Looks like one of those weeks packed with great music, and Friday is the craziest. Bassist Henry Franklin's quartet is at LACMA at 6 p.m., doing their 'Trane-inspired sound, with saxist Azar Lawrence channeling the man himself, and pianist Theo Saunders' deep-seated McCoy Tyner influences. They certainly got the crowd at Central Avenue fired up a couple weekends ago.
Downtown at California Plaza at 7 p.m. there's a global-jazz triple bill, opening with vocalist Dwight Trible and poet Kamaou Da'aoud doing their extremely powerful music: deep, dynamic and grooving. Then from Guadalajara come the Mexican jazzoid outfit Troker. It closes with Indo-L.A. jazz improvisation from Indus Valley Civilization with Ndugu Chancler, Badal Roy (tabla), Anantha Krishnan (mridangama/khanjira), bassist Alphonse Johnson, pianist Otmaro Ruiz and saxist Justo Almario. An inspired lineup and a gorgeous venue, too.
In the clubs on Friday, saxist Louis Van Taylor — he tore it up with the Gerald Wilson Orchestra at Central Avenue — fronts a trio at Red, White and Bluez in Pasadena from 6 p.m. At 8 p.m. saxist Bob Sheppard — he blew some brilliant stuff with Dave Douglas at the bowl — is at Vitello's, with the excellent band of pianist Alan Pasqua, bassist Gabe Noel and drummer Peter Erskine. Up the hill in Bel Air saxist Chuck Manning and trumpeter Sal Marquez are at Vibrato, and they are one of our favorite local combinations and get into some serious bop. The always impressive (and busy) pianist Bill Cunliffe is at the Blue Whale.
On Friday and Saturday Kenny Burrell continues his stand at Catalina's, performing a lot of the material off his new, live CD. And Friday at Charlie O's the brilliant saxist Benn Clatworthy plays with the John Heard Trio. You have to catch Clatworthy at some point in your jazz lives. He's also at Jax in Glendale on Tuesday.
On Saturday, the great Cuban sonero (i.e., singer) Adonis Puentes is at LACMA at 5 p.m. That night, saxist Rickey Woodard delivers the hard-bop goods at Charlie O's, with the John Heard Trio. Trumpeter Carl Saunders is at Vibrato on Saturday — when he cooks he's unbelievable. The fusion-inclined among you will want to see the chop-heavy trio of pianist Mitch Forman, bassist Kevin Axt and drummer Steve Hass at Vitello's on Saturday. These three can be rock-loud and way exciting, if not exactly subtle. Seems the demons just get hold of Forman, and he's gone. Of course, if it's subtle you want, then head way the hell out to an industrial stretch of Northridge on Saturday to Giannelli Square (19451 Londelius St., 818-772-1722) for drummer Matt Slocum's amazing trio, with pianist Bill Cunliffe and bassist Darek Oles. First set's at 8 p.m. This place is a trip, you step inside and it's an utterly perfect listening room, with comfortable seats and acoustics so good there's no need for microphones. Every little ding on the ride, tap on the rim and skitter of the brush across the snare will be audible. Amazing. The $25 is worth every penny.
On Monday we have to pick the Theo Saunders Quartet, at Charlie O's, who regularly pack the joint, with their intense blend of spiritual and Monkish takes on jazz standards and some great originals. Not sure who is on sax, but odds are it's either Azar Lawrence or Chuck Manning. On Tuesday at Hollywood & Highland there is an exceptional lineup that could've been plucked from the Blue Whale or Foundry on Melrose: trombonist John Egizi leads saxophonist Walter Smith, pianist Austin Peralta, bassist Mike Gurrola and drummer Zach Harmon. Highly recommended (and free). The same night at Vibrato KKJZ's Jose Rizo presents his new Mongorama, which is basically a lot of his regular Latin jazz heavies (including Justo Almario, Daniel Lozano and Freddie Crespo) going nuts the Mongo Santamaria way. $20.
And Thursday is packed, too, beginning with Bill Cunliffe and the Charlie O's All-Stars playing at the joint's 10th Anniversary Party, and everyone will be at this one (and the late Charlie O himself in spirit). At the Hammer Museum in Westwood it's the Bennie Maupin Ensemble. You know just how great a reedman Maupin is (years with Herbie Hancock, and his bass clarinet was all over Bitches Brew). He has bassist Darek Oles, percussionist Munyungo Jackson and drummer Michael Stephens with him, and it's free. If you dig your jazz cut with heavy Fela-inspired Afro-Beat, the Budos Band are at Levitt Pavilion in MacArthur Park at 7:30 on Thursday. And if you like your Bob Wills cut with Bird (and vice versa), guitarist Bruce Forman's CowBop swing the Café 322 on Thursday.
(Brick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)