Brick's Picks: Central Avenue Festival Throws it Down

If you’re not doing anything Friday afternoon, you might check out Barbara Morrison with bassist Henry Franklin’s quartet at the annual jazz show at the Angelus Plaza (255 S. Hill, dwntwn., 213-623-4352) at 2 p.m. Tenor George Harper, pianist Theo Saunders and drummer Rámon Banda fill the bill, a fine collection of players. Then head down Wilshire to the Miracle Mile to catch pianist George Kahn’s quintet at LACMA; that one kicks off at 6 p.m., and is free. The same price will get you a seat (or some perfectly nice SRO) at California Plaza for the 8 p.m. Bad Plus gig. What a wailing bunch of kids, these guys, mixing everything up — the jazz and the crazy and the crazy jazz covers of classic rock tunes, and damn, if it doesn’t work (which is saying something about Heart’s hoary old “Barracuda”). Highly recommended. We also really dig bassist/vocalist Kristin Korb at the Café Metropol on Friday in that same 8 -10 p.m. timeslot. There’s been an odd spate of extremely talented female bassists doubling as vocalists lately (something they couldn’t do with the tuba) and Korb, pretty much still under the radar, might just be the best. And out at Charlie O’s on Friday tenor Benn Clatworthy joins the John Heard Trio. His appearances there just seem to get better and better, deeper and deeper, and we certainly talk about them enough. His latest release, Luminescence, is a break from his past (uniformly excellent) stuff, with its Afro-Cuban rhythms and looser jams. We love it. And if you time it right, you could see most of that stuff in one night. In fact, if you include the Bad Plus noon appearance at California Plaza, you can pretty much see jazz for 12 solid hours. Wander into the Foundry on Melrose (maybe 20 minutes from Charlie O’s — we know, we’ve done it) well past midnight and you can still catch the high-powered Matt Cory Trio, with whatever young superstar pianists, guitarists or horn players. They come on in for the vibe, and stretch it out a couple more hours. Don’t laugh. there are jazz fans who do this kind of thing every weekend, running from gig to gig, solo to solo all over town, breathing the stuff. On Saturday, if you have anything left in you after a day in the heat at Central Avenue, there’s Chuck Manning up at Vibrato. He always has things to say on that tenor. And out in Sierra Madre at the Café 322 on Saturday, trombonist Bill Watrous leads a quintet, and what a sound this guy gets out of that horn. Beautiful. Great pizza, too.

Thursday is packed with stuff, as Thursdays tend to be in L.A. in the summer. Orquesta Charangoa jam in the crammed courtyard at the Autry, always a blast; after that head out to Vitello’s in Studio City to see Poncho Sanchez. Like your Cuban rhythms with a Senegalese flavor? Then the Orchestra Baobab are at Santa Monica Pier; we know only their albums, which are great, but live they are supposed to groove even more so. And the Los Angeles Jazz Collective have put on a bash at the Hammer Museum (10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood, 310-443-7000) this Thursday with one of our favorite jazz guitarists, Anthony Wilson, plus saxophonist Walter Smith III, pianist Joe Bagg, trumpeter Brian Swartz, drummer Jason Harnell and guitarist Jamie Rosenn. Real thing guaranteed, man.

(Brick can be reached at


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