Trumpeter Sal Marquez is at Vibrato on Friday. Zappa freaks dig this guy, who was all over The Grand Wazoo, while jazz freaks know him as one helluva bop player. He's been doing a lot of wild funk projects lately, but at Vibrato it'll be pure straight-ahead. And he'll also represent jazz at Playboy's free concert at Woodland Hills' Warner Center Park in the Lou Bredlow Pavilion (5800 Topanga Canyon Blvd.), which runs from 4 to 8 p.m. on Sunday. This is a preliminary to next week's Jazz Festival at the Bowl, and also on the bill are the R&B singer Oletaand smooth-jazz player Lau Tizer, but you know who we'd be there to see. It's free, too.
There are lots of cool events this week, in fact, all sorts of them. On Saturday at 7:30 way out in Claremont the Bill Cunliffe Sextet and the Claremont Chorale will perform selections from Duke Ellington's three historic Sacred Concerts. This is gorgeous music, and Cunliffe is an ideal interpreter of Ellington. It happens at Pomona College's Bridges Hall of Music (150 E. 4th St.) in Claremont. It's $15, and you can call (909) 621-9782 for details. Different, yeah, but a treat for serious Ellington fans.
Then there's Traps and Taps at 2 p.m. Sunday at Alvas Showroom way down in San Pedro. Drummer Clayton Cameron and tap dancer Chester Whitmore run through the history of two extraordinary American percussive-arts forms, drumming and American tap dancing, from the 19th century to the bebop era. It's a subtle thing, percussion, but when these two show just how Max Roach and Bo Jangles Robinson did their thing, it'll open up a whole new perspective. Mixing the two might seem odd to a lot of people, but tap is all about percussion. Next time your mother insists on watching Easter Parade, wake up for Fred Astaire's number "Drum Crazy." He's dancing and playing toy drums at the same time. Voilà.
Out in Hermosa Beach, two tenors battle again in classic style, as Pat Chartrand and Gil Bernal go at it at the Lighthouse on Thursday, with pianist Tom Owens, bassist Richard Simon and drummer Harold Mason getting out of the way behind them. The press release says it nicely: "One hundred years of saxophone wisdom brought to bear. The warriors still have a sharp edge and undeniable depth to their sound." If you haven't seen two proud tenor saxophonists go at it, it's the jazz equivalent of a heavyweight fight. A thrilling, macho exhibition of exquisite chops. The whole Coleman Hawkins versus Lester Young lore. How can you not love it?
Herbie Hancock will sit still for an hour and talk and take questions and tell stories and play a bit on Monday. The guy has played with everybody and been in the thick of everything from hard bop to hard funk, and he'll be talking a lot about his soon-to-be-released Imagine Project, where again he plays with everybody. He'll be playing clips besides talking and answering questions. Basically, you get to talk to Herbie, people. It happens Monday night at the Grammy Museum (800 W. Olympic Blvd. at Figueroa).
Altoist Kim Richmond's Concert Jazz Orchestra is at Hollywood & Highland on Tuesday. This is a genuine orchestra, with woodwinds and double reeds and all kinds of brass and percussion, and if you dig, say, Gil Evans, you'll love this. These H&H gigs are a summer highlight, with the wine and giant elephants and tattered superheroes posing for tips outside. Only in Hollywood.
And in the clubs on Saturday, we recommend cool guitarist Grant Geissman at Vitello's for hard bopping; Rickey Woodard with the John Heard Trio at Charlie O's on Saturday (you can do both, even); vibist Nick Mancini at the Lighthouse on Sunday at 3 p.m.; and the brilliant sextet of Theo Saunders at Charlie O's on Monday. We've raved about this outfit plenty of times, and they do very well every time they play here, with Saunders' imaginative compositions and Monk-inspired chops getting his righteous selection of players reaching into those deep jazz spaces. We love it. Then his alto player, Zane Musa, gets intense in his own way at Vibrato on Thursday, bringing this week's jazz back to where we started.
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Also on Thursday the Playboy Jazz Festival presents "Jazz on Film" with archivist Mark Cantor dishing out priceless clips of Monk, Miles, Dexter Gordon, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Louis Armstrong, Dinah Washington and lots more. Highly recommended, it all begins at 7:30 at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center (4718 W. Washington Blvd., parking at Washington and Vineyard Ave.) You can get details at playboyjazzfestival.com, but if your boss doesn't appreciate all that wanton pulchritude at work, you can call (310) 450-1173. It's free but fills up quick.
On Saturday L.A. Plena is at LACMA at 5 p.m. playing Puerto Rican plena and bombas. If you like salsa, you've heard these things played before, and this band does it with authentic instrumentation — good stuff. The fascinating Element Band are at the Ford Amphitheatre on Sunday. The music has an Armenian core but has expanded to encompass musical forms from across the Mediterranean. It's a unique, very soulful take on the stuff, and magnificently played. Great venue, too.