All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Live Reviews

467

A Jazz Explosion at the Musician's Union, Local 47, Los Angeles, CA

By

Sign in to view read count
Bruce Babad Quartet / Ramon Banda Quintet / Billy Valentine Quartet / Azar Lawrence Quartet
Local 47, Musicians' Union
Los Angeles, CA
May 4, 2008



The dues were paid, and honor and homage were made to the true art form in L.A. on this day.

The event was "A Jazz Explosion," hosted by the California Jazz Foundation on May 4, 2008 at the digs of Local 47, Musicians' Union in Los Angeles. It was an occasion for lots of hot sounds—indeed, a conflagration perhaps never before experienced on the planet! Four sets of music by artists on a jazz mission. The fire simply would not be contained—it spread through the auditorium and over the city with artists unleashing succulent standards, bare-boned blues, no-nonsense straight-ahead swing, heart-centered Latin pulsations, and versatile vocal selections.

The Bruce Babad Quartet—featuring Bruce Babad on alto sax, Larry Koonse on guitar, Putter Smith on bass, Steve Barnes on drums, and John Campbell on piano—ignited the afternoon with Gerry Mulligan's "Line for Lyons." Satisfying, like velvet on listeners' ears. Anyone like to trade 4s or 6s? Babad and Campbell certainly did. Moreover, Babad's arrangement of Rodgers and Hart's "My Funny Valentine" was love for the heart, salve for the soul, water for the thirsty, and food for the hungry. Speaking of love...Babad performed a gorgeous waltz he had written for his wife—"Jan." Steve Barnes wasn't bashful with his brushwork behind Babad's melody played on alto. The leader continued to enthrall with a composition he wrote utilizing music notes that correlated with his last name. The tune, entitled "BABAD," produced a cool and funky interaction in the call and response between the altoist and Campbell's piano.

What a tribute to Paul Desmond, the great altoist and composer of "Take Five." And though the quartet had the same instrumentation as Dave Brubeck's, they added their own elegance with stirring bass work by Putter Smith, splendid guitar solos and accompaniment by Larry Koonse, John Campbell's plush yet uninhibited piano playing and Babad's ever smooth, intuitive and sexy alto sax. And this was only the first set of music!

Ramon Banda and his Quintet began with greater intensity than the preceding group. Ramon Banda on drums, Carlos Cuevas on piano, Craig Fundya on vibes, Joey (Joseph) DeLeon on percussion, and Edwin Livingston on bass performed the music of Cal Tjader, Theo Saunders, "Dizzy" Gillespie, Walter "Gil" Fuller, and "Chano" Pozo Gonzales. It was a wonderful exchange among the musicians—a delight simply to watch the astuteness and musicianship connect on the Theo Saunders piece, "Lo Down, No Feathers" and Cal Tjader's "Philly Mambo." The hauntingly beautiful standard "Tenderly" caressed us all while we swayed in the moment. Throughout, Cuevas kept the room ablaze with his lyrical style, his intriguing, skillful hands producing music that sent chills down my spine.

Suddenly "Carlito!!!" was shouted by an audience member, anticipating my own thoughts. I wanted to shout his name as well! Banda turned up the heat with a steady and soul-stirring, joyful rhythmic beat. Cuevas continued serving up his sweet and sizzling vibrations, leading to empathetic communication felt as much by the audience as the musicians. DeLeon was in sync with his tireless pulverizing percussion while Livingston, in his usual attire, fueled the inferno with changes on bass that were galvanizing. They completed their journey with Dizzy Gillespie's invigorating "Manteca."

The "Jazz Explosion" hosted not only incomparable music but a luscious spread of salads, main courses, desserts, fine wines and liquor along with soft drinks, water and hot coffee. The harmony among the audience members and testimonials given by those who have been supported through efforts of the California Jazz Foundation made the event not only personally fulfilling, musically and artistically, but altruistically and communally satisfying as well. We truly communed together on this magical afternoon.

Highlights occurred throughout the afternoon, with each set bringing its special sizzle. Certainly the Billy Valentine Quartet kept the flames going. The Quartet, featuring Billy Valentine—a keen and warm vocalist—includes the equally perceptive Stuart Elster on piano, an animated Bruce Lett on bass and the remarkable Gary Gibbons on drums, who kept it steady, strutting, and swinging.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Terence Blanchard and E-Collective at Ardmore Music Hall Live Reviews
Terence Blanchard and E-Collective at Ardmore Music Hall
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 21, 2018
Read Broken Shadows at Icehouse Live Reviews
Broken Shadows at Icehouse
by Samuel Stroup
Published: June 21, 2018
Read Donny McCaslin Group / Ensemble LPR: Symphonic Bowie at Central Park SummerStage Live Reviews
Donny McCaslin Group / Ensemble LPR: Symphonic Bowie at...
by Kurt Gottschalk
Published: June 19, 2018
Read Burlington Discover Jazz Festival 2018 Live Reviews
Burlington Discover Jazz Festival 2018
by Doug Collette
Published: June 13, 2018
Read Le French May’s Live Jazz Series in Hong Kong Live Reviews
Le French May’s Live Jazz Series in Hong Kong
by Rob Garratt
Published: June 11, 2018
Read Michelle Lordi at Philadelphia Museum of Art Live Reviews
Michelle Lordi at Philadelphia Museum of Art
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: June 10, 2018
Read "Boston Celebration: The Legacy of Bob Brookmeyer" Live Reviews Boston Celebration: The Legacy of Bob Brookmeyer
by Doug Hall
Published: March 13, 2018
Read "Michelle Lordi at Philadelphia Museum of Art" Live Reviews Michelle Lordi at Philadelphia Museum of Art
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: June 10, 2018
Read "Mark Hagan's Jazz Salon At The Old 76 House" Live Reviews Mark Hagan's Jazz Salon At The Old 76 House
by David A. Orthmann
Published: January 31, 2018
Read "Vivian Reed at Feinstein's/54 Below" Live Reviews Vivian Reed at Feinstein's/54 Below
by Tyran Grillo
Published: December 12, 2017
Read "Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival 2017" Live Reviews Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival 2017
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: June 24, 2017
Read "David Ostwald’s Louis Armstrong Eternity Band at Birdland" Live Reviews David Ostwald’s Louis Armstrong Eternity Band at...
by Tyran Grillo
Published: November 25, 2017