Summer concerts: Jazz at the Bowl, outdoors and in the clubs
Jazz concerts in Southern California this summer include performances by Chris Botti, George Benson and Wynton Marsalis’ Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.
Once the jacarandas start blooming, Los Angeles’ typically rich menu of live jazz gets that much richer in the great outdoors. This year’s Hollywood Bowl season offers a few tilts toward the smoother side of the music with dates with Chris Botti and George Benson, and a return by Wynton Marsalis’ Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra joined by saxophonist Joe Lovano. Also up is the reliably eclectic Playboy Jazz Festival, as well as a star-studded reexamination of Joni Mitchell’s “The Hissing of Summer Lawns” led by Herbie Hancock that should offer plenty of unfettered exploration. Even the Greek Theatre gets into the act with a September date with Chick Corea’s latest incarnation of the fusion powerhouse Return to Forever.
Little Tokyo’s Blue Whale continues to be a can’t-miss bet regardless of the season, including June dates with Satoko Fujii and Michael Formanek. And Catalina in Hollywood opens the summer with a four-night run with the ever-rambunctious Bad Plus and two shows with rising young guitarist Julian Lage. Grand Performances also offers the occasional evening of free (that is, no cover charge) jazz led by a celebration of L.A.’s influential Pan Afrikan People’s Arkestra and a meeting of jazz and Armenian folk in a show with the Shoghakan Ensemble and pianist Tigran Hamasyan.
Though summer ends far too quickly, late September brings a date at the Orpheum with Grammy winner Esperanza Spalding, who looks to build upon the moment that electrified both the jazz world and a nation of outraged Justin Bieber fans. With luck, that bunch will get to hear what they’ve been missing.
Michael Formanek Quartet. The cutting-edge New York bassist performs from his twisty new album “The Rub and Spare Change” with Tim Berne on saxophone, pianist Craig Taborn and drummer Gerald Cleaver. The Blue Whale, 123 Astronaut E.S. Onizuka St., L.A. Wed. $15. www.bluewhalemusic.com
The Bad Plus. An invigorating piano trio that covers the Pixies as readily as Stravinsky (the composer’s “The Rite of Spring” was a recent target), their 2010 album “Never Stop” highlighted the group’s bent originals. Catalina Bar & Grill, 6725 W. Sunset Blvd., L.A., Thu.-Sun., $20-$30, (323) 466-2210.
Elliott Sharp and Motoko Honda. The experimental-minded guitarist teams with Honda’s effects-enhanced piano for an evening of highflying improvisations. The Blue Whale, 123 Astronaut E.S. Onizuka St., L.A. June 9. $10. www.bluewhalemusic.com
Diane Schuur. The latest album by this vocalist features guest turns from Alison Krauss and Mark Knopfler. Catalina Bar & Grill, 6725 W. Sunset Blvd., L.A., June 10-11 $30-$35, (323) 466-2210.
Playboy Jazz Festival. The 33rd annual concert boasts an eclectic lineup that includes Lee Konitz, Ambrose Akinmusire, the Roots with trumpeter Terence Blanchard and more. The Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., L.A. June 11-12, $20-$150. www.playboyjazzfestival.com
Slumgum. Rising stars on the local scene, this quartet performs from its rollicking new album “Quardboard Flavored Fiber.” Royal/T, 8910 Washington Blvd., Culver City. June 16, 8:30, $10. (310) 559-6300.
Julian Lage Group. The Grammy-nominated guitarist touches on folk and bluegrass on his elegant new album “Gladwell.” Catalina Bar & Grill, 6725 W. Sunset Blvd., L.A., June 20-21, $20, (323) 466-2210.
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. The heavy-swinging big band works a traditional yet ever-lively seam, which grows even more so with guests Joe Lovano and Hugh Masekela. Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., L.A. June 22, 8 p.m. $29-$131. www.hollywoodbowl.com
Satoko Fujii Ma-Do Quartet. The nimble pianist tilts toward the turbulent side of the avant-garde but retains a lyric beauty in her improvisations. The Blue Whale, 123 Astronaut E.S. Onizuka St., L.A. June 28, $10. www.bluewhalemusic.com
Jeff Lorber Fusion. The crossover jazz keyboardist mixes elements of R&B and pop. Hyatt Regency Newport Beach, 1107 Jamboree Road. July 1, $45-$90. (949) 729-1234. www.hyattconcerts.com.
Chris Botti. The trumpeter has recently shifted away from his smoother leanings for a more straight-ahead if still pop-dusted sound. Bobby McFerrin with Yellowjackets open. Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., L.A. July 13, 8 p.m. $29-$131. www.hollywoodbowl.com
An evening of Arkestry. A celebration of L.A.’s rich jazz heritage led by the late Horace Tapscott’s Pan Afrikan People’s Arkestra and its contemporary offshoot Build an Ark. Grand Performances at California Plaza, 350 S. Grand Ave., L.A. July 23, 8 p.m. Free. www.grandperformances.org.
Hiroshima. The breezy fusion ensemble recently celebrated 30 years together. Hyatt Regency Newport Beach, 1107 Jamboree Road. July 29, $45-$90. (949) 729-1234. www.hyattconcerts.com
Shoghakan Ensemble with Tigran. Up-and-coming pianist Tigran Hamasyan joins the traditional Armenian folk group for a night of musical cross-pollination. Grand Performances at California Plaza, 350 S. Grand Ave., L.A. July 30, 8 p.m. Free. www.grandperformances.org
‘Joni’s Jazz.’ An all-star lineup including Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Aimee Mann celebrate the unique songwriting of Joni Mitchell, including a performance of 1975’s “The Hissing of Summer Lawns.” Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., L.A. Aug. 17. $29-$131. www.hollywoodbowl.com
Matt Slocum Quartet. The drummer-composer made an auspicious debut in 2009 with “Portraits.” Boston Court, 70 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena. Aug. 20. www.jazzbakery.com
Steve Tyrell. The crowd-pleasing vocalist’s most recent album explored the Burt Bacharach songbook. Hyatt Regency Newport Beach, 1107 Jamboree Road. Aug. 19, $50-$95. (949) 729-1234.
Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club An evening of hot Cuban jazz led by singer Omara Portuondo. Arturo Sandoval and Ninety Miles Featuring Stefon Harris, David Sanchez, Christian Scott open. Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., L.A. Aug. 24, 8 p.m. $29-$131. www.hollywoodbowl.com
George Benson. The ever-smooth guitarist pulls from his bottomless songbook of tasteful and influential favorites. Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., L.A. Aug. 31, 8 p.m. $29-$131. www.hollywoodbowl.com
Sweet & Hot Music Festival. The annual celebration of vintage jazz and pop features veteran vocalist Barbara Morrison and West Coast trumpeter Jack Sheldon. L.A. Airport Marriott, 5855 W. Century Blvd., Sept. 2-5, $25-$100 www.sweethot.org
The Quincy Jones Band featuring the Global Gumbo All-Stars and friends. Patti Austin, Alfredo Rodriguez and others join a rare performance date with the influential arranger-producer. Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., L.A. Sept. 7, 8 p.m. $29-$131. www.hollywoodbowl.com
Return to Forever IV. Chick Corea’s influential fusion ensemble returns with familiar faces Stanley Clarke, Lenny White and Jean-Luc Ponty. The Greek Theatre, 2700 N. Vermont Ave., L.A. Sept. 20 7:30 p.m., $40-$90.
Esperanza Spalding. The bassist, composer and anointed new hope for jazz looks to build on her Grammy win with a performance highlighting her breakthrough, “Chamber Music Society.” The Orpheum, 842 S. Broadway, L.A., Sept. 30, 8 p.m. $24.50-$57.
— Chris Barton
Photos: Top: Michael Formanek. Credit: Claire Stefani. Second: Julian Lage. Credit: Barbara Zanon / Getty Images. Bottom: Herbie Hancock. Credit: Robert Marquardt / WireImage.