Plenty of choices this week, no matter what your jazz inclinations. You can hear West Coast Cool on a warm West Coast Friday evening at LACMA with the Dave Pell Octet, which includes the great drummer Frank Capp in its ranks. Then, on Saturday, head over to Catalina’s for some West Coast bop and big band with the Jack Sheldon Orchestra, which is there Sunday too. And Frank Capp brings his classic Juggernaut into the Jazz Bakery on Saturday, swinging all those ’50s-’60s Basie arrangements hard. And if you just love the classic sounds of Central Avenue, the inimitable Ernie Andrews is at Levitt Pavilion in Pasadena on Sunday at 7 p.m.
Maybe you dig your bop and hard bop in a more intimate setting. There’s smooth, bluesy tenor Plas Johnson (with pianist Jon Mayer and drummer Roy McCurdy) at Charlie O’s on Saturday, or the awesome tenor Pete Christlieb with the Tom Rizzo Quartet at Spazio on Sunday, or the equally mighty tenor Don Menza with trombonist Bill Reichenbach at Charlie O’s on Thursday. (Since John Hammond dropped out of the booking business with the demise of the Back Room, the tenor/bone matchups have become scarce.) Of course, there’s always that Trane thing too. Like Azar Lawrence channeling the Man at Charlie O’s on Friday, with the killer band of pianist Nate Morgan, bassist Jeff Littleton and drummer Roy McCurdy. And Doug Webb has that Trane thing too, and he’s at Charlie O’s on Sunday. But the best experience of the lot has to be the Henry Franklin Quartet at the Crowne Plaza on Thursday, with Azar Lawrence, pianist Theo Saunders and drummer Tony Austin. The place will levitate.
And then there’s the new breed, sometimes on the edge, sometimes solidly in the tradition. Saxist Ben Wendel is both, and his appearances at the Café Metropol are always intense, even brilliant; he’s there Friday. Stuart Liebig’s Seconda Prattica are at the Café Metropol on Saturday — amazing stuff, outish here and there, and from what we’ve heard of this lineup, there’s a lot of Mingus in it. Pianist Austin Peralta has his quintet at the Jazz Bakery on Thursday, and yes, he is yet another of those incredible and incredibly young pianists who seem to regularly blow minds. And the L.A. Jazz Collective has a bunch of themselves at the First & Central Summer Concert this Thursday, including Gary Fukushima 3+2 (the 2 being exceptional saxist Matt Otto and trumpeter Josh Welchez), and the Jamie Rosenn Group (including guitarist Rosenn, tenor Otto, pianist Joe Bagg, bassist Ryan McGillicuddy and drummer Jason Harnell). It’s being billed as a preview/celebration of the upcoming Central Avenue Festival, and they’ve also got Dwight Trible on the bill. Man, his vocals may be too much for some, but they get in our bones every time. Which makes this a pick right there. And it’s free. And outdoors. Maybe even outside.
Finally, there’s some great Afro-Latin around town this week, like Bobby Matos & his Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble at the Levitt Pavilion on Saturday, 8 p.m. And then fate has thrown two African bills against each other again. The exciting double-header of the soulful Angolan Waldemar Bastos and the Congolese-gone-Afro-Cuban Ricardo Lemvo is at California Plaza on Saturday, and across town at the the Getty Center on Saturday there’s the triple-header of The Budos Band, Fool’s Gold and J. Sole’s Musaics. The last two, we don’t know, but the two Budos Band albums are big instrumental blasts of horn-driven Nigerian funk (and Sharon Jones’ backing band). Tight, pumping, freeway-driving music. But you can only do one show, unless you can bum a helicopter off someone. Tuesday’s easier though, our pick being the Pete Escovedo Latin Jazz Orchestra at Hollywood & Highland Center. That’ll be a blast, with wine and cheese besides. And we’ll not mention those big, crazy elephants this time.
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