One of the ways NYC has been consistently ahead of L.A. jazzwise (aside from the L.A. Jazz Collective crowd) is how they toss out a lot of the rules about how to use a Hammond B3 organ. Jimmy Smith was bad, yeah, but Larry Young was rad. So anytime you see some outfit out of Manhattan (or more likely, Brooklyn) with a B3 in the lineup, don’t expect greasy BBQ. The John Abercrombie Guitar-Organ Quartet runs through Sunday at the Jazz Bakery. Gary Versace goes crazy on his B3. Axman Abercrombie gets to mess with the pedals and volume and oddball chords, Adam Nussbaum gets nuts on the traps, and sax player Jerry Bergonzi must relish the freedom here: outside, inside, stretching and groovy. Closing the week (and beginning the next) is saxist Kenny Garrett at Catalina Bar & Grill, beginning Thursday. Garrett wails on the reeds, with a spiritual power that owes a lot to the main ’Trane but is all his own. It’s an utterly different vibe from the gang at the Bakery, a little less intellectual, maybe, but more elevating. If you can afford it, we highly recommend both.
Or check out some of these great gigs in the smaller spots. We totally dig Dale Fielder; he plays the gamut of saxes but prefers the tenor and baritone in live settings. He has his new Angel City Quartet, and we have never seen the cat when he and his players didn’t absolutely tear a place up with uncompromising hard bop (with dashes of postbop and later ’Trane). He’s at the high ceiling and plush Gallery Bar in the Biltmore downtown on Friday. If you like your hard bop with some of that classic bluesy tone (like the big horns of the forties), then Red Holloway is your man on Friday at Charlie O’s, and with the John Heard Trio behind him, this will be jazz to the bone. Out in Sierra Madre the same night you can see JackSheldon feeling right at home at the Café 322. You really should check out the exceptional Sheldon documentary Trying to Get Good. KABC’s Doug McIntyre and wife Penny Peyser have done standout work on it, and you certainly get a new perspective and increased appreciation for Sheldon after a viewing or two. That sound, that beautiful tone wrapped around those mellow bop lines. And there’s so much blues deep underneath that — real-life blues, tragic blues. Check him out at the 322, and listen. He’s at Charlie O’s on Wednesday, too.
Some off-the-wall things this week: Vibist Harry Smallenburg gigs with TheNine + OneBand at Café 322 on Saturday. He’s obscure, probably deliberately so, but he plays some nice mallets, and he won’t be just running through standards. Pianist Theo Saunders is verging on becoming one of our regulars, with a recent flurry of Charlie O’s nights; he’s there on Sunday. When his quartet gets warmed up, it goes interstellar. Brilliant pianist LarryGoldings is doing a couple duet sets at Vibrato on Wednesday with house bassist Pat Senatore. And the highly regarded European bassist Hadrien Feraud (Downbeat have him their young bassist award) is assembling an impressive bunch of players this Thursday at Alvas Showroom in San Pedro.
Nice Latin stuff this week, too. Tiempo Libre have Grammys up the wazoo, and no wonder with a commercial sheen to their often fierce timba, which is still an exotic word out here. Our salsa fans like their stuff pretty traditional, a little more flowing and less with the bomb-dropping breaks that jerk timba dancers around the floor. But these guys do it slick enough not to scare the folks, even if the tempos do seem free compared to the unbendable claves we associate with Cuban music. It’s still dance music, pure and simple. They’re at the Pepperdine Center for the Arts in Malibu (310-506-4522) on Friday. Out of Lima (for the most part) come the Gabriel Alegria Afro-Peruvian Jazz Sextet, who gig the Jazz Bakery on Tuesday. Peruvian music is subtle stuff compared to strenuous Caribbean rhythms or the party and sensuality of Brazilian samba and bossa. But listen close and you’ll dig Alegria’s jazz takes. Finally, Louie Cruz Beltran is at Catalina on Wednesday. Beltran’s engaging personality and percussion make for a fine Latin vibe (pick up their Live at the Ford CD for some tremendous Latin swing). It’ll be a good night. Hell, it’ll be a good week.
(Brick can be reached at email@example.com.)