On Friday, Juan de Marcos & the Afro Cuban All-Stars are at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts. His latest release is a good one but perhaps a little slick for some, with too much synth here and sheen there, but plenty tight and hyper like great salsa. Live, however, this band is a revved-up, high-energy machine running on all cylinders. Inevitably, their promotional materials compare them to the Buena Vista Social Club, but think Fania All-Stars instead. Esta muy caliente.
Also on Friday, The Jimmy Emerzian Quintet is at the Café Metropol, from 8-10 p.m. Jimmy is new to us, but the saxophonist promises tunes by Harold Land, Dexter Gordon, Blue Mitchell and Lennie Tristano; even better is his great young band, which includes trumpeter Josh Welchez, guitarist Christian Wunderlich and bassist Greg Swiller. To top it off, it’s all being filmed for some PBS show called Now Playing. Imagine that, jazz on TV! L.A. jazz, no less! (You can probably get yourself filmed by clapping really loudly.) In fact, the place might be filled with every waiter in town who needs an audition, any audition. Is this a reality show? After giving the key grip a copy of your screenplay, head over to the Gallery bar in the Biltmore Hotel just a few blocks away … the great saxist Dale Fielder and his New Angeles Quartet will be rocking the room. Or, for more screenplay action at the bar, head way out west to Vibrato up in Bel Air, where Bob Sheppard plays some amazing horn. And there are always inebriated screenwriters at the Foundry on Melrose, where the fired-up house trio includes pianist Matt Politano on Friday (and guitarist Bruce Forman on Saturday), and the music is always inspired, intense sometimes beautiful, sometimes berserk. Drummer Zach Harmon’s strange tom-tom solos are loud enough to drown out even the most annoying plot line.
Now if listening to neo-beatniks discuss their green-themed art installations is more your thing, there’s an interesting triple bill on Friday at the Tribal Cafe in Echo Park (1651 W. Temple St., #A, or tribalcafe.com) — in-your-face experimental, CalArts-to-the-max jazz. Slum Gum are the jazziest, with nice players, some solid compositions and concepts and solos (especially by pianist Rory Cowall). Good CD, too. Whaleshark is bass clarinet, vibraphone and percussion, and Santa Barbarian Colter Frazier matches his tenor with Matt Crane’s fierce avant-rock-jazz drumming. Sounds like fun.
Out at Charlie O’s, on Saturday, it’s about as straight-ahead as you can get, with saxist Rickey Woodard backed by the exceptional John Heard Trio (Roy McCurdy on traps, John Beasley at the piano). If you’re a jazz fan and have yet to go to Charlie O’s, you are depriving yourself of our town’s jazz at its purest. This is the joint. That is the trio. And on Sunday morning from 11 a.m., there is some major grooviness at the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach with The Nick Mancini Organ Trio. Joe Bagg is at the organ, Nick on the vibes. That is a lot of creativity, and you don’t see the vibes and organ combo very often. On Tuesday, pianist Amina Figarova brings her European sextet into the Jazz Bakery. She’s an immensely talented composer and pianist originally from Baku, Azerbaijan, now living in Holland, and her latest release has been getting some airplay and contains some thrilling jazz, so get out to the Bakery for this one. And we saw pianist Bill Cunliffe debut his first take on Oscar Nelson’s Blues and the Abstract Truth at the late, great Vic some years ago, and what a night. So we’re delighted he’s gone at it again, with Blues and the Abstract Truth, Take 2 and will be holding the release at Vitello’s in Studio City on Thursday (4349 Tujunga Ave., 818-769-0905.) Also on Thursday, The Nick Mancini Sextet open the L.A. Modern Jazz Series at the Whitefire Theater (13500 Ventura Blvd., in Sherman Oaks). He has his longtime sparring partner Otmaro Ruiz on piano, and their interplay is phenomenal. Both gigs are recommended, and you just might be able to make both.
There is also some fascinating stuff at Royce Hall winding up the week. Serious flamenco fans will want to see Los Farruco on Tuesday and Wednesday. A lot of flamenco-jazz fusion these last few years (we’ve been spinning Diego Amador’s Piano Jondo plenty) has been coming out, and seeing the real article can be a profound experience. The passion, tension, syncopation, keening melodies … it’s a whole other musical universe. And the great Klezmatics are there on Thursday, with Frank London and crew doing incredible things where klezmer and John Zorn meet. We absolutely love their albums. Just goes to show what treasures can be found in music, any music, if players — and listeners — look hard enough. In fact, you listen really hard and you hear similarities deep down between klezmer and flamenco and even salsa — that’s the Gypsy roots. All roads lead to Romany (sometimes).
Brick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.