It's a good week to be a modern jazz fan in LA. I'll be out and about more than I usually am, and if you're in the area, you should too for the following reasons:
Tues., 10.21: Aaron Parks Quartet with Mike Moreno @ the Jazz Bakery
I've mentioned both of these guys on this blog a few times. It'll be great to see that level of melodic guitar technique from Mike again. Aaron first floored me when I saw him perform with Terence Blanchard's sextet several years ago. The group got through a harrowing, powerful performance of Aaron's composition, "On the Verge," then Terence announced that Aaron was only 17, at which point the audience sucked most of the oxygen out of the room. (That tune can be found on Terence's album Bounce from 2003.) No doubt we'll be treated to tracks from Aaron's newest, Invisible Cinema. Check out some recent footage from a New York appearance.
Wed., 10.22 – Sat., 10/25: Larry Goldings Trio with Peter Bernstein & Bill Stewart @ the Jazz Bakery
I had the enormous pleasure of doing an extended interview with Larry a couple years ago. You'll find the audio files of the two parts here. This is the most modern organ trio around. Even after two decades together, they keep the format fresh with mindbending yet musical innovations.
Sat., 10.25: Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition @ UCLA's Schoenberg Hall
I'm expecting great things from two saxophonists I've interviewed before. Walter Smith III has had a pretty full gig calendar over the past couple years and some very hip associations (the aforementioned Parks, trumpeters Sean Jones and Christian Scott, drummer Kendrick Scott, vocalist Gretchen Parlato, guitarists Matt Stevens and Lage Lund, bassist Christian McBride, and pianist Jason Moran). One of his recent projects, Bronze, includes alto saxophonist Mark Small. Gian Tornatore is someone I'd been introduced to through a mutual friend. He's focused his career thusfar on music education as a high school teacher in New York (which I understand is an adventurous feat in itself), but he's also found enough time to progress as a player and composer.
More information about the competition (the semi-finals and finals are this weekend) is here.
To entice you to check out these two sax talents, I'm re-upping some mp3s I posted with earlier reviews of their albums. You can grab them from the earlier posts:
Walter Smith III: Casually Introducing Walter Smith III (Aaron Parks is on these tracks, as well)
Gian Tornatore: Sink or Swim and Blackout
Sat., 10.25: Kathleen Grace @ The Hotel Cafe
I thoroughly enjoyed Kathleen's albums Sunrise and Songbird and am eagerly anticipating her latest, Mirror. Whether it's a jazz standard, popular tune, or an original piece, she always treats it with the emotion and intelligence a jazz audience is accustomed to. The term "crossover" gets bandied about so much that it's become meaningless at best (pejorative at worst), but Kathleen expertly demonstrates that her various influences can be united earnestly with the right approach.
I suppose it's implied that an enthusiastic mention of any artists on this blog is a call to support them. All the same, I'll make it explicit: go.