Brick's Picks: Hooked On Benny
The Hollywood Bowl puts forth some genuine jazz this Wednesday with a program titled 100 Years of Benny Carter. The multi-instrumentalist began his 80-year career with Chick Webb and McKinney’s Cotton Pickers, carried through the swing era with his own fine big bands and then became one of the first African-American jazzmen to make his home in the Hollywood studios. Long after his contemporaries retired — hell, after most of them were gone — Carter kept making great jazz, including a swinging live album at age 87. He finished his career in the ’90s in his 90s as one of jazz’s great alto saxophonists. All that and he was shot once by Bill Robinson too (though Mr. Bojangles only winged his overcoat). The evening appears to be quite a production, with the near-peerless Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra inviting in James Moody, Roy Hargrove (Carter was a great trumpeter too), Russell Malone, Eldar and others. Plus there will be classic film clips (Carter tore it up in Snows of Kilimanjaro).
Other jazz around town includes the mighty Pharoah Sanders at Catalina Bar and Grill through the weekend. On Friday the wonderfully matched saxist Pete Christlieb and trumpeter Carl Saunders return to the Back Room. On Saturday vibist Nick Mancini’s killer quartet plays the Café Metropol from 8 to 10 p.m., giving you time to catch BeBop & Beyond saxist Mel Martin at Charlie O’s (and he’s at the Crowne Plaza on Thursday). And there’s a whole day of stuff on Sunday, beginning at noon at Catalina with the Thurman Green Trombone Scholarship jazz brunch featuring Phil Ranelin’s exceptional ensemble, plus the great Barbara Morrison. Eat eggs, drink bloodies and pitch in for this fine cause. The same day, at 5 p.m., Nolan Shaheed blows some excellent hard bop at Pasadena Playhouse; at 7 p.m. at the Center for the Arts in Eagle Rock, you can experience the violin-driven creative craziness of the Jeff Gauthier Goatette. And end the day at Vibrato with The Frank Capp Juggernaut swinging Basie so hard you’ll forget it’s almost Monday morning. Then call in sick.
The Steve Huffsteter Big Band plays Tuesday at Hollywood & Highland, and Red Holloway (whose classic tenor sound was a relief at this year’s Playboy Jazz Festival) is at Hollywood Park. Also Tuesday, the great one, Ernie Andrews, takes charge at Vibrato (quite a switch from the corner of Central and 43rd last week). Like Barbara Morrison, Ernie is a tonic if you find some vocal jazz to be too much art and not enough swing.
An amazing range of Latin American music will blow jazz minds this weekend, beginning Friday at California Plaza with Afro Cuba Calling! That’s congueroCandido Camera, pianist Chuchito Valdes Jr. (of the Bebo and Chucho line), the great drummer/percussionist Bobby Sanabria, and the locals Frank Fontaine on sax and Rene Camacho on bass. On Saturday Brazilian guitarist Dori Caymmi plays his jazzy bossa and choros at LACMA from 5 to 7 p.m. Then at California Plaza at 8 p.m. it’s Andy Palacio & the Garifuna Collective. The Garifuna are a blend of native Caribs and escaped slaves tucked away on the coasts of Belize and points south. Palacio’s interpretation of his people’s music on Watina is beautiful — resonant of Africa (think Mali) in the lilting melodies, with mellow Caribbean rhythms and an undertow of something urgent, even dark. And that gig ends well before the second set of Jose Rizo’s fantastic Jazz on the Latin Side All-Stars at the Jazz Bakery. If you dig Rizo’s radio show, you’ll dig this band. On Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Ford Amphitheatre the Colombian Music Festival brings authentic cumbias, vallenato, rumbas, merengues, tobrellinos, bambucos, guabinas, pasillos, juropos and llanera from Los Carrangueros, the Guafa Trio, Elda Florez and Afro-Colombian vocalist Petrona Martinez. Justo Almario is on sax. Finally, the splendid and lively Brazilian pianist Marcos Ariel plays Jobim at the Temple Bar that night. Opening the show is mandolin wonder Ted Falcon’s trio doing samba, choro and blues. Every single event in this paragraph is highly recommended.
But here’s something really different: To Alice With Love: Celebrating the Music of Alice Coltrane, Thursday’s free concert at First and Central in Little Tokyo. The brainchild of KPFK’s Carlos Nino, it features Coltrane’s own Ashram Community Choir, free-jazz-laced beats from her grandnephew Flying Lotus, and the Universal Consciousness Orchestra featuring the glorious vocals of Dwight Trible. It might not be jazz exactly, but it’ll be trippy.
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