by Scott Yanow

Brian Bromberg has been so consistent and versatile in his career that it is easy to take him for granted. While he is brilliant on electric bass, it is his acoustic work that is particularly noteworthy and puts him at the top of his field. He recently recorded an album (LaFaro) in which he paid tribute to Scott LaFaro (1936-61) who gained fame as Bill Evans’ innovative bassist before his tragic death in a car accident. At Catalina’s with the same trio as on the recording (pianist Tom Zink and drummer Charles Ruggiero), Bromberg put on an outstanding performance.

While he can play remarkably rapid lines and, when tapping his bass, can sound like two instrumentalists at once, Bromberg also lets the music breathe and knows how to use space. So while he took bass solos (and sometimes the melody) on each of the numbers performed at Catalina’s, he always held onto one’s interest.

Bromberg talked a bit about Scott LaFaro, meeting and knowing LaFaro’s sister, and the story behind his tribute album. He and his trio performed such numbers as “Nardis,” “Solar,” “Waltz For Debby” (which they turned into a bossa-nova in 4/4 time), LaFaro’s “Gloria’s Step,” “My Foolish Heart,” an uptempo “Milestones,” “Israel,” “Alice In Wonderland,” “Blue In Green,” and “What Is This Thing Called Love.” They also played Bromberg’s “Scott’s Song” and the bassist took “Danny Boy” unaccompanied.

Tom Zink proved to be the perfect pianist for this project, hinting at Bill Evans without directly copying him, playing inventive and virtuosic solos in his own voice. Charles Ruggiero, who had occasional spots, was quietly creative in support of the lead players. A particular strength of the performances was the concise arrangements which were quite logical while keeping listeners’ guessing.

Throughout the night and on the CD, Brian Bromberg and his trio paid tribute to the great Scott LaFaro without sacrificing their own individuality. The results in both cases are quite rewarding.

Lori Bell, one of jazz’s top flutists, recently released a tribute to Joe Henderson titled Recorda Me. While one thinks of Henderson as being a masterful tenor-saxophonist, his abilities as a composer tend to be overlooked. At Sam First, Bell was joined by pianist Josh Nelson, bassist Luca Alemanno, and drummer Dan Schnelle as she explored Henderson’s rich musical legacy.

Along the way the quartet performed such Henderson numbers as “Isotope,” “Panjab,” “Inner Urge,” “A Shade Of Jade,” “Serenity,” and Blue Mitchell’s “Step Lightly” (which had Ms. Bell featured on alto flute). Her flute playing was quite fluent, inventive and sometimes speechlike, Josh Nelson excelled in this setting (clearly enjoying his interplay with the flutist), and Alemanno and Schnelle were tasteful and stimulating in support while also getting short spots of their own.

Lori Bell, who is based in San Diego, should visit Los Angeles more often. Her playing is consistently colorful, swinging, and filled with subtle surprises.

The popular singer Judy Wexler always has the knack of picking superior songs to sing, while hiring top-notch players and bringing joy to the tunes that she interprets. She performed before a packed house during her birthday concert at the G Spot while assisted by pianist Jeff Colella, guitarist Larry Koonse, bassist Gabe Davis, drummer Kendall Kay, and Danny Janklow on alto and flute.

Among the songs that were uplifted were “Something Happens To Me,” “Wonderful Wonderful,” “Bye Bye Country Boy,” a swinging “Laughing At Life” (which included a boppish chorus sung in unison with piano and guitar), “Moment To Moment,” “A Certain Sadness,” “Pent Up House” (which had Janklow’s most extended alto solo), “Whisper Not,” and a modernized “Comes Love.” With Judy Wexler contributing humorous comments between the songs, it made for a delightful couple of hours.

Quite a few masterful jazz pianists have performed in Southern California in recent times. Three are featured in this review.

Jacky Terrasson was quite outstanding at the Moss Theater for a concert presented by Ruth Price and the Jazz Bakery. Terrasson, who has led at least 16 albums since 1991, headed a trio with bassist Jermaine Paul and drummer Damion Reid. After he played a somewhat fractured “Happy Birthday” for Ruth Price over the famous drum riff that was part of Ahmad Jamal’s hit version of “Poinciana,” Terrasson continued on with a tribute to Jamal; his group came close to sounding just like Jamal’s trio. He next performed an unpredictable version of “Besame Mucho” that explored several moods while keeping the melody nearby. In a medley, Terrasson utilized both wit and an inventive use of space on “Misty,” and also performed a tender and melancholy “Over The Rainbow,” and a rhythmic “Caravan.” He utilized taped bird sounds on a ballad that found him emulating bids in his upper register, and closed off with a spectacular version of “Under Paris Skies.” One would never guess from the episodic and often-wondrous music that Terrasson, Paul and Reid (the latter two are based in the L.A. area) had never played onstage together before and that all they had prior to this memorable performance was a short rehearsal.

Vijay Iyer celebrated the release of his latest ECM album Compassion at the Moss Theatre. He was joined by bassist Harish Raghavan and drummer Jeremy Dutton for an intriguing 100-minute set of complex and intriguing music. Dutton’s powerful drumming (which was sometimes a bit loud in the mix) was inventive while Raghavan’s playing (whether interacting with Iyer or as a soloist) was consistently creative. As for Iyer, he sounds unlike anyone else while not being shy to occasionally hint at earlier styles. The improvisations featured close interplay, plenty of surprising moments, and Iyer’s originals plus adventurous versions of Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed” and “Night And Day.” The trio’s performances (which included an hour of nonstop music that segued from one piece to another) also included a ballad with bowed bass, a jazz waltz, post bop explorations, and a closing piece that was a bit funky while still being fairly free.

Hometown hero Billy Childs is often featured as an arranger-composer or with larger groups, so it was a pleasure to hear his piano playing showcased in a trio at Catalina’s. A superb player with his own sound within the modern mainstream, Childs (who was joined by bassist Dan Chmielinski and drummer Benjamin Ring) performed obscurities (McCoy Tyner’s “Four By Five” and Bill Evans’ “34 Skidoo” and “Walking Up”), originals (“In Carson’s Eyes” for his son, “Like Father, Like Son,” and “One Fleeting Instant”), Horace Silver’s “Peace,” and a slow and exquisite version of “It Never Entered My Mind” that was inspired by the late Mulgrew Miller. Childs’ pieces were both harmonically complex and melodic, he varied tempos and moods throughout the night, and he always sounded relaxed yet passionate in his playing.

Makin' A Joyful Noise: The Lives and Times of the (Slightly) Fabulous  Limeliters: Ginell, Richard S: 9798218286682: Books

Richard Ginell is one of Southern California’s most talented music journalists. An expert on classical music, he also writes insightfully about jazz, rock, pop, country and folk music.

He worked on Makin’ A Joyful Noise, the story of the Limeliters, for many years. Recently the book was published by Pine Canyon Publications and the result is quite definitive, colorful, and makes for a fascinating read.

The Limeliters were one of the major folk music groups of 1959-63. Comprised of Lou Gottlieb, Alex Hassilev and Glenn Yarbrough, their harmonies, wit, and eclectic nature were quite influential not only on folk music but in pop and country.

While the Limeliters’ activities during their main years are covered, there is a great deal more to Makin’ A Joyful Noise. With the cooperation of all three Limeliters (each of whom were extensively interviewed on many occasions along with any survivors connected with the singers), Richard Ginell goes into great details about their individual lives, both before, during, and after the peak years.  Lou Gottlieb,who was originally a jazz pianist before switching to bass and folk music” was the group’s main vocal arranger, a witty personality, and an inquisitive fellow who had many somewhat outlandish adventures in the counterculture. Alex Hassilev spoke six languages and was an expert in folk music from other cultures. Glenn Yarbrough was known for having a beautiful voice and he had the most successful solo career of the three, enjoying a major hit in “Baby, the Rain Must Fall” although during much of his life he simply wanted to be out on the ocean sailing.

After they came together and then broke up in 1963, the three musicians (each of whom bordered on being geniuses) all made attempts at solo careers, and in 1973 had a reunion that on and off would last for decades. Yarbrough eventually went out on his own again but the Limeliters (even after each of the original members’ deaths) continue up to this day.

The 412 page book, which includes black and white photos and a complete discography, holds one’s interests throughout. Even readers who are not into folk music will find the lives and often-remarkable adventures of the Limeliters (both together and individually) to be of great interest in this highly readable and entertaining book. It is highly recommended and available from

Argentinian drummer-composer Guillermo Nojechowiz’s Norte y Sur Quartet (with pianist Christian Jacob, bassist Trey Henry and drummer Dan Rosenboom) will be at Sam First on Wed. June 26. Also at Sam First will be Jeb Patton’s Trio (June 7), Rachel Z (June 13), George Colligan (June 15), and Rachel Eckroth’s Trio (June 29).

The Jazz Bakery will be presenting the Steve Lehman Trio with Mark Turner (June 8) and the Chris Potter Trio (June 29), both at the Nimoy. And not to be missed is the delightful singer Richard Shelton at the Santa Monica Bay Woman’s Club (June 14).

           Every jazz musician needs a well-written press biography, every CD (and even downloads) deserves informative liner notes, and important events benefit from press releases. I write all of these and more at reasonable rates. Please contact me at 661-678-3542 or at for further information about my services. My latest book, Jazz Through The Eyes Of A Jazz Journalist (My Jazz Memoirs) is available at

Anyone with any interest in Gerry Mulligan’s music and life will learn a great deal by acquiring Writings On A Jazz Original. 50% of all the proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to the Gerry Mulligan Foundation which supports school music programs. This essential book is available from

I have a new book that is available from Life Through The Eyes Of A Jazz Journalist. It is subtitled My Jazz Memoirs and is my 12th book and first in a few years. I discuss in an often-humorous fashion my early days and discovery of jazz, my period as the jazz editor of Record Review, the story behind my involvement with the All Music Guide, and I reminisce about some of my adventures as an amateur musician. Included are vintage interviews with Freddie Hubbard, Chick Corea, and Maynard Ferguson, encounters with Clint Eastwood, summaries of the Monterey and Playboy Jazz Festivals (including a full-length review of the 1985 Playboy Festival), memories of other events (such as the IAJE Conventions), and brief snapshots of many memorable club and concert performances. There is also background information about my other books, evaluations of the jazz critics who inspired me early on, and my thoughts on jazz criticism which includes advice to up-and-coming jazz journalists. Rounding out the book is a chapter on how the jazz writing business has changed over the past 50 years, and appendixes that include the jazz greats of the past, 86 jazz giants of today, 21 young performers to look for in the future, jazz books and DVDs that everyone should own, and a dozen enjoyable Hollywood jazz films.
Life Through The Eyes Of A Jazz Journalist, a paperback book, sells for $26 through Signed copies (which will take 2-3 weeks) are also available for $30 (which includes free postage) by sending the money via Pay Pal to and by sending your mailing address to that E-mail.