We can't recall the first time we ever saw Dale Fielder, but we remember the first time we ever heard him. It was a live CD from the Howling Monk, and the jazz on it was molten hot. The real stuff. His baritone playing especially nailed us. Fielder took Pepper Adams to heart — his solos were huge, squeezing everything out of that big horn, realizing the potential of that amazing instrument. It was a lasting impression indeed. He actually has a mess of recordings, on all his horns, and each is a variation on his unswerving notion that the best jazz is jazz that's real, which is to say something that seems a little out of step with reality, reality being the dull and compromised thing it tends to be. Which is one of the reasons Dale's shows are so special. You'll walk into the Hollywood Bar and Grill on Friday and he and his Angel City Quartet (pianist Greg Gordon Smith, bassist Bill Markus and drummer Thomas White) will be playing jazz like it was the only thing that mattered in the universe. It's straight-ahead to be sure — his latest, Stellar Moments, fits into the KKLZ format very easily — but it's passionate, and worth the $10 cover many times over. Check it out. And check out his blog, too, Frugal Apathy. The dude can write.
Also want to throw yet another plug for Jack Sheldon at the Café 322 out in Sierra Madre. While Jack appears regularly in several spots around town — he's been doing those Thursdays at Jax forever — it's his monthly appearances at the Café 322 where he's consistently the most exciting. Pianist Mitch Forman sets the pace, flying across the keys at insane tempos, going off on melodic tangents, while drummers the likes of Ray Brinker launch into breaks you can hear as you pull into the parking lot. There was a "Caravan" we recall that was breakneck — just crazy — but there was Jack, smiling, snapping fingers in time, waiting for his turn ... and when he blew his horn he was right there with them, letting loose beautiful crazy bebop lines. There followed a brilliant, languid take of his unrecorded theme song, "Where Do You Start," that hushed the house. He sang a couple of the verses, just enough, and blew a couple more choruses on his trumpet. Then came the jokes. ...
Speaking of West Coast jazz legends, the Bill Holman Big Band is at Vitello's on Friday. (You'd be amazed how they manage to cram so many players on that stage, and you might wind up sitting right next to Pete Christlieb.) This is one terrific orchestra, burdened with Grammys yet unheralded, but with those great arrangements and great players and great solos, you had better call right now for reservations.
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And real quick: Saxophonist Steve Wilson is making a very rare local appearance at Vitello's on Saturday with the Bill Cunliffe Trio and you'd better call now for this one too, as he's only doing the one night. The fascinating saxophonist Bob Sheppard is back at Charlie O's on Saturday. Down in Hermosa Beach, at Sangria, the excellent tenor Doug Webb is playing on Wednesday. Saxist Harry Allen is at the Crowne Plaza LAX on Thursday, and he's got the Getz cool thing down cold. Back in Hermosa on Thursday, bassist Jeff Littleton is playing the Lighthouse. Not a clue whom he's playing with but he tends to get the best. And pianist or organist (not sure which he's playing for this one) Larry Goldings is at Vitello's on Thursday.
Gil Evans named his kid after Miles Davis and now Mile Evans plays the trumpet. He also has a medium-sized band of his own which he's bringing into Catalina's again on Thursday, and it includes players like bassist Darryl Jones (who took Bill Wyman's place in the Stones, which is neither here nor there to you jazz people, but it's fun to drop names), saxists Bob Sheppard and Doug Webb, pianist Mitch Forman, and drummer Bernie Dresel). Interesting stuff, a little on the fusion side — or is that just electric Miles Davis? You get the idea.
Poncho Sanchez is at Hollywood & Highland on Tuesday and the place will be absolutely packed, so get there early if you want a seat. Orquesta Charangoa is at the Autry on Thursday for the museum's very popular salsa/Latin jazz series. This a very fun hang — full bar too. California Plaza's "Grand Performances" are well underway and the stuff is eclectic as ever, and this Saturday the Persian kamacheh (spiked fiddle) master Kayhan Kalhor will be accompanied by Erdal Erzincan on the Turkish saz (a long-necked lute). Put their music to this setting — with city lights flickering and the breeze blowing cool across the psychedelic waterfalls — and the effect will be sublime. Just don't spill your red wine, it stains the floor something awful.
(Brick can be reached at email@example.com.)