The Jazz Bakery ain’t going quietly, with guitarist Lionel Loueke through Saturday. The man is a walking biopic … growing up poor in Benin, learning to play on handmade guitars (at one point stringing the thing with bicycle cables!), somehow managing an audition at the Thelonious Monk Institute, getting signed by Blue Note, he is everywhere now, with Herbie Hancock et al. With chops like his, no wonder. He’ll have his trio with him and you really have to see this man play the guitar. The Bakery finishes the week with burning saxist Eric Alexander on Wednesday and Thursday. The town is going to miss this place.
Seems there’s excellent stuff all over the place. LACMA kicks off its Friday jazz series with the beloved, irascible Med Flory’s hypertempo’d and supersaxed Jazz Wave. If you need more of that Bird pace, alto Richie Cole is in the Culver Club at the Culver City Radisson on Friday. Alto madness, baby. Saxist John Stephens (a local hidden treasure, he did the incredible “Africa” arrangement for the LJO’s recent Trane tribute) is bringing jazz to Chinatown with a Friday gig at the Grand Star Jazz Club (943 N. Broadway in Chinatown, 213-626-2285). And the Los Angeles Jazz Collective is throwing a two-night, eight-band bash at the Pasadena Jazz Institute — Friday features the Jens Juross Trio, the Dave Goldberg Quartet (with bassist Darek Oles), the Duane Allen Quartet, and the Matt Otto Quintet; and Saturday keeps up the pace (and quality) with the Matt Zebley Quintet, saxist Damon Zick’s group, the fine, hard-swinging Josh Welchez Quintet (including Matt Otto, pianist Joe Bagg and bassist JP Miranda) and brilliant tenor Chuck Manning with pianist Adam Benjamin, bassist Sam Minaie and drummer James Alsanders. That’s a lot of great jazz. Also on Saturday drummer Matt Slocum is back in town and has one hell of a quartet at the Café Metropol, including saxist Ben Wendel and pianist Josh Nelson. Serious stuff here; in this room the edges tend to be pushed and all these cats seem to revel in advanced concepts that are never free, really, but complex and often righteously grooving. Charlie O’s has been on a roll this month with just about every damn night a good one . if we have to pick a couple this week, we’d say the Littleton Brothers Quartet (with bassist Jeff and drummer Don in a lock groove) on Sunday, the intense and fascinating saxist Benn Clatworthy’s quartet on Tuesday, and the return of The Francisco Aguabella Ensemble on Thursday. Aguabella’s jazzier inclinations really come to the fore here. Also on Thursday, and also mixing Latin and jazz (but we mean all kinds of Latin American rhythms, from Tierra del Fuego on north) the brilliant pianist Otmaro Ruiz is at Spazio; he never fails to impress with his chops, influences and the bands he assembles. Highly recommended. And if you like your jazz vocalists to be jazz vocalists, the real thing, then the brilliant Tierney Sutton begins her stand at Catalina Bar and Grill on Thursday.
Local cubanos are celebrating the birthday of Cuba’s own George Washington, Cespedes de Castillo, and while we might have a parade or a sale, they’re putting on a dance festival with a very impressive lineup of our local Cuban talent, including Francisco Aguabella, Lazaro Galarraga, Candi Sosa, Charanga Cubana, the great Perico Hernandez, Bayalo, Danilo Lozano and a couple dozen more. …It happens on Sunday, from 3 till 8 p.m. at the 740 Club in downtown L.A. (740 S. Broadway, 323-660-1655 or elparecubanfestival.com). Tickets are more than reasonable and besides, what a great way to fill an empty afternoon.
Finally thought we’d mention that a recent night’s club-hopping wound up late at a jumping Foundry on Melrose just in time to catch guitarist Perry Smith and the house trio trading fours with a mysterious tap dancer and Michael Bublé. That was one loose and swinging “All of Me.” Everyone up there was on … Smith, bassist Matt Cory, drummer James Alsanders, Bublé, the phantom hoofer. You never know who you’ll see in a local jazz club.
(Brick can be reached at email@example.com.)