In conjunction with Mount St. Mary University’s Women in Music Festival, Rhiannon Giddens performed with pianist Lara Downes at the First AME Zion Church, Free City L.A., as part of The Da Camera Society’s Cappella Series. The duo began with several traditional Afro-American poems to music and spirituals by Margaret Bonds known for her collaborations with Langston Hughes that related to Giddens’ opera training at the Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio. Included were the composer’s arrangement of “Battle of Jericho” and composition “Hold On,” both remarkably sung in a classical context.
Significantly, Giddens is actually better known for her association with the Grammy-winning the Afro-American folk/roots based Carolina Chocolate Drops. From that standpoint she pulled out her banjo for “I’m Leaving Here” and “Lights in The Valley (Out Shine The Sun),” along with the audience singing the chorus of fiddling/square dance derived “Can’t Hardly Wait.”
Downes also performed solely doing “God Bless The Child” and “Ain’t Nobody’s Business” from her Billie Holiday Songbook. She additionally introduced the audience to Florence Pric, a friend, mentor and collaborator of Bonds, and masterfully played a gospel/classical-tinged composition.
During the final moments of the concert Giddens and Downes reunited for beautifully sung vintage African American songs and spirituals from Will Marion Cook and Bob Cole’s 1898 first Black Broadway musical comedy Clorindy. It featured sweeping songs such as “My Love is in The Sky” and “Swing Along Children,” along with classical-based “I Don’t Understand” and Leonard Bernstein’s Broadway classic “Somewhere” with the audience singing along to receive an enthusiastic standing ovation. For more info go to: dacamera.org.
Like many artists, guitarist Anthony Wilson is continually developing and adding new textures and nuances to his music. At the Moss Theatre in association with the Jazz Bakery’s Movable Feast series he showcased original songs from his upcoming CD Songs and Photographs. The title was literal with Wilson supported by Gerald Clayton-piano, Joshua Crumbly-bass, Jay Bellerose-drums and Patrick Warren-keyboards, playing and singing songs, while projecting his landscape photographs overhead that will be in an accompanying book to the new project. The opening selection was the title track of the bandleader’s 2016 Frog Town recording. It possessed roots and bluesy tinges to a slightly upbeat rhythm mostly featuring Wilson, with Clayton injecting light, complimentary touches. The next song from the same CD, Dylan-like “She Won’t Look Back” featured the guitarist singing and soloing, while his band produced a wickedly subdued backdrop. Also from Frog Town was vintage Italian classic “Occhi di Bambola,” a flowing and occasionally dramatic Django/gypsy styled number showcasing Wilson’s adroit fretwork.
Getting more into the new material, Wilson sang and played roots based “Listening to My Heartbeat,” heightened with him tastefully soloing and the ensemble working out. Alternately, gentle “While We Slept” was mostly the guitarist singing and playing with light band support. The next number “Song From a Dream” was much more engaging for the musicians and was bolstered by spry interplay between the guitarist and Clayton. “Great Dream From Heaven” melded the original hymn by the Bahamas’ Joseph Spence and The Pender Family and Ry Cooder’s version. Wilson’s iconic father, Gerald and Billy Strayhorn’s “Imagine My Frustration” a mix of country, blues and jazz with Wilson coolly singing, also delighted the crowd. Not to be forgotten was the breezy title track. Closing out the eclectic set was a lengthy medley of new pieces that garnered a standing ovation.
Martha Redbone (no relation to Leon Redbone) has an amazing family history that is a combination of Native American (Cherokee), Afro-American and European lineage. The Native and African American cultures had the most influence on her growing up in the rural Appalachian hills of Kentucky, and also as a teenager in gritty Brooklyn prior to its gentrification. At the Carpenter Center on the CSU Long Beach campus the award-winning singer with a talented sextet presented Bone Hill: The Concert. Redbone ambitiously through song, acting and some dancing gave the audience an inner view of the plight of her family through forced migration, severe poverty, racism and suffering with the only thing keeping them together was dignity, determination and humor. In fact, the multi-cultural singer seemed too matter of fact-like at the beginning, but by the end of the show the reality of the events her family suffered through hit like a knockout punch.
Musically, the songstress integrated driving roots, bluegrass, R&B, Native American, gospel and country through songs such as “Mamaw Mason,” “Census Man,” “Bake a Cake,” “Coal (Hardworking Miner)” and “Caught My Eye” for the first half. During the second half the story progressed into the ‘60s. “My Country Tis of Thee” depicted one of the family serving in Vietnam, interracial love and sorrow for “Love is a Simple Thing,” prejudice, assault and revenge in “Breakdown For Freedom,” “One Drop” and “Two Dead Indians.” Transcending into the ‘70s with funk and anthem-like triumph the story brings all the family members together for the grandmother’s funeral to closed with “I am Undone” and garnered a very appreciative standing ovation. For more info, go to: www.martharedbone.com and www.carpenterarts.org.
Priscilla Renea, Melissa Polinar, French Toast and 76th Street are to perform at OHM Nightclub on Tuesday May 8, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. for the fifth annual “She Rocks” ASCAP Expo Official Showcase, during the ASCAP “I Create Music” EXPO in Los Angeles. The event is free for EXPO badge holders. This year’s performers include headliner Priscilla Renea, plus Melissa Polinar, French Toast and 76th Street.
This official EXPO Showcase, celebrating its fifth anniversary, will be a focal point of the evening at the conference. The 2018 “She Rocks” Showcase presents a unique opportunity for female artists of all styles to perform in front of industry experts, media representatives, artists, publishers and more during the premier conference for songwriters, composers and producers.
Sponsored by Martin Guitar, Casio, 108 Rock Star Guitars, and Cerwin Vega, the showcase will take place on Tuesday, May 8, 2018 from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at OHM Nightclub, located at 6801 Hollywood Blvd in Los Angeles, just steps away from the EXPO. To learn more, visit www.thewimn.com/ascapshowcase/.
About The Women’s International Music Network (WiMN)
Founded in 2012, the Women’s International Music Network unites women who work within all facets of the music and audio industries. With theWiMN.com as its hub, the WiMN provides a community for women within the industry while enriching their careers and musical experiences through networking and sharing. The Women’s International Music Network produces events such as the WiMN She Rocks Showcases, and the She Rocks Awards, hosts many panels and workshops, and is founded by music industry veteran Laura B. Whitmore. For more information, visit www.TheWiMN.com & www.ascap.com/expo.
During the late ‘60s and early ‘70s Blood Sweat & Tears was truly imaginative and creative, incorporating jazz horns and improvisation into a rock/pop format. Songs by Laura Nyro, James Taylor, Billie Holiday and others were modified and covered in BS&T’s style that was called jazz-rock. Unfortunately, success didn’t last after three Gold Records, a string of hit singles and Grammy Awards. Personnel changes, band material and identity/band direction issues plagued the group, which was dropped by Columbia Records for the final time in 1976.
Lead singer David Clayton-Thomas since the classic and extremely popular second album was in several resurrections of the band until 2004. Drummer Bobby Columby secured the rights to the band’s name and has maintained involvement, more so from a management perspective in recent years. Overall, BS&T lives on and will be at the Saban Theatre with Bo Bice as the band’s front man. One thing that won’t change is the band’s exceptional material, which has influenced countless artists and groups since BS&T’s inception.
Blood Sweat & Tears
8440 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
Benin guitarist, Lionel Loueke with his trio of Italian/Danish-American Massimo Biolcati-bass and Ferenc Nemeth-drums from Hungary was a powerful force at the Moss Theatre as part of the Jazz Bakery’s Moveable Feast series. Through his virtuosity, assorted effects and band dynamics he held the audience’s attention and showcased songs from his new recording Země. One of them was an African-flavored tune in 17/4 featuring the guitarist who attended the Berklee College of Music and Thelonious Monk Institute, and has also been a member trumpeter Terence Blanchard’s and keyboard icon Herbie Hancock’s bands.
Loueke played and sang intensely mixing in effects, while also getting into a fiery tandem with his drummer who also soloed extensively to blow the audience away. Biolcati followed with a percussion-like solo intro and then was out front for a percolating and mildly jamming piece as the guitarist coolly grooved and scatted. By way of a sampler, the guitarist constructed a piece that melded edgy guitar textures/rhythms and melodious chanting/singing. It continued with his band joining to add funk and robustness. “Kaba (Sky)” closed out the set with tangy African textured guitar runs enhanced with vocal effects and the audience helping out on the chorus.
Chick Corea’s list of bands and collaborations is numerable. His Elektric Band formed in 1986 is among them and in recent years the iconic keyboardist has inserted tours with them into his very busy schedule. At Catalina’s May 30th through June 3rd for two set each night Corea will be reunited with long-term members bassist John Patitucci, drummer Dave Weckl, guitarist Frank Gambale and saxophonist Eric Marienthal. Although EB is fusion it’s very different from the groundbreaking Return to Forever, and has more emphasis on funk, free expression, bebop and softer synth sounds. Nonetheless, with Corea the bar is high no matter what format he decides to play in.
Chick Corea’s Elektric Band
6725 West Sunset Blvd.
HOLLYWOOD, CA. 90028
Brazil A to Z, one of the Da Camera Society’s Premium Series concerts was at the Lobo View Estate’s Green Media Studio. Guitarist João Luiz and mandolin player Danilo Brito performed at the facility owned by photographer Kevin Foley in the hills outside of Malibu. Except for the sound check before the concert, Luiz, The Director of Chamber Music at New Jersey’s Hunter College and Brito, a celebrated choro master based in São Paulo, Brazil had never played together before. Furthermore Brito spoke very little English and relied on Luiz for introductions and translations. Despite all that the duo played many of the selections arranged by Luiz incredibly well together.
Breezy mid-tempo “Doce de Coco” by Jacob do Bandolim (1919-1969), a prolific perfectionist of choro music got things underway with spirited interplay. Somewhat thematic “Noites Cariocas” followed and was also by Bandolim. In all total a third of the duo’s program was comprised of the legendary composer’s songs. Coming in a very close second place was Brito (b.1985), who is highly regarded in Brazil for his playing and songwriting. His sleepy theme “Esquina de São Paulo” was the third piece played and revealed the mandolin player’s depth and evocativeness. The Brazilian’s “Chovia” though more rooted in classical was able to maintain the essentials of choro.
Also mixed into the selections were several Pixinguinha (1897-1973) songs. The composer’s “Carinhoso” very up-tempo and courtly sounding, with Brito blazing away. Contrarily, the 19th century born musician’s “Gargalhada” was delicate with stirring moments from Brito and Luiz. Notably, the mandolin player and guitarist ended the concert performing Pixinguinha’s “Um a Zero” that musically depicts a 1930s World Cup soccer match against Uruguay in which Brazil won 1-0. Needless to say, the interaction between the musicians was quite frenetic and drew an enthusiastic standing ovation. For more info go to: dacamera.org and
Zakir Hussain, probably the best-known tabla player in world has recorded and/or performed with John McLaughlin, John Handy, Béla Fleck and even Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead. He headlined a special double-bill with Vijay Iyler’s Sextet at Disney Hall entitled Crosscurrents. Hussain’s ensemble was embellished with heavyweight players, bassist Dave Holland and saxophonist Chris Potter, along with Shankar Mahadevan-vocals, Louiz Banks-keyboards, Sanjay Divecha-guitar and Gino Banks-drums. Prior to performing, Hussain cited that Indian film music made it easy for Indian and Western musicians to interact, and that the following night would be 100th anniversary of his legendary tabla playing father, Ustad Allarakha.
In performance Potter on soprano saxophone and Holland set the mood and also supported Mahadevan’s stirring Qawwali singing with Hussain easing in to fill out the piece. As it extended the remaining players jumped in for more spirited playing. The next two selections shifted to ragas incorporating jazz and world fusion, including tradeoffs with drums, tabla and saxophone. Changing things up the astounding Qawwali vocalist returned, first with a solemn and meditative-like selection with bowing bass, piano and drum backing. Then with a jazz tinged piece featuring tenor saxophone, piano and tabla solos. Another departure was a lively mainstream jazz “Ringa Ringa” featuring the singer scatting. That vibe carried on without the singer to feature the band members playing powerfully. Mahadevan returned for the last selection and scatted fervently to impress the audience and receive a standing ovation with the consortium.
Iyer’s sextet was equally enthralling, pushing the jazz threshold, while also showcasing compositions from their latest CD Far From Over. While greeting the audience the bandleader said it was an honor to play a double-bill with his hero Hussain. The pianist also mentioned that his drummer Marcus Gilmore was being mentored by the tabla master as part of a special program teaming older musicians with emerging players. Afterwards with the other band members, Mark Shim-tenor saxophone, Steve Lehman-alto saxophone, Stephan Crump-bass, Graham Hayes-cornet/flugelhorn/electronics, Iyer quickly got down to business.
“Poles” the first track on the new CD featured his brass players strongly intermixing and himself stretching out. Assault-like “End of The Tunnel” followed with the rhythm players driving hard and horns boldly soloing. Iyer through a somber piano interlude segued to the triumphant monster jamming title track. It seemed like it could play on an endless loop as saxophones, cornet, drums and piano turned in powerful solos. “Nope” continued in the same mode, but with atmospheric and funk touches injected. “Threnody” featured Iyer playing in whirlwind fashion as saxophones eased in to coolly augment him, and flugelhorn soloed with reverb and electronic effects to end the fast paced set that received a very appreciative standing ovation.
Shakti Fest returns for its eighth season, this year on Mother’s Day weekend – May 10 – 14 at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center, in Joshua Tree, CA. Organized by Bhakti Fest, a leader in conscious festival events, Shakti Fest is a unique springtime
celebration of the divine feminine spirit, described in Eastern philosophy as the ‘dynamic force, which moves the universe’. The festival features world famous yoga teachers, Kirtan music stars, wisdom workshops, sound baths, and a healing sanctuary.
This year’s line up once again includes the best Kirtan (a.k.a. chanting) artistson the conscious music scene; Jai Uttal, Donna De Lory, Larissa Stowe, Govind Das & Radha, MC Yogi, Girish, Jaya Lakshmi, Prajna Vieira & the Mukti Kirtan Ensemble, Gina Sala, Vaiyasaki Das, David Newman, Fannah Fi Allah,and many more.
World-class yoga teachers are the heart of Shakti Fest, and spring in Joshua Tree is a beautiful time to practice indoors and out. With three yoga halls offering 45 classes over 3 days, there really is something for everyone!
Shakti Fest 2018 Workshops will cover a plethora of wellness and conscious topics including Ayurveda, spiritual nutrition, tantric energy, Vedic astrology, breathwork, Sanskrit, conscious relationships, women’s sexuality, bhakti art, and hoop dance, with internationally known speakers such as Michael Brian Baker, Mirabai Devi, Renee Baribeau, Dawn Cartwright, Zoë Kors, Jeffrey Armstrong and Dharma Devi.
The historic Joshua Tree Desert Retreat Center is the oldest and largest retreat center in the Western U.S., located on a sacred site replete with a walking labyrinth. The Shakti Fest Eco Artisan Village offers vegetarian and vegan food vendors, yoga clothing and gear, jewelry, art and unique collectibles.
Summertime is right around the corner and those can’t wait to get into “festival mode” should be at Simi Valley’s Cajun and Blues Festival Memorial Day Weekend. Blues with some classic rock performers is a regular feature and this year promises to be one of the best. In fact, a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer will be on the roster along with bonafide blues men and women stating the facts (at least how they see it) about blues and how its universal. Cajun and Zydeco hell raisers come ready to party and always get the dancers out. If don’t know the moves, classes are offered between sets. Equally genuine is a large selection of delicious food with something for everyone, and plenty of fine beers and wines to compliment them. Children12 and under are free, and have their own festival area with rides, crafts and entertainment too.
Blues Stage Performers
Devon Allman Project with Duane Betts
The Chambers Brothers
Arthur Adams Band
Stephen D. Smith Memorial Cajun Stage
Chubby Carrier & The Bayou Swamp Band
Lisa Haley & The Zydekats
Dennis G and the Zydeco Trail Riderz
Lost Bayou Ramblers
Kevin Naquin & Ossun Playboys
Bo Dollis, Jr. & The Wild Magnolias
Saturday, May 26th, 2018, 10:00am – 8:00pm
Sunday, May 27th, 2018, 10:00am – 8:00pm
Rancho Santa Susana Community Park 5005 Los Angeles Avenue Simi Valley, California 93063 www.simicajun.org
Los Angeles’ treasure, the 19-person Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra founded in 1986 and co-led by bassist John Clayton, drummer Jeff Hamilton and saxophonist Jeff Clayton recently performed at The Soraya on the CSU Northridge campus. Straight out of the gate the ensemble launched into hard swinging “I be Serious About The Blues.” The tenor saxophone players that included Rickey Woodard and Charles Owens were featured for interestingly titled piece “Jazz Marketing” that was equally full-throttle big band and strongly punctuated by Hamilton who closed out the very dynamic piece. In memory of the drummer’s recently departed mother the ensemble played Count Basie styled “Hat’s Dance” that was zestfully garnered by pianist Tamir Hendelman.
Additionally, guitarist Graham Dechter was resoundingly featured on Ellington’s “I Ain’t Got Nothing But The Blues.” Keith Fiddmont on soprano saxophone elegantly highlighted the evergreen standard “Body And Soul” to bring down the house. Hamilton’s renowned brushwork came into focus for Stan Kenton styled “Back Home in Indiana” to also blow the audience away. Jeff Clayton introduced his Clayton Brothers original influenced by the famous Jones Brothers (Hank, Thad and Elvin) that was reformatted into a dynamic CHJO chart to end the first half of the program.
For the second half the big band returned with a rousing version of “Georgia” adorned by Woodard’s scorching tenor saxophone playing. Not to forgotten were CHJO’s trombones, Ira Nepus, George Bohanon, Ryan Porter and Maurice Spears who were spotlighted for classic “On The Sunny Side of The Street” that fired the audience up. Trumpets got the attention with some injection of trombone and saxophone for Horace Silver’s funky jaunt “The Jody Grind.”
For something different bassist Clayton read the lyrics of Billy Joel’s “And so it Goes” and with the orchestra turned in an enchanting bowing bass solo. Additionally, his brother Jeff soloed remarkably to also touched the audience. Kicking things up-tempo was Johnny Hodges explosive “Squatty Roo” arranged by John Clayton’s iconic mentor Ray Brown that featured the entire band working out to make an extremely strong impression. Wrapping up a great night of big band music Clayton bowed and swung hard with the rhythm section as the brass joined in later for a top-blowing finale.
HONORING LEGENDS … PUSHING BOUNDARIES
Saturday, May 5
Alicia Olatuja – a strong luscious tone and amiably regal stage presence
hosted by Sergio Mielniczenko of KPFK, Global Village
Sunday, May 13
BILLY CHILDS Trio – feat . Ari Hoenig + Alex Boneham
“Concerts and Conversations with Southern California Jazz Legends” made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The Moss Theater is a beautiful performance space. Acoustic design by Yasuhisa Toyota (Disney Concert Hall). Free on-site parking. KJAZZ 88.1 – official media sponsor.
Jazz Bakery’s Moveable Feasts
Santa Monica (New Roads School
The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association will present the 40thPlayboy Jazz Festival June 9-10, 2018, at the Hollywood Bowl.
It is the LA Phil’s fifth year presenting the event, and in keeping with tradition, the Festival will feature a first-rate slate of emerging jazz artists as well as renowned superstars of the genre. Performers already scheduled to appear include the legendary CHARLESLLOYD & the Marvels with LUCINDA WILLIAMS featuring Julian Lage, Reuben Rogers, Eric Harland and Greg Leisz.
THE RAMSEY LEWIS QUARTET; LEE RITENOUR AND DAVE GRUSIN; fabled R&B-based horn section and band TOWER OF POWER, celebrating their 50th anniversary; THE COUNT BASIE ORCHESTRA, under the direction of Scotty Barnhart; genre benders KNEEBODY; and Afro-Cuban singer DAYMÉ AROCENA from Havana. George Lopez will once again host the event, marking the sixth year of his involvement with the Festival.
40th annual Playboy Jazz Festival
June 9-10, 2018
2301 N Highland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90068