Picks of the Week: Aug. 7 – 12

August 7, 2012

By Don Heckman

 Los Angeles

– Aug. 7. (Tues.) Yo Yo Ma and Gustavo Dudamel.  Two of the most charismatic figures in today’s classical music world join with the Los Angeles Philharmonic to perform the Schumann Cello Concerto and Tchaikovsky’s electrifying Symphony No. 4.  Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

Duke Ellington

– Aug. 8. (Wed.)  Duke Ellington Orchestra.  Kenton 100th Anniversary. It’s an evening of classic big band music.  The still very active Ellington Orchestra is joined by vocalist Brian McKnight, and the Stan Kenton Centennial Orchestra revives some memorable Kenton items with singer Tierney SuttonHollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

– Aug. 8. (Wed.)  Ron Jones and the Influence Jazz Orchestra.  Jones’ swinging arrangements performed by the Southland’s finest players make for a great musical evening.  To read an earlier iRoM review of the IFO, click HERE.     Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

Jackie Ryan

– Aug. 9. (Thurs.) Jackie Ryan.  She’s been delighting Bay area listeners for years with her gorgeous voice, story telling magic and gentle swing.  But Jackie doesn’t make many appearances in Los Angeles.  So don’t miss this chance to hear her up close and personal.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

– Aug. 10. (Fri.)  Nora Jones.  An impressive week of music at the Bowl continues with a solo appearance by singer/songwriter/pianist Jones.  It’ll be intriguing to hear how the intimate stylings of Jones fill the wide spaces of the Bowl. Opening the show: Corey Chisel and the wandering Sons. Hollywood Bowl.    (323) 850-2000.

Cheryl Bentyne

– Aug. 10 & 11. (Fri. & Sat.)  Cheryl Bentyne City of Hope Benefit.  The stylish voice of Bentyne has been a primary element in the sound of the Manhattan Transfer for decades.  She returns to action now from a life-threatening illness in an all-star performance benefiting the City of Hope.  Contact the club for the full line-up.  Catalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210.

– Aug. 11. (Sat.)  Liza Minelli  ”Confessions.”  The one and only Liza, star of stage, screen and cabaret, winner of a wide array of awards – from Oscars to Grammys – makes one of her rare Southland appearances in the only venue big enough to contain her talents.  Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

– Aug. 11. (Sat.)  Helen Reddy.  Yes, it’s that Helen Reddy — the’70s  hitmaker of “I Am Woman” and “I Don’t Know How To Love Him.”  She’s returning to action after a ten year hiatus, with a show that has “handpicked stories and songs from her heart.”  She may or may not, however, sing some of her classics.  Either way, here’s a rare opportunity to see and hear an iconic music world figure.  The Canyon Club in Agoura Hills.  (818) 879-5016.

– Aug. 11. (Sat.)  Danny Janklow Quartet. Alto saxophonist Janklow – acknowledged as an “outstanding soloist” by Wynton Marsalis when he was still in high school.  Check out this fast rising young talent at an early stage in his career.  With the Pat Senatore Trio.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. http://www.vibratogrilljazz.com  (310) 474-9400.

Gustavo Dudamel


– Aug. 12. (Sun.) Gustavo Dudamel conducts “Rigoletto.” A week filled with an amazingly diverse array of music at the Bowl winds up with a staged concert performance of the great Verdi opera, starring the Serbian baritone Zeljko Lucic in the starring role.  The  Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

– Aug. 12. (Sun.)  Julie Kelly Celebrates Los Angeles Arrangers.  Julie gets together with the Bill Cunliffe Quartet to sing tunes arranged by LA.’s finest – among them, Cunliffe, Otmaro Ruiz, Sara Lieb, Tom Garvin, Rich Ruttenberg and others.  Vitello’s.  http://www.vitellosrestaurant.com  (818) 769-0905.

Russ Garcia

– Aug. 12. (Sun.)  A Free Concert Celebrating Russ Garcia.  “To Build A Better World.”  Arranger/composer Garcia, who died last year at 95, had a career encompassing everything from numerous film and television scores to collaborations with stars reaching from Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong to Walt Disney and Charlie Chaplin.  His instruction book, The Professional Arranger Composer,  has been used by arrangers young and old for decades.  The Canyon Club.  2 – 5 p.m.  RSVP to kristy4wellness@me.com

 San Francisco

– Aug. 9. (Thurs.)  Rebecca Mauleon plays Eddie Palmieri.  Pianist/arranger Mauleon applies her wide experience and deep understanding of Latin jazz to an evening dedicated to the legendary Palmierie.  An SFJAZZ concert at Amnesia.    (866) 920-5299.


– Aug. 7 & 8. (Tues. & Wed.)  Tracy Nelson. With her band, Mother Earth, Nelson was one of the stars of the San Francisco ‘60s scene, followed by a series of country and soul albums.  At 67, Nelson is still gpmg strong.  Jazz Alley.  http://www.jazzalley.com/artist.asp?artistid=1141   (206) 441-9729.


– Aug. 9 – 12. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Charles McPherson Quartet.  Alto saxophonist McPherson is a convincing advocate of classic bebop.  But his skills also reach beyond that genre into an expressive improvisational style of his own. Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

 New York

Melissa Stylianou

– Aug. 7. (Tues.)  Melissa Stylianou.  Still not well enough known beyond the New York City jazz scene, Stylianou is demonstrating all the characteristics of a potentially important jazz vocal artist.  Check out her latest album, Silent Movie, then check her out in this live appearance.  The Jazz Standard.  (212)  576-2232.

– Aug. 11. (Sat.)  Thumbscrew. It’s a new band with some adventurous new music.  How could it be otherwise with the impressive line up of Mary Halvorson, guitar, Michael Formanek, bass and Tomas Fujiwara, drums.  The Cornelia St. Café.   (818) 989-9319.


– Aug. 8 & 9. (Wed. & Thurs.)  The Music of Miles Davis.  The jazz celebration of the Olympics continues with a pair of performances dedicated to the memorable music of Miles Davis, performed by the Jay Phelps QuartetRonnie Scott’s.   (0) 20 7439 0747.

Picks of the Week: August 2 – 7

August 2, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

– Aug. 2 (Tues.) Yes and Styx. Two of the classic rock franchises — still going strong — team up for a display of some of the archetypal music of the ’70s and ’80s. The Greek Theatre.  (323) 665-5857.

Jessica Molasky and John Pizzarelli

– Aug. 3 – 7. (Wed. – Sun.) John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molasky. Collectively and individually, the married team of singer/guitarist Pizzarelli and vocalist Molasky make for one of the jazz world’s most entertaining acts. Capable of generating the humor of the great husband and wife teams of the past, they also bring a rare blend of musicality to their singing and playing that is uniquely their own. Catalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210.

– Aug. 3 – 7. (Wed. – Sun.) Clarinet Fest 2011. Everything you ever wanted to know about the clarinet, or hear about the clarinet will undoubtedly take place in this large assemblage of programs and seminars. Clarinet ensembles of every stripe will perform.  Among the many highlights are performances on Sunday by the Eddie Daniels Quintet and the Clare Fischer Clarinet Choir. But there are numerous others, from many other parts of the world. Clarinet Fest 2011 in the Valley Performing Arts Center at CalState Northridge.

– Aug. 4. (Thurs.) Ron Kalina’s Birthday Bash. Versatil jazz harmonica player Kalina — who also plays piano, leads a celebratory evening of music to remember. He’s backed by vibist Gino Antonachi, bassist Pat Senatore and drummer Ryan Doyle. Vibrato Jazz Grill…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

– Aug. 4. (Thurs.) Hippiefest. The annual installment of music from the peace, love and rock ‘n’ roll generation returns for the sixth time. The headliners are Dave Mason (Traffic), Mark Farner (Grand Funk Railroad), Rick Derringer, Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals and Gary Wright. The Greek Theatre.  (323) 665-5857.

– Aug. 4. (Thurs.) Yemen Blues. The Skirball’s always entertaining, free Sunset Concerts continue with an appearance by a band that produces a steaming gumbo of music spiced with elements of jazz, blues, Jewish melodies and African grooves. Don’t plan to sit still when this band starts to kick it. Skirball Center.  (310) 440-4500.

Annie Sellick

– Aug. 6. (Sat.) Annie Sellick. Her bold, assertive style, blended with occasional touches of vulnerability make Sellick an appealing singer — one whose work warrants a wider hearing than she seems to be receiving. Steamers.  (714) 871-8800.

– Aug. 6. (Sat.) Judy Wexler. Critically praised jazz vocalist Wexler celebrates the release of her third CD, Under A Painted Sky, backed by some of the stellar players on the album — pianist/arranger Alan Pasqua, guitarist Larry Koonse, saxophonist Bob Sheppard, bassist Darek Oles and drummer Steve Hass. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

San Francisco

– Aug 5 – 7. (Fri. – Sun.) Los Van Van. It’s been more than four decades since Juan Formell organized the fusion Cuban band Los Van Van. Expanding on the traditional charanga style, instrumentally as well as the choice of material, he created a band that continues to provide musical thrills at every performance. Yoshis Oakland.  (510) 238-9200.

Turtle Island String Quartet

– Aug. 7. (Sun.) Turtle Island String Quartet. When the Turtle Islanders first posited the notion that the members of a string quartet — if they possessed the right blend of talent and imagination — could play with the creative liberation of a jazz group, it seemed a radical idea. (Despite the fact that their goal also included reviving the improvisation that had been for centuries a fundamental part of classical music as well.) But they’ve made their case convincingly, winning Grammy awards and opening an expressive pathway that more ensembles should explore. Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655-5600.


Aug. 4 – 7. (Thurs. – Sun.) Bill Frisell. Ever on the trail of another musical idea, Frisell’s Beautiful Dreamers features violinst Eyvind Kang and drummer Rudy Royston in a challenging, but potentially productive musical setting. Jazz Alley.  (206) 441-9729.


Charles McPherson

Aug. 4 – 7. (Thurs. – Sun.) Charles McPherson. It’ll be an evening of Charlie Parker revisited when McPherson steps on stage. But not in an imitative sense. McPherson’s connection with Parker is inspirational, and the results are always musically compelling. Jazz Showcase.  (312) 360-0234.

New York

-Aug. 2 – 4. (Tues. – Thurs.) McCoy Tyner expands his usual trio format to a quintet featuring the two saxophone front line tenorist Ravi Coltrane and alto Gary Bartz. And it’s hard to imagine a more compatible assemblage of world class players. Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.

– Aug. 3. (Wed.) The Center for Improvisational Music. Trumpeter Ralph Alessi, alto saxophonist Tim Berne, pianist Kris Davis, bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Gerald Cleaver — present and former faculty members — celebrate the 10th anniversary of the School for Improvised Music’s pioneering work in the exploration of the art of improvisation. Cornelia St. Cafe.  (212) 989-9319.


Claire Martin

– Aug. 4 (Thurs.) Claire Martin. She’s often described as England’s best jazz singer, which may well be true. But Martin is more than that — a versatile performer with the capacity to find the inner life of whatever she sings in whatever style. She appears with the Richard Rodney Bennett/Bobby Wellins Quartet. Ronnie Scott’s.  020 7439 0747.


– Aug. 2 – 5. (Tues. – Fri.) Joyce with special guest Sergio Santos. Singer/songwriter Joyce — who now occasionally also uses her last name, Moreno, has been a highly visible figure in Brazilian music since the MPB era. Still an engaging performer, she appears here with the gifted guitarist/songwriter/singer Santos, whose talents are still too little known in the U.S. The Blue Note Tokyo.  03-5485-0088.

Picks of the Week: May 31 – June 5

May 31, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Bruce Cockburn

– May 31. (Tues.)  Bruce Cockburn and Jenny Scheinman.  Versatile guitarist/composer Cockburn performs selections from his latest album, Small Source of Comfort, with the aid of eclectic violinist Scheinman.  The El Rey. http://www.theelrey.com (323) 936-6400.

– May 31. (Tues.)  Wayne Bergeron Big Band.  One of the jazz world’s finest, most versatile trumpeters, Bergeron displays even more abilities, leading his own stellar big band.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

– June 1. (Wed.) Michael Formanek. Bassist Formanek’s decades long resume includes gigs and recordings with the likes of Freddie Hubbard, Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan, Joe Lovano and beyond.  He makes a rare Southern California appearance with alto saxophonist Tim Berne, pianist Craig Taborn and drummer Gerald Cleaver. Blue Whale.   (213) 620-0908

– June 2 – 5. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Bad Plus.  More than a decade together, pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King have been redefining the inspiration and the territoriality of the jazz piano trio.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

– June 3. (Fri.)  Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt.  An intimate, all-acoustic evening, featuring a pair of veteran singer/songwriters, singing side by side, alternating songs from their remarkable careers.  CSUN.  Valley Performing Arts Center.  (818) 677-3000.

– June 3. (Fri.)  Larry Goldings.  Pianist Goldings finishes up a tour with James Taylor to celebrate the release of his latest recording, In My Room in a concert featuring special guests singer Gaby Moreno and guitarist David PiltchVitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Peter Erskine

– June 4. (Sat.) Peter Erskine.  Drummer Erskine shares his birthday party a day early with a performance by his New Trio – with Vardan Ovsepian, piano, and Damian Erskine, bass.  They’ll perform selections from his new Joy Luck CD.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

– June 4. (Sat.)  REO Speedwagon.  One of the hottest rock bands of the ‘80s, the Speedwagon has had a revolving door of personnel.  But the hits are as appealing as ever.  And for this appearance, the excitement level will no doubt be cranked up by the guest star appearance of Rick Springfield The Greek Theatre.   (877) 686-5366.

– June 5. (Sun.) Playboy Jazz: Patrice Rushen, Ndugu Chancler, The Nikhil Korula Band and Johnny Polanco y su Conjunto Amistad.  The jazz umbrella at the second of 2011’s free Playboy Jazz Festival concerts reaches far and wide.

Patrice Rushen

Start with the agile, hard swinging work of pianist Rushen and drummer Chancler.  Then on to the gumbo of calypso, rock, reggae and jazz from the Korula Band.  Add the irresistible rhythms of Johnny Polanco’s dynamic Conjunto Amistad.  And don’t forget the talented, high achieving youngsters of the Calabasas High School Jazz Band will be opening the show.  And the price is right.  A Playboy Jazz Festival Free Concert  at Warner Center Park in Woodland Hills. 4 p.m. – 8 p.m.     (310) 450-1173.

San Francisco

– May. 31 & June 1. (Tues. & Wed.)  George Winston.  Pianist and multi-instrmentalist Winston has had considerable visibility as an icon of New Age music.  But his skills reach far beyond that limited genre, into stride, blues, Americana and beyond.  Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse.   (510) 644-2020.

– June 2 – 5. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Hiromi: The Trio Project.  With special guests.  Anthony Jackson, bass, Simon Phillips, drums.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.    (415) 655-5600.

– June 4. (Wed.)  The Rova Saxophone Quartet.  More than three decades together, the four members of Rova continue to adventure through musical areas encompassing free jazz, contemporary classical music, rock, traditional and pop music.  They perform with DJ Olive and DJ P-Love.    An SFJAZZ Spring Season event at Swedish American Hall.  (866) 920-5299.


Allen Toussaint

– May 31 & June 1.  (Tues. & Wed.)  Allen Toussaint. One of the iconic figures of New Orleans music, as a pianist, singer, composer, producer and more.  Here’s a chance to hear him up close and personal in a rare Seattle appearance.  Jazz Alley.    (206) 441-9729.



– June 2 – 5.  (Thurs. – Sun.)  Freddy Cole. Like his brother Nat, Freddy plays piano and has the Cole vocal sound.  But what he does with it is all his own.  Jazz Showcase.   (312) 360-0234.

New York

– June 2 – 5. (Thurs. – Sun.) Don Byron.  Clarinetist Byron displays his far ranging abilities in a pair of very different ensembles.  On Thursday and Friday with his Ivey-Divey Trio featuring Geri Allen and Charlie Persip.  On Saturday and Sunday with The New Gospel QuintetJazz Standard. (212) 576-2232.

Eliane Elias

– May 31 – June 5. (Tues. – Sun.)  Eliane Elias Quartet. Elias’ stunning jazz piano credentials were established early in her career.  More recently, she’s added her elegant vocalizing to her creative mix – reaching into unusual musical territory on her new CD, Light My Fire. Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.   (212) 258-9800.

– May 31 – June 5. (Tues. – Sun.)  Lee Konitz, Bill Frisell, Gary Peacock and Joey Baron. It’s hard to beat this lineup.  And it will be especially intriguing to hear the interaction between alto saxophonist Konitz and guitarist Frisell – two of the jazz world’s greatest individualists.  The Blue Note.    (212) 475-8592.

Washington, D.C.

– June 3 – 5.  (Fri. – Sun.)  Pieces of a Dream.  Thirty years since the release of their first album, Pieces of a Dream continue to be one of the definitive smooth jazz groups.  Jazz Alley.   (202) 337-4141.


Cleo Laine

– May 31 – June 2. (Tues. – Thurs.)  Dame Cleo Laine.  Dame Cleo’s versatility has been one of the hallmarks of her career.  She is the only female performer to have received Grammy nominations in jazz, pop and classical categories.  But when she settles into a jazz groove, it’s hard to understand why she hasn’t fully received the accolades from the jazz audience that her brilliant talent deserves.  She’ll be backed by the Ronnie Scott’s All Stars.  Ronnie Scott’s.   020 7439 0747.


– June 2 – 4. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Dionne Warwick.  She’s one of the biggest hit makers of the last decades of the 20th century, with 56 of her singles charting in the Billboard Hot 100.  And with good reason.  Her engaging voice was, and continues to be, one of pop music’s most memorable sounds  The Blue Note.   03-5485-0088.


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