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Tomas Janzon at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Jim Santella By

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Tomas Janzon Quartet
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Los Angeles, California
November 26, 2004

Friday Night Jazz at LACMA has remained an integral fixture of the Los Angeles jazz scene for thirteen years. Made possible by a generous grant from Dwight M. and Dona S. Kendall, the regular events kick off each weekend with stellar mainstream jazz that includes both local and out-of-town talent. From 5:30 to 8:30 each Friday evening, the spacious L.A. Times Central Court becomes home to hundreds of straight-ahead jazz fans and performing artists of the highest caliber. For coming events, see the calendar at www.lacma.org .

As editor-in-chief Fred Jung reveals in the August 2004 issue of AAJ:LA , the Friday Night Jazz series at LACMA is where we've all come to know Art Davis, Vinny Golia, Bobby Bradford, Horace Tapscott, and others, such as Kurt Elling, Julie Kelly, and the L.A. Jazz Quartet.

Guitarist Tomas Janzon brought his original spirit to LACMA with splendid results. In three powerful sets, he reflected blues-laden memories of Wes Montgomery and Django Reinhardt, as well as the fire and complexity found in the work of the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Fresh originals and standards such as "Moanin'," "All the Things You Are," "Here's That Rainy Day," and "Have You Met Miss Jones" were interpreted with authority. Janzon gave each selection a varied appearance, as his guitar wove intricate melodic patterns through the fabric of familiar song. His fluid lines produced thrilling results and meshed with his musical collaborators effectively.

Throughout the evening, a poignant chemistry existed between Janzon and pianist David Arnay. Both had the audience enthralled by their searing energy and cohesive interplay. Their intuitive camaraderie was best displayed on Dave Brubeck's "Theme from Mr. Broadway ," as the two artists drove with exciting romps and powerful cascades that used the full range of both instruments.

Bassist Nedra Wheeler, who appears on Janzon's album, X-Changes , provided a solid foundation for the quartet, as well as contributing sizzling solo spots that hushed the outdoor audience in momentary lapses. You know that the performance is being fully appreciated when the usual conversations take a hiatus at moments like this. Her mellow bass filled the evening's three sessions with grace.

While Wheeler applied silken textures, drummer Tony Austin contributed powerful rants that controlled the evening's varied meters and brought them to the audience in lucid terms. Recalling Tony Williams, through his mix of sensitivity and power, Austin provided the quartet with a firm grasp of each changing mood.

Ensembles such as the Tomas Janzon Quartet give LACMA and the Los Angeles Friday Night Jazz audience reason to continue the tradition. It's an educational and rewarding night out, and it's a great way to kick-start the weekend.

Visit Tomas Janzon on the web.

Photo Credit
Bror Karlsson

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