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Brick's Picks: Flight Plans

When alto saxist Zane Musa takes off, it is a sight to behold. He leans into the wind and seems to blow out the crazy chords with every ounce of his being, rocking back and forth in some sort of jazz ecstasy. It’s a style not for everyone — some prefer their players cool — but for fans his wild Bird progressions, gutsy Maceo funk and Cannonball touches seem just right. Those influences and inspirations fuse into white-hot flurries and molten blues runs that never fail to kick up the pace on the bandstand a notch or three. On Friday at Charlie O’s he’s backed by a terrific version of The John Heard Trio, with bassist Heard, drummer Roy McCurdy and pianist John Beasley. An excellent way to open up the jazz week.

The big-gun tenors are out again this weekend. Rickey Woodard is at the Pasadena Jazz Institute on Friday and Charlie O’s on Saturday. Pete Christlieb blows magnificent solos with The John Hammond Trio at the Back Room on Friday, and fronts a quartet at Charlie O’s on Thursday. Benn Clatworthy is at Vibrato on Saturday; get there for the later sets when they let him loose. Charles Owens returns to Charlie O’s on Sunday, while at the same venue trumpeter Carl Saunders goes nuts on Tuesday.

Any chance to see pianist Tateng Katindig with his trio is recommended. He plays beautifully, and in a town full of pianists playing beautifully, his sense of swing and smart chops stand out. Catch him at Spazio on Friday. At the Millennium Biltmore downtown Elliott Caine is with a drummerless trio, which gives him a chance to play some flugelhorn on a few ballads. Tenor saxophonist Randall Willis is at the World Stage on Friday. Willis used to play with the cooking B Sharp Quartet. And the great alto Frank Morgan duets with piano at the Jazz Bakery through Saturday. That will be gorgeous.

One of Leimert Park’s storied drummers, Sonship Theus, will be putting on a drum and percussion composition extravaganza at the World Stage on Saturday. No word as to who’ll be with him, but some of his cohorts from the Pan-Afrikan People’s Orchestra are sure to be in the house. It should be as deep as it is wild. Also wild and deep (or at least out), the duet of cornetist and flute player Dan Clucas and alto and flute player Richard Wood are at the Center for the Arts in Eagle Rock on Sunday. Clucas, schooled by Bobby Bradford, plays a pretty crazed cornet, though his ideas mix the founding fathers of jazz horn with the modernists and beyond. Whatever the two come up with, it won’t be what you expected. Radical pianist Thollem McDonas opens.

The Gordon Goodwin Big Phat Band are one solid, slick and entertaining outfit who play jazz as if all the craziness mentioned above never existed. That seems fine by a lot of people, and their Phat Pack buried releases by Wynton Marsalis and the world-class Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, which in the paltry world of jazz sales means little, but let’s Angelenos grin a bit. The Big Phat Band are back at Hollywood & Highland on Tuesday, where their crowd-pleasing, tight and clever swing is a big draw here every year.

That few vocalists have been mentioned in this space has been pointed out (generally by vocalists), so here goes. The wonderfully swinging Tierney Sutton finishes her four-day run at Catalina this weekend through Sunday. Hard to go wrong with Tierney, who held her own recently at the Alex as the Gay Men’s Chorus marched through Billy Strayhorn. (You might stumble upon it on public access.) Mark Miller is a fine male vocalist (remember them?) who sings in a relaxed and casual way that is a break from a lot of the so-serious singers in town. Has a good quartet too (including pianist Jane Getz). He’s appearing on Friday at Il Moro, a Westside restaurant he has nursed along into a genuine jazz venue. Lovers of the art song can check out Sara Gazarek at the Vic on Thurs., June 28, with very fine pianist Josh Nelson. But what should be the most entertaining vocal gig of all will be when Ernie Andrews and Barbara Morrison get together at the Hollywood Park Casino on Tuesday. That will be one fun, swinging time in the classic style. The spirit of Central Avenue does seem to be alive.

—Brick Wahl


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