Bricks Picks: Old Forms, New Sounds

Take your pick this weekend: acts with dramatically new takes on old forms, or others very solidly in the tradition. For starters, check out Kenny Burrell’s Jazz Heritage All-Stars, who play the Catalina Bar and Grill through Sunday. Burrell was Duke Ellington’s favorite guitarist, which says plenty about the man’s cool, solid swing. And with solid jazz players like tenor Rickey Woodard and trumpeter Bobby Rodriguez sharing solo space with him, there will be some serious straight-ahead and blues spread over the whole weekend. Meanwhile, at downtown’s California Plaza on Friday, the Brazilian percussionist Davi Vieira puts his land’s classic rhythms into entirely new contexts. Great venue too — but bring a jacket . . . it can get chilly at the Grand Performances evening shows.

Continuing the mix on Saturday, there’s trumpeter Sal Marquez at Vibrato. Wild Sal’s wild past includes long stints with Zappa; he doesn’t get out front on his own much in town, and when he does, it is solid hard bop. Another rare appearance is virtuoso reedman (and one mean bassoonist) Ray Pizzi out at the Back Room in Canoga Park on Saturday. The John Hammond Trio will provide Pizzi with plenty of stretching room (and if you can dig up any of his old albums, they are certainly worth a listen). Over at the Pasadena Jazz Institute the same night, you can see San Diego–based flutist Holly Hoffman with pianist Bill Cunliffe’s Imaginación; his refined Latin jazz should be a perfect setting for her. If you prefer a harder, funkier Latin fusion, bassist Oscar Cartaya’s Enclave are at La Ve Lee, also on Saturday; the same day, Plena Libre get even wilder in their wild take on Puerto Rican rhythms (and salsa and Latin jazz) at California Plaza. And finally violinist Karen Briggs mixes world sounds with classic ’70s fusion exuberance at Landings Airtel Plaza Hotel.

Continuing with the jazz-and-funk vibe on Sunday are Barbara Sfraga and the Center Quest Search, this time with the very exciting saxist Dale Fielder, at Rosalie & Alva’s. Sfraga’s vocalizing combined with Fielder’s explorations could be something very special. And another fine local saxist, Rob Lockert, plays it straight ahead with trombonist Bob McChesney’s quintet at Charlie O’s on Sunday.

Other takes on Latin jazz this week include the brilliant Francisco Aguabella Quintet at Spazio on Monday. Saxist Benn Clatworthy burns up with this quintet, and Francisco’s arrangements always push at the borders of the style. And Poncho Sanchez will have Hollywood and Highland packed on Tuesday. Poncho’s mix of Afro-Cuban and James Brown funk never fails to get the crowd moving. Some wailing horns too.

Also on Tuesday, Clatworthy/Saunders/Colangelo/Branly are at Charlie O’s. This exceptional quartet play some of the most memorable music you’ll hear in this great jazz joint — Clatworthy’s sometimes ferocious solos are balanced by some exquisite ballad playing, and pianist Theo Saunders, bassist Chris Colangelo and the wildly imaginative drummer Jimmy Branly work as a beautifully organic team. Terrific stuff.

—Brick Wahl

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