Jazz Junkie - I Need An Intervention...
It's been 21 days since I've posted a blog entry. Fortunately it takes 22 days to form a habit so I'm in under the wire. Speaking of habits, I am entirely besotted with jazz these days. Due to the huge life transition I'm making (switching careers after ten years - eep!) I haven't had much of a chance to do anything except watch the world spin while I blink in disbelief - but I've still managed to catch some great jazz and I will share it with you...
As always, having trouble with the photo posting so use your imaginacion. Additionally, I am battling exhaustion right now so this is probably riddled with errors. Rather than glossing over them, please point them out so I can correct them for posterity and then lambast you publicly for being control-freakish. C'mon. It'll be fun.
Thursday, August 10 and Friday, August 11: A Bill Cunliffe Extravaganza
My sister Kesha came to town from the Bay Area for a conference and indulged me in some live music. In terms of background, Kesha and I are the Jan Bradys of the family (read: middle children) and although we're 5 years apart in age we have had tremendous musicial influences on one another. I recall sharing a wall when we lived together and wondering how many times she could listen to Jeff Buckley's "Grace" album while she no doubt did the same about my overdoing Sting's "Ten Summoner's Tales". Nonetheless, we shared (and still do) a love for music, especially of the live variety, so we had to check some out while she was here.
We caught Bill Cunliffe and Imaginacion - a Latin Jazz septet at Vibrato in Bel Air. We were graciously joined by Ben Wakefield and Heather Giler, two of my (soon to be former) co-workers and youthful music fans. Incidentally, they had a Bruce Willis sighting at the Starbucks in the same strip mall if any of you are star-stalker. Anyhoo - the space was gorgeous and the joint has a lot of things going for it as a jazz venue (especially the stage smack in the center of the room) but was a little noisy for my taste. As for the performance - my goodness. We get spoiled here in SoCal. At the risk of leaving folks out, I am continually amazed that for NO COVER you can hear Bill Cunliffe joined by folks like Bob Sheppard, Ramon Banda and Scott Whitfield, who make all kinds of tough stuff look and sound oh so easy. My (and Kesha's) personal favorite - a very rich cover of "Pure Imagination" from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Not having enough Bill Cunliffe for one week, Kesha and I grabbed Brian Farrah by the scruff of the neck and went the following evening to hear Bill's trio at Spazio. This time Bill was supported by some up and coming musicians - bassist Edwin Livingston and drummer Matt Slocum - young guys who can really play. The music was soft but smokin' - hard to describe but they definitely got a groove going. It was a great couple of days and I was sad to send Kesha back to Oakland on a flight where she wasn't allowed to take her lip gloss.
Sunday, August 13: Annual Reggae Show at the Hollywood Bowl
So it's not a jazz show but it's definitely worth a nod.... My sister Kim (Marcia Brady) grabs some girlfriends every year to go to the reggae show at the Hollywood Bowl. This year she brought me along, as well as her friends Nicole, Amy and Kym to groove to the strains of Bob Marley's music at a sold out show. Highlight: Ozomatli. They were all over the map - reggae-esque but I'd say quintessential world music. Lowlight: Although they were both phenomenal, I couldn't tell the difference between Ziggy Marley and Stephen Marley. Shame on me.
Monday, August 14: Bob Sheppard Trio at The Oyster House Saloon, Studio City
I had the good fortune of meeting Bob Sheppard at the Imaginacion show on Thursday night, and he mentioned a trio gig that he had at The Oyster House Saloon, a place I'd never heard of until then. I had the Los Angeles Jazz Society Board meeting earlier that night but Bob mentioned that his show was at 10:00 p.m., giving me enough time to go home, make a fabulous dinner of microwave popcorn, and head out again.
What can I say about The Oyster House? It was like Cheers meets Gilligan's Island or something. Everyone there knew each other and I would have felt like an outsider were it not for the bartender from Spazio, who happened to be hanging out there on his night off since he's a Bob Sheppard fan himself. I'll save the good parts of the story for the book, but in a nutshell the set I caught was fantastic, Coltrane-esque music and I'll certainly be going back there (but probably not alone).
Tuesday, August 15: Joon Lee at Catalina Jazz Club
Although all I really wanted to do was collapse in bed, the next night I took a power nap then met my friends Christy Luna and Ted Kane at Catalina Jazz Club to hear Joon Lee, an up and coming jazz vocalist. The show was recommended by Tamir Hendelman, a friend of Joon Lee, frequent blog topic and one of my favorite musicians so I totally had to check it out.
Now, Tuesday nights in Los Angeles are not typically prime jazz evenings, and this show was part of the Young Artists Series so there were no ticket pre-sales or anything, just a $5 cover and 2 drink minimum. I expected to be one of about 20 patrons and then come home to pout about how poorly supported jazz is in LA. Imagine my surprise and delight to find that the place was PACKED. Seriously. Packed. Our waiter, dressed in shorts and a t-shirt, said he got an emergency call from the manager telling him to haul it over there to help with the crowd.
As for Mr. Lee - he was a highly entertaining vocalist, which is a huge statement coming from me, the anti-vocalist. I especially enjoyed his interpretation of "Bye Bye Blackbird" and the short set he performed with a Brazilian guitarist whose name escapes me. Tamir, thanks for the heads up and I haven't forgotten that I still owe you five bucks.
That's all I can manage for now. I owe you all an update on Listeners' Series Vol. VI and will be sure to post it soon. Until then - thanks for supporting the music!!