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Trumpets, Pianos, and Monty Python's Soprano Player 

Wednesday, Jun 3 2009
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Longtime Basie Orchestra trumpeter Scotty Barnhart makes a bit of a surprise appearance at Charlie O’s this Friday, joined by the John Heard Trio. The ever-solid Roy McCurdy is on drums, and one of our favorite local players, John Beasley, is on the bench — a perfect trio for this guy. We’ve been digging Barnhart’s new Say It Plain plenty, especially the opening New Orleans street take on “Giant Steps,” a “Con Alma” with Barnhart floating the melody over some loose percussion, then tightening it up gorgeously with Wynton underneath. Clark Terry’s on the thing, too — all kinds of people, in fact. Some standards — there’s also a great take on “Young at Heart” — and a slew of good originals pieces (but couldn’t make head nor tail out of Stanley Crouch’s liner notes ... got lost after the bit about T.S. Elliot.) The cat is a wonderful trumpeter, just beautiful, with a sound that goes back to New Orleans by way of 52nd Street (or Central Avenue, for that matter) and you get to see him for the price of a couple drinks in the best pure jazz club this side of the Colorado.

In fact, Charlie O’s is lousy with great trumpeters this week. Ron King on Monday — he played some great horn in John Altman’s Big Band a couple weeks back. Jack Sheldon on Wednesday: Perhaps the quintessential West Coast jazz trumpeter, and it’s amazing to think that he’s making his first ever appearance at the Playboy Jazz Festival this year. Carl Saunders on Thursday? He goes beyond any metaphors we can come up with (not even T.S. Elliott is helping). And elsewhere we recommend NYC trumpeter Don Rader blowing terrific bop at Vibrato on Saturday, and one of the lesser-known greats of West Coast trumpet, RonStout, who’s at Sangria on Wednesday. Or big man Winston Byrd who’ll be blowing the roof off of Spazio on Thursday.

Sax-wise, Rickey Woodard gets Hank-Mobley down at Boston Court (70 N. Mentor Ave., in Pasadena, 626-683-6883) on Saturday, and AzarLawrence has the ’Trane spirit down at Charlie O’s on Saturday, while Londoner John Altman pulls a little Lucky Thompson out of that crazy curved soprano on Tuesday. (Altman’s done a lot of work with the Monty Python troupe, too, and just about everyone, jazz or not, in England, too. Fascinating cat.) Down at the Lighthouse in Hermosa on Sunday from 11 a.m. till 3 p.m. the Cannonball-Coltrane Project play excellent hard bop. And that same night Jon Mayer has his trio at Charlie O’s. Mayer once told us that aside from Monk, obviously, some of his main inspirations have been horn players, guys he used to see back in New York in the glory days. Clifford Brown on the ballads. Or Pepper Adams, and how within that massive rush of baritone notes, the theme stood out, never lost. Damn if you don’t hear Clifford Brown in Mayer’s chords. The Pepper comes in more abstractly, as Mayer’s shards of this and clusters of that, the Monkish, bunched-up chords, the single notes dropping in one, two, maybe three ... all that crazy stuff that only accentuated the melody. Beautiful.

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Lots of other things, too. On Friday, at LACMA, Nick Mancini at whose sextet features pianist Otmaro Ruiz and drummer Nate Wood. Intriguing pianist Bevan Manson is at Café Metropol on Saturday, with saxists Ben Wendel and Brian Scanlon, bass trombonist/bass trumpeter Bill Reichenbach, bassist Rick Shaw and drummer Gerry Gibbs. And check this out: the Ed Shaughnessy Quintet highlight the Playboy Jazz Festival Community Concert (along with singer Diane Schuur and Susie Hansen) at Warner Center Park in Woodland Hills on Sunday, 6-8 p.m. Ed Shaughnessy, for you rotten kids who, for crying out loud, don’t know nothing about nobody, played drums in the Tonight Show Band when the Tonight Show was cool. Johnny Carson would swing that invisible gold club and the band would tear into a song and Ed would light into a wild solo that would fade into the commercial and ‘Mama mia, I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.’ A minute or two later, and back to the show and he’d still be wailing on the traps. That was Ed Shaughnessy, baby. And Wayne Shorter’s drummer, Brian Blade, is at Catalina’s Wednesday and Thursday (and he’ll be with Wayne at Playboy in a couple weeks). Finally, organist Larry Goldings is at Vibrato on Monday, going a step or two beyond Jimmy Smith, while it’ll be all Jimmy Smith this Thursday at the Ford Amphitheatre, when theL.A. City Ballet and a jazz sextet (including pianist Cengiz Yaltkaya and tenor Ralph Gibson) perform Peter & The Wolf Jump Cool — though maybe with the kind of dancers you wouldn’t normally have seen in the joints Jimmy played in unless they could duck as good as they danced.

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

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