Brick's Picks: Local Vocals (and More)

This weekend offers several chances to drink in the essence of local jazz talent. Ernie Andrews is at the Jazz Bakery on Friday. With roots in classic Los Angeles jazz (he talks about all that in the film Blues for Central Avenue), and years with great outfits like the Capp/Pierce Juggernaut, Andrews is as vital a performer as any singer you’ll see on an L.A. stage. A must-see. For another taste of the L.A. jazz tradition there’s tenor man Carl Randall, who picked up a lot of tips playing with masters like Harold Land and Teddy Edwards. A three-decade veteran of the Gerald Wilson Orchestra, Randall brings his own quartet to Café 322 on Saturday. Also part of this town’s jazz past have been its big bands and studio players, and it’s hard to find better examples than tenor Pete Christlieb (who spent years with Louis Bellson) and trumpeter Carl Saunders (who began as a kid with Stan Kenton). Both are at their finest in a small group setting, such as the Back Room at Henri’s, where they appear on Friday (another must-see). And then there are the guys who wander into town and make it on their own, like tenor Benn Clatworthy, who picked up his chops playing the joints in London. He has another hard-earned Friday-night spot at Charlie O’s, where he plays the bop and the blues — yeah, but man, does it take him to some different places. You never know where a standard will wind up.

Speaking of which . . . saxist Charles Owens is throwing a party for his So Far So Good CD at Catalina Bar and Grill at 11:30 Sunday morning. When Owens is hot, his fire and imagination are unsurpassed. He’s played some mean blues too. That same morning down on the beach the Lanny Morgan/Frank Capp Quartet are playing the Lighthouse on Sunday. Capp’s one of our favorite drummers, and Morgan’s Bird sense is uncanny. Will be a good one. (Also, both are at Charlie O’s this week, with Morgan fronting a quartet on Thursday and Capp backing up his 17-piece Juggernaut on Monday).

A bassist runs the show on Wednesday with the excellent Kristin Korb Quartet at the Westin LAX. Drummer David Ameele’s quintet at the Café 322 will feature some fine horn players (last time there he brought along Jeff Clayton). No need for bassist or drummer when Dave Brubeck performs solo Wednesday at the Hollywood Bowl. He’ll play material off his new Indian Summer, and also on the bill are singer Madeleine Peyroux and pianist Bruce Hornsby (yes, of the Range), supported by house bassist Christian McBride and the great drummer Jack DeJohnette (whom we wish were with the headliner, actually).

Thursday is a jazz blowout. At the Vic one of our best young pianists, Josh Nelson, celebrates his new Let It Go CD, and things will be gone with this great quartet: saxist Ben Wendel, bassist Darek Oles and drummer Matt Wilson. And the Tony Inzalaco Quintet (with Clatworthy, trumpeter Nolan Shaheed, pianist Theo Saunders) are at the Crowne Plaza, the Ernie Watts Quartet (his new Analog Man is just great) begins a stand at the Jazz Bakery, the Robby Marshall Quartet with great pianist Tigran Hamasyan are at 2nd Street Jazz (formerly Land on 2nd), the Chuck Manning Quartet are at Café 322, a dangerously trombonish tentet called Slide FX are at the Lighthouse. Take your pick.

And it’s another great week for fans of Latin sounds. Alex Cuba has a mellowed Afro-Cuban sound, a sophisticated jazzy-funky trova blend (reminding us at times of a Cuban Gilberto Gil); the band, led by Alexis Puentes, plays for the lucky lunch crowd at California Plaza at noon on Friday, and then on Saturday at 5 p.m. at LACMA. Also on Saturday Bobby Matos does the Sunset Junction in Silver Lake at 3 p.m. and then Levitt Pavillion in Pasadena at 7 p.m., while that night the trumpet-playing Dr. Bobby Rodriguez’s all-star Latin Jazz Orchestra throws a CD-release bash at the Jazz Bakery. On Sunday at 3 p.m., the Francisco Aguabella Quintet are downtown at Pershing Square. Then on Tuesday at Hollywood & Highland it’s Tolú — and Alex Acuna’s frenetic percussion and Justo Almario’s frenzied sax will get those intolerant pachyderms moving. And if you could use more of that frenetic frenzy, check out Cecilia Noel & the Wild Clams at Skirball on Thursday; she calls her romping salsa/rumba/Latin/R&B mix “salsoul.” With a big ensemble that includes local Latin jazz stalwarts like Eric Jorgensen and a bunch of the Baked Potato crew, plus some downright overt sexuality (e.g. “Slam the Clam,” ferchrissakes), she apparently puts on one hell of a show.

—Brick Wahl

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