Ella at 100: virtuosity, joy and swing 4

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arts·meme jazz critic Kirk Silsbee excerpts his liner notes to the new four-CD set, Ella Fitzgerald: 100 Songs For a Centennial (Verve 2016-00957) At first blush, one hundred songs from any artist seem like overkill. In the case of Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996), whose recordings number in the thousands, one hundred is just about enough to ...

Greek tragedy in Alphabet City: the death of Lee Morgan

Film · Music
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Trumpeters have the most tragic lineage of any instrument in jazz history. Car accidents, mental illness, congenital defects, drugs and alcohol have claimed some of the greatest players. But the murder of trumpeter Lee Morgan in 1972 was a laceration on the music that never healed. That a great but floundering musician regained his footing ...

Singer/swinger Jennifer Keith’s winning act at Vibrato Grill 1

Music
Styling retro-singer Jennifer Keith doesn’t just look the part — although she really looks the part! With her full-skirted, fifties dress, flowers in her hair like Billie Holiday, she echos the vintage ‘girl’ singer of the big band and swing era. But she delivers too. Keith and her boys, a swinging sextet under the leadership ...

Jazz for angels and others at Angel City Jazz Festival 1

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It’s been nine years but the Angel City Jazz Festival, the Los Angeles music conflagration built on bringing cutting-edge sounds to the Southland, has not only survived, it has flourished. Impresario Rocco Somazzi, well regarded for the adventurous booking policy of his Rocco Ristorante in Bel Air, embarked on a week-long series of concerts for ...

The brilliant business of Miles Davis

Music
A hillside Los Angeles home. Awesome acoustics. The stylized sound the trumpet master was famous for. Repertory standards and originals. All on tap at Jazz at the A-Frame‘s upcoming “Unfinished Business” tribute to Miles Davis Sunday November 6 at a private home. In the house: Kenny Dennis (drums), John Campbell (piano), John B. Williams (bass), ...

Michael Vlatkovich’s unpredictable musical universe @ the Hammer

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Michael Vlatkovich’s idiosyncratic music balances the meticulous writer with the laissez faire bandleader. The trombonist/composer has the uncommon luxury of convening seven pieces at the Hammer Museum’s free JazzPOP series this coming Thursday night. Drummer Chris Garcia, who has played with Vlatkovich since 1991, recalls a tour. “We had a new bass player,” Garcia says. ...

Jazz singer Jeri Southern, appreciated

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There were other female jazz pianists who also sang in the 1950s, but none shared Jeri Southern’s formidable pianistic technique, vocal individuality, and unerring choice of good material. She sang the most bittersweet love songs in the most intimate manner. And few could inspire the nightclub reveries Southern conjured—of melancholy, infatuation, optimism, idolatry, disconsolation, and ...

The son rises again: Universal Pictures producer Carl Laemmle, Jr. canon @ MoMA

Film · Music
Our friends in the film department at The Museum of Modern Art are launching a truly groundbreaking and fascinating retrospective that highlights a decade of distinguished moviemaking at Universal Pictures, the Hollywood film factory often wrongly valued primarily as a purveyor of horror fodder. Writes Universal Pictures: Restorations and Rediscoveries, 1928–1937 film curator Dave Kehr: ...

The new Grace Kelly

Music
Classic film fans will be jolted to learn that Grace Kelly has returned. This time ’round she’s as beguiling as ever, having taken the form of a 23-year old saxophone player. We watched the new Grace Kelly wail, pitching her horn skyward at an extreme high angle, at Saturday night’s “Give the Band a Hand” ...

John Clayton’s jazz continuum prospers 1

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Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra
above: jazz musicians John Clayton, Jeff Hamilton, Jeff Clayton The California Jazz Foundation has been investing in the jazz community for a decade, with a generous track record of financial, counseling and material aid to 200 musicians in need. The Foundation doesn’t take its role, especially as an aid organization, lightly. “Give the Band a ...