Picks of the Weekend: Nov. 8 – 10

November 8, 2013

By Don Heckman

 Los Angeles

Bill Holman

Bill Holman

- Nov. 8. (Fri.) Bill Holman Big Band. Holman’s music is always a pleasure to hear live. And this is an even better opportunity, since the band will be performing (on the first set only) its highly praised all-Thelonious Monk album, Brilliant Corners, in its entirety. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- Nov. 8. (Fri.) Anna Mjoll. Iceland’s gift to jazz is also one of the Southland’s intriguing female jazz vocalists. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

Steve Tyrell

Steve Tyrell

- Nov. 8 – 10. (Fr. – Sun.) Steve Tyrell. Bringing his own musical gifts to the Great American Songbook, Tyrell’s appealing interpretations are always a pleasure to hear. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (223) 466-2210.

- Nov. 8 – 10. (Fri. – Sun.) The Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Bramwell Tovey, with trumpet soloist Alison Balsom, perform Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5. and Tovey’s trumpet concerto, Songs of the Paradise Saloon. Disney Hall (323) 850-2000.

- Nov. 9. (Sat.) Lee Hartley. Jazz singer Hartley surrounds her self with a stellar collection of world class artists, including the great Les McCann and the grooving Alphonse Mouzon Band. Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- Nov. 9. (Sat.) Susan Marshall & Company. Featuring Marshall’s Play/Pause, described as the “ultimate mash-up: postmodern dance-theater meets indie rock on both real and virtual stages.” A CAP UCLA event at Royce Hall.  (310) 825-4401.

Judy Wexler

Judy Wexler

- Nov. 10. (Sun.) Judy Wexler. Always a pleasure to hear in action, the small, but musically exciting Wexler celebrates a CD release party for her new album, What I See. Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- Nov. 10. (Sun. Brunch Performance) Betty Bryant. Veteran singer/pianist Bryant celebrates her anniversary with a Birthday Bash Brunch and CD release party. Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- Nov. 10. (Sun.) Bill Cunliffe and Imaginacion. Grammy-winning pianist/composer/arranger Cunliffe digs into his Latin jazz perspectives. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

 San Francisco

- Nov. 8 – 10. (Fri. – Sun.) Paula West. A standout among the Bay area’s many fine female jazz artists, West displays her virtuosity with an appealing set of songs, including her take on June Christy’s version of “Something Cool.” SFJAZZ at Joe Henderson Lab.  (866) 920-5299.

 New York City

Steve Kuhn

Steve Kuhn

- Nov. 7 – 10. (Thurs. – Sun.) Steve Kuhn Trio. Pianist Kuhn has been carving out his own musical directions since he played with John Coltrane as a young arrival. Here he’s backed by the propulsive accompaniment of Buster Williams, bass and Billy Drummond, drums. Jazz Standard.  (212) 576-2232.

- Nov. 8 – 10. (Fri. – Sun.) The Django Reinhardt New York Festival recalls the inimitable jazz artistry of the great Django Reinhardt with an ensemble featuring the Django Festival All-Stars. With Special Guests: Cyrille Aimee, Freddie Cole, James Carter & Edmar Castaneda. Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.

 Boston

Jackie Ryan

Jackie Ryan

- Nov. 8. (Fri.) Jackie Ryan. In the crowded field of female jazz vocalists, Ryan continues to be a standout, an imaginative artist who still hasn’t quite received the accolades her extraordinary talents deserve. She celebrates the release of her latest CD. Regatta Bar.  (617) 661-5000.

 London

- Nov. 8 & 9. Fri. & Sat. Soul Jazz Alliance. You can bet that the title of this group is an accurate description of what to expect from a world class collection of players, featuring Vincent Herring and Jeremy Pelt and special guest Sachal Vasandani. Ronnie Scott’s.   +44 (0)20 7439 0747.

Paris

Sheila E.

Sheila E.

- Nov. 8. (Fri.) Sheila E. Gifted with jazz skills inherited from her Escovedo family background, Sheila E. can do just about anything, from her driving percussion work to her ability to musically dominate a stage. New Morning.  +33 1 45 23 51 41.

Milano

- Nov. 8 & 9. (Fri. & Sat.) Maceo Parker. A saxophone star with James Brown, Parker is still – at 70 – a master of the soul, funk and bebop genres. Blue Note Milano.  +39 02 6901 6888.


Picks of the Week: Dec. 26 – 31.

December 26, 2012

By the iRoM Staff

With only a few short days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, and with numerous clubs (especially in Europe) closed for the holiday week, we’ve decided to concentrate this week’s Picks on the celebratory musical pleasures of bringing in 2013.

NEW YEAR’S EVE (DEC. 31)

Los Angeles

Jane Monheit

Jane Monheit

- Dec. 26 – 31. (Wed. – Mon.) Jane Monheit.  Monheit’s glorious voice and briskly swinging style make a welcome return holiday visit to the club that perfectly showcases her many talents.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Dec. 31. (Mon.) Frank Stallone.  Grammy and Golden Globe nominated actor/singer Stallone is an entertaining performer, with material reaching from standards to his own originals.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Dec. 31. (Mon.)  Idina Menzel.  Tony Award-winning singer/actress Menzel, the star of Broadway’s Wicked, was also in the original production of Rent.  Disney Hall.    (323) 850-2000.

- Dec. 31. (Mon.) Don Randi and Quest.   Keyboardist Randi – who also owns the Baked Potato – has played on hundreds of recording sessions and numerous hit recordings.  Here he celebrates the holiday with his own band, in  his own venue, with many special guests.  The Baked Potato.    (818) 980-1615.

Anna Mjoll

Anna Mjoll

- Dec. 31. (Mon.) Anna Mjoll.  Iceland’s gift to jazz continues to affirm her vocal jazz authenticity with every performance.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- Dec. 31. (Mon.)  Vardan Ovsepian Chamber Ensemble with special guest David Binney. Armenia-born pianist Ovsepian brings a view to jazz that is colorfully enhanced by his classical and Eastern European background.  Blue Whale.   (213) 620-0908.

San Francisco

- Dec. 28 – 31. (Fri. – Mon.)  Pete Escovedo & Sons Latin Jazz Orchestra. Expect musical fireworks and an exciting transition to 2013 while enjoying the irresistible rhythms of the Escovedo family.  Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

- Dec. 28 – 31. (Fri. – Mon.)  Maceo Parker’s Funky New Year’s Party.  James Brown and the Funkadelics wouldn’t have been quite the same without the funk-driven saxophone of Parker.  He’s doing it on his own now, but he’s no less soulful than he was four decades ago.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.    (415) 655-5600.

Chicago

Roy Hargrove

Roy Hargrove

- Dec. 26 – 31. (Wed. – Mon.)  The Roy Hargrove Quintet. Trumpeter Hargrove continues to display his versatility in a busy touring schedule featuring his various groups.  This time it’s his always exciting quintet.  Jazz Showcaset  (312) 360-0234.

New York

- Dec. 26 – 31.  Wed. – Mon.) (Continuing through Sun. Jan. 6.)  Chris Botti. Trumpeter Botti – whose dedicated following has made him one of the world’s most popular jazz artists – continues his annual long holiday run at the Blue Note.  Don’t miss the chance to hear him up close and personal.   Click HERE.To read iRoM’s review of Chris’s New Year’s Eve performance at the Blue Note in 2012    The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

- Dec. 31.  (Mon.)  The Mingus Big Band.  What better way to celebrate the newly arriving year than with the ever-appealing music of Charles Mingus, performed accurately by the ensemble that continues to keep his classic jazz catalog alive.  Jazz Standard.   (212) 576-2232.

Wynton Marsalis

Wynton Marsalis

- Dec. 31.  (Mon.)  Wynton Marsalis Meets Vince Giordano.  Trumpeter Marsalis honors one of his great influences with The Louis Armstrong Continuum – Music of the Hot Fives and the Hot Sevens.   Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.    (212) 258-9800.

Washington D.C.

– (Dec. 27 – 31).  Thurs. – Mon.)  Monty Alexander.  Jamaican-born pianist Alexander brings it all together – convincing bebop, a solid blues foundation and gently floating Caribbean rhythms.  Blues Alley.    (202) 337-4141.


Picks of the Week: Dec. 27 – Jan. 1

December 26, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Jane Monheit

- Dec. 27 – Jan 1.  (Tues. through Sunday)  Jane Monheit.  The beautiful Monheit gets an early start, ramping up all week to the big Saturday night New Year’s celebration.  And what better way to bring in 2012 than by hearing her velvet voice and gentle swing delivering “Auld Lang Syne.”  Catalina Bar & Grill.    (323) 466-2210.

- Dec. 28. (Wed.)  Joe Bagg Organ Trio.  Bagg’s unique approach to the B-3, which happily avoids most of the predictable repetitions often heard from the instrument, makes his gigs especially appealing musical events.  He’s backed by Steve Cotter, bass and Ryan Doyle, drums.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.    (310) 474-9400.

- Dec. 28. (Wed.)  Gerald Clayton Trio. Pianist Clayton, blessed with musically rich genes (his Dad is bassist/composer/bandleader John Clayton, his uncle alto saxophonist Jeff Clayton) has thoroughly established himself as one of the most important new jazz arrivals of the past few years.  Steamers.   (714) 871-8800.

Luciana Souza

- Dec. 29. (Thurs.)  Luciana Souza.  Brazil’s Souza brings far-ranging musicality to the jazz vocal art, adept in the music of her native land, well-versed in jazz and contemporary classical music, always a pleasure to hear because of her quest to explore fascinating creative territories.  She’ll be well-aided toward that goal by guitarist Larry Koonse and bassist David PiltchBlue Whale.    (213) 620-0908.

- Dec. 29. (Turs.)  Woody Allen & His New Orleans Jazz Band.  Yes, the filmmaker/comedian really does play the clarinet, and does it well via a deep understanding of the essential elements of New Orleans music in general, and the New Orleans clarinet style in particular.  Royce Hall.  (310) 825-2101.

- Dec. 29. (Thurs.)  Billy Mitchell & Friends.  Pianist and all-around entertaining jazz artist Mitchell is featured at In-House Music’s early New Year’s Eve party, complete with cocktails, party hats, streamers, dancing and more.  With Dr. Bobby Rodriguez, trumpet, Rob Kyle, saxophone, Tomas Gargano, bass, Frank Wilson, drums.  LAX Jazz Club at the Crowne Plaza LAX.  Information: In-House Music.   (310) 216-5861.

NEW YEAR’S EVE

Billy Childs

- Dec. 20 & 31. (Fri. & Sat.)  Billy Childs Quartet.  The live performance by pianist Child’s musically compelling quartet — with Childs’ exploratory, ever searching piano playing in company with the saxophones of Bob Sheppard, the bass of Tim Lefebvre and the drums of Gary Novak — will also be delivered over FM radio via a live broadcast on NPR.  Blue Whale.   (213) 620-0908.

- Dec. 31. (Sat.) Brazilian New Year’s Eve Celebration.  Here’s a spectacular new way to celebrate the arrival of 2012, aboard the historic ocean liner, The Queen Mary. Rio’s Marcos Ariel, his keyboards and his Quartet will cover the full range of Carioca music — from samba to bossa nova to chorinho.  The samba dancers of Joany’s Samba Show will display the latest dance moves, and DJ Chris Brasil will keep the beat alive.  At midnight, 2012 will come in amid a spectacular fireworks show.  Rio de Janeiro at the Queen Mary.  (818) 566-1111.

- Dec. 31. (Sat.)  Sherry Williams.  The smooth sounding voice, effortless swing and artful interpretive skills of Williams still don’t receive the full attention they deserve.  She’ll be backed in this elegant celebratory night by the Pat Senatore QuartetVibrato Grill Jazz…etc.    (310) 474-9400.

- Dec, 31, (Sat.)  Frank Strazzeri. Pianist Strazzeri’s diverse career path has led from Dixieland jazz (with Al Hirt) through the bop years (with Charlie Ventura and Woody Herman), West Coast jazz (with Art Pepper, Chet Baker and more) and still swinging into the present.  This time out, he’ll be leading his stellar Legacy Group, with George Harper, tenor saxophone, Steve Johnson, trombone, Jeff Littleton, bass and Kenny Elliott, drums.   JAX Bar & Grill.    (818) 500-1604.

- Dec. 31. (Sat.)  Jane Monheit.  New Years Eve celebration.  See above.  Catalina Bar & Grill.    (323) 466-2210.

Pink Martini

- Dec. 31. (Sat.) New Year’s Eve with Pink Martini.  The ultimate cabaret act, Pink Martini – mixing their originals with such camp-edged classics as “Amado Mio” from the film Gilda — find common ground between French cabaret, jazz, Latin dance music, Brazilian samba and a lot more.  They’ll bring in the New Year with a memorable collection of songs. Disney Hall.   (323) 650-2000.

- Dec. 31. (Sat.)  Chris Williams Sextet.  Moving freely across mainstream, Latin and bebop territory, Williams spices his vocals with a dramatic ability to find the essential meaning of a song.  Steamers.    (714) 871-8800.

San Francisco

- Dec. 29 – 31. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Maceo Parker’s New Year’s Party. Alto saxophonist Parker has been a definitive voice of funk and soul since his prominent visibility with James Brown and Parliament Funkadelic.  And he’s still going strong. Yoshi’s San Francisco.    (415) 655-5600.

Chicago

Roy Hargrove

- Dec. 27 – Jan. 1.  (Tues. – Sun.)  Roy Hargrove Quintet. Grammy winning trumpeter Roy Hargrove has thoroughly established himself – at 42 – as one of the jazz world’s most versatile artists, moving compellingly across jazz and pop styles, from small groups to his own big band.  Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

Washington, D.C.

- Dec. 28 – 31. (Wed. – Sat.)  Monty Alexander.  Alexander’s articulate jazz skills made him one of the most admired post-Oscar Peterson, bebop-driven pianists.  But more than that, he’s enhanced those skills with fascinating inner tinges of the sounds and rhythms of his native Jamaica.   Blues Alley.  (202) 337-4141.

New York

Wynton Marsalis

- Dec. 27 – Jan. 1. (Tues. – Sun.)  Wynton Marsalis: ”The Music of Jelly Roll Morton and King Oliver.”  Few contemporary jazz artists understand – or even care to understand – the compelling musical delights of the music of Morton as well as Wynton Marsalis does.  And in addition to authenticity, Marsalis brings joyful, timeless swing to his memorable performances of works from these iconic jazz figures.  Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.    (212) 258-9800.

- Dec. 27 – Jan. 1. (Tues. – Sun.)  The Bad Plus.  The trio of pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King continue to carry the torch for ever-evolving new views of the classic piano jazz trio.  Village Vanguard. l  (212) 255-4037.

- Dec. 27 – Jan. 1. (Tues. – Sun.)  Chris Botti.  An epic three week run — with two shows every evening — wraps up with a climactic New Year’s weekend for trumpeter Botti and his all-star collection of players.  Enhancing the music — the far-ranging versatility of singer Lisa Fischer.  Tickets may be hard, even impossible to get.  But it’s worth the effort to hear the best-selling American jazz instrumental artist in action.  The Blue Note.  (212) 475-8592.

Milan

- Dec. 27 – Dec. 31. (Tues. – Sat.)  The Harlem Gospel Choir. The 40-voice choir has established itself over the past 2 ½ decades, in performances around the world, for their expressive interpretations of the classic gospel repertoire. The Blue Note Milano.  02.69.01.68.88.

Tokyo

- Dec. 29 – 31. Thurs. – Sat.)  Fourplay.  The Fourplay quartet, often identified in the contemporary, even the smooth jazz, arena has always nonetheless maintained a solid connection with mainstream jazz roots.  And the addition of guitarist Chuck Loeb to the original trio of keyboardist Bob James, bassist Nathan East and drummer Harvey Mason has further enhanced Fourplay’s musical solidity.  The Blue Note Tokyo.   03.5485.0088.

Billy Childs and Wynton Marsalis photos by Tony Gieske


Live Jazz: The Playboy Jazz Festival (Sunday) at the Hollywood Bowl

June 14, 2011

By Devon Wendell

It becomes more apparent each year that the annual Playboy Jazz Festival has less to do with pure jazz programming and more to do with people of all ages and races coming together for a good time.  This was certainly the case this year during the Festival’s second day show on Sunday, in which the lineup include a high percentage of funk/jazz and blues acts.

Many jazz “purists” may balk at this but the crowd didn’t seem to mind at all.  The crowd danced, drank, and did little fretting over the lack of flatted 5th chords being played.  Even an artist as beloved in the jazz world as John Scofield chose to play a set of pure blues with fellow guitarist Robben Ford (who’s more known as a blues player), resulting in one of the many festival highlights.

Robben Ford and John Scofield

Scofield and Ford were backed by Andy Hess on bass and Anastasio Panos on drums.  Their brief set consisted of mostly well known blues classics such as Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads,” Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Good Mornin’ Little School Girl,” and Willie Dixon and Howlin’ Wolf’s standard “Spoonful,” with Ford on vocals.  Oddly enough, Scofield’s guitar playing was much bluesier and tasteful in a traditional sense compared to that of Ford’s. Where Ford would fly across the fret board with lightning speed, sounding more like a mid ‘70’s Jeff Beck, Scofield played sweet and slow string bends with a more economic sense, bringing to mind the late great Albert King.

When the two ax men weren’t dueling solos, they were making some soulful and original guitar harmonies — as on their instrumental rendition on Ray Charles’s “Busted.”   And it was especially refreshing to see Scofield set aside his jazzier chops and play some low-down blues, especially given the fact that many of his fans might thumb their noses at blues players.

Although the youthful vocal acappella group Naturally 7 offered a set list that didn’t differ much from that of their big Playboy Festival debut last year, their impact was equally strong and entertaining. Lead by Roger Thomas, Naturally 7’s ability to vocally mimic instruments from guitar, drums, bass and electric guitar to harmonica, trombone, and DJ scratches, while creating smooth and precise vocal harmonies, is astounding.

Naturally 7

Warren Thomas’ vocal simulation of Eric Clapton’s guitar solo on their reading of the Beatles “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” sounded better than many of the actual guitarists who performed during the festival.  And Garfield Buckley’s ability to capture Sly Stone’s wah-wah drenched harmonica phrasing on Sly And The Family Stone’s “Sex Machine” was frightening in its accuracy.  The group’s performance was further proof that Naturally 7 isn’t just relying on a limited gimmick, but is, instead, one of the most creative and innovative ensembles in the music world.

Another stellar moment in the festival was the arrival of former James Brown horn section players and arrangers Pee Wee Ellis (saxophone) and Fred Wesley (trombone).  Together again, their new project was titled “Still Black, Still Proud: An African Tribute To James Brown.”

Unfortunately, the African vocalists — Vusi Mahlasela and Cheik Lo — were a distraction from the JB sound laid down at the opening number, Brown’s “I’ve Got That Feeling.”  But even so, the magic between Ellis and Wesley made this a most special performance. Their funky horn hooks and the symmetry between the two men that helped change music forever sounded as fresh as it did 40 years ago.  The only element that would have made this tribute a lot stronger would have been the inclusion of Maceo Parker, whose absence was especially felt on  JB’s “Pass The Peas.”

The most electrifying set of the day, however, took place when headliner Buddy Guy took the Bowl stage accompanied by his dynamic and attentive touring band: Ric Hall, guitar, Orlando Wright, bass; Tim Austin, drums; and Marty Sammons, keyboards.

Buddy Guy

Guy arrived like Zeus, throwing lightening bolts into the audience via a furry of twisted string bends and wailing guitar runs, then suddenly turning the volume down and playing sweet and softly.  His set consisted of blues classics like Muddy Water’s “Hoochie Coohie Man,” Freddie King’s “Love Her With A Feeling,” and Albert King’s version of O.V. Wright’s “Drowning On Dry Land.”  Guy did his usual stage antics — playing the guitar with his shirt while strapped backwards, playing wild blistering solos into the audience, using Austin’s drum stick as a slide, accompanying it all with his witty and warm stage banter.

As amazing as Guy’s energy was, it was paralleled by a special guest — 12 year old Quinn Sullivan, whom Guy brought to center stage. The pre-teen’s playing sounded like a well rehearsed combination of Guy and Eric Clapton.  Singing about his “Master Buddy Guy,” he even played a white Stratocaster like Guy’s.  But Guy and the audience enjoyed every second of Sullivan’s enthusiastic playing and singing.

With the exception of dynamic sets by Geri Allen’s Timeline Band (featuring the amazing tap dancing of Maurice Chestnut), Terence Blanchard’s band, Bill Cunliffe with the stirring sounds of the Resonance Big Band (showcasing fast-fingered pianist Marian Petrescu), and Harmony 3 (with Ronnie Laws, Walter Beasley and Stanley Jordan ) – jazz took a back seat to the blues on the last day of the 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival.

In the long run, it felt as though much of  Sunday’s music had been leading up to Buddy Guy’s performance.  At the forefront of modern electric blues, rock, funk, and even jazz, his playing displayed the power to cement it all together in completely natural, compatible fashion.  And to do so in a way that revealed how much the blues has inspired the jazz world.


Picks of the Week: April 11 – 17

April 11, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

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

John Pisano

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

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

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

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

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

Denise Donatelli

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

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

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

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

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

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

Judy Wexler

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

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

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

San Francisco

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

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

New York

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

Anat Cohen

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

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

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

Darcy James Argue

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

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

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


Picks of the Week: Aug 10 – 15

August 10, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

B.B. King

- Aug. 11. (Wed.) B.B. King, Buddy Guy. The blues at its best by a pair of venerable masters.  The Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- Aug. 11. (Wed.) Bennie Maupin Ensemble.  Maupin’s mastery of the tenor saxophone, flute and bass clarinet has reached from Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock to his own envelope-stretching outings.  He’s not heard often enough, though, so don’t miss this one.  Armand Hammer Museum, UCLA.

- Aug. 11. (Wed.) Carol Robbins Quartet.  Harp hasn’t had a lot of presence in jazz, but in Robbins’ hands it steps impressively into the spotlight.  She’s backed by Pat Senatore, bass, Josh Nelson, piano and Jimmy Branley, drums.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.  .

- Aug. 11 – 15. (Wed. – Sun.)  John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey. Television variety shows featuring the music and humor of, among others, Sonny & Cher, the Smothers Brothers, etc. are a thing of the past.  If anyone has the charm, the wit and the musicality to bring them back, it’s the entertaining husband and wife team of Pizzarelli and Molaskey.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Aug. 12. (Thurs.) Soulive and Breakestra. Jazz funk on the loose, from the organ trio rhythms of Soulive to the hip hop and soul of the ten piece Breakestra.  Twilight Dance at the Santa Monica Pier.   (310) 458-8900.

- Aug. 12. (Thurs.)  La Excelencia.  The twelve piece salsa band with an upfront social awareness bring a revolutionary attitude to a traditional form. The Skirball Center.   (310) 440-4500.

- Aug. 12. (Thurs.)  Charlie O’s 10th Anniversary Party.  Jo-Anne and her staff celebrate ten years of providing first rate jazz in an intimate, up close and personal setting.  Expect to see a lot of familiar faces as Bill Cunliffe leads the Charlie O’s All-Stars.  Charlie O’s.   (818) 994-3058.

- Aug. 12. (Thurs.)  Jennifer Hart and Llew MathewsHart & Soul.  The duo of singer Hart and pianist (and sometimes singer) Mathews is bringing new life to everything from Lambert, Hendricks and Ross’ version of “Centerpiece” to their touching take on “Here’s To Life.  .Steamers.   (714) 871-8800.

Robin McKelle

- Aug. 13. (Fri.)  Robin McKelle.  McKelle’s latest album, Mess Around, combines her solid jazz skills with her affection for blues, soul and the music of the ‘60s.  Café Metropol.   (213) 613-1537.

- Aug. 13. (Fri.)  Carlos Santana, Lila Downs, Pete Escovedo and Zach de la Rocha. Latin music in many of its rich, colorful forms, from the blues driven explorations of Santana to Downs’ gripping musical intimacy, Escovedo’s classic Latin jazz and the rap and poetry songs of De la Rocha.  The Greek Theatre.   (323) 665-3125.

- Aug. 13 & 14. (Fri. & Sat.)  Harry Connick, Jr. Connick may have too much talent for his own good, given the many twists and turns of his career.  But when he’s playing piano, singing, leading a big band  in many of his own arrangements, he seems to be exactly where he belongs.  He’ll also perform with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The Hollywood Bowlhttp://www.hollywoodbowl.com (323) 850-2000.

- Aug. 13 & 14. (Fri. & Sat.)  Erin Boheme. Young, rapidly rising singer Boheme has the chops, the rhythm and the looks to claim a spot for herself in the upper reaches of the jazz vocal constellation.  Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

- Aug. 13 – 15. (Fri. – Sun.) The Long Beach Jazz Festival.  What a great way to spend a summer weekend, in the laid back setting of Rainbow Lagoon, listening to The Original Jazz Crusaders, a Tribute to Grover Washington, Jr., Dave Koz, Sheila E., Jonathan Butler, George Duke, Marcus Miller, Christian Scott, the Al Williams Jazz Society and many more.  Rainbow Lagoon in Long Beach.  The Long Beach Jazz Festival.

Seu Jorge

- Aug. 14. (Sat.) Seu Jorge and Almaz. Jorge has crossed convincingly from his Brazilian samba to a breakout role in global pop, singing the music of David Bowie (among others) with as much panache as his gripping takes on Gilberto Gil, Milton Nascimento, etc.  He’ll feature music, recorded with Almaz, from his new CD, Seu Jorge and AlmazClub Nokia.  (213) 765-7000.

- Aug. 14. (Sat.)  Pasadena Symphony and PopsAll That Jazz. The gifted young Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodriguez and jazz singer Valarie Pettiford are featured in a laid back summer jazz evening.  The Lawn adjacent to the Rose Bowl.  All That Jazz. (626)793-7172.

- Aug. 14. (Sat.) Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.  Put on your dancing shoes and get ready to move with the jump and jive rhythms of the Voodoo Daddies.  To make the performance even more tempting, the price is right — Free — and the setting is the pleasant environs of the Orange County Great Park.  Flights and Sounds Summer Festival.   (914) 854-4646.

- Aug. 15. (Sun.) Aloha Fest! Songs and Dances From Paradise. Natalie Ai, Hula Hulau O Lilinoe and Nonosina Polynesia bring to life the lush sounds and driving rhythms of Tahiti, Hawaii and beyond.  The Ford Amphitheatre.   (323) 461-3673.

- Aug. 15. (Sun.)  Levon Helm & Jenny Lewis.  With Steve Earle.  An evening of diversity, featuring the soulful voice and crisp drumming of Helm, Lewis’ dynamic voice and songs, and the Grammy-winning Earle in a program of songs by the late Townes Van Zandt (from the new CD, Townes.)  The Greek Theatre.   (323) 665-3125.

- Aug. 15. (Sun.)  John Proulx.  Pianist Proulx is also a gifted songwriter and an intriguing vocalist.  Let’s  hope he performs some selections from his Chet Baker tribute album, Baker’s Dozen: Remembering Chet BakerVibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.  .

- Aug. 15. (Sun.)  Smooth Summer Jazz.  The title says it all – a stellar evening for fans of the easygoing rhythms and pleasing timbres of smooth jazz.  Featured artists include Brian McKnight, Rick Braun and Richard Elliot, Patrice Rushen, Spencer DayThe Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

San Francisco

Amina Figarova

- Aug. 10. (Tues.)  Amina Figarova.  Azerbaijan pianist and composer Figarova makes a rare West Coast tour, celebrating the release of her musically compelling new CD, Sketches.   Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.  Also Kuumbwa in Santa Cruz on Thurs., Aug. 12  and the San Jose Jazz Festival (Aug 15)  on Sun., Aug. 15.   

- Aug. 13 & 14. (Fri. & Sat.)  Betty Buckley and Alice Russell.  An evening of musical delights from a pair of ladies who know how to bring a song to life and an audience to its feet.  Yoshi’s San Francisco. (415) 655-5600.

- Aug. 13 – 15. (Fri. – Sun.)  Toumani Diabate and the Symmetric Orchestra. Mali’s Diabete performs on the traditional African instrument the kora with such virtuosic energy that he has been called “the Jimmy Hendrix of the kora.”  Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200. 

- Aug. 14 – 15. (Sat. & Sun.)  Outside Lands Music & Art Festival.  It’s the kind of event, with tributaries into ecology, technology, activism, food and the counterculture that could probably only take place in San Francisco.  Among the acts: Kings of Leon, Further with Phil Lesh and Bob Weir, Social Distortion, Al Green, Gogol Bordello, the Levon Helm Band, Sierra Leon’s Refugee All-Stars, Vieux Farka Toure, the Rebirth Brass Band, Garage A Trois and many others.    Outside Lands Music & Art Festival in Golden Gate Park.

San Jose

George Clinton

- Aug. 13 – 15. (Fri. – Sun.)  The San Jose Jazz Festival. Always one of the West Coast’s most attractive summer festivals, San Jose keeps its standards high once again, with programming that includes Amina Figarova, Bobby Matos, George Clinton and Funkadelic, Vijay Iyer, Irma Thomas, John Handy, Maceo Parker, Nnenna Freelon, Pete Yellin, Ray Obiedon, Gretchen Parlato, Marcus Miller, Tower of Power and many others.  The San Jose Jazz Festival.

New York

- Aug. 10. (Tues.)  Art Lillard’s Heavenly Band with Mary Foster Conklin, Andrea Wolper and Alan Esses. Drummer Lillard is carrying the torch for big band music by performing new music in classic Swing style.  Vocalists Conklin, Wolper and Esses add their atmospheric takes to this fascinating blend. The Iridium.  (212) 582-2121.

- Aug. 10 – 14. (Tues. – Sat.)  George Coleman Quartet.  Seventy-five year old Coleman’s resume reaches from Miles Davis the Chet Baker, but he’s never quite received the credit his strong tenor saxophone work deserves.  He performs here with Harold Mabern, piano, John Weber, bass, Joe Farnsworth, drums.  Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.

- Aug. 10 – 15. (Tues. – Sun.)  Cedar Walton Quintet.  Veteran pianist Walton displays his wares with a solid collective of younger stars: Vincent Herring, alto sax, Steve Turre, trombone, David Williams, bass and Willie Jones III, drums.  Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.   (212) 258-9595.

- Aug. 13 – 15. (Fri. – Sun.)  Lenny White’s Anomaly. Drummer White features the music of his new recording, also called Anomaly – music which is aimed, he says, “at putting the rock back into jazz rock.”  The Iridium.  (212) 582-2121.


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