Lots of inspired jazz in the joints this week. Mad saxist Bob Sheppard's at the Blue Whale in Little Tokyo on Friday; the night before he's with Joe LaBarbera's Quintet (alongside pianist Larry Goldings) at Charlie O's. Tenor Doug Webb is at Charlie O's on Friday and Chuck Manning's there on Saturday, both with the John Heard Trio. Powerful players ... Webb is flat-out exciting live, blowing hard and fast, and Manning seems to have shed his more cerebral approach for something much harder and edgier, though smart as ever. Tenor Fred Horn is a fine bop-based player with a beautiful sound (we love his Relaxin' in Milwaukee); he's at Jax on Saturday. Fascinating young drummer Zach Harmon has a trio at the Blue Whale on Saturday; you gotta see this kid play. That also means either Kevin Kanner or Dan Schnelle (maybe both) will be behind the kid at the Foundry that night. We dig weekend jazz at the Foundry. Eric Greenspan is the owner/chef/booker/personality here, and has done a great job booking and supporting inventive young players (not to mention making a killer grilled cheese). Bassist Henry Franklin is at Charlie O's on Tuesday, and his passionate jazz is right out of the so-called "New Thing" (and very exciting stuff). Saxist Houston Person lays it down solid at Spazio on Wednesday, and then on Thursday there's the alto perfection of Gary Foster at Vitello's, while over at the Crowne Plaza, Bill Cunliffe grooves hard on organ with a trombonist and brilliant guitarist Bruce Forman.
Of course, the hardcore straight-ahead fans are heading down to the Newport Beach Jazz Party, which runs through Sunday at the Marriott Newport Beach. This bash, which began on Thursday, promises four days and three nights of "Right Down the Middle & Straight-Ahead Jazz!" ... so you get the idea. Now, it ain't cheap — $375 for the weekend, or $30 to $75 per event — but there's a hundred zillion top players, too many to name here; but newportbeachjazzparty.com has 'em all.
If right down the middle ain't your side of the street, then there's quite a bit of out there out there. On Friday at the Bootleg Theatre is the Chicago Underground Duo, i.e., Rob Mazurek's gorgeous cornet and Chad Taylor on drums and vibes (simultaneously, in fact). We're talking seriously radical improv here, quite beautiful in places, overpowering in others. It's a shame they just have this one local gig. Go: Organic Orchestra are finally back, Friday and Saturday at the Electric Lodge in Venice. This is Adam Rudolph's inspired glory: He composed it and conducts it and collected a very impressive bunch of creative players: Bennie Maupin, Pablo Calogero, Matt Zebley, Emily Hay, Munyungo Jackson, Nick Rosen and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson are some of the couple dozen musicians on several dozen instruments. Down the coast a bit in San Pedro on Saturday night there'll be another interesting mix of instruments, when percussionist (in the broadest possible sense) Brad Dutz appears at Alva's with an oboe/English horn player, a cellist and a clarinetist, and yeah, that's weird. Local avant-garde legend Bobby Bradford's Mo'tet doesn't veer too much from traditional instrumentation (his trumpet, saxist Chuck Manning and trombonist Michael Vlatkovich are out front), but his music has a tendency to veer off into loose, subtle (or not so subtle) craziness. He's at the Cafe 322 on Wednesday. Finally, weirdwise, on Thursday there's Slumgum, a radical, if serious, bunch of CalArts students making crazy music. You won't hear their CD on KKJZ. But here they are back again at swanky Vibrato. God bless bookers like Pat Senatore.
And for your last-minute pre-Lenten sinning pleasure, Bubba Jackson has put together a nice little Sunday brunch bash at Twist (in the Renaissance Hotel at Hollywood & Highland), 11 a.m.-2 p.m., with Sweet Baby J'ai and the Bonne Musique Zydeco Band. It'll set you back $35, but that includes all the bubbly you can swill and divine grub you can eat. A nice warm-up for next weekend's Brazilian Carnaval at the Nokia, so hold onto those beads. Well, some of them anyway.
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(Brick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)