This Friday, April 3, is looking good, with a rare local appearance by Swedish guitarist Thomas Janzon and his excellent quartet (pianist Art Hillery, bassist Nedra Wheeler and drummer Donald Dean) at the Sheraton downtown, running from 6 to 9 p.m. His playing is coolly European, with a wonderful sense of space, and we especially dig his Coast to Coast to Coast (and the rare Live in Stockholm too). Not far away at the Café Metropol, saxist Matt Otto will blow long, circular melodies with his beautiful tone and his great young group (including guitarist Steve Cotter, who we last saw with the Luckman Jazz Orchestra during that amazing night of Coltrane interpretations). Music is from 8 to 10 p.m., so you’ll generally get two great sets of stuff. Then head over to west Pico, also on Friday, for a surprise at the Mint: the hard-grooving Dr. Lonnie Smith and the Big Organ Trio. The good doctor’s latest is Rise Up, and with players like saxist Donald Harrison, guitarist Peter Bernstein and drummer Herlin Riley (who was doing some fantastic stuff with the San Francsico Jazz Collective in town recently), he’s certainly not messing around. Also on Friday, the wonderful Filipina-American vocalist Charmaine Clamor is at Catalina, where she’ll be performing a blend of jazz numbers, a little soul, and a lot of her brilliant jazz takes on classic Filipino tunes. The arrangements are spare and ethnic, the emotion real, and the whole thing can be riveting. Great vibist Stefon Harris brings his Blackout (including pianist Marc Cary) down to the Orange County Performing Arts Center on both Friday and Saturday, and, like Ms. Clamor, the man knows how to put on a great show while making stellar music — with charisma to spare.
And, as amazing as it sounds, there is jazz happening in Silver Lake this weekend. Wild stuff, too: Andrew Durkin’s crazily over-under upside-down Industrial Jazz Group on a bill with PLOTZ!, which plays an amped-up Gypsy-jazz-rock fusion. It all happens at El Cid (4212 Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake) on Saturday. That Industrial Jazz Group is pretty special: Avoiding free excess for something much more Mingusesque, they deliver crazy written pieces and berserk ensemble work laced with impassioned solos. Not to mention some patter and dramatics — in other words, a real-live show.
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On Sunday morning from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Catalina will celebrate Page Cavanaugh, the legendary Los Angeles cool-jazz pianist and singer. Music and song and stories are promised, and apparently a considerable rack of talent has being lined up — Michael Feinstein and everybody. Hell, they got Leonard Maltin to emcee. Far cry from the Industrial Jazz Group, yeah, but the cat was the epitome of his own kind of Hollywood class.
We’re not really sure what to say about Argentine accordionist Chango Spaziuk, but, man, his Pynandi–Los Descalzos is one of our favorites lately, a startling, brilliant interpretation of an Argentine folk music called chamamé, which sorta blends old German dance tunes with local South American elements. Using the classic accordion, guitar and fiddle trio, plus some, he weaves together an astonishing suite of tunes, essentially doing for this rural folk music what Astor Piazzolla did for the more-urban, sophisticated tango. This is heavy music. Hear it for yourself at the Getty Center at 7:30 on Saturday and at 3 p.m. on Sunday. Free reservations are required (call 310-440-7300 or go to www.getty.edu).
The brilliant NYC saxist Steve Coleman begins his Jazz Bakery stand on Wednesday — but more on that next week. Getting back to this Saturday, Arturo Sandoval is at the Luckman. He’s calling it “Mambo Mania,” for good or ill, but this cat plays one fierce trumpet, and any of you prog en espanol fans of Irakere should check this. And, come on, there’s definitely more than a few of you prog fans reading this, no doubt guiltily looking at all those LPs you just could never part with. Of course, you are now Mr. Jazzbo, haven’t heard a Moog or kicked a pebble in years. But this Monday, tucked away in the Typhoon restaurant at the little Santa Monica Airport, is the fine and swinging Bruce Lofgren Jazz Orchestra, featuring Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s own Keith Emerson. Truly the monster-rock keyboard player in his day, and no doubt a lot of fun still. They’ve done this a couple times now, so it must be working jazz-wise.
(Brick can be reached at email@example.com.)