Poncho Sanchez brings some of that Angeleno Latin vibe to the Jazz Bakery on Saturday, while Bobby Matos swings Nuyorican style at Pershing Square in the heart of the re-energized downtown on Sunday at 2 p.m. He always has a burning tenor such as Frank Fontaine up front, laying down lots of Mato’s beloved ‘Trane. And Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday is a knockout at Charlie O’s: first the West Coast big band arrangements of trumpeter Steve Huffsteter’s nineteen-piece conglomeration (a lot of brass but not too loud.think of Steve’s bright, soft solo work as a foundation). Then pure straight-ahead with the CJS Quintet on Tuesday, featuring Charles Johnson’s razor-sharp tenor lines and Smitty Smith’s trumpet, as warm and Texan as, well, Smitty is. Finally, on Wednesday, drummer Tony Inzalaco’s quintet pulls out the hard bop stops with the killer line up of Chris Colangelo on bass, Theo Saunders on piano, Nolan Shaheed on the trumpet and Benn Clatworthy on tenor. No messing around. Either get in the mood or get out of the way.
Also on Wednesday is a kinda off-the-wall African thing down at the Cerritos Center For the Performing Arts, where the Palm Wine Boys bring their mellow, rootsy West African sound. “Palm wine music” is the old stuff, created originally by cats in Sierra Leone and Liberia lifting Portuguese guitars (and tunings) and dropping in calypso rhythms (much like up the coast in Senegal or along the banks of the Congo, where Cuban music infused the style). It’s an insistent but gentle sound, and thoroughly irresistible. The Palm Wine Boys do a great take on it, and add in a lot of hippie-ish vibes, as well. Hit the THC clinic first for that back pain of yours (or is it the insomnia?), then kick back and take it all in.
Alas, the January listings are a touch sketchy thusfar (get with it, bookers), but bassist Kristin Korb has her quartet at the Lighthouse for the Sunday brunch gig, and she’s such a charmer, sneaking all those killer chops between the disarming vocals. Great stuff. The regular killer jams are happening across town, too. Friday and Saturday at the Foundry on Melrose, bassist Matt Cory and (most nights) drummer Zach Harmon (we so dig this kid’s traps) host hot-as-hell piano players and the occasional brassman or jazz guitarist gutsy enough to jump in. On Monday there’s the Cross-Hart Jazz Experience jam atop the Angeleno Hotel in Brentwood, which features some top player or singer (or combination thereof) in that ultra-westside chic room. Or check out the Mint on Monday: The aging Strip rock god wannabes are home nursing their heads, dreams and ears (answer the phone, will ya?) and the jazzers take over with drummer Kevin Kanner’s intense house band, which is full of the kind of quality players that used to have several Blue Note LP’s under their belt by this time. On Tuesday a lot of these same types show up, ax in hand, at 2nd Street Jazz in Little Tokyo, while the same night the Makers are the house band at Seven Grand a few blocks away. A lot of that young and all fired up L.A. Jazz Collective crowd are at both, making music or talking music or talking to girls. On Wednesday trumpeter Brian Swartz hosts his long running jam at Club 1160 downstairs in the Hollywood Hotel between Sunset and Santa Monica. A lot of excellent cats at this one, too. Plus, you can slam your head on the low ceiling. We love those low ceilings. In any case, all the gigs in this paragraph sound like a scene in the making. A lot of jazz happening. A lot of big names to be made. A lot of fun to be had by jazzbos like you. So get out and dig it. And buy a CD while you’re at it. It’s gas money for them, and great grooves for you.
(Brick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)