Picks of the Week: April 10 – 15

April 10, 2012

By Don Heckman

 Los Angeles

Carol Welsman

– April 12. (Thurs.) Carol Welsman. Traveling the world is at the heart of singer/pianist Welsman’s engaging new CD, Journey. She celebrates its release with an evening’s sampling of the rich, emotionally far-reaching songs from the album. Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.

– April 11. (Wed.) Pacifica Quartet. The talented young, Grammy-winning players of the Pacifica Quartet take on a challenging, era-leaping program of quartets by Beethoven and Shostakovich. Royce Hall. A UCLA Live program.  (310) 825-2101.

– April 11. (Wed.) Oz Noy. The Israeli-born guitarist’s iconoclastic jazz view is enhanced by the presence of drummer Dave Weckl and bassist Darryl Jones. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

– April 11. (Wed.) Anthony Wilson . Versatile guitarist Wilson showcases his far-reaching skills in the second week of his four-performance, month long residency. Blue Whale.  (213) 620-0908.

– April 11. (Wed.) The Soweto Gospel Choir. South Africa’s inspirational, 26 voice vocal ensemble makes a return appearance at Disney in a performance rich with color, melody and jubilant energy. Disney Hall.  (323) 850-2000.

– April 12. (Thurs.) Lisa Hilton. Pianist/composer Hilton’s new recording American Impressions, features her deeply considered, impressionistic compositions, inspired by everyday American life. Her stellar band includes saxophonist JD Allen, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Nasheet Waits. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.

Chris Botti

– April 12 & 13. (Thurs. & Fri.) Chris Botti. Trumpeter Botti, the best-selling instrumental jazz artist, and now a Los Angeles resident, takes a break from his virtually non-stop global touring for an Orange County appearance. Segerstrom Center for the Arts.  (714) 556-2787.

– April 13. (Fri.) Brian Auger Organ jazz trio. Veteran keyboardist Auger’s long career traces b.ack to his influential ’70s jazz-rock band, Oblivion Express. His current band features his son, Karma Auger, on drums with Dan Lutz on bass. Baked Potato.  (818) 980-1615.

– April 14. (Sat.) Chris Walden Quintet. Grammy-nominated composer/arranger/bandleader Walden takes a break from his studio activities to feature his trumpet and flugelhorn in a small group setting. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc. (310) 474-9400.

– April 15 (Sun.) Seth McFarlane and the Ron Jones Orchestra. The creator of Family Guy steps into the vocal spotlight, backed by the swinging Ron Jones ensemble, to offer his take on the Sinatra/King Cole/Dean Martin song book. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

San Francisco

Benny Golson

– April 11 – 13. (Wed. – Fri.) Benny Golson Quintet featuring Nnenna Freelon. It’s a jazz pairing to remember – Golson’s hardy tenor saxophone and classic jazz tunes matched with Freelon’s scintillating way with a jazz vocal. The Rrazz Room.  (415) 394-1189.

– April 12. (Thurs.) Peggy Seeger. The offspring of a great American musical family – her siblings are Pete and Mike Seeger – Peggy is a compelling performer of American and European folk, while continuing the family’s activist traditions. Freight & Salvage.  (510) 644-2020.

– April. 13 – 15. (Fri. – Sun.) The Bad Plus. The adventurous Bad Plus players – pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson and drummer David King – continue their efforts to redefine the creative elements of the jazz piano trio. Yoshi’s Oakland. (510) 238-9200.


– April 12 – 15. (Thus. – Sun.) Miguel Zenon. Winning a MacArthur “genius” award hasn’t slowed down Zenon’s creative advances as one of the finest jazz alto saxophonists of his generaion. Jazz Showcase.  (312) 360-0234.

 New York

– April 10 – 15. (Tues. – Sun.) Vijay Ayer Trio. Pianist/composer Ayer blends elements from his Indian background, his far-reaching compositional interests and his straight-ahead jazz skills into compelling musical results. No wonder he’s a critics’ favorite. Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.

– April 11. (Wed.) Pilc-Bona-Hoenig. The full names of the members of this impressive trio are Michel Pilc (piano), Richard Bona (guitar) and Ari Hoenig (drums); together, they blend powerful individual skills into an innovative ensemble blend. 55 Bar. (212) 929-9883.


Gerald Clayton

– April 14. (Sat.) The Gerald Clayton Trio. Hearing his Dad, bassist John Clayton, and his uncle, saxophonist Jeff Clayton, when he was first discovering the wonders of jazz clearly had a significant impact on Gerald Clayton, who has rapidly established himself as a rising young star. The Regatta Bar.  (617) 395-7757.


– April 14. (Sat.) Halie Loren. Singer/songwriter Loren still isn’t as visible as her impressive talents deserve. But she clearly impressed iRoM reviewer Brian Arsenault. Click HERE to read his review of her new recording.  Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill. (514) 931-6808.


– April 10 – 12. (Tues. – Thurs.) Michel Legrand. The great French artist Legrand is an ultimate hyphenate, with a career reaching from film music and song writing to theatre, film and production. Add to that his always listenable jazz piano work. This is one of his rare club appearances – do whatever it takes to obtain a ticket. Ronnie Scott’s.,  020 7439 0747.


– April 12. (Sat.) Defne Sahin. Singer/songwriter Sahin, born in Berlin to Turkish parents, found her way into jazz as an expression of her quest for the open spaces of musical freedom. Her latest recording features songs based on the writing of Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet. A-Trane. 030 / 313 25 50.


– April 10 – 12 (Tues. – Thurs.) Jane Monheit and Ivan Lins. Could anyone ask for a more delightful musical partnership than this – the gorgeous timbres and intimate interpretive style of Monheit and the memorable songs and uniquely personal singing of Lins. They should take this show on the road in the U.S., too. Blue Note Tokyo. 03-5485-0088.

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Chris Botti photo by Tony Gieske.

Picks of the Week: May 24 – 30

May 23, 2010

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

– May 24. (Mon.) Sopranos and StringsBrad Dechter and Roger Neumann, soprano saxophones, Graham Dechter and Jim Fox, guitars and Chuck Nenneker, bass. The instrumentation makes for an evening of intriguing sounds, enhanced by the father and son presence of Brad and Graham Dechter.  Charlie O’s.    (919) 994-3058.

Ann and Nancy Wilson

– May 24. (Mon.)  An Evening With HeartAnn and Nancy Wilson. The talented duo are back on the scene, talking about their career and performing songs from the upcoming CD, Red Velvet Car, their first studio recording in six years.   Grammy Museum. 1.800.745.3000.

– May 24. (Mon.) Slide FX Trombone Tentet. Here’s another of the week’s intriguing jazz instrumentations – six trombones (four tenor and two bass) and rhythm.  Call it Kai  and J.J. multiplied by five.  Steamers.  (714) 871-8800.

– May 25. (Tues.)  Seth McFarlane and The Ron Jones Influence Jazz Orchestra.  Not only has Seth McFarlane created the hit TV show Family Guy. He also has a special interest in singing the songs of the Frank Sinatra/Nat “King” Cole era – which he’ll do with the Influence Jazz Orchestra (on the 2nd set only).  Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.   (310) 474-9400.

– May 26. (Wed.)  Bob Mintzer and Bob Sheppard Quintet.  ————> Two of the Southland’s most versatile saxophonists go head to head.  Expect improvisational fireworks.  Vitello’s.   (818) 769-0905.

– May 26. (Wed.)  Carol Robbins, Larry Koonse and Pat Senatore.  It’s an all-strings jazz set.  And an unusual combination of strings, at that, with Robbins’ harp, Koonse’s guitar and Senatore’s bass – three of the Southland’s versatile, veteran jazz artists.   Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

– May 26 – 30. (Wed. – Sun.)  The Lion King.  Disney’s award winning musical, based on the 1994 animated film, has had an extraordinary theatrical life – the 8th longest running show in Broadway History.  But no need to take a red-eye to Manhattan to savor the music by Elton John and Tim Rice, not when this fine production runs for nearly a week at OCPAC’s Segerstrom Hall.   (714) 556-2787.

Denise Donatelli

– May 27. (Thurs.)  Denise Donatelli. A night with jazz singer Donatelli’s vocals in the cozy atmosphere of Charlie O’s is always something to savor.  But this event should be even better, with Donatelli celebrating her birthday.  Hopefully the audience will send her a “Happy Birthday” singalong.  Charlie O’s.    (919) 994-3058.

– May 27 – 30. (Thurs. – Sun.)  David Sanborn Trio, featuring Joey DeFrancesco.  The blues fly in all directions when these two masters get together on the stage – De Francesco’s groove-heavy Hammond B-3 propelling Sanborn’s alto into stratospheric excursions.  Don’t miss these guys.  Catalina Bar & Grill (323) 466-2210.

– May 29. (Sat.)  Tower of Power. Average White Band. War.  Three of the hottest horn-driven rock, blues and crossover bands of the ‘70s match their greatest hits on the same stage.  Expect dancing in the aisles. The Greek Theatre.  (323) 665-5857.

Eric Reed

– May 29. (Sat.) Eric Reed Trio.  Pianist Reed was already working with Wynton Marsalis while he was still in his teens, back in the late ‘80s.  And he’s been on an upslope ever since, working with Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Clark Terry and many others, as well as leading his own stellar groups.  Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

– May 29. (Sat.)  Regina Carter “Reverse Thread.” The always adventurous Carter surrounds her soaring violin with the intriguing combination of Yacouba Sissoko’s kora, Will Holshouser’s accordion, Chris Lightcap’s bass and Alvester Garnette’s drums and percussion.  The Grammy Museum Sound Stage.  A Jazz Bakery Moveable Feast. (310) 271-9039.

– May 29 & 30. (Sat. & Sun.) Cajun Creole Music Festival. There’ll be blues of every imaginable sound and hue at this entertaining, two-day outdoor festival.  Among the highlight artists: The Soul of John Black, Elvin Bishop, the Mannish Boys, the Delta Groove All-Star Blues Review, a long line of Cajun Creole artists and much more. Cajun Creole Music Festival.  Rancho Santa Susana Community Park.  Simi Valley.    (805) 517-900.

– May 30. (Sun.)  The John Daversa Big Band. Trumpeter Daversa squeezes his adventurous big band into the up close and personal performance space of the Baked Potato.   (818) 980-1615.

San Diego

– May 29 & 30.  (Sat. & Sun.)  Jane Monheit. Blessed with one of the jazz world’s most warm and engaging voices, Monheit is also an imaginative singer with a lyrical knack for telling a musical story.  Anthology.  San Diego.   (619) 595-0300.

San Francisco

Wesla Whitfield and Mike Greensil

– May 25 – 29. (Tues. – Sat.)  Wesla Whitfield and the Mike Greensill Trio. Cabaret/jazz singer Whitfield and her husband, pianist Greensill, are among the definitive musical actsin the Bay area’s plethora of fine vocal talent.  Rrazz Room.  (415) 781-0306

– May 28 – 30. (Fri. – Sun.)  Benny Green Trio.  Pianist Green has worked with Betty Carter and Art Blakey, Freddie Hubbard and Milt Jackson, and been a protégé of Oscar Peterson.  He’s emerged from that experience as a major jazz pianist, especially listenable when he’s working with the likes of bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny WashingtonYoshi’s Oakland.   (510) 238-9200.

– May 29 & 30. (Sat. & Sun.)  Mose Allison.  The bard of the bayou celebrates the release of his first CD – The Way of the World – in 12 years. He’ll be backed by Pete Magadini and Bill Douglass. Yoshi’s San Francisco.   (415) 655-5600.

– May 29 – June 1. (Sat. – Tues.)  Roberta Donnay Jazz Trio. Donnay’s singing has a bit of the coyness of Blossom Dearie, a trace of  the poignancy of Billie Holiday and a whole lot of her own unique way with a phrase.  She hasn’t yet received the visibility she deserves, but Donnay’s worth hearing at every opportunity. The Union Room @ Biscuits & Blues.   (415) 292-2583.

New York

– May 24. (Mon.)  Beat Kaestli.  The Swiss-born vocalist, whose sound is sometimes reminiscent of Kenny Rankin, has the potential to emerge as a high level jazz artist.  Zinc Bar.  NYC.  (212) 477-9462.

– May 25 – 29. (Tues. – Sat.)  Joe Lovano Quartet.  Saxophonist Lovano has assembled a cross-generational quartet that brings together a foursome of world class talent.  With pianist Steve Kuhn, bassist George Mraz and drummer Willie Jones III. Birdland.   (212) 581-3080.

– May 25 – 30. (Tues. – Sun.)  Ahmad Jamal.  Miles Davis once said that he learned a lot about jazz time from Jamal.  And it’s easy to believe whenever the iconic pianist sets up one of his irresistible grooves.  Blue Note.   (212) 475-8592.

Phil Woods

– May 27 – 30. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Phil Woods Quintet.  The veteran bopster positions his soaring alto saxophone alongside the articulate trumpet lines of Brian Lynch, backed by the solid rhythm team of pianist Bill Mays, bassist Steve Gilmore and drummer Bill GoodwinDizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.  (212) 258-9595.


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