July 19, 2012
MUSIC Born in Munich and educated at Boston's Berklee College of Music, New York-based guitarist Leni Stern's recent recordings are lush, deeply felt explorations of the sound of Africa colored by Stern's soulful lyrics, lightly sanded voice and dazzling instrumental prowess. The Blue Whale, 123 astronaut E S Onizuka St. Suite 301. 9 p.m. Sat. $10. http://www.bluewhalemusic.com.
July 12, 2012
JAZZ One of the top groups to watch in L.A.'s fertile young jazz scene, the Cal Arts-educated quartet Slumgum showed a sharp, adventurous hand with avant-garde structures on its debut album "Quardboard Flavored Fiber. " This show celebrating the band's new album, "The Sky His Own," should continue the group's promising run aided by an appearance from Hugh Ragin, a veteran trumpeter who has also performed with David Murray and Roscoe Mitchell. The Blue Whale, 123 Astronaut E. S Onizuka St. Suite 301, L.A. 9 p.m. Sat. $10. http://www.bluewhalemusic.com . (Also at LACMA at 6 p.m. on Friday.)
June 28, 2012
An underrated and versatile bassist who has performed with Chris Botti, Larry Carlton and Wayne Krantz, Lefebvre should be in particularly rambunctious form with first-call session drummer and improviser Matt Chamberlain, members of Puscifer and special guests. The Blue Whale, 123 Astronaut E S Onizuka St., Suite 301, L.A. Fri., 9 p.m. $10. http://www.bluewhalemusic.com .
June 3, 2012 |
This post has been updated. Please see the bottom for details. Declining record sales, aging audiences and the closing of legendary clubs make worrying for jazz's future an annual concern among followers of the music. A few years back one prominent writer even started a mini Twitter movement encouraging fans to use the hashtag "#jazzlives" while heading to a show in the hopes of building measurable evidence of the music's continued health. The campaign couldn't quite sustain itself, but Friday's show at the Blue Whale in Little Tokyo managed to wash the concerns away, at least for a night.
May 31, 2012
JAZZ Maybe one of the most underrated saxophonists working today, Walter Smith III has performed with Terence Blanchard, Christian Scott and Jason Moran in addition to releasing three albums as a bandleader that included the inviting 2010 album "III. " His deft interplay with rising star Ambrose Akinmusire was among the highlights of the trumpeter's celebrated 2011 album, and Akinmusire will join Smith along with two members of Kneebody in a quintet that's sure to throw sparks downtown.
May 18, 2012 |
At first glance, a duet between a piano and saxophone could be considered a challenging assignment for some jazz listeners. Stripped of a rhythm section to anchor the ear, artists who tackle such a formation reduce their sound to its essence while allowing ample space to roam, leaving nowhere to hide if one player steps out too far beyond the other's lead. Fortunately -- but certainly not unexpectedly -- no such thing happened at the Blue Whale on Thursday night. Combining saxophonist Ben Wendel and pianist Dan Tepfer, the concert was a summit meeting of sorts between two steadily rising talents on the Sunnyside label.
May 17, 2012
JAZZ Not content to simply be one of the driving forces behind the L.A. indie-jazz combo Kneebody as well as leader of his own ensemble with the knotty recent recording, "Frame," saxophonist Ben Wendel thinks small with this duo appearance with pianist Dan Tepfer. The New York-based Tepfer, who spent time paired with Lee Konitz, should be a fine foil for Wendel's genre-blind tastes given Tepfer's 2010 album "Five Pedals Deep" and last year's ambitious reworking of Bach's "Goldberg Variations.
April 27, 2012 |
There was a rewarding symmetry at work in Thursday night's performance by the Rez Abbasi Quintet at the Blue Whale. Not counting the interplay between the musicians, which was also quite evident, the performance comes just days before the first observance of International Jazz Day , an undertaking by UNESCO and Herbie Hancock that emphasizes the global reach of the music. Born in Karachi, Pakistan, and raised in Southern California before moving on to New York City (Abbasi studied his craft at USC)
April 25, 2012
Music Led by Pakistani-born guitarist Abbasi, the Rez Abbasi Group is a band of heavy-hitting improvisers that includes New York City saxophonist David Binney attests to the global, genre-blind reach of jazz. The group's 2011 album "Sono Sono" was partly inspired by Pakistani Qawwali music, but the end result sounds equally informed by hard-edged fusion and even dashes of prog rock with ample room in between for Abbasi and company to cross borders of their own. The Blue Whale, 123 Astronaut E S. Onizuka St., Suite 301. 9 p.m. Thurs.
April 19, 2012
MUSIC New York City-based vocalist Kate McGarry celebrates the release of her album "Girl Talk," a tribute to the singer's "beloved jazz singer-mothers" that includes nods toward Betty Carter, Sheila Jordan and Carmen McRae. Adding to the album's distinctively contemporary spark are underlying nods toward the sexual politics of today such as on an inspired turn with Rogers and Hammerstein's "We Kiss in a Shadow. " The Blue Whale, 123 Astronaut E S Onizuka St. Suite 301, L.A. 9 p.m. Sat. $10. http://www.bluewhalemusic.com .