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By Dan Weiss
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The latest Jazz Bakery Movable Feast features Israeli bassist Avishai Cohen on Friday at 9:30 p.m. at the Musicians Institute (1655 McCadden Place in Hollywood, 310-271-9039). Tickets run $30-$60. He'll perform his latest, Aurora (EMI), which we listened to twice before realizing that Cohen himself was singing (it helps to read liner notes). The tune spread totally works for us, ranging across Sephardic, baroque, Israeli pop and, of course, jazz. Good stuff. He's joined by another vocalist, an oud player, a percussionist and a pianist, and this is not your typical jazz gig. World music and post-bop fans will dig this one. Not to mention fans of killer bass playing.
On a completely different planet is the massive Tribute to Frank Sinatra, the latest four-day festival (it began Thursday and ends Sunday night) put on by the L.A. Jazz Institute. It's the usual LAJI setup: a vast array of big bands (including the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, the Johnny Mandel Orchestra, the Ray Anthony Big Band, the hard-swinging, Basie-charted Frank Capp Juggernaut, to name but a few), some small groups (including saxist Plas Johnson and the Mike Melvoin Trio) and even a novelty act, Montreal's JazzKidz, ages 6 to 16, doing Chairman of the Board–era classics behind an 11-year-old Sinatra — no word on a mini-Ava. There are also panels and films and whatever Ken Poston can come up with. It's spread across the usual digs at the Marriott LAX (5855 W. Century Blvd., 310-641-5700), and tickets can be purchased per gig, per day or for the whole bash. Go to LAJazzInstitute.org for full schedule and ticket info.
One of our favorite killer saxophonists who doesn't seem to play a lot of his own gigs is Louis Van Taylor, so it's cool seeing he's at LACMA on Friday. It's a 6 p.m. gig and free. Afterwards we'd tend to flow east on Wilshire into downtown and then up and over a couple blocks to get to the Café Metropol for the third night of the Metropol Allstars live recording session (which ends Saturday). Saxists Walter Smith III and Dayna Stephens will be up front and wailing ferociously and state-of-the-art. That's a lot of horn in this intimate space, so don't plan on an intimate dinner (probably not ideal for popping the question), but if you love hard-core jazz, then baby, this is the gig, and it's $15.
Vitello's in Studio City is punching back with saxmeister Walt Weiskopf and quartet on Friday and Saturday, which will be awfully good, a tad less wild and two dollars cheaper. Back downtown at the Blue Whale in Little Tokyo on Saturday, it's the Scott Amendola Trio, and the drummer's latest, Lift, is a surprise fave with us. It's a power-trio record — guitar, bass and drums — and we're loving the fact that they rock so hard in places (it's freaking loud sometimes), settle down elsewhere and even get sensitive in spots. And some of it is just plain weird. Amendola's drumming is a thrill: He uses that kit and those cymbals to the max but never wantonly, with no excess. And if any of this sounds good to you, check this one out.
For you total drum freaks, Billy Cobham is at Catalina's on Friday and Saturday, showing how it's done.
On Saturday trumpeter (and eye doctor to the jazzbos) Elliott Caine is back with his hard-grooving, hard-bopping quintet at Jax in Glendale. He always kicks in this joint, there's no cover, the room is funky and cool, and the bar is loud. On Sunday trumpeter (and son of Gil) Miles Evans brings his nine-piece band back to Catalina's. Quite a lineup, with pianist Mitch Forman, bassist Darryl Jones and drummer Bernie Dresel making up one serious rhythm section while burning saxists Doug Webb and Carol Chaikin are up front with Evans. And vibist Jason Marsalis, the youngest of the jazz-playing brood, slips into town for a Tuesday night quintet gig at Vitello's.
Pianist Larry Goldings and saxist Harry Allen have a quartet at Vibrato on Wednesday doing stuff from their new When Harry Met Larry, and as far as we can tell this is a no-cover gig and highly recommended. Trombonist Steve Johnson's Jazz Legacy Quintet is at Charlie O's on Wednesday and includes saxist George Harper, whom we rarely see anywhere.
On Thursday there's three to pick from: the excellent NYC saxist Allen Mezquida at the Lighthouse, the always recommended pianist Bill Cunliffe with a quartet at Charlie O's and intriguing Swedish guitarist Tomas Janzon and quartet (with pianist Art Hillery) play his new Experience at the Crowne Plaza LAX. Three on one night and all a zillion miles from the others, so you can pick only one and hope we were right.
(Brick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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