Published since 2007
Chuck Koton has been a jazz lover for 40 years and is currently covering the Los Angeles jazz scene for AAJ.
As chronicled by Steven Isoardi, among others, jazz arrived in L.A. as early as 1908, when a Dixieland band led by Bill Johnson began an extended engagement at a local Central Ave. club. Jelly Roll Mortonspent many of the early post-WWI years in the city and, by the 1940s, Central Ave. nightclubs like the Club Alabam were featuring the greatest East Coast be-boppers, Billie Holiday, as well as great local talent like Buddy Collette, Charles Mingus and Dexter Gordon. The late great Teddy Edwards is considered by many to have played the first recorded bebop tenor sax solo in "Up in Dodo's Room."
, blew a bluesy clarinet solo that lingered languorously in the horn's lower register and then drifted throughout the club, intoxicating customers along the way. Surely, Herman was smiling up in jazz heaven. The tune ended with an intimate duet between Burrell and his long-time bassist and colleague in UCLA's Jazz Studies Department, Roberto Miranda. Miranda, an L.A.-based musician of prodigious talents deserving of greater recognition, passionately explored the entire range of the bass, and displayed a musical and spiritual connection with Burrell that only comes from years of rehearsing and performing together.
For the last couple of years, winter in Los Angeles has been characterized by severe drought conditions, which should not be surprising as the city is situated in a desert. And like the flora and fauna in this often parched land, jazz aficionados here in Southern California often must endure extended dry periods, thirsting for world-class be bop, hard bop and post bop, as many of the top musicians (for some reason), choose to stay in New York, tour Europe or play in San Francisco, rather than perform here in Los Angeles. Fortunately, this past winter, intermittent restorative rains finally fell, dampening the dry, dusty land and nourishing ravenous roots from San Diego to Woodland Hills in the San Fernando Valley. A deluge of great music filled the azure skies as well, and the local jazz scene flourished like the Garden of Eden these past few months.
Ushering in 2008 was the indefatigable, L.A.-based Kenny Burrell, literally and figuratively "Dean" of the jazz guitar, who brought his quintet to Catalina's, the Southland's premier jazz nightclub, from January 10-14. On this occasion, Burrell was joined by Tom Ranier on piano, Roberto Miranda on bass, Clayton Cameron on drums, recent college graduate, Tivon Pendicott, on tenor sax, clarinet and flute, and Mayuto Correa on percussion.
During the first set, Burrell introduced "Tenderly" with gentle caresses of his guitar. Professor Burrell then took the class (I mean the audience) to the land of Ellingtonia. Jazz lovers in the room sat mesmerized, absorbing every mellifluous sound his fingers made, as the master and the band played the classic, "Mood Indigo." Young Tivon Pendicott, playing reeds in place of the late, great Herman Riley
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