Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Improvisation Conversation

The Beast received gracious permission to repost a recent Facebook conversation between jazz/improvisational music artists/promoters about the scene in L.A. -- or lack thereof:

 Gregg Bendian Conducts Some L.A. Friends at his 50th Birthday Bash at the Baked Potato (7/18/13 -- read Greg Burk's review of the show here)
[photo by Sander Roscoe Wolff]

GREG HOTCHKISS: Is it just me? or is the greater Los Angeles improvisational music scene practically non existent? Mr. T's Bowl, Cafe Metropol, Royal T's, Rocco's various venues, il Corral, DONE! Steuart Liebig, Kris Tiner, Jeff Kaiser, Dan Clucas, Wayne Peet, Anthony Shuduck, Jeff Gauthier, Alan Cook, John Fumo, Nels Cline, Nathan Hubbard, Jeremy Drake, G.E. Stinson, Noah Phillips, Joe Berradi, Tony Atherton, Vince Meghrouni, Bill Barrett...Those were just the names of the musicians I knew off the top of my head. There's dozens more who could be found playing through the city any given time of the month. I know Nels Cline, Ben Wendel and the other Kneebody members and Rocco Somazzi moving out of the area had a little to do with this, but I'm I missing something? Is it just me? Is there a website I'm missing?

As a person who was so deeply impacted by the music I've seen in L.A. over the last 13 years I feel bad that younger kids falling in love with Jazz will miss out on it. As a person who was so deeply impacted by the music I've seen in L.A. over the last 13 years I feel bad that younger kids falling in love with Jazz will miss out on it.

G.E. Stinson (L) with Nels Cline
[photo by Peak]

G.E. STINSON: I've been in L.A. since 1982. Never seen a worse time in terms of venues. It's easier for me to get gigs in Oakland, Berkeley, Sacramento and other places up north than L.A. Eagle Rock Center for the Arts, The Blue Whale and a few other places are happening -- but scattered and few. Rocco is in Oakland running Duende. There are some other underground venues like The Handbag Factory and The Wulf -- slightly different music but still interesting. Also, Grand Star Jazz in Chinatown. Are you on the Angel City Jazz mailing list?

BEN WENDEL: Hey Greg - the L.A. creative music scene is always going up and down. The main issue is so few venues to play in - there are actually a lot of musicians from NYC coming through and/or moving to L.A. so I know there's potential. I'm working on building up a small, humble series at a new theater in Santa Monica called The Broad Stage -- they have thankfully allowed me to increase jazz programming there. Next season in there 120 seat black box theater, there will be folks like Gerald Clayton, Dan Tepfer, WildUp!, Julia Holter, etc. The honest answer is it takes individual like Rocco, etc. giving their time for the love of the music and creating a scene - you could be one of those people if you wanted but it's really just a labor of love.

Dan Tepfer (L) with Ben Wendel

GH: Thanks Ben. I was entertaining the idea of opening a venue/record store/creative empowerment center. Experience has shown me that Orange County isn't the place to do it and I don't have the desire to try it in L.A.

ADAM BENJAMIN: Orange County could really use a place like that. If you can find a relatively central location with low low overhead and institutional support, I believe it could succeed.

JOE BERARDI: Hey Greg, you're not wrong overall, but there are still a few things going on. Eagle Rock Center is still active every month. I am doing a trio with Steuart Liebig and Kira Vollman on Aug 4. Steuart and I just played at Battery Books + Music in South Pasadena (Rich West's store) and I just did a solo show at the Folly Bowl in Altadena on Saturday. These are just my recent experiences. Everybody else can fill you in on theirs. Point being, it's not quite done, but definitely less than it was. Things can still pick up, there are still players out there and new ones coming in all the time. Cheers!

NATHAN HUBBARD: Thanks for the shout Greg. I live in San Diego, was in AZ for about two years (2011-2012). I've played most of the venues you mentioned plus Line Space Line, Cryptonights at Club Tropical, Dangerous Curves, Chris Garcia's series at Harbor College and a few others. I've tried get up to L.A. to play as much as I can, both with groups from S.D. as well as playing with as many of the amazing people in L.A. as I can. That being said, it usually works out to once (or maybe twice) a year for the last 13 or so years. There has also been a lot of work (by myself and members of the Trummerflora Collective) to bring L.A. people down to perform in S.D.

Nathan Hubbard

NH: I agree w G.E. and Joe, things are slow with venues, but there are plenty of great things happening. Just look at G.E's soundcloud or Steuart's bandcamp, plenty of new music and all sorts of exciting collaborations. San Diego is going thru a similar situation on the venue front. It will swing back. As for other spots I don't think got mentioned yet, check Gatsby Books in LB (Scott Heustis is doing great things) and Rich West's Battery Books.

SCOTT HEUSTIS: Yes. The Book Shop circuit. Gatsby Books and Rich West's Battery Books. The Story of Open is unfortunately out of business. Even the Eagle Rock Center For The Arts used to be a library. I'm working on more venues. It's a DIY world buddy. All adventurous improvisors should cultivate at least one venue each. It's not hard to do. Instead of crying about the weakness of the LA scene, I'm creating one myself. And sharing it with everyone.

Gatsby Books

ROCCO SOMAZZI: Good conversation. For me the hard part is trying to develop an audience that will support a venue presenting this kind of music. It's easy to find a space to present music but if nobody comes to listen to it, it's very hard to make it last. I've been trying for 15 years to set-up a sustainable music presenting venue and the closest I ever got to it is my current venue in Oakland. LA has an amazing music scene but the audiences are notoriously fickle. Maybe there is too much other stuff going on all the time or maybe the venues are so spread apart it's hard to get to them.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Jazz Alms

This week, two Los Angeles jazz world mainstays -- saxophonist Arthur Blythe and the performance space The World Stage -- need a little help and support:

from Gus Tsilis:

On June the 3rd, 2013, Arthur went into the USC Keck Center to have a large benign tumor removed from his right Kidney. The operation was serious, as Arthur spent one week after the procedure in an induced coma in their ICU unit. His health has been a challenge for him for several years now. The Parkinson's (Arthur has been living with Parkinson's for 8 years) has developed more rapidly and at this time he is in a rehabilitation center in Lancaster, CA. His goal is to be back home (?) within the next 30 days. The recent operation he underwent diminished his ability to walk and swallow foods. He is fighting hard each day to gain his strength back.

Please understand for Arthur to ask for help from his friends and fans, of his person and his music, was a difficult question he pondered over for some time. Arthur is a man of great pride and humility. His respect for people and their daily struggles has kept him from announcing his own dilemma for several years. Now he is facing an immediate need to procure a new neurologist to evaluate him after his recent surgery.

Arthur needs to remain in a secure place economically in order to fight Parkinson's disease. Your donations will be a main source of his recovery. All the monies raised will be used to help him in his quest to regain his health and to stay current with his basic bills. Thank you in advance, with all sincerity and profound humility... from Arthur himself. Updates on his condition and the progress of this fund drive will be posted regularly. All of your good wishes and words will be read to Arthur.

Friday July 19th + Saturday July 20th, 2013
8:30pm -12:30am
8:30pm The Charles Owens Ensemble
9:30pm Dwight Trible w/ John Beasley, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson,
Trevor WarePaul Lagaspi
11:00pm The Munyungo Jackson Group

July 20th 8:30pm-12:30am
8:30pm Phil Ranelin All-Stars w/ Richard Grant, Jacques LesureJames Leary
9:30pm Michael Session Ensemble w/ Steve Smith, Rembert JamesMakela Session
11:00pm JMD and The Underground Railroad

The Great Poets w/ Peter J. Harris, Kamau Daa'ood, Michael Datcher and more!

$15.00 Donation
The World Stage Performance & Art Gallery
4344 Degnan Blvd., Leimert Park, LA
(323) 293-2451

We really need your support!
Share With all your friends!

Monday, July 8, 2013


(Pitchfork Media)

(Dangerous Minds)
(Sound of the City)



(The Revivalist)

(Slicing Up Eyeballs)

(NY Daily News)

(Sleepover Shows)


(Pitchfork Media)


(Running the Voodoo Down)


(West Coast Sound)

(The Jazz Session)
(Something Else!)

(New York Times)

(A Blog Supreme)

(The Rest Is Noise)

Sonny Clark's Last Leap
(Indiana Public Media)

(Wax Poetics)

WATCH: Cecil Taylor in Paris (1968)
(Burning Ambulance)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Reet Heet

Apparently, a lot going 'round here in July than one might expect. This isn't even the complete list....

July 1 Kim Richmond Jazz Orchestra @ Typhoon....The Pacific Rim Projeckt @ The Blue Whale....July 2 The Makers @ Seven Grand....July 3 Adam Aejaye Jackson + Full Spectrum Trio @ Vibrato....July 3 Justo Almario + Marcos Ariel @ The Blue Whale....July 3, 10, 17 & 24 Stanton Moore + Wil Blades Residency @ The Mint....July 5-7 Ron Carter Trio @ Catalina's....July 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 26 & 27 Azar Lawrence Quintet @ The RG Club....July 5 Dublab Presents Linda Perhacs + Friends (w/ opening DJ set by The Nite Jewel) @ Levitt Pavilion....July 5 The Decisive Instant @ The Electric Lodge....July 5 Young, Gifted & Nina: A Tribute to Nina Simone w/ Dwight Trible, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Jacques Lesure, Joey Dosik, Vardan Ovsepian @ Grand Performances....July 5, 12, 19 & 26 Nick Rosen Trio @ Perch...July 6 Dwight Trible/John Beasley Quartet @ The World Stage....July 6 Terry Trotter, Chuck Berghofer & Peter Erskine @ Vitello's....July 5 & 6 Liquid Skin Ensemble @ AndrewShire Gallery....July 6 The Warlocks + The Centimeters @ Bootleg Theater....July 6 Trio Sangha (w/ Anthony Shadduck + Bert Karl) @ Gatsby Books (Long Beach)....July 7 Onaje Murray @ Hal's Bar + Grill....July 7, 14, 21 & 28 John Beasley's Monkestra @ The RG Club....July 7 Decisive Instant + AKA Steubig @ Eagle Rock Center for the Arts....July 10 Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom @ The Blue Whale....July 11 L.A. Jazz Collective @ Grand Park....July 11 Olafur Arnalds @ Largo....July 12 David Ornette Cherry @ LACMA....July 12 Vieux Farka Toure @ Levitt Pavilion....July 12 Piano Spheres: Visual Music with Dr. Vicki Ray @ Boston Court....July 12 Billy Childs Jazz Allstars @ The Baked Potato....July 12 Charlie Hunter + Scott Amendola @ The Blue Whale....July 12 Pat Senatore Trio + Bob Sheppard @ Vibrato....July 12 Daniel Rosenboom CD Release Party w/ Vinny Golia, Jake Vossler, Tim Lefebvre & Matt Mayhall @ Artshare-LA....July 13 Josh Nelson Trio + Bob Sheppard @ Radisson LAX....July 14 Lili Haydn @ Moshka Festival.... July 14 SoundShoppe @ Eagle Rock Center for the Arts....July 16 Brian Auger's Oblivion Express @ Hollywood + Highland....July 18 Greg Bendian's 50th Birthday Bash @ The Baked Potato....July 18 Justo Almario @ Grand Park....July 19 Josh Nelson's Discovery Project @ Boston Court....July 19 Double Naught Spy Car @ TAIX....July 19 Jeff Hamilton Trio @ Alva's Showroom....July 20 Hazey Jane @ Vitello's....July 23 & 24 Savages @ The El Rey....July 23 & 24 The Postal Service @ The Greek....July 24 Josh Nelson Group @ Vitello's....July 24 Charles Owens Quartet @ Barbara Morrison PAC....July 25-27 New Original Works Festival 2013 @ REDCAT....July 25 Bill Cunliffe's Imaginacion Quintet @ Vibrato....July 25 No Age @ Santa Monica Pier....July 25 Kimya Dawson + AESOP Rock @ First Unitarian Church...July 26 Henry Franklin, George Bohanon, Theo Saunders & Ramon Banda @ Angelus Plaza....Barbara Morrison,  July 25 Kamasi Washington Dectet & Brandon Coleman Ensemble @ Del Monte Speakeasy....July 26 OHM @ The Baked Potato....July 27 Bill Cunliffe Trio @ Radisson LAX....July 27 Josh Nelson Quartet @ The Blue Whale....July 27 Volto @ The Baked Potato....July 27-28 18th Annual Central Avenue Jazz Festival....July 28 SASSAS Presents Wrack + Vinny Golia World Saxophone Quartet @ West Hollywood Library....July 28 Ndugu Chancler @ Levitt Pavilion....July 28 Ethio-Cali Ensemble @ The Blue Whale....July 28 Charles Gaines Ensemble w/ Wadada Leo Smith @ MOCA....July 30 Sebadoh @ Bootleg Theater