Los Angeles Jazz Scene - Jazz Around Town
                    December 2016

As I mentioned in a previous column, I recently created CHOPS, a series of 50 Jazz Trivia Quizzes (20 questions apiece) totaling 1,000 multiple-
choice and true/false questions. CHOPS covers all eras of the music, has a generous amount of wit, and is available as a PDF file for $25. It
makes for a great Xmas gift for your jazz-loving friends and especially for YOU! Send payment via Pay Pal to scottyanowjazz@yahoo.com and I
will E-mail a copy of CHOPS to you within a day.

For the fun of it, here are ten jazz trivia questions in the style of CHOPS although these questions are not actually part of the 1,000. See how
many you can answer without looking them up. I will post the answers next issue. Those who cannot wait that long, can send me an E-mail at
scottyanowjazz@yahoo.com and I’ll tell you if you’re a jazz expert or not. A passing grade is five correct out of the ten.

1. The Original Creole Band, a pioneering New Orleans-style band that played in black vaudeville shows during 1914-17, was led by:
A) Freddie Keppard                                        B) Bill Johnson
C) Kid Ory                                                D) Buddy Bolden

2. Never a member of the Paul Whiteman Orchestra:
A) Bunny Berigan                                        B) Jack Teagarden
C) Tommy Dorsey                                        D) Benny Goodman

3. After Gene Krupa left the Benny Goodman big band in 1938, he was the first musician to record on drums with the Goodman orchestra:
A) Dave Tough                                        B) Sid Catlett
C) Lionel Hampton                                        D) Buddy Rich

4. Original pianist with the Louis Armstrong All-Stars in 1947:
A) Dick Cary                                                B) Joe Sullivan
C) Earl Hines                                                D) Thelonious Monk

5. T/F John Coltrane recorded on alto rather than his usual tenor on a record date with Gene Ammons in 1958.

6.  He played piano on the originally issued Miles Davis version of “Seven Steps To Heaven”:
A) Victor Feldman                                        B) Herbie Hancock
C) Wynton Kelly                                        D) Chick Corea

7. Not a member of Larry Coryell’s Eleventh House in the 1970s:
A) Michael Brecker                                        B) Randy Brecker
C) Alphonse Mouzon                                        D) Mike Mandel

8. Wynton Marsalis appears in this film:
A) Mo’ Better Blues                                        B) Round Midnight
C) Tune In Tomorrow                                        D) The Exorcist III.

9. Winner of the 2010 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition:
A) Gretchen Parlato                                        B) Cecile McLorin Salvant
C) Roberta Gambarini                                D) Cyrille Aimee

10. T/F The up-and-coming trad trumpeter-singer Bria Skonberg was originally a child prodigy as a classical violinist.


After 25 years, Typhoon in Santa Monica has closed. The closure is not due to lack of business but because the restaurant, which frequently
featured jazz a few times a week, had problems with their landlord that resulted in the owner finally giving up the battle.
Two weeks before Typhoon closed its doors, trumpeter Mike Price brought in his big band for one last time. While the 16-piece orchestra as
usual featured a variety of songs from Duke Ellington’s repertoire, there was more variety than usual. The always exciting “Whirlybird” and
the medium-slow “Midnight Blue” were from Count Basie’s book. After Ellington’s “Sonnet For Caesar” and Gerald Wilson’s arrangement of
John Coltrane’s “Equinox” (featuring some passionate tenor playing by Charles Owens), Sandy Graham was a featured guest. She swung
happily on “Wonderful Day,” was haunting on “Mood Indigo,” and was quite expressive on “Solitude.” The band next romped through “Cotton
Tail,” and performed Ellington’s arrangements of “Rhapsody In Blue” and his “Madness In Great Ones.” Sandy Graham returned for an
exuberant version of “I’m Going To Lock My Heart And Throw Away The Key,” the atmospheric “Daydream” and “Thou Swell.” After “Air
Mail Special” and “Flirtibird,” the Mike Price Orchestra concluded with a very exciting version of Ellington’s “Diminuendo and Crescendo In
Blue.” It was an unusual rendition for it did not include the usual marathon tenor solo. However the exciting ensembles with Price playing the
high notes at its climax were quite stirring.

The Mike Price big band displayed an infectious group spirit throughout the night with fine solos from Rickey Woodard and Charles Owens on
tenors, altoist Doug Webb, trumpeter Bob Summers, pianist Brian O’Rourke and bassist Richard Simon among others. With Sandy Graham
adding her special brand of sass and swing to the music, it made for a memorable evening.

Typhoon will be missed.


Jeffrey Gimble, a popular local singer, was in top form at Vitello’s E-Spot Lounge. Joined in his group Mixtape by keyboardist Josh Nelson,
bassist Alex Frank and drummer Dan Schnelle, Gimble’s singing was accompanied by the visual imagery of Travis Flournoy on a screen. The
film clips from vintage movies often fit the music perfectly. The singer performed beloved songs that he heard while growing up and more
recently, covering a wide range of sources while generally turning the music into jazz. Among the pieces that were given inventive
treatments were “Bye Bye Blackbird” (which changed tempos several times), a Mark Murphy-inspired version of “I Didn’t Know What Time It
Was,” Kitty Margolis’ conversational “This Just Might Get It,”  Stevie Wonder’s “Summer’s Gone,” “Morning” and “God Is Love” from Marvin
Gaye’s What’s Going On album. Throughout the night, Gimble’s warm vocals (which were particularly effective in his lower register) and
Nelson’s creative piano solos, along with the background film, succeeded at casting fresh light on a variety of high-quality songs. The overflow
crowd enjoyed the fine show.

Ever since the 1960s, the Christmas season brings out a numerous amount of jazz recordings featuring top artists performing Yuletide
favorites. A few of the more interesting releases are covered here.
4 Classic Christmas Albums Plus (available from www.avidgroup.co.uk) is a reissue of four complete Lps plus an EP. The Xmas sets feature five
different artists and just as many different moods. Ella Fitzgerald’s A Swinging Christmas is a joyous affair as Ella in 1960, with backing by
Frank De Vol’s orchestra, swings her way through infectious versions of such songs as “Jingle Bells,” “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” and
“Frosty The Snowman.” A few ballads alternate with the romps and the music is as fun as one would expect. In contrast, Peggy Lee’s Christmas
Carousel from 1959-60 is disappointing. Joined by an orchestra and a children’s choir, Lee performs a so-so middle-of-the-road pop exploration
of Xmas-related songs which range from mildly swinging to sappy. Charles Brown Sings Christmas Songs has a remake of Brown’s Yuletide hits
“Merry Christmas Baby” and “Please Come Home For Christmas” plus ten of his original Christmas songs, none of which caught on. Joined by
a combo in 1961, Brown sings very well throughout this bluesy and soulful program which is quite pleasing. Stan Kenton’s A Merry
Christmas, also from 1961, is a reverent and tasteful exploration of ten Christmas songs plus a six-song medley. It is a spiritual and rather
somber set. Concluding the two-CD set is a real rarity, the four songs that the great Sidney Bechet recorded at his final record date. Joined by a
quartet that includes trombonist Claude Gousset and organist Jean-Claude Pelletier (this was probably the only time that Bechet recorded
with an organist), the soprano-saxophonist performs swinging versions of “Silent Night,“ “White Christmas” and two originals. Sidney Bechet
had been ill since the summer of 1958 and this was a brief comeback before his death three months later. He sounds excellent while the
complementary Gousset recalls Vic Dickenson during the joyful if brief date. So, all in all, this twofer is certainly a mixed bag but has enough
reasons for it to be acquired by those wanting Christmas jazz.
Kurt Elling Sings Christmas (available from www.okeh-records.com) is rather unusual. Other than “We Three Kings,” “Some Children See
Him,” “Little Drummer Boy,” “Snowfall” (which is part of a medley) and three brief excerpts from “Wenceslaus,” the material is taken from
pop music, the movie Scrooge or a classical theme. Many of the performances are introspective and, while this is a secular album, there is a
deep spiritual feeling to much of the music. The performances sometimes barely border on jazz (occasionally crossing over to New Age)
although “Christmas Children” and an inventive “Little Drummer Boy” swing. Utilizing a group that includes guitarist John McLean,
keyboardist Stuart Mindeman and Jim Gailloreto on soprano (the latter takes some excellent solos), Kurt Elling has put together a rather
thoughtful set of subtle music that includes quite a few moody ballads. However it is fair to say that the often-melancholy Sings Christmas will
not be regarded as one of Kurt Elling’s most classic recordings.
The NOLA Players’ Collection In New Orleans (available from www.vervelabelgroup.com) features a big band that alternates between two
different personalities. Most of the time, the 16-piece orchestra is a conventional big band, with the New Orleans connection not being all that
relevant. But there are also a few selections on this CD (most notably “Christmas In New Orleans” and “Go Tell It On The Mountain”) where
the ensemble sounds like a larger-than-usual New Orleans jazz band. The group, which is led by arranger Mike Esneault (who also plays piano
on three numbers), includes such notables as Jason Marsalis on vibes and percussion, tenor-saxophonist Tony Dagradi and organist Charlie
Dennard although unfortunately the soloists are not identified. This is a pleasing and sometimes stirring set that is highlighted by the two
songs already mentioned, “Joy To The World,” and a near-riotous version of “Jingle Bells.”
The David Ricard Big Band’s Holidays With A Bang (available from www.lesterbeat.com) is quite fun. Ricard’s arrangements for the 19-piece
big band are swinging, inventive and often-witty, particularly the opening quote-filled “The Merry Mash-Up” and “Jingle Bells Cha Cha.” The
instrumentals by the orchestra include fine solos from guitarist Matt Hornbeck, saxophonist Geoff Nudell and Kyle O’Donnell, trombonist Erik
Hughes and pianist Jordan Seigel. The set concludes with three vocal numbers for the excellent Aubrey Logan plus “Jingle Bell Waltz.”
Included are a pair of Ricard originals: “Jingle Jangle Jungle” and “We’ll Wrap It Up On New Year’s Eve.” This swinging set works quite well,
leaving listeners with a healthy dose of the holiday spirit.

Every jazz musician needs a well-written press biography, and every CD deserves informative liner notes. I write both and more at reasonable
rates. Contact me (www.scottyanow.com) at 661-724-0622 or scottyanowjazz@yahoo.com for further information.
Next month’s column will include my pick of the top 30 jazz CDs released in 2016. Have a happy holiday season and a great 2017!