Quite a few nice things this week. Louis Van Taylor, who you can see burning on the sax, dreads flying, in all sorts of situations, has long been a favorite local player of ours. We remember catching him first in Gerald Wilson’s orchestra, taking first lead, and lately he’s been tearing it up with Phil Ranelin’s outfit. This Friday he’s featured in the World Stage’s Stories series of fascinating interviews, storytelling and playing that happens a couple times a month. If you’re anywhere near 4344 Degnan Blvd. in Leimert Park this Friday, drop on in. If you’re farther east that night, anywhere near Pasadena, we heartily recommend pianist Jon Mayer with saxist Pete Christlieb at the Café 322 in Sierra Madre. We’ve talked much about Mayer’s story, his NYC beginnings in the ’50s with Jackie McLean and everyone, even ’Trane for one wonderful session, and you can hear all of that. Still, the man’s style is all his own, taking remarkable chances in his solos. He has loads of great releases (we’re especially fond of Nightscape), and this time with the great Christlieb aboard. (The latter is at Vitello’s in Studio City on Thursday, too.)
Another great Friday gig is saxist Lanny Morgan at Charlie O’s with the bassist John Heard’s trio. People always go on about his bebop skills — he is a master of the Bird — but really he is decades beyond that. You’ll hear just how far beyond on his new sextet release, titled 6. ... It’s a good one, straight ahead, solid and fired up. The man plays a beautiful alto, his quicksilver runs leave your head spinning. On Sunday at Vibrato it’s the Larry Goldings Organ Trio (with guitarist Peter Bernstein). Probably the preeminent outfit of its kind, Larry Young fans will dig Goldings’ power and percussive feel on the keys, the range of his writing, and just how damn good an outfit this is. In another direction completely is the Fred Selden Quartet at Charlie O’s this Sunday. Dedicated to the music of Art Pepper, they have an incredible career’s worth to plumb, so this could be rich indeed. Pepper veteran Milcho Leviev will be on piano. Highly recommended, as is Unreleased Art Volume IV, the latest from the Art History Project (on Widow’s Taste Records), three discs worth of pure Pepper. He was one of L.A.’s own, a rare, unique alto voice in the era of Charlie Parker.
Also unique is pianist McCoy Tyner, who’s at Royce Hall, UCLA, on Thursday with a quartet that includes saxist Gary Bartz. Tyner’s explosive left hand still delivers, punctuating beautifully sweeping runs, full of surprises, full of Bud Powell. Opening are Build an Ark. The Ark is an open, ’60s-inspired orchestra anchored by local heavyweights including Dwight Trible. Somewhere in there will be Michael White on the violin, who slipped from view after several excellent Impulse LPs in the glory days. We were surprised as hell to see him at the Eagle Rock Music Festival, looking good and playing fine. (See Build an Ark feature, page 69.)
And then there’s the stuff that doesn’t quite fit the mold. Bassist Daren Burns’ Onibaba — featuring veterans of sessions with Tom Waits and Vinny Golia, Captain Beefheart and the brilliant John “Drumbo” French, even Wadada Leo Smith — will be doing “post Jazz/Rock explorations” at the Museum of Neon Art (136 W. 4th St., dwntwn., 213-489-9918) from 8 to 10 p.m. on Friday.
Finally, The Reptet are in town. Of course you’ve never heard of them; they’re from Seattle and, like so much of the excellent jazz from that sodden corner of the country, they can’t seem to get any attention at all. (It was the same for their underground scene in the late ’80s until SubPop came along — but how many times can that happen?) We love their Do This! and Chicken or Beef — this is not pseudo anything, but genuine jazz, with terrific playing, great arrangements, writing, energy, imagination, weirdness. A bit of the NYC Loft vibe, maybe. Lots of Mingus. Like a lot of the new jazz scene they’re booking themselves on exhausting DIY couch tours that go from joint to joint at a pace Black Flag would have appreciated (tho’ how many rock bands then did three or four sets a night?). They’ve scored a couple gigs our way this time, this Saturday at Molly Malones and then Monday at Jax in Glendale, which may be the hippest thing you’ve seen in Glendale in a long time. There’s no cover. Playing for love and gas money and free eats. It’s a long drive back to Seattle.
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(Brick can be reached at email@example.com.)