The local jazz scene seems to be taking a breather this week after the exertions of August. There’s a slew of local festivals coming up over Labor Day weekend (Sweet’n’Hot for the trad and swing crowd, the concentrated straight-ahead of the NewportBeachJazzParty, and the gloriously out there AngelCityJazzFestivalattheFord), so there’s a lot of rehearsing and set preparation going on. A lot of people are out of town playing for appreciative festival crowds across the states, in Europe or even up in Idyllwild for the JazzInthePines thing. Or they’re playing “Cherokee” on cruise ships, or passing on the jazz memes to a class of wide-eyed young students with rich parents. Maybe they’re just making that easy bread in the touring band of some pompous-ass of a crooner. Whatever is it, there are fewer of them in the clubs this week.
They’ve left some interesting stuff in their wake, though. We’ve always dug baritone saxist GarySmulyan; he has that big, rich and molten sound of his hero Pepper Adams, so when he solos, you stop what you’re doing and listen. He seems to pop through town with orchestras now and then, but this time he’s got a quartet at Vibrato on Friday. This should be special. And though this place can be loud during the first set, tonight ain’t no power diners gonna drown out his horn. No cover, either. (And devotees of the late baritonist Jack Nimitz will dig AdamShroeder; he’s playing the big ax at the Lighthouse on Sunday from 11 a.m.) The legendary — the adjective fits here — PharoahSanders is finishing up at Catalina’s on Friday and Saturday, and the man roars and reaches. On Monday the CJSQuintet do their very solid straight-ahead at Charlie O’s. On Wednesday, LouisVanTaylor,one of our very favorite local saxophonists is at the Edison downtown (108 W. 2nd St., in the alley). (Word has it the joint has a dress code.) On Thursday, guitarist Bruce Forman’s CowBop is at the Café 322; you just have to love that seamless mesh of bebop and western swing. Way fun. And pianist LisaHilton is at Catalina on Thursday. Truth be told, we just found her Twilight andBlues in a towering stack of vocal releases sitting by the stereo. Fooled by her photo on the cover — beautiful, windblown, blond, not a piano in sight — we’d added it to the pile, where it sat. One day we put it on, and have been spinning it ever since. It’s some terrific stuff, and the choice of groovy tunes here — such as Marvin Gaye, and even Janis Joplin — and some great originals give the thing almost a soul-jazz vibe. Great band, too, drummer and LewisNash and bassist LarryGrenadier and some ultrafine trumpet from JeremyPelt. She’s released nearly a dozen albums, has lots of great press, and lives just over there in Malibu. You’d think we’d be a little more aware. Then again, they won’t let us anywhere near Malibu.
Finally, there’s a couple of events to talk about. The Jazz Bakery people have nestled themselves temporarily at the Grammy Museum (downtown in that vast LA Live thing, corner of Olympic & Figueroa), where they put on the occasional show. This Saturday at 7:30 arrives BluestoBossa, with ErnieAndrews strutting the blues stuff, and renowned Brazilian guitarist DoriCaymmi’s quartet doing the bossas (look out for his new InnerWorld). The event is a fund-raiser to find new Bakery digs, so the cover is $40. The other big event of the week — a giant event, really — is Wednesday at the Hollywood Bowl with the superstar trio of ChickCorea, StanleyClarke and LennyWhite. Violinist Jean-LucPonty — he of the Mothers of Invention, Mahavishnu Orchestra and ImaginaryVoyage — will join in soaring and swooping and swinging and all that. We’re flashing back to the days when jazz musicians with huge hair plugged into huge amps, huge crowds worshipped them and bought tons of their records. The great ChakaKhan’s along, too, and though it’s been a long time since EchosofanEra (with Chick, Stanley and Lenny, plus Freddie Hubbard and Joe Henderson), and it’s been even longer since Rufusized, and she ain’t lost a thing. Guitarist JohnSchofield — who has played just about every genre imaginable — opens the thing. This is big stuff, baby, you’d just kill to get into that after party. But you won’t.
(Brick can be reached at email@example.com.)