Brick's Picks: The World Beat
Trumpeter Nicholas Payton has brought along trombonist Curtis Fuller to his Jazz Bakery stand, which winds up on Friday and Saturday. Payton is plenty hot, and Fuller has played that beautifully fluid trombone on so many classic sessions — think Blue Trane or Dial S for Sonny or Buhaina's Delight. Enough said. The Pat Metheny Trio are at the Wiltern on Sunday. Swiss groove madness from Nik Bartsch's Ronin Quintet at the Jazz Bakery Monday and Tuesday. Gorgeous massed vocals from Ladysmith Black Mambazo at USC's Bovard Auditorium on Tuesday. Their latest, Ilembe, is a tribute to Shaka Zulu. And if that sounds a little like the Russian Patriarchate Choir doing a tribute to Stalin, the results are just as beautiful as that would be. Stirring, powerful stuff. And finally, on Thursday at La Ve Lee, check out Rez Abbasi's Bazaar. Steeped in his native Pakistani music, So Cal surf music (he was a teen out here) and NYC's avant jazz and rock and groove, his album Bazaar blends those strains. Abbasi plays a pretty mean electric sitar (you remember the thing from the opening vamp on the Spinners classic "It's a Shame"), and his quartet (with Gary Versace on the Hammond organ, Danny Weiss on drums and tabla, plus various Indo-jazz men) jams hard. It's the kind of thing that will appeal to you edgier jazz fans, you fusion freaks, you old hippies who once tripped hard to East/West, all the intellectual rock fans clutching their Can box sets and all you world-fusion types out there who dig Trilok Gurtu's stuff. We dig the album a lot. And an added bonus is the presence of Abbasi's wife, Kiran Ahluwalia, who herself has managed a pretty remarkable westernized take on Pakistani ghazal music. NYC is a focal point for the merger of western and eastern musics — Indian, Arab, Gypsy, Jewish, Persian — though the idea is still a novel one out here. You might want to check this one out.
Otherwise, the column's recurrent characters are out in force: on Friday the pedal-to-the-metal alto Zane Musa is at Charlie O's, and the great tenor Pete Christlieb is at the Back Room with the John Hammond Trio. Christlieb is also at Charlie O's on Saturday, the same night that the lyrical trumpeter Steve Huffsteter is at Vibrato, multireed virtuoso Ray Pizzi is at the Back Room and Poncho Sanchez does a rollicking couple of sets at La Ve Lee. On Sunday morning from 11 a.m., the fired-up Charles Owens blows blues, both straight-ahead and the heavy stuff for the Lighthouse brunch crowd, and later that night, tenor Doug Webb is at Charlie O's. On Monday the Frank Capp Juggernaut do their killer Basie arrangements; Christlieb is among the great soloists that Capp has put together, driving them from behind his kit like Chick Webb drove his band at the Savoy Theatre. On Wednesday you can pick from two of L.A.'s top trumpeters. There's Carl Saunders with a trio at Spazio. Check out the inventive reworking of "Girl From Ipanema" on his Can You Dig Being Dug, recorded at Charlie O's, which is where the other trumpet great, Jack Sheldon, will be Wednesday. We went on and on about his latest, It's What I Do, last issue. There's also a Sheldon biopic, Trying to Get Good (produced by Doug McIntyre), due out in the next couple of weeks. More about that later.
Trombonist Phil Ranelin is an Indiana native who spent some great years in Detroit, yet has became the leading musical proponent of L.A.'s overlooked jazz heritage. He's been marking this year's Black History Month with a series of weekly musical tributes to some of our best — Dexter Gordon, Eric Dolphy (plus his fellow hoosier J.J. Johnston) — and on Friday he salutes the late, great pianist Hampton Hawes at the Papa West Restaurant, 7:30-10:30 p.m., 4336 Degnan Blvd., Leimert Park, (323) 290-9575. Not sure who is in the lineup, but he always has terrific outfits to work with. Meanwhile, downtown, the impressive bassless trio JoE-LeSs ShOe (guitarist Jamie Rosenn and drummer Jason Harnell with the superb saxist Matt Otto) are at the Café Metropol on Friday, and then Otto and Harnell the next night are back in the same room with trumpeter Josh Welchez's quartet alongside Joe Bagg on the Hammond B3 organ. That man grooves the jazz so hard on that monster. Tenor Frank Fontaine leads three times this week, starting at the Sea Bird Jazz Lounge (730 E. Broadway, Long Beach) on Friday, then Spazio on Monday and Sangria on Wednesday (with pianist Mahesh Balasooriya, who played a virtuoso and nearly overpowering solo with Morrie Louden at the Vic a couple of weeks back). Pianist Alan Broadbent and trio return to Giannelli Square on Sunday, 3-6 p.m., 19451 Londelius St., Northridge, (818) 772-1722 or giannellisquare.com. Vibist Onaje Murray makes one of his rare appearances when he joins the Cross-Hart Jazz Experience in the West Lounge atop the Angeleno Hotel on Monday (bassist Ryan Cross is at Chaya on Sunday). And pianist Larry Nash & The Jazz Symphonics, with exciting soloists like saxist Louis Van Taylor and trumpeter Bobby Rodriguez, are at the Westin on Wednesday.
The Pasadena Jazz Institute (on the second level of the Paseo Colorado) features Linda Hopkins' "Celebration of the Blues," which should be a rowdy good time. Then on Thursday, they have the Nedra Wheeler Trio (with Nate Morgan on piano) in a night she calls "Remembering Ella." Nedra plays a mean bass and is loaded with stage presence. We've never seen any project of hers that didn't get the audience stirred up. (Check www.pasjazz.org for the rest of the schedule; they have a lot going on.) And there's a bittersweet blowout at the final night of the Vic in Santa Monica this Thursday with Barbara Morrison and the Sherwood Sledge Quartet. That is a nice room, a good jazz space with a unique vibe. It's sad to see Ray Slayton closing the joint after seven years. We saw some truly good music there.
(Brick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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