There is so much great jazz happening in town this week, it's almost impossible to figure out what to see. Friday is especially wild, with intense, brilliant performers seemingly everywhere. For openers, the Bobby Bradford Mo'tet does its monthly gig at Cafe 322. Some straight-ahead fans decry the cornetist (and John Carter sideman) as too edgy or out for their tastes, but then, they're missing the swinging, gorgeous music he and his talented ensemble (with Chuck Manning on sax) make here. Or there's the legendary Francisco Aguabella out at Spazio — his powerful, progressive quintet includes saxist Benn Clatworthy.Reedman Charles Owens goes amazing places at Charlie O's, from out there New Thang to greasy blues, and his pianist this night is the magnificent Nate Morgan. Trombonist Phil Ranelin celebrates Black History Month with a special gig each week, beginning at the Hollywood Studio Bar & Grill with a tribute to L.A.'s own Dexter Gordon. Ranelin inevitably pulls together inspired ensembles, and this should be no different. Bassist Morrie Louden continues his swing through the Southland with a gig on Friday at the Hip Kitty in Claremont (with the excellent tenor Doug Webb). Louden's Timepiece was quite brilliant and you really ought to pick it up; he's also at Rosalie & Alva's down in San Pedro on Saturday at 8 p.m. (with the intense Walter Smith III on tenor). Also on Saturday night, the heavy-duty saxist Louis Van Taylor's quartet is at the Hollywood Studio Bar & Grill; and vibist Nick Mancini (who seems to be everywhere lately) brings his excellent quartet (with the thrilling pianistics of Otmaro Ruiz) back to Cafe Metropol. For some big-time big band, Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra are at the Walt Disney Concert Hall downtown on Friday, and at the Smothers Theatre at Pepperdine University out in Malibu on Saturday. (They play two shows there, 5:30 and 8 p.m.) Wynton's put together a program of Ellington love songs, both the classics and the obscure, and from a brief interview we heard on KKJZ, it sounds like he's got something special going on here. And of course, it's hard to go wrong with the Ellington book, ever.
But the weekend ain't over yet, and Sunday is all over the map geographically and stylistically. For openers, the beautifully swinging pianist Tateng Katindig gets a very rare trio gig at horn-crazy Charlie O's. He's got an Oscar P thing going on, and he's so richly inventive, who needs a horn player anyway? Another fine local pianist, Austin Peralta, goes heavy at the Jazz Bakery with a powerful quintet that includes alto Zane Musa, tenor Kamasi Washington and bassist Carlitos del Puerto. Over at the Eagle Rock Center for the Arts, things get far out and far east with shakihachi (bamboo flute) player Philip Gelb, pipa (Chinese lute) player Jie Ma, real-gone reedman Vinny Golia, flutist Jane Riegler and booker/drummer Alex Cline at 7 p.m. And Isaac Smith begins his month of Sundays at the Pasadena Jazz Institute with his O'Chest Rah, which consists of piano, Rhodes, vibes, bass, two drummers, percussion, string quartet, vocals, tenor and Smith's own wild trombone. Word has it the results are wonderful.
On Monday, the Bill Holman Big Band plays Charlie O's, and Holman's got a crack bunch of players to tackle those tricky arrangements of his (like his dramatic reworkings of Bird's “Donna Lee” and the Beatles' “A Day in the Life”). And who knows what will happen when Dutch percussionist Han Bennink (who's played with Sonny Rollins, Ben Webster and Eric Dolphy as well as European free-improv guitarist Derek Bailey) performs across town at the Jazz Bakery? Midway between those two, where Sunset Boulevard crosses the 405, The Cross Hart Jazz Experience and talented guests do their regular Monday atop the Hotel Angeleno. Tuesday's regular weekly gigs include the tough young Kevin Kanner Quintet at the Mint, drummer Ralph Penland and guests at the Pasadena Jazz Institute, and trumpeter Brian Swartz & The Gnu Sextet (with the powerful young tenor Robby Marshall) at Club 1160 in the Ramada on Vermont on Tuesday, while Barry Zweig is this week's guest at John Pisano's“Guitar Night”at Spazio. There's also the pretty amazing trumpeter Carl Saunders with sextet at Charlie O's, and Bobby Matos & his Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble (with fine pianist Theo Saunders, saxist Frank Fontaine and trombonist Danny Weinstein) lay down their heavy Latin groove and deep jazz at the Jazz Bakery.
Intense alto Zane Musa at Charlie O's is a must on Wednesday, and the Mulgrew Miller Trio begin a four-day stand at the Jazz Bakery the same night, but you have some hard choices to make on Thursday. There's the great tenor saxophonist Pete Christlieb's 11-piece Tall and Small Big Band filling Charlie O's stage, or the exquisite trumpeter Kye Palmer at Spazio, or, out in Santa Monica, stellar pianist Larry Goldings leading a quintet that includes major players like saxist Bob Sheppard, trumpeter Walt Fowler and bassist Darek Oles at the Vic. But keep in mind that it's the second to last show at the Vic: The joint's closing in two weeks. Which is a shame.
Finally, it's a great week locally for the sounds of Brazil. Guitarist Dori Caymmi leads his supple quartet at the Jazz Bakery on Friday and Saturday, and the exuberant Brasil Brazil (with Sonia Santos) bring their full show (including those lovely dancers) to La Ve Lee on Saturday. And on Sunday, trumpeter/trombonist/singer Gabriel Rosati and his Brazilatafro Project are at Rosalie & Alva's (at 6 p.m.), and guitarist Mayuto & the Sounds of Brazil (with Michael Turre and Enzo Tedesco) are at the Catalina Bar and Grill. But the big Brazilian event of the week (indeed, one of the big Brazilian events of the year) is the 8th Annual Brazilian Carnaval aboard the Queen Mary on Saturday. Samba singer Dandara (“the Brazilian Tina Turner”) headlines, but she is just the biggest name in a night of fervent entertainment: baterias of percussion, fearsome capoeira, troupes of feathered, sparkling dancers and all the pagode, afoxe, bossa nova, samba reggae, axe, frevo and MPB you can gyrate to. It's a crazy crowded overheated exhausting blast. Details at (818) 567-0641 or BrazilianNites.com.—Brick Wahl
Brick can be reached at email@example.com.