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Can He Get a Witness?

{mosimage}Dwight Trible reminds many of a preacher . . . his sonorous voice and extraordinary use of dynamics (both Leon Thomas and Betty Carter come to mind) place him well outside the mainstream jazz vocalists of today. And with the spiritual jazz heritage he draws upon (Coltrane is everywhere in his music, and Trible spent years with Horace Tapscott and Pharoah Sanders), his shows can seem transformational. At the Rose Bowl last year, the festival crowd was laid-back in the afternoon heat, but Trible soon had them on their feet, cheering and praising — and the entire afternoon was changed. On Thurs., March 29, when Trible soars — and reedman Charles Owens lets loose, pianist John Beasley begins exploring, and percussionist Derf Reklaw goes deep into his drums — the fine room at The Vic will seem in another place, at least for the moment.

Then, at Charlie O’s on Tues., March 27, saxist Benn Clatworthy has a CD-release party for his Live at Charlie O’s, with an exceptional quartet that includes pianist Theo Saunders, bassist Chris Colangelo and Cuban drummer Jimmy Branly. There’s a lot of Sonny Rollins in Clatworthy — his forceful playing, his willingness to explore, rework and reinvent a melody. He’ll go out, way out, if the mood hits him, or go to the heart of the hard-bop blues, or find the notes that are the very essence of a ballad. Saunders and Colangelo are right there with him, and Branly finds all sorts of strange rhythmic places to go. This will be a night full of great jazz.

Pete Christlieb is another powerful saxophonist whose solos are always full of soul and surprises; he’s at the Back Room on Fri., March 23. Javier Vergara mixes Wayne Shorteresque ideas and Charles Lloyd’s ballad feel into his sound; he’s at the Biltmore on Fri., March 23, and then burns it up (alongside trombonist Francisco Torres) with Poncho Sanchez at La Ve Lee on Saturday. Chuck Manning goes for a harder-edged sound (alongside Tonight Show trumpeter Kye Palmer) in the superb hard-bop Donavan-Muradian Quintet on Fri., March 23, at Cafe 322 in Sierra Madre; then he gets more expressive and introspective fronting his own excellent quartet at the Spot, in Altadena, on Sat., March 24.

Trombonist Isaac Smith is usually seen as a sideman around town, but his up-front work can be exhilarating; he brings his octet into the Jazz Bakery on Tues., March 27. The wonderfully expressive trombonist Bill Watrous is at Charlie O’s on Thurs., March 29. Trumpeter Elliott Caine and his quintet (with tenor Carl Randall) mix energetic post-bop with gorgeous balladry and a rollicking Lee Morgan groove at the Westin LAX on Thurs., Mar. 28. And for a whole mess of saxophones and trombones and trumpets, the mighty Frank Capp Juggernaut does Basie proud at Charlie O’s, Mon., March 26.

If you can’t see Pat Metheny (with the exquisite Brad Mehldau) at Walt Disney Concert Hall on Friday, check out Austrian guitarist Wolfgang Schalk (with pianist Dave Kikoski) at the Jazz Bakery on Sun., March 25. His excellent Space Messengers combines great chops and some very sophisticated writing. Vibes fans will want to see The Nick Mancini Collective at Café Metropol, Fri., March 23. And for post-bop and beyond, Minsarah plays Rosalie & Alva’s Performance Gallery, Sun., March 25. Finally, one of the founders of tropicalia, Brazilian guitarist and composer Gilberto Gil, is at Royce Hall, UCLA, on Sat., March 24.

—Brick Wahl

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UCLA, Royce Hall

340 Royce Drive
Westwood, CA 90024

310-825-4401

www.uclalive.org