All About Jazz: The web's most comprehensive jazz resource

Serving jazz worldwide since 1995
All About Jazz: The web's most comprehensive jazz resource

Live Reviews

L.A. Jazz Scene 2008: Alive and Swingin'

By Published: January 22, 2009
On Maupin's "Message to Prez," the reed man mesmerized a nearly sold-out crowd (a remarkable achievement at a mid-week performance in L.A.) with the skill of a snake charmer. Watts joined in, his brushes creating a light, shimmering rhythm. Williams displayed dexterity and a rich tone, his fingers effortlessly sliding up and down the bass. And Beasley, without imitating Hancock, distilled the essence of the music and bottled it in his own personal style.

The John Beasley Quartet played a riveting night of music that left the audience hungry for more.

Class Back In Session

Kenny Burrell All-Stars

Jazz Bakery

Culver City, California

December 31, 2008

On the last night of 2008, the Kenny Burrell All-Stars, featuring James Moody

James Moody
James Moody
1925 - 2010
reeds
on tenor sax, Benny Green
Benny Green
Benny Green
b.1963
piano
on piano, Trevor Ware (bass) and Clayton Cameron (drums), celebrated the New Year in a festive Jazz Bakery concert filled with blues, bebop and Ellington.

The band opened with the Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
1920 - 1955
sax, alto
classic, "Yardbird Suite," Burrell tearing through the first solo with the swing and grace that has characterized his guitar mastery for nearly 60 years. Next, the irrepressible James Moody stepped up to the mike. No stranger to bebop, Moody was playing in big bands and small groups led by Dizzy Gillespie back in 1947 and two years later recorded, in Sweden, his immortal solo on "I'm in the Mood for Love." On the Bird vehicle, Moody breathed life into a tune he must have played thousands of times. Piano virtuoso Green, a relative "youngster," played a feverish, swingin' solo that reassured jazz fans the music's immediate future, anyway, is in solid hands.

As midnight approached, Burrell urged on the audience with the words, "Can't Wait to Get Out of 2008." Amen! Injecting the New Year with appropriate sentiment, Moody sang (predictably) "Moody's Mood for Love." With words supplied to his original solo by Eddie Jefferson
Eddie Jefferson
Eddie Jefferson
1918 - 1979
vocalist
(after which it became a hit record for King Pleasure
King Pleasure
1922 - 1982
vocalist
), it was definitely the evening's highlight. As if his impersonation of the female part (originally sung by Blossom Dearie
Blossom Dearie
Blossom Dearie
1926 - 2009
piano
) weren't enough, Moody segued into a "rap" and, in the process, demonstrated that he is truly young at heart.

Kenny Burrell then introduced Green, who played a particularly dramatic solo interpretation of Jule Styne's "Time After Time." Green painted with a broad palette of piano colors, ranging from meditative blues to hot, electric reds, as this Bud Powell
Bud Powell
Bud Powell
1924 - 1966
piano
-influenced piano prodigy, once every jazz critic's nominee as heir apparent to Oscar Peterson
Oscar Peterson
Oscar Peterson
1925 - 2007
piano
, explored very personal inner lands.

And just like every Burrell gig, the band took the exit for the land of Ellingtonia. Burrell vocalized a silky interpretation of "In a Mellow Tone," then improvised some lyrics to Billy Strayhorn
Billy Strayhorn
Billy Strayhorn
1915 - 1967
piano
's "Take the A Train." The crowd, which included one of the most passionate (and certainly the tallest) jazz fans around in Kareem Abdul Jabbar, joyously shouted and clapped its approval.

What a way to end the year! 2008 began with Burrell and ended with Burrell. That happy coincidence speaks volumes about the quality of music listeners on the West Coast can enjoy most weeks of the year. So the next time you hear someone bad rap the L.A. jazz scene, let 'em know that the cats are swingin' hard here in the Southland.

All Photo Credits

Chuck Koton



comments powered by Disqus