Jazzapino Sounds

John Beasley
OK, let's get down to talking pure jazz here:

There's a great event at Vibrato on Friday, with two of L.A.'s most imaginative jazz players, pianist John Beasley and saxophonist Bob Sheppard. Beasley is a different kind of jazz player, perfectly willing to flout established tradition with solid New Orleans funk, crazy takes on the more radical Piazzolla, and rock quotes, yet he is one beautiful jazz musician. Sheppard can veer from pure straight-ahead into utterly unknown territory and then back again like it's nothing. Vibrato can be a little loud early when full of power diners, but it's a jazz room for the later sets. Trumpeter Scotty Barnhart simply cooks, and he's at Charlie O's on Friday with the John Heard Trio. One of our favorite classic tenors, Don Menza, whose muscular soloing drove the Buddy Rich Big Band, is there Saturday.

Hardworking drummer Mark Z Stevens' trio had a long run in Glendale, though it appears he is now settling into Desert Rose (1700 Hillhurst Ave. in Los Feliz) on Saturdays, from 7:30. He has the superb jazz accordionist Frank Marocco with him, whom you heard all over The Godfather sound track. Pianist Josh Nelson seems to rarely be in town anymore (he's always out on the road somewhere with somebody), but he has a trio at Vibrato on Sunday, and catch him if you can. Saxophonist John Altman is in from London, where he writes and conducts scores for just about everything. Live he mixes hot, boppish standards and utter obscurities with charming stage patter. He's at Charlie O's on Tuesday.

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