Saturday, June 30, 2007

What happens in Vegas....

On the weekend of June 15 (happy belated Flag Day) a group of us converged en masse upon Sin City for my first ever jazz blog interstate field trip!! I mentioned in a previous blog entry that I was planning to go to hear Diana Krall backed by the Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and was joined by FOUR friends! The concert was at the same theater where I heard the Commodores a few years before. I kid you not. I am shameless, but that show was fun too.

ANYWAY, Mark Heimbigner, Kesha Rodgers, Emily Hands, David Daunch and I had a fabulous time at the Krall show. I've seen Diana Krall at least a half a dozen times, but this was the first time I've seen her live with a 19 (+/-) piece orchestra behind her. The show opened with 3 big band pieces before Diana came out and that was very fun / very old school Vegas. I enjoyed the show quite a bit, in part because it was like getting two shows in one: she did several numbers in a combo format with just herself on vocals / piano, John Clayton on bass, Jeff Hamilton on drums, and Anthony Wilson on guitar. She did other tunes in front of the big band with Tamir Hendelman on piano (although at one point during an instrumental break she sat down on the piano as well because "it was swinging so hard I couldn't resist!"). If you get a chance to check them out at the Hollywood Bowl this August, please do!

Other Vegas highlights: part of the fun of stalking a group of musicians is running into them in the lobby bar and hanigng out. Unfortunately I've gotten worse than ever at capturing memories by camera, but my BlackBerry did enable me to get a couple of grainy shots at the "Lobby Trumpet Summit" where we were able to hang out with, among other notables, trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos (recently named one of Downbeat Magazine's 25 trumpeters to watch), trumpeter Terell Stafford (who has played with McCoy Tyner, among others) and bassist Christoph Luty (you all know he's one of my all time favorite bassists). Unfortunately, my plans for a "dessert hang" with pianist Tamir Hendelman and his wife, bassist Sherry Luchette, were foiled by a lengthy (but productive) power shopping session (outlined below).

Gilbert Castellanos' non-chalant look

Trumpeter Terell Stafford and me in a BlackBerry "self portrait"
Christoph Luty sitting down for the first time in hours

And in the interest of true confession time, I decided to revamp my "throwing away my money in Vegas" strategy and shopped more than I gambled. My "shoe guy" Justin McKay from the Wynn spent the better part of Saturday afternoon with me and Mark helping us find my new very favorite shoes:
Christian Louboutin's "Ernesta"

and man bag / "murse" for Mark:
Louis Vuitton's "Citadin PM"

If you ever go to Vegas and want to do some power shopping, be sure to let me know and I'll hook you up with St. Justin of the Strip, the patron saint of fashion. He really is tons of fun and an amazing resource...

And that's all for now. Net-net, it was a really fabulous trip and while it has taken me almost two weeks to make up for the sleep deficit, it was definitely worth it!!

Jeopardy Answer: "Hotter than July"

If you answered with the question: "What is Stevie Wonder's 1980 release?" you'd be partially right. However, the answer I was looking for is, "How is the summer jazz calendar shaping up?".

This year's Southern California jazz has been awesome and this month is no exception. But before I get started listing my picks for the month, let me backtrack and highlight two recent shows.

Friday, June 22: A bunch of us (Mark Heimbigner, Holly Bower, Christy Luna, Ted Kane and myself) went to LACMA on a Friday night after work to hear the Charles Owens quartet. Charles is money in the bank when it comes to fantastic jazz, and the courtyard was FULL of people with a cool demographic. If LACMA is on your radar for Friday night jazz, you'll do yourself a disservice if you don't try to make it. And the five of us had so much fun, both at the show and afterwards for nosh at The Spanish Kitchen.

Friday, June 29: Tanya Finks, Angela Webb and I caught Malcolm-Jamal Warner's one man show, "Love and Other Social Issues". (Yes, MJW is "the artist formerly known as Theo Huxtable on The Cosby Show".) I'm including this in a jazz blog posting because the show includes music by his jazz-ish funk band, Miles Long. While I have a propensity to seek out mostly straight-ahead jazz, I really liked the integration of spoken word into some standard jazz riffs. This show is not for kids, but it was so entertaining that I actually went to see it again. And I might try for one more time before it closes next weekend. Any takers?

Me & Malcolm-Jamal Warner

(if I had an iPhone, bet this photo would be clear)

And now, without further ado, July's Jazz picks courtesy of yours truly:

Sunday, July 1: Ro sham bo to decide whether to take in:
Charles Owens Quartet at Charlie O's in Van Nuys - fabulous reed player and genuinely kind human being
Onaje Murray at Hal's Bar & Grill in Venice - Vibraphone player who I've only heard once but have been anxious to hear again...

Wednesday, July 11: Queen Latifah at the Hollywood Bowl. I've been curious to hear QL perform live after hearing the buzz about her latest jazz endeavors. And for those who don't know, the Hollywood Bowl is one of my very favorite places on this entire planet (although not necessarily as a jazz venue, but let's not split hairs...) Tickets range from a billion dollars to like $3, and you can bring your own food / wine. What's not to like?

Friday, July 13: Another ro sham bo opportunity!
VR & Putter Smith at Cafe 322 in Sierra Madre - Great old school jazzers and a fun, low key venue.
Bill Cunliffe at Pasadena Jazz Institute in Pasadena (der) - A brilliant pianist / composer / arranger who always puts on an entertaining show.

Tuesday, July 17: Poncho Sanchez at Hollywood & Highland, Hollywood. The free summer series outside with snackies and wine is always a must-do, and Poncho always puts on a great show.

Thursday, July 19 (plus more dates): Ravi Coltrane at Catalina Bar & Grill, Hollywood. Yes, this is John and Alice Coltrane's sax playing son. I heard him last September in Long Beach and have been jonesing to hear him again.

Tuesday, July 24: Cedar Walton at Hollywood & Highland, Hollywood. Another jazz legend doing a free (?!?!?) concert. Why would we miss this? Why???? (Happy 30th Birthday, Danielle!! xoxo)

Wednesday, July 25: Javier Vergara quartet at Cafe 322, Sierra Madre. Javier plays reeds for Poncho Sanchez and the Banda Brothers and this gig as a bandleader should be a great opportunity for him to really cut loose.

Saturday / Sunday, July 28-29: Jeff Hamilton with Atsuko Hashimoto and Ron Eschete at Pasadena Jazz Institute, Pasadena. OK chickadees. Listen up. I heard Jeff and Atsuko with Houston Person last August and I am not exaggerating when I say it was some of the most amazing music I have ever heard in my life. And I have heard a LOT of music. My stepmother Esther, from the deep south, heard Atsuko play the Hammond B-3 organ and said, "She is a soul brother reincarnated!". All I can say here is, do NOT miss this show. There are a couple of other dates coming up in August with Houston Person on tenor instead of Ron Eschete's guitar, so stay tuned...


Sunday, August 5: Thurman Green Scholarship Brunch at Catalina Jazz Club, Hollywood. Featuring Barbara Morrison and the Phil Ranelin Jazz Ensemble, this event will raise funds for scholarships for aspiring young jazz trombonists. Gloria Green, a friend of mine and the wife of trombonist Thurman Green, is coordinating this amazing event - don't miss it!!!

There you have it - July's jazz picks. Be sure to post a comment to this entry if you have other jazz shows to flag. See you out there!!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Summer Solstice Jazz Update

Happy summer solstice! I hope you all enjoy the longest day of the year.... Although you've got a little more daylight today than any other day, I won't waste your time with a long jazz update - just want to point out three weekend jazz events:

Event #1 - Charles Owens Quartet at
LACMA, Friday, June 22, 6-8pm. I'll definitely be there and hope you can make it too! Charles is spectacular and John Beasley is on piano so it'll be a fabulous evening. If you'd like to get together afterwards for a bite or a nip, be sure to let me know.

Event #2 - Dave Ameele Sextet at
Cafe 322, Saturday, June 23, 9:30pm-midnight. East-siders, if you are looking for some entertainment be sure to check this out! Special guest Jeff Clayton will be on hand to make things even more fun!

Event #3 - Tony Inzalaco Quintet at
Rosalie & Alva Performance Gallery, Saturday, June 23, 8:00pm. West-siders, don't miss this one! I just heard about this place and it's apparently pretty cool, BYOB sort of joint. And Tony is working on his follow-up live CD so you will definitely be in for a treat.

Stay tuned for a July jazz update in a little over a week, including a recap of my most recent Vegas trip - first time ever to hear jazz in that town.....

Enjoy the music!

Monday, June 04, 2007


...and the jazz is easy! I know. Corny. But, there is just SO much jazz happening in June that I don't even know where to start. So I am only going to list a few shows here but if you are interested in other jazzy happenings please respond to this post or email me and we can certainly do more!

But first... Jazz Page 6. I have heard SO MUCH GOOD MUSIC lately that I had to cyber-yell. I just got a CD by Evan Stone (and by the way, if you google him, throw "drums" in there because apparently he has a pornographic namesake) and man, is it good. Tight arrangements, interesting interpretations, and just plain old fun to listen to (the drummer, not the porn star, as far as I know). You should get a copy. And I'll be sure to fill y'all in if I hear of him performing anytime soon.

I have also been a faithful Hammy and made it to Orange County twice this past weekend to hear the Jeff Hamilton Trio. Lots of folks came along and we really had a fabulous time, hearing some amazing music and hanging out with some of the most fun folks in Southern California. I'm still kind of floaty over it all!

There's so much more that I could share, but in the interest of keeping your attention, allow me to introduce:


(exciting, huh?)

Now, remember that there are about a BILLION more shows than this, so if you are interested in doing something on a night that I haven't mentioned, reach out and let me know and I can certainly help find someting or even tag along.

Saturday, June 9: Graham Dechter Trio at the Native Cafe, Calabasas. Graham is a 20-year-old guitar virtuoso whose sensitive playing rivals 22 and 23 year olds. But seriously folks, if you're in the area do yourselves a favor and check him out - he's absolutely fantastic!!

Sunday, June 10: Vibraphone Summit XIV, Musician's Union, Hollywood. 13 vibraphone players. Me selling raffle tickets. My sister Kim drinking Terry Lloyd's screwdrivers. I cannot imagine a tastier recipe for good times on a Sunday afternoon. DON'T MISS IT!

Sunday, June 10: Carol Robbins at Vibrato, Bel Air. OK, so if an afternoon of vibes wasn't enough, how about finishing up the day with a jazz harpist? Yes, friends, you heard it here first. How could you NOT be at least a little curious???

Wednesday, June 13: Chuck Berghofer and the Midnight Jazz Band, Spazio, Studio City. If I've said it once, I've said it 3 times. This is textbook straight-ahead jazz and a great show to hear.

Saturday, June 16: Diana Krall with the Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra at the Las Vegas Hilton, Las Vegas. Yes, folks - I am seriously doing a weekend in Vegas and checking out this show while I'm there! I could do a separate blog outlining the perils of Vegas with Pam but I think some things are better left unsaid. In the meantime, wouldn't it be loverly to hear Mrs. Costello in Sin City?

Sunday, June 17: Kathleen Grace Band at The Jazz Bakery, Culver City. If I have some steam (and money!) left after Vegas, I might try to stop by on my way home from the airport! I heard Kathleen a couple of months ago and bookmarked her - great vocals and lovely personality!

Friday, June 22: Charles Owens Quartet at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Mid-Wilshire. Charles Owens is a wonderful tenor sax player and an absolutely delightful human being. As this show is less than a mile from Tramp House II, there is a possibility that I could be tempted to entertain a small group of folks after the show (it goes from 6-8pm). If you are interested, be sure to let me know!

Saturday, June 23: Dave Ameele Sextet at Cafe 322, Sierra Madre. I missed Dave's birthday show in February and a quick calendar check shows that I might have to miss this show too, but the last one had guest appearances by some of the finest musicians in LA. Be sure to stop in and support this group and venue - Dave has some really fantastic arrangements and a stellar horn section!

Tuesday, June 26: John Beasley Circle at Charlie O's, Van Nuys. It's been a while since I've heard John as a bandleader so this show has a little gold star by it in my calendar. (Actually, I still keep a paper calendar so it has a pencilled in asterisk by it.) Anyway, I'll definitely be at this show and hope you will too!!

OK, so I fibbed. It's more than just a few shows but it's the tip of the June jazz iceberg. Step right up and come on out - you'll have such a good time!