There's a benefit for bassist Louis Spears this Sunday. Spears you have heard and seen more times than you know. He played with Horace Tapscott, on a mess of Eddie Harris (like Free Speech) and Billy Harper (the amazing Somalia) sessions. He's on some of drummer Matt Marucci's discs. And the man has a lot of friends. He's ill and needs them now, and they're out in force: Phil Ranelin, Dee Dee McNeil, the Henry Franklin Quartet, the Larry Nash Sextet, Donald Dean with George-Helena Gilliam, Sherwood Sledge, Tomas Gargano, Fritz Wise, Trevor Ware, Lanny Hartleyand others. It's 2-6 p.m. at the Musicians Union (817 N. Vine St., Hollywood, 323-901-2477). There's food and vino and a raffle and the cover is $20. Highly recommended.
Other events this week include The Littleton Brothers (bassist Jeff and drummer Don), who are at LACMA on Friday and are recommended. And a big one with drummer Brian Blade's Fellowship Band at 8:30 p.m. on Friday in Zipper Hall, Colburn School (downtown at 200 S. Grand Ave., 310-271-9039). Tickets are $35 ($20 student rush). Anyone who's seen Blade play with Wayne Shorter can't fail to be blown away, he's exquisite behind that kit. Then again, he was subtle and perfect on Emmylou Harris' Wrecking Ball, too. On Saturday the Angel City Jazz folks present Viennese guitarist Wolfgang Schalk's quartet at 8 p.m. at the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre (4800 Hollywood Blvd., 323-644-6272). We dug his Space Messengers, and this time in town he has a pair of locals — bassist Hamilton Price and drum great Smitty Smith, as well as NYC pianist Helen Sung. Cover's an easy $15 ($8 students). And Sung leads a trio gig at Vibrato on Sunday. Her latest, Going Express, features tough NYC players like Seamus Blake and Eric Harland. Definitely worth a look and listen.
But of course, there's a conflict with the Schalk gig. At 8 p.m. on Saturday at the Nate Holden Center (4718 W. Washington Blvd., 323-964-9768) is the Dwight Trible Quartet. There's a poet, too, and a visual artist; it looks like a Happening. Trible's momentous voice will soar and the crowd at this place will get caught up in the uplifting. $25.
You can work out your angst on a 19th-century riverboat with a 21st-century view of the gorgeous Long Beach skyline when tenor saxophonist Rickey Woodard (with trumpeter Bobby Rodriguez) kicks off the Jazz Cruise series on Sunday at 1 p.m. It happens aboard the Grand Romance Riverboat (200 Aquarium Way, Dock 4, Rainbow Harbor in Long Beach, 562-628-1600, grandromance.com). It's a faux riverboat steamer with churning paddles — the whole bit. You've probably seen it plying the waters this side of the breakwater. Cover is a recession-friendly $10 with a $15 minimum, and each cruise tools around the harbor for two-plus hours. No word on gambling. Or Southern belles. Or Old Man River.
And there's a cool benefit for the St. Andrew Church African-American Ministry on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Pasadena. Tickets are $35, which includes dinner and wine. Featured are tenor Carl Randall's quintet (with trumpeter Elliott Caine), vocalists Cheryl Conley and Andrea Miller, and jazz violinist Yvette Devereaux. It all happens at St. Andrew Church (311 N. Raymond St., 626-792-4183).
On Friday the ever-different pianist Larry Karush is solo at the Blue Whale and then the next night adds a pair of percussionists for his conception of a piano trio. Things stay different at the Blue Whale on Sunday with the Gil Melle-inspired Steve Lockwood Ensemble with alto Kim Richmond (who has his own outfit at the Lighthouse at 11 a.m. Sunday). Trumpeter Jack Sheldon is on a bop track at Café 322 on Friday and Saturday at Colombo's in Eagle Rock (with pianist Josh Nelson, who's at the Foundry on Friday). The hard-driving CJS Quintet celebrate their 10th anniversary at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday at Catalina's. Pianist Bill Cunliffe has his trio at Vitello's on Wednesday with drummer Joe LaBarbera. Across town great tenor Rob Lockhart is at Vibrato on Thursday. Charlie O's has a great week, the high point of which has to be Saturday's trumpet battle with Chuck Findlay and Dr. Bobby Rodriguez.
Bassist Renaud Garcia-Fons and La Línea del Sur Quartet are at the Skirball Cultural Center on Sunday at 7 p.m. The rest of the band is accordion, flamenco guitar and percussion. It's fascinating stuff. $30. And Brazilian music fans will love this one: Funky soulful samba singer-composer Jair Olivera is at the Conga Room on Wednesday. Good genes: Olivera is the son of legendary sambista Jair Rodrigues, and has a lot of the same cool about him. Opening will be Katia Moraes, an exceptional Brazilian singer in her own right. We're fortunate to have her here in L.A. This is a good one.
(Brick can be reached at email@example.com.)