Brick's Picks: Switched on Jazz
Bassist Lisa Mezzacappa’s Bait & Switch is at the Café Metropol on Saturday (with tenor Aaron Bennett, guitarist John Finkbeiner, drummer Vijay Anderson). You have to love anybody who describes herself as “steeped in free-jazz abandon, avant-Caribbean groove and garage-rock attitude.” ’Nuff said. Her Bait & Switch is certainly downright rowdy, inspired outish jazz with the occasional garage riffing and made to be played loud and in somebody’s face. She adds a few like-minded Angelenos (reedmen Vinny Golia and Charles Sharp and bassist Anthony Shadduck) for her Grapevine Septet on Sunday at 7 p.m. at the Eagle Rock Center for the Arts (2225 Colorado Blvd.). Guitarist/sound artist Jeremy Drake opens. For something completely different, head way down to Alva’s in San Pedro for bassist Morrie Louden, who’ll be performing with a quartet including saxist Katisse Buckingham, pianist Mike Eckroth and drummer Dave Sillman, and with a string quartet with major-league jazz players like violinist Harry Scorzo and violist Miguel Atwood-Ferguson. His Time Piece of a couple years back was a real favorite, with outstanding playing and outstanding tunes. The shows we’ve seen have totally cooked. But if you’re unfamiliar with the notion of jazz with a string quartet, don’t be put off, this isn’t one of those “with strings” things at all. Think instead the various projects Max Roach did with the same sort of combined lineup. For something even more off the wall, head out to Vitello’s in Studio City this Wednesday for Flexible Reality, which combines Richard Todd on the french horn, Charlie Bisharat on violin, the great accordionist Frank Marocco, bassists Michael Valerio and Abraham Laboriel, and drummer Alex Acuna (who himself can sound two or three drummers and percussionists in one). We have not yet heard the results, but just the notion of a Henry Threadgill–ian assortment like this makes a head spin.
So thankfully for those spinning noggins there’s some solid straight-ahead in town. You’ll have to call bop bastions Charlie O’s and Spazio’s to get their calendars, but the great NYC-based trumpeter Roy Hargrove brings his quintet to Catalina for a five-day stand beginning Wednesday. While Hargrove can get flat-out funky, and dabbles in hip-hop (not to mention runs a nice big band), his cooking quintet is right out of the Dizzy, Lee, Miles tradition. If that’s your thing (and it damn well ought to be) you’ll dig this one. Bassist Jennifer Leitham lights in from NYC for a trio gig at the Café 322, and while it ain’t exactly straight jazz (dig that crazy West Side Story suite), she has a great trio and plays that bass wonderfully. And for some more three-piece excellence, the absurdly talented Trio (with pianist Alan Pasqua, drummer Peter Erskine and bassist Darek Oles) are at Vitello’s on Thursday.
If you’re looking for something groovier, jammier and greener, check out guitar hero Charlie Hunter at the Mint on Friday and Saturday. He and his quintet (a tight bunch with backgrounds in jazz, soul and funk) will be playing material off his new Gentlemen, I Neglected to Inform You You Will Not Be Getting Paid. Jazzers, funk freaks and jam scenesters — even a few Deadheads — will fill the joint (no pun intended). If you like your grooves greasier (though a very nimble, creative greasy), on Sunday at 2 p.m. Bill Cunliffe hauls his B3 up to the A-Frame above the Sunset Strip (along with guitarist Jim Hershman and drummer Jeff Hamilton) for some excellent organ-trio jazz. You’ll have to call (310) 659-9169 for reservations and directions, as the neighbors freak easily, and the cover is a not-so-cheap $45, but it includes drinks and some eats; given that, it ain’t a bad deal at all.
The fifth annual Filipino-American Jazz Festival is in town. Vocalist Charmaine Clamor takes the lead, and her blend of Filipino tunes and instrumentation with jazz standards is stirring every time. The exceptional male vocalist (and bossa guitarist) Mon David is on the bill, along with pianist Tateng Katindig and multi-instrumentalist Abe Lagrimas, each of whom will be leading sets as well as accompanying many of the other acts. Out-of-towners include Seattle guitarist Angelo Pizzaro, and vocalists Sandra Viray (from Manila) and Charito (who has been a big success in Japan for years). Always an inspiring night of jazz, it happens at Catalina’s on Friday and Saturday.
(Brick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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