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Come On Baby, Let's Go Downtown

Remember when downtown L.A. was devoid of jazz? Even after the influx of hipsters, artists and hangers-on affecting beat ’n’ bop fashion, the area was swingless. Well, that has changed. Check out this weekend: First, Seattle “jazz juggernaut” The Reptet get rave reviews at home, and they’ll bring their saxes and horns and drums and licorice sticks into the Café Metropol for a raucous blowout on Fri., March 30. That ends early enough to catch trumpeter Elliott Caine later that night when he pares down to a trio in the Gallery Bar at the Biltmore. His post-bop ideas will be spare, the ballads resonant. On Sat., March 31, it’s back to the Metropol for saxist Robby Marshall’s take on acoustic jazz with his RootSystem, followed again by a chaser at the Biltmore: some heady stuff from timbalero Bobby Matos’ Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble. The next day there’s Sunday-night jazz at the Bordello. Then Land on 2nd Street in Little Tokyo has the rest of the week covered: first a double header on Mon., April 2, with the modernist Damon Zick Trio and the way-out Brad Dutz Quartet. Recommended. Then Tuesday they have their hot-as-hell jam session, and finally a wild finish on Wed., April 4, with The Alan Ferber Nonet, featuring the Brooklyn-based trombonist with such locals as alto Matt Zebley, tenor Ben Wendel, pianist Joe Bagg and drummer Mark Ferber. Way recommended. And that’s six days in a row of great jazz in downtown Los Angeles. Imagine that.

Of course there is jazz all across town. Check out the terrific saxophone blowout in the Hollywood Hills this Sun., April 1, when Jazz at the A Frame presents The Four Brothers, starring tenors Rickey Woodard and Charles Owens and altos Jeff Clayton & Keith Fiddmont. All four players are energetic masters of their horns, and this should be a wild event. Another hard-blowing veteran, Carl Randall, finishes up his two-night stand at the Pasadena Jazz Institute on Fri., March 30. Charlie O’s has the Trane-inspired Doug Webb on Fri., March 30, and the mighty Don Menza on Sat., March 31. Saxist Dale Fielder is brilliant on all the reeds but sticks to tenor at Vibrato on Sat., March 31, while the passionate Azar Lawrence goes to the limit at the Cotton Club, Sat., March 31.

You dig bebop accordion? Frank Marocco (that was him all over The Godfather score) brings his quartet to Giannelli Square on Sat., March 31. Booker and bassist John Giannelli says the squeezebox and alto unison passages at breakneck tempos are mind blowers, and “the way that Frank voices the chord changes sounds like a small orchestra all by himself . . .” Yowza. Those who prefer the more traditional instrumentation will dig trumpeter Roy Hargrove and his excellent quintet. A now not-so-Young Lion who ruffled purists with his funky hip-hop RH Factor last time around, Hargrove will play hard bop at Catalina Car and Grill on Wed.-Thurs., April 4-5. And organist Joey DeFrancesco lays down the heavy funk and soulful groove at the Jazz Bakery the same nights.

Finally, the local avant jazz-rock scene gets together for a benefit for beloved vibist Richie Hass, stricken with myeloma. Among the diffuse rock, jazz-rock and avant-garde acts (including funky jazzoid players like Joe Baiza, Carey Fosse and the excellent Atomic Sherpas) is out-there master Vinny Golia, going on at 7:30 p.m. That’s at Safari Sam’s, Sat., March 31, from 4 p.m. (see Rock listings for details).

—Brick Wahl

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