Bricks Picks: One Hundred Years of Django
It's great to see so many of LA's best appearing around town so frequently these last few weeks. Pianist Theo Saunders is back at Spazio on Friday, this time with a quartet featuring saxist Tom Catanzaro. He's been drawing enthusiastic crowds, and will no doubt keep the streak alive. The match of Rickey Woodard with the John Heard Trio at his regular haunt Charlie O's on Saturday is guaranteed good, while saxist Chuck Manning's back at Charlie O's on Sunday, with heavy-duty sidemen Larry Koonse, Darek Oles and Joe LaBarbara. Pianist John Beasley lately has been all over town and all over the jazz map as well, and on Friday and Saturday he's at the Baked Potato playing keys in the guitarist Oz Noy's Twisted Blues Band. On Thursday at Vitello's he has his own John Beasley Jazz Circle, a very talented piano trio with special guests (saxist Bob Sheppard being one, we believe) and you'll be hearing several numbers off his excellent new Positootly. And if you're too far away (or just too cheap) to go in person, the thing will be streamed live at inside.com. Check it out really or virtually. Getting back to Saturday, though, virtuoso trumpeter Carl Saunders is at Vibrato while the down and funkier Elliott Caine is at Jax the same night with tenor Carl Randall, brilliant pianist Mahesh Balasooriya, bassist Bill Markus and drummer Kenny Elliott. Caine and quintet are a very swinging little outfit indeed, who really know how to rock this particular joint, something not always easy with the bar crowded with Glendale drinkers. On Sunday in San Pedro you can see the adventurous clarinetist John Tegmeyer at Alva's with pianist Otmaro Ruiz, bassist Edwin Livingston and drummer Jimmy Branly. With a rhythm section of that quality and power, Tegmeyer ain't messing around. Ruiz is brilliant, and Cuban-born Branly is one of the most thrilling drummers in town. The donation is a fat $20, but you bring in your own bottle so it's actually a bargain. Not a bad seat in the house, either.
Last time Benn Clatworthy played at Jax he finished up a pretty profound "Inner Urge" and looked positively startled when the place broke into enthusiastic applause. He puts on outstanding shows every time he plays (his Charlie O's gigs are particularly excellent) but there's something about surly Clatworthy going nuts at Jax that we just love. It can be loose and intense and beautiful and molten: perfect jazz. He always has ridiculously talented sidemen, as well. He's there on Tuesday. On Wednesday, guitarist Bruce Forman has a jazz quartet at Spazio, with pianist Larry Goldings and, last we heard, bassist Gabe Noel and Zach Harmon, best known as house drummer at the Foundry on Melrose. Forman, who also leads CowBop, is an extraordinary jazz guitar player; you can't believe the fingerwork, so limber and melodic. Goldings is a perfect foil both chops- and humor-wise, Noel is an exciting young player, and if you've never witnessed a Zach Harmon drum solo then you're in for a treat. Highly recommended. And then there are two local institutions: trumpeter Jack Sheldon at Charlie O's on Wednesday (and Jax every Thursday), and the mighty tenor Pete Christlieb at Charlie O's on Thursday. If you're new to jazz, or at least to jazz in L.A., you have to see both of these guys at least once. Sheldon is funny as hell and plays beautifully; Christlieb is a funny guy, too (but never mind that), and one of the great saxophone players. You will be rendered utterly speechless at least once, amazed that you are hearing a solo that gorgeous, that muscular (and that long — this cat lets his solo ideas work themselves out in their own good time).
Poncho Sanchez is doing his monthly Friday night at Vitello's, and it's fun to see him strut the stuff in a looser club setting, in ways he can't really do in concert. There's more time for the band to stretch on the descargas and funky jams. And the Kenny Burrell Quintet are at Catalina's Friday and Saturday. Not sure who's with him but you're mainly going to see him anyway. Highly recommended. Thought we'd mention drummer, vibist and jazz ukulele player Abe Lagrimas, who'll be doing some combination of the three at the Café Metropol on Saturday. We're fans. He's always been a bit of a star at the Filipino and Asian-American Jazz Festivals around town, whether playing for Charmaine Clamor or leading his own group, and he's got plenty of energy and creativity. And drummer Kevin Kanner is finishing up his month of Thursdays at the Foundry on Melrose this Thursday. He's a smoking, incredibly swinging drummer, and the Foundry is always a fun scene. Finally, it's the centennial of Django Reinhardt, and Celebrating Django is at Catalina's Tuesday through Thursday featuring French guitarist Dorado Schmitt's All-Stars, including Dorado's son Samson Schmitt on guitar, Marcel Loeffler on accordion, Pierre Blanchard on violin, and bassist and host Brian Torff. Sounds irresistible.
(Brick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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