Sunday, February 13, 2011

Hesitation Blues #2 - LA Record

Hesitation Blues - LA Record

One of the joys of living in Los Angeles is that you can attend outdoor shows in November without needing clothes stuffed with goose down. LACMA keeps up their jazz series through to Thanksgiving and they have booked some music worth a jaunt down the Miracle Mile. Harold Land Jr., piano-playing son of the West Coast saxophone legend has been playing around Los Angeles for years. On October 29th he’ll bring his tasteful sense of swing and unchanging facial expression to the courtyard with some help from local vocalist Rita Edmond. A couple of weeks later the invaluable Littleton Brothers return to share a bill. Between Jeff, the bassist, and Don, the drummer, the Littleton boys have probably played with every major jazz musician to set foot in Los Angeles in the last twenty years. Their encyclopedic knowledge has kept them in constant demand and here they finally get to call the tunes.

With colleges back in session some of the more respectable halls get dusted off and unlocked. That cathedral out in Westwood is hosting some of the most regal jazz available. Avant sage Ornette Coleman returns to Royce Hall with his son Denardo. They recorded their first album together in 1966 when Denardo was only 10. Witness one of the most polarizing characters in jazz - 62 years running. A few weeks later an all-star cast will converge to honor Alice Coltrane. A recently passed legend and a tremendous holy link to the Church of John, Coltrane was a Bud Powell devotee before carrying the torch into the 1970s as the widow of Impulse. Her meditative composure and glissanding harp are regrettably over-shadowed by her social status but the proof is in the wax. Led by TV on the Radio’s Kyp Malone and featuring Nels Cline and Pharaoh Sanders, the band will dig into what could be completely amazing or a total mess. Or a little of both.

A little further from the ocean, Chucho Valdes, the Cuban Art Tatum, hits up the Luckman Fine Arts Complex on October 16th alongside his Afro-Cuban messengers. One of the most astounding pianists touring the planet Valdes can leap from spitfire montunos to Chopin-esque agility in seconds. A rare treat in the heart of East LA.

Meanwhile downtown, merry evangelical prankster Reverend Billy, with his street corner preaching and Wayne Cochran hair-do, returns to California on October 21st for a little west coast exorcising. The Life After Shopping Gospel Choir, his rag-tag bunch of robed disciples, channel his anti-commercialism message through song. In the past year he ran a legitimate campaign for mayor of New York as well as getting arrested for putting a hex on JPMorgan Chase. It’s a sincere put-on, part Jimmy Swaggart, part Andy Kaufman. But when the choir gets going there is no denying his preacher-blues transformation. December 20th, however, through the garage and up the escalator at Disney Concert Hall, the Blind Boys of Alabama will lay down some real gospel. Formed in the early 40s the group has found its largest audience in the 21st century performing songs by the likes of Tom Waits and Curtis Mayfield. Think they’ll cover “Pasties & a G String”?

LA Record Issue 101

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