Picks of the Week: Mar. 8 – 14

March 8, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

– Mar. 9. (Tues.) John Pisano’s Guitar Night.  

John Pisano

John Pisano trades riffs with Pat Kelley, who has transformed his Oklahoma roots into an amiable, highly personal guitar style. Ralph Humphrey, drums and John Belzaguy, bass, provide sturdy back-up.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

– Mar. 9. (Tues.) Bill Watrous and the San Gabriel 7.  Virtuoso trombonist Watrous leads his seven piece band in a collection of Latin, jazz and funk music.  Singer Katie Campbell adds enticing vocal stylings.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

Mar. 9. (Tues.) A Special Benefit Tribute to Francisco Aguabella.  The Banda Brothers, with guests Pete Escovedo and Sheila E. lead a tribute performance to benefit the now ill, legendary Cuban drum master.  Other scheduled performers include Alex Acuna, Justo Almario, Poncho Sanchez, Danilo Lozano, John Clayton and many others.  Steamers.  (714) 871-8800.

Mar. 9. (Tues.) Night of Radical Guitar: Janet Feder and Miroslav Tadic with Vinny Golia.  Guitarists Feder and Tadic join up with multi-woodwind instrumentalist Golia to explore the outer limits of eclectic improvisation.  South Pasadena Music Center and Conservatory.  (626) 403-2300.

– Mar 10.  (Wed.)  Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France.  An evening of Maurice Ravel, with Daphnis et Chloe, Ma Mere L’Oye and La Valse on the program.  Mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter joins the ensemble for ShehereazadeUCLA Live at Royce Hall .  (310) 825-2101.

– Mar. 10. (Wed.)  Scott Martin’s Latin Soul Band.  After fourteen years in the Grammy-winning Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band, saxophonist Martin is now fronting his own Latin ensemble.  His latest CD, Only Trust Your Heart, finds him surrounded by the lush rhythms and rich harmonies of Brazil.  Vibrato.  (310) 474-9400.

– Mar. 10.  (Wed.)  Classic Albums Live: The Beatles’ Abbey Road.  It’s a tribute performance in which the emphasis is on authentic musical reproduction, without the costumes and wigs.  Irvine Barclay Theatre. (949) 854-4646.

– Mar. 10 & 11. (Wed. & Thurs.)  Babatunde Lea Quintet. The veteran, master percussionist leads a stellar ensemble in a tribute to the late, great singer Leon Thomas. With Ernie Watts, saxophones, Patrice Rushen, keyboards, Gary Brown, bass and vocalist Dwight TribleCatalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

– Mar. 11. (Thurs.)  The Ying Quartet.  Originally founded by the four Ying siblings, the Ying Quartet now includes Frank Huang, replacing Timothy Ying as first violinist.  But the quartet’s remarkably symbiotic musical togetherness continues. CSUN Performing Arts Center. l (818) 677-1200

– Mar. 11. (Thurs.)  Joe La Barbera Quintet.  Drummer La Barbera takes a leader’s role, fronting the all-star assemblage of trumpeter Clay Jenkins, saxophonist Bob Sheppard, pianist Bill Cunliffe and bassist Tom Warrington.   Charlie O’s.   (919) 994-3058.

– Mar. 11 & 12. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Matt Slocum. Rising young jazz drummer Slocum celebrates the release of his CD, Portraits.  With Dan Lutz, bass and Josh Nelson, piano.    Thurs: Crown Plaza Brasserie Jazz Lounge.  (310) 642-7500.   Fri.: Café Metropol.   (213) 613-1537.


– Mar. 11. (Thurs.)  Hiromi. Japanese keyboardist Hiromi is building a style that reaches out to embrace everything from high voltage electronica to swinging, straight ahead jazz.  A Jazz Bakery Moveable Feast.  (310) 271-9039.  Japan America Theatre.

– Mar. 12. (Fri.) The Stan Kenton Alumni BandMike Vax lead alumni from the 1956-1978 Stan Kenton Orchestras through a program of Kenton classics. Chapman Auditorium, Chapman University.   (714) 997-6871.

– Mar. 12. (Fri.)  Dave PellMed Flory.  A pair of veteran saxophonists have fun with the alto and tenor saxophone frontline format, at one L.A.’s most cozily intimate jazz clubs.  The Back Room at Henri’s in Woodland Hills.

– Mar. 12. (Fri.)  Gary Foster and the Pat Senatore Trio.  Busy studio woodwind player Foster doesn’t spend much time as the front man in a jazz ensemble. So don’t miss this chance to hear his superb saxophone playing, backed by a solid rhythm section. Vibrato.  (310) 474-9400.

Vinicio Caposella

– Mar. 13. (Sat.) Vinicio Capossela. The Italian singer/songwriter’s performances are as unpredictable as the dark balladry of Tom Waits and the capriciousness of Tom Zé, spiced with his own unique stylings, which can reach from a tarantella or a tango to a high spirited love song.  The El Rey.  (323) 936-6400.

– Mar. 13. (Sat.)  Bill Cunliffe’s Imaginacion Quartet. The ever-versatile, always musically curious pianist Cunliffe applies his musical insights to songs with a Latin tinge (as Jelly Roll Morton would have described it).  Vibrato.   (310) 474-9400.

Andrea Marcovicci

– Mar. 13. (Sat.)  Andrea MarcovicciI’ll Be Seeing You…Love Songs of World War II. Singer Marcovicci knows how to get to the heart of a song, and there’s no collection of songs filled with more heartfelt emotions than the songbook of World War II. Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza

– Mar. 13. (Sat.)  John Beasley Jazz Circle.  Multi-instrumentalist Beasley sticks with the keyboards this time, leading the musically intriguing ensemble of  Dwight Trible, vocals, Oscar Seaton, drums and Ian Martin, bass.   Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

– Mar. 13 & 14. (Sat. & Sun.)  The Wailers. The group that has virtually defined reggae music since the ’60s is in town for a pair of performances to support their “I Went Hungry” world food program.  On Saturday, they appear at Brixton in Redondo Beach (310) 406-1931; on Sunday they’re at the Galaxy Concert Theatre in Santa Ana (714) 957-0600.

– Mar. 14. (Sun.)  Larry  Coryell and “Bombay Jazz.” Guitarist Coryell explores the compatible linkages between jazz and Indian classical music.  With saxophonist / composer George Brooks, Indian bamboo flutist Ronu Majumdar and tabla player Aditya Kalyanpur Jazz Bakery Moveable Feast.  Largo – Coronet Theatre.  (310) 271-9039.

Adam del Monte

– Mar. 14. (Sun.)  Adam del Monte.  The master flamenco guitarist celebrates the release of  his new CD, A Cry in the Dark with a concert (no dancing) of all new compositions.  His ensemble includes Enosh del Monte, violin, Emir Isilai, keyboard, Asaf Kofler, bass and Gerardo Morales, percussion.  The Fountain Theatre.  (323) 663-1525.

– Mar. 14. (Sun.)  Traps ‘n’ Taps: A Brief History of American RhythmThe California Jazz Foundation presents an entertaining Sunday jazz brunch featuring versatile dancer, choreographer, bandleader and film archivist Chester Whitmore and drummer Clayton Cameron. Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

San Francisco

Bobby Hutcherson

– Mar. 11 – 14.  (Thurs. – Sun.)  John Scofield’s New Jazz Quartet brings the versatile guitarist back to a steady jazz orbit.  With Mulgrew Miller, piano, Ben Street, bass and Kendrick Scott, drums. Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

– Mar. 12 – 14. (Fri. – Sun.)  NEA Jazz Masters All-Stars. An assemblage of great jazz veterans display the skills of their lifetimes in the music.  Bobby Hutcherson, vibes, Jimmy Heath, tenor saxophone, Slide Hampton, trombone, Cedar Walton, piano. Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

New York

– Mar. 8 – 11. (Mon. – Thurs.)  Cassandra Wilson. The inimitable Wilson, her voice one of the unique sounds in contemporary jazz, brings storytelling insights to material reaching across the full range of song. The Blue Note.  (212) 475-8592.

– Mar. 9 – 13. (Tues. – Sat.)  John Pizzarelli’s “Swing 7.” Pizzarelli’s swinging four- horn band provide a solid foundation for his songs and guitar, wife Jessica Molaskey’s crystal clear voice, and the wit and humor of the most entertaining show biz couple since Sonny & Cher.  Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.

– Mar. 9 – 14. (Tues. – Sun.)  Bill Charlap Trio.  Pianist Charlap and his sturdy companions — Peter Washington, bass and Kenny Washington, drums – bring maturity, musical insight and downright swing to everything they play.  Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.   (212) 258-9595.

Bobby Sanabria

– Mar. 10. (Wed.)  Bobby Sanabria Big BandPost Mamboism in the 21st Century Continues! Grammy nominated percussionist Sanabria affirms the vitality of  big band Latin jazz.  FB Lounge (212) 410-7292.

– Mar. 11. (Thurs.)  Lew TabackinHighlights in Jazz celebrates the playing of saxophonist Tabackin with his wife, pianist/composer Toshiko Akiyoshi, drummer Lewis Nash, bassist Boris Kozlov, trumpeter Joe Magnarelli, and guitarist Jack Wilkens plus a Very Special Guest. Tribeca Performing Arts Center.   (212) 220-1460.

– Mar. 11 – 14. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Charles McPherson Quintet featuring Tom Harrell provides dynamic proof that bebop continues to stimulate compelling new musical ideas.   With Jeb Patton, piano, Ray Drummond, bass and Willie Jones III, drums.  Jazz Standard.   (212)  576-2232.

Roberta Gambarini

– Mar. 12 – 14. (Fri. – Sun.)  Roberta Gambarini. The Italian-born vocalist has a remarkable instrument, with training and skills to match.  But it’s what she does with that admirable combination that makes her one of the unique 21st century jazz singers.  The Blue Note.  (212) 475-8592.


– Mar. 9. (Tues.) Rose Colella TrioAn Evening of Academy Award Winning Songs & Colella applies her lyrical vocal style to songs from films such as “The Gay Divorcee,” Pinocchio,” “Cabin in the Sky” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”  Katerina’s.  (773) 348-7592.

– Mar. 12 & 13. (Fri. & Sat.)  Mike Melvoin Trio.  Long time L.A. jazz star Melvoin returns to his home Midwest territory to refresh his musical roots.  Singer (and actress) Theresa Russell will sing a few tunes from the Melvoin Songbook, and they’ll be backed by Larry Gray, bass and Charles Heath, drums.  Club Blujazz.   (773) 360-8046.

Picks of the Week: Jan. 11 – 17

January 11, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles


– Jan. 12. (Tues.)  John Pisano’s Guitar Night“A Tribute to Joe Pass” with Frank Potenza and many others. Pisano’s Tuesday night guitar jams have been one of the Southland’s most dependably engaging jazz gigs for years.  Now Pisano – and his talented

John Pisano

guests – are moving to Vitello’s, a club that seems made for the up close intimacy and musical sharing that have always been part and parcel of Pisano’s weekly encounters with the world’s finest jazz guitarists.  He kicks off his new run with a tribute to Joe Pass, in the company of Frank Potenza and – no doubt – a long line of guest stars.  And if the club is too jammed for you to get in – which is always a possibility – the gigs will be webcast, live, on the “Live at Vitello’s” broadcast series at Network ConcertsThe Red Carpet Jazz Series.  Upstairs at Vitellos.  (818) 769-0905.


– Jan. 12. (Tues.)  Barbara Morrison.  Name it and she can sing it.  Blues, ballads, jump songs.  And she’ll do it with enough style, imagination and swing to make you think you’re hearing a song for the very first time.  Catalina Bar & Grill.    (323) 466-2210.

– Jan. 13. (Wed.)  Ann Farnsworth. Pianist and singer Farnsworth, who also teaches at U.S.C., isn’t heard as much as her impressive talents – as instrumentalist and vocalist – warrant.  She performs with Alphonso Johnson, bass and Ndugu Chancler, drums.   Spazio. (818) 728-8400.

– Jan. 14. (Thurs.)  Dale Fielder and the Angel City Quartet.  Fielder is a multi-saxophonist.  That means that he doesn’t just double on different saxophones, he understands and expresses the unique qualities of each – from soprano and alto to tenor and baritone.  He celebrates the release of a new CD, Stellar Moments Crown Plaza Brasserie Jazz Lounge.  (310) 642-7500.

Robin McKelle

– Jan. 14. (Thurs.)  Denise Donatelli. Any place is a good place to hear the velvet sound and enticing phrasing of  Donatelli’s enticing vocals.  But at Charlie O’s there’s the added benefit of hearing her in an amiable, music-comes-first setting.  Charlie O’s.(818) 989-3110.

– Jan. 15. (Fri.)  Robin McKelle.  A third place finisher in 2004’s Thelonious Monk Vocal Jazz Competition, McKelle spends a lot of time in Europe, where her intriguing singing has earned her a dedicated following.   The Culver Club in the Radisson.  (310) 649-1776.

– Jan. 15 – 17. (Fri. – Sun.)  Joey DeFrancesco.  The contemporary master of the B-3 always seems to get the feet tapping and the bodies moving with a little extra groove when he performs in one of his favorite rooms. Steamers. (714) 871-8800.

– Jan. 16. (Sat.)  Julie Newsome.   Jazz singer Newsome is another artist who still hasn’t been heard as much as she should.   It’s time for jazz fans in her native L.A. to give more attention to the warm sound and lyrical interpretations of  this appealing vocalist.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

– Jan. 16. (Sat.)  Steve Huffsteter.  Trumpeter Huffsteter’s played with everyone and periodically leads his own big band.  This time out, he’s in a more intimate, small group setting, his lyrical playing backed by the Pat Senatore Trio Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

Mamak Khadem photo by Afshin Javadi

– Jan. 16 – 17. (Sat.  & Sun.)  Mamak KhademThe Sounds of L.A. The warm, dark timbres of Khadem’s voice draw the listener into an intimate relationship with the ecstatic qualities of Persian music and poetry.  Comfortable with contemporary, as well as traditional, idioms, she is an artist whose performances are too rare.  Don’t miss this two-night opportunity to hear her in the acoustic clarity of the Getty Center’s Williams Auditiorium.  Free, with reservations required.  The Getty Center.  (310) 440-7300.

Mose Allison

– Jan. 16 & 17. (Sat. & Sun.)  Mose Allison.  A Jazz Bakery Movable Feast. The venerable (82) Allison – the “William Faulkner of jazz” hasn’t been recording lately, so lovers of his irresistibly entertaining music should take advantage of every opportunity to hear him.  Here’s a chance to do exactly that, while supporting the continuing – and much–needed – presence of the Jazz Bakery in L.A. cultural life. A Jazz Bakery Movable Feast.  Largo at the Coronet Theatre.   (310) 271-9039

– Jan. 17. (Sun.)  The Wessex Consort“Musical Gems of the Polish Renaissance and Early Baroque.” The five talented members of the Consort bring their versatile mastery of period instruments to a fascinating program of music rarely heard in such authentic performances.  With the Holborne Consort and soprano Krysta Close.  Church of the Good Shepherd, Beverly Hills.  The Wessex Consort.

San Francisco

Valarie Pettiford

– Jan. 14 – 17. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Robben Ford. Guitarist Ford’s music is rooted in the blues, but he doesn’t hesitate to expand his musical interests when the circumstances are right.  As they should be when he’s backed by guitarist Michael Landau, bassist Jimmy Haslip and drummer Gary Novak Yoshi’s Oakland. (510) 238-9200.

– Jan. 17. (Sun.)  Valarie Pettiford. Triple threat – stage, screen and television – Tony-nominated Pettiford has the voice, the style and the drama to bring any crowd to its feet.  Here she performs a concert of signature songs by Musical Director Ron Abel and lyricist Chuck Steffan. The Rrazz Room.   (415) 394-1189,

New York

Jan. 12 – 17  (Tues. – Sun.)  Fred Hersch Trio.  There are dozens of piano jazz trios, but only one led by Hersch, who is one of the uniquely imaginative creative pianists of the last few decades.  He performs here with the excellent support of Drew Gess, bass and Paul Motian, drums.  The Village Vanguard.  (212) 255-4037.

– Jan. 12 – 17.  (Tues. – Sun.)  The Joe Sample Trio.   Sample has come a long way since founding the Jazz Crusaders nearly five decades ago, building a busy solo career, and further developing his reputation as an always-entertaining jazz pianist.  The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

– Jan. 13 – 17. (Wed. – Sun.)  The Jazz Masters Quintet. A set of performances to remember, by a band of veteran all-stars: Bobby Hutcherson, vibes, Cedar Walton, piano, David Williams, bass, James Spaulding, alto saxophone and Al Foster, drums.  And stick around for the Matt Slocum Trio with pianist Gerald Clayton at the late set. Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.  (212) 258-9595.

Alessandra Belloni

– Jan. 15 – 17. (Fr. – Sun.)  George Coleman Quartet.  It’s a busy week for jazz veterans in the New  York city clubs.  And Coleman – whose lengthy resume includes a too-rarely acknowledged, but musically memorable stint with the Miles Davis Quintet in 1963-64.  He appears here with the equally veteran Harold Mabern, piano and Ray Drummond, bass.  His son, George Coleman, Jr., plays drums.  Jazz Standard.   (212) 576-2232.

– Jan. 15 – 18. (Fri. – Mon.)  Alessandra Belloni and I Giullari Di Piazza in Tarantella! Spider Dance.  Dancer Belloni and her companions present a compelling, New Year mystical celebration in honor of Dionysus, the myth of the Tarantula and Spider Woman, with aerial, fire and stilt dancers, acrobats and a techno tarantella trance dance.  Theatre For the New City.  (212) 254-1109.


– Jan. 15. (Fri.)  The Chicago Jazz Ensemble with Jon Faddis“The Great Summit: The Music of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington” Trumpeter Faddis leads his sterling ensemble of Chicago’s finest in a celebration of the music of two iconic jazz figures.  The Harris Theatre for Music and Dance. (312) 334-7777.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 255 other followers