The Jazzcat

Jack Sheldon at the LAX Westin with the USC Jazz Ensemble

by on Oct.01, 2004, under News


Additional Photos

Jack Sheldon’s unmistakable trademark voice and trumpet

playing reminds me of my days at jazz radio station KKJZ. Helen Borgers, who

still remains as one of the on air program host after 25 years, used to and

still does play and make very kind remarks about Mr. Jack Sheldon. With a voice

like that, he could be his own bass! Jack’s trumpet sounds strong and beautiful

on “The Shadow of Your Smile”. I love me some Be-bop and tonight, Jack Sheldon

is doin’ it like it should be done. Although he can play in many different

styles and situations, I think that this quartet suits him the best. He brings

his own sound engineer to make sure that he and his trumpet sound pure and

right on the money.


Jack is quite the funny guy. He had the audience not only

enjoying great music but, had them grinning from ear to ear. This is my first

time experiencing Jack in a live performance. Although very familiar with what

I used to hear at the station, he certainly can back up the hype.


Tonight, Jack is playing with some stellar players. Taking a

detour from burning on organ to playing brilliantly on piano is Joe Bagg.

Jennifer Lightham is one with her bass playing some very beautiful lines and

rockin’ rhythms. David Tull is outstanding, energetic and displaying some of

the most amazing colors and textures providing quite the pulse for a band whose

tempo can race as fast as a 20yr old track star.


Speaking of 20yr olds, we are joined tonight by some of

USC’s top performing jazz students. The Westin Hotel, in conjunction with the

various Los Angeles Universities, is sponsoring a new student program entitled

“FYI – (For Youth in Jazz) which offers an opportunity for the jazz stars of

tomorrow to interact with world class artist and experience performing in front

of a live crowd.


Performing at the breaks was the USC Jazz Combo directed by

Jennifer Barnes. On piano was Ross Garren, Time Archer on bass and Jon Herbert

on Drums with featured vocalist Natalie John, Same Saletta and Angela Esquirel.

This group of outstanding up and coming players played and sang a few standards

in a style all their own. These halftime sets are a great way for the audience

to experience their favorite artist while previewing who will be the next hot

young player and singer on the jazz scene of tomorrow.


Jack played the standards as well going back to his be-bop

roots on tunes like “On Green Dolphin Street”, Miles Davis’s “Milestones” and

more. Definitely the right choice of music for my taste and the audience

concurred. I kept calling him the West Coast King all night. Not in the sense

of smooth and mellow though, these cats really knew how to make Be-bop fly!

Great harmonies with straight ahead melodies that kept the sound swinging,

heads bobbin’, toe’s tappin’ and everyone laughing and having a good time.


This group just recently recorded a brand new disc called

“California Cool” that will be released sometime in October with another

release soon to follow. Look for it on Butterfly Records!



LeRoy Downs

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