A lot of hot trumpets in town on Friday, with the superb Roy Hargrove Quintet at Catalina’s (running through Sunday, in fact); Scotty Barnhart at Charlie O’s; and Jack Sheldon out at Café 322 in Sierra Madre. Trumpeter Elliot Caine’s sextet is recording their gig at Alva’s in San Pedro on Friday, too. He’s augmented his regulars (tenor Carl Randall, bassist Bill Markus and drummer Kenny Elliott) with high-powered improvisers Mahesh Balasooriya on piano and Nick Mancini on vibraphone. This will be a good one. Combine the $10 cover with the bring-your-own policy and you have a very inexpensive night out with some great hard bop. If flute’s your thing, then Holly Hofmann is joined by pianist Mike Wofford, bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Clayton at the Radisson in Culver City on Friday, and if Glendale’s your thing, then saxophonist Fred Horn is at Jax that night. The man has a great sound, with nice bop chops and a willingness to plunge into the funk when it hits him.
Mad saxist Azar Lawrence is back in town and paired with the very strong John Heard Trio, you know Charlie O’s will be getting intense. The serious ’Trane freaks among you will dig this one, as sometimes Azar seems to be channeling the Man. Keyboardist David Garfield has put together a Retro Jazz Quintet at Alva’s on Saturday, with some powerful players: trombonist Walt Fowler, saxist Larry Klimas, bassist Alphonse Johnson and drummer Jimmy Branly. Garfield is best known locally around the Baked Potato, so it’s probably safe to say that unless they’re in matching candy-striped shirts and straw hats, the retro here is jazz before Bitch’s Brew. At the Baked Potato itself pianist Otmaro Ruiz is part of guitarist Frank Gambale’s combo on Saturday. Ruiz is one of the most thrilling live pianists in town, no matter the genre. The let-it-loose fusion vibe of this club is a perfect fit. Guitarist Bruce Forman will be at Vibrato on Saturday night. While lately we’ve been seeing him do amazing things with western swing in his CowBop, this will be a straight-jazz set, and his chops will be just as amazing. No Stetson, though. On Sunday morning Rickey Woodard will be cooking at the Lighthouse from 11 a.m. till 3 p.m. Woodard is a terrific player, with that tight Hank Mobley tone and the ability to play the various bops and the blues with equal conviction. On Monday it’s Larry Goldings’ Organ Night at Vitello’s, which is always recommended. And it’s great to see the trombonist Andy Martin leading a quartet at Charlie O’s on Monday, as you don’t often see him in a small group context and the man’s sound, whether he’s bopping out or melting the melody of a ballad, is just sublime.
’Tis the season for benefits, of course, and we have two to talk about, both on Sunday: the L.A. Jazz Society & ASMAC Holiday Brunch at Catalina’s from noon to 3 p.m. with the John Clayton Holiday Quartet. Good tunes, good cause. And then there’s a fund-raiser that really has nothing to do with the holidays except that the Los Angeles Jazz Institute is hoping Santa brings them the funds they sorely need so they can move their enormous collection to its new digs by year’s end. Moving such a vast collection of everything jazz costs lots of money. So Foundation boss Ken Poston is doing what he does best and throwing a huge all-day bash this Sunday at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott (5855 W. Century Blvd.) from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. The lineup as of press time is ridiculous: the Bill Holman Big Band, the Carl Saunders Be Bop Big Band, The Cannonball/Coltrane Project, Pete Christlieb’s Tall and Small Band, The Steve Huffsteter Big Band, The Gary Urwin Jazz Orchestra (with trombonist Bill Watrous), The Kim Richmond Concert Jazz Orchestra, the terrific Med Flory Big Band, featuring Supersax, Fred Selden + 11 plays Art Pepper, The Ron King Big Band, the Dave Pell-Med Flory Quintet, Chuck Flores and Florescope, the Gerry Gibbs Quartet, plus Frank Capp, Terry Gibbs, Ron Stout and on and on — three rooms full of jazz for 12 hours! Tickets are $75 for everything, or $150 for everything plus reserved seating and a big dinner. Call (562) 985-7065 or go to lajazzinstitute.org for specifics. If this is your thing, then live a little and buy yourself a ticket. Hell, it’s Christmas.