Thought first we'd talk about three big gigs and one very small one. Spazio's books a lot of big NYC names now, and Friday and Saturday they have trumpeter Tom Harrell with tenor Wayne Escoffery, pianist Danny Grissett, bassist Dwayne Burno and drummer Jonathan Blake. This is pretty much the same band he's used over a string of excellent albums and the cohesion will be right on and ideal for Harrell's own flights. Well worth the $25 (though the menu ain't cheap). And the Jazz Bakery maintains its presence with another of its Movable Feasts, this time a duet gig for the extraordinary vocalist Dwight Trible and pianist John Beasley. Trible reaches for places you never knew jazz went, and Beasley is there every step of the way. Highly recommended — it's at Pasadena's Boston Court (70 N. Mentor Ave., 626-683-6883) and, again, well worth your $25.
Also on Saturday, there is an evening of Brazilian Choro and Samba with Katia Moraes and Ted Falcon at the Edye at Broad Stage (1310 11th St. in Santa Monica). Rio de Janeiro–born Moraes is an ebullient and natural samba and choro singer, while Ted Falcon (from our own Midwest) nails both styles on bandolim and violin with so much skill it's scary. The rest of the band also plays it authentic and acoustic, and Rebecca Kleinman pitches in on flute. This will be great. Details at thebroadstage.org or (310) 434-3200; $22.
We just saw pianist Adam Benjamin at the Blue Whale a couple nights ago; afterward he mentioned he was having a release party for his new Alphabets & Consequences solo-piano release. It's happening this Sunday at 7 p.m. at F.Boo Studios in Burbank, but you have to RSVP (818-846-2312 or firstname.lastname@example.org) for directions, etc. $15 gets you the gig, plus CD, food and drink, so it's a great deal. You might know Benjamin from Kneebody, or else you've seen him in any number of outstanding jazz outfits or jazz jams, and we're digging the new CD.
That Blue Whale, by the way, is quite the hang for the younger jazz crowd. It's a cool space, very boho, with lots of these weird, blue, square things to sit on, and poetry on the ceiling and a full bar. The musicianship is pretty intense and deadly serious, but the players are cool and relaxed between solos, and the vibe is kind of casually uncompromising if you can dig that. It's in a Little Tokyo mall called Weller Court, Second Street between Los Angeles and San Pedro, and there's validated parking underground off Second. Elevators take you up to the third level. Cover runs about $10.
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Pianist Mahesh Balasooriya has a trio there on Friday, and on Saturday it's the very highly recommended tenor Walter Smith III with his quintet, and the music will be pretty freaking awesome. And of course Kevin Kanner's weekly jazz jam on Mondays, which is probably the jam session in town. Check the place out.
BONUS TRACK: Plenty to see in the other spots too. Way down at Alva’s in San Pedro on Saturday clarinetist John Tegmeyer has a great quartet with pianist Otmaro Ruiz, bassist Hamilton Price and drummer Jimmy Branly. It’s a $20 donation but you can bring in your own bottle (and food even) no problem, so it’s actually quite the deal. On Friday, trumpeter Jack Sheldon is at Café 322, free. Last time we saw him here he was playing with super–high energy Mitch Forman and some like-minded players, the tempos were crazed and Jack was swept up in the action, blowing like mad. He’s still doing Glendale’s Jax every Thursday, too. Trumpeter Elliott Caine is at Jax on Saturday, always fun. Charlie O’s is happening this weekend as usual, with great trumpeter Scotty Barnhart on Friday and bopping alto Lanny Morgan on Saturday. Morgan’s also at his old Lighthouse stomping grounds on Sunday from 11 a.m. till 3 p.m.
There’s a cool one Tuesday at Vibrato: Don Menza’s Tribute to Stan Getz, with him, Pete Christlieb, Gary Foster and Gene Cipriano all taking turns with Stan and it’ll be beautiful. There’s a rare cover for this one, $20. And Vitello’s has Flexible Reality back on Thursday, with its crazy lineup of french-horn player Richard Todd, violinist Charlie Bisharat, accordionist Frank Marocco, bassists Michael Valerio and Abraham Laboriel and drummer Alex Acuna and a lot of wild solos. Make sure to call for reservations.
(Brick can be reached at email@example.com.)