The Hot Licks formed by eccentric San Francisco-based singer/guitarist/songwriter Dan Hicks in 1968, melded western swing, jazz, bluegrass and humor to strongly contrast the groundbreaking psychedelic rock bands of that era. They become Bay Area favorites, and notably, their popularity extended well beyond Northern California to develop a devoted fan-base and influenced many other artists. Sadly, Hicks, 74 passed away in 2016 at his Mill Valley home after a two-year bout with cancer. In his memory, surviving band members Paul Robinson-vocals/guitar, Daria-vocals/percussion/melodica and Paula Sonnenberg-vocals/percussion, with David Boyden-violin/mandolin and Alex Baum-bass presented: THE HOT LICKS – MUSIC OF DAN HICKS at the Torrance Cultural Arts Center that also included anecdotes about the irreverent musician.
The quintet got things underway with a percolating western swing shuffle instrumental, highlighted by delectable guitar and violin solos. Through “Walkin’ One & Only” the group’s hallmark country/jazz styled vocals shined and were bolstered by Boyden’s fiddling. In the same mode Ellington’s classic “Caravan” was elevated by the group’s rich vocal harmonies, along with swinging fiddle and melodica solos. “Long Come a Viper” was a driving shuffle strongly accented by astonishing fast-paced rhythmic group singing and a hot fiddle solo to impress the audience.
Keeping the mood going were classics “Where’s The Money” and “I’m an Old Cow Hand” cover. Varying from those songs were acerbically sung folk-rock ballad “Moody Richard” that was laden with guitar and bass solos, and traditional country/blue grass song “Reelin’ Down.” Closing out the set was one of Hick’s signature tunes, rollicking “The Buzzard Was Their Friend” featuring the singers and players coolly grooving away. For more info go to: www.danhicks.net and torrancearts.org.
After hitting the milestone of 80, much lauded and awarded Mavis Staples, once a member of the famed Staples Singers, led by her legendary father Pops Stapes, is no longer a vocalist, but instead a statesman or stateswoman of music. At Cal State Northridge’s Soraya Center For The Arts she held court with Rick Holmstrom-guitar, Steve Mugalian-drums and Greg Boaz-bass with backup singers Donny Gerrard and Saundra Williams. After introductions by KCSN 88.5 on-air personality Nick Harcourt and patron/sponsor Carolyn Clark Powers, Staples got down to business with gospel-fused “If You’re Ready (Come go With Me)” boosted by the audience singing along. Newer songs “Who Told You That” and “Slippery People” were hard rocking with searing guitar and soulful singing.
The ever-popular and well-adored singer received so many cheers and shouts from the audience that she momentarily got disoriented. She got back on track with 1972 soul/gospel song “Are You Sure?” and recent “Brother And Sisters” recorded on We Get By with Ben Harper last year. Pops Staples signature guitar sound was replicated for Steve Stills/Buffalo Springfield ‘60s classic ‘60s “For What Its Worth” and fired up the audience, who sang along even more as the singer worked out. Being totally in the moment, the singer said it was time for the song to be recorded again and asked the audience to go on tour with her. Staying in the same vein was the very soul and gospel title track of her latest album, strongly adorned by wicked guitar riffs.
From there Staples could do wrong and quickly segued into her family’s ‘70s hit “Respect Yourself.” Also older was “Touch a Hand” that inspired the audience to reach out to each other and drew notable applause. “Change” from the new CD rocked with Holmstrom wailing away powerfully and the singers serving notice. “No Time For Crying” was similar and filled with Staples’ social/political commentary that irked some of the right-leaning audience members who left when Trump was mentioned as the crowd cheered enthusiastically.
For the encore she called out to some of her relatives in the audience to help sing monster hit “I’ll Take You There” with the crowd clapping along and wanting more. The opening act was singer/guitarist Son Little producer of Staple’s GRAMMY-winning EP for Best American Roots Performance for Your Good Fortune. His music was more urban oriented, mixing modern soul and rocking blues.
Renowned bassist Stanley Clarke returned to the Broad Stage for his annual concert there and was warmly greeted by the audience. Flanked by Jeremiah Collier-drums, Cameron Graves-keyboards, Beka Gochiashvili-piano/keyboards and Salar Nader-tabla, Clarke started dynamically playing an electric bass solo/intro. He then segueing into a mixture of very fused and easy-flowing jamming for Mingus’ classic “Goodbye Pork-pie Hat.” It revved the audience up and was filled with scorching solos. Vintage Clarke tune “School Days” maintained the invigorating vibe and inspired the attendees to clap along, while the bassist laid down a trademark high-flying solo strongly supported by his band.
Afterwards, tabla with scatting and keyboards shifted the focus to contemporary jazz and world music tangents that led to George Duke’s “Brazilian Love Affair.” The breezy number was propelled by Gochiashvili’s beyond belief playing, as the bandleader steadfastly anchored on acoustic bass and eventually soled masterfully. Clarke interestingly inserted even more musical richness and diversity into the program with the Lyris String Quartet. It consisted of Alyssa Park-violin, Shalini Vijayan-violin, Luke Maurer-viola and Timothy Loo-cello. They joined the bassist’s quintet for his sumptuous Spanish tinged classical piece “La Cancion de Sofia” to captivate the listeners. In the same vein, but with lively fusion was “Last Train to Sanity” and Chick Corea’s indelible masterpiece “No Mystery,” which was loaded with inventive soling and jamming to garner a very enthusiastic standing ovation. Finishing the concert was a Brazilian-tinged funk groove with the crowd singing along.
For the adventurous and boundary-free oriented, composer/violinist/vocalist/spoken word and visual artist Laurie Anderson, bassist/bandleader Christian McBride and cellist Rubin Kodhell performed together at Disney Hall. Anderson’s violin rambling set the pace and direction for the trio as she slowly constructed a crescendo of classical and avant-garde textures. She later admitted that they had no plan for what they were doing. However, there was a framework, and the violinist utilized samples and loops for the trio to build on. True to her creative nature she spoke ironically about hologram concerts and current events such Australian fires, English Parliament, ice cap melting and technology. Bass and cello played throughout, with her intermittently joining in on violin to both amuse and annoy the crowd.
Anderson also spoke of her husband Lou Reed who died six years ago being her hologram “guardian angel,” the Guardian Angels group and making citizens arrests. Intermeshed between commentaries, voice modulated singing samples and assaulting playing were palatable interludes for the trio to flourish. They were a Phillip Glass-like segment and R&B icon James Brown’s “Get on The Good Foot” that became intergalactic, and segued into warped jamming to garner a standing ovation. Although not really her style, the trio leader obliged with an encore that picked up where they left off previously.
Fusion and jazz drumming powerhouse, Steve Gadd rolled into Catalina’s for a multi-day run with his band. It consisted of Michael Landau-guitar, Jimmy Johnson-bass, Walt Fowler-trumpet/flugelhorn, Duke Gadd-percussion and Kevin Hayes- keyboards/vocals. They mostly spotlighted numbers from their 2018 eponymous recording, beginning with Fowler’s trickling lightly funky “Where’s Earth?” that featured his Miles Davis-like muted trumpet playing. “The Long Way Home” by Landau had similar rhythmic attributes, but focused more on the guitarist’s slightly atmospheric playing, with trumpet and keyboards accenting and also soloing. “Timpanogos” also by the trumpeter/flugelhorn player was an easy flowing tune with samba touches and bolstered by Hayes solo.
Gadd’s band departed from their latest CD to do gospel-flavored groove “Walk With Me,” soulfully sung by Hayes, with palatable solos from trumpet and guitar to draw strong audience response. Also not on the band’s album was organist/composer Larry Goldings’ post-fusion jam “Sly Boots,” with Fowler out front, as the bandleader intensely soloed and his players zealously worked out to impress the club-goers. Additionally, “Oh, Yeah!”
by keyboardist Jan Hammer was rendered and groove-wise picked up where the last song left off, but was offset by Landau inserting a hard rocking solo.
Returning to the Gadd Band CD was Johnson’s gentle ballad “Norma’s Girl” that was pleasantly garnished by piano, trumpet and bass solos. “Green Foam” written by the entire band was reminiscent of Ray Charles’ styled R&B with everyone strongly contributing to the appealing groove, that included an injection of blues guitar soloing. Staying with that theme was rocking/soul classic “Them Changes” written by Buddy Miles, which was also laden with solos to receive a standing ovation. For the encore Landau’s “Blues For Dot Dot Dot” played with strong soloing, including Hayes’ stirring gospel-tinged segment.
Sounds of L.A. 2020 at The Getty Center launched with African stringed-instrument virtuosi 3MA. The group features Ballaké Sissoko from Mali on kora, Driss El Maloumi from Morocco on oud, and Rajery from Madagascar on valiha—an instrument described as part-zither, part-lute. The diverse musicians came together in 2006 to perform and create new compositions inspired by their respective traditions and deep friendship. In concert, they produced rich and flowing layers of acoustic fretting that magically transported the audience to amazing and unusual locales. “Anarouz” the first piece played was an energetic jaunt that was succeeded by “Jiharka” a traditional sounding song also led by oud. Contrarily, “Mosquito” driven by the kora was brisk with playful buzzing touches from Maloumi that amused the audience.
Enhancing things even more, Sissoko sang and scatting harmoniously for some of the palatable songs. Rajery, whose instrument had the least amount of strings, showcased his artistry, both singing and playing a couple of selections, including politically oriented “Dutok.” It featured him scatting and snarling, while the kora and valiha players skillfully backed him. Oud returned to the forefront afterwards to spotlight the instrumentalists fretting and percussion prowess to also impress the attendees. Kora though, intensely interacted with fellow band mates for a soaring and highly engaging number. The group concluded the concert with a whirling jam-like number with Sissoko scatting, Maloumi injecting percussion and Rajery laying down a solid foundation. The short encore simulated an African taxi to totally enthrall the crowd. For more info go to: www.sixdegreesrecords.com/3ma/ and www.getty.edu.
José Antonio Rodríguez one of Spain’s leading flamenco guitarists focused on selections from his latest CD Adios Muchachos at Catalina’s with supporting players Abraham Laboriel-bass and Luis Conte-percussion. The recent LA transplant has worked with an array of impressive artists, such as Paco de Lucia, Alejandro Sanz, Chick Corea, Al Di Meola, Astor Piazzola, Joan Baez, George Benson, Arturo Sandoval, John McLaughlin, and Rita Moreno. The guitarist who was the youngest flamenco guitar professor at the Conservatory of Music in Cordoba and also a compose music for orchestra, ballet, TV and films, began solely with suite-like traditional flamenco pieces “Nana Para Un Nino Grande,” “Guadalcazar” and rapid-fretting “Danza Del Amanecer” that closed with electric guitar shredding effects, which all showcased his remarkable talents.
Laboriel and Conte joined Rodríguez for “Boliche” that was a spirited mixture of flamenco and gypsy to impress the audience. Popular Brazilian composition “Manha of Carnival” featured the bassist initially, while the guitarist injected stirring rhythms and a riveting solo and Conte also soled grandly on cajon. Rodríguez’s new CD title track, done as duet with bass was soothing, lyrical and shifted gears to slower cadence. While pulsating flamenco-driven “Cabo De La Vela” with full trio returned things to a festive up-tempo mood that the audience relished.
Alternately, “Paisaje” began with pensive bass, followed by zesty guitar and light percussion that eventually became an easy to follow theme. Even more different was percolating “Conexion Manhattan” that began with ripping electric guitar effects and shifted to whirling guitar with fluid bass and percussion to draw a standing ovation. The encore was none other than Al Di Meola’s rocking/flamenco composition “Mediterranean Sundance.” For more info go to: joseantoniorodriguez.es.
Don’t miss two of Spain’s hottest young flamenco talents making their L.A. and U.S. solo debut! Although he is just 19, young guitar player José del Tomate has already performed in very renowned festivals in the current flamenco environment and he has backed his famous father Tomatito in long International tours. This spring he will present his first album ‘Plaza Vieja’ for the first time in Los Angeles on March 8, don’t miss him!
Then, coming up at the end of the March 25: Singer-songwriter Rocío Márquez is a rising star and one of the best voices in today’s flamenco scene; lauded by the press as “the voice of a new generation of cante jondo singers”, Rocío has been carving out a solid artistic career for over a decade, ever since she won the Lámpara Minera Award at the Cante de las Minas Festival in 2008. Today, she is a leading light of the flamenco scene.
Her longtime collaborator Miguel Angel Cortes, one of the most respected and acclaimed guitarists in recent decades, will accompany Márquez. Their music belongs equally to the past and the future, and that makes it a must see and listen in the present day: always deep, always challenging and accessible.
Márquez’s restless personality and enormous curiosity can be seen throughout her discography, which is marked by both a deep love of the flamenco tradition and an overriding need to expand its limits, exploring and experimenting with melodies, instrumentation, arrangements and lyrics. Starting with the fresh sounding live recording “Aquí y ahora” (2009), her albums are the chronicle of a soaring talent. “Claridad” (2012), “El Niño” (2014), “Firmamento” (2017) and “Visto en El Jueves” (2019) – as well as her collaboration with Fahmi Alqhai, “Diálogos de viejos y nuevos sones” (2018) – reveal an artist who is constantly searching for herself through music.
LA International Flamenco Festival
José del Tomate-8PM March 8, 2020
Rocío Márquez -8PM March 25, 2020
The Grand Annex in San Pedro
434 W. Sixth Street
San Pedro, CA 90731
The GRAMMY Museum welcomed legendary bluesman Walter Trout for an in-depth conversation moderated by Scott Goldman, and was followed by a performance. The guitarist/singer was a sideman for blues greats, such as John Lee Hooker and Big Mama Thornton, along with being a member of John Mayall’s Blues Breakers, Canned Heat and Joe Tex’s band. In 1990 Trout started leading his own bands and put out his first record Life in The Jungle. Since then he has released 29 other albums and his most recent is Survivor Blues named by his wife to highlight his battles with drug/alcohol addiction and serious-near death health issues (hepatitis-liver transplant). He even had to learn to play the guitar again after surgery that culminated with a comeback concert at Royal Albert Hall in London during the Lead Belly Festival.
Unquestionably, the guitarist feels very fortunate to be alive and grateful for his many incredible experiences as a musician. Johnny Dawkins “Me, My Guitar And The Blues,” a song on the new CD, epitomizes his attitude. Trout performs it regularly, because it’s very powerful and takes him places emotionally. With Goldman, the guitarist/singer spoke about the song and other ones on his latest CD. “Woman Don’t Lie” done with Sugaray Rayford took everything he had vocally. “My God, he’s one of the greatest soul singers in the history of the world and a force of nature,” Trout commented. “When I had to stand in the studio next to him singing, I felt pretty inadequate. But I gave it everything I had.” He also talked about other aspects of CD, such as it being recorded at Robbie Krieger’s (formerly the Doors guitarist) studio and how it has become a second home for him.
As would expected, Trout spoke about his background, growing up in New Jersey and having an early exposure to jazz and blues through his parents’ interest in music. He played jazz trumpet as a child and then his brother turned him on to rock and blues in his teens. That led to him switching to guitar and he spoke about his teenage and early adult musician period, which transcended to him playing with cover bands and many blues greats. One of them was Mayall, who was a father figure and groomed him to be an authentic musician. In fact, Trout covers the blues legend’s “Nature’s Disappearing” on his new CD that he feels is more relevant now than in 1970 when it was originally recorded.
He thought Mayall doesn’t get enough credit for being a good songwriter and also cited Dylan, Burt Bacharach and Lennon-McCartney as influences. Q&A covered: the state of blues currently, Trout think its healthy, vibrant with many great young players and backlash against corporate/mainstream media, difference in his approach to playing after the transplant, former keyboard sidemen and a blues community fundraiser when he was sick that enabled him to keep his home and family together.
Finally, Trout with a broken finger played with his band that included Teddy ‘Zig Zag’ Andreadis-keyboards, Michael Leasure-drums and Johnny Griparic-bass. They led off with wailing “Woman Don’t Lie” featuring the bandleader and cohorts ripping away. Torrid ballad “Me My Guitar and the Blues” followed and showcased Trout’s passionate vocal talents and scorching guitar playing. Returning to high-energy rocking blues was very personal “I Saw My Mama Cry” and lyrical standout “Red Sun” written by
Joel Poluck that garnered a standing ovation.
Gulf Coast Records showcased The Proven Ones at the Mint with special guests label mates that was also a live video recording session. The featured band made up of Kid Ramos-guitar, Brian Templeton-vocals, Anthony Geraci-keyboards, Willie J. Campbell-bass, Jimi Bott-drums, Joe Mack-trumpet and Chris Mercer-saxophone was a true powerhouse that blew the audience away. “I’m Already Gone” had vintage R&B aspects, yet rocked strongly. Wild Again the title track of the group’s first CD released in 2019 was much more rock and blues, with Ramos, Templeton and brass making a bold assault. Resembling the Stones some with rocking horns the band finished their set with danceable “Favorite Dress” that will be on their upcoming album You Ain’t Done.
Other artists from the label were showcased as well, starting with guitarist/singer Diana Rein, called the “Six-String Siren,” soulfully doing “Yes I Sing the Blues” and Queen of My Castle the title track of her debut CD. Saxophonist/singer Jimmy Carpenter kept things going with “Wild Streak” and Soul Doctor the name of his new CD with tinges of vintage rock ‘n roll. Finishing the showcase was label co-owner/guitarist/singer Mike Zito who gave the audience a taste of Texas blues with “Make Blues Not War” featuring him and band jamming away. For more info go to: www.gulfcoastrecords.net and www.facebook.com/GulfCoastRecords.
He was once hailed as the successor to the legendary gypsy-jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt before making his playing more varied. Additionally, Biréli Lagrène toured and/or recorded with guitar icons John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola, Larry Coryell, Paco de Lucía and Stanley Jordan. Recently Lagrène performed at the Théâtre Raymond Kabbaz with Frank Wolf-saxophone and William Brunard-bass. The trio opened with a contemporary groove “After You’ve Gone” featuring soprano sax, guitar and bass coolly soaring for solos and followed with a jazzy version of “Love Me Tender” bolstered by tenor sax and stylish guitar playing.
For even more variety the trio covered Edwand van Krieg’s classical “Danses Norvegiénnes (Norwegian Dances)” and Reinhardt’s super swinging “Hungaria” with incredible playing from the bandleader that astonished the audience. Birelli carried on with a both an amusing and remarkable scale-like intro that transcended into a le hot jazz version of Billy Joel’s “Just The Way You Are” also garnished with Wolf’s soprano and Brunard’s bass touches. The guitarist also ventured into a colorful Chet Atkins country styled solo segment before rendering Reinhardt’s fabled counterpart, violinist Stephane Grappelli’s serene and lengthy ballad “Nuages.” An energetic classical fused number with the musicians strongly interacting brought the audience to their feet and prompted the trio to do Reinhardt timeless hit “Minor Swing” accented with lively injections from Lagrène to thoroughly delight the audience. For more info go to: http://bireli-lagrene.fr and www.theatreraymondkabbaz.com
Miami-based flautist and educator Nestor Torres make a strong impact on the Latin jazz and jazz scenes in the ‘80s, but suffered serious injuries during a boating accident in the early ‘90s that took him years to recover from. Since then he has gotten back into performing and recording, as well as being an educator. At the Moss Theatre as part of the Jazz Bakery’s concert series he performed with Silvano Monasterios-piano, Ramsés Rodríguez-drums, Mynar-percussion and Jorge Sawa Pérez-bass. Torres quickly got down to business with his quintet playing Latin jazz classic theme “Maria Cervantes (Suite),” Alejandro Sanz’ flowing and GRAMMY-nominated ballad “Regálame la Silla Donde Te Espere.“
Further mixing things up was an homage to influential flautist Herbie Mann through his funk classic “Memphis Underground” that was played with deft verve and featured the band tastefully jamming and soloing. Another one of Torres’ heroes was Hubert Laws, who was in attendance and honored with Chick Corea’s immortal piece “Windows” that also captivated the attendees. “Spain” also written by Corea included Joaquín Rodrigo “Concierto de Aranjuez” theme for the intro, before soaring into the composition’s renowned body.
Torres additionally praised Wayne Shorter by rendering his stellar number “Footprints,” which included scorching solos from the entire group and Latin jazz variations. For even more variety the bandleader delved into the American Songbook with Cole Porter’s ballad “So in Love.” Concluding the stimulating show, the flutist asked Ruth Price what keeps her going and she simply said, “It’s very selfish, and I just sit around and hear what I want to hear.” Afterwards, the flutist got philosophical about pursuing passion and having love before thoughtfully and also sweepingly playing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.”
Eddie Henderson’s professional musical history dates back to being mentored by Miles Davis in the ‘50s, and also by Freddie Hubbard and Lee Morgan in late ‘60s. As he worked on a Medical Degree in Psychology the trumpeter did gigs in New York and Washington D.C. In 1970s he joined Herbie Hancock’s Mwandishi band and was a member for three years. Afterwards he pursued a solo career, worked many other great artists and maintained his practice as a licensed psychiatrist. His latest recording is Be Cool, part of the Smoke Sessions series, with its co-conspirators being Mike Clark-drums, Essiet Essiet-bass, Donald Harrison-alto sax and Kenny Baron-piano.
At the Jazz Bakery’s Moss Theatre, Roy McCurdy-drums, Mike Gurrola-bass and Tamir Hendelman-piano joined Henderson. They opened with Hancock’s spiraling “Toys” that predated his Mwandishi band. It swung subtly as the bandleader, Hendelman and Gurrola coolly blazed away during their solos. Standard “Surrey With The Fringe on Top” followed and swung significantly more as the quartet seriously worked out and included tradeoffs with McCurdy. Fats Waller’s popular “Jitterbug Waltz” was related to the previous number, and Henderson shared with the crowd that his Cotton Club dancer mother, friends with Billie Holiday and Lena Horne, was in the “Ain’t Misbehavin’” video with the legendary pianist and singer.
Continuing the program was Duke Pearson’s tender ballad “You Know I Care” grandly showcasing Henderson’s talents and Woody Shaw’s robust “The Moontrane” laden with outstanding ensemble interaction. Baron’s “Phantoms” strongly contrasted it and had a mysterious aura imbued by piano, muted trumpet and bass. The title track to the bandleader’s current CD, written by his wife was a hip hard-bop styled number wrought with solos from all of the band members. The enjoyable set ended with interpretations of Coltrane’s “Niama” and Freddie Hubbard’s juggernaut “Birdlike” with the quartet firing away mightily.
Vocalists by nature appeal to audiences in a variety of ways, in addition to singing with accompanying musicians. During Angie Wells’ performance at Feinstein’s at Vitello’s she put on a clinic on how to work a room, singing superbly, emotively interpreting lyrics and effortlessly charming the audience with humor and her clothing foibles. In that regard, the Los Angeles-based singer who began her career singing in France, commenced swinging hard with “I Love Being Here With You.” Backing trio, Andy Langham-piano, Edwin Livingston-bass and Dan Schnelle-drums supplied a perfect balance of sophistication and energy when needed. “Honeysuckle Rose” was a perfect example, beginning with Wells and Livingston sumptuously gelling, before drums and piano further propelled things.
“Midnight Sun” maintained the prevailing qualities, bolstered by soaring singing and tantalizing piano. “All of Me” stepped things up, featuring Wells singing exuberantly and the trio coolly meshing, including trading off with Schnelle. For more variety “That Old Devil Moon” and “You’d be so Nice to Come Home to” were performed with Wells’ scatting and the trio’s hot playing to take the club into the upper strata. Even singing “Happy Birthday” to one of the attendees excited the audience and the always-arousing “Sweet Georgia Brown” seemed like it was either written by or for the featured singer. The same could be said for Wells’ interpretation of “Here’s to Life” that was done masterfully with only Langham and garnered a standing ovation. For the encore she vamped and scatted with the trio, much to audience’s delight. For more info go to: angiewellsjazz1.com
Bassist/vocalist/composer/educator Jeff Denson brought his trio that included Brian Blade-drums and Romain Pilon-guitar to the Jazz Bakery’s Moss Theatre for a special Wednesday night show. The trio who recently recorded new project, Between Two Worlds, opened playing “En Trios Temps” from it. The piece flowed easily and exhibited band cohesiveness, while retaining each musician’s unique identity. “Sucre” also penned by Pilon was a lightly bumping groove with the other players in mostly supportive roles the guitarist with expressive creativity. Somewhat similar, but without driving rhythmic touches was “Azur,” also featuring Denson soloing and in a more prominent role.
Changing the pace and mood some was the bandleader’s bossa styled ballad “Nostalgic Farewell,” with him playing deftly in the forefront. Blade additionally was showcased through “Listen Up,” which he opened mightily soloing before bass and guitar joined in for offsetting and abstract interaction, accented by bowing bass and jagged guitar with effects. “Madrid” returned the group to more accessible playing with a thematic edge highlighted by bowing bass and graceful guitar runs.
Even more so in that regard was “Song of a Solitary Crow,” laden with raucous playing from Pilon, sumptuous bass and a solid drumming foundation. As expected, the title track of trio new CD was a robust theme with Denson bowing, while guitar and drums injected complimenting textures. Pat Metheny-like sounding and extensive “Generation” wrapped up the near-two hour show, featuring the trio blazing away. For more info go to: www.jeffdenson.com
Fabled stories such as The Red Shoes and The Red Violin delved into consuming obsessions that lead to tragedy. Along those lines, guitarist Bruce Forman’s Red Guitar is a one-person Will Rogers-like show, spanning philosophy, guitar techniques, ethics and of course some of his musical heroes. He performed his folksy work at Feinstein’s at Vitello’s, while coolly strumming his nameless guitar and poetically asked, “Am I playing the guitar or is it playing me?” Basically, he’s powerless when encountering the instrument that shines brighter and sounds better than other guitars. Once he has it in his hands, he is not just playing music, but rather is music.
An array of icons, such as Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Django Reinhardt, Wes Montgomery and more were covered, along with his mentors Barney Kessel, Ray Brown and Joe Pass. He further explored the psyche of guitarists and musicians in general, questioning what’s more important, the notes or the stories. Of course the guitarist showed of his licks by doing fast runs of a Chet Atkins tune. The question though, is weather playing music is vocation or a compulsion? Forman mentioned working on the score for Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby and only getting a couple of hundred dollars for his efforts. That led to the blues, and as he was playing, he recited a Hammond organist mentor, “Brothers get the blues, white boys get depressed.”
Forman even took a swipe at music industry types, who aren’t musicians and control things. He did an amusing parody of the vintage hit “Mr. Sandman” and called it “Mr. Soundman.” Concluding the musical treatise, the guitarist, casually playing jazzy licks, both questioned and stated. “Is the music the art or are you? There will always be players for the Red Guitar.” Afterwards, Forman received a standing ovation and for the encore dared to do a very risqué adult-themed song to mixed reactions. He redeemed himself with Eddie Lang’s “April Kisses.” For more info go to: bruceforman.com.
For Valentines Day the Jazz Bakery presented a special concert: “Let’s Fall In Love,” An evening of the most gorgeous love songs with Ann Hampton Callaway at the Moss Theatre. Supporting musicians for the affair were Mitch Forman-piano and Kevin Axt-bass. They were warmly greeted by the audience and quickly rendered “Let’s Fall in Love” with the alto singer soaring away and doing witty repartee afterwards. Callaway returned to music with lushly sung standard “All The Things You Are” and even scatted cheerily, while just for laughs asking the crowd to sing along.
Slowing things down some was bossa styled and sweetly sung “Close Your Eyes” that was nicely augmented with a vibrant piano solo. Callaway openly admitted that she talks a lot during shows and supplied plenty of banter, especially an affinity for Fred Astaire and Broadway. That led to an elegantly swinging and passionately sung/scatting version of “Let’s Face The Music And Dance” with piano and bass tastefully garnishing with solos. Callaway and players also swung with rich and lively textures for “Teach Me Tonight” and “It Was One of Those Things” with hot scatting and the audience helping out.
A must song for the show was of course, “My Funny Valentine” and in the singer’s hands it was done regally and with plenty of expression to amaze the audience. Callaway, with a long introduction about its development, dedicated beautifully sung ballad “I Dreamed of You.” Originally written for Barbara Streisand, she sang it during her wedding to James Brolin. Relating to the love call was somber and stalwart Bergman classic “How Do You Keep The Music Going.”
Displaying her creativity, Callaway at the piano, did an exercise with the audience who supplied subject themes for a song she humorously and miraculously wrote on the spot. It was indeed impressive, different and funny. Closing the show was a stirring rendition of “Blue Skies.” In regards to Peggy Lee who would have turned 100 this year, “The folks Who Live on The Hill” was dedicated to her granddaughter who was in attendance.
Once again, musicians, producers, promoters, educators, journalists, merchants manufacturers and loads of instruments besieged the Orange County Convention Center for NAMM 2020. Although Disneyland is nearby, the annual event is the “real Disneyland” for all the attendees. However, there are some who go to both amusement areas. Most importantly, NAMM provides opportunities for both veteran musicians, beginners and those in between to try out gear, talk with manufacturing reps, smooze with their idols and of course, party. Additionally, for the scholarly and entrepreneurial there are plenty of master classes, instructional books and videos, marketing moments and chances for networking.
In terms of instruments, it spanned guitars to kazoos, with turntables, mixers and programming software all represented as well. The “Best in Show” for NAMM 2020 featured gear carefully curated by industry experts and was moderated by Frank Alkyer, publisher of Music Inc., UpBeat Daily and DownBeat magazines. They spotlighted products, services and technologies, which possibly could make an impact in the very near future. Here are some of the winners: D’Addario Mic Stand Accessory System, Flight Customizable Travel Ukulele, Distributed by Hal Leonard, Noatronic Onboard Expression, MuzicLight Backlit Guitar Holder, Nu:Tekt by Korg DIY Synth Range and Radial Engineering Power Series.
Also in the listings were: Gotta Stock It, Tackle Leather Cymbal Bag, Pearl Travel Congas and Bongos, Yamaha Silent Bass, Marriott Marquis Ballroom Levy’s Leathers Strap Packs, Dansr Smith Mallets Student Pack, Hercules DJStarter Kit and AKG Podcaster Essentials. Rounding out the selections were: Yamaha YBS-480 Baritone Saxophone, Boss Waza Air Wireless Personal Guitar Amplification System, Korg Arp 2600, Eastman Woodwind and Brasswind Lines, Universal Audio Luna, and Roland V-Drums Acoustic Design Electronic Drum Sets. Not mentioned, but certainly worthy were Vox Mini G 3 Amp with a folding guitar to fit in rear motorcycle compartment and the 360 degree electric PianoArc.
The final NAMM component and possibly the most popular were the performances and special showcases. Highlighting them were: organist/singer/saxophonist Joey DeFrancesco, bassists Marcus Miller, Jeff Berlin, Brian Bromberg, Richard Bona, Bootsy Collins, Stu Hamm and Victor Wooten. Among guitarists there were Jonathan Butler (also a singer), Eric Johnson, Laurence Juber, Frank Gambale, Dean Brown, Scott Henderson and former NY Yankee player Bernie Williams. Also
Kurt Rosenwinkel showcased Ozmosys featuring drummer Omar Hakim and keyboardist Rachel Z, and Carl Verheyen’s Band was highlighted.
Additionally playing were: saxophonist Bob Sheppard, drummer Harvey Mason, saxophonist Bob Franceschini, keyboardist Robert Glasper & keyboardist/saxophonist Terrace Martin and organist/singer Ellis Hall. Furthermore, saxophonist/singer Mindi Abair, keyboardist Larry Dunn, singer/keyboardist Judith Owen, saxophonist Lauren Chiodo, keyboardist Randy Waldman, keyboardist Steve Weingart, drummer Gregg Bissonette and pianist Nick Smith were also spotlighted. For more info go to: www.namm.org.
At Cal State University’s Soraya Center For The Performing Arts, the historical 2014 film Selma directed by Ava DuVernay was scored live by Jason Moran, who created it, and the New West Symphony conducted by Chece Alara. The multi-nominated movie was winner of Best Original Song (“Glory” by Common and John Legend) at the 2015 Golden Globes and Academy Awards. It depicted the challenges of civil rights protestors crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge to march from Selma to Birmingham, Alabama and other roadblocks during the turbulent era. Led by activists Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., James Bevel, Hosea Williams, John Lewis and others, the bridge crossing was one of the monumental achievements during the Civil Rights Movement of the ‘60s and paved the way for President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Prior to the live scoring, DuVernay, not scheduled on the program, made a surprise appearance and spoke about film, her fourth and called it transformative. Her and Moran didn’t know about the normal protocol for directors and composer (usually distant), and worked closely during the editing sessions, which she called dreamy. They overall solidified their relationship as artists, and brother and sister. The director also cited that the composer poured his heart and soul into the music. She attended a live screening of her work one-time before at Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center (Moran is its Artistic Advisor to Jazz) and enjoyed it so much that she flew in from a film location and changed at LAX to be there. In closing, DuVernay hoped the film and live score would inspire others to do “the right thing.” The presentation of her film with Moran and a live orchestra proved to be an amazing experience, which mesmerized the audience.
Some people celebrate their birthday by going to dinner or having a party with friends and/or family. While others might travel to an exotic locales, do nothing and just relax, and others act like the day isn’t special and work. Famed keyboardist/singer/composer Sérgio Mendes did something different for his 79th and was celebrated by friends, family and media at the Skirball Center for Sérgio Mendes: In The Key of Joy. It was a documentary (also title of Mendes’ new CD) by filmmaker John Scheinfeld, who also conceived and organized the screening party.
Scheinfeld, who also did the Chasing Trane documentary, worked with Mendes and his wife Gracinha Leporace for two years, shooting in locations in Brazil and LA, and debuted the project at the Santa Barbara Film Festival in January 2020. The approach was very comprehensive and spanned from the musician’s childhood years in Niteroi, a city by the bay across from Rio, to present times. The director said he wanted the film to be positive, uplifting, inspiring and bring people together much like Mendes’ does.
As would be expected, all of Mendes’ music was mentioned, including his failures and dry periods. But mostly as the keyboardist said, it was serendipitous with a legacy of hits and great collaborations with artists such as Cannonball Adderley, Lani Hall, Will.i.am from the Black Eye Peas and John Legend that comes to over 30 albums and three GRAMMYS. The documentary, Scheinfeld and Mendes received a standing ovation afterwards, and the musician was very touched. The audience in return sang “Happy Birthday” to him with an after-party ensuing. Distribution and general release for the documentary is still being worked out. For more info go to: sergiomendesmusic.com, www.concordrecords.com or facebook.
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:
Singer/lyricist/pianist Dave Frishberg is not doing well at all. If you who have enjoyed the gift of Dave’s music, please feel inspired to help him now that he needs it.
March is an amazing month in the garden–the camellias and azaleas are in full bloom and buds on the trees are starting to pop. The Japanese focus their celebrations around the changing seasons. Celebrate spring at the garden with a jazz concert, refreshments and one of our always-popular silent auctions. Los Angeles-based vocalist Judy Wexler has been garnering rave reviews and fans across the country and around the world. A touring and recording artist, she has headlined jazz festivals, performing arts centers and major jazz clubs both nationally and internationally.
Wexler has a pliable warm, lustrous sound and displays an unerring ear for underexposed gems. She began studying music at a very young age and spent her early years training in theater and performing in plays, musicals and television — skills that have helped make her a consummate interpreter of lyrics. All About Jazz says, “Judy Wexler is more than a mere singer of songs, she is an actress, mood painter, song archaeologist and vocalist par excellence.” Her backing trio will be Jeff Colella-piano, Gabe Davis-bass and Conor Malloy-drums. Second Sunday Jazz with Judy Wexler is part of the World Music Series curated for the garden by David Arnay, jazz pianist, soloist, educator and leader of his own jazz group.
A Spring Celebration for Second Sunday
Special Jazz in the Garden Concert
With Refreshments and Silent Auction
March 21 Monty Alexander Trio
March 22 Kurt Rosenwinkel Quintet
March 27 José Rizo’s Mongorama
March 28 Bill Holman Big Band
March 29 Peter Erskine Quartet
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.
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: 6:00pm
Live Music: 8:00pm
Mar 04 Christopher Turner Presents “Pher”
Mar 11 Adegoke Steve Colson and Iqua Colson
Mar 18 Chris Williams 5
Mar 25 Lynn Cardona
CAP UCLA’s 2019-20 season highlights
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 19, 2020
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
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:
CAP UCLA’s 2019-20 season highlight
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: cap.ucla.edu 310.825.2101
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