Brick's Picks: Bennie Maupin, John Heard Trio and more

Bennie Maupin is at Catalina Bar and Grill on Friday, celebrating his excellent new Early Reflections (on Cryptogramophone), a great follow-up to 2006’s brilliant Penumbra. His tenor and (especially) his soprano playing are gorgeous and searching, as of course is his bass clarinet (which you heard him play on Miles’ Bitches Brew way back when). The mood is thoughtful and subdued with volcanic surges, and the very rhythmically adept Polish trio backing his explorations (featuring pianist Michal Tokaj) make the most of the mood without breaking it. Guest vocalist Hania Rybka adds ethereal vocals in places. The whole thing is made for late-night listening, when it’s just you and the stereo and Maupin’s bass clarinet and distant sirens outside. And for this show, Maupin will be backed by the same players, who’ve flown in from Warsaw for the appearance. A pretty remarkable event just might be in the offing here. Don’t miss it.

The inimitable reed man Charles Owens — like Maupin, he plays them all with utterly distinctive character — is back with The John Heard Trio (including the brilliant pianist Nate Morgan) at Charlie O’s on Friday. Owens and Heard are a natural match ... the muscular bass lines give Owens plenty to dance around, explore, blaze through or swing from. And if you catch the first Maupin show, you can catch Owens’ later sets too. On Saturday, 8-10 p.m. at Café Metropol, it’s one of L.A.’s finest new piano players, Josh Nelson, and he’s again assembled a very strong outfit that includes saxist Ben Wendel, guitarist Anthony Wilson and bassist Darek Oles ... all of whom performed on his excellent debut, Let It Go. And on Tuesday, back at Charlie O’s is one of our favorite quartets — tenor Benn Clatworthy, pianist Theo Saunders, bassist Chris Colangelo and drummer Jimmy Branly, some of the very best this town offers. This bunch make sometimes-intense jazz, do amazing things with Monk, and both Clatworthy and Saunders can also spin out gorgeous, introspective ballads and bare-bones blues. Good, good stuff.

Besides Owens and Clatworthy, et al., check the Jazz listings, as the whole week at Charlie O’s is really solid, including mighty tenor Don Menza with Heard’s trio on Saturday and the hard-swinging Basie tunes from the Frank Capp Juggernaut on Monday. At the Sheraton Universal on Friday, catch the ever-entertaining alto veteran Med Flory (with old pal Carl Saunders on trumpet), or drop a couple of generations for Kneebody pianist Adam Benjamin’s trio at Café Metropol; while the excellent repertory project the Cannonball Coltrane Project are at Café 322. On Saturday a real L.A. jazz legend (with roots all the way back to Central Avenue), Gerry Wiggins, records with a trio at Giannelli Square. Great to see saxist Carol Chaikin at Spazio Monday, while pianist Jim Szilagyi (of Chuck Manning’s quartet) is at Jax; and on Wednesday one of our favorite pianists, Jon Mayer, makes that jazz of his at Café 322. Wednesday and Thursday, esteemed vocal improviser Andy Bey returns to the Jazz Bakery.

This has been coming for a while, but it’s still not easy to accept that Ozzie Cadena is gone. Ozzie, the intrepid jazz impresario who single-handedly kept the great jazz tradition alive at the Lighthouse. Ozzie the Savoy Records producer, who engineered so many great, even astonishing NYC sessions over the years, from bop’s glory days (Bird and Fats Navarro and the rest) through hard bop’s (Blakey and Cannonball and hundreds of others). Ozzie, whose enthusiasm for the music and its players seemed unbounded (no matter what they did). ... The very Ozzie who took his bride, Gloria, to Birdland on their wedding night because Charlie Parker was playing. Have been missing him dearly, his suit and tie (no matter how damn hot), his ramrod-straight Marine stance (he never seemed to sit), his rapid-fire Jersey English, and his patience with someone brand-new to jazz writing. The best way to celebrate his life is to go to the Lighthouse. Dick Weller is there on Sunday morning.

(Brick can be reached at

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