By Chris J. Walker
At the Grammy Museum, five-time GRAMMY award-winning bass player, producer, composer, author, and educator Victor Wooten spoke with the venue’s Executive Director, Scott Goldman about his latest CD and career overall. Additionally, Wooten been named “one of the Top 10 Bassists of All Time” by Rolling Stone, voted “Bassist of the Year” three times by Bass Player magazine reader’s poll, and in February 2017 Huffington Post named him one of “50 Iconic Black Trailblazers,” pictured just after President Barack Obama.
The new recording, Trypnotyx is Wooten’s tenth and first after a five-year layoff. It was made with Dennis Chambers-drums, Bob Franceschini-saxophone, Varijashree Venugopal-vocals and comedian/voicetrumentalist, Michael Winslow. Initially, Wooten worked with another bass player, Anthony Wellington on the CD. Later he narrowed it down to just himself playing bass because he was utilizing a new technology, “Fret-tracks” that allowed him to play keyboard and organ sounds on the bass. After a short Q&A interlude he performed solely with sampling technology for layering that included a segment from an electric bass/cello concerto and a philosophical song to blow the audience away.
Vocalist Marilyn Scott with longtime friends and musical colleagues, Michael Landau-guitar, Russell Ferrante-keyboards, Jimmy Haslip-bass and Gary Novak-drums recorded Standard Blue in 2015. But due to all their busy schedules and various commitments they haven’t been able to showcase songs from the CD. They finally got together for a long overdue CD release party of sorts at The Baked Potato. Getting things underway was a relaxed version of “Never Let Me Go” with the players lending superb support for Scott’s cool and understated singing.
Very compelling “I’ve Got It Bad And That Ain’t Good” featured Scott and Landau ripping away. Ballad “Day Dream” was soothingly sung and tastefully adorned with a guitar solo. In the same vein with more emphasis on keyboards was “Speak Low,” while “Willow Weep For Me” was embellished with lingering guitar and keyboard solos.
Perfectly suited for the nuances of Scott’s singing was Billy Strayhorn’s classic “A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing” with gentle accompaniment and breezy guitar accenting that drew strong crowd reactions. From Scott’s previous CDs were lightly jazz cavorting “Round and Round” and bluesy “Trying Times,” along with rocking funk “Icebox” and extensive similarly sounding “Get Home,” all boosted by the players adroitly working out behind her. For more info go to: marilynscott.com
As only she can, Grammy Winner Thelma Houston did a special show at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, entitled My Motown Memories & More! It was a chronological revue of the celebrated singer’s career, directed by Iona Morris and choreographed by Damita Freeman, with Darrell Alston serving as The Musical Director. Houston began with some down-home gospel that got the audience excited and then shifted to “Baby Mine” her first and only recording at Capitol Records.
Afterwards the R&B diva honed her chops doing mostly Motown covers at Big Tate’s Thursday Night Talent Show in Long Beach. She wowed the audience doing “Heard It Through The Grapevine,” and a steamy “Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing” with backup singer Andre Washington. In 1969 Houston signed with ABC Dunhill and collaborated with famed songwriter Jimmy Webb to develop her own style that was exemplified by a passionate rendering of “This is Your Life” to bring down the house.
Unfortunately, her time with Webb amounted critical success and low sales, so she got dropped. Recalling the moment Houston sang “Smiling Faces” and revealed the emotional pain she suffered. The singer bounced back though and got on the Motown label when it moved to LA. She joyfully sang “I Want to Go Back There Again" written by company President, Berry Gordy. From there, the singer searched for the ‘very elusive #1 crossover hit,’ even doing movie and Broadway songs, such as “Do You Know” for the film Mahogany. But it got shelved and later was a hit for Diana Ross. All the while she was recording and touring with Motown artists all around the world.
1973 brought her first Grammy nomination “You’ve Been Doing Wrong For so Long.” Major success finally came for Houston when the head of A&R, Suzanne de Passe found "Don't Leave Me This Way” and strategically released it, resulted in her winning Best Female R&B Vocal Performance at the Grammys in 1977 (also first female for Motown). Houston triumphantly sang her hit to close the show with the audience partying along with her.
David Garfield & "The Cats"
November 14, 7:00-10PM
Bogies Bar at the Westlake Inn
32001 AGOURA ROAD
WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA 91361
The 20th annual “Carlos Vega Memorial Birthday Concert”
December 10th 4 - 6PM
1417 W 8th Street
San Pedro CA 90732
Iconic bassist Stanley Clarke needs no introduction and quickly got down to business at The Broad Stage. With backing players Beka Gochiashvill-piano/keyboards, Caleb Sean McCampbell-keyboards and Cedric Moore-drums, he got into one of his very familiar funk jams to rile up the audience. Afterwards he tastefully honored his old departed friend keyboardist, George Duke through his “Brazilian Love Affair” and featured guest vocalist Jessica Vautor and percussionist/tabla player Salar Nader. The singer shined and the bassist with his band jammed extensively favoring a slight Brazilian vibe to draw strong crowd response.
Shifting to acoustic bass Clarke and stalwarts rendered suite-like “No Mystery” highlighted by the bandleader bowing and briefly departing into an improvised section with himself, piano, synthesizer and tablas trading off for appealing solos. Diversifying the program more, Natasha Agrama evocatively sang Billie Holiday’s “Lover Man” as a duet with Clarke who conjured up a highly palatable mix of rhythms and textures. That prompted the bandleader to intermesh with Nader for an engaging and equally different segment.
Bowing bass was the intro for an impressive classical merging showcasing Gochiashvill’s adept piano playing that became a loose version of Clarke’s former partner, Corea’s “Spain” with charged solos from the other players including vocoder vocals to draw a standing ovation. For the encore the legendary bassist rendered a vintage George Duke Brazilian tune and Parliament’s funk jam “Star Child” with the band grooving away and then spotlighted his son, Chris rapping free-style. Definitely, not Stanley Clarke’s old fusion, but instead going into the future and staying relevant.
Concert attendees at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center were treated to “world class” flamenco and classical guitar by way of a virtuoso Vicente Amigo. He continues the legacy of celebrated artists Paco de Lucía and Paco Peña, winning the “Patriarch of Flamenco” Award at the 2010 Flamenco Summit, a Latin Grammy for Best Flamenco Album (2001), Best Guitar Player by Guitar Player Magazine (1993) and been nominated for several other Latin Grammy’s. Amigo started playing a rambling and lengthy piece solely that at times loosely resembled Chick Corea’s immortal “Spain.”
Following that his band joined him, consisting of Rafael de Utrera-vocals, Paquito Gonzalez-cajón, Añil Fernandez-guitar, Ewen Vernal- bass and Antonio "El Choro" Molina-dancer. Together the ensemble served up a tantalizing array of selections with Amigo’s dazzling playing always at the forefront with the backing musicians sometimes clapping along. Utrera’s spirited singing/chanting provided a lyrical link to the music much like the Gypsy King’s singers. Contrarily, Molina was often the “heartbeat,” who was nearly as amazing as the bandleader, while intensely tapping away. Throughout the concert Amigo was dazzling with rapid-fire fretwork and rhythms. However, there were also less hard-driving moments that showcased tasteful playing, singing and dancing. For more info go to: kalakoa.com .
El Twanguero (Diego Garcia) called by some a “fire-breathing guitar hero,” was born is Spain and steeped in Segovia classical guitar and flamenco from studying at the Music Conservatory in Valencia. Those qualities are more than enough for most guitarists. Yet Garcia remained restless and became very active in Madrid’s underground rock scene, explored tango in Argentina, played Pachuco music in Mexico and in America got the essence of rockabilly, blues and country. During the process the guitarist/singer put out four solo CDs, and recorded/performed with artists such as Andrés Calamaro, Mercedes Sosa, Enrique Bunbury, Ely Guerra, Wycleaf Jean, Juanes and others. Additionally, Garcia scored for Spanish movie director, Rodrigo Cortés, filmed a documentary by Argentinean Director Javier Pistani and won awards such as a Goya and a Latin Grammy. Furthermore, Gibson made a Les Paul signature hollow body guitar with a tremolo arm for him.
At The Grand Annex in San Pedro, Garcia backed by Whynot Jansveld-bass and Brian Griffin-drums took the audience on a whirlwind tour of Pulp Fiction-like music with touches of surf rock, rockabilly, country and tango beginning with high revving, hard-rocking “Gallo Negro.” “Los Chucos Suaves” sung in Spanish was vibrant East LA Pachuco, while Cherry Pink/El Cumbanchero had Cuban and Puerto Rican origins with their quirkiness delighting the audience. From Columbia was raunchy rock themed “El Caminte.” Argentinean blues style milogro was also served up through “Guitarra Dimelo Tu” with the music singing and playing wickedly to impress the audience.
Changing things up some the musicians came backed to the U.S. for hot country picking instrumental “#3” and afterwards headed to the Texas/Louisiana border for Tabasco flavored “Rockabilly Mambo” that definitely would add an interesting wrinkle to Mardi Gras. Garcia admitted that at one time he wanted to be the Spanish Chet Atkins and played on acoustic guitar solely “Minor Rag/Spanish Rag.” Needles to say it was dazzling and included a verse from Ray Charles’ “Hit The Road Jack” that prompted the audience to sing along.
The second half of the program continued with Garcia on acoustic guitar playing and singing solely for a blend of classical, flamenco and folk. The songs were “El Camino,” “Fields of America,” Mark Knopfler’s “The Man’s Too Strong” and country styled “Backroads.” Reunited with his band he returned to electric guitar for scorching surf/Latin “Lupita,” rockabilly “Pachuco,” blues styled “Hound Dog” and Brazilian choro “Speedy Garcia” to draw an enthusiastic standing ovation. For the encore Garcia solely on acoustic guitar dedicated Atkins flavored “Blue Smoke” to Spain’s Catalonia region. For more info go to: www.twanguero.com
Damian Marley, better known as Damian "Jr. Gong” Marley to his friends and fans, the youngest son of reggae legend Bob Marley, appeared at the Belasco Theatre. He celebrated the release of his latest recording Stony Hill, occurring 12 years after his breakout CD Welcome to Jamrock. Jr. Gong’s style of reggae differs significantly from his father, intermixing dancehall and roots. Additionally, younger Marley born two years before senior Marley’s passing works regularly with hip-hop and pop artists such Jay-Z, Nas and Gwen Stefani to expand his audience beyond reggae.
Wasting no time showcasing new tracks “Here We Go” an intense dancehall groove was a perfect example and filled with Jr. Gong rapping energetically. To a lesser degree “Nail Pon Cross” had similar dynamics, but much more religiously oriented. Older song “More Justice” maintained the vibe with a message for urban youth and along with new “R.O.A.R.” Jr. Gong seemed concerned about the future and went into rap-laden new tune “Time Travel” questioning what is real and will be real. Getting totally emerged in politics and Rastafarian culture was “The Mission" that prompted the audience to sing along. Young Marley stayed in the flow them doing his father’s “Exodus,” “I Want to Love You,” “Can This be Love” with his brother Stephen, his own “So A Child May Follow” acoustically and “The Road to Zion,” that brought the house down. For the encore he went to the title track of previous CD Welcome To Jamrock to generate even more excitement.
Another budding blues man kicking up some dust in Austin, TX is guitarist/singer Eric James Tesmer, who has worked many well-known artists such as Dick Dale, Anders Osborne, Tab Benoit, Monte Montgomery, Gary Clark Jr. and Chris Duarte. Tesmer recently performed at The Arcadia Blues Club with his trio, J.L. Tees-bass and Mark Quest-drums. His style is can be hard rocking like Kenny Wayne Shepherd, showing strong influences by his namesakes, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix. However, unlike Shepherd he sings and has some Stevie Ray Vaughan characteristics vocally. In performance he feverously jammed away initially and then shifted to a blues shuffle “I’m Going Find You Baby” that featured him singing soulfully and intensely stretching out.
He also got funky and wailed on the Meters’ staple “Cissy Strut” to blow the audience away and followed with rocking original “Ms. Fortune Teller.” Slowing things down he dedicated slow burning “Love is Taking Its Toil” to the ladies that featured him playing as if he was crying and then got into a hard-hitting crescendo. Relating to his “blues-rock soul-chedelic’” style he did a lengthy homage to Hendrix, doing the icon’s lesser played classic “Are You Experienced” and also mixing in “Machine Gun.” Sounding like the Vaughan Brothers he got down and dirty with “Hey Baby” to close out his set. For more info go to: www.erictessmerband.com
Piano collaborators and friends of over 50 years, Roger Kellaway and Mike Lang came together with Peter Erskine-drums and Darek Oles-bass for a special concert, Many Moods of McCartney & The American Song Book in conjunction with The Jazz Bakery’s Moveable Feast Series at the Coburn School of Music’s Zipper Hall. Lang without Kellaway led off with a spiced up version of “What is This Thing Called Love” and then followed playing his take on “Let it Be” through spiritual minded and easy flowing “Let it Be Better.”
Kellaway reappeared on stage and mentioned that all of the songs performed that evening were created before 1970 and without Lang played a burning, jazzy version of “Golden Slumber” that was originally somewhat of a ballad. Alternating to the American Songbook he performed a fanciful Ellington rendering. Upon Lang’s return to play with Kellaway and the supporting players was lively “Have You Met Mrs. Jones.” From the McCartney catalogue “Hey Jude” surfaced that included a bowing bass solo and a light sing-a-long of the chorus to delight the audience.
Continuing Kellaway noted that McCartney was influenced by early English music theater and it well with his Dixieland background. The featured suite The Many Moods of McCartney was a cavalcade of the Beatle’s songs beginning with “Yesterday” and very unlike the original, swinging hard with complex layering before shifting to “Eleanor Rigby.” The suite ventured into “Penny Lane,” and “The Fool on The Hill,” with “Good Day Sunshine” and “When I’m 64” alternating and including bits of Dixieland. Also incorporated into the suite was “Honey Pie,” “Your Mother Should Know” and “Here, There And Everywhere,” “Got to Get You Into My Life” and an explosive drum solo, with the pianists brilliantly playing to receive a very enthusiastic standing ovation. Needless to say the performance exceeded expectations.
Saxophonist Gary Meek is better known for being a very talented sideman, but has in fact been leading his own ensembles and recording sessions for over 25 years. At Catalina's he was in the spotlight for his recently released project Originals with a story behind every selection, including how the CD was funded. Assembled for the occasion was a talented group of players consisting of Walt Fowler-trumpet, Bruce Forman-guitar, Mitchel Forman-piano, Brian Bromberg-bass and Terri Lyne Carrington-drums. Intermixing Monk and Bernstein themes was “When You're A Monk” that was enhanced by trumpet, guitar and sax solos.
Dedicated to Meek’s wife was "Suite For Maureen” that began with him playing solely and the band without guitar later joining in for the sophisticated and lightly Brazilian tinged piece. Also thematic was “Spiritual For Iris” featuring keyboardist Forman, Bromberg and the bandleader. With full band was Latin flavored “Stella On The Stairs” that was about his Chihuahua with piano, trumpet and sax amazingly augmenting. “PG Fog” (Monterey’s Pacific Grove), a soulful jazz waltz was strongly anchored by Carrington and also the bassist who soloed for a classic quintet sound, without guitar. Forman returned and was featured with piano for "Mr. DG” an ostinato bass line rooted tune dedicated to pianist Don Grolnick. Wrapping up a very engaging show was “Lost Dreams” done as a beautiful duet with guitar to thoroughly delight the audience.
Differing a bit from regular concerts at Disney Hall was CDMX: BiRDMAN LiVE Antonio Sánchez, part of the Ciudad de Mexico (CDMX) series highlighting the music and artistic relationship with our southern neighbor. The Mexican born and American citizen drummer, composer and five-time Grammy®-winner, best known for his longtime association with guitarist Pat Metheny performed his highly unconventional and extremely interesting drums only live to picture score of the 2014 Oscar-winning Best Picture, Birdman. Prior to performing Sánchez entertainingly talked about being from Mexico, how he ended up working with fellow countryman Director, Alejandro González Iñárritu and the process of scoring the film with anti-hero actor, Michael Keaton in lead role.
Viewing the two-hour film with Sánchez drumming was somewhat of a surreal experience. For those who haven’t seen the film the drumming score is not continuous and instead occurs to emphasize key points in the film classified as a dark comedy. In truth, the drummer innocuously blends into the film to the point you forget he’s there until a dramatic scene happens. Which is probably what Iñárritu wanted and gives the drumming the spotlight for the ending credits section. That’s Hollywood and maybe sometime soon a drummer or other musician playing jazz or related music will actually be seen performing in the forefront.
The dance and music ensemble Viver Brasil celebrated its 20-year anniversary with a highly engaging program: Agô Ayó - Spirits Rising at the John Anson Ford Theatre. It also was the world premiere performances of Cor Da Pele by choreographer Marina Magalhães and Para Onde o Samba Me Leva by choreographer Vera Passos. Viver Brasil's additionally restaged repertory pieces Orixas, Revealed, Avaninha and signature bloco Afro spectacle, Motumbaxé into the performance. The soundscapes, however, were new though and created by Kahlil Cummings, Simon Carroll and Bobby Easton, combining the appealing vocals of Emina Shimanuki and Onyi Richards.
The featured works highlighted Afro-Brazilian ancestral wisdom of orixa dance and music, along with the social dances of frevo, samba and bloco Afro. Overall, the concert was a showcase for Brazil's African based regions of Salvador and Bahia that with joyful jubilance and artistic range deeply explored themes of race, gender, resistance and resilience through extraordinary dance, colorful costumes and vibrant music. For more info go to: Facebook.
Palm Springs Women’s Jazz Festival November 2-5, 2017
Friday, November 3 – 8pm
Opening Night Concert – Golden Age of Jazz at the Riviera Hotel
Step back in time to the Golden Age of Jazz when you enter Sweet Baby’s Place, a setting reminiscent of the famous New York jazz clubs. Exciting vocalist, Jazzmeia Horn, winner of the prestigious Sarah Vaughn International Vocal Competition, and saxophonist Melissa Aldana, the first female to win the coveted Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition, will be joined by the internationally acclaimed Chilean recording artist, Claudia Acuña and the Jazz All-Stars in a tribute to the legendary music of Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and more.
Friday, November 3- 8:30pm – 2am
Pride Casino Party and After Party at the Spa Casino
A fun evening at a private party in the casino nightclub with all night dancing with the deejay. Steps from the casino floor, you can combine an evening of dancing and gaming to celebrate Palm Springs Pride. Starts early for those who don’t stay up late and is the after-party for those looking to party after the Opening Night Concert.
Saturday, November 4 -11am
Pride Pool Party at the Riviera
Palm Springs Women’s Jazz Festival celebrates Palm Springs Gay Pride taking place the same weekend! Join us for poolside at the Chiki Pool for dancing to the music of deejay Jiji Sweet, the hottest deejay in town. Enjoy an afternoon poolside with friends. No host full bar and food service available poolside. Includes a fashion show by Nia plus more.
Saturday, November 4 – 8pm
Miki Howard and Kandace Springs at the Annenberg Theater
Saturday night is Jazz + Blues = Soul. A celebration of the rhythms of jazz, funk, blues and R&B. Featuring the magic of Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum recording artists Miki Howard a major force on the smooth jazz scene. Plus rising star, Kandace Springs, the Blue Note recording vocalist receiving rave reviews. Together with Jazz All-Stars they will rock the house.
Sunday, November 5 – 11am
Tribute to the Divas – Gospel Brunch! at the Riviera Hotel
Sunday Brunch is a signature event each year, this year is a salute to the Divas of Gospel. The internationally acclaimed Firm Soundation gospel quartet has toured the world spreading the word. Headed by lead singer Sandra Adams, who has performed with Aretha Franklin and BeBe Winans they will pay homage to the female greats of gospel music; Mahalia Jackson, The Winans and Shirley Caesar. A morning of soul-stirring music rooted in the tradition of southern Black churches. All inclusive ticket price. Brunch includes coffee and juice in your ticket price. No Host Cash Bar available for cocktails, and refreshments.
KKJZ 88.1 JINGLE JAZZ
Jingle Jazz! The KJazz annual holiday party is at a brand new location – the Moss Theater in Santa Monica, and it's all about family.
KJazz host Jose Rizo will be serving up fantastic music, featuring Mongorama. Plus, some special guests, including Hubert Laws, will join the group. A holiday musical feast! Nothing says "the holidays" more than family and good music.
GA tickets are $44 each. We also have a limited number of VIP tickets for $75 each. VIP tickets are for reserved seats in the front center row. Plus, you'll get a meet and greet with Jose and Mongorama.
KJazz Jingle Jazz Concert
Moss Theater (New Roads School at The Herb Alpert Educational Village)
The New Roads School
3131 Olympic Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90404