Since we gave baritone saxist Dale Fielder an over-the-top plus last week, we should, out of fairness to this town's three or four other saxophonists, completely ignore him this week. Those are the rules set by the Jazz Critics Guild way back in Leonard Feather's day. But there's the new venue rule that says if someone's playing a new joint, we can go ahead and say something, provided we don't open a column with it. But to paraphrase Miles, the heck with the rules. So the Dale Fielder Quartet will be blowing out the gumbo at Nola's A Taste of New Orleans in Little Tokyo (734 E. 3rd in Little Tokyo) on Friday. We've never heard of the place and Little Tokyo is about as funky as Glendale, but the band is killer and there's no cover. Trumpeter Elliott Caine has his smoking quintet in there on Wednesday. Come to think of it, Little Tokyo used to be rife with jazz spots way back when. Art Tatum even played somewhere there, fingers a blur, stopping only to knock back an Oly.
And we'd talk about trombonist Phil Ranelin nonstop, but hell, he doesn't play enough. Which makes any and all of his gigs special events. He'll be at the Radisson in Culver City on Friday with a very strong band — tenor Kamasi Washington, pianist Mahesh Balasooriya, bassist Trevor Ware and drummer Don Littleton. Ranelin's tribute to Dolphy in Leimert Park a few weeks ago was mindblowingly good, and you can expect nothing less here. And since Westside civilization does not cease to exist until Saturday, you can even take the 405 one last time to get there.
There's also a special event at LACMA, which has been putting on jazz gigs every Friday for 20 years now, never charging you a dime. A groovy scene, these, with the free music and priceless art and beatniks getting drunk and stoned and naked and reciting poetry for a dollar. Luther Hughes & The Cannonball/Coltrane Project get the playing honors this Friday, but there also are showings by our local jazz photographers. The only one we know of is the great Redtop, that crazy redheaded cat flopped in front of the stage to get impossible angles of a saxophone solo. Someone's gotta do it. Check his stuff out while you're digging the hard bop.
And the wonderful pianist Bill Cunliffe has a trio at Vitello's on Friday. Poncho Sanchez does Catalina's on Friday and Saturday, which will be a blast. Very swinging tenor Fred Horn, who just did a killer couple sets of Horace Silver last week, is at Jax on Friday. Trumpeter Scotty Barnhart is at Charlie O's on Friday with the John Heard Trio, and saxist Rickey Woodard is there on Saturday. Heard makes these dudes work hard. Katia Moraes will absolutely slay the crowd at LACMA on Saturday with her Brazilian sounds; very highly recommended. On Saturday, one of our fave pianists, Jon Mayer, sits in with the Mark Z Stevens Trio at Desert Rose in the otherwise eerily grooveless landscape of Los Feliz. And about as far from the Sepulveda Pass as you can get, pianist Vernell Brown Jr. (who's worked with Kenny Garrett) lays it down fine at Giannelli Square on Saturday (19451 Londelius St. in Northridge).
Read the rest of our picks at laweekly.com.
(Brick can be reached at email@example.com.)
One of L.A.'s greatest saxophonists, we think, is Charles Owens. Talk about a thrill to watch. The dude goes utterly mad sometimes, and can groove plenty hard or get profoundly spiritual or just play the hard bop the way God and Blakey intended, if you can dig that. He's fronting a mean little organ quartet at Sangria's on Wednesday, right off the Hermosa Beach Pier. That same night guitarist Wolfgang Schalk has a quartet featuring pianist Vardan Ovsepian at the Blue Whale, highly recommended, while drummer Tony Inzalaco's quintet (with saxist Benn Clatworthy and trumpeter Nolan Shaheed) play blistering hard bop at Charlie O's. And guitarist Bruce Forman steps outta his Stetson for a few sets of pure jazz at Vibrato on Thursday. What a master player he is.
And really good stuff we nearly forgot: Drummer Matt Mayhall and quartet (with Kneebody's Adam Benjamin if we remember right) are at the Blue Whale Friday prepping for the Angel City Jazz Fest. And Nick Mancini is booking gigs at curve line space in Eagle Rock (1577 Colorado Blvd., 323-478-9874); Thursday is the Katisse Buckingham Quartet, with Nick on vibes. And shit, we probably missed things and will get bitched at by outraged promoters and sullen musicians, but it's way past our deadline, the floor is littered with empty bottles, the weed is gone, the woman gone, the rent due and the evil editrix has the sheriff banging on the front door demanding this copy now, goddammit. And we thought she was kidding. Editors never kid.
And leave it to us to forget the gig of the week. Seun Kuti is at California Plaza this Friday night and damn if his last time there wasn’t the best show we ever saw in that crazy, wonderful venue. Seun is Fela Kuti’s son, and unlike his brother Femi, Seun decided to follow precisely in his father’s footsteps, right down to the saxophone, and uses the core of Fela’s last band, Egypt 80to prove it. The results are exhilarating, roaring, surging, ecstatic Afro-beat; horn driven, rhythm mad, and propelled by a drummer that does Tony Allen proud. The crowd will go utterly mad. Oh yeah—drop a few bucks in the buckets when they pass them around—this stuff don’t come free, even if it is.
Signing off …