Don Edmondson is widely considered to be L.A.’s number one fan of live jazz – in 2013 he attended more than 400 live performances across Southern California. He’s also a big fan of LAjazz.com, and begins planning his weekly jazz odysseys in earnest with Tom Meek’s “About & Out” column. We asked Don to look back on 2013 and pick ten memorable shows. It wasn’t easy, but Don came up with a list that’s heavy on events at downtown L.A.’s Blue Whale, plus Diane Reeves, Marcel Camargo, and three unforgettable live appearances from NEA Jazz Master bassist Charlie Haden.
With over 425 live performances to choose from a 10 best list is nearly impossible to determine. Is Jackie Ryan better than Tierney Sutton, Gretchen Parlato, Luciana Souza, Carmen Lundy, Dianne Reeves, Diane Schuur or Denise Donatelli? Who can answer a question like that? I can tell you what did leave a lasting impression at many of the shows. The special connections that can only occur in a live setting, and the sharing of unrepeatable events and the powerful emotions they evoke.
1) Charlie Haden at MUSE/IQUE Feb 11, 2013 – Castle Press, Pasadena. 1A) Charlie Haden at Vitello’s Mar 30, 2013 – Darek Oles, Billy Childs, Bob Sheppard and Peter Erskine in a tribute to Charlie Haden. Charlie came and played for about 45 minutes in the second set. 1B) Charlie Haden at REDCAT Dec 10, 2013 – Charlie at one point recounted a story of working with comedian Lenny Bruce who on that night was not getting any laughs. Lenny said to Charlie, “Watch this”, and he went on stage and says “F*ck the Irish”. The audience laughed for an hour. Charlie exclaims “F*ck Polio” – he’s been battling post-polio syndrome for the last three years. The REDCAT performance may have been Haden’s last live concert – I hope not.
2) April 13, 2013 at Luckman Performing Arts Center – Dianne Reeves with the Luckman Jazz Orchestra – Barefoot Diva. Singing sans shoes. Dianne Reeves gave a bravura performance at a sold out Luckman Performing Arts Center. At one point she took off her shoes, remarking that “I have on my one hour shoes during a two hour show.”
3) May 29, 2013 at Largo – Marcel Carmago – The Brazil You Never Heard. This show showcased the incredible arranging talent of Marcel Carmago and the voice of Inara George. This arrangement of the Inara George song “I’m A Broken Heart” – was the best song I heard all year?
4) November 15, 2013 at Blue Whale – The Sole Sisters (Sarah Reich and Melinda Sullivan) tap danced up a storm. Jesse Palter dropped a mind numbing rendition of “The Masquerade Is Over”.
5) June 15, 2013 at Blue Whale – Bennie Maupin, Darek Oles & “Tootie” Heath. This was an exercise in musical chemistry. Bennie at the piano was an unexpected bonus.
6) January 23, 2013 at Blue Whale – John Beasley’s MONK’estra. The first public performance of John Beasley‘s big band project dedicated to the music of Thelonious Monk. Highlights included saxman Justo Almario in a big band, while Ryan Dragon displayed his chops on trombone.
7) November 21, 2013 at Blue Whale – Anthony Wilson Curators. I have seen 13 Anthony Wilson performances this year. For this show Anthony wrote lyrics for and sang his tune “She Won’t Look Back”.
8) July 28, 2013 at Blue Whale – Ethio Cali with Dereb the Ambassador. Kamasi Washington, an all-world reed man, was joined by his dad Rickey on the bandstand. The family that plays together.
9) May 4, 2013 at Blue Whale – Miguel Atwood-Ferguson Birthday show. Destani Wolf’s cover of The Charmels “As Long As I’ve Got You” and Joey Dosik‘s mind blowing vocals on the Donny Hathaway tune “Someday We’ll All Be Free’. Miguel can arrange a song.
10) Dec 8, 2013 at Blue Whale – Joey Sellers Jazz Aggregation. The CD release ” Something About Butter” featured Joey’s band made up of first call studio musicians. When Wayne Bergeron says this is his favorite book to play, it says something about the composer, Joey Sellers.