Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Why Winter in L.A. Does NOT Suck

Dear January:

You are the month that comes right after the razzle-dazzle of Christmas, so it’s understandable why you have such a bad reputation. A spike in post-holiday suicides. Sobering snow or rain. Going back to the daily grind of work and boring errands. The Cineplex becomes a dumping ground for Hollywood (i.e., Man on a Ledge, Underworld: Awakening). Last month, in particular, seemed a bit grim with the closure of VIP Records, the deaths of Etta James, Claire Fischer and Johnny Otis, the Jazz Bakery running into more brick walls in its effort to find a new space, and departure of jazz promoter Rocco Somazzi, yet another indication that when it comes to underground creativity and exquisite weirdness, you and L.A. are a toxic mix.

Or so we thought, until we quit whining and left the house.

Just this last month, L.A. played host to: Month-long residencies from The L.A. Jazz Collective
and Tim LeFebvre in Little Tokyo; Glass Candy at Club Los Globos; Skrillex at the Cinespace; Mike Watt & the Missngmen at the Redwood Bar; The Smell’s 2-night 14th Anniversary bash; four nights of Double Naught Spycar at Taix; the opening of the massive L.A. Free Music Society retrospective in downtown’s artist district; the Vinny Golia Sextet in Eagle Rock; Slumgum at the Glendale Moose Lodge in Glendale; Missincinatti at Space Camp; Wilco’s 3-night stand in as many venues (we caught the sublime Wiltern show); Gustavo Dudamel’s Nine Mahler Concerts in 22 Days marathon; Eleni Mandell at the Bootleg Bar; Lou Reed and Bob Ezrin chatting about Metal Machine Music in Long Beach; Steve Reich and the Bang on a Can All-Stars at Disney Concert Hall; Jeff Gauthier, Michael Dessen and Motoko Honda faced off in Venice while across town X, The Avengers and the Dead Kennedys invaded MOCA; and, to cap it all off, the dazzling and magical SASSAS Welcome Inn Time Machine, which spread about 100 years of modern composers – from Ornette Coleman and John Cage to Arnold Schoenberg and the LAFMS – into the rooms and balconies of a  cheesy, quintessentially SoCal motel on Colorado Boulevard:

Sorry, January, you may have got a bad rap. You were even warmer than we excepted.

And February? Man, you’re looking just as promising! You've got: Slumgum with Dwight Trible, Leni Stern, Ben Wendel, Anthony Shadduck and Tim Berne at the Blue Whale; Gongfarmer & Fred Frith at the Eagle Rock Center for the Arts; the Burning Jazz and Spoken Word Series with David Ornette Cherry at Loyola Marymount College (2/02); Trio M with Myra Melford, Mark Dresser and Matt Wilson at the Musician's Institute Concert Hall, Dwight Trible, Trevor Ware, John Beasley and Dexter Story at Joe's Restaurant & Guy Blakeslee and the Chuck Dukowski Sextet at The Smell (all on 2/03!); The Eclipse Quartet with Perla Batalla at LACMA & Dorothea Grossman with Michael-Pierre Vlatkovich at Battery Books & Music (2/04)Taku Sugimoto and Michael Pisaro with the Dog Star Orchestra at The Wulf (2/05); Mike Watt and Canage Asada at the Redwood & The Mae Shi reunion at Pehrspace (2/06); Kamasi Washington at Footsie's Bar (2/08)Justo Almario’s Birthday Bash at Catalina’s (2/09); Ravi Coltrane & Christian McBride at Royce Hall (2/11); the Nedra Wheeler Quartet at Vibrato (2/14); OHM at the Baked Potato (2/15); the John Cage Centenary at REDCAT (2/15 & 16); Matana Roberts with Jeff Parker and Alex Cline at The Broad Stage, The Phil Ranelin Ensemble at The World StageMoris Tepper at Taix's 321 Lounge (2/17); The Lounge Art Ensemble with Bob Sheppard, Darek Oles and Peter Erskine at Vitello’s & the Charlie Haden Quartet West 25th Anniversary at the Segerstron Center for the Arts (2/18); Busdriver at The Echo (2/21)Sanford Biggers at the Hammer Museum (2/23); Bobby West at Eso-Won BooksLeslie Ross at Beyond Baroque (2/25)An Evening with Rob Zabrecky (ex-Possum Dixon frontman) at the Trepany House (2/28); the ongoing L.A. Free Music Society exhibition, which will include live perfmances and panel discussions (ends 2/25).

THE not-to-miss event of February, though, is on 2/24 with the return to L.A. of The Watts Prophets, who will be appearing with The Last Poets' Umar Bin Hassan in a tribute to the Watts Writers Workshop of 1965. This is ONE NIGHT ONLY EVENT and calling in advance for tickets is STRONGLY RECOMMENDED!

There, that's over 30 reasons to be thankful.* Yes, February, we are looking forward to your bounty -- more so now that the news just came down of Frank Gehry stepping in to design a new home for the Jazz Bakery for free.

Of course, both Mike Kelley and Don Cornelius killed themselves in Los Angeles today, we might have a new serial killer for James Ellroy to drool over, and a mild-mannered South L.A. schoolteacher may be a grotesque pedophile. Sigh. Back and forth, back and forth it goes...

*"...and reasons to be thankful are free"

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