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Valley Life | jazz riffs

Three-Part Democracy


When musicians form a new band, they often struggle with finding an identity, a group sound. Trio Lesentu dealt with the problem by becoming a democratic combo, in which everyone has an equal say.

"Rather than be a trio where the pianist was spotlighted, we wanted this to be a group effort, where the music came first," said bassist Pat Senatore.

The threesome--whose unusual moniker is drawn from the first few letters of the members' last names--is composed of Senatore, pianist Milcho Leviev and drummer Kevin Tullius.

Trio Lesentu plays Thursday at Starbucks in Studio City and March 23 at Rocco in Bel-Air.

"We're doing tunes that are loose enough so that we can play them a little differently each night, where everyone has input," Senatore said.

On its debut release, the band offers originals and covers of such jazz classics as Oliver Nelson's "Stolen Moments" and Charles Lloyd's "Forest Flower."

There's a relaxed feeling to the music, and while the band tosses in an occasional up-tempo tune, it doesn't rely on speedy numbers.

In Brief: A trio that definitely has a leader--pianist Pete Jolly--and has been together 35 years plays tonight at Monteleone's West in Tarzana. (818) 996-0662. Another hard-cooking pianist is Karen Hernandez, who appears tonight at Jax in Glendale. (818) 500-1604.

On-the-rise singer Tierney Sutton, whose latest CD on Telarc is just out, treats listeners to emotive vocals backed by piano ace Dave Mackay on Thursday at Monteleone's West.


Trio Lesentu plays Thursday from 8 to 11 p.m. at Starbucks, 12170 Ventura Blvd., Studio City. Call (818) 762-9368.

Zan Stewart writes about jazz for the Valley Edition. He can be reached at

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