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Brick's Picks: Savina Yannatou, Janis Mann, Tony Bennett and more

Things have been crazy scary these last couple weeks (see below), and this space missed a few things — like Larry Goldings at the Foundry last Thursday (no cover even ... oh, man). May the jazz gods in their stony perches forgive us. But on to what’s happening this week (including, fortuitously, another appearance by Goldings on Thursday, Sept. 18, at the Foundry) ...

Downtown, pianist/composer Motoko Honda plays with two vets of the L.A. avant-garde, oboe/bassoonist Emily Hay and drummer etc. Brad Dutz, at the Café Metropol on Saturday. And the following Thursday things get even stranger, maybe, as Little Tokyo’s 1st & Central Summer Concerts series (outside the Japanese American Museum and right next door to MOCA), in conjunction with the World Festival of Sacred Music, bring us Greek vocalist Savina Yannatou and Primavera en Salonico. Yannatou’s latest, Songs of An Other, on ECM, is very striking — ancient music, Renaissance music, Mediterranean music, jazz, avant-garde, whatever, all blending and contrasting in beautiful, spooky, startling and moving pieces.

Of course, if you’re looking for jazz singing you can’t go wrong with Janis Mann, who is at Charlie O’s later that Thursday night. Even if you’ve become jaded by the zillion jazz vocalists you see and hear everywhere, her debut CD will make you take some notice. This is her first Charlie O’s gig — well worth checking out, and especially nice combined with the Yannatou gig. Now, if you’re looking for cool, and we mean cool, Tony Bennett is at the Greek Theatre on Friday. You wanna know how cool? It’s 1957. Think Perry Como and all that fluff. Male pop vocalists drew big bucks, with hits and TV and acclaim. And what does Tony Bennett come up with? The Beat of My Heart, featuring Art Blakey, Jo Jones, Chico Hamilton, Candido, Sabu ... not to mention Al Cohn and Nat Adderley. Listen to the arrangements — sometimes just flutes over the drums. Some people just got the jazz in their bones.

Also noteworthy: As mentioned last week, trumpeter Roy Hargrove is at Catalina Bar & Grill and saxist Greg Osby’s at the Jazz Bakery (both on Friday and Saturday). ... At Charlie O’s it’s saxist Benn Clatworthy with pianist Otmaro Ruiz on Friday, and Azar Lawrence with pianist Nate Morgan on Saturday and with The Henry Franklin Quintet at LACMA on Friday. Franklin’s latest release is some great ’60s-inspired jazz, bringing to the fore all the McCoy Tyner in pianist Theo Saunders. And Rhode Island saxophonist Greg Abate is playing some of his very fluid bop around town: on Vibrato on Saturday, up above the Sunset Strip at the A-Frame on Sunday afternoon with vibesman Charlie Shoemake (call 310-659-9169 for details ), and then that evening at the Jazz Bakery with pianist Bill Cunliffe. Finally, three trumpeter gigs: Jack Sheldon is at Café 322 on Friday; Carl Saunders at Spazio on Wednesday; Elliott Caine and his fine quintet at the Edison (108 W. Second St., dwntwn.) on Thursday.

We’ve spent a lot of time with someone at a local hospital lately ... and when you get out of a place like that — doctors and nurses running about, machines whirring, bells and alarms going off and people gasping for life — well, you need a drink, and you need some jazz. The only place close enough and open late enough was the Foundry on Melrose, and more than once we wandered in there well past midnight and sank into a chair as Josh Nelson or once even Tigran Hamasyan led the crazy house trio into the wee hours. Jazz helps. When everything seems lost, just pop into your local jazz dive and let the notes carry you off for a bit. Things won’t seem so lost after all.

(Brick can be reached at brickjazz@yahoo.com.)


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