Monday, September 11, 2006

September Shows: Fasten Your Seat Belts!

We're already well into September but I wanted to flag some shows for you all. I'm going to try to hit these shows myself so if you are interested in company just shoot me an email and we can hang out! And - if you know of a show that you'd like to tell the world about, please comment and the entire world (or the 17 people who read this blog) will have the inside scoop!

Wednesday, September 13: John Beasley Jazz Circle, 8:00 - 11:00 PM, The Vic, Santa Monica. This MUST be a good show if I'm going to drive to the West Side on a school night! Please join me for an evening of fabulous piano-led jazz.

Thursday, September 14: Chuck Berghofer and The Midnight Jazz Band, 7:30 PM, Spazio, Sherman Oaks. Look in the dictionary under "classic straight ahead jazz" and this band will be one of the first entries. Love hearing them whenever I can and hope to make this show.

Friday, September 15: Carl Saunders, Scott Whitfield, John Hammond Trio, 8:00 PM - 12:00 AM,
Back Room at Henri's Restaurant, Canoga Park. After having the last Listeners' Series show here I am anxious to go again - and am strangely intrigued by the fact that I only go out here when trombone players are on the bill...

Sunday, September 17, 2006: Tom Warrington Trio, 2:00 - 5:00 PM, GIANNELLI SQUARE of Northridge, 818-772-1722. I stumbled upon this show at and when I saw the lineup (Tom Warrington - Bass, Larry Koonse - Guitar, Joe LaBarbera - Drums) I had a "zowie" moment. I've never been to this venue but am very tempted to give it a whirl. Admission or Cover Charge: $25.00 per person includes refreshments.

LISTENERS' SERIES VOL. VII: Thursday, September 21: Dave Ameele at Cafe 322, Sierra Madre. I heard Dave's group at Cafe 322 a couple of months ago and thoroughly enjoyed the music (in particular the arrangements) but would've loved to have seen more folks out there. Haul it out there east-siders and you won't be disappointed. EMAIL ME TO SIGN UP!! We can meet for dinner ahead of time at this reasonably-priced Italian joint.

Friday, September 22, 2006 – Saturday, September 23, 2006:The Mort Weiss/Joey Defrancesco Quartet with Ramon Banda and Ron Eschete, 8:00 PM, Steamers Jazz Club and Café, Fullerton. Don't laugh, but I am starting to LOVE LOVE LOVE the Hammond B3. And when the organ gets played with a clarinet great like Mort Weiss plus LA stalwarts like Ramon Banda and Ron Eschete, I get tempted to drive all the way to the OC to hear them.

Saturday, September 23, 2006: Brasil Brazil, 8:30 PM, La Ve Lee, Studio City. Although I haven't seen them myself, I have it on good authority (thank you, Richard Davis!) that this band makes for a great, chill evening of Latin jazz.

Thursday, September 28, 2006: Cross / Hart Jazz Experience, Crowne Plaza Los Angeles Airport Hotel, LAX. I've been meaning to check these guys out and in an effort to expand my jazz horizons a bit I will try to hear them again....

And a couple of October shows to pencil in - not to be missed:

Jeff Hamilton Trio at Steamers, Fullerton - October 6-7, 2006: Consistently on my "must see" list and undoubtedly worth a trip beyond the Orange Curtain.

Confirmed Bachelor at Tangier, Los Feliz - October 11, 2006: Save the date for this October Listeners' Series show!!

Los Angeles Jazz Society Annual Tribute Concert and Dinner - October 22, 2006: FABULOUS fundraiser and opportunity to hear and honor some of Los Angeles' finest and most significant jazz musicians. Contact me for more info!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Hot Summer Shows - I Snooze, You Lose

The past several weeks have been filled with delicious jazz, and due to my nutso schedule I've been remiss in updating you all so that you could join me. In order to catch up I'll give you some quick and dirty highlights and lowlights. Those of you who are familiar with and not too fond of my typical wordiness will no doubt rejoice in my newfound brevity. Don't get used to it though; I've been using my Franklin Covey Compass System religiously and now have time for everything in life. Or, close to it anyway...

August 24: Roy McCurdy Trio at Spazio, Studio City.

HIGHLIGHT: The ever-elusive Larry Fuller, scheduled to play, dazzled us with his keyboard skills. Despite the fact that I forgot to have him pose for a photo, we had a long enough conversation that I can now finish the "Dear Larry Fuller" chapter in my book.

LOWLIGHT: You know, ever since the whole back room incident in May it pains me to go to shows at Spazio, even though Derek the bartender is a joy.

August 29: Jeff Hamilton, Houston Person and Atsuko Hashimoto at Crowne Plaza, LAX

HIGHLIGHT: I do not exaggerate when I say this is one of the finest performances I have ever seen in life. Granted, I was in a particularly good mood because Dad and Esther were in town and joined me, but Atsuko Hashimoto's Hammond B3 organ skills were unlike anything I've ever heard. Esther said it best: "She is a soul brother reincarnated!". I'll keep you all posted when the album comes out!!

LOWLIGHT: I can't even think of one, so I'll list another highlight: Dad made friends with everyone in the room, including Barbara Morrison, who will be in Atlanta soon so their paths will cross again.

L-R: Esther, Pam and Curtis Howell

September 2-3: West Coast Jazz Party

HIGHLIGHT: I met some amazing performers, including Dena DeRose, a phenomenally talented pianist / vocalist, and David Ashkenazy, a local drummer who got the seal of approval from none other than Flip Manne. Additionally, I got a chance to brush the dust off of some my old swing dance moves thanks to Houston Person's swinging saxophone, and spent a leisurely Sunday afternoon on a jazz cruise with the LA Jazz Society folks! Musical high point though was Tamir Hendelman's solo on "Too Close For Comfort." I think the stage is still on fire.

LOWLIGHT: As much as I love live jazz, I felt a little isolated since the event isn't particularly popular with my contemporaries. I'm still planning to go to the next big jazz party in February though!

September 6: James Brown at The Hollywood Bowl

HIGHLIGHT: Mr. Brown still has the moves and Louie Bellson was a featured drummer for many of the tunes. It was clearly a legendary evening.

LOWLIGHT: Probably just my own personal bias, but the fact that James Brown had a jazz album in 1969 seemed like a weak link to the finale of the jazz series at the Bowl.

September 7: Chuck Berghofer & Midnight Jazz Band at Charlie O's, Valley Glen

HIGHLIGHT: This band is always top notch, and given the new stage setup at Charlie O's they really did shine. This show simply underscored my "must see" opinion of this group. Plus, the fact that I got to hang out one-on-one with Flip was the icing on the cake.

LOWLIGHT: Low energy on my part meant I couldn't stick around for the midnight set, and given the band's name you know it was smokin'.

September 9: Ravi Coltrane at The Vault 350, Long Beach

HIGHLIGHT: This was a surprisingly beautiful venue for a dance club, and this son of a legend did not disappoint. Very fluid, contemporary horn lines backed up by an outstanding rhythm section - the drummer was particularly solid and shame on me, I didn't get his name.... *pout*

LOWLIGHT: The tunes were long so we only got to hear 4 of them for the $20 / 2 drink min. set. Worth it though.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

What A Difference A Month Makes: Listeners' Series, Vol. VI

I am consumed with shame. As a self-proclaimed jazz missionary I have totally dropped the ball and been out of touch. The upside is that those who feel inundated by my ceaseless jazz rants have had a break. The downside is that I may shortchange you on details now, but going forward I renew my vow to drown you in local jazz tidbits.

The August Listeners' Series was held at The Back Room at Henri's on August 19, the day before my birthday. The featuared band was Bill Watrous on trombone backed by the John Hammond Trio. Canoga Park is a haul for just about everyone I know, and given that past series participation has ranged from 3 to 8 folks, I didn't expect a huge turnout.

Imagine my surprise (and delight, and glee) to have 23 folks show up for the August series! Thank goodness I had ordered 3 dozen cupcakes from Sprinkles for the occasion (note: the red velvet cupcakes were a crowd favorite once Richard Davis honed his sales schtick). We settled in for 3 sets of standards, including a beautifully-done "The Way You Look Tonight". Sigh.

So - in spite of the lack of content in this review, please know that you all have set a standard for participation and I am very much looking forward to the next series event being a standing-room-only shindig! My heartfelt thanks to all of you who took the time to come out and help me celebrate, as well as to everyone who extended such thoughtful birthday greetings in absentia. And - the LA Jazz Society got some new members that night as well - HOORAY!