Los Angeles Jazz Scene - Jazz Around Town
                           June 2016

Back in the early 1970s, Keith Jarrett came up with a new concept. The pianist appeared at his solo concerts without a specific thought as to
what he would play. He simply sat down at the piano and let the music flow through him. While his legendary solo concerts sometimes
contained sections where he seemed to be treading water, much of the time his creativity resulted in memorable music. His Solo Concerts and
Koln Concert recordings are considered classics, filled with catchy sections and inventive ideas.
Jarrett has performed solo concerts on an occasional basis during the decades since including recently at Disney Hall. Always a bit finicky and
demanding that the audience be completely silent (it would not be surprising if he told everyone in attendance to refrain from breathing),
Jarrett began the night by lecturing a hapless member of the crowd for five minutes because he had taken a flash photo of him. Jarrett then
created a 20-minute improvisation that started on a furious level (as if to clear the air) before becoming softer while retaining its passion. His
other improvisations were usually briefer, sometimes exploring a repetitive phrase, developing into a brooding ballad, sticking to a simple
classical-like melody or developing into a bluesy one-chord vamp. In addition, there was a ragged waltz, an improvisation in which his two
hands played independent and equally heated lines, and a ballad with fluttery sounds. The audience loved everything and, after his program
ended, Jarrett returned five times. Two were for bows while the other three appearances resulted in an inventive “Summertime,” a beautiful
interpretation of “Little Girl Blue” and a pretty classical melody.

Ruth Price and the Jazz Bakery presented the Luis Munoz Quintet at the Moss Theater in Santa Monica as part of their Movable Feast. The
group consisted of the leader on drums, singer-guitarist Teka, flugelhornist Jonathan Dane, guitarist Daniel Zimmerman and bassist Brendan
Statom. They performed Munoz’s compositions, many taken from his recent Voz CD. Their set stayed colorful throughout, regularly varying
the personnel and instrumentation. Dane’s mostly-mellow flugelhorn solos recalled Chet Baker, Zimmerman’s improvisations were a bit
influenced by Pat Metheny, and Teka’s vocals were always attractive, thoughtful and a bit haunting. While much of the music was laidback
modern bossa-nova, a few more heated pieces gave the set additional variety. Everything worked well during the memorable evening which
was directed by the smiling leader.


Daria, a delightful singer from Northern California who in the past has explored a combination of jazz and World Music in addition to touring
as a backup singer for the late Dan Hicks, recently released a CD on the Origin label (Strawberry Fields Forever, Songs By The Beatles) of her
versions of Beatles songs. However it was obvious from the beginning of her performance at Vitello’s E-Spot Lounge that her interpretations
are “reimagined” and filled with surprises and creativity. As she later said, “We are not a cover band” and there were no predictable versions
of such overdone songs as “Yesterday,” and “Hey Jude.”

First Daria’s superb trio, which consisted of pianist Otmaro Ruiz, electric bassist Abraham Laboriel and drummer Alex Acuna, played a
tasteful and sensitive version of “Norwegian Wood.” Daria next performed fresh renditions of “Strawberry Fields” and “Come Together,”
displaying her wide range, making percussive sounds in spots, and rarely singing the expected. “Blackbird” and “Bye Bye Blackbird” were
combined together in a medley taken as a duet with Laboriel, her swinging version of “Can’t Buy Me Love” (which included some scatting)
was worthy of Ella Fitzgerald, and she turned “Baby You Can Ride My Car” into a finger-snapper. Other highlights included “A Taste Of
Honey,” “Fool On The Hill” (during which Laboriel often hinted at Dizzy Gillespie’s “Manteca”), a funky rendition of “Helter Skelter” and
Daria’s original “Turn Around.” Throughout the set the trio frequently gave the music Latin polyrhythms while Daria improvised within the
context of the songs.
Daria and her trio succeeded at turning the Beatles repertoire into jazz. Her CD is well worth picking up.

One of the world’s greatest bassists, Brian Bromberg, a master at tapping, has excelled through the years in straight-ahead, fusion and pop-
oriented settings. Bromberg has the ability when he switches to piccolo bass to resemble either Wes Montgomery or Jimi Hendrix, and with
his tapping he can sometimes sound like two or even three bassists at once. On his recent Full Circle CD for the Mack Avenue label, he even
played drums (his first instrument).

At Catalina Bar & Grill, Bromberg celebrated the release of Full Circle by performing with tenor-saxophonist Doug Webb, pianist Mitch
Forman and drummer Joel Taylor. He also utilized a five-piece horn section that included tenor-saxophonist Rickey Woodard and trumpeter
Bob Summers on a few numbers although, unfortunately, none of the additional horns were given opportunities to solo.
The core quartet proved to be quite a super group. Webb easily ripped through the chord changes, ranging from John Coltrane to Stan Getz in
his personality and sound. Mitch Forman was quite a powerhouse, Taylor was stimulating in support, and Bromberg, while not dominating
the solo space, generated quite a bit of excitement. During the second half of the performance, Bromberg switched from acoustic bass to piccolo
bass, sounding like Montgomery during “Saturday Night In The Village.” He did not play drums at all during the night and the two Dixieland
tunes on his CD were not performed but there were excellent versions of such originals as “Boomerang,” “Naw’lins” (which featured New
Orleans rhythms during the melody), “Sneaky Pete” and the exuberant “Havana Nights.”
The high-quality playing and the fresh material make Brian Bromberg’s current group one of his very best.


Lorraina Marro, a highly appealing singer with a strong voice, performed recently at the Gardenia. She was accompanied by pianist Steve
Rawlins, bassist John B. Williams and drummer Steve Pemberton for her warm renditions of standards. Ms. Marro’s singing, which often falls
between swinging jazz and cabaret, is difficult to categorize. She puts a lot of feeling into the lyrics while also swinging and infusing the music
with heartfelt emotions.
While her recent CD Mixed Emotions (which is excellent) consists of some of her best originals, Lorraina performed lively versions of vintage
material at the Gardenia, emphasizing love songs and the many sides and stages of love. The night began with the trio playing a Latin-tinged
version of “Come Rain Or Come Shine” while Lorraina danced to the stage. Among the highpoints of the colorful set were a swinging “Easy To
Love,” a humorous version of “Let Me Love You,” some very nice vocal tones on “How Deep Is The Ocean,” a duet rendition of “You’re The One”
with Rawlins, and a spirited medley of “More” and “I Love You More Today Than Yesterday.” Other highlights included a version of “Fever” in
which she sang directly to members of the audience, a swinging “So Rare,” and a dramatic version of “I Chose The Moon.” Throughout the
night, Lorraina Marro, whose talking to the audience between songs was often humorous and insightful, was heard in top form and she sent
audiences home with a smile.


A lifelong lover of the music of Glenn Miller and the swing era, South African Harry Holloway found the perfect profession for himself. After
periods working in several fields including as a reporter, he became his country’s top swing disc jockey starting in 1974. Since that time he
has produced, compiled, researched and broadcast a countless number of programs and series featuring the music he loves.
Recently Holloway wrote his autobiography, a massive 710 page book called Swing, Sing And All That Jazz (which is available from www.
trafford.com). Because he kept detailed notes throughout his life, there is a great deal of information in this colorful work. In addition to stories
about his four marriages (the fourth one, to Marilyn Verster, herself an influential broadcaster, has been a success for 30 years) and his
personal life, there are plenty of stories about his frequent trips to the United States which found him meeting and befriending many of the
survivors of the swing era and Glenn Miller alumni including Paul Tanner, Tex Beneke, Buddy DeFranco, Steve Allen, Bob Crosby and Les
Brown among others. Most noteworthy is his discovering what actually happened to Glenn Miller, who disappeared during a plane flight in
Dec. 1944. A witness from the RAF recalled that, while returning from a flight over German-held territory, British pilots dropped their
excessive cargo (unused bombs) over the English Channel. Apparently the plane carrying Glenn Miller, which was not scheduled to be in that
area, was accidentally hit.
In addition to the stories, Henry Holloway’s book is filled with photos and memorabilia. On the minus side, there is a lot of repetition, excessive
details and fat that could have been trimmed by proofreaders and editors without hurting the narrative. The second half of the book often
reads a bit like a travelogue and Holloway thanks nearly everyone he has ever known several times. Also, even though this is a nonpolitical
book, he should have commented more about apartheid in South Africa since that affected much of his public’s day-to-day life during many of
the years covered.

But those reservations aside, there is a lot to enjoy in Henry Holloway’s memoirs. He deserves quite a bit of credit for doing so much to help
keep the legacy of swing alive, both in South Africa and around the globe.

While the very light jazz content of this year’s Playboy Jazz Festival might make one pessimistic about the future of jazz festivals, the
remarkable lineup scheduled for the 59th annual Monterey Jazz Festival (which takes place Sept. 16-18) has the exact opposite effect. A
partial list of the performers includes Cecilie McLorin Salvant, Alfredo Rodriguez, Bria Skonberg, Joshua Redman, Ron Miles, Toshiko
Akiyoshi, Maceo Parker’s Tribute to Ray Charles, The Bad Plus, Terri Lyne Carrington’s Mosaic Project, the Branford Marsalis Quartet with
Kurt Elling, Joey Alexander,  John Patitucci, the Lew Tabackin Quartet with Randy Brecker, Billy Hart, Stanley Cowell, Kamasi Washington,
Gregory Porter, the Wayne Shorter Quartet, Pat Matheny, Donny McCaslin, Bill Frisell, Dave Stryker with Eric Alexander, and Dr. Lonnie
Smith among many others. In addition there will be an all-star big band tribute to Quincy Jones (including Christian McBride, John Clayton,
James Carter, Dave Grusin and Hubert Laws) and film showings of new documentaries on Clifford Brown and Thomas Chapin. With a
minimum of five stages operating simultaneously and its colorful and festive atmosphere, there is simply no excuse for anyone the slightest
bit interested in jazz missing this festival!