Eric Dolphy is just too wild. That sound of his is just too intense for most jazz listeners, let alone anyone else. You won't hear him on the radio, excepting KPFK. You don't hear about Eric Dolphy Day, either. It's not till June 20, but we're not expecting much. When Phil Ranelin somehow got the City of Los Angeles to make it a holiday a few years ago, we imagined tremendous bass clarinet parades moaning and screeching their way through town — but unless we missed something, they never happened. But Ranelin isn't missing it. And even if it's a tad early, he's celebrating Eric Dolphy his own way with a special gig. It's this Saturday and features his trombone and his exceptional Renaissance saxists George Harper, Pablo Caloguero and Louis Van Taylor, pianist Kevin Toner, bassist Trevor Ware, drummer Kenny Elliott and percussionist Don Littleton. We love this band. And to push things over the top, he's got saxophonist Carlos Garnett, just up from Panama. You free-jazz people remember him. It's an afternoon show, 2-5 p.m. on Saturday, and it's in the heart of Leimert Park at the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center (4305 Degnan Blvd., 323-296-2272). $10. Highly recommended.
As is the night before at the Blue Whale, where pianist John Beasley's Jazz Circle perform material from his terrific (and Grammy-nominated) Positootly!, plus some new raga-based material and even a noirish soundtrack (with stills from the flick itself). We find describing jazz piano next to impossible, but if we could, we'd go on and on about how much we dig Beasley's playing. He's got trumpeter Rashawn Ross, bassist Kevin Brandon and drummer Oscar Seaton in the Circle, plus incredible vocalist Dwight Trible, who blew minds at LACMA last week. $15. Way cool.
On Saturday night you should dig amazing drummer Peter Erskine's new trio playing material from their new Joy Luck. KiIler drummer, killer trio. On Sunday afternoon you can experience a preview of the Playboy Jazz Festival with pianist Patrice Rushen, righteous drummer Ndugu Chancler and what has to be the most happening salsa band in town, the great Johnny Polanco y Su Conjunto Amistad at Warner Center Park (5800 Topanga Canyon Blvd. in Woodland Hills). It's free.
You will be hearing a lot about Jennifer Leitham once her bio-doc I Stand Corrected is released early next year. In the meantime, she went and filmed a gig and released it on DVD as The Real Me Live. You've heard her playing bass on countless sessions, but she's quite the force live, a melodic virtuoso with tremendous stage presence who knows how to entertain jazz fans and even regular people. And you don't hear the words "bass" and "showmanship" in the same sentence very often. She's throwing a big release bash for the DVD at Catalina's at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday. You'll dig it.
That same night, the free Tuesday night concert series at Hollywood & Highland kicks off with Mongorama. This is the latest project of KKJZ's Jose Rizo, featuring names like saxist Justo Almario, flautist Danilo Lozano, vocalist Adonis Puentes and a mess of great percussionists, plus the violin and piano (and flute) that make charanga like Mongo Santamaria did in the early days. Will be hot.
The Bad Plus are at Catalina's through Sunday. Extremely creative, they are kind of a mandatory experience for people exploring the possibilities of the jazz trio in the post-post-post-bop world. And if you want to sample the classics, on Thursday at the Crowne Plaza, trumpeter Steve Huffsteter presents Treasures of Silver and Golson, an exceptional band: tenor Chuck Manning, pianist John Campbell, bassist James Leary and drummer Ralph Penland. Huffsteter, Manning and Campbell seem to have sprung from three different traditions within the tradition; put them together with those great Benny Golson and Horace Silver tunes (they're so classic, you'll recognize every melody) and it makes for a fascinating and totally swinging mix. No cover, but a $15 minimum.
Saxist Don Menza is at Charlie O's on Saturday, curved soprano saxist John Altman is at Charlie O's on Tuesday, vibraphonist Nick Mancini is at the Lighthouse on Sunday, Cowbop are at Café 322 on Thursday and we'd hit all four if we could. And, oh yeah ... things get weird (maybe way weird) at 7 p.m. Sunday in Eagle Rock, and we don't mean sitting at the bar in Colombo's. The trio of Kaoru-G.E. Stinson-Alex Cline and the Brad Dutz Quartet are at the Center for the Arts Eagle Rock (2225 Colorado Blvd., a block west of Eagle Rock Boulevard, 626-795-4989), and improvisational flights of imagination and rule-breaking will fill your eyes and ears. $10.
(Brick can be reached at email@example.com.)