By Devon “Doc” Wendell Tony Gieske was right there amongst the greats that I grew up worshiping. He had photographed, Interviewed, or reviewed the masters like John Coltrane, Lee Morgan, Thelonious Monk, and Dizzy Gillespie to name just a few. His stellar career spanned over half a century. As a student at NYU, I used… Read More An Appreciation: Devon Wendell and Don Heckman Remember Tony Gieske
By Tony Gieske Billy Childs comes right out and admits it: He was inspired by Laura Nyro. He liked her collaboration with Alice Coltrane on Christmas and the Beads of Sweat. And so he formed the Jazz Chamber Ensemble, which also has at its nucleus, piano, acoustic guitar, and harp. A version of this he… Read More Live Jazz: The Billy Childs Jazz Chamber Ensemble at Vitello’s
By Tony Gieske I’d like to thank a guy on YouTube who saved me the trouble of thinking up a lead for this review of Phil Upchurch’s set at Vitello’s the other night. “One of the few guitarists to take really scary chances when playing and leave you on the edge of your seat,” the… Read More Live Jazz: Phil Upchurch and Sonya Maddox-Upchurch at Vitello’s
By Tony Gieske It’s a Churchillian task to write about Nellie McKay‘s performance Saturday at Catalina’s. There she stood in all her Debbie Reynolds-ness, offering a figurative “blood, toil, tears and sweat,” among other exudations, in a skit that rivalled the works of Imogene Coca, Fran Leibowitz, Dorothy Parker, Fran Landesman or Alice Ghostley, with… Read More Live Music: Nellie McKay at Catalina Bar & Grill
By Tony Gieske No need to add encomia to the already overloaded resume of the great Jane Harvey, who transformed Catalina’s into a hip little branch of the Apple the other night. She probably could have gotten by with just singing her resume, this lady. (Lorraine Feather could have written the music.) Harvey might have… Read More Live Jazz: Jane Harvey at Catalina Bar & Grill
By Tony Gieske You wouldn’t figure that an event honoring the late Billy Higgins would have drawn a full house to Catalina’s on a Sunday night. We here in musician-creamy Los Angeles understand that Higgins — always smiling! — was the go-to guy if you wanted to record with a cat who was there mainly… Read More Live Jazz: KPFK 90.7’s First Annual Hero Award Tribute to Billy Higgins at Catalina Bar & Grill
By Tony Gieske Let’s talk about that undermeditated topic, lighting. The lighting at Vibrato’s voluminous listening room, for instance, is without stain and healthy, which is to say clean and well. Equally clean and well lighted, if you’ll forgive the segue, was the Steve Huffsteter big band, a precision ensemble that played the room last… Read More Live Jazz: The Steve Huffsteter Big Band at Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.
By Tony Gieske You and I and the other jazz purists might never have heard of Victor Wooten, but the dude has won five Grammys and during the fiery furnace that was his engagement at Catalina’s last week, you could understand that. He played what I would call a bass guitar, except that his brother… Read More Live Music: The Victor Wooten Band at Catalina Bar & Grill
By Tony Gieske I never thought I would be bored at a Bill Frisell concert, but that is what happened to me at Royce Hall on Saturday night. I was looking forward to a rich evening of fully developed playing by Frisell, one of a handful of electric guitar players worth hearing (others being, to… Read More Live Jazz: Bill Frisell at a UCLA Live concert in Royce Hall
By Tony Gieske Every once in a while you get to hear some straight no rocks saxophone playing, and such was on tap, or perhaps uncorked would be a better term, when Dale Fielder played Vibrato on Friday. He did the whole set on baritone saxophone. So it was fresh sound all the way, not… Read More Live Jazz: Dale Fielder at Vibrato Grill Jazz…etc.