Happenings By Chris J. Walker
Neo-soul singer-songwriter Goapele, (pronounced gwa-puh-lay), which means, “to move forward” in Setswana, performed at The Theater at The Ace Hotel. On stage she showcased songs from her latest project Dreamseeker and was backed by a solid sextet. It included Mike Aaberg/Musical Director/keyboards, Errol Cooney-guitar, James Richard-bass, Corey Baugh-drums, Toni Scruggs-backing vocals and DJ R-Tistic. The concert in conjunction with UCLA’s Center For The Art of Performance was a prelude to Valentine’s Day with a mixture of songs focusing on sensuality, self-love and social consciousness. In fact, Rolling Stone Magazine has called the Oakland-born singer with a South African father and New York-born Israeli Jewish mother, “the spiritual love child of Sade and D’Angelo.” Regardless of labels and heritage Goapele is clearly unique and very independent.
She embarked on a soulful and spiritual journey beginning with “Powerful” that had a slight touch of rock embedded into it. “1st Love” was pleasantly adorned by Scruggs and was a contrasting ol’ school styled ballad. Goapele voiced her political views through “Stand.” She dedicated it to the Dreamers, and unarmed shooting victims Travon Martin, Eric Gardener, Kawlete Bower and others with the audience singing the chorus. The headlining vocalist shifted to reggae rhythms with “Take it Over.” While “Milk And Honey/Tears” were less hard-driven and spotlighted a scorching guitar solo. On the other hand “Play” and “Undertow” revealed an alluring side of the singer with the band inserting silky riffs.
Stevie Wonder’s “Can’t Help It” was coolly covered and excited the audience as Goapele provocatively sang in the audience. Afterwards, she did a medley of her songs from other recordings that were equally soulful. From there, ballad “Strong as Glass” was dedicated to all the strong women in the audience. Also exciting the crowd was a rendition of Roy Ayers’ soul/jazz classic “Sunshine.” Wrapping up the show was rocking “Love Me Right” and uplifting encore “My Love” with the audience helping out.
Unquestionably, Van Morrison, a singer, harmonica player and saxophonist is one of music’s most original, enigmatic, mystical and prolific artists. Since the mid ‘60s in his Northern Ireland homeland, Britain and eventually in the U.S. he became incredibly popular and garnered critical acclaim. From the beginning the singer has been strongly influenced by blues masters Howlin' Wolf, Brownie McGhee, Sonny Boy Williamson, and Little Walter, along with R&B and jazz, with jaunts into gospel and folk. In a rock setting the melding of all those elements was raw, electrifying and incredibly enthralling. However, by the mid-90’s Morrison became more focused on blues, jazz, and R&B to a lesser degree, while also showcasing his saxophone skills.
At the Wiltern the Irishman with a solid octet spotlighted songs from his 38th recording Versatile, and of course mixed in hits from previous decades. Eddie “Cleanhead" Vinson’s jump blues styled “Wait a Minute Baby” from the new CD kicked off the concert featuring Morrison and band getting into a jiving romp with an array of solos. Surprisingly, “Moondance” possibly the singer’s best-known song followed and was done in a straightforward jazz mode. Vibes and the backup singer strongly accented his signature singing, as other band members soloed, including Morrison on saxophone to wow the crowd. Jazz and blues standards “I Get a Kick Out of You” and “Further on Down The Road” followed.
Original poignant ballad “Sometimes You Cry” bolstered by slide guitar and organ drew noticeable reactions from the audience and the singer even got off track momentarily. In the same mode “In the Garden” featured Morrison on harmonica. Not to be forgotten was his ‘70s pop/rock hit “Wild Night” that had the audience singing along. Additionally, his daughter Shana joined him for country flavored “Beautiful Vision” and also sang powerfully.
Going back to his groundbreaking days with Them in the ‘60s was blues classic “Baby Please Don't Go.” It was part of a medley of blues songs including “Parchman Farm” and “Got My Mojo Working,” with the bandleader reeling on vocals and harmonica. Keeping the blues feeling going with jazzy touches was new tune “Broken Record.” It featured him singing soulfully and the band stretching out, along with blues vamping “I Can’t Do It All By Myself” with hot harmonica playing.
“Raincheck” was from a more soulful perspective with Morrison singing intensely and mixing in lyrics from Big Joe Turner, while “Magic Time” showcased his saxophone playing. Closing out the show was poetic ballad “In The Midnight” and classic rock hit “Into The Mystic” with the bandleader easing off stage prior to the ending to let his band jam away and receive a standing ovation.
The award-winning composer and critically acclaimed pianist Lisa Hilton debuts new compositions from her 20th release, ESCAPISM. Hilton will swing through her compositions inspired by great American composers such as Miles Davis, Count Basie and Horace Silver in this solo piano concert. Her expressive and impressionistic “sound paintings” explore the soundscape of jazz and blues alongside classical and modernist ideas. ESCAPISM follows musical explorations to savor uplifting moments and abundant beauty in refreshing ways. “Picturesque and impressionistic…the pianist has excellent technique.”
Downbeat Magazine “Hilton is a pure original… she has a magical ability to make her piano tell compelling stories.” Jazz da Gama/Canada an easy fluidity and a lofty sophistication reminiscent of classic piano music from Beethoven, Chopin or Stravinsky.” Seattle Post Intelligencer ESCAPISM is currently near the top of the radio charts and includes these song titles: “Hot Summer Samba,” “Meltdown,” “Another Everyday Adventure,” “Too Hot,” “On A Clear Day,” “Mojave Moon,” “Zero Gravity,” “29 Palms,” and Utopia Cornucopia.”
24255 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90263
It’s no secret that Herbie Hancock has been working on a new project that promises to be very different from anything he’s ever done. At Disney Hall the iconic keyboardist/composer/futurist gave the close to capacity audience a little bit of a sampling with his semi-regular players, James Genus-bass, Vinnie Colaiuta-drums and new in 2017 Terrace Martin-keyboard/saxophone/vocoder/producer. Straight out of the gate the bandleader and crew got into an atmospheric and abstract “Overture” featuring him mostly. From there ‘60’s classic “Watermelon Man” allowed the band with an extra layering of drumming from Robert "Sput" Searight to jam intensely. Additionally, special guest Elena Pinderhughes-flute/vocals joined the ensemble afterwards. She was featured on new Afro-futuristic tune “Neighbor” written by hit songwriter Pharrell Williams that was also adorned by Hancock on vocoder.
A scorching drum/percussion interlude provided a transition to ‘70s funk fusion grove “Actual Proof” with Hancock soloing on acoustic piano, Martin on tenor saxophone, Genus on electric bass and Colaiuta bombing away on drums all the crowd’s delight. Pinderhughes rejoined the group playing flute and scatting some on an easy flowing pop/funk/Afro-Cuban tune with the bandleader singing through vocoder and inserting layers of sampled keyboard textures. Coming on stage for the latter part of the show was none other than much heralded saxophonist Kamasi Washington. While the drummers generated complex rhythms he eased in playing both conventionally and feverishly, with the flautist also soloing extensively Hancock added synthesizer layers to overall thoroughly blow the crow away.
Afterwards he said, “It was a great treat for me and hopefully everybody else.” He then went into vintage “Cantaloupe Island” featuring Washington’s and Pinderhughes’ blistering playing that impressed the audience. Although very predictable, “Chameleon” Hancock’s funk-fusion gem loaded with strap-on synthesizer soloing and vocoder singing still excited the audience who hungered for another encore.
Brazilian actor, singer and songwriter Luiz Melodia (January 7, 1951 – August 4, 2017), was one of the most talented Brazilian singer-songwriters from Rio de Janeiro. His powerful compositions fluently blended elements from samba, rock, jazz, blues, soul, and reggae, and his soulful and unique voice made him one of the most authentic and captivating artists in performance.
Throughout his career, Melodia released 16 albums and performed extensively on important stages around the world, including in Châteauvallon, France (1987); at the III Folcalquier Music Festival (1992, France), at the Montreux Jazz Festival (on the banks of Lake Geneva, Switzerland in 2004), and in the Brazilian Summer Sessions at the traditional jazz house Bimhuis in Amsterdam. He sang “Aquele Abraço” at the opening ceremony for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.
A natural songwriter, two of Melodia’s compositions had become hits sung by Gal Costa and Maria Bethânia even before his debut album, Pérola Negra, was released in 1973. Pérola Negra went on to be ranked 32 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 greatest Brazilian albums. His last studio recording, entitled Zerima, recorded after a 13-year hiatus, won him the MPB Award (Brazilian Popular Music) in the category Best Singer and established him as one of the most important songwriters of his generation. He remained an active performer until his passing, in 2017, from bone marrow cancer.
The concerts are:
Performers include Melodia’s artistic partner for decades, the guitarist Renato Piau ; guitarist and keyboardist Mika Mutti; bassist John Leftwich; cellist Artyom Manukyan; and drummer and percussionist Mike Shapiro.
123 Astronaut/E. S Onizuka St.
Little Tokyo 90012
The Brazilla Music Collective proudly presents a LA Tribute to Luiz Melodia Performers include Melodia's musical partner guitarist Renato Piau, and percussionist Steve Thornton as special guests. Singers include Thalma de Freitas; Carla Hassett; Emina Shimanuki; and Jessica Vautor. Musicians are guitarist Denys Cristian, André de Sant’anna on bass; Gibi Dossantos on percussion; Léo Costa on drums; Mika Mutti on piano; Randal Fisher on saxophone; and Ted Falcon on violin and mandolin
2478 Fletcher Dr.
Los Angeles 90039
In a rare occasion Rachel Worby, Artistic Director for Pasadena’s MUSE/IQUE didn’t have an ensemble or orchestra at command. Instead for TRUE BLUES at the Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA)’s Kosmic Krylon Garage she had a conversation of sorts with Blues Hall of Famer John Hammond. Without a doubt, the blue-eyed bluesman has met and played with most of the legends of blues and then some. Worby took a pedagogical approach to blues, explaining and detailing its attributes to those unfamiliar with the genre. Hammond was a good sport, but displayed irritability several times when he just wanted to play and tell stories about blues icons.
Playing harmonica, guitar and singing he energetically launched into Little Walter (Jacobs) “You’re so Fine.” Afterwards, Worby talked about the celebrated harmonica player and his instrument, which profoundly adorned Muddy Water’s songs, and died in 1968 at the age of 37. He is the only harmonica player inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (posthumously). Hammond’s crowd appealing Delta styled “Heartache Blues” followed and he recited the lyrics with Worby further dissecting them prior to singing and playing. Worby also talked about the national/resonator guitar, which the singer/guitarist just happened to have. Hammond got into Robert Johnson’s “Walking Blues” and jammed away to the audience’s delight with the Artistic Director detailing Johnson’s short and mercurial career that also resulted in him being inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame and receiving a lifetime Grammy (posthumously).
Afterwards, Hammond talked about coming to LA from Chicago in 1961 to be on a double bill with Howlin’ Wolf. The legend was very late, yet very hospitable once at the Ashgrove. That led to him doing Wolf’s dramatic “How Many More Years.” In Chicago Hammond met and hung out rock/blues players Mike Bloomfield and Charlie Musselwhite, who introduced him to top legends Muddy Waters and Sunny Boy Williamson. That led to him doing “Fattening Frogs for Snakes” by Williamson. Not as well known, but very prolific was Fuller Allen, who joined up with Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, and wrote “Got to Settle Up And Go” that amused the listeners.
Not to be forgotten was Chuck Berry, who Hammond talked gloriously about and then performed his rocking classic “Maybellene,” that of course, got the crowd going. Returning to traditional blues was the singer/guitar/harmonica player’s “Come to Find Out” about a good friend who told tall tales. Worby put things into perspective listing the awards and impact the legendary blues masters made during their careers. Hammond finished off doing Bo Diddley’s rocking “Who Do You Love” and for an encore played Jimmy Reed’s shuffling “Found Love” to receive a standing ovation. For upcoming shows go to: muse-ique.com
A viable alternative to the hype, pressure and high cost of going out for Valentine’s Day was The Cyrus Chestnut Trio at the Moss Theatre, as part of the Jazz Bakery’s Moveable Feast series. Soft-spoken pianist Chestnut amusingly told the audience he wasn’t sure weather his trio that included Eric Wheeler-bass and Chris Beck-drums would play “My Funny Valentine.” Getting underway the trio delved into smoldering, hip-swinging gospel tinged original “Mason-Dixon Line” with the bandleader playing in grand style and his cohorts also soloing and trading off. From there they took a respite with a tasteful American Songbook piece and a strident bossa original “CDC” from his latest release There’s a Sweet Sweet Spirit.
For even more diversity Chestnut displayed his classical chops with an intermix of Chopin’s “Prelude in C Minor (op. 28, no. 20) also on the new CD, and showcased his bassist’s skills,” classic rock immortal “Stairway to Heaven” and Lionel Ritchie’s pop hit “Hello.” Continuing, the trio focused on Eric Satie’s classical nuanced “Gymnopédies (3),” which they’re considering recording for an upcoming project.
Returning to jazz, Chestnut got into Monk’s high energy jamming “Rhythm-a-Ning” featuring everyone soloing, and drummer Beck’s thematic “Soul Star.” With equal dynamics, but from a classical perspective another piece was played, along with a lightly funky and laidback groove including the pianist coolly scatting and imitating his former mentor Betty Carter that drew a standing ovation. For the encore he played “My Funny Valentine” solely.
Antonio Sanchez best known for his long tenure as the drummer for multi-Grammy winning guitarist, Pat Metheny since 2000, has been very busy with his own projects lately. At The Theatre at The Ace Hotel in association with UCLA Center For The Art of Performance, his group Migration made up of Chafe Bayer-reeds, Thana Alexa-vocals/effects, John Escreet-keyboads and Matt Brewer-bass performed the 2015 album The Meridian Suite in its entirety. The players, who were all part of the original recording and have been touring throughout the world for the last two years and playing the five-section work regularly.
With artists/celebrities such as actors Don Cheadle and Michael Keaton with musician/producers Daniel Lanois and Bobby Columby in attendance the bandleader described his suite as being multi-genre, historic and biographical. In performance it was quite dynamic and reminiscent of early Return to Forever with Flora Purim at times. The band blazed mightily for the first movement, “Grids and Patterns” with explosive saxophone and drums dominating. In sharp contrast, moody and atmospheric “Imaginary Lines” featured Alexa, Brewer and Bayer, with keyboards and drum providing fluid support.
“Channels of Energy” returned to hard driving jamming with echoplex-driven Fender-Rhodes at the forefront as the bandleader supplied plenty of firepower as well, with the vocalist scatting and soaring with Bayer’s EWI playing that was also in the stratosphere. The band didn’t letup for “Magnetic Currents” as saxophone invoked fiery cosmic playing, weaving in and out of bebop and free jazz. The final and longest piece “Pathways of the Mind” also began with saxophone, but was much more melodic with Alexa scatting beautifully. Additionally, Sanchez, the singer and players got into ambient textures that eventually solidified for a dynamic EWI and vocal close to draw a standing ovation.
The band, however, was not done and for the encore played a jam-like selection featuring Alexa’s heavenly wordless singing, Bayer’s muscular sax, Escreet’s funky/spacey electric piano, Brewer’s expansive bass and Sanchez’s powerful drumming to wow the audience.
The Mint JamKevin Kanner
March 12 & 26, 2018
6010 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, 90035
Jazz Bakery February Shows
HONORING LEGENDS ... PUSHING BOUNDARIES
“The music of Benny Green is one of warmth and taste exemplified by his choice of 23-year-old vocalist, Veronica Swift.” JazzIs
BENNY GREEN -PIANO TRIO
FEAT. VERONICA SWIFT -VOC
DAVID WONG -BASS
Anthony Wilson: “This is my dream band. The songs feel as though they tell short stories about places, alternative worlds and magical aspects of relationships.”
“SONGS AND PHOTOGRAPHS”
ANTHONY WILSON GUITAR
GERALD CLAYTON PIANO JOSHUA CRUMBLY BASSJAY
BELLEROSE DRUMS PATRICK WARRENALTERNATE KEYBOARDS
3131 Olympic Blvd.
Santa Monica (New Roads School
“Concerts and Conversations with Southern California Jazz Legends” made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The Moss Theater is a beautiful performance space. Acoustic design by Yasuhisa Toyota (Disney Concert Hall). Free on-site parking. KJAZZ 88.1 - official media sponsor.
The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association will present the 40th annual Playboy Jazz Festival June 9-10, 2018, at the Hollywood Bowl. It is the LA Phil's fifth year presenting the event, and in keeping with tradition, the Festival will feature a first-rate slate of emerging jazz artists as well as renowned superstars of the genre. Performers already scheduled to appear include the legendary CHARLESLLOYD & the Marvels with LUCINDA WILLIAMS featuring Julian Lage, Reuben Rogers, Eric Harland and Greg Leisz; THE RAMSEY LEWIS QUARTET; LEE RITENOUR AND DAVE GRUSIN; fabled R&B-based horn section and band TOWER OF POWER, celebrating their 50th anniversary; THE COUNT BASIE ORCHESTRA, under the direction of Scotty Barnhart; genre benders KNEEBODY; and Afro-Cuban singer DAYMÉ AROCENA from Havana. George Lopez will once again host the event, marking the sixth year of his involvement with the Festival
Playboy Jazz Festival
June 9-10, 2018
The 26th Pan African Film Festival similar to previous years showcased an astounding variety of films, shorts and documentaries. Yet, beyond a doubt, Black Panther the sci-fi thriller based on the Marvel comic book series that debuted in1966, starring Chadwick Boseman as the protector of the fictional African nation of Wakanda with an all-black cast, captured festival attendees attention. Unfortunately, there was only one screening (Red Carpet VIP) for PAFF, but it did run parallel to it as a regular movie in the theatre complex.
On a less grander scale, yet very compelling was Sammy Davis, Jr. I’ve Gotta Be Me documentary that chronicled the very popular entertainer’s life including his triumphs, failures and lesser known involvement in the ‘60s Civil Rights Movement. Evolutionary Blues…West Oakland’s Musical Legacy highlighted the migration of Blacks from the South to Oakland during the ‘40s war effort, in which President Roosevelt requested government defense contractors integrate their workforces. The byproduct was a thriving blues and to a lesser degree jazz and R&B scene that’s survived until present times. Chasing The Blues was an amusing film in the vein of the Blues Brothers about two rival collectors trying to score a legendary and cursed 1930’s blues record from a seemingly unknowing old lady.
King of Stage: The Woodie King Jr. Story was another Red Carpet premiere that interestingly had the legendary theatre producer detail his process for selecting projects and actors at The New Federal Theatre in New York City. Some of the notables who started there are Denzel Washington, Phylica Rashad, Morgan Freeman, Laurence Fishburne, Viola Davis, Samuel Jackson Jr., Debbie Allen and Glyn Turman. Brooks People explored the life, legacy and impact of Gwendolyn Brooks the first black person to win a Pulitzer Prize, with interviews from Cornell West and Nikki Giovanni.
Politically, there was Malcolm X: An Overwhelming Influence on The Black Power Movement, and unlike Spike Lee’s 1992 film put a humanistic spin on the controversial Black Nationalist’s life. Especially notable was how he and Martin Luther King, Jr. strongly contrasted, then later both shifted to find common ground towards the end of their lives. Presented by the TV One Network, Behind The Movement, also a Red Carpet event retold Rosa Parks’ historic and heroic actions that spurred the yearlong (December 5, 1955 to December 20, 1956) Montgomery Bus Boycott with most of the cast and crew present for Q&A afterwards.
63 Boycott told of the first large Civil Rights protest outside of the South incited by 250,000 students from Chicago Public Schools, regarding segregation, low standards and inadequate facilities. Bringing things full circle was another Red Carpet film The Forgiven, Roland Joffé’s remake of 2004 Forgiveness highlighted by Academy Winner Forest Whitaker. He depicted South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu in an intense true event thriller during the beginning years of Post-Apartheid and its Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Locally, PacoimaStories: Land of Dreams chronicled the development of Pacoima, from a Native American community with some descendants still there, to a Spanish possession with The San Fernando Mission established close by. The advent of a Southern Pacific railroad station and farm development brought in an Asian community, who during WWII were transferred to infamous internment camps.
They returned after the war and the first Black suburb in Los Angeles was formed around the same period. That was in large part due to the racist covenants upheld in most parts of the country until the late ‘60s/early ‘70s. Integration led to racial gangs and marginalization in the ‘50s and ‘60s. By the ‘70s Whites, Asians, Indians and Blacks still coexisted there, but had only a smaller presence due to burgeoning Hispanic growth. Incidentally, Pacoima borders Grandview Terrace where Rodney King was fatally beaten in 1991. For more info go: www.paff.org