Fall arts picks: Jazz
Here in Los Angeles, autumn’s arrival doesn’t really translate into a horizon-altering turning of leaves or a discernible temperature shift — depending on which way El Niño’s whims are flowing. But even as the local jazz scene offers a similar kind of all-season consistency, there’s no denying that this fall offers a particularly rich harvest, including a tangle of promising shows crowded around the days ahead.
The Angel City Jazz Festival has served as an exhilarating mile marker in the shift from one season to the next over the last four years. This year’s multi-night, multi-site menu will be highlighted by a multi-act “World Jam” at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre. Local presenters such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, UCLA Live and still-nomadic Jazz Bakery also kick off new slates of programming. And this doesn’t even count the reliable menu of one-off touring bands, such as jazz star of the moment Esperanza Spalding and other more familiar faces in new musical surroundings.
There’s no shortage of jazz on the rise.
Founder of “M-Base,” an influential way of considering modern improvisation, the New York-based saxophonist makes a rare L.A. appearance with his eight-piece band, which delivers an array of twisting, knotted melodies led by the beguiling vocals of Jen Shyu.
The Blue Whale, Little Tokyo, L.A., $15
Angel City Jazz Festival, Sept. 22-Oct 2
Now a can’t-miss fall tradition, this year’s installment features artists such as AACM veteran Roscoe Mitchell, Australian improvisers the Necks, altoist Rudresh Mahanthappa and many others, making up an eclectic seven nights of jazz without borders.
See www.angelcityjazz.com for venue and ticket information
Sonny Rollins, Sept. 22 and 25.
The saxophone colossus may have turned 80 last year but you wouldn’t know it by his active touring schedule. A star-studded birthday celebration concert in 2010 just came out on CD as “Road Shows Vol. 2,” which showed this classic improviser has hardly lost a step. Odds are these shows will reveal much the same.
Royce Hall, UCLA (Sept. 22), $30-$105; Segerstrom Hall, Costa Mesa (Sept. 25), $25-$66
Robert Glasper, Sept. 28
A restlessly creative pianist with a penchant for diving into funk and hip-hop in collaborations with Mos Def and the Roots, this trio date should give any jazz fan who might blanch at the thought of such hybridization a reason to rethink those terms. Simply put, Glasper is one of the top young pianists working today.
Musicians Institute, Hollywood, $25
Esperanza Spalding, Sept. 30
The glow of the spotlight might have faded a touch since Spalding rocked a nation of Justin Bieber fans with a new artist Grammy, but all eyes will be on her for this performance of her breakthrough album “Chamber Music Society.” Past Grammy winners in that category have found trouble living up to the title, but in this case — and for this show — I wouldn’t bet on it.
Orpheum Theater, L.A. $24.50-$57
James Farm. Oct. 1
An invigorating jazz supergroup of sorts made up of saxophonist Joshua Redman, pianist Aaron Parks and a powerful rhythm section of the SF JAZZ Collective’s Eric Harland and Matt Penman, this project’s debut album pulled from a variety of sounds from rock and pop and discovered arresting new ground.
The Broad Stage, Santa Monica.
Miles Davis Experience: 1949-59, Oct. 21-22.
Jazz’s ongoing addiction to honoring its rich history can be troubling, but this multimedia production in collaboration with Blue Note Records shows extra promise. With rising star Ambrose Akinmusire slated to fill in for Davis on trumpet, the evening should deliver intriguing flashes of the past merging with present.
Samueli Theatre, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Costa Mesa. Tickets start at $62 (sale date TBD)
Sing the Truth!, Oct. 22.
A dynamic vocal trio of Angélique Kidjo, Dianne Reeves and Lizz Wright pay tribute to classic jazz vocals including a special selection dedicated to recently passed singers Miriam Makeba, Abbey Lincoln and Odetta.
Walt Disney Concert Hall, L.A., $47-$94
Keith Jarrett / Gary Peacock / Jack DeJohnette, Oct. 26
The ever-mercurial pianist brings his long-running “Standards Trio” back to Royce Hall for another night of classic songs swung in the classic way, yet served with plenty of improvisational intrigue.
Royce Hall, UCLA, $40-$135
Out of Town
SFJAZZ Festival, Sept. 15-Dec. 18
Three months of events technically constitutes more of a programming season than a festival, but our neighbors to the north have booked an impressive selection this fall, including a few artists with no current Southern California stops. Among the highlights are Wayne Shorter (10/2) and a duo performance by Joshua Redman and Brad Mehldau (10/22).
See www.sfjazz.org for venue and ticket information.
The New Gary Burton Quartet, Oct. 11-12
Now in his fifth decade of recording, the vibraphonist reloaded for his latest album “Common Ground.” Teamed with nimble young guitarist Julian Lage and a propulsive rhythm section of Scott Colley and Antonio Sanchez, Burton is another one of those jazz artists who defies the years.
Lobrero Theater, Santa Barbara (Oct. 11), Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, La Jolla (Oct. 12)
-- Chris Barton
Photo: Esperanza Spalding. Credit: Eva Hambach/AFP/Getty Images