Another wave of great out-of-town players comes through this week, beginning with Cuban drummer Dafnis Prieto’s Absolute Quintet (with saxist Yosvany Terry) at the Jazz Bakery Friday through Sunday. Prieto’s solid Cuban chops have been filtered through years of working with the likes of edgy jazzers Steve Coleman, Henry Threadgill and Andrew Hill on one hand and progressive Latin jazzers Chico O’Farrill, Eddie Palmieri, Jane Bunnett and Dave Samuels on the other. Latin meets avant — and though that is something hip New Yorkers are used to, the concept is a new one out here. Across town on Friday and Saturday, the Arturo O’Farrill Trio are at Catalina. Chico’s son — a formidable pianist — mixes the Latin with a pretty straight-ahead sound in his trio. (And ironically enough, his latest, the excellent Live In Brooklyn, featured Dafnis Prieto on the skins.) Monday at the Bakery brings out the post-bop of alto/soprano saxist Eric Person & Meta-Four, and on Tuesday it’s the Hoenig-Pilc Project (Ari Hoenig on drums with two longtime musical compadres, exquisite pianist Jean-Michel Pilc and bassist Dan Lutz). Finally, the brilliant soprano saxist Dave Liebman begins his Jazz Bakery stand on Wednesday and Thursday. If you were lucky enough to catch him at the Playboy Jazz Festival a couple of years ago, teamed up with Joe Lovano and Joshua Redman, you know just how far Liebman can go on that little horn. Highly recommended.
Pianist Bill Cunliffe and his trio play with Tri Motif Winds (flute, clarinet, bassoon) at Landings Airtel Plaza on Saturday. On Sunday there’s an interesting combo of guitarist Gregg Poree, violinist Karen Briggs, drummer/conguero Munyungo Jackson and bassist Edwin Livingston at the Jazz at the A-Frame in West Hollywood at 2 p.m. (Call 310-659-9169 for reservations and details.) No idea what they’ll come up with, but both Briggs and Jackson are energetic and full of ideas. And the fascinating Viennese jazz guitarist Wolfgang Schalk has a quartet with bassist Dave Carpenter and drummer Marvin “Smitty” Smith at the Baked Potato on Tuesday.
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Sometimes ya just gotta hear some righteous tenor sax, and there’s never a shortage of that in this town. The wildly intense Azar Lawrence (with Nate Morgan on piano) is at Charlie O’s on Friday, and if you dig your Trane on the crazed side Azar’s your man. For the classy bluesy straight ahead there’s Plas Johnson (with Jon Mayer on piano) at Charlie O’s on Saturday, while out at the Back Room in Canoga Park Pete Christlieb holds court on Friday. Lesser known to jazz fans (which is a shame), the fine George Harper makes an appearance at Vibrato on Saturday. Downsize a bit to alto and Kim Richmond leads a quartet at the Lighthouse on Sunday. And big band fans will dig the whole battery of our best local horn players in the ranks of the Frank Capp Juggernaut going through a stack of Neil Hefti and Sam Nestico arrangements on Monday at Charlie O’s. And Jax in Glendale has a good run this week, with pianist Jim Szilyagi (lately with Chuck Manning’s quartet) on Monday, tenor Fred Horn’s blend of straight ahead and funk on Tuesday, Bill Wysaske’s final regular gig on Wednesday (ought to be some talent showing up for this one) and, of course, the great Jack Sheldon as always on Thursday.
The Sierra Madre Wine and Jazz Walk happens on Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m. (along Sierra Madre Boulevard between Auburn and Baldwin avenues). The Doug McDonald Trio, Mark Towns Latin Jazz, Roger Cairns Combo, violinist Chris Murphy, Jane Fuller Trio, Mike McDaniel Quartet and others will be playing for your wine-sampling pleasure. The $35 cover goes to City of Hope Cancer Center. Call (626) 233-9993 for info. And afterward the hard-bop Donavan Muradian Quintet are at Café 322 until midnight.
And on Saturday it’s the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Trumpet Competition and Tribute to Herbie Hancock at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. Festivities begin at 5 p.m., and among the many performers and stars are Nancy Wilson, Wayne Shorter, Terence Blanchard, Clark Terry, Roy Hargrove, George Duke, Al Jarreau, Chris Botti, Harvey Mason, John Patitucci, Bennie Maupin and Hubert Laws (plus Chaka Khan, Joni Mitchell and the inevitable Sting). Not to mention some very talented young trumpet players.