Brick's Picks: Wayne Shorter at Disney, Mundell Lowe at Giannelli Square, Ralph Alessi at Ramada Hollywood

Wayne Shorter and his quartet are at Disney Hall this Wednesday, along with the Imani Strings. Go see him. We’ve been sitting here an hour or two unable to come up with a damn thing that could possibly state how much we dig his classic 1960s stuff, things like The Soothsayer, The All Seeing Eye and — my God — JuJu (which is spinning now for the zillionth time). Shorter said back then he felt like a violin, felt like a viola. He felt liquid and he felt “dot-dash.” His words, that liquid and dot-dash. Damn. Talking like he plays like he writes. Just listen to the notes of “Deluge” descending. Then the bassline struts in. Oh, to write prose like Wayne Shorter writes music.

On Friday and Saturday the exceptional pianist John Beasley is at the Jazz Bakery, with a great quartet featuring drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts, bassist Buster Williams and, out front, reeds master Bennie Maupin. The focus will be on Beasley’s fine Letter to Herbie, tunes that will bring out the best in these four. Beasley is inspired in any context (from pure straight-ahead at Charlie O’s to going deep with Dwight Trible), but he and Maupin should be especially inspired by a mess of Herbie Hancock tunes to pick from. Tain and Williams will no doubt be locked in, and these improvisations will be going places. (We highly recommended this one last week, and are doing so again.)

On Saturday, the legendary guitarist Mundell Lowe makes an appearance at Giannelli Square in Northridge (19451 Londelius St., call 818-772-1722). At 80-plus and still playing beautifully, Mr. Lowe is a walking history of jazz, with roots in Dixieland (from back when the originators were still around doing it themselves in New Orleans), and spells with (depressingly) long-forgotten drummer Ray McKinley, the iconic Mary Lou Williams, the Sauter-Finegan Orchestra — even people like Prez, Bird, Benny Carter, Lee Konitz and some smoking sessions with Richie Kimuca. Lowe has several Riverside albums for you collectors. A jillion gigs and sessions later, he’s still at it, still picking those clean, laconic jazz lines, bop meeting cool and settling down a tad, West Coast style. This one ain’t free, but it’s well worth the money.

Then on Sunday you can spring forward a few eras for NYC-based trumpeter Ralph Alessi’s This Against That (with saxist Tony Malaby, pianist Andy Milne, bassist Drew Gress and drummer Mark Ferber), who’ll be in the 1160 Lounge at the Ramada Hollywood (1160 N. Vermont). Alessi, who trained at CalArts, has been spending the last several years playing with Ravi Coltrane, Steve Coleman and Uri Caine — all the heavy New York cats of the past couple decades. Quite the soloist with quite the band. This should be pretty righteous. Benny Golson returns to the Jazz Bakery for a run, beginning Wednesday. One of the great players, composers and storytellers from jazz’s headier days (indeed, all the stuff had heads to return to back then), Mr. Golson is still well worth a listen.

As always, some great stuff can be heard around town for the price of a couple drinks and maybe some eats. We just love when trumpeter Bobby Bradford brings in a crew to play the Café 322 in Sierra Madre the first Friday of every month. His bands are loose and hot, his tunes all minor classics of some sort or another. Plus, there’s just something cool about hearing jazz like this in a family eatery, with those families digging it. Who knew? After all, even if he stays clear of the too-freaky-for-prime-time stuff (remember his work with John Carter?), the New Traditionalism this is not. Also on Friday, Kye Palmer leads a quartet in Brentwood at Vibrato. Palmer, who’s been easy-streeting it with his dream gig blowing trumpet for Jay Leno, plays one gorgeous, swinging horn, whether riding the melody hard or balladeering beautifully. No cover, but you might get there after the dinner crowd thins out a little later and leaves the place to the jazzbos. And on Thursday bassist Darek Oles has a trio (with drummer Peter Erskine) at the Crowne Plaza LAX. The guy has a touch on that thing that can only be called “European.” He chords effortlessly, his left hand resting like an Albrecht Dürer across the strings. Beautiful.

(Brick can be reached at

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