The Angel City Jazz Festival finishes up its festivities Saturday with guitarist John Abercrombie's quartet at the Musicians Institute Theater (6752 Hollywood Blvd., 310-271-9039), at 8 and 9:30 p.m. Sad to see the end of the Angel City haps — they certainly energized that far edge of jazz, getting it press attention and respect and wild after-parties.
Recommending the L.A. Jazz Collective Fall Festival, Part 2, Thursday at the Blue Whale seems a bit iffier: Not only do they not have wild after-parties, but we're not even sure who's playing. There have been several of these events in the past, however, and all were great. The L.A. Jazz Collective is made up of all these young (or youngish, or young at heart), adventurous, straight-ahead cats, the kind you see at the Blue Whale at Kevin Kanner's Monday jam sessions. Just terrific jazz. Of course, few of these dudes could publicize their way out of a paper bag; thus you have things like a jazz festival that no one knows about. But we're betting this will be as good as the past events.
You can say the same about the L.A. Jazz Collective Fall Festival, Part 1, which happened October 7 at the Blue Whale and would have been a top pick in last week's issue, had we known about it. Hopefully by the time you read this, the LAJC's website and Facebook page will actually have details. Sigh . …
Pianist Peter Smith has a cool gig at Angels (2460 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, 310-828-2115) on Fridays, 8-10 p.m. Good players, too, like bassist Trevor Ware and drummer Clayton Cameron, and crazy-inspired bassist Nick Rosen is a regular, too. But Smith has something special happening at Alva's this Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m., where he's recording a live album. Great band — besides Ware and Cameron in the rock-solid rhythm section, there's tenor Kamasi Washington and longtime NYC heavy Allen Mezquida on alto, plus guitarist Jacques Lesure and vibist Nick Mancini, all of whom regularly lead their own projects. That's a lot of talent, and they've got a lot of material here, too: originals, standards, a jazzy Stylistics take, stuff that brings out the melodic and rhythmic abilities of these guys. It's a $20 cover, but you bring your own drinks and eats, and the venue and vibe are exceptional. Check this one out.
Tenor Ernie Watts is one of the best, especially when it comes to the Trane-infused hard bop. He and his quartet are at LACMA on Friday, and the crowd will be digging this one. You might head straight down Wilshire through downtown immediately afterward and make for Little Tokyo, where NYC saxist Dave Robaire has a quartet at the Blue Whale. He's been making the rounds out here a bit, gigging with Josh Nelson and the like, and this hip joint is an ideal venue for his style. Jack Sheldon's out at Café 322 in Sierra Madre the same night, and his shows have been a thrill there. One of our very favorite saxists, Charles Owens, is with the John Heard Trio at Charlie O's on Friday, and he is great every time. When he gets blowing, man, look out.
Alto Zane Musa should be at Charlie O's on Saturday, and Zane doesn't just cook, he boils over. Alto Gary Foster brings his gorgeous, breathtaking tone to Vibrato on Saturday, and the ol'-fashioned song-hustling crooner (and terrific live act) Mark Winkler shows how it's done at Vitello's on Saturday.
On Monday you've the choice between the great pianist David Arnay — yes, the Parkway Grill guy — in a rare trio gig at Vitello's, or Theo Saunders with his exceptional sextet (tenor, trumpet and trombone up front) at Charlie O's. Wednesday has the very hard-bopping Tony Inzalaco Quintet (with tenor and trumpet out front) at Charlie O's, and on Thursday the brilliant tenor Bob Sheppard is at Vibrato.
We're really digging Israeli clarinetist/bass clarinetist/tenor saxist Oran Etkin's release Kelenia. He's got a bass and a balafon player — which is a Malian xylophone, with a very distinctive Malian scale, and if you have any Malian albums at all, it's on them. There's a calabash player, too, who doubles on the vocals. The balafon and vocals blend seamlessly with the clarinets — Jewish and Middle Eastern and West African music swirling together, we love it. Then comes jazzier stuff, harder, very New York, like Mingus and Dolphy, but with the same exotic instrumentation, the balafon somehow filling in for vibes (or piano, even). It's just a way cool, way smart thing. He's at the Skirball at 8 p.m. on Thursday and tickets are $30, yeah, but worth it.
Brick can be reached at email@example.com.