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Brick's Picks: Safe Bet, Reptet 

Thursday, Jan 13 2011
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Seattle's Reptet are back in town. We still listen to their Do This! and Chicken or Beef?, and when At the Cabin showed up not long ago, we were delighted. It's nothing like the other two, which were unlike each other (and unlike their 7-inch single, either) — it's maybe even a tad crazier. (Hell, there's a song about Jack in the Box!) Live, the Sun Ra pokes through in crazy ensemble passages and exciting solos and wild antics; they're jazz musicians to the core, and the playing quality (on all kinds of brass and reeds and rhythm and percussion) is always high. You can catch them at Thursday's ResBox at the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood ($10), sharing a great bill with Don Preston, among others.

But if you really want to get the whole Reptet thing, then check them out at Taix in Echo Park on Wednesday. This intimate room (normally the abode of inspired local jazzoid/funkoid underground rock outfits like Joe Baiza's Congress Of and the Atomic Sherpas) is perfect for the madness of the Reptet. Can't wait to see them marching around it. If any Silver Lake scenesters dig jazz at all, they need only cross the street from the Echo and make this gig. No cover.

And drummer Mat Marucci is down from Sacramento. His propulsive drumming positively lifts any straight-ahead outfit to another level. We could listen to this cat for hours; in fact, we're spinning his highly recommended Live at the Bakery now. Marucci has the wonderful habit of getting gigs at Jax in Glendale, a nearby guilty pleasure — noisy, crowded, with the drunks making idiotic requests. He's there Friday and Saturday, with tenor Chuck Manning, pianist Rick Olsen and bassist Jeff Littleton. Superb jazz. No cover here, either.

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Pianist Tigran Hamasyan has a penchant for pounding the hell out of the Foundry piano, sidemen trying to hang on. We haven't mentioned his classical (or Russian romantic, actually) background or how extraordinary he can be in a solo concert setting. His Fable (on Verve) is a magnificent slice of imagination, steeped in his Armenian roots and shot through with his signature and repetitive percussive figures (don't quote us — we're weak describing piano) that seem more and more beautiful as he follows them through. His vocal accompaniment is striking. The whole thing is gorgeous. He'll perform it Saturday at 7:30 and 9:30 at the Edye Second Space at Santa Monica College (1310 11th St., 310-434-3412). The $22 is a steal.

Maybe the best of this town's big bands is the magnificent Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. They swing so damn hard, and have been at it so long and regularly that it's beautiful. We won't even run through the soloists, but to a man they are all first-call players. There is no better venue to see them than Vibrato, and they're there on Tuesday. You'll shell out $20-$30 for this one, but you won't regret a cent of it.

Guitarist/composer Aurelio knocked us out with Laru Beya, which takes the gentle Garifuna grooves back to Africa. It's pumped up, exploding with rhythm, call and response, tight horns, the whole bit. We love it. He's at the Getty Museum, on at 7 p.m. on Saturday and 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, and it's free, but you have to call (310) 440-7300.

Friday is ridiculous: Great shows from Bobby Matos with Poncho Sanchez at Culver City Radisson and Justo Almario & the L.A./N.Y. Connection celebrating his 45 years of musicianhood at Catalina's, while Jack Sheldon slays again at Café 322, saxist Charles Owens amazes at Charlie O's and alto Gary Foster melts them at Vibrato — such a tone.

On Saturday, bassist Dave Robaire with Larry Koonse and Josh Nelson plays the Blue Whale; the amazing trio of pianist Alan Pasqua, bassist Darek Oles and drummer Joe LaBarbera do Vitello's; and the beloved, underrated singer Jimmy Spencer turns 75 at Barone's (13726 Oxnard St. in the Valley) at 11 a.m.

On Sunday, trumpeter Elliott Caine releases Hippie Chicks on Acid at Twist Restaurant Champagne Brunch at the Hollywood Renaissance. At 2 p.m. pianists Marian Petrescu and Mike Garson solo and duet at Pierre's Fine Pianos (310-247-0331) and at 7 p.m. saxist Dale Fielder blows out The Joint (8771 W. Pico Blvd., 310-275-2619). Recommended.

Young and way impressive NYC saxist Justin Janer is at Charlie O's on Monday while pianist Theo Saunders is back there Tuesday. Super bassist Jennifer Leitham returns to Café 322 on Wednesday, always a great gig, and then on Thursday the Kevin Kanner Quartet are at the Lighthouse, guitarist Kenny Burrell begins a Catalina's stand and bassist Alain Caron (whose excellent new Conversations we just found in the pile here) is at the Baked Potato. He has pianist Otmaro Ruiz on board for both CD and gig. Recommended.

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

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