Brick's Picks: Tale of the Whale | Music | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
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Brick's Picks: Tale of the Whale 

Thursday, Jul 21 2011
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TALE OF THE WHALE

We are writing this during Carmageddon weekend, and we planned a whole bit about being trapped on the Glendale Freeway for days as the city burned around us until we were rescued by Huell Howser. But the editor said that was so last week already, just talk about jazz, ferchrissakes — that's why you make the big bucks and why you get to sit with the sax section at Vitello's when the big bands play and the guys pretend they like you and everything. (Of course, they have to.) But we also just got our third warning from the Jazz Critics Guild. They're really strict, those people; you have to wear a tie, you can't play drums in punk rock bands or violate the laws of grammar with impunity. And we wouldn't care, except we really like their parties at Hooters. So here are the jazz shows we like this week.

We always enjoy the John Beasley Positootly Jazz Circle. Their album Positootly! is terrific, nominated for a Grammy even. But live it's really special. Beasley's hard-boned Louisiana piano-playing blends jazz beauty and jazz roots, accompanied by a powerhouse bass and drum team and Dwight Trible doing that crazy vocal thing of his. They're a band that won't be drowned out by the racket of Wilshire Boulevard when they perform at LACMA on Friday from 6-8 p.m. And Bobby Matos has his Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble at LACMA on Saturday from 5-7 p.m. This is a cooking outfit, very jazzy actually. Pablo Calogero trips us out every time with his passionate tenor blowing. Bobby's been the local workhorse on the effort to reverse the elimination of the Latin Jazz Grammy category, too, so get out to this and give him some well-deserved props. Both these gigs are free. On Sunday at 5 p.m. the lately peripatetic trumpeter Elliott Caine brings his hard-driving quintet to the Vroman's Book Store patio in Pasadena (at 695 E. Colorado Blvd.) It'll be cooking, and it'll be free, too.

But hey, jazz is supposed to be all booze and bad lighting, like in the joints. So, checking the clubs, we see mighty tenor Don Menza is at Vibrato on Friday. It's a rich-people joint, yeah, with rich-people food and really nice bathrooms, but we dig the place anyway, and the jazz can be great later in the evening when the rich people go back to their Westside mansions. Pat Senatore hosts the best players there, and trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos makes the trip up from San Diego to be there on Saturday. That one is highly recommended indeed. Saxist Justo Almario performs on Tuesday.

The Blue Whale in Little Tokyo is, like, waaaaaaaaay hip right now, almost stinking hip, and the people there are very serious. It's not the place to do a Henny Youngman routine, as we now know. But the music is amazing. Pianist Austin Peralta plays on Friday with saxist Katisse Buckingham, bassist Gabe Noel and drummer Zach Harmon — whose drumming blows minds at the Foundry on Melrose every Friday and Saturday. Katisse is at the Blue Whale on Saturday, too, with his own adventurous outfit. And best of all, the quintet of saxists Ben Wendel and Walter Smith III with guitarist Larry Koonse, bassist Billy Mohler and drummer Steve Hass plays the Blue Whale on Wednesday. And that one, baby, is our gig of the week.

If you hate sushi, there's red beans and rice in Little Tokyo at Nola's A Taste of New Orleans (734 E. 3rd St., 213-680-3003). Elliott Caine is back again on Wednesday, and guitarist Jacques Lesure throws his "Old School Straight-Ahead Jam Session" there every Monday night. He knows just the players for the job, too. (The Blue Whale still has its new-school, straight-ahead jam session on Tuesdays, for comparison.) Also downtown, 7 Grand (at 7th and Grand, 213-614-0737) has jazz on Mondays, this week with saxist Louis Van Taylor, one of our town's major players.

Of course, our very fave joint is Charlie O's out in the Valley. We shouldn't show favoritism, but, hey, we pay for our own drinks and everything. The gig we're most looking forward to there this week has to be pianist Theo Saunders, along with a killer bunch: trumpeter Howie Shears, bassist Henry Franklin and drummer Tony Austin. Highly recommended. And way the hell down at Sangria on the Hermosa Beach Pier — where bikini-clad cyclists scatter pedestrians like startled pigeons — you can see tenor Doug Webb go hard-bop nuts on Wednesday.

If you prefer backyard jazz scenes, we suggest the Lawrence Jazz Oasis (548 W. Palm St., Altadena, 626-296-0631) on Sunday from 2-5 p.m. Fifteen bucks gets you a mess of soul food, drinks and a couple sets of baritone saxist Dale Fielder's band doing nothing but the music of the Donald Byrd/Pepper Adams Quintet. Nolan Shaheed blows the trumpet, and pianist Jane Getz, bassist Trevor Ware and drummer Don Littleton lay down the rhythm. Oh man, don't that sounds like a fine afternoon?

If you hate sushi, there’s red beans and rice in Little Tokyo at Nola’s A Taste of New Orleans (734 E. 3rd St., 213-680-3003). Elliott Caine is back again on Wednesday, and guitarist Jacques Lesure throws his “Old School Straight-Ahead Jam Session” there every Monday night. He knows just the players for the job, too. (The Blue Whale still has its new-school, straight-ahead jam session on Tuesdays, for comparison.) Also downtown, 7 Grand (at 7th and Grand, 213-614-0737) has jazz on Mondays, this week with saxist Louis Van Taylor, one of our town’s major players.

Of course, our very fave joint is Charlie O’s out in the Valley. We shouldn’t show favoritism, but, hey, we pay for our own drinks and everything. The gig we’re most looking forward to there this week has to be pianist Theo Saunders, along with a killer bunch: trumpeter Howie Shears, bassist Henry Franklin and drummer Tony Austin. Highly recommended. And way the hell down at Sangria on the Hermosa Beach Pier — where bikini-clad cyclists scatter pedestrians like startled pigeons — you can see tenor Doug Webb go hard-bop nuts on Wednesday.

If you prefer backyard jazz scenes, we suggest the Lawrence Jazz Oasis (548 W. Palm St., Altadena, 626-296-0631) on Sunday from 2-5 p.m. Fifteen bucks gets you a mess of soul food, drinks and a couple sets of baritone saxist Dale Fielder’s band doing nothing but the music of the Donald Byrd/Pepper Adams Quintet. Nolan Shaheed blows the trumpet, and pianist Jane Getz, bassist Trevor Ware and drummer Don Littleton lay down the rhythm. Oh man, don’t that sounds like a fine afternoon? 

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

 

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