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Charlie O Remembered

Wow, here’s a strange one: Chango en Paris is, according to public relations propaganda, “a theatrical musical show featuring Symphonic Afro Cuban Jazz Funk (a new genre of popular music created by composer Inocente Luis)” — explained as African Classical Music performed around the sounds of the arara, yoruba and batá drums. Certainly sounds groovy, and with Francisco Aguabella, Justo Almario, Chuchito Valdes, P-Funksters Bernie Worrell and Gary Shider, the massive Dakah Hip Hop Orchestra and the Arara Afro Cuban Percussion Group involved, it sounds wild. It’s happening at Royce Hall at UCLA on Thurs., Dec. 4 at 7:30 p.m.; call (310) 825-2101 for details. Earlier in the week, you can catch the final Friday blowout at LACMA, with the great Frank Capp Juggernaut and some killin’ Basie charts. Friday offers interesting smaller-club stuff as well ... Nick Mancini (with exceptional players like pianist Mahesh Balasooriya and kneebody drummer Nate Wood) is at the Pasadena Jazz Institute Saturday, and the mallets and chops will be flying. They don’t say “progressive jazz” anymore, but this is it. Or dig the ’60s Blue Note feel of the Elliott Caine Quintet at Jax on Friday. And that has to be the smallest stage in town. Fun though.

John Nelson is also with the trio at the Foundry on Saturday, and man do they get wailing in there. And the Jazz Bakery has a cool run of things this week, too. Especially noteworthy is vocalist Mon David accompanying himself on some very jazzy and bossa-flavored guitar, with the excellent, beautifully swinging pianist Tateng Katindig leading the backing trio. On Thursday, another exceptional pianist, John Beasley, kicks off a three-day Bakery stint, with a heavy quartet: drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts, bassist Buster Williams and master of reeds Bennie Maupin performing music from Beasley’s excellent Letter to Herbie. Very highly recommended. And we gotta throw in a mention of a little gig in between, when longtime Bakery volunteer (that’s her smiling so much it hurts, selling you the tickets) Charlene Spann gets her Bakery debut. Barbara Morrison mentored her, and JoshNelson’s at the piano.

This one hurts, but we have to say a few words about Charlie Ottaviano, the Charlie O of Charlie O’s. He’s gone, betrayed by his ticker two Mondays ago. A couple nights later, the place was packed, the jazz was darker, bluesier and infinitely sadder no matter how hard they bopped. That joint was his dream, and there’s no place in all of L.A. these days that is as pure a jazz club as Charlie O’s. Scarcely a night goes by we couldn’t recommend. None of it would have happened without Charlie O. We’ll miss those late nights at the end of the bar, he would be cracking wise with John Heard (though Heard would outtalk him 10 or 20 words to one). Oh, yeah, Charlie was some cat. May the players play their hearts out for the man.

(Brick can be reached at brickjazz@yahoo.com.)


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