Picks of the Week: Aug. 27 – Sept. 2

August 27, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Jason Marsalis

- Aug. 27. (Mon.)  Jason Marsalis Quartet. He may be the youngest member of the illustrious Marsalis jazz family, but drummer/vibraphonist Jason has already established his own impressive musical identity.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Aug. 28 & Aug. 30/ (Tues. & Thurs.)  Carmina Burana. German composer Carl Orf’s cantata, a dramatic setting of medieval poems, is performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Master Chorale and the Los Angeles Childrens’ Chorus, directed by Spanish conductor Rafael Fruhbeck de BurgosHollywood Bowl. (323) 850-2000

- Aug. 28. (Tues.)  Sachsa’s Bloc.  An eclectic group of musicians from countries across Europe offer a collection of music ranging freely across gypsy jazz, contemporary jazz, flamenco, swing, blues and country. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400

Wayne shorter

- Aug. 29. (Wed.)  Celebrating Peace.  Herbie Hancock has gathered a stellar array of musicians to join together in a musical celebration of the pleasures of peace.  The cast includes Wayne Shorter, Marcus Miller, Zakier Hussain, Dave Holland, Cindy Blackman Santana, Carlos Santana and others.  Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- Aug. 31 and Sept 1. (Fri. & Sat.)  John Williams Maestro of the Movies.  “Musical Maestro” would be a more accurate title for Williams, whose film scores reach from Star Wars and Superman to E.T. and Harry Potter.  He’ll conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic in selections from many of his hit films, including a film sequence from E.T. accompanied live by the Philharmonic.  The guest artist is violinist Gil Shaham. Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

- Aug. 31. (Fri.)  Wolfgang Schalk Quartet.  Guitarist Schalk celebrates the release of his new CD Word of Ear with pianist Andy Langham, bassist Michael Valerio and drummer Tom BrechtleinUpstairs at Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Sept. 1. (Sat.)  Wendy Fraser.  Singer-songwriter Fraser has been described by the LA jAzz Scene as a “diamond in the rough” and “a musical force to be reckoned with.”  She makes one of her rare appearances, backed by guitarist John Chiodini, saxophonist Rob Lockhart, bassist Chris Colangelo and drummer Kendall Kay. Upstairs at Vitallo’s.  http://www.vitellosjazz.com/event/wendy-fraser  (818) 769-0905.

Barbara Morrison

- Sept. 1 & 2. (Sat. & Sun.)  Barbara Morrison returns to Catalina’s for an exciting weekend featuring a pair of different settings: With the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center Big Band (Sat.), and the Barbara Morrison Quartet (Sun.)  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Sept. 2. (Sun.)  John Proulx and Pat Senatore.  Pianist/singer Proulx’s laid-back vocals recall the intimate singing of Chet Baker.  He’s backed by the ever-versatile, always supportive Senatore on bass.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- Sept. 2. (Sun.)  Madeleine Peyroux“The Party Oughta be Comin’ Soon!”  Singer/songwriter/guitarist Peyroux has been one of the music world’s most unique talents since she first arrived on the scene in the mid-‘90s.  And she’s still charting her own creative pathway through song. The Broad Stage.   (310) 434-3200.

Louie Cruz Beltran

- Sept. 2. (Sun.)  The Fourth Annual La Vida Music Festival. La Vida returns with its annual celebration of the great pleasures of Latin music, in all its forms.  And what better time to do it than during National Hispanic Heritage Month.  This year’s far-ranging music features Louie Cruz Beltran and his Latin Jazz Ensemble, Incendio, the Plaza de la Raza Youth Mariachi and the Ted and Pablo Choro Ensemble with special guest Chalo Eduardo.  The Ford Amphitheatre.  (323) 461-3673.

San Francisco

- Aug. 29 – Sept. 2. (Wed. – Sat.)  Bela Fleck & the Marcus Roberts Trio. It’s an off-beat combination – Fleck’s unique banjo playing and the straight ahead jazz trio of pianist Roberts, drummer Jason Marsalis and bassist Rodney Jordan. They’ll no doubt play selections from their new recording together – Across the Imaginary Divide. Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655-5600.

Washington D.C.

- Aug. 30 – Sept. 2. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Mose Allison. The inimitable Bard of the Bayou and his suitcase full of songs can always be counted on to provide a swinging, blues-driven evening of song and wisdom. Blues Alley.   (202) 337-4141.

New York

- Aug. 28 – Sept. 2. (Tues. – Sun.)  The Jenny Scheinman Quartet.  Violinist Scheinman showcases her eclectic musical interests with pianist Jason Moran, bassist Greg Cohen and drummer Rudy RoystonVillage Vanguard.  (212) 929-4589.

- Aug. 28 – Sept. 2. (Tues. – Sun.)  Charlie Parker Birthday Celebration.  What would have been the 92nd birthday week (the actual birthday is Aug. 29) of the legendary alto saxophonist is celebrated with a musical tribute from Tom Harrell, trumpet, Vincent Herring, alto saxophone, George Cables, piano, Victor Lewis, drums and Lonnie Plaxico, bass.  Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

Ron Carter

- Aug. 28 – Sept. 2. (Tues. – Sun.)  The Ron Carter Big Band.  Bassist Carter has played with everyboy and led a variety of his own ensembles.  But this, his first big band, wasn’t established until 2011, with arrangements by Bob Freedman.  Featuring a line of major NYC players on stage and Carter up front, expect musical magic to take place.  The Jazz Standard.   (212) 889-2005.

London

- Sept. 2. (Sun.)  The Story So FarRonnie Scott’s Jazz OrchestraPete Lang leads an assemblage of the U.K.’s finest jazz players in an exploration of the music of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Woody Herman, Stan Kenton, the Rat Pack and Benny Goodman.  Ronnie Scott’s.   (0) 20 7439 0747.

Tokyo

- Aug. 30 – Sept. 2. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Mingus Big Band.  The rich musical legacy of bassist/composer Charles Mingus continues to find new musical expression in the hands of the superb Mingus Big Band. The Blue Note Tokyo.   03.5485.0088.

Wayne Shorter and Ron Carter photos by Tony Gieske. 


Picks of the Week: Feb. 28 – Mar. 4

February 28, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Carol Robbins

- Feb. 29. (Wed.)  Carol Robbins. She’s that rare musical combination – a jazz harpist.  And Robbins has brought it off in convincing style, playing with everyone from Frank Sinatra and the Manhattan Transfer to Billy Childs and Dianne Reeves.  This time out, Robbins does it her way. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Feb. 29. (Wed.)  Jimmy McHugh Music Celebrates Black History Month.  He doesn’t seem to be mentioned as often as Gershwin, Porter and Kern, but McHugh’s list of contributions to the Great American Songbook is just as impressive.  To mention only  a few: “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” “I’m in the Mood For Love” and dozens more.  The McHugh songs will be interpreted by John Proulx, piano and vocals, singers Sherry Williams and Deana Martin (McHugh’s goddaughter), with Chuck Berghofer, bass, Joe LaBarbera, drums.  Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- Mar. 1 (Thurs.)  Aaron Serfaty/Otmaro Ruiz Quartet, Drummer Serfaty and keyboardist Ruiz, long-time musical companions, have assembled a new quartet, featuring Catina De Luna, voice/percussion, and Johnathan Richards, bass, blending Brazilian rhythms with a Venezuelan twist.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Mar. 1. (Thurs.)  Raya Yarbrough. CD release party.  Singer Yarbrough’s far-reaching musical skills – as a performer, a songwriter, arranger and more — shine through in everything she sings.  She’ll be featuring selections from a new album. Blue Whale.  (213) 620-0908.

Oleta Adams

- Mar. 1 – 3 (Thurs. – Sat.)  Oleta Adams.  The evocative, soul-filled voice of Adams has been a memorable experience since her 1991 debut album, Circle of One, with its impassioned single, “Get Here.”  Don’t miss this rare opportunity to hear her up close and personal. Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Mar. 2. (Fri.)  Danny Janklow.  Twenty-two year old alto saxophonist Janklow has already been acknowledged by Wynton Marsalis as an outstanding talent, and he’s performed with the likes of Benny Golson, James Moody, and Marsalis, among others.  The gifted young artist displays his skills here in the company of Theo Saunders, piano, Pat Senatore, bass, and Kendall Kay, drums.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

Bernadette Peters

- Mar. 3. (Sat.)  An Evening with Bernadette Peters.  Fresh off a six month run of the revived Follies on Broadway, Peters does a solo stint, recalling some of her stellar moments from Into the Woods, Sunday in the Park with George and others.  The inimitable Peters will no doubt also include something from Follies, as well.  Valley Performing Arts Center.    (818) 677-3000.

- Mar. 3. (Sat.)  The Estrada Brothers Latin Jazz Band.  Together for decades, the Estrada Brothers Band has seen some shifting personnel.  But the group’s fundamental ability to bring life, spirit and believability to their view of Latin jazz has continued to get better over the years. Steamer’s.   (714) 871-8800.

San Francisco

- Mar. 3. (Sat.)  Ladysmith Black Mambazo.  The South African choral group made its international breakthrough via their presence on Paul Simon’s Graceland.  Since then, they have established their own credibility, introduced the world to the fascinating choral sounds and musical culture of South Africa, and won three Grammys.  Palace of Fine Arts Theatre.  An SFJAZZ 2012 Spring Season event. (866) 920-5299.

- Mar. 4. (Sun.)  Liz Story.  One of Windham Hill’s early New Age artists, Story’s piano playing and composing possessed far more compelling musical elements than most of the wallpaper music of the style.  Her current work is even better, finding the compatible territory between classical, jazz, pop and pure contemplative sounds. Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

Seattle

Benny Golson

- Feb. 28 & 29. (Tues. & Wed.)  Benny Golson Quartet. Tenor saxophonist and composer of a string of jazz classics, Golson seems to like nothing better than getting on stage and playing a straight ahead jazz set.  As he does here, backed by bassist Ray Drummond, drummer Jason Marsalis and pianist Sharp RadwayJazz Alley.   (206) 441-9729.

Washington, D.C.

- Mar. 1 – 4. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Mike Stern & Dave Weckl.  A pair of jazz fusion masters, guitarist Stern and drummer Weckl find common jazz cause with the empathic assistance of bassist John Pattitucci and saxophonist Bob Francheschini.  Blues Alley.    (202) 337-4141.

New York

John Pizzarelli

- Feb. 28 – Mar. 3. (Tues. – Sat.) John Pizzarelli Quartet.  Singer guitarist Pizzarelli, as musically intriguing as he is entertaining, is always fun to hear in the intimacy of a night club setting.  Hopefully he’ll play some of the intriguing musical collages from his new CD, Double Exposure.  Click HERE to read an iRoM review of a recent Pizzarelli performance.    Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.

- Feb. 28 – Mar. 4. (Tues. – Sun.)  Monty Alexander continues his musically eclectic residency at the Blue Note.  With special guests Sly & Robbie, Harlem Kingston Express and others.  (Check club website for schedule).  The Blue Note.    (212) 475-8592.

- Feb. 28 – Mar. 4. (Tues. – Sun.)  Matt Wilson Arts & Crafts Quartet. There’s plenty of artfulness and a lot of craft, too, in the all-star band drummer Wilson has put together, with trumpeter Terell Stafford, keyboardist Gary Versace and bassist Martin Wind Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.   (212) 258-9800.

Sheila Jordan

- Feb. 29. (Wed.)  Sheila Jordan and Jay Clayton. A summit meeting of two great jazz masters.  Jordan and Clayton are utterly unique stylists, but they share the singular belief in the limitless possibilities of the jazz vocal art.  They’re backed by Cameron Brown, bass and Jack Wilkins, guitar.  Cornelia St. Café.   (212) 989-9319.

- Mar. 3. (Sat.)  Maria Jacobs.  A jazz-driven singer, Jacobs brings musicality, persuasive story-telling skills and a warm and supple voice to her intimate readings of the Great American Songbook.  The Metropolitan Room.    (212) 206-0440.

Berlin

- Mar. 3. (Sat.)  Chris Potter Quartet.  Saxophonist Potter is arguably one of the most gifted practitioners on his instrument of the past decade or two.  He’s at his best backed by the solid rhythm team of Adam Rogers, guitar, Craig Taborn, keyboards, Nait Smith, drums.  A-Trane.   030/313 25 50.

Tokyo

- Mar. 1 – 4.  (Thurs. – Sun.)  Helen Merrill.  Veteran singer Merrill, whose remarkable skills have not always received the attention they deserve in her native U.S.  But wise Japanese jazz fans have accorded her much warranted musical stardom.  Blue Note Tokyo.    03.5485.0088.


Picks of the Week: Jan. 18 – 23

January 18, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Jan. 18. (Tues.)  John Pisano Guitar Night.  With Larry Koonse and Tom Warrington.  Koonse is everybody’s first call guitarist.  Here’s a too rare chance to hear him in the spotlight.  Vitello’s (818) 769-0905.

- Jan. 18. (Tues.)  Theo Saunders Quartet. Pianist Saunders has a resume with activities covering every area of the music world.  This time out, he leads his own group. Charlie O’s.   (818) 994-3058.

- Jan. 18. (Tues.)  The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra.  One of the Southland’s superlative large jazz ensembles, the Grammy nominated CHJO makes an up close club appearance. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

A Chorus Line

- Jan. 18 – 23. (Tues. – Sat.)  A Chorus Line.  Winner of nine Tony awards and a Pulitzer Prize, A Chorus Line, with its memorable music and stellar dancing, should be seen by everyone who loves the musical theatre.  Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza (805) 449-2700.     Also Jan. 28 – 30 at  Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.  (562) 916-8501.

- Jan. 19. (Wed.)  L’Arpeggiata.  The highly praised French early music ensemble are joined by singer Lucilla Galeazzi, and directed by Christina Pluhar in a program of engaging Baroque classics. Disney Hall. (323) 850-2000.

- Jan. 19. (Wed.) Emil Richards Big Band.  Vibist/percussionist has displayed his extraordinary skills with everyone from Frank Sinatra to Frank Zeppo.  This time out he leads his own big bandful of Southland musical stalwarts.   Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Jan. 20. (Thurs.)  David Garfield Group.  With Luis Conte and Emil Richards.  A trio of L.A.’s best studio artists – pianist Garfield, percussionist Conte and vibist Richards join forces in an evening of dynamic rhythm tunes.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

Kenny Burrell

- Jan. 20 – 22. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Kenny Burrell Quintet. One of the gifted products of Detroit’s prolific jazz sceme, guitarist/educator Burrell continues – as he has done for decades – to create delightfully memorable evenings of jazz.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Jan. 21. (Fri.)  Brad Mehldau’s Highway Rider with Chamber Orchestra and jazz ensemble.  Composer-pianist Mehldau performs an in-concert version of the music from his new 2-CD set, Highway Rider — a through-composed work opening up the possibilities in a musical setting replete with jazz improvisation, classical chamber music textures and pop melodies.  He’s accompanied by the all-star ensemble of  Joshua Redman, Larry Grenadier, Jeff Ballard and Matt Chamberlain.  Scott Yoo conducts the Chamber Orchestra.  Disney Hall.   (323) 850-2000.

- Jan. 21.  (Fri.)  Kristin Korb. She sings, she plays the bass, she entertains, and does it all with the sort of entertaining flair that demands attention in everything she does.  Steamers.   (714) 871-8800.

Al Jarreau

- Jan. 21. (Fri.) Al Jarreau.  He’s such an impressive entertainer that it’s easy to overlook the extraordinary depth of his jazz skills.  Back on track after some health problems, Jarreau is one of a kind, as good as the vocal art ever gets. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts. (562) 916-8501.

- Jan. 21. (Fri.)  Patrick Williams Big Band “Aurora.” A week filled with big band music continues with Williams’ “Aurora,” featuring a line-up of  L.A.’s (and the world’s) most extraordinary players.   Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Jan. 21. (Fri.)  Suzanne Vega. The folk music revival of the ‘80s wouldn’t have been the same without singer/songwriter Vega, whose music still simmers with cool, but telling emotional atmosphere.  Irvine Barclay Theatre.   (949) 854-4646.

- Jan. 22. (Sat.)  Roberta Flack.  Multiple Grammy winning Flack was named one of VH-1’s “100 Greatest Women of Rock & Roll.”  But her rich sound and tender interpretations reach into expressive territories far beyond the world of rock.  Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.  (562) 916-8501.

Jack Sheldon

- Jan. 22. (Sun.)  Jack Sheldon California Cool Quartet. Some cool trumpet playing, appealing vocals and bawdy humor are on the music menu for this week’s jazz brunch. Helen Borgers hosts.  KJAZZ Sunday Champagne Brunch.  The Twist Restaurant in the Renaissance Hollywood \Hotel.  (562) 985-2999.

- Jan. 23. (Sun.)  Jazz Vespers with Bob Mintzer and Russell Ferrante. Saxophonist Mintzer and pianist Ferrante, founding members of the Yellowjackets, team up for the January Jazz Vespers.  All Saints Church, Pasadena.

- Jan. 23. (Sun.)  Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. A dramatic evening of music with Ignat Solzhenitsyn conducting the LACO in a performance of Lutoslawski’s Musique Funebre, Haydn’s Symphony No. 103 (“Drum roll”) and performing the Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20. Royce Hall.  (310) 825-2101.

San Francisco

- Jan. 18 & 19. (Tues. & Wed.)  Ladysmith Black Mambazo.  The Grammy winning South African a cappella group’s music brilliantly displays the deep African linkage between music and dance.  Yoshi’s Oakland. (510) 238-9200.

- Jan. 19 – 22. (Wed. – Sat.)  Roy Hargrove Quintet.  Trumpeter Hargrove takes a break from his big band activities to perform in the wide open improvisationa setting of his small group.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655-5600.

New York

Lauren Kinhan, Janis Siegel, Laurel Masse

- Jan. 18. (Tues.) JALALA.  Three of the most musically adept female singers in the music world – Lauren Kinhan, Laurel Masse and Janis Siegel get together to display their wares in a harmonious vocal setting.  The Cornelia St. Café.   (212) 090-9319.

- Jan. 18 & 19. (Tues. & Wed.)  Blood, Sweat & Tears with Arturo Sandoval. The ultimate jazz rock band joins forces with the master of Latin jazz.  Expect musical fireworks. The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

- Jan. 18 – 22. (Tues.- Sat.)  David Murray Big Band.  Saxophonist Murray, a Grammy winner and a Guggenheim Fellow, applies some of the techniques he learned as a major avant-garde figure to the rich textures of a large ensemble.  Birdland. (2120 581-3080.

- Jan. 18 – 23. (Tues. – Sun.)  Lewis Nash Quintet.  Drummer Nash leads a stellar ensemble, with trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, vibist Steve Wilson, pianist Renee Rosnes and bassist Peter WashingtonVillage Vanguard (212) 929-4589.

- Jan. 18 – 23. (Tues. – Sun.)  Marcus Roberts Trio.  The piano trio continues to be one of the jazz world’s ever-evolving ensemble styles.  And pianist Roberts, with drummer Jason Marsalis and bassist Rodney Jordan, has perfected his own unique approach to the instrumentation. Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.   (212) 258-9800.

- Jan. 23. (Sun.)  Jane Ira Bloom.  Soprano saxophone master Bloom celebrates the release of her fascinating new CD, WingwalkerThe Cornelia St. Café.   (212) 090-9319.

Kenny Burrell and Jack Sheldon photos by Tony Gieske.


Picks of the Week: Oct. 25 – 31

October 24, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Oct. 25. (Mon.)  Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band.  Los Angeles has a full crop of big bands, performing with some (if still not enough) frequency.  And the Big Phat band is one of the best, collectively and individually.  Hearing them at Vitello’s is like having them perform for your own private party.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Oct. 26. (Tues.)  Kristin Korb.  Combining the seemingly incompatible skills of vocalizing and bass playing, Korb does so with ease, musicality and a rare quality of thoughtfulness in her musical story telling.  Charlie O’s.  (818) 994-3058.

Jason Marsalis

- Oct. 26. (Tues.)  Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet.  His older brothers have identified Jason as the most talented member of the Marsalis family.  And, whether true or not, there’s no doubting his ability.  A superb drummer, he’s been impressively exploring the vibes lately.  He performs with bassist Will Goble, pianist Austin Johnson and drummer David PotterVitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Oct. 27. (Wed.) Neil Sedaka. [This concert has been postponed due to illness.  It will be rescheduled to Tuesday, Dec. 7.  Original tickets for the Oct. 27 program will be valid on Dec. 7.] Singer/songwriter Sedaka was churning out hits just before the Beatles (and the British) arrived.  But he came back a decade later, and – at 71 – continues to entertain audiences with his familiar, and well-crafted songs. Disney Hall.   (323) 850-2000.

- Oct. 27. (Wed.) Larry Goldings Quartet.  With Harry Allen.  Keyboardist Goldings and saxophonist Allen – an eminently like-minded musical pair – offer a program featuring selections from their whimsically titled new album, When Larry Met Harry. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- Oct. 28 – 30 (Thurs. – Sat.)  Three Phantoms In Concert.  A perfect Halloween celebration: Craig Shulman, Kevin Gray and Brad Little, all of whom have played the title role in The Phantom of the Opera, perform selections from that classic musical, as well as memorable songs from Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, Guys and Dolls, Nine and more.  Segerstrom Concert Hall in the Orange County Performing Arts Center.  (714) 556-2787.

Cheryl Bentyne

- Oct. 29. (Fri.)  Cheryl Bentyne “The Gershwin Songbook” Bentyne’s crystal sound has enlivened the Manhattan Transfer for decades.  Her solo excursions are equally compelling, and even more so when applied to the irresistible songs of the brothers Gershwin.  Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- Oct. 29. (Fri.)  Moscow State Symphony.  Renowned for their interpretations of Russian classical music the Moscow State Symphony performs a diverse offering of great works.  On the program: Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio Italien, Op. 45,  Bruch’s Violin Concert No. 1 in g minor, Op. 26 with violinist Jennifer Koh, and the Mussorgsky/Ravel Pictures at an Exhibition. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.  (562) 916-8501.

- Oct. 29. (Fri.)  Bill Cantos Trio.  Pianist/singer/songwriter Cantos is a convincing musical hyphenate, bringing imagination, skill and swing to everything he plays. Hopefully he’ll play some of his own memorable songs.  Cantos will be joined by his equally versatile wife, singer/composer Mari FalconeThe Culver Club at the Radisson.   (310) 649-1776 ext. 4137.

Julie Esposito

- Oct. 29. (Fri.)  Julie Esposito.  She’s an eclectic singer, capable of bringing musical authenticity to a far-reaching range of styles.  And, as  if that’s not enough,  Esposito manages to have an extensive career in law in her spare time.  (Or is it vice versa?)  This time out, she sings a mini-tribute to her father, the fine Chicago-based jazz pianist/arranger Gene Esposito.  Esposito also shares the stage with singer Frank Messina in a group of Broadway tunes and American Songbook standards.  The Gardenia.  West Hollywood.  (323) 467-7444.

- Oct. 29. (Fri.)  Blame Sally. The San Francisco-based quartet is an all-female collective of singer-songwriters: Pam Delgado, Renee Harcourt, Jeri Jones and Monica Pasqual.  But their gender is less significant than their expressive musicality — and the fact that each is a talented writer/performer with something unique to say.  Different though they may be, they perform with the empathic togetherness of musicians who intuit and value the musical connections that exist between them.  Boulevard Music.  (310) 398-2583.

- Oct. 30. (Sat.)  Monica Mancini and Friends.  Mancini’s latest album, I Loved These Days, features her convincing readings of songs from the singer/songwriter era of the ‘60s and ‘70s, aided by the presence of the likes of Stevie Wonder, Brian Wilson and Jackson Brown.  Will they be among the “Friends” who appear with her?  Only one way to find out.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Oct. 30. (Sat.)  Tom Rotella Quartet.  Guitarist/composer Rotella has recorded with everyone from Cher and Frank Sinatra to Herbie Hancock and Luciano Pavarotti.  As well as writing and/or performing on soundtracks for Sex and the City, The Simpsons, The Tonight Show and more.  But he says he gets his greatest kicks performing live, which he’ll do with the Pat Senatore TrioVibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

Julie Kelly

- Oct. 30. (Sat.)  Julie Kelly’s Birthday Party.  Singer/guitarist Kelly brings a rare sense of joy to her songs – fully apparent on her new CD Everything I Love. She’ll be celebrating her birthday and the new album, backed by the John Heard Trio. Charlie O’s. (818) 994-3058.  And don’t forget that Julie appears regularly, concentrating on her love of Brazilian music in her Brazilian Hour Happy Hang, on Thursdays at Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Oct. 31. (Sun.)  John Daversa’s Contemporary Big Band.  Trumpeter Daversa brings in Halloween with his “scary big band.”  With a stage full of L.A.’s first team players performing Daversa’s unpredictable, the results should be supernatural.  Baked Potato.   (818) 980-1615.

San Francisco

- Oct. 25. (Mon.)  Karrin Allyson.  Female jazz singers have been arriving by the dozen, but Allyson continues to hold her own as a convincingly complete jazz artist.  Expect to hear, and enjoy, her range across repertoire from John Coltrane to Antonio Carlos Jobim.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

- Oct. 27. (Wed.)  Harvey Wainapel’s Alegritude.  Saxophonist/clarinetist Wainapel has spent more than a decade in Brazil.  His group Alegritude is the product of everything he learned during those years of immersion in bossa nova, samba and all the other rich elements of Brazilian music. Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

Leo Kottke

- Oct. 27 – 29. (Wed. – Fri.)  Leo Kottke.  Multiple Grammy-nominated Kottke achieved high visibility during the singer/songwriter years of the ‘70s.  But the roots of his music – then and now – have always been in his impressive acoustic guitar virtuosity.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

- Oct. 29. (Fri.)  Bitches Brew Revisited. The 40th anniversary year of Miles Davis’ iconic Bitches Brew is celebrated in contemporary fashion by the group of Graham Haynes, trumpet, Marco Benevento, keyboards, Antoine Roney, woodwinds, James “Blood” Ulmer, guitar, DJ Logic, turntables.  An SFJAZZ Festival event at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre. (866) 920-5299.

- Oct. 30. (Sat.)  Nellie McKay.  Quirky singer/songwriter/pianist McKay brings wit and a sardonic humor to songs that range from well targeted social activism to subtly engaging lyricism.  An SFJAZZ Festival event at the YCA Forum.   (866) 920-5299.

New York

- Oct. 26 – 30. (Tues. – Sat.)  Pat Martino Organ Quartet.  Guitarist Martino makes the most of the classic organ quartet format with a line-up that includes Tony Monaco, Hammond B-3 organ, Eric Alexander, tenor saxophone and Jason Brown, drums.  Birdland.   (212) 581-3080.

Gerald Clayton

- Oct. 26 – 31. (Tues. – Sun.) Gerald Clayton Trio.  L.A.’s Clayton – whose father John and uncle Jeff are two of the co-leaders of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra – is thoroughly establishing himself as one of New York’s rapidly rising young jazz piano talents. Village Vanguard.   (212) 929-4598.

- Oct. 28 – 31. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Houston Person Quartet. Tenor saxophonist Person’s muscular sound and expressive style spent years working with Etta Jones.  But he’s a powerful player in his own right, mixing bebop with a strong seasoning of soul.  Jazz Standard.   (212) 576-2232.

- Oct. 28 – 31. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Mike Clark’s Indigo Blue.  Clark’s drumming was one of the driving forces in Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters, and his funk drumming beats have been sampled by everyone from Prince to Janet Jackson.  But he’s been stepping out on his own lately, as he does here with the stellar ensemble of trumpet Nicholas Payton, alto saxophonist Donald Harrison and bassist Christian McBride Irididum.  (212) 582-2121.


Picks of the Week: July 26 – August 1

July 26, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- July 27. (Tues.) and 29. (Thurs.) Heroic Beethoven.  A pair of evenings overflowing with the splendor of Beethoven’s boundless imagination.  Pianist David Fray plays the Piano Concerto No. 3.  And Pablo Heras-Casado conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the Eroica Symphony No. 3.  The Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

- July 27. (Tues.)  John Pisano’s Guitar Night.  This week Pisano interacts with the adventurous guitar of Bruce Forman and the ever-dependable bass of Chuck BerghoferVitello’s (818) 769-0905.

Count Basie

- July 28. (Wed.)  Big Band Jazz at the Bowl.  The Count Basie Orchestra, the Dave Holland Big Band and the Dave Douglas Big Band.  Expect a diverse set of perspectives on big band jazz, from the ineffable swing of the Basie players to Holland’s Grammy-winning large ensemble to the outward bound music of Douglas.  The Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

- July 28. (Wed.)  Tina Raymond Trio.  The rising drummer/percussionist performs with guitarist Tim Fischer and bassist Emilio Terranova.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.  www.vibratogrilljazz.com.

- July 28. (Wed.)  Ancient Future. The duo of Matthew Monfort, scalloped fretboard guitarist and Mariah Parker, santurist, from the world fusion group Ancient Future, perform selections from three recent albums: Seven Serenades for Scalloped Fretboard Guitar (Monfort); Sangria (Parker); and the re-mastered 30th anniversary edition of Planet Passion (Ancient Future).   The Waterfront Concert Theatre, Marina del Rey.  (310) 448-8900. They also appear at the Fret House in Covina on Sat., July 31.  (626) 339-7020.

- July 28. (Wed.)  Jack Shit.  Blues, country, rock and satire.  Musical entertainment at its extreme.  Click here for a recent iRoM review of a Jack Shit performance.  The Baked Potato.  (818) 980-1615.

- July 29. (Thurs.)  The David Angel Saxtet.  Celebrate Sax Liberation Day with the six saxophonists and the sturdy rhythm section of Angel’s entertaining ensemble. Charlie O’s.   (818) 994-3058.

- July 29. (Thurs.) CJSQ. Saxophonist Chuck Johnson and trumpeter James Smith keep the torch burning for swinging, straight-ahead jazz.  Crowne Plaza Hotel.   (310) 642-7500.

Natacha Atlas

- July 29. (Thurs.)  Natacha Atlas.  Belgian-born Atlas has been in the vanguard of world music artists exploring the boundary-less blending of traditional Middle Eastern music with reggae, rock and electronica.  The Skirball Center.  http://www.skirball.org (310) 440-4500.

- July 29. (Thurs.)  Kailash Kher’s Kailasa. Kher is one of the major stars of Indian pop music.  His program will run the gamut of Indian Pop, Rock andBollywood songs.  Twilight Dance at the Santa Monica Pierh (310) 458-8900.

- July 30. (Fri.)  Mon David.  Filipino singer David has been convincingly establishing himself as one of the most unique new male jazz vocalists.  The Culver Club in the Raddison.  (310) 649-1776 ext. 4137.

- July 30 & 31. (Fri. & Sat.) Sergio Mendes and Morcheeba. Mendes has been bringing Brazilian sounds and rhythm to the world for more than four decades, and he doesn’t seem to be slowing down.  British rock band Morcheeba is the opening act.  The Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

Strunz & Farah

July 30 & 31. (Fri. & Sat.)  Strunz & Farah.  The two-guitar duo’s fast fingered musical romps seem to get better with every outing.  Click here read a recent iRoM review of Strunz & Farah.   Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- July 31. (Sat.)  Viver Brasil with Katia Moraes. The premiere of Alafia/Harmony, a celebration of peace, as expressed in the music and dance of the Yoruban community, featuring the dynamic Viver Brasil dancers and the charismatic singing of Moraes. Ford Amphitheatre.  (323) 461-3673.

- July 31. (Sat.) Holly Hofmann and Bill Cunliffe.  Hoffman’s flute and Cunliffe’s piano make for an irresistible combination of subtle sounds and driving rhythms.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- July 31. (Sat.)  Pat Benatar and REO Speedwagon. Eighties pop-rock hit-maker Benatar teams up with eighties rocksters REO Speedwagon to revisit their hits.  The Greek Theatre. (323) 665-3125.

Judy Wexler

- Aug. 1. (Sun.) Judy Wexler.  Jazz artist Wexler is always a pleasure to hear, with her eclectic musical interests and articulate vocal skills.  This time out she’ll be in a setting that perfectly frames her abilities — a luxurious new downtown music venue, the First and Hope Supper Club

- Aug. 1. (Sun.)  Film: The Anatomy of Vince Guaraldi.  The Jazz Bakery’s Movable Feast events feature a film, this time out, celebrating the life and music of Vince Guaraldi, with on-camera appearances by Dave Brubeck, Dick Gregory, Irwin Corey, John Handy and others.   Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax.  Jazz Bakery Movable Feast.   (310) 271-9039.

- Aug. 1. (Sun.)  Gaea Schell. She prefers to describe herself as a jazz pianist who also sings, but the truth is that Schell handles both those hyphenates with plenty of style, imagination and grace.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.  .

San Francisco

- July 28. (Wed.) Mingus Amungus. One of the Bay area’s more intriguing groups, celebrating the music of Charles Mingus in music and dance. Yoshi’s San Francisco (415) 655-5600.

- July 30 & 31. (Fri. & Sat.)  Larry Carlton Trio.  Specializing in smooth jazz, blues and crossover, guitarist Carlton has been doing it well for decades.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

John Pizzarelli

- July 30 – Aug. 1. (Fri. – Sun.)  John Pizzarelli. Every time he steps on stage, Pizzarelli’s guitar playing, singing, and whimsical humor affirm the fact that jazz can be as entertaining as it is musically engaging.  Yoshi’s Oakland (510) 238-9200.

New York

- July 27 – 31. (Tues. – Sat.)  Charlie Haden’s Quartet West.  Bassist Haden celebrates the 25th Anniversary of his Quartet West ensemble with the current personnel — Ravi Coltrane, Alan Broadbent and Rodney Green. Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.

- July 27 – Aug. 1 (Tues. – Sun.)  Earl Klugh.  The Grammy-winning guitarist continues to bring life and imagination to the smooth jazz and crossover genres.The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

- July 27 – Aug. 1. (Tues. – Sun.)  Marcus Roberts Trio. Backed by Jason Marsalis and Rodney Jordan, Roberts moonlights from his professorial duties at Florida State University with performances that are virtual living displays of jazz piano history.  Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.  (212) 258-9595.

- July 29. (Thurs.)  Sarah McLachlan.  Jet Blue customers traveling through Terminal 5 at New York’s JFK airport on Thurs., July 29 will enjoy a free, live show, post-security in the Marketplace, celebrating singer/songwriter McLachlan’s new album Laws of Illusion.   Information click here.

Joanne Brackeen

- July 29 – Aug. 1. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Joanne Brackeen Quartet.  Veteran pianist/composer Brackeen displays her dynamic improvisational style backed by the sterling playing of Mark Turner, Ugonna Okegwo and Johnathan Blake Jazz Standard. (212) 576-2232.

- July 29 – Aug. 1.  (Thurs. – Sun.)  Larry Coryell Power Trio.  Coryell, who can do almost anything he wants to with a guitar, cranks up the power, assisted by the equally electrifying playing of bassist Victor Bailey and either Lenny White or Jeff “Tain” Watts on drums.  Iridium.   (212)  582-2121.


Live Jazz: The 7th Panama Jazz Festival

January 22, 2010

By Fernando Gonzalez

Panama City, Panama. The 7th Panama Jazz Festival, celebrated in Panama City January 11-16, concluded Saturday with a free, outdoor concert at Plaza Catedral, in front of the historic cathedral in Old Panama City. What started only a few years ago as a Quixotic adventure by Panamanian pianist, Grammy winner and educator Danilo Pérez has become one of the most significant events in jazz, and music education,  in Latin America.

But as good as the music was throughout the week, it was only part of the story. The festival features the participation of educational institutions such as the New England Conservatory, Berklee College of Music, the Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico, Fundazione Siena Jazz from Siena, Italy, and the Golandsky Piano Institute at Princeton University. And the educational activities — directed by saxophonist Patricia Zárate, Perez’s wife — included educational programs, clinics and workshops ranging from Panamanian Folklore to yoga, a children’s program and technology. Also, during this festival it was announced the launching of Berklee College of Music’s Global Jazz Institute, a new, interdisciplinary initiative.

Danilo Perez

“The festival was a labor of love, not just for me but for many people, Carmen Aleman, Robin Tomchin, Javier Carrizo, many people,” said Pérez in an interview Saturday. “But also many people would come and tell me ‘Jazz? In Panama? Salsa maybe, but jazz? Really?’ And in our first year I put up most of the money and frankly, I almost lost everything. We barely made it. But in the second year we got one sponsor, Samsung, and that helped; and the third year we got another, Toyota, and then the administrations in Panama joined in and helped out — and here we are.”

“I know now, for some people it looks like this just happened, that it started yesterday. But it didn´t happen that way,” continues Perez, who notes he started educational activities 25 years ago.  “Many people have helped. This has become a movement.¨

This year’s edition was attended by an estimated 22,000 people (again, a reminder:  for jazz, in Panama).

Ellis Marsalis

The event is now the main promotional and educational program of the Danilo Pérez Foundation, an organization created in 2005 to promote social change through education in music.

The festival´s headliners this year included pianist Ellis Marsalis’s trio, saxophonists Joe Lovano and Carlos Garnett, singer Lizz Wright, bassist John Patitucci, guitarist Tom Patitucci, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and percussionist Jamey Haddad, alongside the ubiquitous, ever present Perez on piano.

Following a festival tradition of paying tribute to a Panamanian jazz figure, this year’s event was dedicated to Panamanian pianist Sonny White (neé Ellerton Oswald) who in the mid-1930s worked with Sidney Bechet, Teddy Hill, and Billie Holiday, among others. Notably, White was the pianist for Holiday on “Strange Fruit.”

Musically, the festival offered some extraordinary moments, beginning on Thursday with Marsalis’ soberly elegant performance leading a trio also featuring Jesse Boyd on bass and Jason Marsalis, drums, as well as the stunning set by Lovano, Perez, Patitucci, Carrington and Haddad.  Friday’s program followed with a moving (and effective) appearance by Garnett,  a Panamanian player perhaps best known in the US for his work with Miles Davis, and  a quietly powerful performance by Wright — made  even more remarkable by the fact that she was supposed to be on her way to Costa Rica for a vacation.

Lizz Wright

But a last minute cancellation due to illness by singer Dee Dee Bridgewater and a personal plea from Pérez, brought Wright to Panama. She turned out to be an inspired choice. Performing nearly without rehearsal with an ad hoc (albeit deluxe) backup band, Wright offered a set of standards and originals with uncommon aplomb and grace.  She has a dark, rich voice with deceptive range, and her dramatic, opening number, “I Loves You Porgy,” sung a cappella, silenced the cavernous Teatro Anayansi and the raucous Panamanian audience. It also set the tone. There were several high points in the set,  but the called-on-the-spot duet with Pérez on “Embraceable You” was a reminder of the nature and power of jazz — not just improvisation and swing and soul but also smarts, adventure and risk-taking.

But if the music was impressive, the loudest noise was the buzz of educational activities, not only because of the teachers at hand (Lovano, the Patitucci brothers, and Haddad offered hands on workshops throughout the week) but the level of participation.

“New England Conservatory came first. Berklee [College of Music] started coming in 2006, and both soon realized that something was happening, ” says Perez who is a Berklee and NEC alumnus, has taught at both schools, and is now the artistic director of Berklee’s Global Jazz Institute. “They realized we have grown organizationally but also in concerts and clinics and workshops. When they first came we had 4 concerts now we have 15. We have 80 clinics, panels, workshops. And they have seen these kids grow up before their eyes. Their level has gone up. The first year we auditioned for scholarships nobody qualified. We gave one scholarship and it went to Melisa Saldaña from Chile. Now …”

This time, an estimated 830 students attended the educational program, eight scholarships were given out to Berklee (seven to Panamanian students, one to a Costa Rican pianist)  and six to the Golandsky Piano Institute at Princeton, N.J..

This will have an impact long after the music has faded.  A reminder that at the Panama Jazz Festival, what happens onstage is only part of the story.

Lizz Wright and Ellis Marsalis photos courtesy of Toddi J. Norum: http://toddinorum.zenfolio.com


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