Straight Outta Leimert Park
Richard Grant plays some beautiful trumpet, with a tone that can break your heart. And when he blows hot he gets up there, notes flying, hitting all the right spots, as if in some classic ’60s session. But Grant’s a quiet man who never seems to get out of Leimert Park, and if you’re not a World Stage regular then odds are you’ve never heard of him. So here’s your chance. He has a quartet at the Café 322 in Sierra Madre on Saturday. It includes pianist Ark Sano from his Black Note days (look for 43rd & Degnan, produced by Billy Higgins — it’s a killer if you can find it). Apparently there’s a future Black Note reunion in the works as well . . . so this might be a nice preview. Cool venue too, with great cheap eats and an unpretentious vibe.
Not sure about the unpretentious vibe at this next one, but Farmlab and artist George Herms are assembling a strange salute to John Coltrane on Saturday night in Beverly Hills. Something about an elevating spiral staircase and a spherical buoy . . . and for the Trane part, an awesome band including crazed tenor Azar Lawrence alongside trombonist David Dahlsten, pianist Theo Saunders, mainman bassist Skipper Franklin and drummer Ramon Banda. Even if the stairs-and-sphere shtick doesn’t move you, the music is guaranteed to be intense. Might even scare some of them Beverly Hills folk, and that itself is something Trane would probably dig. Things kick off at 10 p.m. at Phantom Galleries, 269 N. Beverly Drive; for more information, call (213) 626-2854. And it’s free.
At the Back Room on Friday they’ll be remembering beloved Tonight Show trumpeter Tommy Newsom. A whole slew of his band mates will be there playing tribute, including Pete Christlieb, Bob Bain, Don Ashworth and many others, backed by the superb John Hammond Trio. The joint should be packed, and the only sphere in this house might be some swinged-up Thelonious Monk. Get there early; the downbeat’s at 8 p.m. And if you crave more from tenor maestro Christlieb, he has his all-star big band at Charlie O’s on Monday.
Speaking of Charlie O’s, Med Flory and Carl Saunders share a birthday bash there on Tuesday, and it’ll be a terrific night of furious riffs and smart-ass patter. The 82-year-old Flory loves those Bird tempos, and Saunders can play circles around anything. Don’t miss this one. (And Charlie’s O’s has a great lineup all week . . . check the listings.)
The stars will be out for Nancy Wilson’s 70th birthday celebration at the Hollywood Bowl on Wednesday. Singers Ernie Andrews, Kurt Elling, Nnenna Freelon, Natalie Cole and Dionne Warwick are guest highlights, and rather than the house orchestra Ms Wilson has various combos (including players like Terence Blanchard, Regina Carter, Ramsey Lewis and Tom Scott). The whole event sounds like a classy evening of good jazz and swinging pop.
Local players rave about the improv skills of vocalist Rhiannon, who appears at the Vic with the Otmaro Ruiz Trio on Wednesday. And Thursday B.E.C.K.’s back at the Crowne. The acronym stands for Joe Bagg (organ), Isla Eckinger (bass/trombone/vibes), John Campbell (piano/vibes/drums) and Paul Kreibich (drummer/vibes). Their debut last year was a smash, all these multitalented musicians flitting from ax to ax like it’s nothing. And Eckinger’s subtle bass chops are out of this world.
Also recommended: The Ernie Watts Quartet at the Jazz Bakery on Friday and Saturday . . . The great Cross Hart Jazz Experience is at LACMA on Friday (and with John Beasley at their regular Hotel Angeleno gig on Monday) . . . The Winard Harper Sextet plays with Dwight Trible at the Long Beach Petroleum Club (3636 Linden Ave., Long Beach) on Sunday. Tickets are a little on the pricey side but that is some combination; call (323) 759-8534 for details . . . Trumpeter Elliott Caine has a quintet (with tenor Carl Randall) at the Pasadena Playhouse on Sunday afternoon and a quartet at the Lighthouse on Thursday. Another fine player, tenor Fred Horn (look for Relaxin’ in Milwaukee) has an organ trio with drummer Gerry Gibbs at the Oyster House Saloon (12446 Moorpark in Studio City, 818-761-8686) on Monday; and he plays with his unadulterated funk band Steady Freddy (including a Tower of Power hornman) at La Ve Lee on Tuesday. Fun stuff.
And get your Brazilian fix three different ways this week: sambas and bossas from irresistable vocalist Katia Moraes and guitarist Roberto Monteiro at La Ve Lee on Friday; then the Los Angeles Choro Ensemble (with the astonishing chops of mandolinist Ted Falcon) at LACMA on Saturday; and finally accordionist Rob Curto’s Forro For All at the Temple Bar on Thursday. You might be unfamiliar with choro (pronounced shoro) and forro (foHO, sort of), so just wiki the words or google the bands or even better just hit the shows. Who knows, you might go gaga over Gonzaga.
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