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Straight Ahead, With Detours

Charles Owens is at Charlie O’s again this Friday, with the fine quartet of pianist John Beasley, bassist Edwin Livingston and drummer Roy McCurdy. Last time Charlie O played Charlie O’s he finished the night with a suite of half a dozen tunes, included some Miles, an incredibly funky “Cold Duck Time” (bassman John Heard owned it that night) that actually had people dancing (at Charlie O’s!), and then a profound take on a movement from A Love Supreme that eventually segued naturally, somehow, into an extended avant-blues workout on “Meet Me With Your Black Drawers On.” His playing had tapped all his specialties — the blues, the straight up, the hard bop, the spiritual and the out there. It went unrecorded, of course. Owens has few recordings. A few old LPs, if you can find them, and last year’s fine So Far So Good, but like so many of our local horn masters (and Owens plays nearly as many reeds as Rahsaan Roland Kirk) you have to catch him live. He’s a different animal in different venues: Catch him in Dwight Trible’s band and he summons up the ghosts of masters past, simmering low or exploding in Dolphy-esque fireworks. At the World Stage last year he went into the stratosphere with percussion accompaniment. In a blues band he’s down and dirty. But at Charlie O’s he’ll run down the middle, veering into some blues here, some craziness there, but always back to the righteous straight ahead with an unparalleled “Eternal Triangle.” Don’t miss this one.

Guitarist Bob DeVos and hard-blowing saxist Eric Alexander put together a sinuous and grooving quartet (with Joe Bagg on B3, Joe La Barbera on drums) at the Jazz Bakery, Fri.-Sun., June 8-10. At Charlie O’s pianist John Mayer accompanies tenors Doug Webb on Saturday and Rob Lockhart on Wednesday. In this week’s hidden gem, Benn Clatworthy delivers his typical tenor invention and madness at Jax on Tues., June 12, while CJS Quintet play their unadulterated straight ahead at the Crowne Plaza on Thursday. And Joshua Redman returns to Catalina Bar and Grill with his trio for a blowout, Tues.-Thurs., June 12-14.

There’s a wide array of Latin talent in town, including the soulful mornas of Cape Verdean diva Césaria Évora with opener (and fellow islander) Tcheka at the Orpheum Theatre on Fri., June 8. (Incidentally, the impressive acoustic guitar and percussion grooves on Tcheka’s Nu Monda will appeal to fans of Badi Assad, say, or Nawal.) Also on Friday Cartaya’s Enclave do their Latin jazz/funk/fusion thing at La Ve Lee; while jazzy/world/Brazilian Katia Moraes & Samabaguru are there on Saturday. Great congueroFrancisco Aguabella plays at Café Z at the Skirball Cultural Center on Sat., June 9, at 2:30 p.m. and then brings his exceptionally progressive septet (including Benn Clatworthy) into Charlie O’s for three burning sets on Thursday. Finally, Poncho Sanchez headlines Playboy Jazz in the Park, moved this year from the Rose Bowl to Warner Park in Woodland Hills. Also featured are veteran drummer Tootie Heath, vocalist Judy Chamberlain, Freddie Ravel and the “no bossa, no ballad” jazz romps of Miles Mosley. But Poncho’s high-energy Afro-Cuban and funky boogaloo jams in the cool of the evening are the main draw.

And promoter Mal Sands has it bad for vibes, and that is good, because every year he assembles a cornucopia of vibraphonists for his Vibe Summit. This year Herb Gibson enters the Hall of Fame, saluted by no fewer than 20 fellow mallet players — including Terry Gibb, Bob Desena, Frank Marsico, Emil Richards, Onaje Murray, Ruben Estrada and Nick Mancini (fresh from his Saturday-night Café Metropol gig) — who one after another play brief flashy sets (accompanied by the house rhythm section), taking up the challenge of the players before them. It’s a blast, and there’s plenty of food and a flowing bar. At the Musicians Union Hall, 817 N. Vine St., Hlywd., on Sun., June 10, 1 p.m.-6 p.m.

Finally: Playboy Jazz on Film presents the exceptional documentary Anita O’Day — The Life of a Jazz Singer at LACMA’s Bing Theater, Thurs., June 14, 7:30 p.m. A masterpiece of the medium, the documentary relates her extraordinary life story as a musician with no softened edges and plenty of extended musical passages.


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