Picks of the Week: May 19 – 25

May 19, 2014

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

Carol Welsman

Carol Welsman

– May 20. (Tues.) Carol Welsman. She sings with an utter mastery of jazz vocalizing. Add to that Carol’s equally impressive piano playing, always imaginative, always swinging. She doesn’t do a lot of club dates, so don’t miss this one. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

– May 20. (Tues.) Guitar Night. With John Pisano and special guests guitarist Tim May, bassist Chuck Berghofer and drummer Kendall Kay. Viva Cantina.  (818) 845- 2425.

– May 21. (Wed.) Lauren White with the Quinn Johnson Trio. Special Guests include Dolores Scozzesi and  Chambers, Herbert & Ellis. An evening of jazz vocals reaching from the superb soloing of Lauren and Dolores to the jaunty trio of Chambers, Herbert & Ellis. Catalina Bar & Grill. (223) 466-2210.

Bianca Rossini

Bianca Rossini

– May 21. (Wed.) Bianca Rossini. Brazilian singer/songwriter Rossini enhances her intimate bossa novas with the moves of a born dancer. Click HERE  to read a recent review of Rossini in action. Vitello’s. (818) 769-0905.+

– May 21. (Wed.) Jennifer Leitham Trio. With Rich Eames, piano and Randy Drake, drums. Leitham is a first call bassist with the versatility to perform in any setting. This time out, she does it her way, with her own trio. Jazz at the Cap.


Robert Davi

Robert Davi

– May 22. (Thurs.) Robert Davi. In a music world becoming over populated with Sinatra wannabes, Davi is the real deal, intimately familiar with the Sinatra style. Blessed with a voice rich with operatic qualities, Davi uses it in memorable excursions through the Great American Songbook. Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.  (310) 474-9400.

– May 22. (Thurs.) Billy Joel. It’s not often that one has the chance to hear Joel anywhere, much less the Hollywood Bowl. Don’t miss this chance to hear some of his classics. Hollywood Bowl.  (323) 850-2000.

– May 23. (Fri,) Kenny Burrell Quintet. One of the iconic jazz guitarists of his generation, Burrell, also an educator, takes a break from his UCLA responsibilities to remind us of his still potent playing skills. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (223) 466-2210.

– May 23. (Fri.) Azar Lawrence. Saxophonist Lawrence’s impressive resume reaches from Miles Davis and McCoy Tyner to Freddie Hubbard and beyond. Still a hard swinging, potent improviser, he should be heard at every opportunity. LACMA. (323) 857-6000.

– May 23 – 25. (Fri. – Sun.) Los Angeles Philharmonic. Gustavo Dudamel conducts the grand finale of the L.A. Phil’s Mozart/Da Ponte Trilogy – Cosi Fan Tutti. Disney Hall.  (323) 850-2000.

– May 24. (Sat.) Mark Christian Miller. Although he spends a lot of time working in music management and guidance, Miller is a fine vocalist in his own right. The Gardenia.  (323) 467-7444.

Cheryl Bentyne

Cheryl Bentyne

– May 24. (Sat.) Cheryl Bentyne. She’s back and all fans of world class jazz vocalizing should be delighted. After recovering from a serious illness, Bentyne is in the groove, singing with the imagination and the buoyant sense of swing that have always been essential to her art. Vitello’s.  (818) 769-0905.

– May 24 & 25. (Sat. & Sun.) John Daversa’s Contemporary Big Band. Trumpeter/composer/arranger Daversa is producing some of the most fascinating big band writing on the current jazz scene. The Baked Potato.  (818) 980-1615.

San Francisco

– May 21 & 22. (Wed. & Thurs.) Jane Monheit Sings Judy Garland. The title of this performance alone tells us that it’s going to be a fascinating experience. And there’s more on the bill: in the lounge on Wed.: Pianist Gaea Schell. In the lounge on Thurs: the Karen Marguth Trio. Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655-5600.

New York City

– May 20 – 24. (Tues. – Sat.) Karrin Allyson. Always a musically intriguing singer, Allyson has matured into a creatively expressive vocal artist. Click HERE to read an iRoM review of a recent L.A. Appearance by Allyson. Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.


Eliane Elias

Eliane Elias

May 19 & 20. (Mon. & Tues.) Eliane Elias Quartet. Elias has been a superb jazz pianist since she first moved from Brazil to the U.S. But in recent years she’s displayed equally captivating skills as a singer, as well. Click HERE  to read a recent iRoM review of an Eliane Elias performance in Los Angeles. Ronnie Scott’s.  +44 (0) 20 7439 0747.


– May 24. (Sat.) Fredrik Kronkvist. “The Cannonball Adderley Songbook.” Danish saxophonist Kronkvist displays the extent to which European jazz artists have convincingly proven themselves as world class performers. Jazzhus Montmartre.  +45 31 72 34 94.


– May 21 (Wed.) Geri Allen. Name some iconic jazz artists of the past few decades, and pianist Allen has probably worked with them (Think Ornette Coleman, Ravi Coltrane, Charles Lloyd, Betty Carter and more). Although she spends part of the time these days as a college professor, she continues to assert her status as one of the fine jazz artists of her generation. The Blue Note Milano.  +39 02 6901 6888.


Jack DeJohnette

Jack DeJohnette

– May 20 – 22. (Tues. – Thurs.) Jack DeJohnette Trio. With saxophonist Ravi Coltrane and bassist Matthew Garrison. Drummer/percussionist DeJohnette is one of the current jazz world’s most creatively curious players. And, for this tour, he’s chosen to work alongside players with equally inquisitive creativity. Blue Note Tokyo.  +81 3-5485-0088.


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Photos of Bianca Rossini, Robert Davi, Cheryl Bentyne and Eliane Elias by Faith Frenz.




Live Jazz: The Ron Jones Influence Big Band at Vitello’s

March 9, 2010

By Tony Gieske

Ron Jones

The world’s longest running publicity stunt did not command the attention of everyone in Hollywood Sunday night. Disdaining the Oscar festivities was a discriminating crowd that filled the Upstairs room at Vitello’s out in the Valley to hear the Ron Jones Jazz Influence big band.

Jones, a noted composer for off-beat television fare, led his organization of 22 studio savants, including a pair of French hornists, to reward the visitors with a program of familiar songs and heads that were staples when bebop was young. That would have been before many of the players took up the instruments with which they now make their not inconsiderable livings.

Clockwise from upper left: Chuck Berghofer, Bob McChesney, French horn player Jean Marinelli, Ron Jones, Jeff Bunnell, Bob Sheppard, Tim May

“The Way You Look Tonight,” in a gently swinging arrangement by Mike Tomaro (available online for $47.50, in case you run a big band), followed a gently swinging opener on “Bird of Paradise,” playing the spotlight here and there on the world’s greatest trumpet section.

These horns were limber muscle and flat abs all evening, a shout when called for that gave no pain but was music to the ear, and dry muted comments in support of other soloists. Charlie Davis, Chuck Findley, Gary Grant and Jeff Bunnell were the players. Findley soloed powerfully on an original ballad.

The Ron Jones brass section

The similarly adept trombones lent a rich color and deep power to the tuttis, underpinning the various sections when necessary, warming the top line when called for. Bob McChesney stepped out for a pretty little story about “Emily,” beginning with velvety balladic wooings and ending with bold staff-surmounting calisthenics.

The reeds were light and airy on such swiftly wandering numbers as Wayne Shorter’s “Yes and No” and loaded with vigor on the Latinate “St. Thomas,” which the Bill Holman arrangement made into a more delightful romp than many of those we’ve been hearing since the Eisenhower Administration.

Such delights rested all night on the Basie-like power of Chuck Berghofer, bass, Mike Lang, piano, Tim May, guitar and Steve Schaeffer, drums. The colors of May and vibraharpist Billy Holting reminded you of the old Woody Herman sound that Red Norvo and Billy Bauer contributed.

But that was a hotbed zone; tonight was a botanical garden.

Photos by Tony Gieske.

Read and see more of Tony Gieske’s jazz essays and photos at his personal web site tonyspage.com.


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