LAjazz.com Editor Tom Meek’s Top Ten Gigs Of 2012
1) Steve Weingart & Simon Phillips at The Baked Potato (March 3)
Keyboardist Steve Weingart and wife/bassist Renee Jones debuted their new CD “Dialogue”. Guitarist Mike Miller was dead on, as were saxophonist Katisse Buckingham and drummer Simon Phillips – Buckingham described the experience as “like standing in front of a jet engine” – a rare evening of genuine musical magic.
2) Machacek/Bozzio/Johnson at The Baked Potato (January 21)
Intricate Austrian guitarist Alex Machacek teamed with drummer Terry Bozzio for a night of electric chamber music, supported by the sublime bassist Jimmy Johnson, who propels this trio to entirely new heights.
3) Alan Ferber Expanded Ensemble at Blue Whale (January 7)
NYC trombonist Alan Ferber led the West Coast version of his inventive big band – excellent originals and arrangements with a cast of all-star players.
4) John Daversa Small Band at Blue Whale (October 14)
Trumpet and EVI master John Daversa played to two nights of standing room only audiences debuting his new CD “Artful Joy”. Four sets, four standing ovations.
5) Chucho Valdes at Disney Hall (February 16)
Cuban piano master Chucho Valdes headlined an evening of Latin jazz at Walt Disney Hall – superb playing all around.
6) Johnny Mandel Big Band at Vitello’s (June 2)
One of the great American composer/arrangers led his orchestra before a packed house at Vitello’s – “Emily” was to die for.
7) Stan Kenton Alumni Band at the Hollywood Bowl (August 8)
SoCal locals led by drummer Peter Erskine outshone the evening’s headlining Ellington Orchestra in a tribute to the great composer/arranger Stan Kenton.
8) Azar Lawrence at The Mint (September 8)
Saxophonist Azar Lawrence resurrects the spirit of John Coltrane before a packed house at The Mint.
9) Mike Miller All-Stars at The Baked Potato (September 21)
Guitarist Mike Miller offered an evening of sometimes offbeat, always interesting, music with an all-star band including Walt Fowler, Mitchel Forman, Jimmy Johnson, and Marvin “Smitty” Smith.
10) Katisse with Judith Hill at The Baked Potato (November 29)
The addition of trumpeter John Daversa brought Katisse Buckingham’s band to a new level as Judith Hill continued to dazzle with her subtle, yet powerful, vocals.