Catalina Bar and Grill has an interesting run this week. One of our very favorite local pianists, John Beasley (a regular on the bench at Charlie O’s for ages) completes his four-night stand on Friday and Saturday. We’re spinning his new Positootly a lot; it’s such a great jazz record. Beasley’s chops flow across the keys, like it’s so easy, and check out Bennie Maupin and Brian Lynch burning Jazz Messenger–style on the opening cut, “Caddo Bayou.” The disc is straight-ahead in the right places, Fender Rhodes groovy in others; there’s a reharmonized Jobim and even a great take on Piazzolla. His live quartet here features trumpeter Nicholas Payton and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington. Rules will be broken. Definitely worth a few bucks to catch this one. On Sunday at Catalina, Mon David celebrates his very fine Coming True (on Free Ham). David is certainly one of our favorite male vocalists, and not being the type to settle into an easy-money crooner role (though he certainly could if he wanted to), he does some especially groovy things with hipper standards (dig his “Footprints”). Plays some nice bossa guitar, too. On Wednesday and Thursday the superstar trio of bassist Stanley Clarke, keyboardist Hiromi and drummer Lenny White goes wholly acoustic, believe it or not.
Vibrato has booked the young band Slumgum on Friday. Formed at CalArts, their self-titled debut is pretty interesting, the style edgy with some pushing-it sax breaks, but Rory Cowals plays some beautiful piano, so they ought not to scare anyone there too badly. Saturday makes up for any alienation with Jack Sheldon. Ya gotta love Sheldon. Jazz accordionist Frank Marocco and bassist John Giannelli bring their quartet (with alto Jon Whinnery and drummer Kendall Kay) back into Giannelli Square (19541 Londelius St. in Northridge, 818-772-1722) on Saturday at 8 p.m. The accordion and alto make a fascinating pairing. Nice room, too. Swinging violinist Regina Carter is at the Pepperdine University Smothers Theatre (24255 PCH in Malibu, 310-506-2787) on Sunday at 7 p.m. We listened a lot to her I’ll Be Seeing You, with its tunes from the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s. Nice renditions all, especially the Ellington. Of course, if you are nowhere near Malibu and want to hear something a tad freakier, then the Eagle Rock Center for the Arts (2225 Colorado Blvd. in Eagle Rock, 626-795-4989) has bassist Steuart Liebig’s Ornette- and James Brown–driven Mentones (alto, harmonica, bass, drums) and guitarist Tom McNalley’s trio (with Liebig and drummer Alex Cline). Inspired stuff. 7 p.m., $10. On Tuesday at 7:30, the Ben Wendel Group is at the Barnsdall Theatre (4804 Hollywood Blvd., L.A., 213-485-4581). This is a new, chamber-music kind of thing, a six-movement jazz suite; saxophonist Wendel has assembled pianist Tigran Hamasyan, Fender Rhodes player Adam Benjamin, guitarist Larry Koonse, bassist Darek Oles and drummer Nate Wood to tackle the thing. This looks like something special, people. $20 ($15 for students). On Wednesday one of our fave local tenors, Javier Vergara, makes a rare leader gig at the Café 322, while that same night at Vitello’s in Studio City (4349 Tujunga Ave., 818-769-0905), pianist Cengiz Kaltaya also makes a rare gig as a leader, with the energetic team of bassist Greg Swiller and drummer Bill Wysaske. Turkish-born Kaltaya is about to head over to Istanbul with this bunch for a weeklong stand at the country’s leading jazz spot (a week between the Yellowjackets and Herbie Hancock, in fact). Pretty damn cool ... break free of L.A. and you can be a star. The trick is breaking free of L.A.
And big-band action this week includes Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra at Royce Hall on Friday. The uberhip may scoff, but this is a helluva band. The incredibly hard-swinging Frank Capp Juggernaut headlines the L.A. Jazz Society Awards at the Sheraton Universal in Studio City on Sunday, 4:30 to 9:30. Also on Sunday, the La Vida Music Festival is headlined by the excellent Louie Cruz Beltran Latin Orchestra, with guests Pete Escovedo and Hubert Laws, at 7 p.m. And there’s a big, four-day Stan Kenton extravaganza erupting at the Four Points Sheraton (9750 Airport Blvd., 562-985-7076). Opening day Thursday includes the Lighthouse Allstars Revisited (with Pete Christlieb, among many) and Rugulomania with the Pete Rugulo Big Band. There are films, panels, more music (including “A Presentation of Progressive Jazz”) from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. See lajazzinstitute.org. And there’s about eight thousand bands — some of them jazz — playing this Saturday from 4 to 11 p.m. all along Colorado Boulevard (between Eagle Rock Blvd. and Argus) for free. We love this annual Eagle Rock Music Festival. Reminds us of the Sunset Junction of years back, before it became a Lollapalooza knockoff. The same hip and happy street-party vibe. But leave the leather chaps at home.
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