The Blue Note Records 70th Anniversary Tour pulls into town this Thursday with a show by the Blue Note 7 at Royce Hall. Led by the brilliant pianist Bill Charlap and featuring exceptional players like tenor Ravi Coltrane, trumpeter Nicholas Payton and guitarist Peter Bernstein, this bunch really shines on the accompanying Mosaic, running through some classic Blue Note tunes such as Cedar Walton’s title tune, Joe Henderson’s “Inner Urge,” Monk’s “Criss Cross,” and others by the likes of McCoy Tyner, Horace Silver, Herbie Hancock and Bud Powell. You know the sound. Blue Note was the best of the best; nearly every record the label put out in its glory decades ranges from damn good to flat-out classic. And we’re talking severalhundred releases. Now that’s a label. The players here have a lot to live up to, but with the material they’ll be tackling, it’s hard to go wrong.
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And Ravi Coltrane, incidentally, has just released his own Compass, and it’s a real snaking, spooky thing, with variations and multiplications of the basic trio format. Challenging, idiosyncratic stuff. Obviously, we won’t be hearing any of this material in the Blue Note repertory band on Thursday (in fact, the thing is on Nonesuch), but pick it up regardless. He may be the son of John, but he has his own take on that horn. Now, Kenny Garrett has a lot of John Coltrane in him — the fire, the feel, the approach, and he absolutely burns live. He’s at Catalina Bar & Grill through Sunday, and well worth some of the cash in your wallet. And trumpeter Jeremy Pelt begins a four-night Jazz Bakery stand on Wednesday. Pelt’s horn-blowing is intense, he’s got a very tough quintet anchored by pianist Danny Grissett. It’s 100 percent pure thing. (Doubtless Alfred Lyon would have dug this bunch, too.)
Now for the local cats in the local joints. Larry Goldings hauls his Hammond B3 organ into Spazio on Friday, joined by an excellent quartet that includes saxist Tim Ries (the Rolling Stones’ reed man), guitarist Larry Koonse and very hard-swinging drummer Jason Harnell. Unlike most nights at Spazio, there’s a cover for this one, but Goldings is a monster on that Hammond, and the groove will be furious. Also on Friday, pianist Jon Mayer has his trio — out at the Café 322 in Sierra Madre. You’ve seen him plenty backing horn players at Charlie O’s, and he’s got a wonderfully inspired technique. Saturday is a toss-up between two hard blowers: the over-the-top Trane of Azar Lawrence at Vibrato or the just-right swing of Don Menza at Charlie O’s. On Sunday, there’s no need to pick, as you can do both: The Hank Mobley–tinged tenor Rickey Woodard is at the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach beginning at 11 a.m., and the Sonny Rollins–influenced Benn Clatworthy’s at Charlie O’s. On Monday, take it easy and hit just one gig: drummer Matt Slocum’s stellar trio with pianist Bill Cunliffe and bassist Darek Oles at the Jazz Bakery. Tuesday? How does one catch a set of vibist NickMancini in a rare trio setting at 2nd Street Jazz (366 E. 2nd in Little Tokyo) and still make it to the wild-eyed alto Zane Musa’s gig at Charlie O’s in Van Nuys? We have no idea — you’re the one driving. But that is nothing compared to Thursday’s conundrum: the hard-bop Cannonball/Coltrane Project doing their repertory thing at the Crowne Plaza down by LAX; the brilliant guitarist Bruce Forman at Vibrato up in Bel Air; or the exceptional vocal talent of Janis Mann in the middle of the San Fernando Valley at Charlie O’s. Take your pick.
Finally, there is a “Jazz Talk With Charlie Haden” at the brand-new Grammy Museum at the corner of Olympic Boulevard and Figueroa Street downtown on Wednesday at 8 p.m. Pianist AlanBroadbent will accompany. Call for details, at (213) 765-6800. Not sure what will transpire, but if we’re talking jazz, then the legendary Mr. Haden has plenty to say (and Broadbent sure can play, as well). Check it out.
(Brick can be reached at email@example.com.)