology Club & Restaurant. (618) 595-0300.

San Francisco

– Sept. 3 & 4.. (Thurs. & Fri.) The Blind Boys of Alabama. The multiple Grammy winn ers continue to be one a gospel act that never fails to bring soulful enlightenment to everything they sing. Yoshi’s Oakland.  (510) 238-9200.


– Sept. 3. (Thurs.) Chicago Jazz Ensemble. Jon Faddis leads this always-compelling repertory ensemble in a tribute celebrating the Benny Goodman Centennial. Guest artist is Buddy DeFranco. the clarinetist who took the instrument from Goodman’s swing into the realm of bebop. Pritzker Pavilion, Millenium Park, Chicago.


– Sept. 4 – 7. (Fri. – Mon.) Detroit International Jazz Festival. Detroit’s often minimized reputation as a long-time center for world class jazz is affirmed in the superlative line-up for this year’s festival. One of the featured elements is the inclusion of jazz families: Hank Jones, remembering Thad and Elvin; the Clayton brothers; Dave Brubeck and Brubeck brothers;sheila-jordan John and Bucky Pizzarelli; Larry and Julian Coryell; the Heath brothers; Pete and Juan Escovedo; Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express; and T.S. Monk with “Monk on Monk.” But there’s much more — Wayne Shorter, Sheila Jordan, Chick Corea, Stefon Harris, Christian McBride, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Gretchen Parlato, Bennie Maupin, Alfredo Rodriguez, Charles McPherson, the Gerald Wilson Orchestra, Geri Allen, Janis Siegel and others. The Detroit Jazz Festival.

New York

– Sept. 1 – 5. (Sat.) John Surman Quartet. With Jack DeJohnette, drums, Drew Gess, bass, John Abercrombie, guitar. Surman’s duo performances with DeJohnette have been extraordinary experiences. The addition of Gess and Abercrombie should make the encounters even more fascinating. Birdland.  (212) 581-3080

– Sept. 1 – 6. (Tues. – Sun.) Kenny Werner Quintet. Here’s an all-star ensemble if there ever was one: Randy Brecker, David Sanchez, Scott Colley and Antonio Sanchez, no doubt proving Werner’s principles about the value of spontaneity. The Blue Note.  (212) 475-8592

– Sept. 4 – 6. (Fri. – Sun.) Dr. Lonnie Smith. It’s always a blues and jazz organ bonanza when Dr. Lonnie plays. But it’ll be even better this time, with the backing he’ll get from guitarist Dave Stryker and drummer Bill Stewart. The Jazz Standard.  (212) 576-2232

– Sept. 5. (Sat.) Roberta Piket. “Improvised Chamber Music” is what pianist Piket calls her music, careful to avoid any genre limitations. She performs with veteran avant-gardist Perry Robinson on clarinet, Lisle Ellis, bass and Peter Nilson, drums. Ibeam. Brooklyn.


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