By Chris J. Walker
Marvin Gaye’s album What’s Going On is an immortal classic, and You’re The Man (1972) was to be its follow-up. Unfortunately, as often happens in the music industry it was shelved and the tracks were dispersed amongst deluxe edition Marvin Gaye collections. At the Grammy Museum on what would have been the beloved singer’s 80th birthday (April 2nd with a U.S. postal stamp dedicated in his honor), there was a panel discussion, moderated by UMe A&R VP Harry Weinger, who produced the new release of the lost recording. Included in the group were Gaye’s second wife, Jan Gaye; Gaye’s biographer and co-writer of Sexual Healing David Ritz; and trumpeter Nolan Shaheed who worked with Gaye for many years. Additionally, in the audience were bassist Verdine White from Earth, Wind & Fire, songwriter/producer Larry Mizell, Nona Gaye (Gaye’s sister) and son Marvin Gaye III.
Ritz conveyed that Gaye was a genius full of conflicts and contradictions. He put it all together effortlessly in his art and those things could be felt in the re-release, even though the singer wasn’t involved with it. Jan Gaye respectfully disagreed with Ritz, saying her husband had high expectations of himself, and while delivering to the audience he struggled for perfection and worked incessantly. Shaheed cited that Gaye was a great musician (drummer/pianist) as well as artist and friend. He also musically broke down “I Want You” to demonstrate the singer’s genius. Additionally, he stated the Gaye’s outtakes were as good as his takes.
Weinger played the title track of the new project, which had many similarities to “Inner City Blues” from What’s Going On. Ritz broke down the song’s political lyrics that were insightful and currently applicable. Q&A from audience covered Gaye’s shyness, vinyl of the recording, possible involvement with Tammi Terrell, Gaye instrumental and his process for backup vocal tracks, technical challenges working with the old recordings, bass players for the recording and a possible Marvin Gaye movie.
At the Blue Whale, London-born and Brooklyn-based vocalist Joanna Wallfisch celebrated her fourth and latest release, Far Away From Any Place Called Home. It musically chronicles her impressions and memories of the 2016 solo bicycle journey she successfully completed from Portland, Oregon to Los Angeles. Enlisted to support the singer/multi-instrumentalist (melodica, ukulele and loops) for the showcase were Josh Nelson-piano, Liza Wallace-harp/voice, David Tranchina-bass and Mathias Kunzli-drums. Wallfisch’s crystal clear and supple voice transported listeners through a variety of moods and settings she called song cycles, and were unveiled in somewhat of the order they appeared on the new recording.
Highlights and interesting aspects of the set were: “When We Travel” serving as the album overture, and easy flowing, slightly poppy with full band and sweet singing. Spoken word was the vehicle for “Distance of Time” as the journey began, and later “Sapphire Blue” with looping and solo melodica. The title song continues Wallfisch’s saga with poetic interpretations of traveling, observations and encounters accented by enchanting vocal harmonies and a radiant piano solo. Spatial “Mountain Pass” was inspired by a Herman Hesse poem with charming singing, light drumming, enchanting harp and piano, and bass coolly soloing. For some comic relief “Rex The Traveling Dog” was about an odd encounter featuring the singer on kazoo. Contrasting with beautiful singing and sweeping cascading band accompaniment was “Ballad of Birds.”
Restless and full of wanderlust, Wallfisch plans to do a similar journey in Australia from Brisbane to Hobart later this year. Coinciding with it will the publishing of her full-length memoir. For more info go to: www.joannawallfisch.com.
Duet Natalie Cressman-trombone/vocals and Ian Faquini guitar/vocals based in New York with roots in the San Francisco Bay Area showcased songs from their recently released Setting Rays of Summer CD at the downtown LA adjacent Mayfair Hotel. The venue with a bar about 15 feet from the performance area provided a noisy backdrop for the musicians who had minimal amplification. Nonetheless, Cressman and Faquini persisted to sing and play beautiful songs in Portuguese, French and English influenced by Brazilian bossa nova, samba and MPB, with tinges of baião and ijexá mixed in. Forlorn and alluring “Sereia” was the opening song that showcased the duet’s and Cressman’s gorgeous vocals, along with her pristine trombone solo.
Gentle and sweet sounding “Debandada” continued more so featuring Faquini singing smoothly and his partner in the backing vocal role. Leaning slightly to jazz with trombone playing the introduction was “Lenga Lenga,” with the guitarist maintaining the lead vocal position and Cressman spryly soloing. From a different perspective was torch song “My Heart Again Will Rise” sung in English, which in the singer/trombonist hands became a soothing ballad garnished with easy flowing guitar. Cressman also sang a bossa tune sweetly and soloed solidly. Faquina returned to the forefront singing “Terê” coolly, while his partner jammed away. During the closing moments of the set the pair totally switched things up by having a harmonica playing friend join them on stage for bluesy and bossa jam pieces that blew the audience away. For more info go to: www.nataliecressman.com and www.ianfaquini.com.
After a long period away, fado icon Mariza, possibly Portugal’s most well known artist, made a triumphant return to Southern California at UCLA’s Center For The Art of Performance at Royce Hall. It was part of the singer’s grand North American and European tour. As she came on stage donning a nearly transparent, tight fitting gown, attendees greeted her enthusiastically with a standing ovation. She plaintively began with “Loucura” in traditional bittersweet fado fashion, adorned her famous searing soprano voice as her septet calmly provided layered support. “Sou (Rochedo)” was tastefully garnished by guitar, lute and accordion players for a slightly up-tempo and pop-like backdrop for the fado queen sang passionately.
During a break between songs Mariza spoke about being away for so long (seven years) and asked the audience if they prefer she spoke in Portuguese, which they affirmed. From there she continued mixing in songs from her recently released eponymous collection. Some of them were “Semente Viva,” “Quem Me Dera,” “Amor Perfeito,” “Oração” and “Fado Errado.” As would be expected they were all well received, and the singer heighten the excitement by going into the audience and singing. Mariza, though was careful and hardly made any physical contact with anyone, citing that she once had a bad experience. Concluding the show was “Rosa Branca,” along with encores “Primavera and “É Mentira” for an intense standing ovation.
NEA Jazz Master, Abdullah Ibrahim, the pianist Nelson Mandela called “South Africa’s Mozart” performed for the Jazz Bakery’s Moveable Feast series at the Moss Theatre. The renowned pianist, now in his ‘80s and previously exiled from his country from the ‘60s to ‘90s began the concert playing a solemn, introspective and slow crescendo solely that lasted about 13 minutes. The remaining Ekaya Septet members consisting of Anoah Jackson-bass/cello, Will Terrill-drums, Cleave Guyton Jr.-woodwinds, Lance Bryant-tenor sax, Andrae Murchison-trombone/trumpet and Marshall McDonald-baritone sax joined in afterwards.
The full ensemble played for over an hour with no comments from the bandleader. He, instead let the music depicting the majesty, sorrow and triumphant aspects of his homeland do the talking. The sidemen built on Ibrahim’s opening playing, soloing and interweaving brass choruses with touches of bebop, swing and hard-bop. Eastern explorations featured flute, while bebop was mostly shepherded by tenor sax, bass and drum exchanges. The bandleader played minimally mostly, however during reflective and classical tinged moments he took a more prominent role, sometimes performing solely. Overall, Ibrahim presented a very nuanced and interesting variation of jazz.
Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour and SF Jazz Collective in concert at Disney Hall, was one of those special double bills that doesn’t happen all too often presently. Additionally, the combination of groups showcased an abundance of youthful innovators and future jazz superstars. Tim Jackson, Artistic Director for MJF gave a brief introduction of the festival, and its superstar tour. It originated in 2007 after the 50th anniversary to spread awareness around the country and abroad of the world’s longest running continuous jazz festival, and reoccurs every two to three-years. Featured artists were singer Cécile McLorin Salvant, trumpeter/vocalist Bria Skonberg, saxophonist Melissa Aldana, pianist/Musical Director Christian Sands, bassist Yasushi Nakamura and drummer/vocalist Jamison Ross.
Getting things underway Salvant sullenly sang her original “Fog” with her special touches and sweeping band accompaniment. Standard “I Can’t Help it” was just her and bass initially, before the ensemble joined in to boldly swing. Aldana spotlighted deviating post-bop piece “Acceptance,” the third part of her suite dedicated to Mexican art icon Frida Kahlo. Ross inspired by drummer Grady Tate’s version of Donny Hathaway’s ballad “Sack Full of Dreams,” paid homage to singing drummers, while soulfully singing with fluid band support. Alternately, Sands in classical trio mode, robustly presented “E Lucevan le Stelle” from Puccini’s opera Tosca.
Skonberg brought things back down to earth with a tribute to ’30-‘40s trumpeter/singer Valaida Snow, nicknamed “Little Louis” for trad “Won’t You Swing With Me.” The audience participated and clapped along, and of course the singer/trumpeter soloed. Not to be left out, Nakamura played a bumping solo bass intro for his original tune, before the band contributed lively hard-bop support. Concluding the show, Salvant returned to sing stirring folk/gospel tinged “I Cried Too Much For You to Know” featuring Skonberg and Ross injecting dynamic backing vocals.
SF Jazz Collective established in 2004 focuses on creating and performing arrangements of renowned artists compositions, and also doing their own original pieces each season. This year the concentration is on the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim. The groups was made up of Matt Brewer-bass, Obed Calvaire-drums, Etienne Charles-trumpet, Marshall Gildes-trombone, David Sánchez-tenor sax, Edward Simon-keyboards, Warren Wolf-vibes and Miguel Zenón-alto sax.
Opening the show was Wolf’s bristling arrangement of Jobim’s “Chega de Saudade,” and the very recognizable “The Girl From Ipanema” arranged by Simon. Following them was Zenón’s thematic and fiery “Infinito,” along with Jobim’s lesser-known, enchanting and piano driven “Amparo,” by Brewer and once used as the theme for a Brazilian soap opera. Sánchez’s “Variations” was sophisticated, vigorous and full of engaging solos. Concluding the vibrant and remarkable set was “Waters of March,” arranged by Calvaire and influenced by his recent visit to Cuba.
The Spring Quartet comprised of powerhouse players drummer Jack DeJohnette, saxophonist Joe Lovano, bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding and keyboardist Leo Genovese, marked the beginning of the John Anson Ford Theatre’s 2019 season. To a near capacity house with KKJZ-88.1’s Bubba Jackson as the emcee, the quartet began playing Lovano’s original composition “Spring Day.” The tune started dreamily and quickly shifted to engaging post-bop featuring the saxophonist windingly waling away. The other players provided a solid foundation with Genovese soloing in a somewhat madcap fashion and Spalding more traditionally. She though, set the mildly funky groundwork for the ode to Herbie Hancock, “Herbie’s Hands Cocked” that was tinged with urban electric piano and mainstream acoustic piano riffs, as drums were robust, and sax dynamically soloed, while also flowing along.
From a more intense perspective Lovano began DeJohnette’s modern bebop jam “Le Petite Oppertune” with DeJohnette adding a hard-hitting foray of drumming, as the others provided tempered accompaniment. Genovese surprised the audience with a fanciful section that was full of masterful improvisation. In the vein of murky and mysterious was ephemeral soprano driven composition “Priestess of The Mist” and Genovese’s “Ethiopian Blues” that included Spalding soloing sumptuously. She afterwards talked about her hair and its connection to getting grants prior to showcasing her amusing singing/scatting “Work of Art.”
DeJohnette’s homage to Ahmad Jamal and his nickname, “Ahmad The Terrible” started with a drumming solo intro to eventually becoming a full band high-flying jaunt full of stirring solos by all. Putting the wraps of on an extremely stimulating evening was an easy flowing flute driven piece. It drew a standing ovation from the audience, who clearly wanted more and a new recording from the group. For more info go to: FordTheatres.org
Harlem 1958 by photographer Art Kane over 60 years ago is well known and iconic, timelessly capturing 57 jazz greats together in an interesting setting. At the Grammy Museum Kane’s son Jonathan, saxophonist/composer/arranger/educator NEA Jazz Master Benny Golson and the venue’s Executive Director Scott Goldman discussed the photograph, part of Esquire Magazine’s special jazz issue and Kane’s first big free-lance photographer assignment (he previously was a celebrated young Art Director).
In recent years, since the 1995 Academy Award Winning documentary A Great Day in Harlem by Jean Bach and 2008 new edition photograph there hasn’t been a lot of interest in the landmark picture. As the 60th anniversary was looming Kane’s son decided to produce an in-depth discourse on his father’s famous work through outtakes and interviews. An interesting side note: Kane didn’t really care about out takes and normally discarded them.
Golson recalled, “Nat Hentoff told me about it (10AM shoot). I thought I would go there, and they would go click and I would go home. But when I got there I saw all my heroes there and I couldn’t believe it. This had never happen before and everyone was catching up all over the place. The other distraction was the bar on Lennox Ave.” Willie “The Lion” Smith was around for almost all the takes, but for final take that ended up being used, he was at the bar.
Younger Kane showed the outtakes black & white and color from the book. He also talked about all the activity during the two-hour shoot, along with location choice and other details. He additionally mentioned who didn’t attend, such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Max Roach, Woody Herman, Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan. Interestingly, some of the musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie and Milt Hinton (his wife Mona) also took pictures. Golson added more commentary and insight about the special day and people in August 1958. Beside photographs from the Esquire issue, other pictures of musicians mostly rock were displayed and highlighted. Q&A from the audience covered: the kids in the photograph, late musicians who missed the shoot, and Golson working with Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Oliver Nelson.
Guitar legend Kenny Burrell took a fall two years ago. He is still recovering and on sabbatical from UCLA. Essentially, he is still unable to play and/or teach. Help is needed and welcomed. Here’s the link for donations setup by his wife Katherine:
Jazz vocalist and global icon Dee Dee Bridgewater headlines the KJazz 88.1 FM Summer Benefit Concert with her piano trio. Not content to just sing, Bridgewater is a multi-hyphenate: Triple GRAMMY® Winner. TONY® Winner. UN Goodwill Ambassador. Producer. Record Label Head. Jazz Legend.
Over the course of a multifaceted career spanning four decades, GRAMMY® and Tony Award-winning jazz giant Dee Dee Bridgewater has ascended to the upper echelon of vocalists, putting her unique spin on standards, as well as taking intrepid leaps of faith in re-envisioning jazz classics. Ever the fearless voyager, explorer, pioneer and keeper of tradition, the three-time GRAMMY®-winner most recently won the GRAMMY® for Best Jazz Vocal Album for Eleanora Fagan (1915-1959): To Billie With Love From Dee Dee.
Also on the lineup are guitarists Raul Midon and Lionel Loueke, who will be performing separate sets. Midon is heralded as a “one-man band who turns a guitar into an orchestra and his voice into a chorus,” (NY Times). He has collaborated with Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, Jason Mraz, Queen Latifah and Snoop Dogg. Blind since birth, Midón produced and engineered his 2017 album, Bad Ass and Blind, using special computer software for the blind. The album, which confronts the challenges of his blindness with verve and grace, received a 2018 GRAMMY® nomination in the category Best Jazz Vocal Album. Midón’s 2018 follow up release, If You Really Want, featuring the Metropole Orkest under the direction of Vince Mendoza, was nominated for a 2019 GRAMMY® award in this same category.
Benin guitarist Loueke has received critical acclaim from both his idols and contemporaries on his latest release, The Journey. Paul Simon raves that Loueke is “one of a rare handful of guitarists that move effortlessly between his West African roots and modern American Jazz,” and Sting cites Loueke as “one the most original, essential and inspiring musicians on our planet today.” As a Blue Note Recording artist and member of Herbie Hancock’s band for the past 10 years, Loueke has recorded and toured with artists as unique and varied as Terence Blanchard, Angelique Kidjo and Luciana Souza. Praised by Herbie Hancock as “a musical painter,” Loueke combines harmonic complexity, soaring melody, a deep knowledge of African folk forms, and conventional and extended guitar techniques to create a warm and evocative sound of his own.
KJazz 88.1 FM Summer Benefit
Walt Disney Concert Hall
111 South Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
For a pledge of $400, you’ll receive a pair of tickets for the Front Orchestra section – these are the best seats in the house! VIP tickets include valet parking, a donation and a one-year membership. Plus, you’re invited to an exclusive post-show reception with dessert, coffee, and wine at the Founder’s Room at Walt Disney Concert Hall. VIP tickets are only available through KJazz. Call 1-310-478-5061 or pledge online, you don’t want to miss it!
Mr. Musichead, celebrating 20 years as a premier boutique art gallery and its owner Sam Milgrom, teamed up with Los Angeles Jazz Radio Broadcaster and Producer LeRoy
Downs and All Music Television Founder & CEO Frederick Smith, Jr to present Just Jazz featuring a lineup of internationally recognized jazz artists. From 6:30pm to Showtime, before each show, tune into “The Jazzcat” LeRoy Downs as he spins one hour of supreme, eclectic jazz live on SoundsandColorsRadio.net direct from the Mr Musichead Gallery! Downs will play music and interview the weekly artist as jazz patrons are arriving for the performance, enticing listeners to come on out and be a part of the Curated Jazz Experience!! A portion of the proceeds from each show will be donated to a local charity.
Doors Open: 6:00pm
Drinks & Appetizer Reception: 6:30pm
Live Music: 7:30pm
June 5 Hitomi Oba
June 12 Steph Richards
June 19 Third Eye – Nasheet Waits, Abraham Burton, Eric McPherson
Jun 26 Gregoire Maret
Other upcoming artists include Marquis Hill and more…
Tierney Sutton + Alan Broadbent Trio Debut “The Broadbent/Georgia Mancio Songbook”
An Evening of Jazz Standards: Alan Broadbent Trio with Harvie S -bass / Kendall Kay –drums
The Alan Broadbent Threesome: featuring guitarist Larry Koonse w/ Harvie S -bass
Gilbert Castellanos Quintet: A Tribute to Kenny Dohram
Kenny Garrett Quintet
Steve Cotter Trio with vocalist Marina Pacowski
David Murray / perc. Kahil El’Zabar – Duo
Eric Alexander Quartet – w/Eric Reed
Dwight Trible & Cosmic Vibrations
New Roads School at The Herb Alpert Educational Village
3131 Olympic Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Jazz Bakery’s Moveable Feasts
“Concerts and Conversations with Southern California Jazz Legends” made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. KJAZZ 88.1 – official media sponsor.
CAP UCLA’s 2019-20 season highlights
with Christian McBride & Brian Blade
The Ford Theatres in association with CAP UCLA Presents
My Rock Stars Experimental – Live!
Aaron Neville Duo
Joshua Redman Quartet with The Bad Plus
Sergio Mendes & Bebel Gilberto
The Theatre at Ace Hotel
Bill Frisell & Julian Lage Duo
Jan 25, 2020
The Theatre at Ace Hotel
Feb 7, 2020
Feb 20, 2020
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Feb 28, 2020
Omar Sosa & Yilian Cañizares
Featuring Gustavo Ovalles
Mar 7, 2020
Octavia E. Butler’s
Parable Of The Sower
Created By Toshi Reagon and
Bernice Johnson Reagon
Music and Lyrics By Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon
Directed By Eric Ting
Mar 26, 2020
Fly Higher: Charlie Parker At 100
Co-musical Directors: Rudresh Mahanthappa & Terri Lyne Carrington
Apr 18, 2020
The Theatre at Ace Hotel
Apr 25, 2020
Anthony De Mare
Liaisons 2020: Re-imagining Sondheim From The Piano
Subscriptions and individual tickets on sale at: