The free weekly jazz music you’ll find all over town in summer is starting to crop up, and LACMA begins its Latin Sounds series from 5 to 7 p.m. on Saturday with KKJZ’s Jose Rizo and his Jazz on the Latin Side All Stars. Certainly one of the most smoking bands in the land, Rizo has assembled some of the finest players in town for this irresistibly super-high-energy outfit. The rhythms are impulsive, the solos intense and the fans go nuts. But if Western Swing is your thing, you’ll want to be at the Jazz Bakery on Monday for Cow Bop. “Cow Bop” (the concept) is the brainchild of stellar jazz guitarist Bruce Forman, who confesses to having but two pictures on his office wall (in the jazz studies dept at USC): one of Bird and Diz, and the other of Bob Wills. Story goes that one day the bop chops and Texas picking came together, and hot damn if it wasn’t cow bop. It works: Forman trades blinding licks with virtuoso fiddler Phil Salazar, and with a grizzled rhythm team and terrific singer Pinto Pammy (you know that ain’t a jazz name), these guys reel off classic Western Swing and texified bop … cookin’, swingin’, yodelin’ good times. This gig is celebrating their surviving yet anotherr seat-of-the-jeans “Route 66 Challenge” (basically driving from Chicago to L.A. with $100 and your axes and begging, borrowing and busking your way through St. Louis … Joplin, Missouri … Oklahoma City … Amarillo … Gallup … Flagstaff … Kingman … and wind up at the Santa Monica Pier … check cowbop.com for the story). Fun stuff … even if you’ll never see Bob Wills in any jazz histories.
Now for the straight-ahead stuff. Trombonist Phil Ranelin (who was an L.A. Weekly Music Award winner a couple years back) prefers to make every gig a special one, and this Saturday night at Papa West Restaurant (4336 Degnan Ave. in Leimert Park) the focus is on Miles Davis. Nice choice … and sort of a small-ensemble follow-up to Charles Owens’ triumphant orchestrations of Miles a few months back at the Luckman, to which Ranelin contributed some very nice solos. And a potent quartet he has too, including drummer Don Littleton and wunderkind pianist Tigran Hamasyan, and it will be fascinating to see how Tigran colors Miles. Tigran is off for New York City and world conquest at the end of June, so see him locally while you can. He’s at the Foundry on Friday. Back from New York City for a few gigs is the excellent drummer Matt Slocum, who has assembled a great quartet at the Cafe Metropol on Friday, featuring tenor Walter Smith III, pianist Josh Nelson and bassist Dan Lutz. Smith’s sax playing is something else — a furious rush of ideas that is almost overwhelming, while Nelson coolly matches it. Vibist Nick Mancini is at the Metropol on Saturday, with pianist Otmaro Ruiz, bassist Edwin Livingston and drummer Nate Wood. Amazing … Ruiz ands Mancini run sprints round this place, and drummer Wood (of Kneebody) tosses out the rule book. And Ruiz will be at Spazio on Monday with saxist Carol Chaikin. Bassist Carlitos del Puerto and drummer Jimmy Branly fill out the rest of this superb quartet, and Chaikin does burn on the saxophone. And speaking of great sax playing, Benn Clatworthy is at Charlie O’s on Sunday, while Pete Christlieb is there on Thursday.
Vibraphonist Steve Nelson has played with a lot of greats, so having the likes of bassist John Clayton and pianist Mulgrew Miller just comes natural. But picking young tenor Kamasi Washington is a nice surprise, because man does that kid have a righteously hard tone. They’ll be at the Jazz Bakery Wednesday and Thursday. Drummer Kevin Kanner does a sigalert-defying double-header on Thursday, which begins with his quartet playing a 5:30 to 7:30 gig at the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach and then packing up and hauling ass 20 miles downtown to bring the real thing to the Edison. And to think that on 52nd Street you could walk to the next gig. Of course, back then, those cats would still show up late, but that’s another story …
(Brick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)