Angel City Arts and the Jazz Bakery present the fifth annual Angel City Jazz Festival October 5 -14, with concerts at LACMA, REDCAT, the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, and UCLA’s Royce Hall in association with CAP UCLA. The theme for this year’s festival is “Artists & Legends,” a vehicle for forward-looking artists to pay tribute to the legendary mentors who played significant roles in their musical lives.
Artist and legend pairings include Thelonious Monk Competition-winning trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire with legendary saxophonist Archie Shepp, Grammy-nominated pianist Vijay Iyer, with his mentor saxophonist Steve Coleman, and guitarist Bill Frisell who pays tribute to the blues musicians of the Mississippi Delta in his score to the movie The Great Flood. Pianist Myra Melford shares the stage with her colleague and mentor pianist Marilyn Crispell, Mark Dresser’s quintet performs with former Ornette Coleman sideman Bobby Bradford, and guitarist Anthony Wilson and organist Larry Goldings perform with the legendary drummer Jim Keltner. Noted Armenian pianist Vardan Ovsepian and top young bassist Damian Erskine appear with Damian’s legendary uncle, drummer Peter Erskine. And in a perfect example of the artist and legend pairing, Angel City Arts renews its commitment to young talent by hosting the second annual Angel City Jazz Young Artist Competition, with the winner performing in concert with celebrated trombonist Phil Ranelin at the festival’s free opening concert at Los Angeles County Museum of Art as part of the Jazz at LACMA concert series.
While Los Angeles was a cradle to 1960s innovators such as Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy and Charles Lloyd, the city never consistently hosted a festival dedicated to post-traditional improvisation until innovator Rocco Somazzi founded the Angel City Jazz Festival in 2008. The festival has helped establish L.A. as a jazz destination through five years of concerts featuring artists such as Bennie Maupin, Roscoe Mitchell, Wadada Leo Smith, Ravi Coltrane, Henry Grimes, and Nels Cline, as well as rising stars such as Tigran Hamasyan, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Kneebody, and Todd Sickafoose, among many others. This year’s partnership with legendary Jazz Bakery artistic director Ruth Price resonates perfectly with the festival’s Artists & Legends theme.
Angel City Arts joins hands with its partners, the Jazz Bakery, the Ford Amphitheatre, REDCAT, LACMA, and CAP UCLA, (formerly UCLA LIVE) to unite jazz’s exciting past and present. The 2012 Angel City Jazz Festival’s theme of Artists & Legends seeks to elevate the concepts of cooperation and respect through the legacy and continuity of America’s original art form.
The Festival’s opening night concert is a free event on Friday October 5 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles 90036. The evening kicks off at 6:00 PM with the winners of the Angel City Jazz Young Artist Competition followed at 7:00 PM with trombonist Phil Ranelin’s Sextet. After his 60s work as a session player with Stevie Wonder, Ranelin became a top experimental jazz player who recently developed a devoted following of edgy musicians including Carl Craig, Tortoise drummer John McEntire, Prefuse 73, Jan Jelinek, Morgan Geist, El-P, Telefon Tel Aviv and more.
On Saturday, October 6,the Jazz Bakery has programmed an exciting evening at REDCAT, 631 W. 2nd St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. Starting at 7:30 PM will be a symposium entitled “Honoring and Breaking With Lineage” featuring a discussion moderated by Greg Burk, longtime Los Angeles experimental music journalist and noted blogger at Metaljazz.com, with panelists including singer and Jazz Bakery artistic director Ruth Price, musician and educator Bobby Bradford, and author, historian, and educator Steve Isoardi. The panel will be followed at 8:30 PM by a performance from the Anthony Wilson, Larry Goldings, Jim Keltner Trio. Noted guitar player Wilson is a longtime sideman for Diana Krall. Organist Goldings is an LA favorite who was nominated for a Best Jazz Album Grammy in 2007. Jim Keltner is one of the top drummers of all time, most noted for working on three of the four Beatles post-breakup projects among dozens of other notable shows, tours and album sessions.
On Sunday, October 7, The Angel City Jazz Festival returns to the John Anson Ford Amphitheater at 2580 Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood, 90068, for its signature event. The festival kicks off at 5:00 PM with the Peter Erskine Trio with Vardan Ovsepian & Damian Erskine. Jazz legend Peter Erskine has played with Weather Report, Steely Dan and many other top jazz and mainstream artists. He also teaches at USC’s Thornton School of Music. He is joined on his second Angel City Jazz Festival gig by his nephew, top young bass player Damian Erskine and acclaimed young Armenian pianist Vardan Ovsepian. At 6:00 PM the Mark Dresser Quintet plays with special guest Bobby Bradford. Known as a top avant-garde jazz bassist for his own work as well as collaborations with John Zorn, Trio M and more, Dresser is also on the faculty of music at UCSD. Bobby Bradford is well known for his work with Ornette Coleman, John Carter, his own acclaimed Mo’tet and much more. At 7:00 PM the Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet will take the stage. Trumpet player Ambrose Akinmusire is a mere 30 years old but has already performed with Steve Coleman, Esperanza Spaulding, and Vijay Iyer, released an album on Blue Note and won two of the world’s most prestigious jazz competitions. Finally at 8:15 PM the Archie Shepp Quartet will headline the evening, with Ambrose Akinmusire guesting. Shepp is best known for his passionately Afrocentric music of the late 1960s, which focused on highlighting the injustices faced by African-Americans, as well as for his work with Horace Parlan, Cecil Taylor, and John Coltrane.
The Festival resumes on Friday, October 12, with a second event at REDCAT, 631 W. 2nd St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. Starting at 8:00 PM with Marilyn Crispell Solo/Duo, this former Guggenheim Fellow is sure to amaze the audience with her compositions and improvisations for solo piano, and duo improvisations with Myra Melford. Then at 9:30 PM Myra Melford brings her Snowy Egret project to the REDCAT stage. Melford is the winner of the 2012 Alpert Award for the arts in music and has over 30 recordings to her credit. Snowy Egret, her latest ensemble, has created quite a buzz in the jazz community this year and the Angel City Jazz Festival is pleased to welcome Myra back for her second appearance at the festival.
The festival is pleased to close their season with two shows presented by CAP UCLA at the University of California Los Angeles’ gorgeous Royce Hall, at 340 Royce Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90095. On Saturday, October 13, at 8:00 PM Bill Frisell, one of the leading guitarists in jazz since the late 1980s, will perform his score to The Great Flood, an evening-long suite accompanied by Bill Morrison’s film that tells the story of scores of displaced Delta blues performers who took their music north to cities like Chicago, and how their migration transformed American music forever.
Finally on Sunday, October 14, also at Royce Hall, at 8:00 PM Grammy nominated and critically acclaimed pianist Vijay Iyer will bring his Trio, Quartet, and Sextet to the stage along with his inspiration, top saxophonist and M-Base innovator Steve Coleman. Vijay Iyer says of Coleman, “To me, Steve is as important as Coltrane. He has contributed an equal amount to the history of the music. He deserves to be placed in the pantheon of pioneering artists. It’s hard to overstate Steve’s influence. He’s affected more than one generation, as much as anyone since John Coltrane. It’s not just that you can connect the dots by playing seven or eleven beats. What sits behind his influence is this global perspective on music and life. He has a point of view of what he does and why he does it.”