Brick's Picks: Horns of Plenty 

Saturday, Mar 6 2010

Some great horn players all over town this weekend, beginning in Sierra Madre at the Café 322 on Friday, when the Jon Mayer Trio brings along tenor Rickey Woodard. We hope you people there realize just how fine a jazz show you'll be getting for the price of a pizza and a few beers. Across town at no-cover Vibrato in Bel Air, alto Zane Musa blows the alto like Cannonball gone bonkers, very intense. Miss the dinner sets, though. Bonkers is an apt description of tenor Azar Lawrence mid-solo, too, and even if he seems to project pure-'Trane, he does it so damn well, and honestly, it works. He'll be at the Alva's down in Pedro (where it's BYOB, baby) on Saturday with a great band, including guest pianist Bebito Gonzalez, bassist Henry Franklin and drummer Lorca Hart. Hart by the way, seems to be picking up more and more of his father, Billy Hart's freer intensity. Sitting in front of the kit at Charlie O'srecently he blew our minds with light-speed fills and tumbling rolls, accents dropped and bounced and bombed, cymbals washed, rippled and ringing in all the right directions ... at times Lorca was so carried away in frenetic press rolls that his whole body vibrated and he became a blur. Quite a show.

Speaking of drummers, NYC drummer Dave Ashkenazy has proven very eclectic, dabbling and creating in all styles. It's one of those Brooklyn kind of things, where it seems there are a lot fewer rules on what goes with what. He has his Collective (which we think is a trio, with bass and saxophone) at the Café Metropol on Friday. And the exceptionally sensitive and swinging Matt Slocum does two shows this week, first as a member of pianist Josh Nelson's trio at Vitello's on Wednesday, and then leading a trio himself (with Nelson again) at the Crown Plaza on Thursday.

Joshua Redman is at the Luckman Fine Arts Complex at CalState L.A. (323/343-6600) on Saturday. His last, Compass, was a trip and bummed out some of the straight-ahead crowd with its uncompromising double trio experimentation, daring, if not always an easy listen. We haven't a clue what he'll be doing here, but he's a great sax player and never dull. Or check out saxman Dale Fielder at the Hollywood Studio Bar and Grill on Saturday. His latest, Stolen Moments, is some fine jazz, and we dig the man's muscular, exuberant playing. Fielder is one of those cats who ought not have to fight for gigs the way he does, and we can't tell if he's in the wrong town (his latest entry, Frugal Apathy, begins "Geri Allen warned me about staying in L.A. ...") or the wrong era. This will be a good one. Then on Sunday in the 11 a.m. slot at the Lighthouse the CJS Quintet pay tribute to Dexter Gordon. Charles Johnson does the Dexter, with James Smith blowing the hot trumpet all around . At 7 p.m. trombonists Michael Vlatkovich and George McMullen Trio each lead a trio at the Eagle Rock Center for the Arts on Sunday (2225 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock 626/795-4989), which is just plain cool.

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If you have the bread, then drummer Babatunde Lea at Catalina's on Wednesday and Thursday is a must. He'll be doing material from his tribute to Leon Thomas, Umbo Weti, which we just love. What a band, with saxist Ernie Watts, who is always brilliant; bassist Gary Brown; pianist Patrice Rushen and some stunning vocal work by Dwight Trible. The album is really passionate stuff instrumentally and vocally; live it could only be better. Another of this town's fairly rare male vocalists we especially dig is Mon David, at Vitello's on Friday. While nowhere near as far out as Trible (but then, who is?), Mon's unique take on scatting is something special and never overdone, and his singing style — a powerful voice that never just croons — is fresh and even striking. We really dig his take on the bossa nova, accompanied by his own guitar playing. Check out his Coming True (on Free Ham). And if you're in the mood for some Patsy Cline with your bebop, then CowBop play Café 322 on Thursday, singer Pinto Pammy sharing the stage with fiddler Phil Salazar and the extraordinary fretwork of guitarist Bruce Forman, whipping up a downright (and down-home even) blend of Dizzy Gillespie and Bob Wills. Forman's calling this the CowBop Big Band this time, adding some horn players to the lineup for the night, jazzing up that western swing even more. Hot damn.

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

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