The Angel City Jazz Festivalis back again this year. They're having all kinds of events, all giving jazz a good rethinking, as their motto says.
Some seem to have rethunk the jazz right out of jazz, like the quintet jamming with a gourmet chef in some kind of food-jazz thing while a Japanese dancer interprets in weird, slow body movements. So we'll stick to the music picks here.
On Saturday night at REDCAT, they have the long-lost, since-found bass legend Henry Grimes in his first local appearance since 2003. There's a pretty heavyweight outside-ish bunch with him: trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, woodwind player Vinny Golia, pianist Ben Rosenbloom and inspired drummer-percussionist Alex Cline. You get the idea of what to expect — basically, the unexpected. Grimes was a big name in the '60s New Thing and avant-garde, working with Albert Ayler, etc. He's based in NYC now and having him out here for a concert is a treat. Opening is the remarkable duet of pianist John Beasley and vocalist Dwight Trible. Beasley's strong, imaginative style and exceptional chops are an ideal foil for Trible's incredible vocals, and their music will resonate off those creepy goth-black walls and it will be groovy. REDCAT is downtown in the cellar beneath Disney Hall, and the cover is a sorta-kinda pricey $30.
The main Angel City event is on Sunday at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre from 5 to 10:30 p.m. It's a helluva lineup, including the longtime team of tenor Ravi Coltrane (one of our favorites) and trumpeter Ralph Alessi with the excellent local rhythm trio of guitarist Larry Koonse, bassist Darek Oles and drummer Steve Hass. That's worth a pick right there. There's also way-out (and often beautiful) trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith's Golden Quartet with genius pianist Vijay Iyer. Plus the conceptually way-gone Vinny Golia Sextet. And local faves Kneebody, who are a hardworking angular/rhythmic/freak/whatever outfit with the awesome lineup of saxist Ben Wendel (whose playing blows our mind), trumpeter Shane Endsley, pianist Adam Benjamin, bassist Kaveh Rastegar and drummer Nate Wood (whose drumming blows our mind). And the Sons of Champignon loosen up naturally with way-avant saxist Tim Berne, guitarist Nels Cline and drummer Jim Black. An amazing evening.
Tickets are a sorta steal at $40 considering what you're getting, plus how goddamn beautiful the venue is, plus the fact that you can bring in a cooler full of beer and sandwiches and get loaded to some incredibly creative music on a balmy Hollywood night with people just as alienated as you. Girls even. Angelcityjazz.com has everything you need to know. Even that jazz-food-dance guy thing on Monday and the Nels–comic book guy-poet thing on Thursday. And we had to rethink jazz just writing all that.
The Luckman Jazz Orchestra devotes itself this Saturday night to the music of Lee Morgan, and you will hear Lee Morgan classics rethunk and Lee Morgan tunes you never even knew existed. Charles Owens conducts and is in his glory, at the Luckman Fine Arts Complex at Cal State L.A. (323-343-6600). McCoy Tyner finishes up his Catalina's on Friday and Saturday, and when he's on, this man still cooks beautifully just the way you'd hope. The crowd invariably goes bonkers, and his playing still moves people tremendously.
We just found out that alto Lee Konitz is with his New Quartet at UCLA's Schoenberg Hall on Saturday at 8 p.m. It's a pricey $40 but hell, it's Lee Konitz, whom we dig to death. Some of you may not know the name, but check his stuff out, that's a totally unique alto thing he has going on, and has had since the fifties. No mere Bird clone, he.
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Vibist Nick Mancini has a quartet featuring clarinetist John Tegmeyer at Alva's in San Pedro on Saturday night. That's a really nice combination of soloists. Tegmeyer's may be a new name to some of you but he'll make you believe in the licorice stick. It's $20, yeah, but it's BYO drinks and food and the room is perfect. Hard blowing tenor Doug Webb is at Sangria on Wednesday, free (or nearly so). And here's one on Wednesday: pianist Josh Nelson has a great quartet at Vitello's (including NYC tenor Kyle Wilson), doing nothing but 1960s Blue Note classics. There's no way you won't love that. No cover, $13 minimum.
On Thursday timbalero Bobby Matos has his fine Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble at the Crowne Plaza LAX from 7 p.m. The line up includes stellar pianist Theo Saunders, saxist Pablo Calogero, and violinist Rocio Marron besides Bobby's usual solid percussion section. $15 minimum. And CowBop are at Café 322 on Thursday. Bruce Forman, baby — the dude rocks, or swings, or whatever it is that jazz guitarists who pick a mean Texas lead do. We love this band. And the show's free. Like the range.
(Brick can be reached at email@example.com.)