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Crossing Genres

March 17, 2000|ZAN STEWART | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

While numerous jazz artists have made forays into the worlds of pop and rock, few have landed a major record deal as pianist Jane Getz did.

In the early '70s, she signed with RCA Victor and made two albums of pop tunes under the name Mother Hen, a nom de plume given to her by noted songwriter Gene McDaniels ("A Hundred Pounds of Clay"). Getz also recorded with John Lennon and Don Henley.

These days, the bebop-bent Getz mostly plays jazz, just as she did with greats such as Charles Mingus and Stan Getz (no relation--the name of her latest CD) in the '60s.

But she keeps a hand in the pop biz, producing some artists and writing songs. She appears Tuesday with her trio, featuring the "soulful and articulate" bassist Chris Colangelo, at Monteleone's West in Tarzana. Pop definitely finds its way into her jazz work and vice versa, she said.

"My knowledge of jazz chord structure helps me in my writing of pop tunes, while the timing I've gotten from playing strictly rock gigs, like where to place things when I'm playing, has really helped," said Getz, who can swing with the best of them.

Getz is from west Texas and she grew up in various parts of Southern California. "My family moved like every year," she said. A prodigy, Getz was fluent in classical music as a preteen and picked up jazz at about age 12. "I was flipping through radio stations and I heard George Shearing and thought, 'I could do that.' I was always improvising with classical stuff anyway," said Getz, who lives in West Hollywood.

There's a lot to like about jazz, said Getz, who also plays every other Sunday at the Cat & Fiddle Pub in Hollywood with noted saxophonist Wilbur Brown. "It's exciting, a kind of think-on-your-feet endeavor," she said. "I like shaping musical phrases. And I like to take chances when I'm improvising, get myself in a jam and then get myself out, while at the same time making it sound easy on the ears."

In Brief: For some spirited contemporary jazz that reflects rock influences, check out sizzling keyboardist Otmaro Ruiz and guitarist Allen Hinds, who let loose Sunday from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the Baked Potato in North Hollywood. (818) 980-1615).

Something a bit more introspective, though just as musically intense, will be provided by trombonist-composer Curt Berg, a former Angeleno who's now ensconced in the Pacific Northwest. He teams with pianist Tom Garvin on Tuesday from 7 to 11 p.m. at Ca' del Sole in North Hollywood. (818) 985-4669).

BE THERE

Jane Getz plays Tuesday from 7 to 11 p.m. at Monteleone's West, 19337 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana. Call (818) 996-0662.

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Zan Stewart writes about jazz for the Valley Edition. He can be reached at Zansky@aol.com.

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