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By Kai Flanders
Charles Owens and the Luckman Jazz Orchestra finish up their season this Saturday by playing a whole mess of Freddie Hubbard compositions. Owens and his troupe of arrangers have done wonders so far with Wayne Shorter and John Coltrane performances featuring adventurous and vibrant charts and powered by Alphonse Mouzon’s drumming. With brass and reed players like Bennie Maupin,Phil Ranelin, Winston Byrd, Brian Swartz and Bobby Rodriguez — and of course the occasionally quite mad Owens himself — the soloing is terrific. Can’t wait to see what they do with the great Hubbard’s material, and they’ll certainly do justice to Freddie’s sound — the tone, supple chops and molten runs. Music starts at 8 p.m. out at the Luckman Fine Arts Complex on the CalState Los Angeles campus. Call (323) 343-6600 for details. You’ll dig this one.
And Jose Rizo’s Jazz on the Latin Side All Stars kick off the Hollywood & Highland weekly concert series this Tuesday. The All Stars, who tore it up at the Greek a couple Saturdays ago, just get better and better, with terrific structures, exceptional players, propulsive percussion and a tightness that comes from years of regular gigging. They play from 7-9 p.m. and always pack the place. Wine tasting is $10, music costs nothing.
There’s a lot of great small-group stuff around town, too. On Friday at the World Stage arrives part two of the Derrick Finch Scholarship Fund benefit with the late Finch’s former students: trumpeter Emile Martinez, saxist Mike Brooks, guitarist Mike McTaggart, bassist Alex King and drummer Jonathan Pinson. Finch’s drummer, Michael Barsimento, will sit in, as well. Finch was a regular at the Stage, often showing up near closing and playing piano with and for whoever was there to listen. Also Friday, the quintessentially swinging drummer Jeff Hamilton has a trio at Spazio, while across town trumpeter Nolan Shaheed presents his extremely funky quintet (with Zane Musa on alto) at the Pasadena Jazz Institute.
On Friday and Saturday, the Jazz Bakery hosts bassist Scott Colley’s killer quartet (including trumpeter Ralph Alessi and drummer Brian Blade). Sadly, it’s the Bakery’s final weekend after losing its lease in Culver City. Ownership says the Bakery will reopen elsewhere; we’ll keep you posted. And we highly recommend tenor Ben Wendel at the Café Metropol on Saturday. He’s got pianist Josh Nelson in his exceptional quintet. Wendel is a masterful saxophonist, and while he can play the standards beautifully, his own bands lean toward the post bop . experimental, edgy and utterly fascinating. Music at the Metropol runs from 8-10 p.m. — which gives you plenty of time afterward to see tenor Don Menza out at Charlie O’s with the John Heard Trio. Menza is a pure jazz player with a huge, room-filling sound (like, say, Pete Christlieb, Dexter Gordon or Sonny Rollins — that kind of big). Funny how many monster players there are in this town. Trumpeter Jack Sheldon, at Vibrato on Saturday, is another. As the excellent documentary Trying to Get Good points out to the rest of the jazz world, this cat is a major player, something easy to forget when you live out here and jazzmen like him are playing the joints (if you can call Vibrato a joint). Jax in Glendale is most definitely a joint, and trumpeter Elliott Caine’s quintet is there on Saturday. Invariably they tear this place up. Caine has a knack for writing catchy straight-ahead tunes (which, believe it or not, is possible). And you should know that guitarist Julian Lage arrives with his quartet at McCabe’s on Saturday. This 21-year-old is a pretty amazing picker; on his new Sounding Point (EmArcy) he’s accompanied by sax, cello, bass, drums, Taylor Eigsti, Bela Fleck and the like. It’s pretty understated, kind of cool, and often mindblowing.
On Tuesday, we heartily recommend the Dale Fielder Quartet at theBar Melody (9132 S. Sepulveda Blvd., 310-670-1994). Dale’s bringing out the baritone sax for this one: Pepper Adams fans take note. On Wednesday, trumpeter Josh Welchez brings his excellent Kind of Blue Sextet (with tenor Matt Otto) into Sangria. “We play Kind of Blue from start to finish with the original arrangements for the first set. The second set will be music from Birth of the Cool, Milestones, and other albums,” explains Welchez. Nuff said. On Thursday, guitarist Grant Geissman has his Cool Man Cool release party at Vitello’s (at 4349 Tujunga Ave. in Studio City). It’s a grooving little CD (with ultrahip graphics). Those that like their jazz tight and grooving will dig this one.
(Brick can be reached at email@example.com.)