Brick's Picks: Big Bands Blowin'
Hope you got some bread, jazz fans. Lots of great stuff this week, but some will cost ya a little. LACMA on Friday night is always free, and pianist Jon Mayer and trio guest this week. He's still got some of the old NYC craziness in his style, dissonant chords dropped into graceful passages and stretches of fierce bebop and that ever-present swing, hot or cool. Afterward, at the Blue Whale in Little Tokyo, vibist Nick Mancini's quintet includes saxist Katisse and very impressive clarinetist John Tegmeyer.
The Blue Whale on Saturday has the inspired duo of saxist Charles Altura and pianist Ruslan Sirota, both members of the Stanley Clarke Quintet. John Altman brings his curved soprano and stories for some hot jamming with drummer Mark Stevens' house trio Saturday at the Desert Rose (1700 N. Hillhurst Ave. in Los Feliz, 323-666-1166).
Wednesday, saxist Bob Sheppard has a superb quartet — pianist John Beasley, bassist Darek Oles and drummer Steve Hass — at Vitello's. Another favorite pianist, Theo Saunders, fronts a quartet at Charlie O's on Thursday, and that's always high-level, too. And don't forget the piano trios at the Foundry on Melrose — Matt Politano on Friday and Richard Sears on Saturday, with Zach Harmon drumming both nights. It can get wild.
The LAJC Memorial Weekend Festival runs Thursday through Saturday at the Blue Whale, $10. Thursday features drummer Brian Carmody's quartet with Nick Mancini, then trumpeter Daniel Rosenbloom's septet (we had him blowing sax last week, ahem) and finally Brian Swartz & the Swartzestra, which really intrigues us. Is it a big band? We have no idea.
But big bands we got this week, starting with the Johnny Mandel Big Band at Vitello's on Friday. Classic stuff, exquisitely arranged and played. On Saturday the Luckman Jazz Orchestra do their tribute to Clifford Brown. Directed by Charles Owens (who gets a couple of intense sax solos in, too) with arrangements by the likes of John Beasley and ranks filled with outstanding players like Bennie Maupin, this is one terrific repertory band. Luckman Fine Arts Complex at Cal State L.A. (323-343-6600 or luckmanarts.org), 8 p.m., $25-$35.
On Monday the Steve Hufstetter Big Band are at Typhoon Restaurant (3221 Donald Douglas Loop South at the Santa Monica Airport, 310-390-6565). Hufstetter's compositions and arrangements are soaked in California cool, and this is a rare chance to see them live with no cover charge. On Wednesday the long-running Southern California Jazz Co. (including trumpeter Carl Saunders) are at Café 322. And Ken Poston once again squeezes as many big bands as possible into one weekend and one hotel. He's calling this year's four-day bash the Big Band Olympics, as he's got orchestras from all over the planet. It kicks off Thursday at 1 p.m. with The Music of the Clarke-Boland Band (a tribute to that great 1960s French big band, co-led by Kenny Clarke), then it's Aussie-turned-Angeleno Tim Davies' Big Band before local Swiss pianist Christian Jacob finally debuts his Big Band Theory in L.A. Headlining is the really exciting Arturo Sandoval Big Band. There's jazz films and panels, too — and that's just day one. Happens at the LAX Marriott (5855 W. Century Blvd.); see lajazzinstitute.org for details and prices.
Clifford Brown isn't the one getting a tribute this week. Pianist George Kahn's quintet does a Tribute to Horace Silver on Friday at the Radisson Hotel in Culver City, while Gene Harris gets his due on Tuesday at Charlie O's, with three Harris alumni on the gig — Luther Hughes, Paul Kreibich, and Frank Potenza. The Nicholas Payton Happy Birthday to Miles is Thursday at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center (4718 W. Washington Blvd). It's $40 (cash only). Payton's on trumpet and Fender Rhodes, with bassist Bob Hurst and drummer Lenny White. Also on Thursday, the Donald Byrd/Pepper Adams Quintet Project play the Crowne Plaza. Baritonist Dale Fielder is joined by trumpeter Nolan Shaheed, pianist Jane Getz, bassist Trevor Ware and drummer Don Littleton. They blew the roof off the World Stage a couple weekends ago; people went nuts. Very highly recommended.
The latest Jazz Bakery "Movable Feast" presents the Colin Vallon Piano Trio at 7 p.m. Sunday at Keyboard Concepts (3232 Santa Monica Blvd. in Santa Monica, 310-586-5588). Three young Swiss players signed to ECM. You know the sound. $20. And Wednesday at Royal/T (8910 Washington Blvd. in Culver City, 310-559-6300) multiple reed player Steven Lugerner does material off his impressive new These Are the Words and Narratives twin CD. We dig both discs ... the L.A. quintet disc (with pianist Myra Melford and drummer Matt Wilson), and the NYC septet disc with pianist Glenn Zaleski and trumpeter Itamar Borochov, both of whom will be playing. Should be an interesting gig.
(Brick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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