This is not the first time I’ve started this column off with the news that the Jazz Bakery will finally have a permanent home. In between that last declaration and this one things got a little bleak, then got really bleak and then got batshit crazy. It was announced in February that the Jazz Bakery will be getting a permanent home designed by none other than Frank Gehry. Yeah that guy who builds all those shiny buildings that melt houseplants with their white-hot reflections. This is pretty fantastic news for jazz nerds because it means the Bakery is going to become an architectural destination, not just some place on the Westside that old people go to. In the meantime the Bakery is continuing their roving jazz series. Pianist Chano Dominguez, who released a pretty great flamenco Miles Davis record, will be playing at the Colburn school downtown on March 31st.
On April 12th the ageless Tony Bennett is hitting the stage down in Orange County’s Segerstrom Hall. No one talks shit on Tony Bennett and for good reason. Sure he can croon and win over all the little old ladies but he also put out some killer records with Bill Evans in the 70s that proved to the doubters that this guy is a master. He’s 85 years old and can still belt it out to the cheap seats.
UCLA which has had an undeniably great selection of jazz offerings recently (Christian McBride and Ravi Coltrane played a double bill that showed how wide a net jazz can really cast. Hence the walk-outs.) will be offering another double bill featuring Betty LaVette and Jon Cleary on April 21st. Soul-shouter LaVette signed her first record contract at the age of 16 and now that she is in her 60s her voice has got that nice barrel-aged hum that can make your spine tingle. Jon Cleary on the hand is a limey with a strong taste for New Orleans piano (Dr. John without the feathers, James Booker without the eye-patch). Like Jools Holland he comes from a long British tradition of stealing our music and then selling it right back to us. And he’s really good at it.
In April, at Little Tokyo’s Blue Whale, guitarist Anthony Wilson is set to curate a month of Wednesdays. His impeccable chops and undeniable pedigree (his old man is jazz legend Gerald Wilson) always makes for a good show. There is little doubt that whoever he selects for his hump day marathon will be worth the time.
Pianist Brad Mehldau returns to LA on May 21st. The closest thing the jazz world has to a rock star, Mehldau occasionally plays Radiohead and even has a tattoo (maybe more than one?!?). Last year saw the release of a box-set of his definitive “Art of the Trio” series. Despite the pretentious title those records were pretty damn fantastic and helped to re-define the jazz trio for many a piano student. Hard to believe that was 15 years ago.
Hesitation Blues @ LA Record 106