The Playboy Jazz Festival is happening this weekend at the Hollywood Bowl and looking good. Saturday runs 2:30-11 p.m., and jazz highlights include the outstanding Chick Corea Freedom Band, with alto Kenny Garrett, bassist Christian McBride, and Roy Haynes, who drummed with the gods and still sounds it. Kurt Elling does his brilliant take on Coltrane/Johnny Hartman, with Laurence Hopgood and Ernie Watts; the Marcus Miller Band features trumpeter Christian Scott, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra salutes the hard-swinging Louie Bellson, and saxist Javon Jackson can really get down, a perfect fit for his guest pianist, the real (compared to what!) Les McCann. The Pete Escovedo Orchestra tore the house down last year, and there's a smooth take on greasy soul with Sax for Stax, featuring Gerald Albright, Jeff Lorber and Kirk Whalum, whom the crowd will go nuts for; plus hard New Orleans funkster Trombone Shorty, ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro, Naturally 7, and from the ol' alma mater, the El Dorado High School Jazz Band.
Sunday runs 2-10:30 p.m. and in addition to George Benson and Manhattan Transfer thrilling the folks no end, there's the Bobby Hutcherson-Cedar Walton Quartet — two jazz institutions in one, the inevitable Cos of Good Music with vibist Jay Hoggard, bassist/vocalist/potential superstar Esperanza Spalding, Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra playing its way old style, classic Malian groove, from Salif Keita, pedal steel hendrixisms from Robert Randolph & The Family Band, and the wildly exciting and virtuosic timba band Tiempo Libre (you have to hear their Bach in Havana — which sounds like what it says). The massive mesh of jazz, orchestral and hip-hop that is the Jazz Mafia's Brass Bows and Beats and the L.A. All–District High School Jazz Band open proceedings. We love the hard-partying crowd at this festival!
Los Angeles Jazz Society is throwing its Vibe Summit XVII with nearly 20 vibists (including Terry Gibbs, Nick Mancini and Emil Richards) honoring Onaje Murray on Sunday from 2-6 p.m. at the Remo Recreational Music Center (7308 Coldwater Canyon in NoHo, 818/994-JAZZ). It's $20 and proceeds benefit Los Angeles Jazz Society programs.
The L.A. Jazz Quartet — guitarist Larry Koonse, saxist Chuck Manning, bassist Darek Oles and drummer Mark Ferber — kick off the weekend at LACMA on Friday and are always exceptional. The perfect acoustics of Alva's in San Pedro are ideal for the incredible dynamics of vocalist Dwight Trible. He's there Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m. Benn Clatworthy is at Jax on Tuesday, and serious tenor sax devotees will completely dig this guy; he's so intense, that whole anger/beauty thing, deep inside the ballad, or heading outside on the standards. That same night over at Charlie O's London-based soprano saxman John Altman does a rare local gig, doing his unique take on the Great American and Ye Olde English Songbooks. Great patter, too. And Kneebody are finally back in town for a couple shows on Thursday at Angel's (2460 W. Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica) This one's $15 (or $20 for both sets). Serious players, these guys (tenor Ben Wendel, trumpeter Shane Endsley, bassist Kaveh Rastegar, drummer Nate Wood and Adam Benjamin on keys), and if the jazz purists don't get them at all, the open-eared love it.
We recommended altoist Kim Richmond's Concert Jazz Orchestra at Hollywood & Highland last week, and we're doing so again. These are free concerts, though a 10 spot gets you a couple wines and snacks. Cool deal. And in the clubs on Friday there's the great tenor Don Menza at Vibrato, while Larry Goldings has a piano trio at Vitello's, and trumpeter Jack Sheldon is at the Café 322 (and Vibrato on Saturday). The CJS Quintet do their pure straight-ahead at the Lighthouse on Sunday. Great saxophonist Louis Van Taylor has a rare leader gig at Vibrato on Wednesday. Nice to see trumpeter Elliot Caine and quintet back at the Café 322 on Thursday, while the same night across town, at Vibrato, Braziliato (with Brazilian drummer Enzo Tedesco) come together again for the first time in a while.
If you're looking for out-ness, then head down to the ResBox at the Steve Allen Theater (4773 Hollywood Blvd., 323/666-4268) on Wednesday. Headlining is the FPR Trio (Frank Gratkowski on alto and clarinet; Phillip Greenlief on alto and tenor; Jon Raskin on sopranino, alto and baritone), plus experimental (to say the least) vocalist Anna Homler, drummer Ted Byrnes, electronician Jorge Martin and bassist/electronician Steuart Liebig getting down. Guitarist Scott Heustis and his group, including veteran avant-garde drummer Breeze Smith, are all on the ResBox bill this Thursday at the Steve Allen Theater (4773 Hollywood Blvd., 323/666-4268, $10).
(Brick can be reached at email@example.com)