CD Review: Helen Sung “Anthem For A New Day” (Concord Jazz Records)

January 15, 2014

By Devon Wendell

Pianist and composer Helen Sung has quickly established herself as a jazz veteran over the past decade, performing and recording with icons such as; Clark Terry, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, T.S. Monk, Lonnie Plaxico, and Terri Lyne Carrington to name a few.

She is one of the most consistently brilliant recording artists in jazz today. And her sixth and latest release, Anthem For A New Day, scheduled for release on January 28th,  is her hardest swinging album to date. The album is also produced by Sung.

Helen Sung

Sung wastes no time, kick starting the album with her hard-bop tribute to Thelonious Monk entitled “Brother Thelonious.” The horn section of Ingrid Jensen on trumpet and Seamus Blake on tenor sax has a Kenny Dorham and Hank Mobley at the earliest stages of The Jazz Messengers feel to it. Sung’s solo proves that she has a clear understanding of Monk’s harmonic complexities and knows how to incorporate them into her own virtuosic style.

Paquito D’Rivera’s melodic clarinet soloing dances around Sung’s polyrhythmic textured piano playing on her adventurous arrangement of Chick Corea’s “Armando’s Rhumba.”

Another guest is Regina Carter who offers some tasteful and thematic violin lines to Sung’s “Hidden.” Ingrid Jensen’s trumpet truly shines on this piece, as does Sung’s elegant phrasing on Fender Rhodes electric piano.

One of the most impressive elements of this album is how clean the rhythm section (Reuben Rogers, bass, Obed Calvaire, drums, and Samuel Torres on percussion) was recorded. No effects, compressors, or reverb were added to the drums and upright bass, which is refreshing in a time when many traditional and contemporary jazz recordings are destroyed by overly adventurous producers and engineers.

There’s a wonderfully pure tone to this album as a whole. Sung’s reading of Duke Ellington and Irving Mills’ swing anthem “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” is an album highlight. Sung uses her own chordal voicings, and her improvisations blend bop-styled pedal tones with classical elements in a completely natural way.

Sung’s originals — “Hope Springs Eternally” and the album’s title track – dip into a more late ‘60s fusion- jazz groove with a hint of third stream. John Ellis provides colorful bass clarinet shadings atop Sung’s funky staccato Fender Rhodes arpeggios on the album’s title track.

Sung’s rendition of Jay Livingston and Ray Evans’ “Never Let Me Go” is the perfect vehicle for the piano trio format. Obed Calvaire’s drums are subtle and melodic and Reuben Rogers’ bass solo is dynamic and mournful.

“Chaos Theory” brings to mind early Weather Report with fast changing meters, and piercing alto-sax runs by Seamus Blake. This composition shows off Sung and her band’s tight chemistry and creative fearlessness.

In order to truly capture the spirit of Thelonious Monk, a musician must bring forth what makes them truly unique when covering one of the High Priest’s compositions. And Sung and company achieve this on an utterly funky, gospel take of “Epistrophy.” The energy of the band is ecstatic. There’s lots of love for Monk here.

The album closes with a beautifully haunting solo piano cover of the great Stanley Cowell’s “Equipose.”

What stands out most on Anthem For A New Day is not only Sung’s fluid and imaginative piano playing but her awe-inspiring talent as a truly unique composer and arranger. Her music is adventurous, personal, and a powerful force to be reckoned with in the jazz world.

* * * * * * * *

To read more posts, reviews and columns by Devon Wendell click HERE.


Live Jazz: Charles Lloyd and Bill Frisell in a CAP UCLA concert at Royce Hall

November 19, 2013

By Don Heckman

Charles Lloyd made one of his rare Southland appearances Saturday night a Royce Hall in a CAP UCLA (Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA) concert. And, as often happens with the iconic jazz saxophonist and flutist, one couldn’t help but wish that Lloyd would leave his Santa Barbara home for more frequent local appearances.

Every Lloyd concert is unique. And this one, with special guests Bill Frisell  and Greg Leisz, was a striking display of contemporary jazz improvisation at its finest.

Barely a word was spoken from the stage during the entire 90 minute set (followed by a generous encore of several songs). Instead, Lloyd, with guitarist Frisell, bassist Reuben Rogers, drummer Eric Harland and steel guitarist Leisz simply moved smoothly from one piece into another. Some were based on familiar source material – including at one point an unlikely passage from “Abide with Me” to “Red River Valley,” no doubt inspired by Frisell’s America interests. Other selections tapped into everything from Lloyd originals to traditional tunes and pieces by Gabor Szbo and Leonard Bernstein’s “Somewhere” (from West Story).

Charles Lloyd

Charles Lloyd

Lloyd is a fascinating performer to watch. Slender and lithe, his movements were intimately related to the flow of the music, whether he was playing or not. When he dug into an especially mobile improvisational passage of his own, he became more involved with the music, lifting one leg after the other in his own unique dance moves.

Since the mid-sixties and the unexpected success of his live performance of “Forest Flower” Lloyd’s career has embraced everything from avant-garde jazz to some intriguing episodes with the Beach Boys. Over the course of the past four or five decades, he has firmly established himself as one of the most musically independent jazz artists of his generation. And, in this memorable performance, his inventive playing offered convincing evidence of his still vital, still imaginative skills.

Bill Frisell

Bill Frisell

But the performance offered more, its numerous fascinations triggered primarily by the continuing interaction between Lloyd and Frisell, supported the sturdy rhythm work of Rogers and Harland, as well as the dark, roving steel guitar work of Leisz. At the heart of it all, each of the players tailored their individual musical explorations to a non-stop musical journey shared by everyone, on stage and in the audience.  The results illuminated the essence of collective jazz improvising at its finest.

And it was Frisell who – in a conversation with the UCLA Daily Bruin – best described the essence of the interplay between the musicians:

“On stage with (Lloyd),” said Frisell, “there is no competition. There are no worries, no mistakes, no rights or wrongs….When you’ve been playing your whole life, you don’t need to talk about (music) in that way. I feel at home when I’m on stage with Charles Lloyd.”

By the end of the Lloyd quintet’s performance, it’s a fair bet to say that most members of the responsive Royce Hall audience also felt very much “at home” with every note played by Lloyd and his gifted musical associates.


Picks of the Week: Jan. 2 – 6

January 2, 2013

By the iRoM Staff

It’s a light schedule of activities as the Christmas and New Year celebrations wind down.  But there’s still a lot of fine music to hear. 

Los Angeles

Louie Cruz Beltran

Louie Cruz Beltran

- Jan. 3. (Thurs.)  Louie Cruz Beltran.  Louie Cruz is one of the Southland’s busiest musicians.  And with good cause.  This time he balances his charismatic drumming with a vocal survey of everything from pop tunes to Latin specials.  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Jan. 3. (Thurs.) Rayford Griffin and “Reflections of Brownie.” Drummer Griffin, the nephew of Clifford Brown celebrates the memorable music of his great, trumpet-playing uncle.   Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

Shoshana Bush

Shoshana Bush

- Jan. 3. (Thurs.)  Shoshana Bush.  At a time when female jazz singers are arriving almost daily, here’s one whose warm voice and convincing style deserve up-close attention.  Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Jan. 4 – 6. (Fri. – Sun.)  The Los Angeles Philharmonic plays TchaikovksyChristoph Eschenbach conducts Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4.  as well as the U.S. premiere of Tan Dun’s The Tears of Nature, co-commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  Disney Hall.    (323) 850-2000.

Bobby Caldwell

Bobby Caldwell

- Jan. 4 – 6. (Fri. – Sun.)  Bobby Caldwell.  Seventies and eighties hit maker Caldwell (“What You Won’t Do For Love,” among others) continues to be an always-engaging performer.  Expect to hear more of his hits, as well. Catalina Bar & Grill.   (323) 466-2210.

- Jan. 5. (Sat.)  Jeff Babko Group.  Keyboardist Babko’s busy career reaches from James Taylor to the Jimmy Kimmel show.  But he’s most fascinating to hear when he’s working on his own music, this time with bassist Tim Lefevbre and drummer Gene CoyeBlue Whale.    (213) 620-0908.

New York

- Jan. 2 – 5. (Wed. – Sat.)  Frank Wess Quintet91st Birthday Celebration.  NEA Jazz Master Wess, a tenor saxophonist and pioneering jazz flutist, celebrates his 91st in his usual briskly swinging fashion.  Birdland.    (212) 581-3080.

Chris Botti

Chris Botti

- Jan. 2 – 6. (Wed. – Sun.)  Chris Botti.  Trumpeter Botti, whose musical energies seem to have no limits, wraps up his three week – two performances a day — marathon run at the The blue Note.    (212) 475-8592.

- Jan. 2 – 6. (Wed. – Sun.)  John Abercrombie Quartet.  Always in search of new jazz adventures, guitarist Abercrombie teams up with the inventive playing of Seamus Blake, tenor saxophone, Gary Versace, organ and Adam Nussbaum, drums.  The Jazz Standard.   (212) 447-7733.

Tokyo

Charles Lloyd

Charles Lloyd

- Jan. 3 – 6. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Charles Lloyd New Quartet.  Iconic tenor saxophonist/flutist Lloyd has found a compelling musical environment in his association with pianist Jason Moran, bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Eric HarlandBlue Note Tokyo.    03-5485-0088.

Shoshana Bush photo by Annette Lanzarotta and Talia Londoner.


Live Jazz: The 54th Monterey Jazz Festival — Friday Night

September 17, 2011

By Michael Katz

Monterey, California.  The weather was chilly and overcast for the opening of the 54th Monterey Jazz Festival Friday night, but it did nothing to dampen the spirits of jazz fans who were treated to a superb series of performances. There was anticipation in the air from the opening chords, as Featured Performer Robert Glasper, because of a scheduling quirk, took over the 6:30 slot at the outdoor Garden Stage. Usually this set has in informal feel, as old friends gather and schmooze, while a young local talent performs. But Glasper and his trio of bassist Derrick Hodge and drummer Chris Dave had the crowd at rapt attention.

Robert Glasper

Glasper is an engaging talent. When he plays on the acoustic piano, his style is impressionistic, with a sometimes dense chordal structure, building themes dramatically, filling them in with scintillating runs. Playing his own compositions, “No Worries” and “North Portland,” he had the crowd on the edge of their seats. He was ably assisted by bassist Hodge, but especially by drummer Dave, who was something of a revelation. Dave has a crisp, emphatic, rapid fire delivery. His physique and intensity reminded me a little of former NBA star Alan Iverson.

When Glasper switches to the Fender Rhodes, his style turns funky.  He did another extended original, with a nod to Herbie Hancock’s “Butterfly,” and later ended up with a Monkish tune that again highlighted Chris Dave’s stickwork.  Glasper has two more performances scheduled with his Experiment version of the band, which will feature Lionel Loueke and vocalist Bilal.  In addition to his playing, he has a sense of humor and a stage presence – you could see him hosting Saturday Night Live.

As usual MJF has so much happening at once that you are forced to make choices.  Hiromi was opening the Arena stage at 8:30, but I didn’t want to miss young pianist Helen Sung, so I ducked into the Coffee House Gallery for her 8 o’clock set. When you haven’t seen a performer before and note that her trio consists of Marvin “Smitty” Smith on drums and Reuben Rogers on bass, it’s a good bet you’re in for a treat.

Helen Sung

Sung more than lived up to my hopes, performing the type of trio music that invites comparisons to Bill Evans, Chick Corea and George Shearing. She has a deft touch on the keyboard and a soft, bright style. She opened with a reimagining of Shearing’s “Conception,” which she called “Reconception.” She moved on to an original composition, “Touch,” which was more dense and mysterious, then segued into Monk’s “Bye Ya.” Sung studied at the Monk Institute of Jazz Performance and the next few numbers were a nod to that experience, most notably “In Walked Bud.” The interplay between these three suberb players was exquisite, but I’d draw special attention to the duet work between Sung and bassist Rogers. Rogers is lithe and melodic, and the two of them interlocked themes magically during the last two numbers. You could see many in the intimate Coffee House Gallery had dropped in for a peek prior to the Arena’s opening – a few were drifting off, but I wasn’t going anywhere until “In Walked Bud” reached its rousing conclusion.

Hiromi

When I walked into Hiromi’s performance about midway through her set, the stylistic differences couldn’t have been more apparent. She was standing in front of the piano, which had an electric keyboard on top of it, alternating between the two, trading licks with electric bassist Anthony Jackson. The drummer, Simon Phillips, was barely visible behind a massive drum set that featured six cymbals. But it was clear the audience was fully behind her.  If Sung was perfect for the Coffee House, Hiromi’s trio was equally so for an opening set at the Arena.  She has complete command of the piano – even her more reflective pieces are projected with an emphatic tone, and her arpeggios, visually dramatic, all seem to make perfect sense musically. She moves seamlessly from the funky, bluesy tunes to the more personally intense, even incorporating a Latin feel to her closing number.

I’ve seen the criticism of Hiromi’s playing, that she seems to have absorbed every aspect of jazz and fires it back out in a sort of random way, but I don’t buy it. I’ve seen her twice in live performance, once as a solo act and this time with her trio, and each time she has utterly captivated the audience. Yes, she has the pyrotechnics, but practically everything she does is original, there are no standards for the audience to hang their hats on, yet they are with her for every note. She didn’t speak much to the audience, but her virtuosity and flair didn’t require much in the way of interpretation.

Jessica Molasky and John Pizzarelli

John Pizzerelli’s First Family of Cool followed, and it spoke to the diversity in styles that can be absorbed by the Monterey audience.  If you were lamenting the absence of wit and sophistication on the American scene in general and music in particular, you couldn’t have had a more delightful respite.  The opening numbers featured John and his wife, Jessica Molaskey,  weaving together pairs of songs, the lyrics intersecting wonderfully.  First there was Irving Berlin’s “The Best Things Happen While You Dance,” paired with Bobby Troup’s “Nice Girls Don’t Stay For Breakfast,” then George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and the Roberta Flack hit “Killing Me Softly.”  Then Molaskey singing “I Want To Be Happy” with Pizzerelli dropping in the lines from “Sometimes I’m Happy.” Larry Fuller did terrific work on the piano, particularly when they moved into Ellingtonia later on in the show with a brooding version of “Don’t Get Around Much Any More”/”East Saint Louis Toodle-oo.”  Martin Pizzerelli on bass and Anthony Tedesco rounded out the tight rhythm section and they all shined on a rollicking “C Jam Blues.”

The emotional and artistic highlight of the night came when Bucky Pizzerelli, John and Martin’s dad, came onstage for a series of guitar duets with John. From Bucky’s first few notes, he had the crowd captivated. Playing mostly lead to John’s rhythm,  he introduced “Body and Soul,” demonstrating the emotive qualities that can still be wrung out of that standard. They romped through “Tangerine” and then returned to the Ellington songbook in closing for “In a Mellow Tone.” If there was a common theme for the evening, it was how a great performer, no matter the age or the style, can take command of an audience.  There is certainly a sentimental quality to father and son up there on stage, but what raises it to a memorable performance is when you’ve got the chops,  and Bucky still has them.

Poncho Sanchez

Pancho Sanchez’s Latin Band closed the show with a tribute to the Cubano oeuvre of Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo.  Sanchez is a terrific conguero and his eight piece band is filled with talent, particularly Francisco Torres on trombone and the whole rhythm section, but it was the addition of trumpeter Terence Blanchard that really lit the place up.  Blanchard had been honored the night before in the MJF Gala event, and he was in splendid form, beginning with a medley of Gillespiana, highlighting “Tin Tin Deo,” “Manteca,” and  “Wachiwado,” which Pancho performed countless times with Cal Tjader as “Soul Sauce.”  Sanchez,  who had earlier left the conga chair for vocals and cowbell,  was back on the drums for the remainder of the set. They moved on to “Con Alma,” with Blanchard augmenting the sweet familiar melody with a nice uptempo interlude before returning to the theme. The highlights of the set were the next two numbers, Dizzy’s “Groovin’ High” and the Pancho standard, “Besame Mama.” Blanchard’s fiery playing raised the level of everyone around him, especially the band’s front line. Robert Hardt contributed a spirited tenor sax solo, but it was the trumpet duels between Blanchard and Ron Blake that really stole the show.  Blanchard set the tone,  sending out spiraling cadenzas and Blake reached deep inside of himself to answer, bringing the crowd to its feet.

All in all it was a spectacular night, and of course there were was much else going on – it was overall the most loaded Friday night I can remember in my 12 festivals.  MJF 54 is certainly off to an auspicious start.

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

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


Picks of the Week: Jan. Feb. 1 – Feb. 6

February 1, 2011

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Feb. 1. (Tues.)  Jules Day.  The rising young jazz singer performs an evening of new, original music from her latest CD, Day DreamsCatalina Bar & Grill. (323) 466-2210.

- Feb. 2. (Wed.)  Teka and Aaron Serfaty.  “Brazilian Jazz.” Guitarist/singer Teka and percussionist Serfaty team up with pianist Otmar Ruiz and bassist Dave Robaire to illuminate the amiable connections between jazz and Brazilian music.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Feb. 3. (Thurs.)  Tom Peterson/Alan Ferber Quartet. Saxophonist Peterson and trombonist Ferber, veterans of the recordinging studios with sounds and styles all their own, take center stage with the sterling backing of pianist Tom Ranier, drummer Kevin Kanner and bassist Pat SenatoreVibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

Sally Kellerman

- Feb. 3. (Thurs.)  Sally Kellerman. The one and only Hot Lips returns to the musical stage.  What new mysteries will be revealed?  Only long, tall Sally knows.  But you can bet they’ll be entertaining.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Feb. 3. (Thurs.)  Ron Eschete Trio.  One of the rare jazz masters of the 7-string guitar, Eschete displays his remarkable skills in the company of bassist Todd Johnson and drummer Kendall KaySteamers (714) 871-8800.

- Feb. 3. (Thurs.) Paul Kreibich’s “Salute To Gene Harris” Drummer Kreibich, a veteran musical companion of the great pianist, in an evening of engaging, briskly swinging Harris reminiscences.  With pianist Bradley Young, guitarist Frank Potenza and bassist Luther Hughes LAX Jazz Club at the Crown Plaza LAX.  (310) 258-1333.

- Feb. 3 – 5. (Thurs. – Sat.)  George Herms: “The Artist’s Life.” The Bobby Bradford Mo’tet, the Theo Saunders Group and the voice of Diana Briscoll come together for the world premiere of a free-jazz opera by one of the founders of the California school of assemblage sculpture.  Plan to experience a spontaneous extravaganza of sights and sounds.  REDCAT.  (310) 237-2800.

- Feb. 3 – 6. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Kenny Garrett Quintet. Grammy award-winning alto saxophonist Garrett has a resume reaching from Duke Ellington to Miles Davis.  This time out, he offers his envelope-stretching sounds at the front of  his own quintet.   Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

- Feb. 4. (Fri.)  The Ethnic Heritage Ensemble. The E.H.E. has been celebrating the confluence of African roots and American jazz from a Chicago perspective for more than three decades.  The group’s current installment features percussionist and founder Kahil El’Zabar, trumpeter Corey Wilkes and saxophonist Ernest Khabeer Dawkins.  They perform for a Jazz Bakery Movable Feast at the Musicians Institute Concert Hall.  (310) 271-9039.

Randy Weston

- Feb. 5. (Sat..) Randy Weston. The sounds that issue from Weston’s piano playing find the essential common ground between African music and jazz by way of Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk and Weston himself.  A Friends of Jazz concert at  Fowler Museum,  UCLA.   (310)  206-3269.

- Feb. 5. (Sat.)  Shawn Colvin and Loudon Wainwright III. A pair of veteran singer/songwriters, each with a fascinating history, tell their irresistible musical tales of whimsy and woe.  CSUN Performing Arts.   (818) 677-8800.

- Feb. 5. (Sat.)  Michael Feinstein. The multiple platinum selling, five-time Grammy nominate singer/pianist/pop historian performs selections from his 2008 album, The Sinatra Project. Disney Hall.  (323) 850-2000.

- Feb. 5. (Sat.) Christian Howes Quartet.  “There’s nobody better than this guy,” said the iconic guitarist Les Paul, while praising jazz violinist Howes’ impressive blend of classical technique with a soaring improvisational imagination.  He’s backed by the equally fine support of Donald Vega, piano, Lyman Medeiros, bass, Bob Leatherbarrow, drums.  Christian Howes performs at Pierre’s Fine Pianos.  (310) 473-0600.

Billy Childs

- Feb. 5. (Sat.)  Billy Childs Chamber Jazz Ensemble with the Sonus String Quartet.  Grammy nominee Childs assembles the full company of his current jazz perspective, linking his atmospheric piano and sterling jazz ensemble with the rich timbres of the Sonus string players.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

San Francisco

- Feb. 2 – 5. (Wed. – Sat.)  The Tony Williams Lifetime Tribute BandJack Bruce, bass and vocals, Vernon Reid, guitar, John Medeski, keyboards/organ and Cindy Blackman, drums get together once again to revive the extraordinary fusion sounds of the Lifetime.  Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

Shawn Colvin

- Feb. 3 & 4. (Thurs. & Fri.)  Shawn Colvin. Two decades after she arrived on the scene from South Dakota, Grammy-winning, platinum-selling songer-songwriter Colvin still has gripping musical stories to tell. Yoshi’s San Francisco. (415) 655-5600.

New York

- Feb. 1. (Tues.) Jean-Michel Pilc, Francois Moutin and Ari Hoenig.  A trio of international players – Pilc and Moutin from France, Hoenig from Philadelphia – demonstrate the irresistible global reach of jazz.  55 Bar.  (212) 929-9883.

- Feb. 1 – 5. (Tues. – Sat.) Saxophone Summit: Joe Lovano, Dave Liebman and Ravi Coltrane. “Summit” is the right word to describe this assemblage of world class tenor and soprano saxophonists.  Don’t miss this one.  Birdland.   (212) 581-3080

- Feb 1 – 6. (Tues. – Sun.)  Aaron Goldberg Quartet.  Pianist Goldberg’s superb quartet – Mark Turner, saxophone, Reuben Rogers, bass and Eric Harland, drums display live versions of selections from his latest album, Home.Village Vanguard (212) 255-4037.

- Feb. 3 – 6. (Thurs. – Sun.)  George Coleman Quintet.  Still going strong at 75, tenor saxophonist Coleman works out his muscular tenor saxophone sounds in the company of Larry Goldings, Hammond B-3, Peter Bernstein, guitar, George Coleman, Jr., drums and Daniel Sadownick, bass.  The Jazz Standard.   (212) 576-2232.

Sally Kellerman, Billy Childs and Randy Weston photos by Tony Gieske.


Jazz Review: The Charles Lloyd Quartet at a Jazz Bakery Movable Feast

September 26, 2010

By Tony Gieske

Charles Lloyd was mesmerizing  everybody in a Jazz Bakery Movable Feast at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center Saturday night, and the place was full. The former Howlin’ Wolf sideman is an expert at this, nor was he in the least hampered by his own sidemen.

On the contrary, young star Jason Moran was first among equals in the latter bunch, and his piano playing was refreshingly Rachmaninoffian. His intuitive powers had plenty to do, because equal Reuben Rogers was playing bass and equal Eric Harland was behind the drum kit, and they were all equally spiritual.

Intuition was the watchword of the night. The sidemen targeted each other and the leader, and the leader targeted God.

Not that Lloyd always hit the target. But almost always.

That sound of his: a whisper with bones. He played the main notes only after draping them fore and aft with delicious little curlicues, like smoke from a thurible.

He was all sweetness and light, in the European vernacular.  Everything was the opposite of rock, with no remnant of his work with the Beach Boys. But he can play a part nobly no matter where he happens to land.

“Monk’s Mood,” with its miniaturized concerto format, came out as a long curve; “Beyond Darkness” showcased his flute powers. Late in the program, “Forest Flower” was as moving as ever. All of them surely came straight from a 72-year-old heart.

That heart lifted “Come Sunday” to a place in many other hearts present, underscored by the work of the fresh-faced  young disciples: Moran from the piano, Rogers from his bass, and Harland at the drums.

Photos by Tony Gieske.  To read and see more of Tony’s essays and photos at his personal web site click HERE.


Picks of the Week: Sept. 20 – 26

September 21, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Sept. 21. (Tues.)  Further. Featuring Phil Lesh and Bob Weir. The music of the Grateful dead still lives, as Lesh and Weir, with an all star band take the classics “further” out.  The Greek Theatre.   (323) 665-3125.

- Sept. 21. (Tues.) John Pisano’s Guitar Night. Pisano teams up for an evening of duets with the guitarist Frank Sinatra loved — Ron Anthony. Bassist John Belzaguy keeps the rhythm together.  Vitello’s (818) 769-0905.

- Sept. 22. (Wed.)  Sally Kellerman.  “Hot Lips” returns with another display of Kellerman’s entertaining way with a song.  Andy Langham’s piano and arrangements provide the backing.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Sept. 23. (Thurs.) Denise Donatelli.  Her enchanting voice and intuitive way with a song are rapidly elevating Donatelli to the highest levels in the crowded field of female jazz vocalists.   Charlie O’s.   (818) 994-3058.

Debbie Reynolds

- Sept. 23 – Oct. 3. (Starting Thurs.)  Debbie ReynoldsAlive & Fabulous. The title tells it all.  MGM’s hottest musical property from the ‘50s still knows how to light up a stage. The El Portal Theatre, North Hollywood.   (818) 508-4200.

- Sept. 24. (Fri.)  Kristin Korb.  Versatile bassist/singer Korb supports her new CD, In the Meantime with a free performance and two bands: Llew Mathews and Steve Barnes in the first set; Bruce Forman and Aaron Serfaty in the second.  LACMA.  (323) 857-6000.

- Sept. 24. (Fri.) Phil  Ranelin and Tribe Renaissance.  Trombonist Ranelin and his players apply their own unique mainstream sound and style to a musically stimulating encounter with the veteran trumpeter Marcus BelgraveThe Culver Club at the Radisson.   (310) 649-1776 ext. 4137.

- Sept. 24. (Fri.)  Willie Nelson & Family. The one and only Willie performs selections from his latest CD, Country Music. Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses open the show.  The Greek Theatre.   (323) 665-3125.

- Sept. 24. (Fri.)  Doug Webb.  One of the Southland’s most popular go-to saxophonists, Webb explores the nocturnal selections on his latest CD, MidnightVibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

- Sept. 24. (Fri.)  Babatunde Lea Quintet.  With Patrice Rushen, Ernie Watts, Gary Brown and Dwight Trible.  African, Cuban,, Caribbean and South American rhythms are blended into an irresistibly appealing jazz feast by Lea’s world class ensemble. Holy Nativity Episcopal Church, Westchester.  (310) 670-4777.

Dave Liebman

- Sept. 24 & 25. (Fri. & Sat.)  Dave Liebman. Saxophonist – and 2011 Recipient of the NEA Masters of Jazz Award – brings his New York Quartet, with guitarist Vic Juris, bassist Marko Marcinko and bassist Tony Marino to a rare Southland club engagement.  Don’t miss this one.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

- Sept. 24 & 25. (Fri. & Sat.)  BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet.  They’ve been performing traditional creole, cajun and zydeco music since the mid’’70s, and they’re still utterly compelling.  On Friday at McCabe’s. (310) 828-4497.  On Sat. in a free concert with Big Chief Monk Boudreaux & the Mardi Gras Indians. at Orange County Great Park.  (949) 854-4646.

- Sept. 25. (Sat.) Sound of Music Singalong. It’s the ultimate singalong, complete with a giant screen to keep everyone on the same beat in the same scene.  There’ll be a pre-show parade for audience members courageous enough to wear costumes.The Hollywood Bowl. (323) 850-2000.

Charles Lloyd

- Sept. 25. (Sat.) Charles Lloyd. Saxophonist/flutist Lloyd, one of the true – if sometimes under-appreciated – originals to emerge from the post-Coltrane era, performs selections from his new CD, Mirror, with the world class backing of pianist Jason Moran, bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Eric Harland.   Jazz Bakery Movable Feast.  Nate Holden Performing Arts Center.   (310) 271-9039.

- Sept. 25. (Sat.)  Kris Kristofferson.  A solo acoustic show from the Grammy-winning Kristofferson, one of the stellar talents of the singer/songwriter era .  Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.  http://www.cerritoscenter.com (562) 918-8501.  Also Sept. 26. (Sun.) at the Civic Arts Plaza in Thousand Oaks.   (805) 449-2700.

- Sept. 25. (Sat.)  Symphonic Jazz Orch.  A far too-rare performance by the 67 person SJO, performing jazz, Brazilian music, soul music, classical music and a few world premieres.  With guest stars George Duke, Luciana Souza and Raul Midon. Conducted by Mitch Glickman.  Host for the evening is comedian Tommy DavidsonRoyce Hall. (310) 876-8130.

- Sept. 25. (Sat.)  Fiesta Mexicana VIIISones, Bailes y Cantares. A colorful evening celebrating the rich folkloric music and dance of Mexico.  Among the groups performing – Tamborazo Pancho Villa and Trio Jacaranda.   Ford Amphitheatre.  (323) 461-3673.

- Sept. 26. (Sun.)  Red Holloway and Plas JohnsonBubba Jackson hosts.  KJAZZ Sunday Champagne Brunch. The Twist Restaurant in the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel. h

- Sept. 26. (Sun.)  17th Annual Brazilian Summer Festival. The spirit of Brazil has been vividly alive in these Summer Festival events for nearly two decades.  And Sunday night will be no exception, with a spectacular performance by the 23-member percussion and dance ensemble Olodum, the group that created samba reggae.  Opening the performance, Brasilidade Samba and Pagode show combine body-moving pagode and samba rhythms with a coterie of stunning Brazilian dancers.  Ford Amphitheater.   (323) 461-3673.

San Francisco

George Wein

- Sept. 20 & 21. (Mon. & Tues.)  George Wein and the Newport All-StarsAn Evening of Conversation and Jazz. The inventor of the outdoor jazz festival displays his chops as a pianist and as an entertaining, anecdote-filled conversationalist. Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

- Sept. 21. (Tues.) Fred Hersch and Nancy King.  Pianist Hersch and singer King, A pair of he jazz world’s most consistently inventive, musically adventurous artists, find common musical ground.  Yoshi’s Oakland.  (510) 238-9200.

- Sept. 22 & 23. (Wed. & Thurs.)  The Charles Lloyd New Quartet.  Saxophonist/flutist Lloyd, one of the true – if sometimes under-appreciated – originals to emerge from the post-Coltrane era, performs selections from his new CD, Mirror, with the world class backing of pianist Jason Moran, bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Eric Harland. Yoshi’s Oakland. (510) 238-9200.

- Sept. 23 – 26. (Thurs. – Sun.)  The McCoy Tyner All-Stars. “All-Stars” is precisely the right title, with Roy Hargrove, trumpet, John Patitucci, bass and Willie Jones III, drums on stage with the ever-stellar Tyner.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655-5600.

Geri Allen

- Sept. 24 – 26. (Fri. – Sun.)  Fri. – Sun.)  Geri Allen: Tribute to Eric Dolphy. Allen has assembled the right collection of players for a long overdue tribute to one of jazz’s most remarkable innovators — Oliver Lake, alto sax, Don Byron, bass clarinet, Dwayne Dolphin, bass and Jeff “Tain” Watts, drums.  Yoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

New York

- Sept. 21 – 25. (Tues. – Sat. )  “Coltrane Revisited’ Joe Lovano, Steve Kuhn, Lonnie Plaxico and Andrew Cyrille.  Combine Lovano’s affection for Coltrane with Kuhn’s remembrances of having worked with Coltrane, add the solid bass and drum work of Plaxico and Cyrille, and expect a musically energizing evening.  Birdland. (212) 581-3080.

- Sept. 21 – 26. (Tues. – Sun.)  Ravi Coltrane Quartet. He comes from noble lineage, but the most intriguing aspect of Coltrane’s saxophone work is the way he has shaped it into a style which is uniquely, creatively his own.  Village Vanguard.  (212) 255-4037.

Sept. 23 – 26. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Taylor Eigsti Trio with singer Becca Stevens.  A former child jazz prodigy, now impressively in his mid-‘20s, Eigsti displays his versatility with his own group, with singer Stevens and with special guests Julian Lage, guitar (Thurs.), singer Gretchen Parlato and pianist Gerald Clayton (Sun.).  Jazz Standard.   (212) 576-2232.

- Sept. 24. (Fri.)  Mike Melvoin Trio.  L.A.’s master jazz pianists hits the Big Apple with his favorite New York rhythm team, bassist Jay Leonhart and drummer Bill GoodwinKitano.   (212) 885-7119.


Picks of the Week: April 19 – 25

April 19, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Pat Metheny

- April 19. (Mon.)  Pat Metheny.  The ever-adventurous, all-star guitarist has put together a computerized, remote control ensemble that allows him to play all the instruments in his band. The Orchestrion TourDisney Hall.   (323) 850-2000.

- April 19. (Mon.) Larry GoldingsOrgan Night.  The B-3 rules on Monday nights at Vitellos, and Goldings is the guy who takes it to the limit..  Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

- April 19. (Mon.)  The Ed Vodicka Big Band. Multi musical hyphenate Vodicka takes a night off from composing, arranging, conducting and producing to lead his own big jazz band.  Vocal chores will be handled by the versatile cabaret jazz singer, Marlene VerPlanck Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

- April 20. (Tues.)  Strunz and Farah. The guitar duo were among the first artists to fit into the emerging world music genre, via the musical encounters between Costa Rican Strunz and Iranian Farah.  Vibrato.   (310) 474-9400.

- April 20.  (Tues.)  RATT. The Southland’s own hard rock, glam metal band is back again, ready to release a new CD, Infestation, and a new video.  The Key Club.  (310) 274-5800.

- April 21. (Wed.)  Suezenne Fordham Jazz Trio.  Veteran pianist/composer Fordham continues to find creative potential in the 3rd Stream concept, blending classical and jazz into a unique musical entity.  Glendale Noon Concerts.  First Baptist Church of Glendale.   (818) 242-2113.

Regina Carter

- April 22.  (Thurs.)Monterey Jazz Festival On Tour.  The MJF’s own all-star jazz band – Kenny Barron, Regina Carter, Kurt Elling, Russell Malone, Johnathan Blake and Kiyoshi Kitagawa – display some of  the world class musicality that’s always present every September in Monterey.  UCLA Live. Royce Hall.    (310) 825-2101.   Also April 24 at Orange County Performing Arts Center .  (714) 556-2787.

- April 22. (Thurs.) Ana Moura. Portugal’s young, gifted fado singer has been bringing passionate, new perspective to the classic song form.  Skirball Center. g (310) 440-4500.

- April 22. (Thurs.)  Lizzy Williams Band.  The multi-talented singer/songwriter/actress performs with virtuoso guitarist David Williams, drummer Laura Bilobeau, bassist Chief and iRoM’s very own Devon “Doc” Wendell on harmonica.  The Green Room Lounge at the Viper Room.  (310) 358-1881.

- April 22 – 24. (Thurs. – Sat.)  Dick Gregory. Still one of the world’s great humorists, Gregory has an unerring eye and ear for detecting cant, pretentiousness, hubris and arrogance in public figures, nailing them with a sardonic phrase or an imaginative story. Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

- April 23 & 24. (Fri. & Sat.)  World premiere of Dice Thrown, a contemporary opera composed by John King using aleatoric techniques pioneered by John Cage.  Musical direction by Marc LowensteinCalArts Walt Disney Modular Theatre.

- April 24. (Sat.)  Ron King. The versatile trumpeter, a mainstay with almost every big band in town, takes a break to display his chops as a fine jazz soloists.  Backing him — the John Heard TrioCharlie O’s. (919) 994-3058.

Benny Golson

- April 24. (Sat.)  Benny Golson. Tenor saxophonist Golson has composed some memorable jazz standards.  But he’s an equally convincing an improviser with a personal sound and an adventurous imagination.  Jazz Bakery Moveable Feast.  Grammy Museum Sound Stage.   (310) 271-9039.  He’s also at Anthology in San Diego on Friday (see below).

- April. 24. (Sat.)  Christine Ebersole. Tony Award-winning Broadway musical star Ebersole has had an equally stellar career in film, television and cabaret.  She brings all that, and more, to her far-ranging collection of songs and stories.   CSUN Performing Arts Center.  (818) 677-1200.

- April 25. (Sun.)  Sing! Sing! Sing! Remembering Jerome Kern. Judy Wolman’s entertaining Sunday singalong celebrates the richly diverse songbook by the legendary composer of Show Boat – and much, much more. The Victorian Mansion.  Sing! Sing! Sing! (310) 990-2405.

- April 25. (Sun.)  Shelly Berg – Greg Abate Quartet. Pianist Berg takes time off from his teaching and administrative duties at the University of Miami to get together with saxophonist Abate, bassist Darek Oles and drummer Peter Erskine in the intimate setting of a home in the Hollywood Hills.   A-Frame Jazz. (310) 659-9169.  By reservation only.

Gail Pettis

- April 25. (Sun.)  Gail Pettis.  An impressive new jazz singer from out of the Northwest is drawing a lot of attention.  And there’s no better place to hear her special way with a song than at the KJAZZ Sunday Champagne Brunch hosted by the inimitable Bubba Jackson at Twist Restaurant in the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel.  (562) 985-2999.

San Diego

- April 23. (Fri.) Benny Golson.  The day before his gig in the Jazz Bakery’s Moveable Feast series, Golson brings his muscular tenor saxophone and memorable song book to Anthology in San Diego.   (619) 595-0300.

- April 24. (Sat.)  Ronnie Laws.  Smooth jazz comes alive with soul whenever Laws picks up his horn.  No wonder he’s had a long string of Top 40 albums and and singles.  Anthology San Diego.  (619) 595-0300.

San Francisco

James Moody

- April 22 – 25. (Thurs. – Sun.)  In the Mood For Moody: A Tribute to James Moody.  Moody’s been recovering from health problems and won’t be able to make this stellar tribute.  But there’ll be plenty of all stars to fill in the gaps: including Frank Wess, Joey DeFrancesco, Nnenna Freelon, Randy Brecker, Jon Faddis and others.  Yoshi’s Oakland.  (510) 238-9200.

- April 25. (Sun.)  Charles Lloyd New QuartetTale of a Cloud.  Lloyd always surrounds himself with extraordinary players, and his New Quartet is no exception, eoyj Jason Moran, piano, Reuben Rogers, bass and Eric Harland, drums.  SFJAZZ at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre.  (866) 920-5299.

New York

-April 20 – 21. (Tues. & Wed.) Rudresh Mahanthappa and Bunky Green. A pair of alto saxophonists from different generations and different styles get together.  Expect to see and hear musical sparks.  Jazz Standard.   (212) 576-2232.

Geri Allen

- April 20 – 25. (Tues. – Sun.)  The Geri Allen Quartet.  The superb, and too little acknowledged pianist challenges her skills by leading a quartet overflowing with talent and imagination: Ravi Coltrane, saxophones, Joe Sanders, bass, Jeff “Tain” Watts, drumsVillage Vanguard.   (212) 255-4037.

April 20 – 25. (Tues. – Sun.) Michel Camilo Trio.  With Charles Flores, bass, Cliff Almond, drums.  The Blue Note.  Pianist Camilo has released eighteen recordings, garnering a Grammy Award, two Latin Grammy Awards, two Grammy nominations and an Emmy Award.  He obviously should be heard at every opportunity.  The Blue Note.   (212) 475-0049.

- April 20 25. (Tues. – Sun.) George Coleman Quintet.  Veteran saxophonist Coleman leads a group that positions him in the front line with the fast-fingered young saxophonist Eric Alexander and the crisp, articulate piano work of Harold Mabern. Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.  (212) 258-9595.


Picks of the Week: Dec. 14 – 20

December 14, 2009

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

- Dec. 14. (Mon.) Larry Goldings and Anthony Wilson. The launch of Organ Night at Vitello’s and it’s hard to think of a pair of players who could do it better. Red Carpet Jazz Serries. Upstairs at Vitellos. (818) 769-0905.

Andy Williams

- Dec. 14 – 16. . (Mon. – Wed.) An Andy Williams Christmas It doesn’t exactly harken back to “Father Knows Best,” but it comes close. Still, sentimentality comes into its own during the holidays, and Williams has always done it well. The Cerritos Center. (562) 916-8501.

- Dece. 15. (Tues.) Pete Christlieb’s Small and Tall Band Christileb (Tall) and his wife, trombonist Linda (Small) are at it again with their swinging little band. Spazio. (818) 728-8400.

- Dec. 16. (Wed.) Inner Voices. Julie Delgado, soprano; Sheri Izzard, tenor; Michael Mishaw, baritone; Morgan Ames, alto/arranger and Shelby Flint, soprano bring their exquisite harmonies and extraordinary vocal skills to an irresistible collection of Christmas classics. Red Carpet Jazz Serries. Upstairs at Vitellos. (818) 769-0905.

- Dec. 17. (Thurs.) Dewey Erney and the Ron Eschete Trio. Veteran vocalist Ernie teams up with the superb backing of Eschete to survey some of the classics from the American Songbook. Crown Plaza Brasserie Lounge. (310) 642-7500.

- Dec, 17, (Thurs.) Denise Donatelli. The warm voice and atmospheric stylings of Donatelli place her in the top group of singers who should be heard at every opportunity. Red Carpet Jazz Serries. Upstairs at Vitellos. (818) 769-0905.

Mike Stern

- Dec.. 17 – 20. (Thurs. – Sun.) Mike Stern Quartet. w. Dave Weckl, Randy Brecker and Tom Kennedy. A quartet of players who skim easily from imaginative mainstream to hard grooving blues and funk. Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

- Dec. 18. (Fri.) The Cunninghams. The veteran duo, with Don on vocals, vibes and percussion and Alicia on vocals keep alive the Jackie and Roy tradition of engaging, bop-tinged vocal stylings.. The Culver Club in the Radisson Hotel Los Angeles Westside. (310) 649-1776.

- Dec. 18 & 19. (Fri. & Sat.) Ozomatli. The classic L.A. band, blending jazz, salsa, funk, reggae and hip hop into a brew that could only have come from the Southland’s simmering cultural melting pot. Club Nokia.

Renee Olstead

- Dec. 19. (Sat.) “The Nutcracker Swings: A Cool Jazz Christmas.” A benefit concert for the Pasadena Jazz Institute featuring the Pasadena Jazz Orchestra, Red Whige & Bluezz All Stars, Sacred Nation Gospel Choir, the P.J. Junior Super Stars, with special appearances by Victor Vener, Sylvia St. James, James Torme and Renee Olstead. The Pasadena Convention Center. (213) 765-7000

- Dec. 19. (Sat.) Bobbi Page & Dream Street. With an instrumentation that includes cello, violin, bassoon, guitar, bass percussion and the lush vocal sounds of Bobbi Paige Dream Street produces an irresistibly romantic blend of acoustic sounds. Red Carpet Jazz Serries. Upstairs at Vitellos. (818) 769-0905.

- Dec. 19. (Sat.) Mike Melvoin Trio. Pianist Melvoin’s playing never fails to be intriguing, but it always seems to peak when he’s in the company of regular companions Tony Dumas on bass and Ralph Penland on drums. Don’t miss this opportunity. Spazio. (818) 728-8400.

- Dec. 20. (Sun.) John Campbell/Pat Senatore Duo. Pianist Campbell and bassist Senatore, a pair of versatile players, experienced with every imaginative style, come together to produce their own uniquely appealing sounds. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

San Francisco

Charlie Hunter

- Dec. 15 – `17 (Tues. – Thurs.) and 18 – 20. (Fri. – Sun.) Charlie Hunter. Guitarist Hunter leads his quintet in his “10th Anniversary Home For The Holidays” program. Singer/songwriter/guitarist Doug Wamble joins him at the San Franicsco dates. Yoshi’s San Francisco. (415) 655-5600. Tues. – Thurs. Yoshi’s Oakland. (510) 238-9200. Fri. – Sun.)

- Dec. 16 – 17. (Wed. – Thurs.) Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra and the Pacific Boys Choir. Bassist Shelby backs the talented young singers of the Grammuy-winning PBC in an engaging program of holiday music. Yoshi’s Oakland. (510) 238-9200

New York

Roy Haynes

- Dec. 15 – 19. (Tues. – Sat.) Roy Haynes “Fountain of Youth” Band. Given his ever vital drumming, Haynes undoubtedly knows more about the Fountain of Youth than most people. Go hear him demonstrate it in person. Birdland. (212) 581-3080.

- Dec. 15 – 20. (Tues. – Sun.) The Cedar Walton Trio. For decades one of jazz’s A-list pianists, Walton is always a pleasure to hear when he’s on his own, working his way through his intriguing compositions. He appears with David Williams, bass and Willie Jones III, drums. Village Vanguard. (212) 255-4037.

- Dec. 15 – 20. (Tues. – Sun.) The Music of Lucky Thompson. The sound of the star-crossed saxophonist – still one of the bop era’s under-appreciated icons – performed by Eric Reed, piano, Victor Goines, tenor saxophone, Reuben Rogers, bass, Rodney Green, drums. Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. (212) 258-9800.

Chris Botti

- Dec. 15 – Jan. 3. Chris Botti. Trumpeter Botti’s playing deservedly draws a crowd. But this time out he’s setting remarkable new attendance records, with a three week, seven-days-a-week residency, including Christmas and New Year’s Eve. If you can still find a ticket, grab it. The Blue Note. (212) 475-8592

- Dec. 17 – 20. (Thurs. – Sun.) Steve Wilson Ensemble. Always opened to new conceptual ideas, altoist Wilson ‘s “The Zawinul Project” explores the far-reaching compositions of the late, great keyboardist. With Jeremy Pelt, trumpet, Danny Grissett, piano, Ugonna Okegwo, bass, Lewis Nash, drums. The Jazz Standard. (212) 447-7733.

Minneapolis

- Dec. 19 & 20. (Sat. & Sun.) The Peterson Family . Three generations of the Peterson clan – whose members have performed with everyone from Prince and Bob Dylan to Dave Sanborn, Donny Osmond and Anita Baker (to name only a few). They celebrate their 22nd year of holiday performances as a family, led by the piano of eighty-something matriarch Jeanne Arland Peterson. The Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant. Minneapolis. (612) 332-5299.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 209 other followers