Monday, September 20, 2010

Hesitation Blues #1 - LA Record

Hesitation Blues - LA Record

It's that time of year when old jazzbos are trotted off to European festivals to breathe some fresh air and teach high school kids how to play a blues scale on their days off. While they are out spending their increasingly valueless Euros, the rest of us are left with the weakest season of the jazz calendar. Unless you dig those breezy, barefoot, strolling-on-the-beach, saxophone-and-wind -chime sounds, you've got some slim pickings this summer.

While the Jazz Bakery continues to jump from one melting iceberg to another in search of a permanent home, they will stop August 1 at the Silent Movie Theatre for the LA premiere of The Anatomy of Vince Guaraldi, the pianist everyone of a certain age knows for the dance scene in A Charlie Brown Christmas. But Guaraldi was already well-known by the time he met Charles Schulz and co., coming off early work with Cal Tjader and Mongo Santamaria and a surprise B-side hit called "Cast Your Fate to the Wind." Anatomy presents pretty-much-thought-lost period footage of prime Guaraldi with unreleased recordings and commentary from everyone from Dave Brubeck to Paul "The Realist" Krassner.

Kenny Burrell - guitarist, educator, Ellington's #1 fan - is one of our most treasured local (by way of Detroit) elder statesmen. His status in the jazz community looms large thanks to his performances with Jimmy Smith, John Coltrane and Bill Evans. Burrell's effortless authority over his guitar and his sidemen is compelling not only to listen to but also to watch. Never a drop of sweat on that guy. Burrell will return to Hollywood's Catalina Bar and Grill for his annual engagement August 5-7. As long as the synth strings stay home, there should be some great meaty guitar lines provided by a nattily dressed professional.

Herbie Hancock is one of those guys that you think is older than he really is. He may have played with Miles in the early 60s, but he was still in his early thirties when he released Head Hunters. It's safe to say he probably has the largest keytar collection of any 70-year-old man. This is part of the problem of encountering Herbie Hancock in the 21st century. Sometimes he acts like an old jazz cat and sometimes he acts like a middle-aged pop star. Unfortunately, the old jazz cat doesn't seem to have had much input in Hancock's curated jazz series at the Hollywood Bowl this season. This is my problem more than his. Nevertheless, I wouldn't miss a night with blues guitar greats Buddy Guy and BB King on August 11. Guy, who reached sweat-drenched heights alongside Junior Wells in the late 60s while everybody else ripped his style and fizzled out, still rocks the polka-dot guitar like no one else. King has outlasted even more - playing nearly as many shows as there are seats at the Bowl.

LA Record Issue 100

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