Move over, Jimmy Stewart, jazz pianist Bill Cunliffe's gonna tickle the ivories in a way that'll bring more tears to our eyes than your classic 1946 Christmas film ever did. In fact, It's a Wonderful Life is the title of Cunliffe’s holiday jazz concert at the First Baptist Church in Glendale, featuring drummer Joe La Barbera, bassist Tom Worthington, sax man Gary Foster and vocalist Melissa Sweeney. “I like Christmas music that's recognizably Christmas but not losing the jazz/improvisatory quality,” says Cunliffe, a Grammy- and Emmy-nominated pianist, composer and arranger, and winner of the 1989 Thelonious Monk International Piano Competition. “But Gary Foster is such a lyric improviser, everything he plays adds to the warm quality of the season, even though it's largely made up as he goes.” Tonight's selections include “Christmas Song” “Winter Wonderland,” “White Christmas” and “Sleigh Ride.” The show starts at 4 p.m., and is followed by a holiday reception of snacks and a screening of the Stewart tearjerker to round out the evening.

Sun., Dec. 13, 4 p.m., 2009

LA Weekly