LAJC Jazz Picks: Bill Frisell, Brad Dutz, Robert Hurst, Pilc/Mouton/Hoenig, Donny McCaslin, Trio Eclectic, Dan Tepfer/Joanna Wallfisch

This is a packed weekend of events and it starts early.


Thursday, March 5 7:30pm
Bill Frisell’s Big Sur Quintet
Valley Performing Arts Center

The iconic guitarist has been on a retrospective tear as of late, with elegant tribute albums to John Lennon (All We Are Saying), and the rock guitar period of the 1960’s (Guitar in the Space Age).  The music of his current muse, folk singer Woody Guthrie, will be featured in this concert played by his “Big Sur” ensemble, featuring an all-string ensemble with Jenny Scheinman (violin), Eyvind Kang (viola), Hank Robers (cello), and Rudy Royston (drums).  Guthrie, whose music was the soundtrack for much of the protest movement of the 1960’s, is perhaps a fitting figure to re-examine considering the recent social upheaval both in this country and abroad.


Thursday 3/5 8pm
The Brad Dutz 4tet

Brad Dutz was a journeyman, drawn to percussion in college because his hands were better than his feet (crucial to playing drum set).  He toured with Maynard Ferguson before crashing back to LA, working odd jobs and church orchestras until Hollywood discovered his zany talent and began using him on Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Dutz would go on to record on a bevy of soundtracks, and for pop icons like Willie Nelson and Alanis Morrisette.  Studio-cred established, he continues to push (and rip asunder) the envelope of sound and rhythm with his own one-of-a-kind band, featuring Paul Sherman on oboe and English horn, Brian Walsh on clarinet, and cellist Chris Votek.

Friday 3/6, Saturday 3/7 9pm
Robert Hurst Group

Tucked In the liner notes of Wynton or Branford Marsalis records from the 80’s was this quote: “To obtain more wood sound from the bass, this album was recorded without usage of the dreaded bass direct.”  Robert Hurst was the bassist on many of those records and should be credited with rescuing us from the horrible bass aesthetics of that era, which have thankfully gone the way of bell-bottoms and chest hair poking through unbuttoned polyester shirts.  He’s played with Sting and in the Tonight Show Band, with seven Grammys to his name.  Hurst brings to bluewhale a must-see band with drummer Marvin “Smitty” Smith, percussionist Munyungo Jackson, saxophonist Josh Johnson and pianist Geoffrey Keezer.

Friday 3/6
Pilc Mouton Hoenig
Schoenberg Hall

The piano is a wondrous instrument with a myriad of possibility, tempered only by the physical and mental limitations of those who dare to put their hands on the keys.  If those hands belong to Jean Michel Pilc, witnesses need to prepare themselves to accept the stupendously impossible.  Pilc, along with bassist Francois Mouton and drummer Ari Hoenig, have been in existence as a trio since 1995, reforming in 2010 as a collaborative three-headed super-smart jazz-monster.  The resulting album from their reunion, Threedom, is a lively, at times irreverent tri-liloquy which confirms the band’s place among the best piano trios in jazz.

Saturday 3/7 8pm
Donny McCaslin
Zipper Hall

The tenor saxophonist has been well regarded for years for his work with trumpeter Dave Douglas, bandleader Maria Schneider, and countless other movers and shakers in the modern New York jazz environment.  Many years before then, Donny McCaslin was a California teenager whose musical heroes included Tower of Power, Weather Report, and Aphex Twin.  The formative inspiration of those groups have drawn McCaslin back to an electronica state of mind, with a couple of albums (Casting for Gravity in 2012, and Fast Future, due out soon) unapologetically exploring at once the great fusion albums of the past and the current wave of EDM.  The band for this Jazz Bakery ‘Moveable Feast’ concert includes three musicians with the street cred to venture into this electric wonderland; keyboardist Jeff Babko, drummer Nate Wood of Kneebody, and Tedeschi Trucks Band bassist Tim Lefebvre.

Saturday 3/7 8pm
Trio Eclectic
Alva’s Showroom

Those of you who live south of Downtown might want to check this under the radar show out.  Saxophonist Dave Goldberg and guitarist Duane Allen have been longtime friends and musical compatriots for the past 15 years.  They do a lot of spontaneously improvised music and their latest album, Trio Eclectic, accurately captures their instant music-making process.  It’s fun, engaging music highlighting the high-level playing and chemistry between Goldberg and Allen.  Drummer Jason Harnell, as he is prone to do, provides comprehensive rhythm coverage and kicks ass in general.  Alva’s is one of the nicest listening rooms in Southern California, and its owners are noble supporters of local live music.


Sunday 3/8 9pm
Dan Tepfer and Joanna Wallfisch

It should only take a moment or two of watching and hearing pianist Dan Tepfer to come to the conclusion he must be a genius.  Ideas emanate seemingly out of the ether, yet are entirely appropriate for the specific moment in time they are conjured.  His gifts are confirmed by master saxophonist Lee Konitz, who has picked Tepfer as his pianist of choice for the better part of a decade.  A sensitive and adept accompanist, he could even make Rosanne Barr sing the national anthem with grace and charm.  Lucky for us, Joanna Wallfisch needs no help in that department, as the British singer’s soothing voice and refined demeanor float over her pianist’s surprising ruminations on their new duo album, The Origin of Adjustable Things.

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