Brick's Picks: Big Band Blowout

Pianist McCoy Tyner is at Catalina Bar and Grill through Sunday.His brand-new release, McCoy Tyner Quartet, with Joe Lovano on tenor, is some powerful jazz. Here he has Gary Bartz on tenor, and fans of Tyner’s music from his days with Coltrane through the present should be thrilled. And the great Bennie Golson is at the Jazz Bakery, also through Sunday. Perhaps best known as a composer — think “I Remember Clifford,” “Killer Joe: Whisper Not” — Golson has also always been a fine tenor player who never locked himself in a stylistic groove, and on top of all that he tells a great story. Like Tyner, catching him live at least once is a must for a jazz fan.

And there’s a nice selection of local straight ahead this week as well. Tenor saxophonist Carl Randall comes from the same Central Los Angeles jazz roots as Dexter Gordon, Harold Land and Teddy Edwards, a sound and feel that landed him a place in Gerald Wilson’s sax section for decades. Randall leads his own quartet at Café 322 on Friday. Another great tenor, Rickey Woodard, is a Tennessean long settled in Los Angeles by way of Ray Charles; he’s with the John Heard Trio at Charlie O’s on Saturday, then does the Lighthouse Sunday brunch gig; and on Monday he sits in with the Cross-Hart Jazz Experience at the Angeleno. Tenor Benn Clatworthy picked up the horn in London after hearing Booker Ervin and has since become one of our more powerful and original tenors. He gigs with the John Heard Trio at Charlie O’s on Friday, and that will be a good, tough one; you can also catch his regular appearance with a quintet on Sunday afternoon at the Radisson in downtown Whittier, and then on Monday he’s at Jax, and Lord knows what to expect at his Jax gigs. Pianist Jon Mayer came out of the New York jazz scene of the ’50s (even recording with ’Trane) and has been going strong in L.A. for years now; his technique still bop full of surprises. His quintet (with trombonist Scott Whitfield) plays the Sheraton Universal on Saturday; and he’s with the great saxman Pete Christieb at Charlie O’s on Wednesday. Tateng Katindig’s trio is at Spazio on Wednesday; it’s a shame he is not more visible around town as he is such a fine pianist. And trumpeter Carl Saunders’ solos never fail to leave us amazed; you can catch him in with quartets at Vibrato on Friday and Sangria in Hermosa Beach on Wednesday.

The excellent drummer Matt Slocum is back in town from NYC for a bit and has assembled a high-powered quartet with saxist Ben Wendel, pianist Josh Nelson and bassist Dan Lutz to play the Café Metropol on Friday. He also anchors baritonist Adam Shroeder’s quartet at Rosalie & Alva’s in San Pedro on Saturday. On Friday and Saturday it’s the Harlem West Quintet at the World Stage, featuring the wonderful trumpeter Richard Grant,and the always good Nick Mancini Collective are at the Café Metropol on Saturday (their last local appearance of 2007). Pittsburgh-bred saxophonist Dale Fielder is especially strong on the baritone, with a lot of Pepper Adams fire. His quintet, which features pianist Jane Getz, plays theJazz Bakery on Tuesday, and in fact will be doing Pepper Adams music. And you’d be hard pressed to find a more fiery player anywhere than Zane Musa, who’s back at Charlie O’s on Thursday. Lately Musa’s been concentrating a lot on the soprano sax, which he plays with amazing passion and energy.

TimbaleroBobby Matos will be telling stories (that man has a few) at the always-fascinating World Stage Stories on Friday at 8 p.m., and then takes his Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble into the Gallery Bar in the Millennium Biltmore downtown on Saturday. On Monday the Louie Cruz Beltran Latin Jazz Ensemble bring Latin jazz to the Hollywood Studio Bar and Grill. Vibrato continues its Tuesday Latin series with the Banda Brothers and on Wednesday at Catalina it’s Justo Almario with veteran salseroOscar Hernandez on piano, percussionist Luis Conte, bassist Eddie Resto and drummer Walter Rodriguez at Catalina on Wednesday, which ought to be storming.

And of course, the two best big bands of the week are on the same night, with a long stretch of the 405 between them. So you’ll have to choose between the Frank Capp Juggernaut’s stellar lineup (Pete Christlieb and Carl Saunders among them) and a Hefti stack of Basie charts at Charlie O’s — or trombonist Isaac Smith’s Big Band and its roster of fired-up young cats (such as trumpeter Brian Swartz and the fierce tenor soloist Walter Smith III) at the Jazz Bakery, which ought to be plenty fun.

—Brick Wahl

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