BRICKS PICKS: Alto Madness
We haven’t seen all the schedules for all the clubs yet — club owners and bookers need a break, too — but they’ll be out by the time you read this so you can call your favorite joint or poke around a few Web sites for info. But there are some fine pickings in the gigs we do know about this week, like Jane Monheit at Catalina’s Friday through Sunday. Expect strong jazz vocals atop her stripped-down band arrangements and an approach aimed right at the male limbic system. Nice stuff. Bebop, on the other hand, was pretty much aimed at the gray matter — all these way-smart musicians playing for way-smart people (in theory anyway). Thing is, though, the tempos were so damn fast that the sheer velocity of those crazy notes was incredibly exciting and got hipster hypothalamuses all worked up. (Soon everybody was doing heroin.) Anyway, most jazz musicians know better than that now and temper those tempos to keep things safely in the intellectual frontal lobe.
Things are decidedly cooler bop-wise all these generations later, unless we’re talking alto Richie Cole, who seems to get that kind of late-’40s craziness in his horn — the “Alto Madness” he’s been calling it for years now. It’s a helluva lot of notes played real fast, but damn if it doesn’t still work, people, as though the whole cool thing never happened. Dig up his reissue Richie and Phil and Richie; it’s one of those CDs you pop into the car audio system and get where you’re going real fast. He’s at Alva’s in San Pedro on Saturday, a nice room with a great sound. Don’t let that $20 cover scare you much, since that’s the only cash you’ll be dropping all night long; it’s BYOB at Alva’s. If you need a respite from all that alto madness, then head up the coast to Hermosa Beach for the Lighthouse Sunday liquid brunch, 11 a.m. till 3 p.m. Gary Foster is playing tones soaked in that West Coast sound. Vocalist VR Smith joins him. Now if you want more madness, not less, the people at the Eagle Rock Center For the Arts (2225 Colorado Blvd., 626-795-4989) provide their monthly dosage on Sunday evening at 7 p.m. with Cosmologic (tenor Jason Robinson, trombonist Michael Dessen, bassist Scott Walton and drummer Nathan Hubbard), a wildly creative bunch with origins in San Diego’s Tremmelflora Collective. Guitarist Jim McAuley and electrofreaking clarinetist Andrew Pask open. It’s a mere $10, and students, hip seniors and people who’ve played previous events — there are enough of you — get in for half that. Such a deal.
Tuesday is rocking, as they say, with the powerful octet Cartaya’s Enclave at the Baked Potato. Poncho Sanchez sidemen like the excellent tenor Frank Fontaine and percussionist Joey De Leon are among the regulars in this outfit. And we’re not sure who’s in the lineup of the Emil Richards Big Band at Spazio on Tuesday, but it’s a good guess that it’ll be packed with major L.A. players. If that’s just too much instrumentation for you, drummer Peter Erskine, pianist Vardan Osvepian and bassist Hamilton Price are at Vitello’s on Tuesday. Erskine, of course, is Jaco Pastorius’ rhythm mate from Weather Report; only in jazz can you see superstar musicians on a regular basis in intimate clubs. Osvepian is new to us, but if he is as creative as his L.A.-based Armenian countrymen Tigran Hamasyan (on his way to superstardom himself) or Tigran Martikyan (tucked away in Los Feliz, but look for his self-titled CD), then this will be an impressive gig. And on Wednesday, pianist Andy Langham has a quartet at Sangria (a couple doors down from the Lighthouse). You can see Langham regularly at Charlie O’s, where he plays with the house trio; he’s got a unique style — in this town anyway — even striding on occasion, and when did you last see that? No word of the players here, but he knows them all, the young set and the veterans, and this one is certainly recommended.
Finally, a lot of you probably saw the Gil Evans Orchestra led by son Miles Evans at the Hollywood Bowl last summer performing Gil Evans’ classic arrangements for Sketches of Spain. Quite an event. Well, they’ve shaved it down to the Gil Evans Band for a one-nighter at Catalina’s on Thursday, and we know nothing about it except we assume Miles Evans is taking trumpet duties alongside a pretty eclectic mix of players, including pianist and grooving B3 player Larry Goldings, fusion guitarist Oz Noy and bassist Darryl Jones, who’s been a Rolling Stone for some time now. We haven’t the vaguest idea what this is about, but what the hell — it could be terrific. Besides, Mick and Keith will be sitting in on “Miles Ahead.” Okay, they won’t be, but it sure was fun writing that.
(Brick can be reached at email@example.com.)
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