The 4th Annual Filipino American Jazz Festival is at Catalina Bar and Grill this Saturday. These have been pretty damn great over the years, similar only in their first- or second-generation roots in the Philippines and their passion and inventiveness. Local hero Charmaine Clamor tops the bill (of course), with her exciting and intensely personal “jazzapino” blend of classic jazz standards, with hints of funk & soul and gorgeous takes on tagalog tunes from her My Harana: A Filipino Serenade. Also appearing is the brilliant vocalist Mon David, who combines standards, bossa and originals wtih innovative scatting to create an especially effective mix (and there’s finally a new album on the way, we’re told). One of our favorite pianists Tateng Katindig is at the keys behind him; and he’s always a joy to hear. Two Bay-area bands, Bo Razon’s outfit and the Ben Luis Collective, are on the bill, but the most anticipated guest is the Brooklyn-based winner of this year’s Thelonious Monk sax competition: altoist Jon Irabagon. The kid’s a startling player, his rippling Bird riffs and jagged Ornette edges are intensely personal and plenty deep. Looks to be another good night of jazz from the other side of the world.
Other notable events include the mighty Ernie Andrews, who’s celebrating his 81st birthday on Saturday at the Jazz Bakery. Andrews doesn’t just take the stage, he owns it, and if you haven’t seen him yet, you’re missing out. Two generations down and 17 floors up at the Hotel Angeleno in Brentwood is bassist Ryan Cross and drummer Lorca Hart (a.k.a. the Cross-HeartExperience) at their Monday night gig in the West Lounge. This one’s especially hot, with tenor Frank Fontaine and the brilliant pianist Donald Vega in from NYC for a spell in the warm California sun. Highly recommended.
Also on Monday, the intense young bassist Greg Swiller leads a group of L.A. Jazz Collective types at Seven Grand downtown. The Collective had their own festival a few weeks back, and the music was fervent and swinging and hard and beautiful, and Swiller’s bunch will doubtless be of the same cut. Ditto alto saxophonist Zane Musa, who’s at Charlie O’s on Tuesday. We totally dig his playing. Check him out.
Thursday, of course, is another New Year’s Eve in Los Angeles, with the cops and the gunshots and the sparse streets. This town certainly isn’t the best place to ring out the old and ring in the new, but there is some nice stuff in the clubs if you have a limo, a designated driver or a good lawyer. The Jazz Bakery ain’t exactly Times Square, but it certainly has the heaviest lineup, which includes James Moody, Kenny Burrell and Benny Green. Moody is a party all by himself, Burell a guitar institution (we dig his spaces, which are like beautiful, unplayed notes) and Green swings the bop sooooo hard. Barbara Morrison is at Vibrato (and we love her to death). For the smaller venues, Don Menza is with the JohnHeardTrio at Charlie O’s, and when the vibe is right, there’s no harder swinging tenor in town.
Pianist JimSzilyagi fronts a trio with bassist IslaEckinger and drummer TimPleasant at the Dinnerhouse M (1263 W. Temple, Echo Park; 213-482-3828). This place is loved by the in-crowd for the killer hornmen who stop by to sit in. Runs late, too. As does the Foundry on Melrose, where pianist JoshNelson joins the house trio for some absinthe-fueled jazz right through last call. Fun times all around.
Happy New Year, everybody.
(Brick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)