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Brick's Picks: Spiritual Sounds

Bobby Bradford is back for his monthly gig at the Café 322 in Sierra Madre on Friday. Bradford’s sometime-startling trumpet and his compositions, which run from swing to out, are magnified by the excellent Mo’tet, with tenor and soprano saxist Chuck Manning and trombonist Michael Vlatkovich up front. It’s a fun time. And this Friday trumpeter Kye Palmer leads a quartet at Spazio. His burnished tone flies through the bop changes or settles into a ballad with an ease that evokes Clifford Brown. But if it’s been one of those weeks and you need something outside, catch soprano saxist Dave Liebman’s stint at the Jazz Bakery running through Saturday. He’s still making the intense music; indeed, “WTC/Steel Prayers” (off the new Quest Live in Europe) is eerie, spine-tingling stuff, an avant garde jazzman’s impressions on that day. Over at the World Stage, young Kamasi Washington blows some very tough tenor. And there are two excellent and intense alto players on Saturday. Jason Goldman’s style is cerebral, his compositions advanced and a perfect fit for the Café Metropol. And Zane Musa is at Charlie O’s. Zane is a fierce blower, a Cannonball on a wild arc; he throws his whole body into his wild solos. There’s even a double baritone attack Saturday night when the Jack Nimitz Quintet play the Landings Hotel at the Van Nuys Airport on Saturday. Adam Shroeder pairs up with Nimitz on the big horns. If you need a final blitz of straight ahead to finish the weekend, the cooking CJS Quintet is at Charlie O’s.

Kneebody ain’t straight ahead. Indeed, their music harkens to fusion at its smartest, minus the goofy synth swishes and rock star posing that made a lot of late ’70s, early ’80s jazz just about unbearable for a lot of people. Saxist Ben Wendel and keyboardist Adam Benjamin and crew remind oldsters almost of latter day Soft Machine and (dare we say it?) King Crimson, and the compositions and interplay can be ingenious (drummer Nate Wood is a crazy clusterfunk of rhythms). They’re at the Temple Bar on Monday. And the trio of Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen is at the Jazz Bakery on Monday and Tuesday. His Being There is a perfect ECM disc, somber, evocative, intelligent. Foggy-morning stuff for brooding among the fjords. Certainly nothing booty shaking. Europe is a very serious place, apparently; must be the weight of all that history. Local pianist and vocalist Gaea Schell makes her Charlie O’s debut on Tuesday, and saxist Chuck Manning is in the line-up for what should be some pretty nice stuff. And the legendary pianist Ahmad Jamal returns to Catalina Bar & Grill solo Tuesday through Thursday.

For some serious hard bop with one helluva local line-up, the Tony Inzalaco Quintet are at Charlie O’s on Wednesday. With tenor Benn Clatworthy, trumpeter Nolan Shaheed, pianist Theo Saunders and bassist Chris Colangelo, this is major league stuff.Pianist Otmaro Ruiz is based in Los Angeles but was raised in Venezuela, and his extraordinary technique and palate of styles is jazz profoundly affected by classical training and South American roots. And with his superb band — saxist Ben Wendel, bassist Carlitos delPuerto and drummer Jimmy Branly — this stuff swings hard. Even crazy hard. He’s at the Baked Potato on Wednesday. Vibist Nick Mancini just seems to explode with energy and ideas lately, with new projects all the time (he just led a 10-piece band from behind the drums at the Knitting Factory doing Christmas standards),and now is working with New Orleans saxist Sean Nowell. They bring their new project to Vibrato on Thursday. And the legendary vibist Bobby Hutcherson is at the Jazz Bakery on Wednesday-Thursday. Hard to add to this one .?.?. that man’s mallets are all over lots of your favorite records. Back in the old days, when he and Gary Burton were redefining the sound of their instrument, Hutcherson was right there in the midst of all the brilliant, revolutionary music being made (his work with Eric Dolphy alone put him at the epicenter). He doesn’t seem to get out as much anymore, so grab a chance to catch one of these sets.

Finally, there’s a pair of very special events this week the big-eared jazzers might check out.The Spiritual Sounds of Central Asia at UCLA’s Royce Hall on Friday: These are artists culled from the remarkable Music of Central Asia series on Folkways. The very opening cut, “Jangylyk” on Tengir Too (the first of the series) is a Jew’s harp trio that, layered in overtones, gets up what one could only call a groove, and it only gets intense from there .?.?. a whole different world comes out of the speakers, wholly different instruments, structures, feels, concepts. And fresh from the Sahara, Tinariwen is at the Temple Bar on Sunday. This band of Tauregs’ new Aman Iman is a knockout. It has a groove like Malian and Moroccan gnawa music; the electrified Songhai guitar chordings give it a scratchy, stoned feel like some old John Lee Hooker or Stones records, and it’s carried away by the insistent loping camel takamba rhythm. Wonderful stuff. Live, they are even better. The world is alive with music. All you have to do is listen.

—Brick Wahl


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