March is shaping up to be a very busy month for jazz and world music concerts here in town. Here are Rhythm Planet’s recommendations for the shows to catch:
Friday, March 3 at 9 p.m.: An evening of solo guitar from Ralph Towner, who very rarely performs in LA. Towner is an original member of the group, Oregon, and his albums on the ECM Records label are gorgeous. Venue: Blue Whale in Little Tokyo. For tickets and info, click here.
Next, we’ve got three fantastic concerts coming up on the same night. Too bad we can’t attend them all!
Friday, March 10 at 8 p.m.: The extraordinary vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant performs with pianist Aaron Diehl. Also on the bill are jazz pianists Jason Moran and Adam Birnbaum. The show is a tribute to George Gershwin, Fats Waller, and Jelly Roll Morton. Venue: Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown LA. For tickets and info, click here.
Friday, March 10 at 8 p.m.: Noura Mint Seymali sings the music of Mauretania. Powerful and ecstatic singing from this landlocked West African country. Although Mauretanian music is not well-known here, it is, along with neighboring Mali and Niger, the birthplace of the blues. Seymali began her career as a supporting vocalist to the legendary Dimi Mint Abba, and her singing is just as rich and incisive. Venue: Caltech Live at the Beckman Auditorium in Pasadena. For tickets and info, click here.
Friday, March 10 at 8 p.m.: The veteran piano ace Brad Mehldau performs a work commissioned by Carnegie Hall, Three Pieces After Bach, featuring his improvisations on Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier. Venue: CAP-UCLA’s Royce Hall. For tickets and information, click here.
Saturday, March 11 at 7 p.m.: African Guitar Summit
Celebrate a joyous night of African guitar from Guinea’s Alpha YaYa Diallo, Madagascar’s Donne Roberts and Madagascar Slim, drummer Kofi Ackah from Ghana, and Guinea’s Naby Camara on electric bass and balafon. The event begins with a free outdoor performance by Ghana’s SK Kakraba at 6 p.m. This Aratani World Series show is a must for all African music fans. Venue: Aratani Theater at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC) in Little Tokyo. For tickets and info, click here.
Thursday, March 16 at 9 p.m.: A tribute to the late visionary composer David Axelrod by Ethio-Jazz founder, trumpeter and arranger Todd Simon. Venue: The Blue Whale in Little Tokyo. For tickets and info, click here.
Friday, March 31 at 9 p.m.: Bassist Darek Oles celebrates John Coltrane, together with special guests. Darek Oles works with the Peter Erskine Trio and is one of my favorite bass players. I love his big sound, his intonation and phrasing. This is bound to be a wonderful show. Venue: The Blue Whale in Little Tokyo. For tickets and info, click here.
Vincent Segal and Ballaké Sissoko’s U.S. Tour: Last but not least, for those of you on the east coast and in other parts of the country, French cellist Vincent Segal and Malian kora virtuoso Ballaké Sissoko are touring the States in early March. Their tour starts off in Vienna, VA (March 1), New York City (March 3), and Boston (March 4), before moving onto Miami Beach (March 5), Chicago (March 8), and Minneapolis (March 9). For tickets and info, click here.
Hope I’ve enticed you to go out and see these talented artists perform live music this month!
Photo of Aaron Diehl (top) by John Abbott.