Live Jazz: The Jon Mayer Trio at H.O.M.E.

January 10, 2013

By Brick Wahl

Beverly Hills, CA.  Saw Jon Mayer Tuesday in Beverly Hills at a club called H.O.M.E.  A trio gig, with rock solid down the middle Chris Conner on bass, always good, and Roy McCurdy on drums. They don’t make drummers like Roy anymore. All that power. Not Elvin Jones power, but metrical power, swinging like he swung everybody, Cannonball Adderley and everybody. Jon was playing a huge piano that was last tuned in 1967 or thereabouts but he didn’t seem to have much trouble with it.

I was at Charlie O’s one night — might have been this very same trio — and I was sitting with John Heard back at the bar. Heard was digging Mayer’s playing, totally digging it, and said Mayer was the real thing. “That’s the way they used to play” he told me, “trying stuff on the fly, taking big risks like that. Just pure creativity. They don’t do that anymore.” He said something like that, anyway, back at the bar downing a brandy, me a whiskey. We listened to Mayer working through whatever it was he was aiming at, and I got it.  Heard what John Heard was hearing.  Saw in Jon Mayer’s face that creative process Heard was marveling at.

Jon Mayer

Jon Mayer

Sometimes an idea wouldn’t pan out and Jon would curse to himself and strain a second to rebuild it into something that would work. Fearless improvisation, falling back on nothing but the centrifugal force of pure jazz improvisation to carry it along. It’s like Mayer doesn’t see a beautiful lattice of possible patterns, nothing he learned in school, nothing somebody else did before. That doesn’t even seem to exist to him. He’s not making art, like pianists tend to do anymore, he’s making jazz. Pure jazz.

At H.O.M.E., it was jazz the way it was played in NYC in the 1950′s, when Jon was first gigging. You can imagine the heavy cats he had to play with, play for — hell, there was a session with Trane, even — back when jazz was at its absolute apogee. Those were the days that all jazz musicians look back at now as Olympian, as something jazz players now would give anything to be part of, and Jon Mayer was there, really was. You can hear it in those crazy clustered chords of his, these sensitive yet almost dissonant things he drops in where almost everyone would lay out a straight melodic line. I mean not dropping any huge Monk clomps, not even dropping one handed bombs like McCoy Tyner, but instead turning the melody into pieces, oddly shaped pieces he lays out with spaces between them that distill into single notes that splash on the keys like drops of rain water. He does this even in the most gorgeous tunes, a magnificent “Green Dolphin Street” or something by Tadd Dameron, or something he’s drawn up himself.

I dunno, I find writing about jazz piano impossible, absolutely impossible, and I flail around looking for ways to explain something that I don’t even understand. I wrote about jazz in the LA Weekly for seven years and never did learn how to write about jazz piano. I failed again with this. But Jon Mayer’s piano playing affects me like no other, I just listen in disbelief wondering how his musical thought process works. And I wonder if anyone else in town realizes what a treasure this jazz player is, and why they aren’t lining up to see him. He’s that good.

To read more posts by Brick Wahl on his personal website click HERE.


Picks of the Week: July 19 – 24

July 19, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

July 20. (Wed.)  John Daversa Big Band.  Trumpeter Daversa’s adventurous, often unpredictable charts make his big band appearances into engaging musical events.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- June 21. (Thurs.)  Bruce Forman Quartet.  Guitarist/educator/novelist Forman is one of the jazz world’s true multi-hyphenates.  Here he is, with his guitar, getting down to basics.Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- June 21. (Thurs.)  Kate Reid with the John Heard Trio.  Singer/pianist Dr. Kate Reid, head of the jazz program at Cypress College also has a resume with gigs reaching from John Hendricks and Mark Murphy to Bobby McFerrin and Tito Puente. Charlie O’s.   (818) 994-3058.

Maria de Barros

- June 21. (Thurs.)  Maria de Barros. The musically eclectic de Barros reveals Cape Verdean influences in her Cesaria Evora-influenced style.  But she also brings elements of Latin and international pop to performances rich with dynamic musical energy. Skirball Center.    (310) 440-4500.

- July 22. (Fri.) Phil Upchurch and Sonya Maddox Upchurch.  The Upchurch couple get together for some guitar and voice displays from Phil Upchurch’s new catalog of songs.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- July 22. (Fri.)  Peter Cetera.  He’s probably best known for the hits he was instrumental in creating for the rock group Chicago.  But singer/songwriter Cetera’s had a busy career since then, with Oscar, Golden Globe and Grammy nominations.  Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.   (562) 916-8501.

- July 22. (Fri.)  Gina Saputo.  She still doesn’t have the visibility her impressive talents deserve, but Saputo continues to make a case for herself as one of the vocal standouts of her still youthful generation.  Steamers.    (714) 871-8000.

- July 22 & 23. (Fri. & Sat.)  Dolly Parton. The Queen of Country and one of the inconic musical artists of the past few decades, makes an appearance in the only Southern California venue large enough for her celebrity stature.  Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

- July 22 – 24. (Fri. – Sun.)  Kenny Burrell Quintet. Veteran guitarist and all around musical influence Burrell takes a break from this teaching chores at U.C.L.A. to celebrate his 80th birthday.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

Don McLean

- July 23. (Sat.) Don McLean.  Writer of some of American song’s most memorable hits – “American Pie,” “Vincent,” “And I Love You So” among them – McLean makes one of his too rare Southland appearances. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.  (562) 916-8501.

- July 24. (Sun.) Global Soul.  With Rickey Minor, Stevie Wonder, Rocky Dawuni, Sharon Jones, Janelle Monae and others..  Overlook the fact that its booked as one of the Bowl’s World Music events, and just sit back and enjoy the international reach of American soul music.  Hollywood Bowl.    (323) 850-2000.

San Francisco

July 23 & 24. (Sat. & Sun.)  Dee Dee Bridgewater.  With her lush, dark sound, her irresistible on-stage energy,  and her adventurous interpretations, a night with Dee Dee is always a night to remember. Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655-5600.

New York

July 19 – 23. (Tues. – Sat.)  Louis Hayes Quintet“Cannonball Adderley Legacy”  Drummer Hayes, a veteran of six years with the Adderley quintet, offers some authentic musical memories of Adderley’s unique music, with alto saxophonist Vincent Herring playing a key role. Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

Tierney Sutton

- July 19 – 24. (Tues. – Sun.)  The Tierney Sutton Band.  Sutton’s extraordinary musicality resonates through every thing she sings, enhanced by her equally engaging ability to tell a story.  She performs with Christian Jacob, piano, Kevin Axt, bass and Ralph Humphrey, drums.  Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.    (212) 258-9800.

July 19 – 24.  (Tues. – Sun.)  Fred Hersch Trio.  Pianist Hersch, fully returned to action after some severe medical problems, continues to affirm his compelling vision of the jazz piano art.  With John Hebert, bass and Eric McPherson, drums.  Village Vanguard.    (212) 255-4037.

Boston

- July 23. (Sat.)  Gregory Porter.  Grammy-nominated Porter’s lush sound and far-reaching style are bringing vitality to the still small coterie of male jazz vocal artists.  Regatta Bar.   (617) 395-7757.

Washington D.C.

- July 21 – 24. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Cyrus Chestnut Trio.  Versatile pianist Chestnut has a far ranging catalog of material to offer on any given gig – from spirituals and Elvis Presley tunes to straight ahead bebop.  Expect to be well entertained.  Blues Alley.   (202) 337-4141.

London

James Carter

- July 21 & 22. (Thurs. & Fri.)  The James Carter Organ Trio.  Saxophonist Carter’s ability to generate super heated improvisational energies is the perfect stimulus for the jazz organ trio format.  He performs with Gerard Gibbs, B-3 organ and Leonard King, drums.  Ronnie Scott’s.    020 7439 0747.

Paris

- July 21. (Thurs.)  David Krakauer and Klezmer Madness. Clarinetist Krakauer continues on his quest to blend traditional klezmer music with everything from pop and jazz to soul, funk and beyond.   New Morning.    01 45 23 51 41.

Tierney Sutton photo by Tony Gieske.


Picks of the Week: July 12 – 17

July 11, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- July 12. (Tues.)  John Pisano’s Guitar Night.  With Mundell Lowe and bassist Jim Hughart.  Guitar Night’s always a pleasure, but here’s one not to miss – a pair of veteran jazz guitarists in action with the support of a fine bassist.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

Chris Botti

- July 13. (Wed.)  Chris Botti and Bobby McFerrin with the Yellowjackets.  One of the highlights of the Hollywood Bowl summer jazz schedule.  Botti’s trumpet playing, delivered with surging rhythms and an elegantly expressive melodic flow have currently established him as the best-selling American instrumentalist.  McFerrin is always a wonder and even more so when he’s having fun with the dynamic Yellowjackets players.  The Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000

- July 13. (Wed.)  Alex Iles and Bill Reichenbach Quintet.  A pair of primo trombonists get together with a sound and style that will hopefully recall the delights of Kai Winding and J.J. Johnson.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- July 14. (Thurs.)  The Bill Cunliffe Quartet.  “Bill in Brazil The ever-versatile pianist displays his love of the irresistible rhythms and soaring melodies of Brazil.    Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

Della Reese

- July 14. (Thurs.)  Della Reese.  “I’m still here, celebrating my 80th birthday,” says the ever energetic Ms. Reese.  And indeed she is, still singing up a storm, bringing imagination and entertainment to everything she does.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- July 15 & 16. (Fri. & Sat.)  Sarah McLachlan with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Thomas Wilkens conducting.  Multi-Grammy winning McLachlan makes her Hollywood Bowl debut in her first tour with an orchestra.  She’ll sing songs from her recent CD, Laws of Illusion.  Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- July 16. (Sat.)  Golden Boys: Frankie Avalon, Fabian Forte, Bobby Rydell.  Three of the teen idols of the ‘50s and ‘60s appear in the Cerritos season opener.  The Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.   (562) 916-8501.

- July 16. (Sat.)  An Evening with the Monkees. Forty five years after they first hit the television screens original members Davy Jones, Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork revisit their catalog of hits.  Greek Theatre.    (323) 665-5857.

- July 16. (Sat.)   Rickey Woodard with the John Heard Trio.  Saxophonist Woodard’s hard swinging, harmonically and melodically adventurous improvisations are among the Southland’s great jazz delights.  Charlie O’s.  (818) 994-3058.

- July 16. (Sat.)  “From California With Love”  CD release party.  The CD and the performance benefit Japanese disaster relief.  Among the stellar list of performers are Jim Cox, Michael Dees, Sue Raney, Diane Hubka, Pinky Winters and many more.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

Freda Payne

- July 17. (Sun.)  Freda Payne.  The gorgeous Ms. Payne applies her far reaching interpretive skills to a Tribute to the Great Ladies of Jazz: Ella, Lena and Sarah Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

San Francisco

- July 17. (Sun.)  Shahrzad Sepanlou.  The lovely Iranian singers warm, expressive voice moves freely from traditional songs to intimate contemporary balladry.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.    (415) 655-5600.

- July l5 & 16.  (Fri. & Sat.)  Charlie Hunter/Scott Amendola Duo. Hunter’s seven string guitar virtuosity has a chance to fully express itself in the company of Amendola’s subtle drumming.  Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse.    (510) 644-2020.

Chicago

- July 14 – 17. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Steve Turre Quartet with pianist Willie Pickens. Jazz trombonist and remarkable conch shell player Turre explores colorful jazz territory with Chicago jazz great Pickens.  Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

New York

- July 13. (Wed.)  Jane Bunnett and Hilario Duran.  Soprano saxophonist/flutist Bunnett and pianist Duran display some of the unusually eclectic Cuban material on their new album, Cuban Rhapsody.  Jazz Standard.  http://www.jazzstandard.com/red/index.html  (212) 576-2232.

July 14 – 17. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Airto.  The great Brazilian percussionist, fascinating with a group or as a soloist, plays with the all-star aggregation of  Mark Egan, bass, Jose Neto, guitar, Helio Alves, piano, and Lew Soloff, trumpet.  D Booker, the daughter of Airto and Flora Purim, will sing.  The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

London

Charlie Parker

- July 12 & 13. (Tues. & Wed.)  “The Music of Charlie Parker”  Alto saxophonist Gilad Atzmon evokes the spirit and the soul of the great bebop alto saxophonist, performing – with a string ensemble – selections from Bird’s classic “with strings” recordings.  Ronnie Scott’s.    020 7439 0747.

Paris

- July 12. (Tues.) Ceu. Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Ceu is an intriguing songwriter and a compelling performer, blending her unique skills with her admiration for Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Lauryn Hill.    New Morning.    01 45 23 51 41.

Milan

- July 15. (Fri.)  Return To Forever IVChick Corea, Lenny White, Stanley Clarke, Jean-Luc Ponty, Frank Gambale.  The latest incarnation of Return to Forever may well be the best one yet.  With Ponty and Gambale bringing their fiery skills to the dependable platform provided by Corea, White and Clarke, the results are musically irresistible.The Blue Note Milano.    02.69.01.68.88.

Berlin

- July 13 & 14. (Wed. & Thurs.)  Lionel Loueke and Raul Midon, the Duwala Malambo Projekt. A pair of uniquely idiosyncratic guitarist/singers find common ground in a wide open arena of improvisational adventuring they call the Duwala Malambo Projekt.  A-Trane International Jazz Club.   030/313 25 50.

Chris Botti photo by Tony Gieske.


Picks of the Week: June 14 – 19

June 14, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- June 14. (Tues.)  Motley Crue. L.A.’s heavy metal stars of the eighties (and beyond) take over the vast expanse of the Bowl for a tour through the many hits that have made them rock icons.   The Hollywood Bowl.    (323) 850-2040.

- June 15. (Wed.)  Sachel Vasandani Quartet.  At a time when male jazz vocalists are in surprisingly short supply, Vasandani is carving an intriguing musical pathway of his own.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

Angelique Kidjo

- June 16. (Thurs.)  Angelique Kidjo, Youssou N’Dour, Vusi Mahlasela.  A stellar ensemble of great African artists.  Count on them – and Kidjo in particular – to bestow an irresistible display of dynamic, musical excitement on their listeners.  The Greek Theatre.  (323) 554-5857.

- June 15. (Wed.)  Chuck Manning & Sal Marquez Quartet.  Two of the Southland’s most dependably hard swinging players team up for some straight ahead jamming.   Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- June 15 – 19.  (Wed. – Sun.)  The National Ballet of Cuba.  One of the world’s great classical ballet companies, the dancers’ performances reflect the exquisite style established by the founder, prima ballerina Alicia Alonso.  Segerstrom Center for the Arts.    (714) 556-2787.

- June 16. (Thurs.)  Mel Martin Quartet. Saxophonist Martin, who roves freely and impressively across the spectrum from bebop to avant-garde, makes a rare club stop in the Southland.  He’ll be backed by the equally versatile pianist Don Friedman, (who is also rarely seen in L.A., with bassist Tom Warrington and drummer Joe La BarberaVitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- June 16 – 19. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Hiromi.  The Trio Project.  Keyboardist Hiromi, always exploring new musical territory, has a go at the ever-changing vistas of the piano jazz trio.  She performs with bassist Anthony Jackson and drummer Steve SmithCatalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

Harry Connick, Jr.

- June 17.   (Fri.) Hollywood Bowl Opening Night.  Opening nights at the Bowl are always memorable events, glowing with stars.  This year, there will be performances by 2011 Hall of Fame inductees Harry Connick, Jr. and Gloria Estefan.  Also on the program: an exclusive live sneak preview of Cirque du Soleil’s first Hollywood production, IRIS – A Journey Through the World of Cinema.  Dame Helen Mirren hosts the evening, and Andy Garcia and Hilary Swank will serve as guest presenters.  Thomas Wilkens conducts the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra The Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2040.

- June 18. (Sat.)  Filipina Ladies of Jazz.   Following up on last year’s Filipino Gentlemen of Jazz, this year’s program features a splendid array of female Filipina artists.  Pauline Wilson (of the group Seawind) headlines.  She’ll be joined by two rising young artists, Nicole David (who will duet with her father, singer Mon David) and soul jazz singer Jaclyn Rose.  They’ll be backed by the band of saxophonist Michael Paulo.   Ford Amphitheatre.     (323) 461-3673.

- June 18. (Sat.) Rickey Woodard.   Saxophonist Woodard brings high spirited, hard swinging life to every note he plays.  This time out, he’s backed by the John Heard Trio. Charlie O’s.   (818) 994-3058.

- June 18. (Sat.)  Phil Norman Tentet.  Saxophonist Norman’s eminently listenable ensemble is also a briskly swinging show case for many of the Southland’s (and the world’s) finest composers and arrangers.  Add to that a line up of all-star players, and expect an evening of memorable little big band jazz.  Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

Roseanna Vitro

- June 18. (Sat.)  Roseanna Vitro “The Randy Newman Project”  Vitro, always a fascinating jazz singer, expands her horizons with her new CD, in which she explores the far-ranging, emotionally diverse musical catalog of Randy Newman.  It’s a remarkable album, and the live performance of its selections should make for a compelling musical evening.   Jazz Bakery Moveable Feast at Musicians Institute Concert Hall.    (310) 271-9039.

San Francisco

- June 14 & 15. (Tues. & Wed.)  Paula Morelenbaum.  Singer Morelenbaum’s deep linkage to the music of her Brazilian homeland in general, and to bossa nova in particular, reaches back to her work as a young singer with Antonio Carlos Jobim in the ‘80s and ‘90s.  Yoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.

- June 18. (Sat.) Nikki Yanofsky. Still only 17, Yanofky’s recordings and live performances have convincingly established her as a rising star with extraordinary potential.   An SFJAZZ Spring Season concert at Herbst Hall.    (866) 920-5299.

Seattle

- June 16 – 19. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Ramsey Lewis“The Sun Goddess Tour.”  Keyboardist Lewis leads his electric band in a revisiting of the funk-driven sounds of his cross-over hit album, Sun Goddess.  Jazz Alley.     (206) 441-9729.

Chicago

Rudresh Mahanthappa

June 16 – 19. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Rudresh Mahanthappa.  Alto saxophonist Mahanthappa, who just received the Jazz Journalists Association Alto Saxophonist of the Year Award, His Indo-Pak Coalition, with Pakistani-American guitarist Rez Abbasi and drummer Dan Weiss is seeking, and finding, ways to synthesize jazz and the improvised musical forms of South Asia.  The results are often extraordinary.   Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

New York

- June 14 & 15. (Tues. & Wed.)  The Dave Brubeck Quartet.  What is there to say that hasn’t already been said about the Brubeck Quartet.  Hearing the group, playing classic selections as well as new ventures, is tapping into living jazz history.  The Blue Note.  (212) 475-8592.

- June 14 – 19.  (Tues. – Sun.)  Chris Potter Underground.  One of the most consistently imaginative saxophonists of his generation, Potter leads a band filled with similarly adventurous players – drummer Nate Smith, guitarist Adam Rogers and bassist Fima EphronVillage Vanguard.   (212) 255-4037.

- June 15 – 19. (Wed. – Sun.)  Monty Alexander and the Harlem-Kingston Express.  Pianist Alexander and his group survey the musically delightful linkages between up town jazz and the rhythms of the Caribbean.   Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.    (212) 258-9800.


Picks of the Week: June 6 – 12

June 5, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- June 6. (Mon.)  Candi Sosa: Bolero Meets Jazz.  Cuban born singer Sosa finds surprisingly compatible musical linkages between jazz and the lyrical Latin ballad style. Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- June 7. (Tues.)  Jennifer Leitham Trio.  Bassist/singer Leitham celebrates the release of her DVD, The Real Me Live!, the chronicle of an extraordinary talent and an amazing life.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

Sally Kellerman

- June 8. (Wed.) Sally UnpluggedSally Kellerman.  Hot Lips returns with a bundle of songs reaching from jazz and blues to country and pop.  And she does them all with utter authenticity, finding the heart of the story in everything she sings. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- June 9 – 11. (Thurs. – Sat.)  “Rhapsody in Blue.”  The Pacific Symphony conducted by James Gaffigan, performs a program of Gershwin (the Rhapsody in Blue and Variations on I Got Rhythm) and Rachmaninoff (Symphony No. 2).  Orion Weiss is the piano soloist for the Rhapsody.  Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.   (714) 556-2787.

- June 9 – 11. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Diane Schuur.  Deedles, as she is known to friends and fans alike, makes a few of her too-rare appearances in the Southland, celebrating the release of The Gathring, her debut album on Vanguard.  On Thurs. she’ll be at the Grammy Museum.    And on Fri. and Sat. at Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- June 10. (Fri.)  Julie Kelly.  Versatile in everything from atmospheric Brazilian music to jazz balladry and lively scatting, Kelly’s singing is always a pleasure to hear.  She’s backed by the John Heard Trio.   Charlie O’s.   (818) 994-3058.

- June 11. (Sat.)  Jethro Tull.  More than four decades since Ian Anderson first demonstrated the potential for the flute as the lead instrument in a rock group, he’s still romping with Jethro Tull.  The band will perform their Aqualung album in its entirety, with a sampling of other hits, as well. The Greek Theatre.  (323) 554-5857.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK

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- June 11 & 12. (Sat. & Sun.)  The Playboy Jazz Festival.  The Hollywood Bowl.  It’s that time again.  The weekend that jazz fans anticipate with pleasure.  A two day jazz party in the sun, filling every nook and cranny of the Hollywood Bowl with all the amazing sounds grouped under the broad colorful umbrella of contemporary jazz.  This year’s program includes:

Saturday

Dianne Reeves

Dianne Reeves, The Roots with Terence Blanchard, Fourplay, Eddie Palmieri’s Salsa Orchestra, the SFJAZZ Collective, A Night in Treme with the Rebirth Brass Band (and guest artists Donald Harrison, Jr., Kermit Ruffins, Dr. Michael White and Big Sam Williams), Bill Cosby’s Cos of Good Music (featuring Geri Allen, George Bohanon, Dwayne Burno, Ndugu Chancler, Anat Cohen and Babatunde Lea), The Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet and the LASUD All City HS Big Band (directed by Tony White and J.B. Dyas).

Sunday

Buddy Guy

Buddy Guy, the Lee Konitz New Quartet, John Scofield and Robben Ford, Naturally 7, Harmony 3 with Ronnie Laws, Walter Beasley and Stanley Jordan, Geri Allen’s Timeline Band, Still Black, Still Proud: An African Tribute to James Brown (featuring Pee Wee Ellis, Fred Wesley and Vusi Mahlasela), Bill Cunliffe with the Resonance Big Band in a Tribute to Oscar Peterson, featuring Marian Petrescu, Carlos Varela and the Pullum HS Jazz Big Band (directed by Fernando Pullum).  The Playboy Jazz Festival.     (310) 450-1173.

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- June 12. (Sunday)  Gerald Wilson Orchestra.  One of the great masters of large ensemble jazz composition and orchestration, ninety-two year old Wilson still knows how to lead a band with enviable dynamic energy.  Don’t miss him in action.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

San Francisco

- June 10 & 11. (Fri. & Sat.)  The Yellowjackets with special guest Robben Ford.  Fusion, funk, groove masters the Yellowjackets team up with the equally blues-driven guitarist Ford.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

Karrin Allyson

- June 11 & 12. (Sat. & Sun.)  Karrin Allyson Quartet.  A singer who brings musicality, believability and a gorgeous vocal instrument to all her songs, Allyson appears on the crest of her new album, ‘Round Midnight.  Pianist Bruce Barth is featured in her fine back-up group. Yoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.

Healdsburg

Denny Zeitlin

- June 6 – 12. (Mon. – Sun.))  The Healdsburg Jazz Festival continues with its presentation of world class jazz in delightful settings.  Among the highlights: Mon: John Stowell Guitar Trio; Tues.: SF Jazz High School All-Stars; Wed.: Sandy and Natalie Cressman.  Thurs: Geri Allen, solo piano; the Babatunde Lea Quintet in a tribute to Leon Thomas.  Friday: Sangam with Charles Lloyd, Zakir Hussain and Eric Harland.  Saturday: Denny Zeitlin, solo piano; the John Heard Trio; George Cables All Stars.  Sunday: Charlie Haden and Allen Broadbent.  At the Raven Theatre and other locations in Healdsburg, CA.  The Healdsburg Jazz Festival.  (707) 433-4633.

Seattle

- June 9 – 12 (Thurs. – Sun.)  Earl Klugh.   One of Detroit’s finest products, guitarist Klugh’s articulate style brings life and substance to the smooth jazz/fusion genre.  Jazz Alley.    (206)441-9729

New York

Ron Carter

- June 6. (Mon.)  Jim Hall and Ron Carter Duo“Alone Together, Again.”  A pair of the great jazz masters in action.  One only hopes that they continue to do these “Alone Together” gigs – again and again.  The Blue Note.    (212) 475-8592.

- June 7 – 12. (Tues. – Sun.) The Joe Lovano Nonet.  Saxophonist Lovano’s Grammy winning Nonet admirably carries the torch lit by the Miles Davis’ Birth of the Cool band.  Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.    (212) 258-9800.

- June 9 & 10. (Thurs. & Fri.)  The Steve Cropper Band.  Guitarist, songwriter and producer Cropper has backed the likes of Booker T., Sam & Dave, Otis Redding and many others, while writing tunes good enough to trigger his induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.  Iridium.    (212) 582-2121.

Washington D.C.

- June 12. (Sun.)  Jazz on the National MallClaudia Acuna Quartet, Roy Hargrove’s RH Factor, Eddie Palmieri All-Star Orchestra, Frederic Yonnet, Toby Foyeh and Orchestra Africa.  A free, live performance of world class jazz, presented by the D.C. Jazz Festival.  Jazz on the Natonal Mall.    The National Mall, Washington, D.C.  (202) 457-7628.

Jerusalem

Noa

- June 9 & 11. (Thurs. & Sat.) Noa.  Israeli/American singer Noa (her full name is Achinoam Nini) is as comfortable and effective with a symphony orchestra as she is with the guitar of her frequent musical companion, Gil Dor.  But no matter what she’s singing, whether it be rock, blues, Yemenite or folk, in Italian, French, Hebrew or Arabic, she’s one of the world’s great vocal artists.  Here, she performs with Dor, as well as the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, celebrating the release of her new album, The Israeli Songbook.  The Henry Crown Hall, Jerusalem.    1-700-70-4000.

London

- Jan 7 – 9. (Tues. – Thurs.)  Michel Legrand.  The French pianist/composer combines an appealing jazz performance style with a catalog of superb, memorable songs.  He’ll be backed in this relatively rare night club performance by Ronnie Scott’s All-Stars.   Ronnie Scott’s.   020 7439 0747 4000.

Istanbul

Dervish Aziz

- June 9. (Thurs.)  Yuval Ron Ensemble.  Oud master Yuval Ron has assembled a remarkable array of musicians for  “A Concert For Peace in the Middle East.”  The participants include whirling Dervish Aziz, qawwali master Sukhawat Ali Khan, Armenian woodwind master Norik Manoukian, Israeli-Yemenite singer Maya Haddi, and Virgine Alimian, playing kanoun, Jamie Papish and David Martinelli on percussion.  FREE but reservations for the free tickets are required. Please email for the free tickets to: sevdearpaci@gmail.com. “A Concert For Peace in the Middle East.”   Sultanahmet Square AmpheTheatre. Istanbul.

Tokyo

- June 8 – 11. (Wed. – Sat.)  The Mike Stern Band featuring Randy Brecker.  Guitarist Stern, a six-time Grammy nominee, leads the solid ensemble of bassist Tom Kennedy and drummer Dennis Chambers in a multi-layered set of sounds reaching across the spectrum from groove blues to straight ahead jazz.  The Blue Note Tokyo.

Sally Kellerman, Dianne Reeves, Buddy Guy and Ron Carter photos by Tony Gieske.


Picks of the Week: Feb. 15 – 20

February 15, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra

- Feb. 15. (Tues.)  Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. The JLCO under Marsalis has firmly established itself as the definitive jazz repertory big band, performing programs that keep the spirit of large ensemble jazz – from Duke Ellington and Fletcher Henderson to the present – alive and kicking.   Disney Hall.  Disney Hall.  (323) 850-2000.

- Feb. 15. (Tues.) Strunz and Farah. The dangerous duo of high powered guitar playing, Strunz and Farah match their fast fingered virtuosity with spirit and imagination.  Click HERE to read an earlier iRoM review of Strunz and Farah.   Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- Feb. 15. (Tues.)  Matisyahu.  Every performance by Matisyahu is a banquet of international styles, from reggae and Judaic hymns to Middle Eastern rhythms and American pop.  Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza.   (805) 449-2787.

Gregory Porter

- Feb. 16. (Wed.)  Gregory Porter.  The rapidly rising, Grammy-nominated  jazz vocal star makes a rare Southland appearance.  Check him out now, while his star is in the ascendancy.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Feb. 17. (Thurs.)  CJS Quintet“A Dexter Gordon Tribute” Saxophonist Chuck Johnson and trumpeter James Smith lead their quartet in a tribute to the music of the dynamic tenor saxophonist.  LAX Jazz Club at the Crown Plaza LAX.  (310) 258-1333.

- Feb. 17 – 20. (Thurs. – Sun.) Newport Beach Jazz Party.  It’s a cornucopia of traditional and mainstream jazz.  Highlight artists include Anat Cohen, Bill Cunliffe, Ron Eschete, Benny Green, John Clayton, Tamir Hendelman, Bob Mintzer, Lewis Nash, Ken Peplowski, Houston Person, Jack Sheldon, Barbara Morrison, Tom Rainier, Eric Reed and a lot more.  Along with a rare appearance by songwriter/singer Alan Bergman.  Newport Beach Jazz Party.   (949)759-5003.

- Feb. 18. (Fri.) The Borodin Quartet, the Red Quartet and Dwight Trible. The Los Angeles Concert Seasons Series debuts with an extraordinary musical encounter between the Russian classical Borodin String Quartet, the off-beat Red Quartet (a combination of cello, violin, guitar and vocals), the idiosyncratic but fascinating vocal improvisations of Trible and eclectic sounds of DJ Mando Fever.  Santa Monica Bay Women’s Club.

Larry Goldings

- Feb. 18 & 19. (Fri. & Sat.)  Larry Goldings Organ Trio.  Goldings plays anything with a keyboard impressively.  But he’s especially gripping when he’s digging into a Hammond B-3, and even more so when he’s backed by the stellar playing of Peter Bernstein, guitar and Bill Stewart, drums.   Vitello’s\ (818) 769-0905.

- Feb. 19. (Sat.)  Frank Marocco Quartet.  Accordionist Marocco, who celebrated his 80th birthday in January, performs selections from his new CD with alto saxophonist Jon Whinnery (back in action after a bout with cancer), bassist  John Gianelli and drummer Kendall KayGiannelli Square of Northridge. (818) 772-1722.

- Feb. 19. (Sat.)  Bobby Rodriguez with The John Heard Trio.  Dr. Bobby takes a break from his academic chores to display his dynamic trumpet playing.  Charlie O’s\ (818) 994-3058.

- Feb. 19. (Sat.)  Jazz and the Orchestra.  Pianist/composer/arranger John Beasley and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Joshua Weilerstein in an original concert production illustrating jazz in small ensemble and large orchestral settings, as well as the subtleties of scatting and improvisation.  11 a.m. Pre-concert workshops for children at 10 a.m.  The program is repeated on Sat., Feb. 26.  Disney Hall.\ (323) 850-2000.

- Feb. 20. (Sun.)  Alan Broadbent/Pat Senatore Duo.  The rumor is out that Broadbent, one of the Southland’s most gifted pianists (and arrangers) may be moving to another area.  So don’t miss this chance to hear him in an intimate musical setting, accompanied only by bassist Senatore.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400. \

Barbara Morrison

- Feb. 20. (Sun.) “A Tribute To Billie Holiday Barbara Morrison, Corky Hale and Tricia Tahara. Pianist/harpist Hale brings the solid accompaniment style she used in her gigs with Holiday to a set of Lady Day songs performed with versatile vocalists Morrison and Tahara. The Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center.    (310) 330-0178.

- Feb. 20. (Sun.)  Phil Norman Tentet.  Norman’s big little band revives the cool, inner-moving musical groove of the West Coast jazz of the ‘50s, spicing it with a few contemporary seasonings as well. Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Feb. 20. (Sun.)  Fred Katz.  Skirball Center.  Cellist and master musician Katz returns to the Skirball after his performance last summer – his first in more than two decades.  He will be joined by his son, flutist Hyman Katz, bassist Richard Simon, plus special guests the Flying Pisanos — guitarist John Pisano and vocalist Jeanne PisanoThe Skirball Center.  (310) 440-4500.

- Feb. 20. (Sun.)  Sing! Sing! Sing!  “Academy Award Winning Songs: The Early Years” There’ll be plenty of memories coursing through the room at this week’s singalong, with a collection of songs harking back to the days when Academy Award winning songs really were songs to remember.  Sing!Sing!Sing! at Keyboard Concepts .  (310) 990-2405.

Al Di Meola

- Feb. 20. (Sun.)  Al Di Meola and World Sinfonia.  Guitarist Di Meola and his ensemble kick off their 2011 tour with familiar items from his catalog as well as selections from his upcoming album Pursuit of Radical Rhapsody. The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano (949)  496-8930.

San Francisco

- Feb. 15. (Tues.)  Anat Fort.  New York based, Israel-born pianist Fort is finally beginning to attract some much deserved attention beyond her Manhattan base.  She and her trio will be playing selections from her highly praised, recently released album, And if. Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

- Feb. 16 & 17. (Wed. & Thurs.)  Bill Frisell and Vinicius Cantuaria.  An unlikely pair of guitarists – featuring Frisell’s jazz Americana and Cantuaria’s percussively exciting Brazilian style — get together for what should be a pair of unpredictable but utterly compelling evenings of music. Yoshi’s Oakland. (510) 238-9200.

New York

McCoy Tyner

- Feb. 15 – 17. (Tues. – Thurs.) McCoy Tyner Trio with vocalist Jose James.  Together they revisit the classic musical partnership of John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman.  The Blue Note.  http://www.bluenote.net/newyork/schedule/index.shtml (212) 475-8592.

- Feb. 15 – 19.  (Tues. – Sat.) Oregon.  It’s hard to believe, but true, that Oregon is now celebrating its 40th year.  And the music on their new album, In Stride, affirms that their blend of classical, jazz and world music elements is as intriguing as ever.  Birdland.   (212) 581-3080.

- Feb. 15 – 19. (Tues. – Sat.)  Eric Gillett“Widescreen: Songs From & About the Movies” Gillett’s warm baritone and emotive style have the power as well as the subtlety to fill a cabaret room.  This time out, his show combines movie songs with music from theater and contemporary pop.  Feinstein’s at the Regency.  (212) 339-4095.

- Feb. 17. (Thurs.)  Roscoe Mitchell 70th Birthday concert.  The veteran avant-gardist woodwind artist celebrates, first via a duo improvisation with electronic music pioneer David Wessel, then with his own quartet, featuring pianist Dave Burrell, bassist Henry Grimes and drummer Tani Tabbal. Roulette (Concert Space).     (212) 219-8242.

Portland, Oregon

- Feb. 18 – 27.  The Portland Jazz Festival. The ten day Portland Jazz Festival is a true city event, with more than 120 programs taking place at locations around town.  Leading the stellar line up of featured artists is bassist/singer Esperanza Spalding, (right) winner of this year’s Best New Artist Grammy.  She is  the first jazz artist to receive the coveted award.

The balance of the program reaches impressively across genres and generations.  Among the highlights: the SF JAZZ Collective, Regina Carter, Joshua Redman,  Dave Frishberg, Don Byron, Nik Bartsch, Randy Weston, The Three Cohens (Anat, Avishai and Yval), as well as a round up of fine jazz talent from Portland and the Northwest…. and much, much more.  The Portland Jazz Festival. (503) 228-5299.

Wynton Marsalis and Esperanza Spalding photos by Tony Gieske.


Picks of the Week: Jan. 25 – 31

January 25, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Jan. 25. (Tues.) John Pisano Guitar Night features the always compelling playing of Anthony Wilson in the downstairs lounge.  Upstairs, the jazz voices take over, with the Peter Eldridge Group and Dollison & Marsh’s Vertical Voices.  Grammy nominated pianist Geoff Keezer provides his usual scintillating accompaniment.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Jan. 25. (Tues.)  Itzhak Perlman in Recital. The masterful veteran violinist is accompanied by pianist Rohan de Silva in a program of music by Leclair, Saint-Saens and Beethoven.  Disney Hall. (323) 850-2000.

Hair

- Jan. 25 – Feb. 6.  (Tues. – Sat.(6)).  “Hair” The definitive musical theatre work of the counter-culture sixties, filled with memorable songs, from “Aquarius” and “Easy to Be Hard” to “Frank Mills” and “Good Morning Starshine.”  Segerstrom Concert Hall.  OCPAC.   (714) 556-2787.

- Jan. 27. (Thurs.)  Jorge Drexler.  Oscar-winning (for “Al Otro Lado del Rio” in The Motorcycle Diaries) Uruguayan singer/songwriter Drexler makes his first L.A. appearance since his sold out concert at Disney Hall three years ago.  Skirball.   (310) 440-4500.

- Jan. 27. (Thurs.)  The Frank Marocco Quartet.  Accordionist Marocco affirms, in every performance, the tonal warmth, harmonic richness and articulate swing that he can generate from his too often maligned instrument.Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Jan. 27. (Thurs.) Luther Hughes & the Cannonball Coltrane Project. Bassist Hughes and his companions revive the music from one of great jazz classic albums.  LAX Jazz Club at the Crown Plaza LAX.  (310) 258-1333.

Julie Kelly

- Jan. 28. (Fri.)  Julie Kelly with the John Heard Trio. Kelly singing is one of the Southland’s vocal jazz blessings, whether she’s tip-toeing through bossa nova or applying her rich sound to an intimate ballad. Charlie O’s. (818) 994-3058.

- Jan. 28. (Fri.) Ernie Watts. Everyone’s a-list, number one saxophonist, Watts delivers on all counts – tone, imagination, drive and the utter uniqueness that all great jazz players possess.  Steamers (714) 871-8800.

- Jan. 28. (Fri.)  Ron Stout. Bearded Ron Stout, whose easy transitions from jazz soloing to adept section playing have made him one of the Southland’s most in-demand trumpeters, shows up for an infrequent appearance in the spotlight.  He’ll be backed by the sterling trio of pianist Tom Ranier, bassist Pat Senatore and drummer Kevin Kanner.     Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Jan. 28 – 30.  (Fri. – Sun.)  “A Chorus Line.” Winner of nine Tony awards and a Pulitzer Prize, A Chorus Line, with its memorable music and stellar dancing, is one of the great musical theatre pieces.  If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t miss this rare opportunity.    Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts (562) 916-8501.

- Jan. 28 – 30. (Fri. – Sun.)  Robben Ford/Roger Kellaway Band.  Guitarist Ford and pianist Kellaway, each a unique and very different jazz stylist, get together for what should be a fascinating musical encounter.  Vocalist Anne Kerry Ford adds her richly personal way with a song.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Jan. 29. (Sat.) Karsh Kale & MIDIval Punditz.  Indian music goes strikingly contemporary with the electronic fusion of tabla artist Kale.  He’ll be joined by his frequent collaborators MIDIval Punditz, guitarist Chris Buono, ghazal master Vishal Vaid and electric violinist Dorian CheahRoyce Hall.  (310) 825-4401.

- Jan. 29. (Sat.)  Alan Paul. Manhattan Transfer’s Paul takes a break from his ensemble responsibilities for a solo turn.  He follows his partners Janis Siegel and Cheryl Bentyne onto the stage at Vitello’s (818) 769-0905.

Ed Shaughnessy

- Jan. 30. (Sun.)  Ed Shaughnessy Quintet. Veteran drummer has demonstrated his versatility with everything from avant-garde jazz to a long stint in the Tonight Show band.  This time out he applies his two bass drum percussion magic to his own quintet. The inimitable Bubba Jackson Hosts.  KJAZZ Sunday Champagne Brunch.  The Twist Restaurant in the Renaissance Hollywood \Hotel.  (562) 985-2999.

- Jan. 30. (Sun.)  Los Angeles Master Chorale: London Bridges.  L.A.’s always adventurous voices reach into the deep, centuries old English choral music tradition.  They’ll sing works by William Byrd, John Tavener, Benjamin Britten and more.  Disney Hall (323) 850-2000.

- Jan. 30. (Sun.)  Mozart Classical Orchestra.  A Happy Birthday tribute to the MCO’s namesake.  Ami Porat conducts the Mozart Symphony No. 36 (“Linz”), Il Re Pastore Overture and the Violin Concerto No. 4. (with violinist Roberto Cani).    Irvine Barclay.

- Jan. 30. (Sun.)  Sing! Sing! Sing! “Let’s Face the Music of Irving Berlin.  Judy Wolman leads an all-join-in celebration of the extraordinarily rich Berlin musical catalog.  Sing! Sing! Sing!.  Keyboard Concepts.

Bill Holman

- Jan. 31. (Mon.)  The Bill Holman Big Band. Holman’s arranging and composing have stamped him as one of the true poets of big band jazz.  His too rare appearances leading his own group are as fascinating to the musicians who play his charts as they are to the audiences fortunate enough to hear them.  Don’t miss this one. Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

San Francisco

- Jan. 27 & 28. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Bobby Hutcherson celebrates his 70th anniversary with his quartet and the unique sounds of special guest Anthony Wilson on guitar.  Yoshi’s Oakland (510) 238-9200.

- Jan. 29. (Sat.) Lizz Wright. The singing of Wright is deeply rooted in gospel, and she moves freely across blues and rock, as well, adding spice and substance drawn from her affection for, and skill with jazz.  Yoshi’s Oakland.

(510) 238-9200.

New York

Randy Weston

- Jan. 25 – 30 (Tues. – Sun.)  Jacky Terrasson Trio.  French pianist Terrasson applies his crisply swinging style in a trio setting with bassist Ben Williams and drummer Jamire WilliamsVillage Vanguard.  (212) 255-4037.

- Jan. 25 – 30. (Tues. – Sun.) Randy Weston and African Rhythms.  At eighty four, pianist/composer Weston continues to explore (and discover) the rich connections between jazz and it African roots.  He’s accompanied by bassist Alex Blake, percussionist Neil Clarke, drummer Lewis Nash, (Tues. – Fri.) and saxophonist Billy Harper (Sat. & Sun).   Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.  (212) 258-9800.

- Jan. 25 – 29. (Tues. – Sat.) “Hub Art: The Music of Freddie Hubbard.” The late, great trumpeters music is performed in authentic fashion by Nicholas Payton, trumpet, Javon Jackson, tenor saxophone, George Cables, piano, Dwayne Burno, bass and Lenny White, drums.  Birdland.   (212) 581-3080.

- Jan. 27 – 30. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Tony Williams Lifetime TributeJack 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.  The Blue Note.  (212) 475-8592.

- Jan. 28. (Fri.)  “Girls Gone Mild” With Rebecca Martin, Gretchen Parlato and Becca Stevens.  Three gifted jazz canaries introduce their new trio.  Backed by Chris Tordini and Larry Grenadier on basses, with Martin and Stevens playing guitar, ukulele, etc. and Parlato doubling on percussion, they’re explore everything from standards and originals to brand new material. Cornelia St. Café (212) 989-9319.

Randy Weston photo by Tony Gieske.


Picks of the Week: Dec. 28 – Jan. 2

December 26, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Gerald Clayton

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

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

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

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

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

San Francisco

Fee Waybill

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

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

New York.

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

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

NEW YEAR’S EVE

(Fri., Dec. 31)

Los Angeles

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

Jane Monheit (Photo by Tony Gieske)

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barbera Morrison

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

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

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

San Francisco

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

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

New York

Hilary Kole

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

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

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

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

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

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


Picks of the Week: Nov. 22 – 28

November 22, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Nov. 22. (Mon.)  Judy Wolman’s Thanksgiving Sing-a-longGreat American Songbook. Here’s a chance to be thankful for Cole Porter, the Gershwins, Rodgers & Hart, etc.  While having a lot more fun singing than you ever could in the shower.  Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- Nov. 23. (Tues.)  Jimmy Branley Quartet.  Drummer Branley combines versatility, musicality and a rare degree of subtlety in his playing.  He usually displays those skills for other leaders.  This time, he’s the front man.  With Walter Smith, saxophone, Dennis Hamm, piano and Jorge Sawa, bass.  Charlie O’s.   (818) 994-3058.

John Pisano

- Nov. 23. (Tues.)  John Pisano Guitar Night.  Every guitar night is a night worth experiencing.  And this one’s no exception, with Pisano exchanging musical ideas with the busy, veteran guitarist Jim Fox. Bassist Bob Bain keeps the rhythm cooking. Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Nov. 24. (Wed.)  Ron Kalina.  Jazz on the harmonica isn’t something one hears frequently.  So don’t miss Kalina – an authentic jazz harmonica player – in this too-rare club appearance.  Backing him, the solid duo of bassist Pat Senatore and guitarist Barry Zweig.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.  http://www.vibratogrilljazz.com

- Nov. 24. (Wed.) 17th Annual Turkey Bash.  Featuring Evan Stone and the Translucent Ham Sandwich Band. Don’t let their whimsical title fool you.  The Ham Sandwich Band has some interesting things to say musically.   Steamers (714) 871-8800.

- Nov. 26 & 27. (Fri. & Sat.)  Jack Sheldon Orchestra celebrating Jack’s Birthday.  Sheldon, the Southland’s own trumpet-playing, vocalizing, sardonic raconteur, turns 79 on the 30th.  Help him celebrate.  Catalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210.

- Nov. 27. (Sat.)  Janis Mann.  Mann’s deep, dark-toned voice and far-ranging musical ideas bring new life to everything she sings.  She’s backed by John Heard, bass, Roy McCurdy, drums, tba piano.  An additional benefit: the performance celebrates McCurdy’s birthday.  Charlie O’s.  (818) 994-3058.

Anna Mjoll

- Nov. 28. (Sun.)  Anna Mjoll.  Iceland’s gift to smooth and sultry jazz singing displays her skill with the subtleties of the Great American Songbook.  Backing her: Ed Zach, piano, Pat Senatore, bass, Bob Leatherbarrow, drums.   Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

San Francisco

- Nov. 26 – 28. (Fri. – Sun.)  Tuck & Patti.  The inimitable guitar and voice duo continue their 11 year tradition at Yoshi’s San Francisco. (415) 655-5600.

- Nov. 26 – 28. (Fri. – Sun.)  Ahmad Jamal.  Miles Davis credited Jamal with his use of rhythmic time, and the veteran pianist is still demonstrating the essentials of how to swing.  Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

New York

- Nov. 23 – 25. (Tues. – Thurs.)  Monty Alexander Quintet.  Pianist Alexander continues to invest his impressive jazz chops with a healthy seasoning of sounds and rhythms from his native Jamaica.  With singer James De FrancisBirdland.   (212) 581-3080.

- Nov. 23 – 28. (Tues. – Sun.)  Ken Peplowski/Bucky Pizzarelli Quintet.  Clarinetist Peplowski and guitarist Pizzarelli, masters of their instruments and their musical art, team up for a seminar in world class jazz.  Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.   (212) 258-9595.

Kendra Shank

Nov. 26 (Fri.)  Kendra Shank.  Vocalist Shank, always a fascinating performer, always opening new musical possibilities, is never better than she is when she’s in a cozy room with empathic musical backing.  Her partners are Ben Monder, guitar, Cameron Brown, bass, Tony Moreno, drums.  55 Bar. (212) 929-9883.

- Nov. 26 – 28. (Fri. – Sun.)  Bill Charlap Trio.  Continuing his exploration of the still unrevealed possibilities of the jazz piano trio, Charlap embarks into new territories with the support of Peter Washington, bass and Kenny Washington, drums.  The Blue Note. (212) 475-8592.


Picks of the Week: Nov. 9 – 14

November 9, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Nov. 9. (Tues.)  Roy Gaines and His Orchestra.  “Tuxedo Blues” Guitarist/blues singer Gaines’ resume includes stints with Ray Charles, Chuck Willis, Bobby “Blue” Bland and others.  The Living Blues “Comeback Artist of the Year,” he’s still in rare form.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Nov. 9 – 13.  (Tues. – Sat.) Jimmie Vaughan.  With a career dating back to the Fabulous Thunderbirds, veteran guitarist/singer Vaughan — the older brother of the late Stevie Ray Vaughan — continues to be an impressive practitioner of the Texas blues style.  He makes a series of stops in the Southland this week  supporting  Plays Blues, Ballads & Favorites, his first new album in nine years.  Tues: The Grammy Museum.  Thurs: Belly Up in Solana Beach.  Friday: the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills.  Saturday: Brixton in Redondo Beach.

Lila Downs

- Nov. 10. (Wed.)  Lila Downs and Buika.  A pair of vibrant Latin artists – Mexican-American Downs and Spanish-born Concha Buika explore music reaching from flamenco and morna to traditional Mexican folk in a contemporary setting.  Disney Hall (323) 850-2000.

- Nov. 10. (Wed.)  Carol Welsman.  Tall, blonde and beautiful, Welsman is also a singer/pianist with stunning jazz skills as a vocalist and an instrumentalist.  Hopefully her program will include a few selections from her scintillating Peggy Lee tribute album, I Like Men.   Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- Nov. 10. (Wed.)  Chuck Berghofer’s Midnight Jazz band.  One of the Southland’s most compelling jazz combinations returns to its original line up of Berghofer, bass, Gary Foster, alto saxophone, Joe LaBarbera, drums and Tom Ranier, piano.  Charlie O’s.   (818) 994-3058.

- Nov. 11. (Thurs.)  The Szymanowski Quartet.  The highly regarded quartet demonstrates its versatility with a program of Schubert, Beethoven and a work by its namesake, Polish composer Karol Szymanowski.  Samueli Theatre. Orange County Performing Arts Center.   (714) 556-2787.

Theresa Russell

- Nov. 12. (Fri.)  Mike Melvoin and Theresa Russell.  Veteran jazz pianist Melvoin teams up with singer/actress Russell in an adventurous tour through Great American songs.  Bassist Tony Dumas and drummer Ralph Penland energize the rhythm.   Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Nov. 12. (Fri.) The Littleton Brothers. The two veteran brothers – bassist Jeff and drummer Don – have played with an all-star array of leaders (from Herbie Hancock and Horace Silver to Billy Eckstine and Horace Tapscott).  Here they are, side by side, leading their own sterling group.  LACMA. (323) 857-6000.

- Nov. 12. (Fri.)  Hi-Fi: The Sounds of the 70s.  Featuring B.J. Thomas, Chuck Negron (Three Dog Night) and the 5th Dimension in a memorable evening of hits.  Expect to hear, among others, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “Joy To The World” and “Up, Up and Away.”   Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts. (562) 916-8500.

- Nov. 12. (Fri.) Brian Blade “Fellowship Band.” The superb drummer (guitarist and singer)  Blade is featured in a stellar ensemble of young players – Chris Thomas, Jon Cowherd, Myron Walden, Melvin Butler, Jeff Parker. A Jazz Bakery Movable Feast at Zipper Hall.   (310) 271-9039.  (Also at Yoshi’s Oakland on Wed. & Thurs.)

- Nov. 12. (Fri.)  Nnenna Freelon. Six-time Grammy nominee Freelon is one of the uniquely original voices in the growingly crowded field of female jazz singers.   The Broad Stage. (310) 434-3200.

- Nov. 12 – 14. (Fri. – Sun.)  The Los Angeles PhilharmonicSusanna Malkki conducts a stylistically diverse program reaching from Strauss’ Also Spach Zarathurstra (central to the score of 2001: A Space Odyssey) and the teen-aged Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 1, performed by violinist Martin ChalifourDisney Hall.   (323) 850-2000.

Robert Cray

- Nov. 13. (Sat.)  An Evening with Robert Cray.  Five time Grammy winner Cray successfully blends traditional and contemporary blues, while crossing over easily into soul, r&b and pop.  Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.    (562) 916-8500.

- Nov. 13. (Sat.)  Christine Ebersole. Tony Award winner Ebersole is a convincing musical actress, as adept with a tender ballad as she is with a whimsical patter song. The Broad Stage. (310) 434-3200.

- Nov. 13. (Sat.)  Rita Moreno. Actress, singer and dancer Moreno is one of the few artists to have won a Grammy, an Emmy, an Oscar and a Tony.  She makes a rare, up close and personal club appearance. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Nov. 13. (Sat.)  The Assad Brothers.  The gifted, guitar-playing Brazilian brothers, Sergio and Odair Assad belong to a family of talented guitarists.  Their eclectic repertoire reaches from folk, traditional and jazz works to classical standards and transcriptions of the Baroque keyboard literature.  CSUN Performing Arts Center.   (818) 677-3000.

- Nov. 13. (Sat.)  60th Birthday Party. Dr. Bobby Rodriguez celebrates a landmark birthday in a high spirited musical encounter with Rickey Woodard. Backed by John Heard TrioCharlie O’s.   (818) 994-3058.

- Nov. 13. (Sat.)  Peter Sprague String Consort.  It’ll be 26 strings and three cymbals in action, as guitarist Sprague’s jazz trio blends sounds and rhythms with string quartet in a program reaching from jazz and classical to Brazilian samba.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

Helen Sung

- Nov. 14. (Sun.)  Helen Sung. Pianist Sung’s impressive versatility has served her well in a career that includes gigs with the likes of Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, Clark Terry and others. Here’s a chance to hear her far-ranging musical skills in a piano trio setting. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.  http://www.vibratogrilljazz.com

- Nov. 14. (Sun.)  Kim Richmond Quartet +1.  Alto saxophonist/composer Richmond appears with his quartet, enhanced by the added presence of woodwind artist Alex Budman.  Also in the quartet: David Roitstein, piano, Kristin Korb, bass and vocals, Jamey Tate, drums.  The Lighthouse Café.   (310) 376-9833.

- Nov. 14. (Sun.)  “The Grand Romance Riverboat Jazz Cruise” It’s a new Southland way to hear first rate jazz — on a short entertaining cruise on a replica of a Mississippi Paddle Steamer.  And it takes place every Sunday, this week featuring the Rickey Woodard Quintet. With Bobby Rodriguez, trumpet, Llew Matthews, piano, Richard Simon, bass, Roy McCurdy, drums.  Departing from Rainbow Harbor, Long Beach.  1 p.m. and 3:45 p.m.   The Grand Romance Riverboat Jazz Cruise. (562) 628-1600.

San Francisco

- Nov. 10 & 11. (Wed. & Thurs.)  Brian Blade “Fellowship Band.” The superb drummer Blade is featured in a stellar ensemble of young players – Chris Thomas, Jon Cowherd, Myron Walden, Melvin Butler, Jeff Parker. Yoshi’s Oakland.  (510) 238-9200.  (Also at a Jazz Bakery Movable Feast in Los Angeles on Friday.)

Hiromi

- Nov. 12 – 14.  (Fri. – Sun.)  Hiromi. Pianist Hiromi takes a break from her recent ensemble work with Stanley Clarke to perform as a soloist, showcasing selections from a soon to be released CD. Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

- Nov. 14. (Sun.) Vijay Iyer Trio.  Although his jazz skills are world class, Iyer also delves deeply into other musical genres and creative territories.  In 2009, he was voted – with good reason — #1 Rising Star Jazz Artist in Down Beat’s Critics Poll.  An SFJAZZ concert at the YBCA Forum.   (866) 920-5299.

- Nov. 14. (Sun.) Rosanne Cash. The gifted daughter of Johnny Cash, Rosanne Cash’s superlative career has generated ten Grammy nominations and eleven #1 hit singles.  She’ll perform selections from her 2009 album, The List.   An SFJAZZ concert at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre.   (866) 920-5299.

New York

Jim Hall

- Nov. 9 – 13. (Tues. – Sat.)  Jim Hall Quartet.  Veteran guitarist Hall approaches his 80th birthday (in December) by displaying his still extraordinary chops with the musically challenging ensemble of Greg Osby, alto saxophone, Steve Laspina, bass and Joey Baron, drums.  Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.

- Nov. 11 – 14. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Ottmar Leibert  “Evening of Solo Guitar.” One of the founders of the nouveau flamenco style, Leibert – who is also an ordained Zen Monk – plays an intimate evening of solo selections.  The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

- Nov. 11 – 14. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Cyrus Chestnut Trio.  Pianist Chestnut says he likes to “construct melodies that tell stories.”  And he’s done that with everything from jazz standards to spirituals and Elvis Presley tunes.  This time out, he’ll offer tunes from his recently released CD, Journeys.  Jazz Standard.  (212) 447-7733.

Freda Payne

Nov. 12 – 14. (Fri. – Sun.)  Freda Payne Sings Ella Fitzgerald.  Not only will the lovely Ms. Payne channel the songs of Ella (A-Tisket, A-Tasket, Mack the Knife, etc.).  She’ll also add a few Lena Horne specialties, as well.  And — of course — her own inimitable Band of GoldIridium.  (212) 582-2121.

South Carolina

- Nov. 11 – 13. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Earl Klugh’s Weekend of Jazz.  Golf, sun, ocean, jazz and a lot more.  A great way to spend a weekend — especially with a line up that includes Kyle Eastwood, Boney James, Jessy J, Earl Klugh, FourplayKiawah Island Golf Resort.  Kiawah Island, South Carolina.   (800) 576-1570.


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