the word contemporary

Happenings By Chris J. Walker

Queen Latifah (a.ka. Dana Owens), initially a feminist rapper in the ‘90s and the first female MC to reach Gold Record sales quickly transcended into acting for films and TV, along with hosting a talk show. Her versatility also extends to singing and at the Hollywood Bowl, supported by a nonet and three backup singers; the audience was continually on the edge of their seats in amazement. Latifah started energetically doing “Rat Pack” tune “I’m Going to Live Till I Die” with her band wailing away. Afterwards she reprise her popular trad styled song “When You’re Good to Mama” from the Oscar-winning musical Chicago and then quickly shifted to high revving hip-hop “Had It Up 2 Here.”

For even more variety the multi-faceted singer/actress rendered a rap/vocalese version of Cannonball Alderley/Joe Zawinul’s “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” that included hot trumpet and guitar solos. For even more zest the chorus from Steve Wonder’s “Living For The City” was inserted in the closing moments. Latifah returned to her own music with fused “People” featuring her rapping furiously with band and the backup singers producing a velvet rhapsody. Continuing in that mode the singer/rapper/actress conjured up “Just Another Day” with the band and audience singing along from the popular and influential 90’s TV show, Living Single that she was a cast member of.

By that point, the audience was totally into Queen Latifah, and she interestingly shifted to Phoebe Snow’s immortal poetic pop ballad “Poetry Man” with a sax solo and revealed that her mom played the song regularly when was a child. Male backup singer Romeo Johnson was featured singing Bill Withers’ classic “Use Me” to give the headliner a respite. She gloriously returned doing “California Dreaming” with acoustic guitar accenting and percussion jamming away. Not to be left out the female backup singers dominated “I Wanna Be Down” with Latifah rapping away and they all stayed in that format for closing song “U.N.I.T.Y.”

Opening performer, rapper Common actually performed longer and began with a recording of Nat King Cole’s “Nature Boy” as a backdrop for a photomontage of himself. Getting into his own music, Common took the audience on somewhat of musical autobiographical trip while rapping and his band playing along, starting with his adolescence and his influences, including his favorite food. The rapper talked about getting recognition and respect from his peers while in New York. He evolved tremendously when his daughter was born, which changed his outlook politically and socially. Included in his band was singer/flautist Elena Pinderhughes who was prominently featured. Additionally, as always Common brought up a lady from the audience to romance and freestyle to, that of course delighted the audience.

MUSE/IQUE curated and conducted by Artistic Director Rachael Worby, concluded its inaugural summer series at the Huntington Library with U.S./ROUTES, the third part of the eclectic three-part STATES/UNITED: Mapping Musical America program. Worby’s MUSE/IQUE Orchestra provided a sumptuous backdrop for the line up that was somewhat thematic and melded classical, ballet, Broadway and R&B. Renowned stage singer Chester “CHΞSS” Gregory (Hairspray, Tarzan, Cry-Baby, Dreamgirls, Sister Act and self-produced The Eve of Jackie (Wilson) ignited the relaxed audience with James Brown’s “I Feel Good” meant to honor recently passed icon Aretha Franklin. Worby afterwards with projected pictures of Franklin and Brown together said they were “inextricably bound” during periodic recordings and performances together that built roads for present and future generations to use. Chess continued sweetly singing “You Send Me” as a tribute to the legendary Sam Cooke, who Worby credited as “single handedly creating soul music.” Pearl Bailey was also acknowledged and remembered through trad jazz styled “Hello Dolly” also sung by Chess. Duke Ellington was also mentioned as being “the single person to put jazz on the map worldwide and in the U.S.” In conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance Ellington’s New World A-Coming concerto and a medley of some of his other pieces was performed by pianist Laura Downes and the orchestra.

Also intermixed into the roadmap program was Paul Simon’s “American Tune” beautifully sung by Michael Alerio. Worby attributed Simon’s scope to Leonard Bernstein and they in turn had a mutual admiration of each other. It was also the legendary composer’s 100th birthday and his 93rd Movement of Serenade For Strings was performed with American Ballet dancer Herman Cornejo. Following that “Cool,” “Something’s Coming,” “Somewhere” from Bernstein’s Westside Story were rendered to the audience’s delight with piano from Downes. Additionally, Twyla Tharp’s exceptional Sinatra Suite featured Cornejo teamed with fellow dancer Sara Lane. Gregory returned to excitingly close doing Lloyd Price’s “Personality” and Wilson’s classic “Higher And Higher.” Info for the upcoming fall season can be found at





In less than five years Dallas/Ft. Worth based singer/guitarist/songwriter Leon Bridges who initially reminds some of R&B legends Sam Cooke and Otis Redding went from obscurity to being a fast emerging and Grammy nominated artist. Still, to many Bridges was a late bloomer and didn’t really get into music until he was in college. After several open mic session he connected with other musicians and producers who wanted to work with him. Coincidentally, he spoke at the Grammy Museum with its Executive Director Scott Goldman about his background and music development. His first CD Coming Home included spirituals, while the next Good Things was secular, much more varied and honest, as Bridges described it.

Now as a touring performer he tries to maintain the same philosophy, while being interested in artists such as Chance The Rapper and Kendrick Lamar. Additionally, Bridges has done some acting and portrayed Gil Scott-Heron for a film. Q&A from audience covered faith and fame, dancing influences, who he would work with past and present (Bobby Womack and Drake) and things he wants to do in the future. The final section of the singer/songwriter/guitarist’s appearance spotlighted him performing. With two guitars, bass and a backup singer Bridges did retro R&B styled “If It Feels Good (Then It Must Be),” modern soul “Bad Bad News,” easy flowing ballad “Shy” and Cooke sounding “Coming Home” and “MRS.” Sounding similar to Redding was gentle ballad “Beyond” that had the audience clapping along and “River” that garnered a standing ovation.



Trombone Shorty’s Voodoo Threauxdown, his own 26-date New Orleans fashioned road show commemorating the Crescent City’s Tri-centennial and its special culture came to the Greek Theatre. Needless to say, the concert was a big party and included other groups from the highly influential city, such as Galactic, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, Kermit Ruffins, Cyril Neville and Mannie Fresh and the New Breed Brass Band. That was a lot of music jammed into a four-hour time span and miraculously they made it work.

Shorty’s headlining band as always pummeled the audience with an intoxicating mix of rock, R&B, hip-hop and of course New Orleans jazz. Hot rocking instrumental “Backatown” set the course for the set with the bandleader wailing away on trombone as his cohorts inserted additional spark. Funky songs like “The Craziest Things,” Allen Toussaint’s “On Your Way Down” featuring a riveting guitar solo,” Ernie K-Doe’s “Here Come The Girls” with Treme flair and Shorty soaring on trumpet with a circular breathing solo and a brass foray followed. That was normal for anyone who’s seen the group before. However, an unexpected surprise was Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl on drums joining the band for “In Bloom,” a song he originally performed with Nirvana in the’90s.

Afterwards a dance party occurred on stage with the horn players and audience members showing off their moves. Shorty on trombone and the guitarists lit things up and even snuck in Kool & The Gang’s “Get Down on it.” A little later vocalist Cyril Neville from the much-celebrated Neville Brothers appeared to do the Meters’ “No More Okey Doke” and his group’s classic “Fire on The Bayou” with Shorty and band tearing it up. Instrumental “Hurricane Season” somewhat of unofficial theme for the band followed and quickly segued to funk ”Do to Me,” with a second line performance of “When the Saints Go Marching In” that went through the audience with some of the earlier bands helping out to amazingly close out the show.

Prior to Shorty, Galactic with vocalist Erica Falls served up jam band-like grooves with tight brass choruses and solos. Falls and the bands’ harmonica player revved up the crowd with “Something’s Wrong with This Picture,” while the singer got super funky on “Dolla Dive.” For a break from the action Walter “Wolfman” Washington and Falls drenched the audience in soulful ballad “Even Now” and Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” featuring Washington soloing on guitar. From a more traditional standpoint the Preservation Hall Jazz Band got into lively authentic New Orleans music and roared away doing standards mostly. Special guest trumpeter/singer Kermit Ruffins turned up the excitement several notches doing “With My Dreamboat” and “What a Wonderful World” with the audience singing the chorus. On their own the band reveled doing “I Ain’t Mad at You,” and Grohl also joined them to sing “Come With Me to New Orleans” that set the crowd into orbit. Mannie Fresh and the New Breed Brass Band the concert openers were raw with a mix of funk, pop and hip-hop. Overall, the lineup provided an exciting cross section of New Orleans music.

Brazilian master composer, guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Guinga (Althier Carlos de Souza Lemos Escobar) recently performed at the Bluewhale to a large contingency of countrymen that included Sergio Mendes. Essentially, Guinga is a “musician’s musician” and his songs have been recorded by an array of artists. They are mostly Brazilians such as Elis Regina, Mendes, Leila Pinheiro, Chico Buarque, Clara Nunes, and Ivan Lins. Additionally, as a guitarist he has worked with Clara Nunes, Beth Carvalho, Alaíde Costa, João Nogueira and Cartola. During the performance he worked with Nebline Odaliser-vocals and Scott Mayo-violin/soprano/flute. Relaxing melody “Igreja de Penha” led things off and was followed by him singing and playing angular and melancholy “Choro Breve” that ended aggressively.

Contrarily, “Desacompanhado” was a lively ballad featuring engaging singing and playing. For easy flowing choro number “Picotado” Mayo joined the guitarist/singer on violin and drew enthusiastic reactions from the audience. Spiraling guitar instrumental “Catavento E Girassol” followed to showcase Guinga’s impressive chops and drew a standing ovation. “Afterwards he continued with up-tempo “Saci” featuring hot pandeiro (Brazilian tambourine) playing from Mayo. For more variety Odaliser superbly sang “Meu Pai” and Chá de Panela,” while Mayo tastefully garnished “Nem Mais Um Pio” on clarinet. As expected, the audience wanted much more and Guinga obliged with a half-dozen more tantalizing songs. For more info go to:



logo for blues previews

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month; the SoCal Divas of Blues Festival is partnering with, and donating a portion of all ticket sales, to both the National Breast Cancer Foundation and Michelle’s Place, a Temecula-based Breast Cancer Resource Center. “This blues festival is unique in that we are solely promoting the dynamic influence of women in blues music today,” explains Andy Doty, Festival Promoter and owner of Old Town Blues Club, the latter who are presenting the SoCal Divas of Blues Festival. “All eight acts are fronted by female performers, with most of the acts coming from the Southern California region.” Doty previously presented the 1st Annual Temecula Blues Festival this past April, also at Civic Center Plaza.

“We are thrilled to be part of the SoCal Divas Blues Festival event in Old Town. Michelle’s Place appreciates the support and the opportunity to reach women and their families about the resources we provide as well as information on early detection. And, what a great way to celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness month! We look forward to the event and to the music of the SoCal Divas!” – Kim Gerrish, Executive Director, Michelle’s Place.

Eight dynamic Southern California-based female blues artists will perform at the SoCal Divas of Blues Festival: Shari Puorto; Casey Hensley; Shyy But Flyy; Diana Rein; Brigitte Rios Purdy; Give Me Back My Wig; Mercedes Moore; and Jade Bennett. An After-Party at Old Town Blues Club will follow the Festival.



October 27, 2018 – 12 Noon to 8pm – Gates 10am
Civic Center Plaza
41000 Main St.
Old Town Temecula
(951) 676-2722Text Special Mention

Spoken word artist Kamau Daaood is steeped in the history of Southern Los Angeles and Leimert Park, and was a co-founder with the legendary drummer Billy Higgins of its celebrated World Stage. Additionally, Daaood has been the subject of documentaries and recipient of numerous awards and honors, including a two-moth writing residency in Bordeaux, France. For the Just Jazz series his A Band of Griots!!! were spotlighted and hosted by TV/radio personality LeRoy Downs at the Mr Musichead Gallery. The group consisted of Miguel Atwood-Ferguson on viola, Mark de Clive-Lowe on piano, Brandon “Eugene” Owens on bassist, saxophonist Teodross Avery and drummer Rameses Ramirez. The musicians began with an awakening-like exposition for the spoken word artist to launch into a sermon-like “Army of Healers.” Bluesy jazz “Dance” followed with Daaood laying down soulful poetry and the quintet coolly flowing along and also soloing to the further delight the audience.

The players seamlessly segued into an intrinsic backdrop for the spoken word artist to weave a web of words focusing on babies and mirrors. In the same vein, Daaood with a Coltrane-like stream intensely emphasized healing from our own depths and searching for peace, and finished without music. Influenced by his son’s hip-hop beats the Leimert Park spokesman conjured “One” that focused on universal religion as the musicians, especially Avery flourished wildly. Daaood through music and poetry shared a positive experience with Pharoah Sanders, who actually came to his house and gave him some musical pointers.

For a changeup, de Clive-Lowe played “Round Midnight” as a solo intro before the bandleader joined in with extensive words about Monk and his genius. With only riveting drums Daaood paid homage to Billy Higgins and The World Stage with “The Last Songs.” A little later he closed reminiscing about 5th St. Dicks, a Leimert Park afterhours spot from back in the day and featured the band blazing away to enthrall the listeners. For upcoming shows go to:


It was a tough job but somebody had to do it. Vocalist/pianist/actor/TV host Harry Connick Jr. celebrated the 300tth anniversary of his hometown, New Orleans with an 11-piece ensemble at the Hollywood Bowl for three nights that included fireworks finales. Connick got things underway the first evening with the high-spirited anthem “Let’s Fly Down (Bourbon Street Parade)” featuring the band jamming away and even had the bandleader dueling on trumpet with trumpeter Mark Braud and trombonist Lucien Barbarin. The fun continued with a big band trad styled blow out and Connick getting into New Orleans standard “Oh! Didn’t He Ramble” bolstered by his piano playing, scorching trombone, sax and bass. In the same vein was Connick’s “Take Her to the Mardi Gras.”

In addition to the music the bandleader had the audience cracking up with his offbeat humor and antics. That included him singing Louis Armstrong style and doing New Orleans piano playing for “Dr. Jazz” while also featuring Barbarin and himself on trumpet. Intermixed into the show was a few of his early songs such as Sinatra-styled “We Are in Love”, along with “Our Love is Here to Stay” and “It Had to be You” from the very popular When Harry Met Sally film.

Also from his background was gospel music, which led to him showcasing guitarist Jonathan Dubose Jr. for standard “How Great Thou Art” with full ensemble joining in later and Connick soloing. He also burned on a classical piano piece with the band and even did a little bit of tap dancing solely with bass, and then with dancer Luke Parkins who was clearly a professional. Getting back to playing music the multi-talented headliner performed his original “Come By Me” that was full of New Orleans piano playing and Allen Toussant’s optimistic “Yes We Can” with fireworks going. Wrapping up the very fun evening was New Orleans’ unofficial anthem, Professor Longhair’s “Mardi Gras Mambo, initially broken down and then reconstructed by Connick and his band. Opening the concert was Bonerama featuring three trombonists, backed by keyboards, guitar, drums and sousaphone. During their 40-minute set they amazed the audience with funky playing for “Mr. Okra,” New Orleans ‘50s R&B styled “My Girl” and Led Zeppelin’s hard-rocking “Ocean.” With special guest, vocalist Erica Falls the band worked out on “That’s All,” soulful ballad “Where Can You Be” and Aretha Franklin’s “Deeper Love.”



About a year ago, pianist Helen Sung previewed selections from her “work in progress” Sung With Words at the Bluewhale. It’s based on the poetry of Dana Gioia, California State Poet Laureate and Professor of Poetry and Public Culture at USC. For the actual CD release party at the same venue Gioia attended and read poetry for several pieces. Enlisted for the special occasion were vocalists Christie Dashiell (on CD) and Sara Gazarek, John Ellis-saxophone (on CD), Daniel Rosenboom-trumpet, Ben Williams-bass and Terreon Gully-drums. Gioia started things with a rendering of his “Meet Me at The Lighthouse “ and recalled good times at the popular club, circa 1971. Drums fired away afterwards before the other band members joined in for hard-hitting neo-bop “Convergence” bolstered by scorching solos from sax, trumpet, the bandleader and drums.

Dashiell fronted the band for New York influenced and tenderly ballad “The Stars on Second Avenue” that included adept bass and piano solos. “Too Bad” with Gioia doing the poetry intro was a put down from a scorned lover; Gazerek with Dashiell doing backup zestfully sang the words and Rosenboom blazed away during his solo. On the spiritual side of love was “Touch” with the poet-master doing the opening and Dashiell singing with sparse accompaniment. Taking a break from poetry Sung performed “Lament For Kalief Browder” a burning and solemn remembrance of his sad plight that entailed being wrongly accused, imprisoned and suicide after being released. Wrapping up the set was Gioia reading the words of “Hot Summer Night,” with the singers interweaving and the players coolly percolating while interacting and soloing.



Getting female representation into the mix, the Just Jazz series at Mr Musichead, hosted and curated by Radio/TV personality LeRoy Downs, recently showcased flautist Nicole Mitchell. She’s an innovative musician, composer, bandleader and educator. For the Just Jazz show Joshua White-piano, Eric Revis-bass and Guillermo Brown-drums supported her. The ensemble got down to business doing peppy “Aqua Blue” and swinging piece featuring the bandleader exotically floating above the driving rhythm players, which also included them soloing. Mitchell’s “Bliss” followed and was also up-tempo with both airy and explosive touches.

The bandleader displayed her creativity for “Reflections” by directing the musicians for improvisation before playing. When executed White began with a freeform intro and the other players joined in later for a high energy, yet grounded discourse. Mitchell also inserted flowing and probing runs with a thunderous drum solo to further stimulate the audience. In honor of pianist Muhal Richard Abrams birthday (would be 88), who was an important mentor to the bandleader, abstract piece “Chicago Picasso” was rendered. Closing out the interesting set was hip tune” Sunday Afternoon” dedicated to trombonist Fred Anderson who ran The Velvet Lounge Club in Chicago.



text previews

Jazz Muse Concert Series

Jazz Muse Concert Series featuring Ernie Watts!!!
Ernie Watts-saxophone,
Janis Mann-vocals,
Bill Cunliffe-piano,
Bruce Lett-bass,
Roy McCurdy-drums
October 20, 2018




San Fernando Valley Arts and Cultural Center

18312 Oxnard Street
Tarzana, CA 91356
Doors open at 7 pm / Show starts at 8 pm





Just Jazz
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 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

October 3 Alex Hahn
October 10 David Binney
October 17 Munyngo Jackson
October 24 Daniel Rotem
October 31 Adegoke Steve Colson & Iqua Colson

Other upcoming artists include Marquis Hill and more…

Mr Musichead Gallery
7420 W. Sunset Blvd (across from Guitar Center)
Los Angeles, CA 90046


Jazz Bakery’s Moveable Feasts

October 6
Celebrating 60 years of Bossa Nova and 40 years of the Brazilian Hour w/ Sergio Mielniczenko

October 7
Benn Clatworthy’s System 6 All Stars – a BIG little band 7PM

October 13
NEA Jazz Master: Benny Golson quartet

October 19
Pianist George Colligan trio – Buster Williams / bass, Lenny White / drums

October 25
Circuit Rider: Ron Miles / Bill Frisell / Brian Blade




Moss Theater
New Roads School at The Herb Alpert Educational Village
3131 Olympic Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90404





Jazz Bakery’s Moveable Feasts
(800) 838-3006
“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 2018-19 season highlights

Oct. 14
Tigran Hamasyan
UCLA’s Royce Hall

Oct. 26
An Evening with Pat Metheny
with Antonio Sanchez, Linda May Han Oh & Gwilym Simcock
UCLA’s Royce Hall

Nov. 9
Terri Lyne Carrington
UCLA’s Royce Hall

Dec. 1
Luciana Souza: The Book of Longing
UCLA’s Royce Hall

March 23
Roberto Fonseca & Fatoumata Diawara
The Theatre at Ace Hotel
Subscriptions and individual tickets on sale at:


Presents Jazz ‘n Paz Fall 2018 Concert Series

Curated by Performances à la Carte, Jazz ‘n Paz is back with its’ fall intimate jazz series of three concerts with some of Los Angeles’ finest jazz musicians and takes place on early Sunday evenings.
Lolly Allen & Friends: October 7, 2018
Award-winning vibraphonist and composer Lolly Allen with special guest, superstar Rickey Woodard on saxophone; Mike Alvidrez on bass; and Gary Fukushima on piano. Allen has performed with top jazz musicians including Terry Gibbs, Bob Mintzer, Rodney Whitaker, Maria Schneider, and The Jazz Composers Alliance. In 2016 she was the first woman to be awarded the L.A Jazz Society’s Vibe Summit XXIII Honoree Award, and in 2017 was invited to present legendary vibraphonist Terry Gibbs with his Hall of Fame Induction at the World Vibes Congress. She has performed at venues such as the Knitting Factory, Herb Alpert’s Vibrato Grill Jazz, Boston Globe Jazz Festival, Newport Beach Jazz Party, WGBH FM’s “Eric in the Evening,” and Ron DellaChiesa’s Jazz Songbook. Allen is recording her second album as bandleader, and performs internationally as a soloist and with her quintet.

Will Brahm & Homenaje: November 4, 2018
Having always loved music from different cultures around the world, guitarist Will Brahm formed his world music group Homenaje, which means “Tribute” in Spanish, and release their debut album “La Mariposa y el Mentiroso” in 2017, featuring all original compositions. Brahm tours extensively with his music and also plays with the critically acclaimed New West Guitar Group and has worked with artists including The Gordon Goodwin Phat Band, Kim Richmond, Jimmy Branly, Otmaro Ruiz, Gretchen Parlato, Sara Gazarek, and Jane Monheit. Led by Brahm, the group pays tribute to the support and unity of different types of music and cultures from all around the world. Homenaje consists of Will Brahm on guitar, Ahmet Turkmenoglu on bass, and Latin Grammy Winner and LP Artist Diego Alvarez on percussion and cajon.

Fall 2018 Concert Series
Neighborhood UU Church
301 North Orange Grove Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91103


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