The Jazzcat

Archive for March, 2018

Monkestra along with a Tribute to Errol Garner and Geri Allen at The Walt Disney Concert Hall!

by on Mar.11, 2018, under News

Any night of music at the Walt Disney Concert hall has the highest probability of being spectacular simply because it’s such a magical place. Many patrons come early, eat, visit the bar, roam around the bookstore or spend time admiring the architecture. On a few occasions, there is something special happenings in BP Hall and tonight, Director Cynthia Exum of The Leimert Park Book Lounge is on hand with a number of fantastic vendors representing the art and culture of the village. All in celebration of the great Thelonious Monk!

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I quite frequently use the word tapestry to describe the fabric that the musicians weave with the music. This time, I mean it literally when speaking of a true tapestry and multi-media artist and Master, Kisasi Ramsess! He travels all over the world representing the music we love as he weaves, paints, draws and constructs intricate images of musicians past and present on cards, calendars, T-shirts, posters, stained glass and yes, on tapestry!

Martell Cognac was on hand providing the patrons with their version of “Straight No Chaser”, a golden sip and a luxurious burn for the right cosmic vibration to take in creativity. A fine display of jazz books, records and memorabilia was on hand as well courtesy of Jeffery Winston of the California Jazz Foundation, producer of Straight Ahead Jazz Plus, Chet Hanley, The California Jazz and Blues Foundation and mother of Leimert Park, Ms. Barbara Morrison. 

As a man, and author who has spent many years researching the finest details when it come to Thelonious Monk, jazz historian Robin D.G. Kelly is in the house with his new updated version fresh off the press; “Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an America Original”. So new, he has opened up the box but, has not had the chance to even turn one page! I made sure I bought the first copy!

Errol Garner and Concert by the Sea, originally recorded in Carmel California, is just one of the classic recordings but, an inspiration to Geri Allen who just a few short years ago in 2015, put together a project honoring the legendary pianist. The Errol Garner Project: Concert-by-the-Sea featured three outstanding pianists; Jason Moran, Christian Sands and of course Geri Allen. Errol has long departed and just recently, way too soon for all of us, Geri has joined the ranks of our fallen and uplifted angels of the music. The concert tonight opens with a recreation of that project with again three phenomenal pianists; Christian Sands, Helen Sung and Gerald Clayton.

Each generation has produced incredible talent that is all too often overlooked by the regular closed eared, routine layman over shadowed by bright light facades. But always, in the trenches and practice rooms of the world, emerges superior creative talent whose passion and dedication force them to seek out that which makes their sound superior; truly their best!

Musicians are musicians and choose not to be in a box with a label so we are blessed that these three have chosen to embrace jazz as their primary sound.


The magic of film brings back vivid sounds and memories that put us back in time to touch on nostalgia as we forge into the future. Fearless virtuosity indeed. In a moments notice, after watching excerpts of Errol Garner on the big screen, there is Music! On the stage are three grand pianos with their tops removed to amplify the vibration. Sands, Clayton and Sung, three brains, six arms, thirty phalanges, eighty eight keys, one melody. That’s about thirty-one toes to be stepped on but, everyone is in true harmony! Joined by Russell Malone on guitar, Darek Oles on bass and Victor Lewis on drums, it’s quite a dirge into a delightful abyss, recapturing the essence of that which was and basking in its warmth.

Gerald speaks about the multiple masters of the music Eroll and Geri and how their sound has been appreciated in their vast contribution of the music. When you listen to Gerald play, you feel the natural fluidity of his expression as if you were the notes gliding on and off of the staff. A true ride of pleasure. On the standard “Autumn Leaves” Gerald shows us that this generation paid attention and respects the mastery of the past and that the sound will continue to be treasured for a millennium to come.

Each pianist had their own individual turn with the rhythm section. Helen swings the way of the Blues on “Sweet and Lovely”. Jazz with the underling foundation of classical, exuding happiness and a love for the music and her fellow musicians has catapulted this humble star to the light. Helen talks about lovely memories of Geri.


Christian embodies the style, stride and swag of yesteryear as that Dr. Billy elegance shines brilliantly, he takes this generation by storm with one foot in and the rest stretching out! The sound is spewing out of his body as he rolls across those keys with the lightest touch and the flyest delivery. Devine! He talks about his excitement of playing and loving how sharp Errol was back in the day.

Russell Malone lives for the blues. He is one of the most proficient and immaculate guitar players their is and as Christian puts it, “a living legend”. Bobbing his head and tapping his feet as he gazes at Helen while digging her swing! On his own solo, there is no doubt that the clearest intonation is articulated and the heart and soul of the blues is at his and your fingertips! Russell describes Geri Allen as a visionary and fearless. He quotes Dr. Billy Taylor “Just as Eroll was not intimidated by Art Tatum”.

100 years of Thelonious Monk genius vibrating and thriving through the test of time on planet earth. A special night of music indeed led by one of the great composers, arrangers and musicians of this generation, Mr. John Beasley! Notions of the unfolding dream that is Thelonious Monk, layer by layer take shape and form into modern day contemporary swing, groove and hip hop delight.

Oh that Thelonious Monk, he’s crazy” says the Sphere himself, who clearly knows something that us mere mortals have taken years to understand!

The visuals begin and so does the swing, the dance, and the spin! The joy and jubilant rhythms of Master Monk. The men in Black are “Rhythmining”. Splashes and flashes of Monk on screen synchronized and dancing to to his own piano. Beasley did a phenomenal job of taking footage of Monk and not only incorporating it into the performance but, arranging it so Monk and the band are actually playing together!

Monkestra plays many of Monks great tunes with that phat horn section and then, Monk comes in to a solo. Its fantastic! Arranging the proper synchronization has been more of a challenge than John expected but, the show and the music were on point! Dee Dee comes out and is honored to be a part of this extraordinary performance and says she’s nervous but, if you know Dee Dee, she is about to tear it up! She sings while Monk and Monkestra play Round Midnight. Ben Sheppard gets into a duo trade with Dee Dee then Terreon breaks it down and the groove begins.

The footage shows Monk walking down the street in New York getting accolades from admirers, him on the road with Nellie, Johnny Griffin and the cats, with Pannonica, in the studio, him dancing in the train station and on stage. It took some meticulous precision to place the scenes exactly where they made the most sense and impact. The sweetest is watching Nellie get Monk dressed while Dee Dee drops a lovely version of “Ruby My Dear”.

Quotes by critics also appear on the screen and as I mentioned earlier, it took quite a while for folks, even people who claimed to know the music to even get a clue. The small minority understand progress while the rest like to hold onto what they know as fact. But, the 360 degree Sphere keeps turning and if you stand still, and don’t run towards to embrace, you’ll just fall off into the pile of naysayers. As you can imagine, not so encouraging words were written. Monk’s only reply….”Never listen to the hecklers”, “Writing about the music is like dancing to Architecture”. Yeah, who does that?

At the most perfect point between songs transitioning, a close-up of Monk’s smiling image appears on screen and then, Disney goes dark! Sirens and flashing lights; this was exciting! We all thought that perhaps the next scenes were Monk being harassed by the Police or getting his Cabaret card taken. Turned out, that it was an alarm that rang out through Disney Hall with words asking us to be calm and remain in our seats! The flashing lights were so cool and for a minute, I thought that Beasley and the cats were going to play it! But, as the thoughtful cat that John is, he went check so that we would all be safe. Turns out that the alarm was triggered from a room where no one was or had access to.  All we remembered was the last image we saw of Monk, close up smiling. “Humph”? Well, if you “Ask Me Now”, I would say “Monk’s Mood” was “Criss Crossing” “Off Minor” around “Brilliant Corners”! There’s no “Evidence” but when “Monk’s Dreams”, it can be a little “Nutty” and “Misterioso”. “Well You Needn’t” worry, the lights came back on and the band continued on with that “Bemsha Swing” as then played a killer version of “Skippy”

After the alarm and flashing light’s incident, Monk’s next quotes read…

“Stop playin’ all that bull*!^%$”.

The Spirit of Monk lives on in many ways! You got to Dig it, Dig It Dig it!!

LeRoy Downs

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Miles Electric at The Soraya, The Valley Center for the Performing Arts!

by on Mar.11, 2018, under News

The Valley’s Center for the Performing Arts, recently named “The Soraya” after family’s generous gift, is one of Los Angeles’ premium venues premiering the worlds music, arts and culture. Of course always included in their fine programming is a solid line up of jazz performances and tonight, the excellence is certainly on par. Miles Davis, The Cheif, The Prince of Darkness and of course known by so many other iconic monikers, was one historic figure who set the tone for elegance, innovation, pristine sound by demanding progression in his path to creativity.

There are many whose compositions reach the pinnacle of success and become standards in popular culture. Most regurgitate that acclaim and continue their journey living on the success of that moment. But others exist in a smaller minority. They unabashedly move forward chasing the light to discover new meaning for sound, new dimensions and ways of expression. Liked, loved or hated, these artists are seekers powered by the determination to produce new work that is important to them; that is their success. Create the art in hopes that the public will follow and be moved by the sound. Miles Davis was one of those in the minority. Can you imagine what the world would be like if he just stopped and rode out the rest of his life surfing on the sea salted white caps of his ocean of profit? When you stop and settle, life is over and the music dies. Never for the man with the horn!

Many, many many times over, Miles Davis set new trends in the music and Electric was one periods. Nef; family creates future as the Miles Davis spirit lives on. Vince Wilburn Jr. is Miles Davis’ nephew and one who had the honor of playing with “Unk”. He had the opportunity to watch, listen and learn from a family perspective, a human perspective and also as an integral part of “The Band”. These multi-in-depth perspectives shape not only the future of a man, but are responsible for the continuum as the everlasting sonic wave spans out to blanket a new generation with its omnipresent vibrations.

The Miles Electric Band represents a time of freedom when Miles selected the right players and let their intuition be the natural direction for the music. Here in 2018, the bloodline continues with Nef at the helm and yes, he knows how to put a group of like minded musicians together to create a benevolent contemporary representation of the sound that came before. Several members of this band played with Miles at some point in this eclectic electric period. The concert began with a wonderful video montage of video and photos all hailing, “The Cheif”. The smallest touch rings the truest sound as tabla player Debasish Chaudhury’s solo open the set with a tune that represents heroism and strength in the single whisper of the name; “Jack Johnson”. Stick and move. Miles was a boxer and I am sure the dance, the finesse, the strength, the clothes, the attitude and the spotlight were all things that reminded Jack Johnson of himself.

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Slide Show photographs by Richie Porter

The band is like the many minds of Miles the painter, looking at the morphing canvas and brushing in the right mixture of color as the vision progresses and “In a Silent Way”, John Beasley’s celeste like rhodes intro lovingly drops us off at the front door. The transitions between all of the tunes are strikingly mystical and seamless and “It Get’s Better”!

If you close your eyes and listen to Cheif Atunde Adjuah together with Antoine Roney, you can picture audible sepia tone sketches of Mile and Wayne the way they darted out to the stratosphere, wove the fabric of the music, and brought you home through mantra codas. Atunde Adjuah (Christian Scott) projects in such a way that the bright tone has his stamp, yet leaves one foot in the Dewey sauce which is not a copy, but a perspective of freshness leaving young and old steeped in respect.

Chicago native Robert Irving III roles out an array of color in his piano solo as a prelude to Nefertiti. He also got down on a keyboard battle with Beas! And if you didn’t know what time it was, our brother Munyungo Jackson shouted out “DINNER” on “Decoy”, as he reached into his percussive magic bag and keep light speed tempo on the triangle. It was an amazing feat, eight minutes later solid stellar rhythm. He also got down on the shekere with aerobic feats straight out of P90X before a happy duo on cahon with Debasish on tablas; a conversation of rhythm and mathematics. DJ Hapa spinning scratching and mixing at those low levels supporting the groove but, blasted his solo mixing in the music as well as the voice of the Cheif! Darryl Jones, with the tones, lying in the cut and emerging on “Jean Pierre”, immersing that buttery bass sound deep in the groove leaving us on that subliminal bob your head frequency. After the countdown, David Gilmore takes his guitar and blasts off; no problem in Houston!

This is Miles Electric!

LeRoy Downs

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John Beasley talks about Monk! Don’t Miss Monkestra at Disney Concert Hall March 9th

by on Mar.08, 2018, under Photos

Click on Top to watch and listen! Click below to buy!!!!

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The One and Only Mary Stallings Saturday Night March 3rd at Bar Fedora

by on Mar.02, 2018, under News

Mary Stallings at Bar Fedora!!!

An evening not to be missed!


1st set 7:30 – 9:00

2nd set 9:30 – 11:00

$35 per set.       $40 for both sets.

Saturday Night jazz DTLA

         Âu Lạc LA         

    Plant-Based Food & Drink Restaurant    

    710 West 1st St    

    Los Angeles, CA 90012    213-617-2533    

Mary Stallings is a classic example of how it takes time, musical seasoning and living a full life to mature as a vocalist and to address a lyric properly. While youthful instrumentalists may have something to say, Stallings brings a lifetime of emotional intelligence that enables her to truly inhabit a lyric.

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Young Vocal Singing Sensation Darynn Dean Rocks the Clayton March 25th!!

by on Mar.01, 2018, under News


Showtime 2pm

12:30pm DOORS OPEN



3-4pm BREAK



Mimi Melnick’s

Double M Jazz Salon

Darynn Dean and the Jazz Collective

Double M Jazz Salon continues its legacy at the Mayme A. Clayton Library & Museum in Culver City. Jazz

Baroness Mimi Melnick first began Double M Jazz Salon in 1996 in her Encino home on Strawberry Drive.

Mimi loved jazz, she organized and hosted the Jazz Salons to support the jazz community in Los

Angeles. Mayme A. Clayton Library & Museum is proud and honored to carry the torch.


Tickets are $20

Purchase online


TheMayme A. Clayton Library&Museum



ExecutiveDirector, Lloyd L. Clayton

4130 Overland Avenue, Culver City,CA 90230 | 310.202.1647 |

Sunday, March 25, 2018, 2pm

Darynn Dean and the Jazz Collective is Darynn Dean, vocalist and leader;

Christopher Astoquillca, alto sax; Aaron Shaw, tenor sax; Brian Schwartz, trumpet;

Paul Cornish, piano Michael Alvidrez, bass; and Clayton Cameron, drums.

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