Wednesday, January 4, 8pm
Blue Whale, Los Angeles, CA
In the music-art world there are a number of ways to program events. Two of the most common are festivals and residencies. Festivals essentially allow a promoter to present a diversity of bands and artists over a concentrated amount of time, be it a weekend, a week, or a month, but the benefit is to be able to promote a lot of music all at the same time, which is cost-effective. Economics! Residencies, on the other hand, usually involve a single venue, such as a club or gallery, and it usually features a single artist who is given a number of days to carry out his/her artistic vision for an audience. Usually the artist gets paid, which is good. Hopefully the artist has enough of a following to attract a lot people over the course of the residency to justify being there. What is implied is that the owner of the venue believes in the artist enough to risk giving a chunk of their available programming time to that artist.
Given those two definitions, perhaps the best way to describe the upcoming LAJC residency at the Blue Whale would be the term 'Resident Festival' or 'Festival Residency,' or even 'Festive Residence,' but that would describe a house party, so maybe not that last one. The point is that we are trying to do a type of hybrid programming, using a festival concept within the residency model, or maybe it's the residency concept within the festival model. Either way, the result is a lot of quality music by talented musicians once a week over the course of a month. Most people probably only care about the last item, in which case they have just wasted the last few minutes reading this introduction. Sorry!
The first part of our four part series kicks off this Wednesday, and here are the three groups on the menu:
Anthony Wilson Trio
World-class guitarist and L.A. native Anthony Wilson starts the evening with a set of his own music. Know most widely for his longtime accompanist work for Diana Krall, Anthony, in the prime of his career, possesses an unlimited reservoir of passionate knowledge of music, respected as an improviser and composer on both coasts. His latest album, Campo Belo (Goat Hill Records 2011), is a beautifully interesting set of pieces recorded in Sao Paulo with some outstanding Brazilian musicians. For this show, Anthony is reuniting with his old band, featuring the brilliantly polished and unpredictable Mark Ferber on drums, and Joe Bagg, the best Los Angeles-based B3 organist whose initials aren't LG. That trio released two outstanding albums, Our Gang (Groove Note 2001), and Savivity (Groove Note 2006), both of which were recorded quite a few years ago, but are still among the best guitar/organ trio recordings to have been done in L.A. since then.
LA Jazz Quartet
Next up is another group of long-time friends and outstanding musicians. Guitarist Larry Koonse, bassist Darek Oles, and saxophonist Chuck Manning have been playing together as three of the founding members of the Los Angeles Jazz Quartet since the early 90's. All of them have established themselves as among the very best on their instruments in Los Angeles, with collaborations with Brad Mehldau, Charlie Haden, Peter Erskine, Warne Marsh, Joe Lovano, Billy Higgins, Luciana Souza, Billy Childs, Brian Blade, Mel Torme, Bob Brookmeyer, Cedar Walton, and countless others. Drummer Mark Ferber has been part of the band since the early 2000's, and despite their individual busy schedules, they still find opportunities to play as they have for years. They recorded a number of albums which are all worth checking out, including the excellent Look to the East (Naxos 1997) and the beautiful and personal Family Song (NTR 1998).
Matt Otto/Alan Ferber/Anthony Wilson/Mark Ferber/Josh Nelson/Tony Dumas
The final set of the evening is also ripe with musical friendships that extend back in time a bit. Once upon a time, trombonist Alan Ferber and his brother Mark were college music students here in Los Angeles. They have since moved on to New York and become a vital part of the zeitgeist of the New York jazz community. Alan has recorded numerous albums of his own compositions and arrangements to great critical acclaim, and his daring music for big band (or Extended Ensemble, as Alan calls it) can be heard a few days later, also at the Blue Whale. Mark is one of the busiest sidemen drummers in New York, in the enviable position of being able to choose which gig or tour to take among so many offers. Their good friend Anthony Wilson will join them here, as will bassist Tony Dumas, who has been a regular sideman for Cedar Walton, Joe Henderson, and Freddie Hubbard, among others. Josh Nelson is a rising star on piano, having recently toured with the great Natalie Cole and is in high demand for his pianistic services. The catalyst behind this amalgamation of talent is saxophonist and former Angelino Matt Otto, the co-founder of the Los Angeles Jazz Collective, who now resides in Kansas City but still has strong ties to all the musicians in this band, continuing relationships that span nearly twenty years. Each member of this supergroup will contribute an original composition to the set, a democratic approach among distinguished colleagues.
Of the four different evenings that make up this residency, this is the one most representative of the rich yet relatively unknown recent history of creative jazz in Los Angeles. The musicians that comprise these bands all have played an important part in shaping the current jazz scene here, and they and their fellow players (and now their students) are all responsible for maintaing the dynamic that they helped to create. In other words, it doesn't get more L.A. than these groups, and for once, that's a good thing.