Picks of the Week: Aug. 14 – 19

August 13, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

– Aug. 14 & 15. (Tues. & Wed.) Michael Jackson the Immortal World TourCirque du Soleil.  The music and lyrics of Michael Jackson are the foundation for a show that “immerses audiences in Michael’s creative world and literally turns his signature moves upside down,” performed by the incomparable artists of Cirque du Soleil.   Staples Center.   (213) 742-7100.

– Aug. 15. (Wed.)  Joe Cocker and Huey Lewis & The News.  A pair of still vitally active rock icons whose music reaches from the ‘60s to the present make for a rare evening of engaging musical memorabilia.  Greek Theatre.    (323) 665-5857.

– Aug. 15. (Wed.)  Ron Kalina Trio. He’s a virtuoso jazz harmonica player who also doubles on piano, with a resume including recordings with the likes of Linda Ronstadt, Joe Williams, Anita O’Day and dozens of others. Hear him in action, backed by guitarist Barry Zweig, bassist Pat Senatore and drummer Kendall KayVibrato Grill Jazz…etc.     (310) 474-9400.

Eddie Palmieri

– Aug. 15. (Wed.)  Eddie Palmieri, Ruben Blades.  A pair of legendary Latin jazz and salsa giants share the stage on a Wednesday jazz night at the Bowl, demonstrating first hand the exciting linkages between jazz and Latin dance rhythms. Hollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

– Aug. 15 – 18. (Wed. – Sat.)  Terence Blanchard Quintet. Critically praised trumpeter Blanchard takes a break from his busy schedule as a film composer, Artistic Director of the Thelonious Monk Institute and Director of the Henry Mancini Institute, to lead his Grammy-winning jazz group.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

– Aug. 16. (Thurs.)  De Temps Antan.  The Quebecois ensemble makes its West Coast debut, performing the traditional songs of French Canada.  Skirball Center.     (310) 440-4500.

– Aug. 17. (Fri.)  Wolff & Clark Expedition.  Pianist Michael Wolff’s credits reach from Cannoball Adderley. Sonny Rollins and others to a stint as the bandleader on the Arsenio Hall Show.  He’s backed by the stellar rhythm team of drummer Mike Clark and bassist Brian BrombergVitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

– Aug. 17 & 18. (Fri. & Sat.)  Juanes with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.  Multiple Latin Grammy winning singer/songwriter/guitarist Juanes performs with the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, the Cal Voce Singers and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra conducted by Thomas Wilkins.  And with fireworks, too.  Hollywood Bowl.    (323) 850-2000.

Sara Gazarek

– Aug. 18 & 19. (Sat. & Sun.)  Sara Gazarek.  At a time when jazz singers are arriving in waves, Gazarek is one of the rare few whose remarkable potential is apparent in everything she sings.  She celebrates her new album, Blossom & Bee with special guest keyboardist Larry Goldings and the backing of pianist Josh Nelson, bassist Hamilton Price and drummer Zach Harmon Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

– Aug. 19. (Sun.)  Gerald Wilson Big Band.  Well into his nineties, Wilson remains one of the iconic figures of big band jazz.  And watching him in action with hits all-star group is one of the pleasures of experiencing live jazz.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

– Aug. 19. (Sun.)  Dudamel and Domingo.  The Hollywood Bowl’s pairing of charismatic classical music figures continues with Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic joining for the first time with the great tenor Placido DomingoHollywood Bowl.   (323) 850-2000.

San Francisco

Benny Green

– Aug. 16. (Thurs.)  The Benny Green Trio.  A jazz professional as a teen-ager, pianist Green’s career has been expanding ever since, establishing him as one of the most imaginative and listenable players of his generation.  He’s backed by bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny WashingtonYoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.


– Aug. 16 – 19. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Karrin Allyson. Grammy nominated singer-pianist Allyson brings rich layers musicality to everything she sings or plays.  Hopefully she’ll include some selections from her latest album, ‘Round Midnight.   Jazz Alley.    (201) 441-9729.


– Aug. 18. (Sat.)  Kenny Werner. Pianist Werner’s versatility – he is as adept at backing singers as he is at straight ahead jazz playing – no doubt traces to the mind-body techniques explored in his thoughtful book on improvisation, Effortless Mastery.  Regatta Bar.   (617) 661-5000.

New York

John Abercrombie

– Aug. 14 – 18. (Tues. – Sat.)  The John Abercrombie Quartet.  Always seeking adventurous new jazz combinations, Abercrombie’s latest group features saxophonist Joe Lovano, bassist Drew Gess and drummer Adam NussbaumBirdland.    (212) 581-3080.

– Aug. 14 – 19. (Tues. – Sun.)  Enfants Terribles.  Lee Konitz, Bill Frisell, Gary Peacock and Joey Baron. A stellar array of world-class jazz players celebrate their new CD, Enfants Terribles. The Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

– Aug. 16 – 19. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The Tierney Sutton Band.  Singer Sutton has been working with her band for nearly two decades, and the results are apparent in the extraordinary music they make together.  The Jazz Standard.  (212) 576-2561.


– Aug. 14 – 18. (Tues. – Sat.)  Roy Ayers. Vibraphonist Ayers has been, and continues to be, a pioneer in blending jazz with Afro-beat, funk and hip hop.  Ronnie Scott’s.   (0) 20 7439 0747.


Aug. 14 & 15.  Joyce.  Brazilian singer/songwriter/guitarist Joyce Moreno has been blending jazz with bossa nova since the late ‘60s.  Blue Note Tokyo.   03.5485.0088.

Eddie Palmieri photo by Tony Gieske. 

Picks of the Week: June 5 – 10

June 5, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

– June 5. (Tues.)  “And Then She Wrote.”  Peter Marshall, Carol Welsman, Calabria Foti.  Five time Emmy Award-winning Marshall (Yes, he sings, too) is joined by the lovely singer/instrumentalists Welsman and Foti in an evening of great standards written by women. Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

– June 5. (Tues.)  Corliss Dale and Lou Forestieri.  Pianist/arranger  Forestieri’s impressive resume reaches from Stanley Clarke to Mel Torme and beyond.  He and his singing wife Dale have released a pair of impressive albums of standards; Fascinating Rhythms and Crazy Rhythm.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.     (310) 474-9400.

– June 6. (Wed.)  The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses.  The music from one of the most popular video games of all time is performed by a full orchestra.  The program features music based on story lines from “Ocarina of Time,” “The Wind Waker,” “Twilight Princess” and “A Link to the Past.” The Greek Theatre.  (323) 665-5857.

Fabiana Passoni

– June 7. (Thurs.) Fabiana Passoni.  Her sultry vocals have earned Passoni the title of Best Brazilian Singer Living in the U.S. from the Brazilian International Press.  Despite the difficult interruptions of a three year battle with cancer, her musical journey has continued to discover new areas of creativity.  She’ll be backed by a ten piece band featuring the stellar presence of, among others, pianist Bill Cantos and guitarist Kleber Jorge. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.    (310) 474-9400.  Also at Yoshi’s San Francisco on Sun. (See below.)

– June 7 – 9. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Freddy Cole Quartet.  If the voice sounds familiar, don’t be surprised.  He’s Nat Cole’s younger brother, and he’s fashioned those memorable vocal timbres into an appealing style all his own.  At a time when engaging male jazz singers are in short supply, don’t miss the chance to hear Cole in action.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

– June 7 – 9. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Peter Cetera.  If the name doesn’t instantly ring a bell, think “Chicago.”  And, no, not the city, the great rock group of the ‘70s that rode to fame on Cetera’s memorable vocals.  Segerstrom Center for the Arts.     (714) 556-2787.

– June 8. (Fri.) Primus.  For nearly three decades Primus has been stretching the envelope in the style of Frank Zappa and Pink Floyd.  Also on the bill, Fishbone, a high visibility presence in L.A.’s alternative rock scene since the ‘80s.  Greek Theatre.   (323) 665-5857.

Ernie Watts

– June 8. (Fri.)  Ernie Watts.  Grammy-winner Watts’ versatile saxophone playing has been heard over the past four decades on more than 500 recordings in the company of artists reaching from Cannonball Adderley to Frank Zappa.  And he’s still going strong.  LACMA.    (323) 857-6000.

– June 8. (Fri.) Big Phat BandGordon Goodwin’s collection of L.A. all-stars perform selections from his always-swinging book of originals and re-invented standards.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

– June 10. (Sun.)  Los Angeles Master Chorale. Tribute to Gorecki.  The superb voices of the LAMC close the season with a trio of sonically mesmerizing works by the great Polish composer, as well as the Brahms motet for chorus, Schaffe in mir, Gott, ein rein Herz.  Disney Hall.   (323) 850-2000.

– June 10. (Sun.)  Chickenfoot.  All-star rock group Chickenfoot – Joe Satriani, Kenny Aronoff, Michael Anthony and Sammy Hagar – arrive in support of their latest album, Chickenfoot III.  Also on the bill – Black Stone Cherry. Greek Theatre.  (323) 665-5857.

San Francisco

Rick Braun

– June 8 – 10.  (Fri. – Sun.)  Rick Braun. Trumpeter/vocalist Braun, following in the Chet Baker footsteps, combining his warm and amiable vocals with an appealingly melodic trumpet style.  Yoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.

June 10. (Sun.)   Fabiana Passoni.  Brazilian singer Passoni makes her second California appearance this week.  See above L.A. entry for more details.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.    (415) 655-5600.

Washington D.C.

– June 8 – 10.  (Fri. – Sun.)  Kenny Garrett. Cutting edge alto saxophonist Garrett’s early roots trace to a five year stint with Miles Davis’ electric bands.  But he’s traveled his own path since then, fully apparent in his latest album, Seeds From the Underground.  Blues Alley.  http://bluesalley.com/events.cfm  (202) 337-4141.

New York

Karrin Allyson

– June 5 – 9. (Tues. – Sat.)  Karrin Allyson. Twenty years after her debut album, I Didn’t Know About You, was released, Allyson continues to set standards for what great jazz singing can and should be – via her superb musicality, rich sense of swing and her utterly engrossing storytelling abilities.  Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

– June 5 – 10. (Tues. – Sun.)  Renee Rosnes Quartet.  Pianist Rosnes, always a jazz adventurer, checks out fascinating territories with the world class companionship of Steve Nelson, vibes, Peter Washington, bass and Lewis Nash, drums.  Village Vanguard.   (212) 929-4589.

– June 5 – 10. (Tues. – Sun.)  Dudka Da Fonseca & Helio Alves.  “Samba, Jazz and the Music of Jobim”  An evening revealing, in delightfully rhythmic fashion, the creatively compelling links between jazz and the music of Brazil. With Anat Cohen, Claudio Roditi, George Mraz and Maucha Adnet.  Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.    (212) 258-9800.

– June 7 – 10. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Charles McPherson. Alto saxophonist McPherson has been convincingly carrying the torch for bebop since he performed on the soundtrack of Clint Eastwood’s 1988 Charlie Parker film, Bird.   Jazz Standard.   (212) 576-2232.


Danilo Perez

– June 6 (Wed.)  Danilo Perez.  Panama-born pianist/composer/educator Perez’s career arc reaches from intimate musical relationships with Dizzy Gillespie to Wayne Shorter.  With a lot of stops in between, thoroughly establishing himself as one of the influential jazz voices of his generation.  Ronnie Scott’s.   020 7439 0747.

Picks of the Week: Feb. 20 – 26

February 20, 2012

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

– Feb. 21. (Tues.)  Strunz & Farah.  Two guitars together don’t get any more exciting than the high speed musical magic of long-time partners Jorge Strunz and Ardeshir Farah.  After more than three decades together, they’re still in rare form.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

Lorraine Feather

– Feb. 22. (Wed.)  “An Evening With Duke Ellington.”  Ted Howe Trio.  Veteran pianist/arranger Howe offers new perspectives on the classic Ellington songbook.  His special guests — Lorraine Feather, Sweet Baby Jai and Mark Winkler — add some equally compelling vocal contributions. Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

– Feb. 23. (Thurs.)  Judy Carmichael.  Count Basie called her “Stride,” and with good reason.  Carmichael’s fast fingers and energetic style are keeping alive one of the great jazz piano styles.  She’s backed in this rare L.A. club appearance by guitarist Larry Koonse and saxophonist Harry Allen.  Click HERE to read an iRoM Q & A conversation with Judy Carmichael.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

Max Raabe and the Palast Orchester

– Feb. 23. (Thurs.)  Max Raabe and Palast OrchesterOne Cannot Kiss Alone.  The super elegant Max Raabe and the tuxedoed instrumentalists of the Palast Orchester have impressively revived the style, the music and the wit of the ‘20s and ‘30s.  This time out, they feature selections from their best-selling new album.  One Cannot Kiss Alone.  UCLA Live.    (310) 825-2101.

– Feb. 23 – 25. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Stanley Clarke Quartet.  Fresh off a Grammy win with Chick Corea and Lenny White for Forever, the ever-eclectic Clarke is back to leading his own stellar quartet.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

– Feb. 23 – 25. (Thurs. – Sat.) The Pacific Symphony, conducted by Carl St. Clair, presents an attractive program of works, reaching from the classic to the contemporary.  Vadim Gluzman performs the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto; other pieces include Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings and a pair of new works by Michael Daugherty.  Segerstrom Center for the Arts.    (714) 556-2787.

– Feb. 24. (Fri.)  David Binney. Despite his dozen or so albums and appearances with the likes of Jim Hall, Maria Schneider and others, alto saxophonist Binney still hasn’t received the broad acknowledgement that his adventurous style deserves. He makes a rare Southland appearance. The Blue Whale.    (213) 620-0908.

Jill Schoelen

– Feb. 25. (Sat.)  “Late Night Love Songs.”  Jill Schoelen.  One of the “scream queen” film heroines of the ‘80s, Schoelen began moving into the jazz vocal area with the late bassist Dave Carpenter with appealing results.  She’s backed here by guitarist Larry Koonse and bassist Dave Robaire. Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

– Feb. 25. (Sat.) Kurt Rosenwinkel Standards Trio. Guitarist Rosenwinkel’s versatility allows him to cruise comfortably across styles.  But he’s especially appealing when he’s applying his imaginative variations to the classic standards of American song.  He performs with Eric Revis, bass and Justin Faulkner, drums.  A Jazz Bakery Movable Feast.  The Musicians Institute.   (310) 271-9039.

– Feb. 25. (Sat.)  Monica Mancini and Arturo Sandoval. Expect musical and lyrical fireworks and drama. Mancini is a singer who knows how to tell a musical story.  And Sandoval, who will be leading his big band, is equally adept at producing musical pyrotechnics on trumpet, percussion and piano.  Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.   (562) 916-8501.

– Feb. 25. (Sat.)  BRAZILIAN : EXOTICA.  Brazilian Nites’ 12th annual celebration of  carnaval features an all-star Brazilian band with non-stop music and dance.  From 8 p.m. until 2 a.m. revelers will have the opportunity to celebrate the euphoric holiday in true Brazilian style.  Featured performers include SambaDá, Chalo Eduardo’s All Star Band, featuring vocals by Andrea Ferraz, a pageant of samba dancers, capoeira martial artists, and an inaugural parade by the Los Angeles Samba SchoolBrazilian Carnaval: Exotica.  Club Nokia/LA Live.  (818) 566-1111.

– Feb. 25. (Sat.)  The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Conductor Jeffrey Kahane is the musical tour guide in this Discover Concert performance of J.S. Bach’s Magnificat.  The L.A.C.O. is joined by the USC Thornton Chamber singers and soloists for this magnificent choral work.  A Q&A with Jeffrey Kahane follows the performance.  The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra at Ambassador Auditorium.  (213) 622-7001.  Ext. 1

– Feb. 26. (Sun.)  Russell Ferrante Duo.  A founding member of the Yellowjackets, keyboardist Ferrante was instrumental in the two nominations the dynamic band received this year.  Here’s a chance to hear him in the most intimate of musical settings, working with the solid rhythmic support and improvisation sensitivity of bassist Pat SenatoreVibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

San Francisco

Dave Holland

– Feb. 24. (Fri.)  Dave Holland Overtone Quartet.  To call bassist Holland’s Overtone Quintet an all-star ensemble still wouldn’t come close to acknowledging the high quality of this extraordinary collection of players: saxophonist Chris Potter, pianist Jason Moran and drummer Eric Harland.  Expect to hear state of the art, 21st century jazz at its very finest.  Palace of Fine Arts Theatre. An SFJAZZ concert.  (866) 920-5299.

– Feb. 24. (Fri.)  Hubert Laws.  The master of the jazz flute, a master who is fully capable of crossing over into pop, classical and beyond, Laws was justifiably honored with an NEA Jazz Masters award in 2011.   Yoshi’s San Francisco.    (415) 655-5600.


Feb. 23 – 26. )Thurs. – Sun.)  Larry Coryell Trio. Guitarist Coryell has been crossing over from rock to blues to jazz and beyond since the ‘60s, having a powerful impact on the fusion of the post bop era.  And he’s still doing it, while offering his wisdom to a new generation of guitarists.  Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

New York 

Cyrus Chestnut

– Feb. 21 – 26. (Tues. – Sun.)  Cyrus Chestnut Quartet.  Pianist Chestnut says he likes to “construct melodies that tell stories.”  It’s an admirable, and often too rare, trait for a jazz improviser.  And it’s amply present, whether he’s in the mood for straight ahead jazz, gospel or soul food.  Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.  (212) 258-9800.

Feb. 24 – 26.  (Fri. – Sun.)  Benny Green Trio.  There may be traces of Bud Powell and Oscar Peterson in Benny Green’s approach to the piano, but his irresistible sense of swing and far-ranging melodic imagination are all his own.  He performs here with Peter Washington (Feb. 24 & 26) or Ben Wolfe (Feb. 25), bass and Kenny Washington, drums.  Jazz Standard.   (212) 576-2232.

– Feb. 25. (Sat.)  Dave Liebman, Richie Beirach Duo.  A pair of indefatigable music explorers come together to scour the boundaries of contemporary improvisation.  The results will be both enlightening and entertaining.  Cornelia St. Café.   (212) 989-9319.


– Feb. 24. (Fri.)  POEMJAZZ.  With pianist Laurence Hobgood and poet Robert Pinsky. A fascinating creative meeting between Grammy-winning jazz pianist Hobgood and the poetic melodies and rhythms of Pinsky, the only three-term U.S. Poet Laureate.  Regatta Bar.    (617) 661-5000.


Courtney Pine

– Feb. 23 – 24. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Courtney Pine.  Europa. English multi-instrumentalist Pine, whose honors include an Order of the British Empire (OBE) and a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (COBE), has been bringing a far ranging collection of ideas and sounds to English jazz for the past few decades.  This time out, he’ll feature the bass clarinet driven selections from his latest album, Europa. Ronnie Scott’s.    020 7439 0747.


– Feb. 25. (Sat.)  The Cookers. The name is perfectly chosen for this sturdy collection of take-no-prisoners, hard swinging jazz veterans: Billy Harper, Eddie Henderson, George Cables, Cecil McBee, Victor Lewis, David Weiss, and Craig HandyNew Morning.     01 45 23 51 41.


– Feb. 23 (Thurs.)  Bennie Maupin Quintet.  The influential musical textures of Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, Big Fun, Jack Johnson and more wouldn’t have been the same without the dark, woody sound of Maupin’s bass clarinet.  But he’s a master of other wind instruments as well, always ready to explore new sounds and ideas.  Blue Note Milano.

Picks of the Week: Oct. 24 – 30

October 25, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Goran Bregovic

– Oct. 26. (Wed.)  Goran Bregovic Wedding and Funeral Orchestra.  Sarajevo’s wildly eclectic bandleader Bregovic leads an orchestra that combines Roma gypsy music, a brass band, strings, a male choir, Bulgarian back-up singers and traces of rock into an inimitable evening of mind-bending music.   Disney Hall.   (323) 8502000.

– Oct. 26. (Wed.)  Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, Jack DeJohnette.  Three decades together and Jarrett, Peacock and DeJohnette are still going strong, still bringing stunning improvisational illumination to everything they play.  Firmly established as one of the iconic groups of the post-bop era, they should be heard at every opportunity.  Royce Hall.  UCLA Live.    (310) 825-2101.

– Oct. 26. (Wed.)  The Thom Rotella Quartet. Guitarist Rotella has a resume covering virtually every area of the music world — from performances with the likes of Herbie Hancock, Luciano Pavarotti and Frank Sinatra, to composing for shows such as Sex and the City and China Beach and performances on the sound tracks of The Simpsons,Family Guy and much more.  Here’s a chance to hear him in an up close setting, backed by the Pat Senatore TrioVibrato Jazz Grill…etc.    (310) 474-9400.

– Oct. 26. (Wed.)  Celtic Thunder.  The five dynamic singers of Celtic Thunder are the male version of Celtic Woman, their immense popularity triggered by the blend of powerful solo work, engaging collective ensembles combined with a program of memorable Irish song.  The Greek Theatre.   (323) 665-5857.

– Oct. 26. (Wed.)  Rob Mullins Quartet.  He started out as a drummer, picked up several other instruments along the way during his prodigal career as a young professional, and wound up as a versatile pianist, composer and educator, with multiple accomplishments in all those areas.  This time out, he’s joined by a stellar ensemble: Doug Webb, reeds, Brian Bromberg, bass and Bernie Dresel, drums.  Vitello’s.     (818) 769-0905.

Inga Swearingen

– Oct. 28. (Fri.)  Inga Swearingen. You’ve probably heard Swearingen singing her uniquely personal song interpretations on the Prairie Home Companion. But her imaginative view of jazz still hasn’t received the audience her rare talent deserves.  Here’s a good chance to sample it.  LACMA.    (323) 857-6000.

– Oct. 28. (Fri.)  Apollo’s Fire Baroque Orchestra featuring Phillippe Jaroussky.  “Handel and Vivaldi Fireworks.”  At 33, Jaroussky – a French sopranist countertenor –has firmly established himself as one of the star performers of the Baroque repertoire composed for the extraordinary male soprano voices.  He sings with the highly praised, period instrument ensemble, Apollo’s Fire.  UCLA Live.

– Oct. 28 – 30. (Fri. – Sun.)  Riverdance.  Nearly two decades since it made its first appearance at a Eurovision song contest, the spectacular step dances and enchanting Irish music of Riverdance continue to delight audiences in appearances around the world.  Segerstrom center for the Arts.    (714) 556-2787.

– Oct. 28 – 30. (Fri. – Sun.)  Soka Blueport Jazz Festival.  The first festival at Soka University in Orange County has all the looks of a major jazz event.  The three days of programming are loaded with many of the Southland’s major artists as well as a healthy sampling of players from the East Coast and other parts of the world.  Fri.: The Geoffrey Keezer/Peter Sprague Band; Trio Da Paz starring singer Maucha Adnet.  Sat.: The Bert Turetzsky- Chuck Perrin Dynamic Duo; singer Tierney Sutton with pianist Mike Garson; The Charles McPherson Quintet with Gilbert Castellanos; Trio Da Paz starring clarinetist/saxophonist Anat Cohen. Sun.: The Ron Eschete Trio; The Mike Garson Sextet starring Komel Fekete-Kovac Soka Blueport Jazz Festival, Aliso Viejo.  (949) 480-4278.


– Oct. 29. (Sat.) Tinariwen. The musical collective from Northern Mali has been blending the sounds, the rhythms and the instruments of their Taureg roots with the energy and dynamism of Western rock music for more than a decade.  Luckman Fine Arts Complex.   (323) 343-6600.

– Oct. 29. (Sat.) “We Four: Celebrating Coltrane”  Javon Jackson, tenor saxophone, Mulgrew Miller, piano, Nat Reeves, bass, Jimmy Cobb, drums.  John Coltrane’s music should always be celebrated, of course.  But it’s a very special celebration, indeed, when it’s handled by four players with the credentials to do it full justice.  A Jazz Bakery Movable Feast at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center.

– Oct. 30 (Sun.) Linda Eder with Tom Wopat.  Broadway and cabaret singer Eder joins her scintillating soprano with the rich baritone of actor/singer Wopat.  Valley Performing Arts Center.    (818) 677-3000.

San Francisco

– Oct. 27. (Thurs.)  Mose Allison.  The one and only musical philosopher of the bayou always has a message worth hearing.  Returning to the studio last year for The Way of the World, his first album in a decade, he was good as ever – which is very good indeed. YBCA Forum.  SFJAZZ  Festival.    (866) 920-5299.

– Oct. 28. (Fri.)   Goran Bregovic Wedding and Funeral Orchestra.  See above.  Paramount Theatre.  SFJAZZ Festival. (866) 920-5299.

Oct. 28. (Fri.)  “We Four: Celebrating Coltrane”  Javon Jackson, tenor saxophone, Mulgrew Miller, piano, Nat Reeves, bass, Jimmy Cobb, drums.  See above.  SFJAZZ Festival.  (866) 920-5299.

– Oct. 29. (Sat.) Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, Jack DeJohnette.  See above.  Zellerbach Hall at U.C. Berkley.  (510) 642-9988.


Russell Malone

– Oct. 27 – 30. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Russell Malone Trio.  Guitarist Malone has devoted a good portion of his career to making other performers sound great.  But on his own, he’s even better.  Check him out and you’ll see.   Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

New York

– Oct. 25 – 30.  (Tues. – Sun.)  Jimmy Heath’s 85th birthday celebration.  The veteran saxophonist shares a milestone birthday with a string of celebratory musical encounters.    Featuring Roy Hargrove, Antonio Hart, Steve Davis, Peter Washington, Lewis Nash and many others.  Special guest Bill Cosby appears on Tues. at the early show.  The Blue Note.  (212) 475-8592.

– Oct. 25 – 30. (Tues. – Sun.)  The Wycliffe Gordon Quintet & Friends“Hello Pops!  The Music of Louis Armstrong.”  Trombonist Gordon’s enthusiastic playing style combines with his convincing vocals to create a musically entertaining tribute to Sachmo.  Special guest Anat Cohen (Tues. & Wed.) adds her clarinet delights.  Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.  (212) 259-9800.


– Oct. 27 & 28. (Thurs. & Fri.)  The Bad Plus.  Pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson and drummer David King have been transforming the familiar jazz piano trio into a vehicle for genre-busting musical excitement for more than a decade. Regatta Bar.    (617) 395-7757.


THeo Bleckmann

– Oct. 27. (Thurs.)  Theo Bleckmann“Hello Earth: The Music of Kate Bush.”  A major figure in contemporary avant-garde music, singer/composer Bleckmann has performed with everyone from Laurie Anderson and Anthony Braxton to Meredith Monk and Phillip Glass.  Here he presents selections from his recently released album exploring the songs of eclectic singer/songwriter Kate Bush.  A-Trane.    030 / 313 25 50.


– Oct. 27 – 29. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Ramsey Lewis Electric Band. Multiple Grammy winner Lewis has been leading high visibility trios since the mid-‘50s.  This time out, he revives the electric sounds of his classic, top charting Sun Goddess album of the ‘70s.  Ronnie Scott’s.   020 7439 0747.

Picks of the Week: Oct. 11 – 16

October 11, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

– Oct. 11. (Tues.)  John Pisano’s Guitar Night.  It’s a Los Angeles jazz institution, combining veteran guitarist Pisano with some of the Southland’s (and the world’s) finest guitarists.  This week, he’s trading riffs with Pat Kelley.  Vitello’s.     (818) 769-0905.

– Oct. 11 – 13. (Tues. – Thurs.)  HIT Week.  Italian pop music in its many forms makes a three day stop in L.A.  And there’s a lot to hear.  On Tues. at Catalina Bar & Grill: Erica Mou and Nicola Conte.  Wed. at the El Rey: Apres la Classe and Caparezza.  Thurs. at The Key Club: Casino Royale and SubsonicaHIT Week in L.A. 

Daniela Mercury

– Oct. 13. (Thurs.)  Daniela Mercury.  One of Brazil’s true musical superstars, singer/dancer Mercury balances the creation of memorable hit records with live performances simmering with dynamic excitement. The Greek Theatre.  (323) 665-5857.


– Oct. 13 – 16. (Thurs. – Sat.)  James Carter. There isn’t a saxophone – from soprano to bass – that Carter can’t make music with.  And impressive music at that, ranging from driving bebop to irresistible blues, with all stops between.   Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

– Oct. 14. (Fri.)  Lesa Terry Quartet.  Dr. Lesa Terry is a jazz/classical violinist, educator, composer and scholar.  And when she gets on stage with her quartet, she brings it all together into a fascinating musical mélange.  Jazz at LACMA.   (323) 857-6000.

Barbara Morrison

– Oct. 14 & 15. (Fri. & Sat.)  Barbara Morrison.  Recovering from severe medical problems, Morrison – one of Southland jazz’s crown jewels – does what she does best: bring life and vigor to everything she sings.  She’ll be celebrating Steamer’s 17th anniversary.  Steamer’s.     (714) 871-8800.

– Oct. 15. (Fri.)  Bryan Ferry.  Roxy Music’s Ferry makes his first solo U.S. tour in a decade, celebrating the release of his current studio album, Olympia.  Expect to hear new songs from the album, as well as Ferry’s take on tunes by Tim Buckley and Traffic.  The Greek Theatre.    (323) 665-5857.

– Oct. 15 & 16. (Sat. & Sun.)  The Los Angeles Chamber OrchestraJeffrey Kahane conducts the LACO in an engaging program of music, featuring soprano Karina Gauvin performing works by Benjamin Britten.  The ensemble also plays Dvorak’s Nocturne in B Major and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3.  Sat. at the Alex Theatre.  Sun. at Royce Hall.  (213) 622-7001.  The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.

San Francisco

– Oct. 11 & 12. (Tues. & Wed.)  Stanley Jordan Trio.  No one plays the guitar quite like Jordan, who taps the strings, producing sounds more pianistic than guitar-like.  And he does so with imagination and swing.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.    (415) 655-5600.

Steve Kuhn

– Oct. 13. (Thurs.)  Steve Kuhn.  Solo piano.  The list of names on Kuhn’s resume is a virtual history of the last fifty years of jazz.  Adept and creative in any style, he’s rarely heard in a solo setting.  So don’t miss this opportunity to hear his improvisational artistry in its most intimate form.  Yoshi’s Oakland.    (510) 238-9200.


– Oct. 11 & 12. (Tues. & Wed.)  Oregon.  Before world music was a genre, Oregon was blending elements from around the globe with jazz, producing one of the authentically original improvisational styles of the last four decades.  And they’re still at it.  Jazz Alley.    (206) 441-9729


– Oct. 13 – 16. (Thurs. – Sun.) Robert Glasper Trio.  Pianist Glasper continues to draw young listeners by finding ways to explore straight ahead jazz from a contemporary perspective.  Jazz Showcase.   (312) 360-0234.

Washington, D.C.

– Oct. 13 – 16. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Jonathan Butler.  South African singer/songwriter/guitarist Butler has been delighting audiences with his sweet-sounding voice and energetic guitar work since the mid-‘80s.  Blues Alley.     (202) 337-4141.

New York

Pat Metheny

– Oct. 11 – 16. (Tues. – Sun.)  An Evening with Pat Metheny. Guitarist and musical innovator Metheny gets back to basics in a week of improvisational adventure, with bassist Larry Grenadier as his only companion.  The Blue Note.    (212) 475-8592.

– Oct. 11 – 16. (Tues. – Sun.)  Renee Rosnes.  Always a pleasure to hear, Rosnes’ dynamic piano work is in first rate company here, with the presence of vibist Steve Nelson, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Lewis NashDizzy’s Club Coca Cola.    (212) 258-9800.

– Oct. 13 – 16. (Thurs. – Sun.) Vinicius Cantuaria.  Brazilian guitarist Cantuaria started out as a percussionist, and it shows in the intensely passionate rhythms of his playing style.  The Jazz Standard.    (212) 576-2232.

– Oct. 15. (Sat.)  Joshua Redman and Brad Mehldau Duo.  Saxophonist Redman and pianist Mehldau, two of the true jazz superstars of their generation, celebrate the 25th anniversary of the jazz program at the New School.  Tishman Auditorium.  (212) 229-54-88.


Cedar Walton

– Oct. 11 & 12. (Tues. & Wed.)  The Cedar Walton Quartet. Veteran jazz pianist Walton, now 77, has played with an iconic, all-star list of great jazz artists.  Listen to one set and you’ll understand why he’s been in such demand.   Ronnie Scott’s.    020 7439 0747


– Oct. 11. (Tues.)  The Billy Cobham Quartet. Drummer Cobham was one of the driving forces of jazz fusion, and he’s still going strong.  New Morning.   01 45 23 51 41.


– Oct. 11 & 12. (Tues. & Wed.) Kurt Rosenwinkel’s Time Machine.  Guitarist Rosenwinkel expands his musical horizons with a band that features saxophonist Andrew D’Angelo, bassist Eric Revis, drummer Nasheet Waits and Rosenwinkel doubling on piano.  A-Trane.    030 / 313 25 20.


Oct. 14 – 16. (Fri. – Sun.)  Sophie Milman.  Young Russian/Canadian singer Milman has been successfully finding a prominent place for her intriguing style amid the currently crowded field of female jazz vocalists.  Blue Note Tokyo.    03-5485-0088.

Live Jazz: The 54th Monterey Jazz Festival — Sunday

September 19, 2011

By Michael Katz

Monterey, California.  Sunday at Monterey began with a group of precocious teenagers and ended with an ageless octogenarian, concluding a festival that had highlights from every corner of the musical world.  The Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, MJF’s signature contribution to jazz education, is more than just a group of talented kids gathered from all precincts. Under the leadership of Paul Contos, it has become a first-class band that will challenge your perception of what young players can accomplish.  From their first notes Sunday afternoon at the Arena, it was clear that they had filled the one hole in the Arena’s scheduling: a bona fide large jazz ensemble.

One of the early highlights was a crisp arrangement of Dave Brubeck’s “Here Comes McBride,” an ode to the bassist that kicked off with a round of blues solos, anchored by the band’s own bassist Daryl Johns.  There were terrific soloists in this group, including pianist Chase Morrin, who contributed an award winning composition, “Mumphis,” and trombonist Calvin Barthel, who sat in admirably with the Berkeley Flamenco group Saturday and is headed there on scholarship, as well as trumpeter Tree Palmedo.  Alto saxophonist Patrick Bartley did a stunning turn on Billy Strayhorn’s “Blood Count.” Vocalist Hope Flores wowed the crowd with simmering renditions of “Dancing Cheek To Cheek” and “Gee, Baby, Aren’t I Good to You.”  Then came the alumni. Joshua Redman joined the band for a scintillating chorus on “Softly As In A Morning Sunrise,” surpassing his brilliant performance of the night before. Tenor Donnie McCaslin had a soaring solo as did pianist Bennie Green,  joining the band for Ellington’s “C Jam Blues,” closing the show to a standing ovation from the sun-kissed crowd.

From there I did some skipping around, making sure I didn’t miss my annual dosage of barbecue, cobblers and a cold microbrew. In between I managed to catch the end of an impressive set on the Garden Stage by pianist John Donaldson, featuring alto sax player Shay Salhov.  Walking in on their last two numbers, I wished I’d seen more. And I took in the last portion of a set on the Courtyard Stage with singer/keyboardist Judy Roberts and Greg Fishman on sax, Judy delivering a cool “Senor Blues” and Greg joining for a terrific version of “Four.”

Bruce Forman

The highlight of the mid-afternoon was guitarist Bruce Forman’s Cow Bop, a western tinged quintet that performed with zest and humor. Starting with the tune Sonny Rollins turned into a jazz classic, “I’m An Old Cowhand,” the quintet featured fiddler supreme Phil Salazar, Alex King on bass and Jake Reed on drums. “Pinto Pam” Forman provided western style vocals with pizzazz, adding just the right amount of swing on classics like “Besame Mucho” and Gene Autry’s “Back In The Saddle Again.”  There were some jazz standards like “Slow Boat to China,” where Foreman unloaded his considerable guitar chops, aided by bassist King, and a cha-cha version of “Comes Love.” Stellar western guitarist Rich O’Brien joined the group for Louis Armstrong’s “Sweet Temptation,” bringing the crowd to its feet, trading licks with Forman and Salazar.  There were more fireworks with “El Combanchero,” with Forman mixing in samples from Dizzy’s “Night In Tunisia” and “Bebop.”  Cow Bop finished off the set with their slant on “Get Along Little Doggies,” and the aforementioned “Back In The Saddle.”  The crowd, by this time jammed into every nook and cranny of the Garden Stage, roared their approval.

At 5:30, the Garden Stage crowd was treated to an extended set by emerging tenor sax player Tia Fuller. Fuller, who came out of the Stanford program and tours with pop star Beyonce, was a sight to behold in tight dress and stiletto heels, but she has the chops for straight ahead jazz. I caught about half the set, in which she played mostly songs from her latest recordings. Her band included a terrific young pianist, Shamie Royston.

Benny Green

Once again there was too much going on Sunday to catch everything, but I wasn’t going to miss the Benny Green Trio with Donald Harrison, doing a set of Thelonious Monk’s music at the Night Club. Green’s superb trio consisted of Ben Wolfe on bass and Kenny Washington on drums.  There are so many Monk tunes that it was possible to begin with one the casual listener might be unfamiliar with — the lilting, low-key “Jackie-ing.” Green moved on to the quieter “Reflections,” but the trio really caught fire with one of Monk’s first recorded tunes, “Thelonious.” Green’s dazzling technique on the infectious line was augmented by Wolfe on the bass. Donald Harrison then joined the group, occupying with fiery distinction the sax chair filled in Monk’s time by the likes of John Coltrane and Charlie Rouse. Harrison provided the emphatic melody to “Epistrophy,” with Green deftly adding the counter tempo. They followed with another of Monk’s engaging lines, “Nutty,”  Green and Wolfe reading each other’s minds on piano and bass, while Harrison, seemingly effortlessly, had complete command of his alto.  Lest you take him for granted, Kenny Washington was an exquisite performer, enunciating Monk’s complex rhythms, adding his own measures of dash and accent when called for.

There were too many highlights to mention in this set, but among them were an up tempo version of “52nd Street Theme,” with Benny providing a knockout piano solo, following Harrison’s insistent introduction of the theme. Compelling bass work by Wolfe ensued, then Washington broke loose with his own solo.  If there is one essential Monk tune it is “Round Midnight.” Harrison introduced it with a lovely run through the opening chords, then Green took over for a sensitive exploration of the familiar theme. There were a couple of more swinging numbers, including “Calling The Blues.” “Bye Ya,” was a natural finale, Benny Green contributing a delightful, bouncy solo, with a sprightly contribution by Harrison. The set concluded with the consistent brilliance of Wolfe and a final flourish by Kenny Washington.

Sonny Rollins

And then there was Sonny.  Taking to the spotlight in a flowing red shirt, bent forward as he roamed the stage, Lear-like, Sonny Rollins closed the festival with a performance that was sui generis.  The unmistakable Rollins intonation is still there.  If it has been stilted somewhat by virtue of his eighty-one years, it was hardly noticeable.  For much of the set this was classic Road Show Sonny, with Rollins establishing a theme, repeating it, embellishing it,  stalking  the stage as he explored every facet of a seemingly simple line.  Backed by his longtime stalwarts Bob Crenshaw on bass and Sammy Figueroa on percussion,  and drummer Kobie Watkins, Rollins had the additional support of world class guitarist Peter Bernstein. Bernstein’s rhythms gave the Caribbean numbers a breezy feel, and he was the main supportive soloist when Rollins needed a breather. The material alternated between ballads and island themes, with Rollins speaking only a few times to the audience. “Nice Lady,” which was included in Road Show Vol 1, was a typically bright Caribbean tune, with Figueroa’s congas and Bernstein’s rhythms pushing it along and Sonny wailing away. There was one new tune, “Professor Paul,” the literary connection unexplained, but the tune had enough quirky intelligence that you could get the picture.

Toward the end of the set, the tone shifted to vintage Rollins, the style he established in the heart of his career.  From the opening cadenza, when you could pick out the notes to Irving Berlin’s “They Say It’s Wonderful,” this was Sonny at his best, exploring the melody of a standard, challenging it with every nuance of his horn’s tonal depth,  moving in and out of the chorus,  placing his own emblem on the song.  It could have been the perfect ending to a show that had already gone well over an hour, but Sonny had much more in reserve. He went back into Caribbean mode and now the entire arena was up on its feet, swaying back and forth.  Sonny carried forth, trading solos with guitarist Bernstein, backed by Figueroa, Watkins and Crenshaw. Fifteen minutes later you got the feeling the audience was exhausted from dancing, but Sonny played on. A gentleman of a certain age standing behind me remarked, “I didn’t have that much energy when I was 21.”

Finally, Sonny put the horn down and addressed the crowd. “We’ll see you next time,” said the man who had had performed at the first Monterey Jazz Festival. “Long live Monterey!”

Amen to that.

To read Michael Katz’s review of Monterey Jazz Festival Friday click HERE.

To read Michael Katz’s review of Monterey Jazz Festival Saturday click HERE.

Picks of the Week: May 24 – 29

May 24, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Gene Harris

– May 24. (Tues.)  A Tribute to Gene Harris.  This is as close as live music gets to the irresistible sounds of the late Gene Harris’   Quartet.  Pianist Bradley Young takes the lead role, backed by a trio of alumni from the original Harris ensemble – Luther Hughes, bass, Paul Kreibich, drums, Frank Potenza, guitar.  Charlie O’s.   (818) 994-3058.

– May 24 – 29. (Tues. – Sun.)  The Royal Danish Ballet. With a history dating back to 1748, the company has longevity and maturity on it side, whether performing classics or new works.  Program I (Tues. & Wed.) features new works by Nordic choreographers.  Program II (Fri. – Sun.) presents a new production of August Bournonville’s classic Napooli.  Segerstrom Center for the Arts.    (714) 556-2787.

– May 25. (Wed.) Bob Sheppard Quartet.  Everyone’s first-call jazz saxophonist steps in the leader’s spotlight for once, backed by the solid playing of  John Beasley, piano, Darek Oles, bass, Steve Hass, drums.  Vitello’s.    (818) 769-0905.

– May 25. (Wed.)  Lisa Hilton. Pianist Hilton’s lyrical, highly personal style has been described by Down Beat magazine as “A deeply expressive style of coaxing sounds from keys.”  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

– May 26. (Thurs.)  Nicholas Payton“Happy 85th Birthday Miles Davis”  Expect to hear some of the great classics of contemporary jazz when trumpeter Peyton celebrates what would have been Miles’ 85th birthday.  A Jazz Bakery Movable Feast at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center.    (310) 271-9039.

Anna Mjoll

– May 27. (Fri.)  Anna Mjoll.  Iceland’s gift to contemporary jazz vocalizing brings her unique style to songs that reach easily across the jazz boundaries.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

– May 27. (Fri.) Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience.  Drummer Bonham leads a dedicated tribute band in a powerful evening of Led Zeppelin songs, accompanied by atmospheric video and light shows.  The Greek Theatre.    (877) 686-5366.

– May 28. (Sat.) War and Tower of Power.  They’re back.  Two of the definitive crossover rockbands of the seventies make their annual Summer appearance at the Greek Theatre. (877) 686-5366.

San Francisco

– May 26. (Thurs.)  Laurie Antonioli.  Singer Antonioli is a rare talent, too rarely seen beyond the Bay area.  She’ll hopefully do material from her recent album, American DreamsFreight & Salvage Coffeehouse, Berkley.   (510) 644-2020.

Rickie Lee Jones

– May 27. (Fri.)  Rickie Lee Jones. Veteran singer/songwriter Jones, a compelling performer for more than three decades, will revisit songs from her debut album, 1979’s Rickie Lee Jones and 1982’s Pirates.  An SFJAZZ Spring Season event at Davis Symphony Hall.   (866) 920-5299.

– May 27 – 29. (Fri. – Sun.)  Hiroshima.  Genre boundaries mean nothing to the versatile members of Hiroshima, who have been blending Asian, Latin and jazz elements for more than three decades.  Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

– May 28. (Sat.) Tony Bennett. Still going strong at 84, Bennett’s every performance is a definitive display of how to bring jazz-tinged life to the Great American Songbook.  An SFJAZZ Spring Season event at Davis Symphony Hall.   (866) 920-5299.


– May 24 & 25. (Tues. & Wed.)  Bucky Pizzarelli Trio. The master of the seven string guitar continues, at 85, to provide some object lessons in jazz guitar to younger generations of players (and listeners).   Jazz Alley.   (206) 441-9729.


– May 26 – 29. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Miguel Zenon Quartet. Alto saxophonists, one of the most original saxophone voices of his generation, has already had his impressive skills acknowledged with a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant.  Jazz Showcase.    (312) 360-0234.

 New York

Stanley Clarke

– May 24 – 29. (Tues. – Sun.)  Stanley Clarke.  A bass players’ bassist and musicians’ musician, Clarke, who recently celebrated his 60th birthday brings creative enlightenment to everything he plays.  The Blue Note.    (212) 475-8592.

– May 26 – 29. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Cedar Walton, Javon Jackson, Peter Washington, Lewis Nash.  The list of names tells you all you need to know – that this will be an all-star evening of prime jazz.  Iridium.    (212) 582-2121.

Washington D.C.

– May 26. (Thurs.)  Roseanna Vitro.  Always adventurous, jazz singer Vitro’s latest album, is a creatively convincing exploration of the songs of Randy Newman.  Blues Alley.    (202) 337-4141.


– May 27 & 28. (Fri. & Sat.)  Tania Maria.  Ronnie Scott’s. Veteran Brazilian singer/pianist Tania Maria authentically blends Brazilian rhythms with urban blues and pop, hip-hop and funk.  Ronnie Scott’s.  020 7439 0747.


– May 27. (Fri.) Ron Carter Trio.  The iconic acoustic bassist Carter performs with his superb Golden Striker trio – guitarist Bobby Broom and pianist Mulgrew Miller.   Blue Note Milano.    02 69 01 68 88.


Gretchen Parlato

– May 25. (Wed.)  Gretchen Parlato. One of the most imaginative of the new generation of young singers performs material from her new CD, The Lost and Found. New Morning.

Nagoya, Japan

– May 23. (Mon.)  Cheryl Bentyne.  Taking a break from her Manhattan Transfer chores, singer Bentyne displays her far-reaching jazz vocal skills.  Blue Note Nagoya.    052-961-6311.  To read a recent iRoM review of Cheryl Bentyne click HERE.

Rickie Lee Jones and Stanley Clarke photos by Tony Gieske.


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