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FALL PREVIEW | CRITIC'S EYE JAZZ

Pianists among fall's key players

September 14, 2003|Don Heckman | Special to The Times

The main event this season: the appearance of the Keith Jarrett Trio at Disney Hall on Nov. 12. How will the Disney acoustics handle jazz? There's no better test than the sound of the Jarrett players. The subtle layers of textural interplay among Jarrett, bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette will provide the first opportunity to answer one of the fall's most significant musical questions.

But there's much more. From tropical-hued Cuban rhythms to the straight ahead drive of bebop, there's a place on the schedule for every manifestation of keyboard virtuosity.

The pianistic highlights reach across the entire fall season. There will be Cuban-based sounds from veteran Chucho Valdes, who will make a solo appearance -- always one of his most compelling musical settings -- at Catalina Bar & Grill, Sept. 23-28. Another Cuban-born artist, Omar Sosa, an emerging superstar who is still somewhat below the national radar, performs at the Cerritos Center on Sept. 30. Classically oriented improviser Brad Mehldau is at the Knitting Factory on Oct. 3 and 4, the ever-lyrical Fred Hersch will be at the Jazz Bakery for nearly a week, Nov. 18-23, and the young, cutting-edge iconoclast Andy Milne leads his band Dapp Theory at Barnsdall Park's Gallery Theatre on Sept. 23.

Add some humor to the keyboard sounds and the first names that come to mind are the jazz world's most entertaining musical wits -- Dave Frishberg and Bob Dorough. They'll make one of their always amusing appearances, mixing catchy lyrics with solid jazz piano playing at the Jazz Bakery, Sept. 30-Oct. 5.

Another sterling duo -- pianist McCoy Tyner and vibist Bobby Hutcherson -- explore the textural connections between their instruments (Jazz Bakery, Oct. 14-19). And NPR's favorite jazz piano diva, Marian McPartland, headlines the Jazz Bakery's 10th anniversary celebration on Nov. 10.

The fall jazz schedule will also feature a major venue transition in early November, when Catalina Bar & Grill moves from its Cahuenga Boulevard location to a new room on Sunset Boulevard near Highland. With considerably more space and an outdoor patio, the new Catalina's will present the Southland with a much-needed, state-of-the-art jazz venue.

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