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Brick's Picks: The Son Also Rises 

Ravi Coltrane at Catalina, and other picks

Wednesday, Jul 18 2007
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Given that Coltrane name, people never let up with the comparisons. Though tenor saxophonist Ravi Coltrane was not yet 2 years old when Trane passed on, folks seem to expect to see in the son a reincarnation of the father, as if all of John Coltrane’s playing (and education and experiences and personality) can be passed on by some sort of artistic Lysenkoism. It doesn’t work that way. Just as Chico Freeman is not a carbon copy of father Von Freeman, nor Joshua Redman of pop Dewey, nor Brett Hull a clone of Bobby Hull, Ravi is not John Coltrane . . . case closed. Listen for yourself to Ravi’s brilliant 2005 release, In Flux . . . That’s some beautiful, expressive and adventurous saxophone playing, with tinges of classic Wayne Shorter and Joe Henderson and, yeah, touches of his dad over a mellowed M-base vibe. You can play it over and over and never long for A Love Supreme, which is just the point. Ravi is his own man, with his own jazz feel, heading in his own direction. Expect some good stuff when he plays at Catalina Bar & Grill through Sunday.

Also through Sunday, pianist Marc Cary is at the Jazz Bakery. His 2005 release, Focus, is an explosive trio album: Bill Evans be damned as Cary charges through the tracks, with bone-solid support from bassist Dave Ewell and drummer/tabla player Sameer Gupta. This is tough stuff and a thrill to listen to, one of those (currently rare) piano releases that make for great late-night freeway driving. Cary has this same trio with him at the Bakery, so haul ass down the 10 to Culver City and see him. The CHP will understand.

Man, Friday is a tough choice. You can catch the always good CJS Quintet at LACMA early on Friday, and then head up to Vibrato to hear saxist Carol Chaikin. She plays some terrific horn, yet seems to get out so rarely. The same night there’s also the double ’bones of Bill Watrous and Rob Stoneback at Charlie O’s. Or head farther afield in the Valley for the incredible soloing of trumpeter Carl Saunders at the Back Room. And in from NYC, Jose Conde and Ola Fresca are at the Mint (see Rock & Pop listings for venue info). Conde’s new Revolución is a great slab of Afro-Cuban blends — salsa and son with funk and everything under the Caribbean sun. And Jimmy Bosch’s trombone playing absolutely burns.

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Trane-channeling tenor Azar Lawrence is at Charlie O’s on Saturday. Altoist Lanny Morgan strides into his old Lighthouse stomping grounds on Sunday afternoon, and later that night, tenor Doug Webb is at Charlie O’s. On Monday, the Carl Saunders Be Bop Big Band storm through Charlie O’s — definitely recommended. And the surprise of the week has to be Cedar Walton at Hollywood & Highland on Tuesday. No idea who will be playing with him, but the place should be absolutely packed. Not often you get to see a genuine jazz legend for free.

On Wednesday, there are prime gigs scattered across the basin. The glorious baritone saxophonery of Dale Fielder will fill the Jazz Bakery as he debuts his new Music of Pepper Adams. Dale plays that vast Pepper sound beautifully. Local fave bassist Nedra Wheeler’s quintet (with trombonist Phil Ranelin) is at the Westin LAX. Or check out strong, passionate saxist Javier Vergara at Café 322. And bassist Christian McBride has amassed a big band for the Hollywood Bowl’s “Jazz at the Movies” night on Wednesday, with trumpeter Wallace Roney in the lead seat. Perhaps he’ll dig up some Ellington scores? And to end the week, ex–Doors drummer John Densmore’s Tribaljazz plays its grooving, acoustic mix of jazz and worldbeat at Skirball on Thursday. After that, take a ride along Mulholland and south on Beverly Glen to catch tenor saxist Chuck Manning at Vibrato. He’s one of our favorites.

—Brick Wahl

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