Jazz fans have a reason to split work early on Friday and kick off the weekend with the Michael Session Sextet at LACMA, beginning at 6 p.m. Session is an inspired burner on his saxophone, and he is regularly supported by many of L.A.’s finest, most likely a core of World Stage regulars. Expect to be uplifted at this one. A little later that night, the Jason Goldman Quartet are downtown at the Café Metropol. Goldman’s music is complex and very smart, but he can wail on that alto . . . in fact, the memory of him going head to head with tenor Walter Smith III a few months back at Jax is still vivid. But if you prefer your jazz a little more straight ahead, head over to Charlie O’s the same night and catch a couple sets with Pete Christlieb and the John Heard Trio — featuring the splendid pianist Jon Mayer, who’ll be celebrating his 69th.
The same night, guitarist Howard Alden brings his quartet to Vibrato. You might know Alden only from the flick Sweet and Lowdown, where his sprightly playing gave Emmet Ray something likable. Alden is a world-ranked neo-classicist, with beautiful chops that bring to mind his heroes Barney Kessel and George Van Eps. Guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel, on the other hand, likes the new; he experiments madly with whatever moves his eardrum. With longtime partner Mark Turner on tenor, his group will be making some moving and fascinating jazz at the Jazz Bakery through Sunday.
Also messing with the new is a trio led by Isla Eckinger with guitarist Riner Scivally and bassist Putter Smith at the First Lutheran Church in Glendale on Sunday at 5 p.m. Eckinger is a masterful bassist, generally, but he shows the same facility with whatever he feels like playing, in this case trombone and vibes. We can’t even begin to say what they’ll be playing, but if you feel like being challenged a little bit, this is the gig. The same day there’s a good trio in Chinatown with bassist Gabe Noel, pianist Tigran Hamasyan and drummer Zach Harmon, made a bit poignant because Tigran is heading — as our better young pianists are wont to do — to the bright lights and lousy weather of New York City. This marks the beginning of a new Sunday series at the Grand Star Jazz Club, the well-known watering hole on Broadway. Music starts at 7 p.m.
Too young yet to split for any bigger apples, the talented teenage bassist Mike Gurrola is the featured young artist at Catalina Bar and Grill on Monday. Gurrola seems to love the serious hard bop; he and his quintet of fellow students might surprise not only with their passion for the music, but also their depth and feel. Another new guy in town is reedman Alex Budman’s Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, making a local debut at 2nd Street Jazz on Monday. There have been nothing but raves for the original Bay Area version of this Jones/Lewis bag big band. Maybe they can set up a weekly residency at this venue? Elsewhere on Monday: The Francisco Aguabella Latin Jazz Quintet’s monthly gig at Spazio, and an appearance at Charlie O’s by famed arranger Bill Holman, who’ll bring his 17-piece band and densely swinging charts for a show that will pack the place.
Jamming hard on Wednesday at the Westin LAX is the Bobby Matos Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble, whose new Best of Bobby Matos (on Ubiquity) is absolutely hot. And great songbird Barbara Morrison at Vibrato on Tuesday and Wednesday. Finally . . . we’ve said so much about saxophonist Charles Owens that we’re running out of adjectives. He’s at Charlie O’s on Wednesday. Just go and listen.