Live Music: James DeFrances at Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.

April 3, 2014

By Don Heckman

Bel Air, CA. “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.”

The line kept coming to mind Tuesday night at Herb Alpert’s elegant restaurant and jazz club Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc, while we were listening to singer James DeFrances.  No, not because DeFrances was thinking – or even singing – about New York. He’s actually from the Philadelphia area.

James DeFrances

James DeFrances

But the fresh-faced, ambitious young vocalist (he’s 24) performed with the sort of enthusiasm present in the classic Kander/Ebb song about the Big Apple. Except that – for DeFrances – the line applied to his rapidly accelerating career in Los Angeles.

His performance at Vibrato also had another “New York, New York” connection. And that, of course, was the impact that Frank Sinatra has had upon DeFrances’ musical vision.

It’s not surprising that a talented young male singer would choose Sinatra as a model – especially when such highly successful performers as Michael Buble and Harry Connick, Jr. have preceded him in his affection for Ol’ Blue Eyes.

On Tuesday night DeFrances, appropriately tuxedoed, sang a program of songs overflowing with Sinatra references. Starting with “The Girl From Ipanema” he shifted quickly into a hard-driving “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.”

Pat Senatore and James DeFrances

Pat Senatore and James DeFrancis

He followed with “The Way You Look Tonight,” “ They Can’t Take That Away From Me” before winding up with “All The Way” and “Just In Time.”

DeFrances sang the ballads – especially “All The Way” – with warm musicality. And rhythm tunes such as “Witchcraft” and “It Had To Be You” were done with propulsive, briskly swinging energy.

The Sinatra inspiration was present in most of the tunes. At his best, DeFrances made the most of the connection, usually shaping his interpretation well within the templates of the original Sinatra versions.

But the finest moments came in the passages in which his own warm, youthful sound and lyrical expressiveness took charge of his singing. And one could sense the impressive future that DeFrances faces, especially as he moves beyond the Sinatra references into his own mature interpretations.

Still relatively unfamiliar to the wider pop audience, DeFrances’ performance clearly showcased his growing skills as one of the significant male artists rapidly emerging into the arena of jazz and big band oriented pop music.

Pat Senatore, James DeFrances and Tina Raymond

He was superbly backed by the trio of pianist Tom Ranier, bassist Pat Senatore and drummer Tina Raymond. Filling in before the show opened and on the set breaks, the trio romped through their own program of standards, bringing dynamic enthusiasm to songs reaching from “Emily” and “Autumn Leaves” to “The More I See You.”

Working closely with the solid musical embrace of Ranier, Senatore and Raymond, DeFrances clearly established his future potential, thoroughly underscoring his ability to “make it anywhere.”

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Photos by Faith Frenz.


Live Jazz: Betty Bryant at Vibrato Jazz…etc.

March 8, 2014

By Don Heckman

Bel Air CA. There was music in the air Thursday night at Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. Not that it was especially unusual to hear an engaging program of songs at Herb Alpert’s elegant Bel Air jazz club. But on this evening, with singer/pianist Betty Bryant displaying the full range of her remarkable skills, backed by the stellar support of bassist Pat Senatore and drummer Ramon Banda, every note was memorable.

Betty Bryant

Betty Bryant

Start with Bryant’s far reaching piano playing. Suffice to say that she is a superb master of the Great American songbook, both as an accompanist (for her vocals) and as an appealing instrumental soloist.

In piece after piece, she punched out piano lines propulsively driven by her bop articulations, blues grooves and crisp, imaginative improvising. Senatore and Banda, world class rhythm section players, provided Bryant with every bit of creative support a soloist could desire.

But it was when Bryant was combining her inimitable blend of vocals and piano backing that she displayed the highlights in this musically gripping performance.

A veteran artist, Bryant was preceeded in the singer/pianist genre by the likes of Nina Simone, Shirley Horn, Carmen McRae, among many others. And like those illustrious predecessors, Bryant used her instrumental skills to provide the perfect settings for her vocals.

Throughout the program, Bryant demonstrated imaginative creative versatility, moving easily and convincingly from bossa nova and the blues to Songbook standards, while displaying her gift for finding the intimate story within a song.

Betty Bryant and Pat Senatore

Betty Bryant and Pat Senatore

Urged forward by Senatore and Banda, she was fully in touch with bossa nova subtleties in her renderings of “The Girl From Ipanema” and “Corcovado.” And her love for the blues was fully apparent in the way she blended instrumental riffs with pointed vocalizing on “My Man Don’t Love Me” and an especially captivating “St. Louis Blues.”

Add to that Bryant’s equally effective readings of such Songbook classics as “I Thought About You,” “Squeeze Me,” Easy Living” and “I Got Rhythm.” In effective contrast, she offered instrumental versions of “Some Other Time” and “I’ll Remember April.”

And in a performance filled with high points, Bryant was especially effective with a climactic “Something Cool,” a song long associated with June Christy. In Bryant’s hands (and voice), the Billy Barnes’ classic was presented with the musical story telling qualities that are at the heart of her musical art.

Call it a rare evening of song, performed with musical alacrity. It’s worth keeping in mind that Betty Bryant doesn’t have a high volume of performances in L.A. So don’t miss any opportunity to hear her in action.

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Photos by Faith Frenz.


Picks of the Week: Jan. 21 – 26

January 21, 2014

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Jan.21. (Tues.) The Pat Senatore Trio. Bassist Senatore, Josh Nelson, piano, and Mark Ferber, drums, assemble to celebrate a CD release party for the Trio’s new album, Ascensione. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc (310) 474-9400.

Aaron Weinstein

Aaron Weinstein

- Jan. 22. (Wed.) Aaron Weinstein. Violinist Weinstein, still not a highly visible jazz artist, is rapidly establishing himself as one of his instrument’s rare jazz masters. Click HERE to read an earlier iRoM review of Weinstein. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

- Jan. 22 – 24. (Wed- Fri.) Lenny White and Friends. Eclectic drummer White, a vital veteran of Return to Forever, leads his own solid ensemble, including bassists Foley and Victor Bailey, woodwind player Bennie Maupin and keyboardist George Colligan. Catalina Bar & Grill (223) 466-2210.

John Proulx

John Proulx

- Jan. 23. (Thurs.) John Proulx Trio. He’s a fine pianist and an in-demand rhythm section player. And Proulx is now beginning to prove his skills as a fine interpretive jazz singer, as well. Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Jan. 25 & 26. (Sat. & Sun.) The Los Angeles Master Chorale performs the Bach B Minor Mass in an interpretation that Music Director Grant Gershon says will “blow the roof off Disney Hall.”  (323) 850-2000.

- Jan. 25 & 26. (Sat. & Sun.) Average White Band. More than 40 years after their arrival on the pop music scene the A.W.B. still conjurs up an irresistible blend of funk, soul and r&b. Catalina Bar & Grill (223) 466-2210.

Chita Rivera

Chita Rivera

- Jan. 25. (Sat.) Chita Rivera: A Legendary Celebration. And, yes, Rivera is indeed one of the musical theatre’s most unique, memorable and legendary performers. Valley Performing Arts Center. (818) 677-8800.

- Jan. 25 & 26. (Sat. & Sun.) The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra offer an inviting program of Mozart & Beethoven. On Saturday at the Alex Theatre.  On Sunday at Royce Hall.

- Jan. 26. (Sun.) Bill Cunliffe. Grammy-nominated Cunliffe offers a “Night at the Grammys with a stellar ensemble – saxophonist Bob Sheppard, bassist Darek Oles and drummer Adam Czerwinski.  (818) 769-0905.  Vitello’s.

 San Francisco

Cameron Carpenter

Cameron Carpenter

- Jan. 24. (Fri.) Cameron Carpenter. Organist Carpenter is one of classical music’s most dynamic performers, bringing an astounding blend of virtuosic technique and entertaining showmanship to everything he plays. SFJAZZ at Grace Cathedral.  (866) 920-5299.

Seattle

Grace Kelly

Grace Kelly

- Jan. 21 – 22. (Tues. – Wed.) Grace Kelly with the Marc Seales Trio. A jazz saxophone prodigy as a teen-ager, Kelly – now 21 – has matured into a gifted creative artist. Jazz Alley.  (206) 441-9729.

 New York City

- Jan. 22 & 23. (Wed. & Thurs.) Pat Martino and Eldar. A cross generational team – veteran guitarist Martino and talented young pianist Eldar – get together in search of common improvisational ground. Iridium. (212) 582-2121.

Copenhagen

- Jan. 23-25 (Thurs. – Sat.) Paolo Fresu Special Quartet. Italian trumpeter/flugelhornist Fresu has assembled an aggregation of some of Europe’s finest jazz players, among them Paolo Russo, piano, Thomas Fonnesbaek, bass, and Alex Riel, drums. Jazzhus Montmartre.  +45 31 72 34 94.

Milan

Diane Schuur

Diane Schuur

- Jan. 23 – 25. (Thurs. – Sat.) Diane Schuur. “Deedles,” as she is known by friends, fans and musicians alike, continues to sing with the Sarah Vaughan influenced style that has characterized her imaginative work ever since Stan Getz discovered her in the late ’70s. The Blue Note Milano.  +39 02 6901 6888.

Tokyo

Jan. 23 & 24. (Thurs. & Fri.) Avishai Cohen Trio. Israeli jazz bassist Cohen – not the Israeli jazz trumpeter by the same name – leads his new trio in a rare Japanese appearance. The Blue Note Tokyo. +81 3-5485-0088.


Picks of the Week: January 8 – 12

January 8, 2014

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Jan. 8. (Wed.) Jim Cox Trio. Pianist Cox has long been one of the Southland’s first call pianists and arrangers. Here he is, on his own, backed by bassist Domenic Genova and drummer John Ferraro. Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

Laura Benanti

Laura Benanti

- Jan. 8 & 9. (Wed. & Thurs.) Laura Benanti. Tony Award-winning Broadway star Benanti starred in last year’s NBC-TV production of The Sound of Music. This week, she celebrates the release of her album, In Search of the Right Kind of Attention. Catalina Bar & Grill (223) 466-2210.

- Jan. 9. (Thurs.) Frank Petrilli Quartet.The accordion is very much alive and swinging in the hands of the gifted Petrilli. He’s backed by the equally stellar playing of John Chiodini, guitar, Pat Senatore, bass and Enzo Todesco, drums. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

Tom Wopat

Tom Wopat

- Jan. 10. (Fri.) Jan. 10. (Fri.) Tom Wopat.  Actor/singer Wopat’s busy career reaches from his starring role in the hit TV series The Dukes of Hazard to prominent appearances in Broadway musicals such as Annie Get Your Gun.  But his warm baritone and buoyant rhythms are also well heard in recordings — most recently, I’ve Got Your Number – showcasing his jazz-tinged interpretations.  Rockwell Table and Stage.  (323) 669-1550.

- Jan. 10 – 12. (Fri. – Sun.) The Los Angeles Philharmonic performs a gripping program of Dvorak and Beethoven. Edo de Waart conducts Symphony No. 9 (New World) with violinist Augustin Hadelich soloing in the Beethoven Violin Concerto. Disney Hall (323) 850-2000.

Lee Ritenour

Lee Ritenour

- Jan. 10 – 12. (Fri. – Sun.) Lee Ritenour. He’s a guitarist for all seasons, earning Ritenour the nickname of “Captain Fingers. And in this three night run, he’s surrounded by a line up of all-star guests. On Friday and Sunday: Patrice Rushen, Abe Laboriel and Sonny Emory. And on Saturday: Dave Grusin, Ernie Watts and John Beasley. Catalina Bar & Grill. http://www.catalinajazzclub.com (223) 466-2210.

- Jan. 11. (Sat.) Jennifer Logan and Bryan Pezzone. “A Different Quiet.”The title should be right on target for this intriguing ensemble, with Bezzone, piano, Logan, electro-acoustics, Tim Emmons, bass and MB Gordy, percussion. Vitello’s (818) 769-0905.

- Jan. 11. (Sat.) Tom Peterson. Saxophonist/woodwind player Peterson, one of Minnesota’s many gifts to jazz, balances first rate playing with a busy career as a producer, educator, clinician and more. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

Lenore Raphael

Lenore Raphael

- Jan. 11. (Sat.)  Lenore Raphael Quartet. Pianist Raphael’s briskly rhythmic style has earned her the title of “Queen of Swing.”  And with Howard Alden, guitar, Chris Colangelo, bass and Roy McCurdy, drums, she’ll fully justify the label.  She’ll also play selections from the Oscar Peterson Songbook and share anecdotes about Peterson himself.   Jazz at the Radisson LAX.  (310) 670-9000.

San Francisco

- Jan. 10 – 12 (Fri. – Sun.) Tower of Power. The horn-driven funk, blues, soul and jazz of Tower of Power reach back to the ‘sixties, and they’re still going strong. Yoshi’s Oakland (510) 238-9200.

Seattle

Jeff Lorber

Jeff Lorber

- Jan 9 – 12. (Thurs. – Sun.) Jeff Lorber Fusion. Keyboardist Lorber, one of the innovative artists of the crossover and fusion era. His all star band includes bassist Brian Bromberg, saxophonist Patrick Lamb and drummer Gary Novak. Jazz Alley (206) 441-9729.

Washington D.C.

- Jan. 9 – 12. (Thurs. – Sun.) Gerald Albright. Blues Alley. http://www.bluesalley.com/events.cfm (202) 337-4141. Saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist Albright is a versatile master of styles reaching across the gamut of contemporary jazz styles. Blues Alley. (202) 337-4141

New York City

John Pizzarelli

John Pizzarelli

- Jan. 11 & 12. (Sat. & Sun.) The John Pizzarelli Quartet with special guest Jane Monheit. A pair of the contemporary jazz world’s finest vocalists team up for a scintillating tour through the pleasures of the Great American Songbook. The Blue Note (212) 475-8592.

Paris

- Jan. 10. (Fri.) Naturally 7. There’s nothing quite like the remarkable a cappella vocals of Naturally 7, who call their rich-textured, mesmerizing performances “Vocal Play.” New Morning +33 1 45 23 51 41.

Copenhagen

- Jan. 10 & 11. (Fri. & Sat.) The Steen Rasmussen Quartet Plays Jobim. Brazilian sounds at their finest come to Denmark in the capable hands of Steen Rasmussen, (piano), Josefine Cronholm (vocals), Fredrik Damsgaard (bass ) and Alfonso Corrêa, (drums, percussion). Jazzhus Montmartre +45 31 72 34 94.

Milan

Tania Maria

Tania Maria

Jan. 10 & 11. (Fri. & Sat.) Tania Maria Trio. Pianist/singer Maria is one of the world’s most engaging ambassadors of Brazilian music. Blue Note Milano +39 02 6901 6888.

Tokyo

- Jan.12. (Sun.) Edmar Castaneda and Gonzalo Rubalcaba. It’s a fascinating musical encounter, blending the far-ranging harp music of Castaneda and the stillunder-appreciated jazz piano of Rubalcaba. Blue Note Tokyo.  +81 3-5485-0088.


Picks of the Week: Oct. 28 – Nov. 3

October 29, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Amanda McBroom

Amanda McBroom

- Oct. 30. (Wed.)  Amanda McBroom.  The singer, actress and songwriter (“The Rose” is one of her songs) takes a break from her busy acting career to make a rare musical appearance in Los Angeles.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (223) 466-2210.

- Oct. 31. (Thurs.)  Kate Reid and Larry Koonse Duo.  Guitarist Koonse, who is at the top of everyone’s rhythm section list, has a strong musical connection with singer/pianist/educator Reid. Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- Nov. 1 – 3. (Fri. – Sun.)  Vivaldi with Perlman.  Violinist Itzhak Perlman conducts and solos with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a program of Vivaldi, Weber and Berlioz.  Walt Disney Hall. /2013-11-01  (323) 850-2000.

- Nov. 1. (Fri.)  Bob Sheppard Trio. He’s a prime, first-call tenor saxophonist, but Sheppard is also a versatile woodwind (clarinet, flute and other saxophones) artist as well.  Hear him in the warm acoustic ambiance of Herb Alpert’s elegant jazz club.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

Karrin Allyson

Karrin Allyson

- Nov. 1 – 3. (Fri. – Sun.) Karrin Allyson.  Multiple Grammy nominated Allyson performs superbly in genres reaching from folk to cabaret to jazz to bossa nova and beyond. Her L.A. performances are rare, and always worth attending.    Catalina Bar & Grill.  (223) 466-2210.

- Nov. 2. (Sat.)  Joanne Tatham.  “Soundtrack New York: Music from Movies Made in Manhattan.  It’s a fascinating idea for a program of songs, with dozens from which to chose.  And Tatham delivers it well, via her warm, seductive sound and musical story-telling skills.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

Pat Senatore

Pat Senatore

- Nov. 3. (Sun.)  The Pat Senatore Trio.  With Josh Nelson, piano and Mark Ferber, drums.  Bassist Senatore leads a stellar group of players in a CD release party celebrating the release of the Trio’s new album, AscensioneVibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

San Francisco

- Oct. 30 & 31.  (Wed. & Thurs.)  The Four Freshmen.  Their history dates back to the late ‘40s, when the Freshmen were creating harmonically lush, jazz-driven jazz vocalizing, accompanied by their own multiple instrumental skills.  This is a younger version of the Freshmen, but their music continues to be richly compelling.  Yoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.

Seattle

- Oct. 31 – Nov. 3. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Gerald Albright. He’s well known as a much-admired, contemporary jazz saxophonist, but Albright is also a multi-instrumentalist who brings genre-crossing sounds to all his performances.   Jazz Alley.    (206) 441-9729.

New York City

Arturo Sandoval

Arturo Sandoval

- Nov. 1 – 3. (Fri. – Sun.)  Arturo Sandoval.  Every performance by Cuban-born Sandoval is a stunning display of his musical range and instrumental eclecticism.  Whether playing Dizzy Gillespie-influenced trumpet, rhapsodic piano, dynamic drumming, or singing, he does it all with complete musical mastery.  The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

Oct., 31 – Nov. 3.  (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Vijay Iyer Trio.  Pianist Iyer’s Grammy-nominated Trio is an engaging vehicle for his playing, which incorporates aspects of his Indian heritage with his dynamic piano style.  Jazz Standard.

- Oct. 29 – Nov. 2. (Tues. – Sat.)  The Ron Carter Nonet. Carter has performed as everyone’s favorite bassist on more than 2500 albums.  But he’s less-known as a composer and band leader in his own right, who should be heard at every opportunity.  Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

London

Dave Holland

Dave Holland

- Nov. 2 & 3.  (Sat. & Sun.)  Dave Holland Prism.  Prism is the latest in bassist Holland’s numerous ensembles.  And like all his musical efforts, it leads his listeners through inventive musical adventures.  Ronnie Scott’s.   +44 (0)20 7439 0747

Copenhagen

- Nov. 1 & 2. (Fri. & Sat.)  The Ben Sidran Quartet.  “Don’t Cry For No Hipster.”  The versatile Sidran, a Renaissance jazz man, moves comfortably from performing jazz, rock and beyond to work as a producer, educator and radio host.  Here, he’s on piano and vocals, backed by Bob Rockwell, tenor saxophone, Billy Peterson, bass and Leo Sidran, drums.  Jazzhus Montmartre.    +45 31 72 34 94.

Milan

- Oct. 30 & 31. (Wed. & Thurs.)  Jack DeJohnette Group.  Drummer DeJohnette, always creatively curious, leads an ensemble that features the equally inventive clarinetist/saxophonist Don Byron Blue Note Milano.     +39.02.69016888.


Picks of the Week: Oct. 14 – 20

October 15, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Josh Nelson

- Oct. 17. (Thurs.) All Star Quartet. Pat Senatore, bass, Josh Nelson, piano, Larry Koonse, guitar, Mark Ferber, drums. “All Star” is the right label for this quartet of four of the Southland’s finest players. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

- Oct. 17 – 20. (Thurs. – Sun. Steve Gadd Band. Drummer Gadd has played with everyone from pop and rock stars to jazz headliners. This time he’s backed by the equally stellar ensemble of Michael Landau, Larry Goldings, Walt Fowler, & Jimmy Johnson). Catalina Bar & Grill (223) 466-2210.

- Oct. 18 – 20. (Fri. – Sun.) Disney Hall 10th Anniversary Celebration. Esa-Pekka Salonen returns to a familiar podium to conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a celebratory program of Debussy, Bartok and Lindberg, with cello soloist Anssi Karttunen and the women of the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Disney Hall.  (323) 850-2000.

Carol Welsman

Carol Welsman

- Oct. 19. (Sat.) Carol Welsman. “Reflections of Peggy Lee and Benny Goodman.” Pianist/singer Welsman applies her many talents to a program of Swing band classics. She’s joined by versatile saxophonist/vocalist Don Shelton. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- Oct. 19 (Sat.) Eva Ayllon. Multiple Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter, one of Peru’s most honored musicians, makes a rare L.A. Appearance. CAP UCLA at Royce Hall.  (310) 825-.2101.

- Oct. 19. (Sat.) Bernadette Peters. Musical theatre star Peters’ many talents reach from film and television to the stage, where her many starring roles include Mack and Mabel, Annie Get Your Gun, Gypsy, Into the Woods and more. Valley Performing Arts Center.  (818) 677-8800.

- Oct. 20 (Sun.) The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Jeffrey Kahane conducts the LACO in works by Britten, Haydn, Mozart and Bruce Adolphe, featuring cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras. CAP UCLA at Royce Hall.  (310) 825.2101.

Brian Wilson

- Oct. 20. (Sun.) Brian Wilson and Jeff Beck. It’s a rare combination of pop music greats, joining with Wilson’s former bandmates, Al Jardine and David Marks in a program that includes a great deal of the Beach Boys classic catalog of songs. The Greek Theatre.  (323) 665-5857.

San Francisco

- Oct. 19 & 20 (Sat. & Sun.) Michel Camilo, solo. The Dominican Republic’s gift to jazz piano playing performs a rare solo display of his rich improvisational skills. An SFJAZZ concert at Miner Auditorium. (866) 920-5299.

Seattle

- Oct. 17 – 20. (Thurs. – Sun.) Fourplay. Together for more than two decades, the members of Fourplay – Bob James, Nathan East, Harvey Mason and Chuck Loeb continue to lead the way in finding the roots of contemporary jazz. Jazz Alley. (206) 441-9729.

Chicago

Russell Malone

- Oct. 17 – 20. (Thurs. – Sun.) Russell Malone Quartet. Guitarist Malone has demonstrated his considerable versatility with the likes of Diana Krall, Harry Connick, Jr. and Jimmy Smith, and he continues to be a player adept with all seasons of jazz styles. Jazz Showcase.  (312) 360-0234.

New York City

- Oct. 15 & 16. (Tues. & Wed.) Phil Woods Quintet. Still one of the definitive bebop players, veteran alto saxophonist Woods is one of the trune jazz originals. Here he’s joined by the world class backing of Brian Lynch, trumpet, Bill Charlap, piano, Bill Goodwin, drums, Steve Gilmore, bass. The Blue Note. (212) 475-8592.

London

- Oct. 16 – 19. (Wed. – Sun.) Wayne Henderson’s Jazz Crusaders. Trombonist Henderson works hard to keep the classic jazz/funk/soul of the Crusaders alive and well. Ronnie Scott’s+44 (0)20 7439 0747.

Milan

Monty Alexander

Monty Alexander

- Oct. 15. (Tues.) Monty Alexander Trio. Jamaican-born pianist Alexander successfully manages to blend the sounds and rhythms of Jamaica with his extraordinary, Oscar Peterson-influenced jazz stylings. Blue Note Milano.  +39 02 6901 6888.

Tokyo

- Oct. 20 – 22. (Sun. – Tues.) John Scofield’s “Uberjam.” Always in search of new creative ideas, veteran jazz guitarist Scofield’s Uberjam band explores linkages with contemporary pop styles. Blue Note Tokyo. Tokyo Blue Note.  +81 3-5485-0088.


Picks of the Week: Sept. 25 – 29

September 25, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Joe Pass

Joe Pass

- Sept. 25. (Wed.)  A Joe Pass Tribute.  The great jazz guitarist’s life is celebrated with a screening of the jazzumentary, A Not So Average Joe, followed by a live performance featuring Frank Potenza, John Pisano, Jim Hughart and Colin BaileyCatalina Bar & Grill.

- Sept. 26. (Thurs.) Pat Senatore Trio. Veteran bassist Senatore plays with a different band almost every night at Vibrato. This time he applies his versatility to the jazz trio setting with Josh Nelson, piano and Mark Ferber, drums. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

Isabel Rose

Isabel Rose

- Sept. 26. (Thurs.) Isabel Rose. Jazz/cabaret singer Rose has been compared to everyone from Peggy Lee to Ann-Margret and Bette Midler. She’ll introduce some new songs from her album Trouble in Paradise. The Mint.  323) 954-9400.

- Sept. 26 – 29. (Thurs. – Sun.) Larry Goldings, Peter Bernstein and Bill Stewart. Expect a great jazz evening listening to this trio of world class players in action. Vitello’s.

- Sept. 27. (Fri.) Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell. Singer Harris and guitarist/songwriter Crowell first got together as musical associates in the mid-’70s. Here, they revive their long creative partnership. Valley Performing Arts Center. (818) 677-8800

- Sept. 28. (Sat.) Keith Jarrett, Jack DeJohnette, Gary Peacock. They’re one of jazz history’s great ensembles, continuing to bring imaginative ideas to the classic piano jazz trio. Royce Hall.  (310) 825-0768.

Gerald Wilson

Gerald Wilson

- Sept. 29. (Sun.) The Gerald Wilson Orchestra. Composer/arranger/bandleader Wilson may be 95 years old, but he’s still going strong, still a masterful model of jazz creativity. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

- Sept. 29. (Sun.) Symphonic Jazz Orchestra Free Family Concert. The far-reaching skills of the SJO are on full display in a free concert aimed at all ages. The Carpenter Performing Arts Center.  (310) 876-8130.

 San Francisco

- Sept. 26 – 29. (Thurs. – Sun,) Regina Carter. Jazz violinist Carter performs a four day sequence of far ranging music. On Thurs. with Jenny Scheinman and Sara Caswell. On Fri. with the Pablo RZiegler Quartet. On Sat. with Kenny Barron. And on Sun. with Carla Cook & SFJAZZ High School All-Stars. SFJAZZ Miner Auditorium.  (866) 920-5299.

 Seattle

Ravi Coltrane

Ravi Coltrane

- Sept. 26 – 29. (Thurs. – Sun.) Ravi Coltrane Quartet. Following in the footsteps of his father – John Coltrane – saxophonist Ravi has gradually, and successfully, begun to establish his own independent creative style. Jazz Alley.  (312) 360-0234.

 New York City

- Sept. 25 – 29. (Wed. – Sun.) Chick Corea and the Vigil. After seasoning his new band in an international tour, Chick showcases it for American audiences. The Blue Note.  (212) 475-8592.

- Sept. 26 – 29. (Thurs. – Sun.) Vinicius Cantuaria Quintet. Brazilian guitarist /singer Cantuaria started out as a percussionist, and his rhythmic skills continue to bring propulsive swing to his guitar work. The Jazz Standard. http://jazzstandard.net/red (212) 576-2232.

 London

- Sept. 27 & 28. (Fri. & Sat,.) The Rebirth Brass Band. Thirty years after they were founded, New Orleans’ Rebirth Brass Band continues to sustain the musical memories of the classic jazz brass band style. Ronnie Scott’s+44 (0)20 7439 0747.

Milan

Patti Austin

Patti Austin

- Sept. 27. (Fri.) Patti Austin. A protege of Quincy Jones, who was her godfather, the musically eclectic Austin brings imaginative perspectives to whatever style she’s singing.  Blue Note Milano. +39 02 6901 6888.

Copenhagen

- Sept. 28. (Sat.) Eddie Gomez Trio. Bassist Gomez, a prominent musical associate of Bill Evans in the ’60s and ’70s, sustains the piano jazz trio style on an international basis with Swedish pianist Stefan Karlsson and American drummer Billy Drummond. Jazzhus Montmartre.  +45 31 72 34 94.

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HIGHLIGHT EVENT OF THE WEEK

Alessandra Belloni’s Rhythm is the Cure Percussion Workshop

By Faith Frenz

Alessandra Belloni

Alessandra Belloni

Alessandra Belloni is an Italian shaman dancer, singer, performer and healer extraordinaire. This week, she’s in Los Angeles for one of her biannual visits. Among her various activities, she will share — by instruction and performance — her unique talent and understanding of the ancient rituals of the tarantella Spider Dance. Alessandra presents the chants and songs sung as devotion to the Black Madonna (tracing to the ancient rites for the Earth Goddess Cybele), an ancient female healing tradition which uses a powerful tambourine style combined with singing and dancing.

I had the pleasure of taking her brief workshop last week at the North Hollywood Remo Recreational Center, where she has her own line of signature series tambourines made by Remo. Alessandra is a small, intensely sensual and beautiful woman, devoted to her goal of sharing these ancient devotionals around the world for their healing gifts. She is a gifted teacher of a very challenging ritual which taps into the essence of femininity.

 Alessandra has a packed schedule here in Los Angeles with numerous opportunities to experience her passionate performance and healing energy. And I urge everyone who reads this to choose an opportunity to witness her up close and personal: 

– Sept. 27. (Fri.) Tarantata at the Goddess Temple Orange County.  (949)651-0564 or (714) 392-0558.

- Sept. 28 (Sat.) DAY OF THE DRUM, WATTS TOWERS FESTIVAL,11:30 a.m. Los Angeles Watts Towers.   213.847.4646

- Sept. 29. (Sun.)  Tarantata at Hollywood Feast of San Gennaro  12:00 p.m.

- Oct. 1. (Tues.) Rhythm is the Cure Percussion Workshop at CalArts.  (661) 255-1050

We will be doing an iRoM Q&A with Alessandra during her stay this week, so look for it in the next few days. There is so much to learn from this amazing woman.

For more information about Alessandra Belloni click HERE to check her website.

 


Live Jazz: Aaron Weinstein at Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.

July 17, 2013

By Don Heckman

The full house crowd at Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. Tuesday night may not have had a great deal of familiarity with Aaron Weinstein, the headline act.  But it’s a fair bet that by the end of the gifted young violinist’s 90 minute set, a good portion of the audience felt they had just seen an intriguing new jazz star in the making.

Weinstein, still in  his twenties, has already established considerable visibility in his New York City home.  But he’s been virtually unknown on the West Coast – a situation which is hopefully in the process of changing with future bookings.

However, to describe Weinstein as a “violinist” doesn’t completely grasp the unexpected range of his talents, which illuminated his music with a Woody Allen-like sense of humor and one whimsical tale after another.

Aaron Weinstein bow tie FFComing on stage at Vibrato, wearing a suit and a bowtie, looking as though he’d just come from his Bar Mitzvah, Weinstein opened his set with a threat to perform some Schoenberg 12-tone compositions, a threat fortunately unfulfilled before he dug into a program of Songbook standards, introduced with amusing commentaries.

The first was “Cheek to Cheek,” followed by “Easter Parade,” which he dedicated to “My people, the Jews.”  Before he played “I Want To Be Happy,” he noted his difficulty with the song’s “disconnect between the lovely melody and the co-dependent lyrics.”  On ‘Sleeping Bee,” he introduced the Truman Capote/Harold Arlen song with a Capote line describing a character “as out of place as a violinist in a jazz band.”

Weinstein played each of these tunes – as well as others such as “Georgia On My Mind,” “Til’ There Was You,” “Someone to Watch Over Me” and “Somebody Loves Me” – with style and imagination.  At times, his slower phrasing recalled the jazz violin of  Stephane Grappelli.  But in the faster tunes he applied his virtuosic technical skills to stunningly inventive improvising, often delivered at Autobahn-speed tempos.

Further displaying his abilities, he occasionally switched to violin pizzicato lines.  And, in mid-set, he moved from violin to mandolin to play “Over the Rainbow” and “Paper Moon.”  Here, too, he revealed a remarkable musical range of abilities.

Weinstein was backed with warm creative empathy by pianist Tom Rainier and bassist Pat Senatore.  Both are veteran accompanists, providing intimate interaction in the ensemble passages and impressive soloing of their own.

By the time Weinstein had finished a set overflowing with clever wit and memorable music, he had thoroughly tamed Vibrato’s usually noisy crowd.  And he’d also convincingly introduced himself to Los Angeles as a talent with a sky’s-the-limit future.

Aaron Weinstein has one more performance at Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. tonight.  Don’t miss it. This young man is one of a kind.

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Photos by Faith Frenz. 


Picks of the Week: July 9 – 14

July 9, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Michael Tilson Thomas

Michael Tilson Thomas

- July 9. (Tues.)  Michael Tilson-Thomas conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the Mahler Symphony No. 2. “Resurrection.”  With soprano Kiera Duffy, mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and the Los Angeles Master Chorale.  The Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

- July 10. (Wed.)  Queen Latifa. Roy Ayers.  The 2013 jazz summer season at the Bowl opens with the soaring vocals of Queen Latifa and the irresistible funk rhythms of vibist Ayers. Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

- July 10. (Wed.)  Diane Marino. Classically trained pianist/singer Marino makes a rare Southland appearance.  She’s backed by Clayton Cameron, drums, Frank Marino, bass and Rickey Woodard, saxophone & flute.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- July 10. (Wed.)  Josh Nelson and Pat Senatore Duo.  A cross-generational jazz partnership combines rapidly emerging pianist Nelson with veteran bassist Senatore.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

WTrevor Mcshane

WTrevor Mcshane

- July 11. (Thurs.)  Trevor McShane.  It’s really the nom de plume of  singer/songwriter Neville Johnson, an attorney who has been pursuing his musical ambitions since the release of his first album in 2000.  Molly Malones. (323) 935-1577.

- July 12. (Fri.)  Cat Conner, Gene Cipriano, Robert Chiodini and Dick Nash.  This impressive collection of L.A. jazz stars finish up their two year run at the Studio City venue, which is closing for renovations. The Out Take Bistro.   (818) 760-1111.

- July 12. (Fri.)  David Ornette Cherry. Pianist/composer Cherry, the son of adventurous jazz trumpeter Don Cherry, showcases his own ambitious talents in a program combining his original works with compositions by his father. LACMA.    (323) 857-6000.

Barbara Morrison

Barbara Morrison

- Jan. 12 & 13. (Fri. & Sat.)  Barbara Morrison.  The remarkable Ms. Morrison, recovering courageously from serious medical problems, celebrates the release of her new CD, A Sunday Kind of Love.  Catalina Bar & Grill. (223) 466-2210.

- July 13. (Sat.)  Songfest Sings America: Celebrating Leonard Bernstein.  A stirring evening dedicated to the far-ranging music of Bernstein, from West Side Story to On the Town and much more.   Michael Barrett conducts and there will be a pre-performance conversation between Alan Chapman and Bernstein’s daughter, JamieGrand Performances.    (213) 687-2159.

- July 14. (Sun.)  ‘70s Soul JamThe Stylistics, Peaches & Herb, Rose Royce, Main Ingredient featuring Cuba Gooding Sr. and more in an evening of body-moving soul rhythms.  Greek Theatre.     (323) 665-5857.

San Francisco

Halie Loren

Halie Loren

- July 11. (Thurs.)  Halie Loren.  Award-winning singer/songwriter has been establishing herself as one of the most intriguing talents of her generation.  Check HERE to read a recent iRoM review of a Loren CD.     Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

Seattle

July 11 – 14. (Thurs. – Sun.)  John Mayall.  He’s not leading his Blues Breakers, but veteran blues rock guitarist is still a dynamically exciting blues performer.  Jazz Alley.   (206) 441-9729.

New York

- July 9. (Tues.)  Geoff Keezer.  Grammy-nominated pianist/arranger/composer Keezer, always a uniquely fascinating performer, celebrates the release of his solo piano album, Heart of the Piano.  Birdland.   (212) 581-3080.

- July 11 – 14. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Duke Ellington Orchestra.  Yes, it’s a “ghost” band, striving with respectful musicality to keep the Ellington repertoire alive and swinging.  The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

London

Cassandra WIlson

Cassandra WIlson

- July 9 – 11.  (Tues. – Thurs.)  Cassandra Wilson.  There are plenty of good reasons why jazz vocalist Wilson is a Grammy award winner – all of them present in her intimately engaging sound and rich musicality.  Ronnie Scott’s.   +44 20 7439 0747.

Paris

- July 11. (Thurs.)  The Terence Blanchard Quintet.  Trumpeter/composer Blanchard’s far-reaching career has balanced his hard-driving jazz style with frequent assignments (often with Spike Lee) as a film composer. New Morning.    +33 1 45 23 51 41

Tokyo

- July 12 & 13. (Fri. & Sat.)  Pablo Ziegler New York Quartet.  Argentine pianist/composer Ziegler leads his New York players in a program of captivating Nuevo tango.  Tokyo Blue Note.  +81 3-5485-0088.

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Barbara Morrison photo by Bonnie Perkinson. 


Picks of the Week: July 1 – 7

July 1, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Susan Krebs

Susan Krebs

- July 1 (Mon.)  Suze’s Birthday FestSusan Krebs celebrates her birthday in the creative company of Rich Eames, piano, Jerry Kalaf, drums and Tom Warrington, bassAdd to that the presence of special guests saxophonist Brian Scanlon and violinist Paul CartwrightVitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- July 2. (Tues.)  Carol Robbins, Pat Senatore and Larry Koonse.  An evening of interactive stringed instruments, with Robbins’ harp, Senatore’s bass and Koonse’s guitar.  Expect to hear some brisk swing combined with some fascinating textures.    Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

Josh Groban

Josh Groban

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- July 2 – 4. (Tues. – Thurs.)  Josh Groban Fireworks Spectacular. Groban’s warm, baritone voice is featured singing patriotic songs, supported by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and conductor Sarah Hicks in this year’s fireworks spectacular.   Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

- July 5. (Fri.)  Joe La Barbera Quintet.  Everyone’s favorite rhythm section drummer steps into the leadership role with a stellar group that includes saxophonist Bob Sheppard, trumpeter Clay Jenkins, pianist John Beasley and bassist Tom Warrington. Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

- July 5 & 6. (Fri. & Sat.)  Bugs Bunny at the Symphony. An evening of classic Bugs Bunny cartoons along with Tom and Jerry and some new 3D animation.  The video projections will be performed with live music from the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by George DaughertyHollywood Bowl.    (323) 850-2000.

- July 5 – 7. (Fri. – Sun.)  Ron Carter Trio.  With Russell Malone and Donald Vega.  It’s a cross-generational trio of world class players, from veteran bassist Carter and busy guitarist Malone with the gifted young pianist Vega.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- July 6. (Sat.) Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson plays Thick as a Brick 1 & 2 in a theatrical production with video and additional musicians – including some who are veterans of Jethro Tull. The Greek Theatre.  (323) 665-5857.

– July 7. (Sun.)  LL Cool Jay.  Grammy-winning LL Cool Jay headlines the Kings of the Mic hip-hop tour, joined by Ice Cube, Public Enemy and De La Soul.  The Greek Theatre.    (323) 665-5857.

- July 7. (Sun.)  David Silverman. Singer/pianist Silverman, who has become a major musical star in Tokyo over the past two decades, performs a program of classics from the Great American Songbook. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

San Francisco

- July 6. (Sat.)  Jim Kweskin Jug Band 50th Reunion.  Featured artists include Maria and Jeff Muldaur, Richard Greene and Bill Keith from the original Jug Band, along with guitarist Cindy Cashdollar and bassist Sam Bevan.  Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse.  Berkely, CA.    (510) 644-2020, x120.

New York

Jackie Ryan

Jackie Ryan

- July 2 – 4. (Tues. – Thurs.) Jackie Ryan.  The ever-appealing jazz singer Ryan  celebrates the release of her new CD Listen Here  with special guest Harry AllenBirdland.    (212) 581-3080.

- July 2 – 7.  (Tues. – Sun.)  Jerry Gonzalez & the Fort Apache Band.  The super-heated Latin jazz rhythms of the Fort Apache Band fill the room whenever trumpeter/percussionist Gonzalez and his players perform.  Village Vanguard.   (s12) 475-8592.

Dominick Farinacci

Dominick Farinacci

- July 2 & 3. (Tues. & Wed.)  Dominick Farinacci. Trumpeter Farinacci, one of the most gifted players of his generation, still hasn’t received the attention his fine playing deserves.  He performs with Zaccai Curtis, piano; Ryan Scott, guitar; Yasushi Nakamura, bass; Keita Ogawa, percussion.  Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.   (212) 258-9595.

London

- July 7. (Sun.)  Daryl Sherman“The Songs of Johnny Mercer and Cole Porter.”  Singer/pianist Sherman offers a convincing blend of cabaret and jazz.  She performs here with Alan Barns, woodwinds, Andy Cleyndert, bass, and Steve Brown, drums.  Ronnie Scott’s.   +44 20 7439 0747.

Copenhagen

- July 4 & 5. (Thurs. & Fri.)  ‘The New Generation Meets the Great Danes.”  Young American jazz pianist Christian Sands performs with a pair of legendary Danish jazz artists, bassist Thomas Fonnesback and drummer Alex RielJazzhus Montmartre.    +45 31 72 34 94.

Tokyo

Pat Martino

Pat Martino

- July 1 – 3. (Mon. – Wed.)  The Pat Martino Trio.  Guitarist Martino was striken with amnesia after experiencing after a near-fatal brain aneurysm in 1980.  But over the succeeding years he relearned how to play his instrument, returning to action in 1987 with a sequence of superb recordings.  The Blue Note Tokyo.   +81 3-5485-0088.


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