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Brick's Picks: Boys, Toys and Noise 

Jazz in L.A., September 5-11

Wednesday, Sep 3 2008
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The summer season is pretty much over, and the jazz calendar is little emptier this week, but there’s still plenty of good stuff around town. Austrian jazz guitarist Wolfgang Schalk has another good release, Wanted, under his belt, and he’ll be performing much of it on Friday at LACMA. Nice playing and some very well-crafted writing. One of our favorite local players, pianist Jon Mayer, celebrates 70 years at Charlie O’s on Saturday. He has saxist Pete Christlieb with him. Christlieb, a mysteriously underrecognized world-class saxophonist, is back again on Thursday. And it’s plenty solid in between, with another of our favorite local pianists, Tateng Katindig, playing some beautiful Oscar Peterson–flavored solos there on Sunday; and then three trumpeter-led congregations in a row: the Steve Huffsteter Big Band on Monday, Jack Sheldon on Tuesday and Nolan Shaheed on Wednesday (with saxist Zane Musa). Three beautiful players, three completely different jazz approaches — Kentonesque, West Coast bop and downright funky, respectively. If you have to drag yourself away from the bar at Charlie O’s, you can you can sink into one of the absurdly comfortable seats at Giannelli Square (19451 Londelius St., Northridge) on Saturday for stellar pianist Alan Broadbent’s trio. Or plunk yourself down at a table at the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach, eye-poppingly close to the beach, where veteran L.A. pianist Art Hillary leads a quartet Sunday, 11 a.m. (really) to 3 p.m. Something about this storied place really gets players to playing, and the music can be remarkably great. Nice way to while away the Sabbath.

Roy Hargrove begins his four-day stand at Catalina Bar & Grill on Tuesday. Hargrove — one mean trumpeter — is feted (or notorious in some circles) for some pretty wild stylistic experimentations (funk, M-Base and the often-dreaded hip-hop/jazz fusion), but his quintet here will be his Wynton-pleasing, straight-ahead outfit (we believe).

OK, now for the noisy stuff.

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Heavy power trio the Bad Plus are at Catalina Bar and Grill Friday and Saturday (see Music picks, page 90). The quieter but plenty outish reedman Ian Rapien, after performing at the Angel City Jazz Festival, is at Café Metropol on Saturday. If you’re looking for something even edgier and louder, you can head out to the Temple Bar on Tuesday, where guitarist Nels Cline with Norton Wisdom, Todd Sickafoose’s Blood Orange and the mighty Kneebody exhibit varying sorts of jazzoid stuff that you’ll never in a million years see in Charlie O’s (except Kneebody saxist Ben Wendel in his more acoustic moments). And finally, on Wednesday at the Jazz Bakery, saxist Greg Osby begins a four-night stand. Osby’s probably best known as an icon for M-Base fans, though M-Base (“macro-basic array of structured extemporization”) as a theory still escapes us. It’s a post-bop something or other. You might try googling Steve Coleman’s essay “M-Base, an explanation” and take a shot at it yourself. That being said, we totally dig loads of the stuff. Maybe because it was one of the last blatantly intellectual movements in jazz that attempted to mess with people’s minds. Maybe because it was so fanatical. Maybe just because the stuff funked and cooked more than fusion ever did. Whatever. But like its free jazz predecessor, M-Base sounds certainly remain something for unsettled college kids to latch onto. Or unsettled aging college dropouts. And while we actually have no idea what Osby will be doing at the Bakery this time (his St. Louis Shoes of a couple years ago reached way back), odds are, it’ll be plenty fascinating. Besides, the dude wails.

 
(Brick can be reached at brickjazz@yahoo.com.)

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