Picks of the Weekend: December 13 – 15

December 12, 2013

By Don Heckman

 Los Angeles

Mike Stern

Mike Stern

– Dec. 13 – 15. (Fri. – Sun.) Mike Stern Quartet. Guitarist Stern moves convincingly across jazz styles with ease. And he’s backed by a band – featuring Randy Brecker, Anthony Jackson and Dave Weckl – that is equally versatile – and swinging. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

– Dec. 13 – 15. (Fri. – Sun) “Christmas with Gustavo.” The Los Angeles Philharmonic plays the Nutcracker Suite (complete), under the celebratory baton of Musical Director Gustavo Dudamel. Disney Hall.  (323) 850-2000.

– Dec. 13. (Fri.) Don Menza Quartet. Saxophonist Menza is high on the list of first call players, regardless of style. This time out, she steps into his own musical spotlight. Vibrato. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

– Dec. 13. (Fri.) The Oak Ridge Boys. Christmas Time’s A Comin’” with the iconic country group presenting their own warm and fuzzy Christmas celebration. Valley Performing Arts Center (818) 677-8800

April Williams

April Williams

– Dec. 15. (Sun.) The Ron Jones Influence Jazz Orchestra and April Williams. “It’s A Big Band Holiday.” Christmas music in a big jazz band setting, with Ron Jones 21 piece big band, featuring holiday classics sung by tuneful April Williams. Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

San Francisco

Sheila E.

Sheila E.

– Dec. 13 & 14. (Fri. & Sat.) Sheila E. Birthday Celebration. Singer/percussionist Sheila Escovedo is a compelling performer who is as musically gripping as she is entertaining. Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655-5600.


– Dec. 13 – 15. (Fri. – Sun.) The Fred Hersch Trio. Pianist Hersch’s playing recalls the engaging aspects of the jazz piano trio style that reaches back to Bill Evans. The Jazz Showcase. (312) 360-0234.

 New York City


– Dec. 13 – 15. (Fri. – Sun) Fourplay. With Bob James, keyboards, Chuck Loeb, guitar, Harvey Mason, drums, Nathan East, bass, Fourplay continues to maintain its well-deserved reputation as a world class contemporary jazz ensemble. The Blue Note. (212) 475-8592.


– Dec. 15. (Sun.) Love & Peace. The Music of Horace Parlan. Bop piano stylist Parlan has had medical problems intruding on his playing in recent years. But his music is being keep alive in Copenhagen by the American/Danish ensemble of Bob Rockwell, tenor saxophone and Doug Raney, guitar, from the U.S. and Jesper Lundgaard, bass, Henrik Gunde, piano and Aage Tanggaard, drums, from Denmark. Jazzhus Montmartre. +45 31 72 34 94.


Roberta Flack

Roberta Flack

– Dec. 14 & 15. (Sat. & Sun.) Roberta Flack. Singer/songwriter Flack may be in her mature years, but she’s still singing with the vitality of a gifted young artist. Hopefully she’ll include “Killing Me Softly” and ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” in her program. The Blue Note Tokyo.+81 3-5485-0088.

Record Rack: Lyn Stanley, Lisa Engelken

December 11, 2013

Of West Coast Girls

By Brian Arsenault

The Left Coast is not taken seriously enough by the New York centric jazz “world” as a producer of any jazz, but maybe particularly female jazz singers. Of course, Queen Bentyne is based there now but she’s late of Manhattan Transfer so the East Coast still claims her.

So here come two very different talents to turn our eyes and ears to the West. You know, LA, San Francisco. The places that mostly stay warm but are oh so cool.

 Lyn Stanley

Lost in Romance (A.T. Music)

Only a few tracks are required for the listener to be Lost in Romance with Lyn Stanley. I was there by “The Nearness of You.” By then, she has warmed the room with a series of classics from Irving Berlin, Johnny Mercer, Hoagy Carmichael.

The room is in a small club. Perhaps near the desert. Dim lighting. Bogie and Bacall unobtrusive in the back of the room. Dietrich’s set over, she stays to listen.

The room has a piano that accompanies her so well whenever Tamir Hendelman or Mike Lang sit in. Tenor sax (Bob Sheppard), trombone (Bob McChesney), flugelhorn (Gilbert Castellanos, also on trumpet) in the backing group which plays every note to complement her. Every single note.

And those notes are all full and rounded, almost never sharp and stinging. Perhaps vinyl was required for the richness throughout. I’d like to think so. (two 180 gram 45 rpm albums which I first tried to play as 33s. Slowwwwwwwww. Also available in CDs and downloads for the unromantic.)

The striking blond former ballroom dancer opens and closes the album with songs entwined with dance.

First: “Change Partners,” where she lingers over each note, each moment, seeking her chance.

Last, naturally: “The Last Dance,” where the partner has been found and the evening is regrettably ending but “keep holding me tight.”

In between, the bartender leans in to listen as she asks for “One More for My Baby.” Each word, each inflection so important as “You Go to My Head.”

Her phrasing is close, intimate, personal. Not like Sinatra’s phrasing but with Ol’ Blue Eyes’ requirement that you listen to the story, that you feel it might be sung directly to you.

I don’t think her talents are best suited for Willie Dixon’s “I Just Want to Make Love to You” but she shines on George Harrison’s “Something” which Sinatra called the only really good love song in eons.

On “Fever”, the warmth becomes heat. Peggy Lee may have been the first white girl singer so openly sexual but Lyn Stanley takes it a bit sultrier, plays with it a bit. A touch of how Marilyn would have sung it. Finger snaps as percussion.

Another strength of vinyl; each time you get to flip the album or put on the second disc (may I say record), you’ll be pleased there’s another side. You’ll wish you were at that imaginary club that night. But go ahead, careful not to smudge the grooves, put on the album and soon you will be.

Lisa Engelken

little warrior (CD Baby)

If Lyn Stanley is the epitome of classic romance and the classic American songbook, Lisa Engelken is the postmodernist purveyor of pain and alienation.

. . . for there must be a god to exist such a godless man. . .”

If Lyn Stanley rounds each note and lingers for its full effect, Lisa Engelken frequently blows through lyrics with staccato phrasing. Everything at times is a single chopped note since she must move on and not linger.

send me keys

send me jets

send me trains . . .

and don’t forget instructions as to what to do with your remains”

Don’t get me wrong. Lisa’s range of emotions, as well as octaves, is extensive. The album includes the reflective “little warrior” title song and Chick Corea’s gently rolling “sea journey.”

But pain is near at all times. It’s integral to her art.

blue valentines” is Tom Wait via Billie Holiday (can’t beat that for melancholy) through Lisa. The band gets it. Bill Cantos’ piano chords keep a somber pace. Sam Bevan’s bass descends with her voice. Sadness keeps a grip impervious to whiskey.

She moves with Joni Mitchell’s “cold blue steel & sweet fire” to some very personal hell vision of “. . . vicious gnawing in the veins. . .” This seven minutes, a dark trip, is orchestral, at times symphonic — Lisa says she wants to sing it with the San Francisco Symphony — but some of the musicians may have hooves and tails, maybe even horns.

Even in the supposedly upbeat “viva la felicita,” an alleged ode to happiness, the chorus in Italian is “eh poi, eh poi?” what else, what else is there? Can’t get more post modernist than that. Like an Italo Calvino short story.

For this album to end on the sweetness of “All I Do Is Dream of You” is either ironic or an inside joke. This is a singer pushing some boundaries and a long way from romance. But we know the World needs more than one vision.

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To read more posts, reviews and columns by Brian Arsenault click HERE.

Record Rack: Cheryl Bentyne & Mark Winkler, Ry Cooder

September 19, 2013

 Of What Amazes and What Might Have Been

By Brian Arsenault

Cheryl Bentyne & Mark Winkler

West Coast Cool (Summit Records)

The only thing that disappoints me about West Coast Cool is that I’ll never hear it for the first time again. Jump in any place. One of them will be singing great. Or both of them. In counterpoint and in harmony. No blemishes.

Drop in on “Something Cool” for example where Cheryl Bentyne may bring chills. No Broadway climax dramatic song packs the emotional punch felt here.

Or start at the beginning– “Take5/Drinks on the Patio”– where she teams with Mark Winkler on alternating verses to create one song of two, one image of two, one aesthetic for a pair. This happens elsewhere.

A personal favorite, “Talk of the Town/Girl Talk,” is where I realized how truly great they are together. Cheryl’s hurt purity and crystallized phrasing on “Talk of the Town”; Winkler the smoothest sound this side of “the Velvet Fog” with a tone all his own on “Girl Talk.“ Then they get together. Just so very cool.

This tribute to West Coast Cool Jazz raises the genre while celebrating it. It is also really something more; an extension and a rounding of the American songbook. These songs should be sung on every coast and from sea to shining sea.

The album is also proof that the notion that jazz is so cerebral and sophisticated that it’s not for everybody is foolish and trite. Jazz came from the same place as blues and r&b and at its core it is people’s music.

Out for the night music. This is music to be savored. With a drink. Over dinner. On the dance floor. Just listening.

The “cool” of the West Coast sound is apparent but much more important is the depth of feeling, the constant touch of humanity, and the simple deep pleasure of music done at the highest level.

There are many fine female jazz singers on the scene right now but, hey, there has to be a Queen — Queen Cheryl. There are not so many top notch male jazz singers right now but there is an even rarer bird called Winkler. He’s just so good.

At the end of the album there’s a bonus track to give you a taste of the live show. But everything before that is also filled with snap, immediacy, spontaneity. Just a great album.

Ry Cooder and Corridos Famosos

Live At The Great American Music Hall in San Francisco  (Nonesuch Records)

The only thing that disappoints me about Ry Cooder Live At The Great American Music Hall is that it doesn’t turn out to be as great an album as its beginning suggests it will be.

I mean I’m just dying through the first couple songs — “Crazy ‘Bout an Automobile” and “Why Don’t You Try Me” — thinking great brass band, great backing chorus. Like nothing else since Cocker and Leon hated each other enough to create the great Mad Dogs and Englishmen.

Cooder showing what a fine guitarist he is, especially if you like it melodic/musical. And who doesn’t?

Then comes “Boomer’s Story” and a little “Band” sneaks in and I go “That’s ok, nice change of pace.” From there, though, there’s this long slow exhale like the air seeping from a balloon.

Oh, there’s some really fine stuff ahead. If Flaco Jimenez’ accordion on Woody Guthrie’s “Do Re Mi” doesn’t make you smile you should have someone check your pulse.

The soul and soulfulness of Terry Andrews and Arnold McCuller on “The Dark Side of the Street” bring down the house. It’s Rytime on guitar solo and in harmony with the accordion.

By now, though, I’m not sure the concert and hence the album have a focus. We’re jumping all over the place from the streets of Mexico to the boxcars of Woody Guthrie without a unifying voice. It isn’t a merging of disparate forms into something new; it’s an amalgamation or, more to the point, a scattering.

Is this the new Americana? I mean ”Wooly Bully”? It never was much except a dirty little ditty at the sex humor level of 12 year old boys. Why bother? And how did the murderous Jesse James ever get to heaven. He rode with Quantrill for heaven’s sake.

Goodnight Irene” where we all know the chorus but not a lot of the lyrics — morphine is in there, apparently — is a sweet sendoff at the end of the album. Again that Ry guitar — he and Willie have a similar touch — is as fine as it gets.

Yet the goodnight is bittersweet for me because the album never gets back to the drive, the energy, the collective delight of so many musicians playing so well together, of those first two songs. But we’ll always have those two tracks.

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To read more posts, reviews and columns by Brian Arsenault click HERE.

Picks of the Week: Sept. 10 – 15

September 10, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

George Gershwin

George Gershwin

– Sept. 10 (Tues.) Rachmaninoff and Gershwin. “Romantic Favorites.” The Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Miguel Harth-Bedoya with piano soloist Daniil Trifonov, performs a program of richly colorful, early 20th century music. Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

– Sept. 11. (Wed.) George Benson Inspiration Tour. A Tribute To Nat “King” Cole. Guitarist/singer Benson brings convincing life to the Cole song book. Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

– Sept. 12 & 13. (Thurs. & Fri.) Joey DeFrancesco. Jazz organist DeFrancesco is joined by guitarist Steve Cotter and drummer Ramon Banda in a definitive display of jazz organ trio music. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

Roberta Gambarini

Roberta Gambarini

– Sept. 12 – 14. (Thurs. – Sat.) Roberta Gambarini.   Italian-born Gambarini continues to assert her musical aulthenticity as one of contemporary jazz’s finest vocalists. She’s joined by special guest, Kenny Burrell. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

– Sept. 13 & 14. (Fri. & Sat.) Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express. One of the most appealing pop/rock, jazz-influenced bands of the late ’60s, the Oblivion Express, in keyboardist Auger’s hands, still continues to produce exciting music. The Baked Potato.  (818) 980-1615.

– Sep. 13 – 15. (Fri. – Sun.) Fireworks Finale: Earth, Wind & Fire with Thomas Wilkins and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. It’s an attractive line-up of talent, enhanced by the usual spectacular fireworks, bringing the 2013 season to a pyrotechnic closure. Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

– Sept. 14. (Sat.) Tom Peterson Quartet. Saxophonist/woodwind player Peterson, one of Minnesota’s many gifts to jazz, balances first rate playing with a busy career as a producer, educator, clinician and more. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. r (310) 474-9400.

Cheryl Bentyne and Mark Winkler

Cheryl Bentyne and Mark Winkler

– Sept. 15. (Sun.) Cheryl Bentyne and Mark Winkler. The Manhattan Transfer’s Bentyne teams up with jazz vocalist Winkler to celebrate the CD Release party for their new album, West Coast Cool. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

– Sept. 15. (Sun.) John Proulx. Pianist/vocalist Proulx continues to display a warmly interpretive vocal style, backed by the solid support of his swinging piano work. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

– Sept. 15. (Sun.) Julie Esposito. She’s an attorney/jazz singer, one of the more unlikely hyphenates in the L.A. music scene. And, somehow, Esposito handles both her skill sets with authority and complete authenticity. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

San Francisco

Randy Brecker

Randy Brecker

– Sept. 12. (Thurs.) The United Trumpet Summit. The title is exactly right, given the presence in the U.T.S. of a stellar line-up of world class trumpeters, including Randy Brecker, Dr. Eddie Henderson, Jeremy Pelt and Leon Jordan, Jr. Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655.5600.

Portland, Oregon

– Sept. 12. (Thurs.) Jacqui Naylor. She’s one of the contemporary jazz vocal world’s most versatile artists, moving easily from straight ahead jazz to folk rock and adult alternative genres. Hear her in action. Jimmy Mak’s.  (503) 295-6542.


Nellie McCay

Nellie McCay

– Sept. 10 & 11. (Tues. & Wed.) Nellie McKay. Singer/actress/humorist MacKay balances a sardonic sense of humor with stunning musicality and an easy comfort with genres reaching from jazz to rap, funk and beyond. Jazz Alley.  (206) 441-9729.

New York City

– Sept. 10 & 11. (Tues. & Wed.) Dave Liebman Expansions Quintet. Always eager to explore new musical territory, saxophonist Liebman leads an adventurous new ensemble. Birdland. (212) 581-3080.

– Sept. 13 – 15. (Fri. – Sun.) Staney Jordan Trio. Guitarist Jordan’s unique, tapping style of playing has created virtual one-man-band sounds. But this time out he expands his possibilities in a trio setting. Iridium (212) 582-2121.

Washington D.C.

Gary Burton

Gary Burton

– Sept. 12 & 13. (Thurs. & Fri.) The New Gary Burton Quartet.70th Bday Tour.Vibist Burton, one of his instrument’s most gifted practitioners, celebrates his 70th birthday in the company of Julian Lage, guitar, Scott Colley, bass and Antonio Sanchez, drums. Blues Alley (202) 337-4141.


– Sept. 10 – 12. (Tues. – Thurs.) Jose Feliciano. Guitarist Feliciano has been a uniquely appealing singer/guitarist since his ’60s hit version of “Light My Fire.” And, at 67, he’s still going strong. Ronnie Scott’s. +44 (0) 7439 0747.


– Sept. 11. (Wed.) Big One – The European Pink Floyd Show “Biglietto Cumulativo.“ The music of the English art rock band of the ’60s continues to appeal to audiences around the world. Blue Note Milano. +39 02 6901 6888. 


Chick Corea

Chick Corea

– Sept. 10 & 11. (Tues. & Wed.) Chick Corea and The Vigil. The iconic keyboardist/composer has once again organized a new collective to express his ever-curious, creative musical adventures. The Vigil includes the gifted, youthful Tim Garland, Carlitos Del Puerto, Marcus Gilmore, Charles Altura and Luisito Quintero. Blue Note Tokyo. 03-5485-0088. 

Picks of the Week: August 21 – 25

August 21, 2013

By Don Heckman

It’s a short week of Picks, largely impacted by the end-of-Summer distractions and the frequent August closure of jazz clubs around the world. But there’s still a lot of music happening.

 Los Angeles

– Aug. 21 (Wed.) Buddy Guy and the Funky Meters. The veteran blues great matches classic riffs with the latest installment of the Meters. Read Michael Katz’s iRoM review here tomorrow. Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

– Aug. 22. (Thurs.) “Magnificent Mendelssohn.” Nicholas McGegan conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic in an evening devoted to the music of Mendelssohn with violinist Ray Chen performing the Violin Concerto. Read my iRoM review here on Friday. Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

– Aug. 22. (Thurs.) The John Pisano Quartet. Guitarist Pisano takes a break from his Guitar Night performances to get together with guitarist Jim Fox, drummer Enzo Todesco and bassist Pat Senatore, his old bandmate from the Tijuana Brass. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474.9400.

– Aug. 23 & 24. (Fri. & Sat.) Marilyn Maye. Singer Maye, who has moved smoothly from cabaret to pop music, has been a busy performing artist since she was in her mid-teens. And she’s still going strong. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

– Aug. 24. (Sat.) The Billy Childs Trio. Vitello’s. Pianist/composer Childs takes a break from his busy schedule to perform in the appealing format of a piano jazz trio, with bassist Jimmy Johnson and drummer Gary Novak. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

– Aug. 24. (Sat.) The Memphis Music Fest. It’s an evening of blues, soul and r&b in its many intriguing formats. With Booker T. Jones, the Bar-Kays, William Bell, Eddie Floyd and Jean Knight. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.  (562) 916-8501.

San Francisco

– Aug. 23 & 24. (Fri. & Sat.) Gary Bartz, Nicholas Payton, Kevin Toney perform selections from the Donald Byrd acoustic and electric sessions. Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655-5600.


– Aug. 23 – 25. (Fri. – Sun.) Ira Sullivan Quartet. Multi-instrumentalist Sullivan is one of the rare jazz artists to perform convincingly on brass and woodwind instruments. Here’s a rare opportunity to hear him in action. Jazz Showcase. (312) 360-0234.

New York City

– Aug. 21 – 25. (Wed. – Sun.) Roy Hargrove Big Band with special guest Roberta Gambarini. This is an evening not to be missed – trumpeter Hargrove’s swinging big band providing the perfect setting for the irresistibly appealing singing of Gambarini. The Blue Note.  (212) 475-8592.

– Aug. 23 – 25. (Fri. – Sun.) Gregory Porter. Convincing male jazz singers have been in short supply lately. But the arrival of Porter has brought a new and appealing aspect to the largely female-oriented current jazz vocal scene. The Jazz Standard.  (212) 576-2232.


– Aug. 23 & 24. (Fri. & Sat.) Tania Maria Trio. Rio’s Tanya Maria sings, she plays piano, and she continues to discover attractive linkages between jazz and Brazilian music.  Ronnie Scott’s.  +44 20 7439 0747.


– Aug 22 – 24 (Thurs. – Sat.) The Diego Figueiredo Trio. Talented guitarist Figueiredo has been drawing attention with his rapid-fire technique and imaginative improvising. He performs with Yasser Pino, bass and Milton Batera, drums. Jazzhus Montmartre. +45 31 72 34 94.


– Aug.24 & 25. (Sat. & Sun.) Matt Bianco. It sounds like a person’s name, but Matt Bianco is actually a U.K. Band that has been exploring Latin jazz since the mid-’80s. Blue Note Tokyo.  +81 3-5485-0088.

Record Rack: Salsa De La Bahia, Mark Dresser Quintet, Fred Fried and Core

August 14, 2013

Of Body, Mind and Heart

By Brian Arsenault


Salsa De La Bahia: (Patois Records)

A Collection of SF Bay Area Salsa and Latin Jazz

Maybe this remarkable album should be reviewed by a Spanish speaker. But maybe not. The music is universal even if you dance like an awkward gringo (present) or don’t dance at all (yeah).

Sitting down is not really possible for this two disc album from the Salsa scene in San Francisco. You may even find some hidden rhythm in your yankee bones, if that‘s what you have. Joy is also universal.

Who knew there was even a Salsa scene in the Bay Area. Not this writer in the far northeast.

The album notes say that is partly because so much of the music was released on indie labels.

That’s a reality of much of the music scene these days. Albums are easier to make because of digital technology and independent recordings are many. Problem is, indie distribution lacks the power of national and international labels and much goes unnoticed in the larger world. But at least it gets made.

Still, low level distribution is a pity on many levels. Not the least of which is the tendency to think of Latin jazz and dance music as mostly based in Miami, say hello to my little friend, and New York, where there are large Caribbean populations.

Of course, there’s also the political problem of keeping Cuba isolated from the States as if some kind of pretending the Commies aren’t there will make it so in the hemisphere. Monroe Doctrine perversity.

But never mind that. Get these two discs and play them loud. You will feel better. I know you will. There’s a bunch of bands and a simply glorious feeling. And after a while, you might even begin singing in Spanish.

Much of the credit goes to trombonist/arranger Wayne Wallace who sounds a lot more like a Scot than a Cuban. So I don’t feel so bad.

The album will be followed by a documentary film, The Last Mambo, next Spring.


Nourishments (Clean Feed Records)

Mark Dresser Quintet

I really wasn’t sure I liked this album at first but I couldn’t stop listening. Something intriguing, original, creative. Nourishing even.

It was track 2, “Canales Rose” (more Bay Area connection), that really got me. Michael Dessen’s trombone opens like an Ellington blues number. Then comes Rudresh Mahanthappa’s also saxophone — you really need to hear this guy play.

The two play solos and then together like some kind of demonic Kinda Blue. Much of this album has a dark dream quality. In large part because always, always there is Dresser’s double bass underneath.

This is deeply cerebral stuff. You may think you are having profound thoughts and perhaps you are. Or, it’s the ruminations of the music.

It’s sometimes hard to follow ala Monk or Mingus but it comes back to you to entrance. The music wants to take you to different places but it doesn’t want to lose you.

I just can’t get over Dessen’s trombone amidst it all. So rounded. So rich.

His sound particularly stirs images of a late ’40s black and white movie. Maybe Bogie is walking in the door. Or a 50s French film about the end of an affair. Evocative is the reviewer’s oft used word, but it works here.


Fred Fried and Core Bacharach (Fred Fried and Core)

Fred Fried

If I put these albums in the order of personal favorite, Fred Fried’s acoustic power trio on Core Bacharach would come first.

You’ll hear Burt Bacharach tunes as you know them — and don’t we all know them. At the start anyway.

Then they flow through Fried’s “prism” as he puts it. Burt never lost but pondered, explored, expanded.

All the poignancy of the songs is there without the lyrics. They aren’t needed. Fried “sings” all the meaning.

Fried plays eight string guitar with an extra string at both the low and high ends to give him greater range. He also plays his guitar nearly vertical without strap just because it feels right.

He has borrowed such stuff from others but is a true original. Most originals have borrowed but somehow created something fresh and new.

Michael Lavoie on bass and Miki Matsuki on drums provide such balance that they seem his co-conspirators not his rhythm section.

At times, Fried and Lavoie are seemingly trading leads. Seems strange to make the comparison but I haven’t heard anything quite like it, however different, since Clapton and Jack Bruce. Does that mean Miki has to be Baker? She looks too calm and kind for that.

Fried lives on Cape Cod. That makes him practically a neighbor. I’ll have to see if I can find out when he’s playing nearby.

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To read more posts, reviews and columns by Brian Arsenault click HERE.

Picks of the Week: August 12 – 18

August 12, 2013

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Gustavo Dudamel

Gustavo Dudamel

– Aug. 13 & 15. (Tues. & Thurs. Dudamel conducts Verdi’s Requiem. The Los Angeles Philharmonic players, under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel, apply their superb versatility to Verdi’s magnificent work. Hollywood Bowl,. (323) 850-2000.

– Aug. 13. (Tues.) John Pisano’s Guitar night. It’s been a virtual Southland jazz institution for decades. And now John Pisano’s Guitar Night moves to a new location. But the quality of music, as always, will be great. Cody’s Viva Cantina in Burbank.  (818) 845-2425.

Natalie Cole

Natalie Cole

– Aug. 14. (Wed.) An Evening With Natalie Cole. Nat “King” Cole’s daughter is a major talent in her own right, applying the gifts of her legacy to a far-reaching musical repertoire. Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

– Aug. 14 & 15. (Wed. & Thurs.) Bill Cunliffe Big Band. Something intriguing happens whenever pianist/composer/arranger Cunliffe writes for his big band. This time, the performance will be a live recording session at Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905

– Aug. 15. (Thurs.) Cat, Sip and Chiodini. They’re back. Singer Cat Connor, saxophonist/clarinetist Gene “Cip” Cipriano and guitarist John Chiodini have found another location for their always-engaging evenings of vocal and instrumental jazz pleasures. Spoonful Restaurant,  (323) 512-4800.

John Daversa

John Daversa

– Aug. 16. (Fri.) John Daversa Big Band. Trumpeter Daversa is also a gifted composer, writing some of the most compelling big band charts on the contemporary music scene. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

– Aug. 16 & 17. (Fri. & Sat.) Tchaikovsky Spectacular with Fireworks. It’s one of the major summer highlights at the Bowl, with the L.A. Phil performing everything from Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio Italiene to the 1812 Overture. Robert Moody conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic with brass and drum corps. The Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

– Aug. 17. (Sat.) MUSE/IQUE. Always performing in adventurous fashion, Muse/Ique wraps “Summer of Sound” 2013 with “Lose Your Senses,” featuring Ellis Hall, Tower of Power’s lead singer and keyboardist. Expect to hear music embracing Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and even Bach, Beethoven and Vivaldi. Caltech’s Beckman Mall.  (626) 395-4652.

Jazz in the Pines

– Aug. 17 & 18. (Sat. & Sun.).  Idyllwild Jazz in the Pines.  The 20th anniversary of a jazz festival that balances great music programs with an appealing summer weekend in the mountains.  The highlights of this year include: On Saturday: Diane Schuur, Harvey Mason, John Daversa, Janis Mann, Denise Donatelli, Tim Weissberg, Clayton Cameron’s Clifford Brown-Max Roach Project, and more.  On Sunday: Izzy Chait, Amina Figarova, the Euphoria Brass Band, Mark Winkler, and a lot more here, too.  Don’t miss this one.   Idyllwild Jazz in the Pines.

Patti Labelle

Patti Labelle

– Aug. 18. (Sun.) Patti Labelle. Grammy Hall of Famer Labelle has been a prominent pop music figure since the ’60s, and she’s still going strong. Cerritons Center for the Performing Arts.  (562) 916-8501.

– Aug. 18. (Sun.) Robert Davi. No one does the Sinatra with the sort of musical and lyrical authenticity that Davi brings to every performance of his tributes to Ol’ Blue Eyes. Vibrato.  (310) 474.9400

San Francisco

– Aug. 15 & 16. (Thurs. & Fri.) Eliane Elias. She’s always been a superb jazz pianist. And over the past few years she’s emerged as an eminently listenable jazz singer, as well. Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655.5600.

New York City

Dr. Lonnie Smith

Dr. Lonnie Smith

Aug. 15 – 18. (Thurs, – Sun.) Dr. Lonnie Smith. One of the definitive jazz organists, Smith has assembled a talented array of young jazz players for his ”In the Beginning Octet.” The Jazz Standard.  (212) 576-2232.

Washington D.C.

– Aug. 16 – 18., (Fri.- Sun,) The Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet & Richie Cole. The lush vocal harmonies and articulate vocalese of the Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet are the perfect blend for the equally exploratory alto saxophone of Richie Cole. Blues Alley.  (202) 337-4141.


– Aug. 15 & 16. (Thurs. & Fri.,) Joao Bosco. Guitarist/composer Bosco’s playing has been described – with good cause – as among the most auspicious in Brazilian music.” A-Trane.  030 / 313 25 50.


– Aug. 16 – 18, (Fri., – Sun.) Terence Blanchard. Trumpeter Blanchard spends part of his busy schedule as Artistic Director of the Monk Institute and the Henry Mancini Institute. But he’s one of his generation’s major players of his instrument, and should be heard at every opportunity. Tokyo Blue Note.  +81 3-5485-0088.


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