October Concert Picks from Rhythm Planet

Banner image: Soweto Gospel Choir (Photo: Lorenzo Di Nozzi)

Friday, October 5 | DELGRES | Téâtre Raymond Kabbaz (West L.A.)

A power trio if there ever was one, DELGRES’s musical inspiration reaches all the way back to Guadeloupe in 1802 when Napoleon’s army attacked and tried to reinstate slavery. The Paris-based roots group named itself after Louis Degrès, a Creole officer in the French army who died during this struggle. Front man Pascal Danae’s ancestors were former slaves on the Caribbean island who fled to New Orleans. DELGRES’s powerful sound blends French Caribbean, New Orleans, and blues elements. Click HERE for tickets and more information.

Sunday, October 7 | Soweto Gospel Choir: Songs of the Free | The Soraya (Northridge)

So much South African music, like black music in the U.S., comes out of the church. Among South African choirs, the all-male Ladysmith Black Mambazo might be the most well known, but The Soweto Gospel Choir features both male and female singers. Drawn from churches in and around Soweto, the 43-member group delights listeners with a sound that is pure joy. This program celebrates the 100th birthday of Nelson Mandela. Click HERE for tickets and more information.

Friday, October 12 | John Beasley’s MONK’estra | The Broad Stage (Santa Monica)

The multi-talented pianist/composer/arranger John Beasley brings Thelonious Monk’s music to the fore, with fresh arrangements that incorporate bossa nova, Afro-Cuban jazz and funk, hip-hop, and other contemporary sounds. The MONK’estra has dedicated itself to Monk’s timeless compositions. You would be hard pressed to find a big band filled with such amazing musicians, and this orchestra does Thelonious good. Click HERE for tickets and more information.

Sunday, October 14 | Tigran Hamasyan | Royce Hall (Westwood)

Tigran Hamasyan’s soulful and virtuosic piano playing hypnotizes audiences wherever he performs. I loved his 2015 ECM debut album Luys i Luso (Light from the Light), which paid homage to Armenian sacred music. He won the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festivals piano competition when he was just 14. For his return appearance to UCLA’s Royce Hall, Hamasyan will feature works from his new Nonesuch album For Gyumri in an intimate evening of solo piano. Click HERE for tickets and more information.

Wednesday, October 17 | Vicente Amigo | The Soraya (Northridge)

With the passing a few years ago of flamenco guitar titan Paco de Lucía, few world-class flamenco guitarists now tour outside of Spain. One is Tomatito. Another is Vicente Amigo. The veteran Amigo has been on the flamenco scene for decades, honing his skills as a fiery virtuoso who ignites crowds everywhere. Born near Seville in 1967, Amigo began studying flamenco guitar at the age of three (!) after seeing Paco de Lucía. He has amassed multiple Grammy awards and won Spain’s most important honor—the “Patriarch of Flamenco” at the 2010 Flamenco Summit. And like his hero Paco de Lucía, Amigo challenges and innovates the genre, mixing in Celtic elements and other styles. Here is a chance to hear him in the beautiful acoustic of The Soraya at California State University, Northridge. Click HERE for tickets and more information.

This recent video shows Amigo playing in a patio in Córdoba:

Friday, October 19 | Ahmad Jamal Quartet and Shahin Novrasli | Segerstrom Center for the Arts (Costa Mesa)

Jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal is one of my musical heroes and an icon. I’ve loved his music ever since I first heard him as a teenager. I would go to bed in the late 1960’s with Jamal’s album Naked City Theme as my lullaby. I am so happy to have met and interviewed him. Now in his late 80’s, Jamal doesn’t tour very much and his nightclub days are long over. This could be the last opportunity to hear him perform here and I urge you to go if you can. Click HERE for tickets and more information.

Wednesday, October 24 | Seong-Jin Cho | Walt Disney Concert Hall (Downtown)

Young South Korean pianist Seong-Jin Cho released a stunning recording of Debussy works on Deutsche Grammophone at the beginning of this year. As I wrote in a blog post about the album, Cho superbly captures and sings the beauty of Debussy’s abstract compositions. His Disney Hall program will include both “Book 1” and “Book 2” of Debussy’s Images as well as Chopin’s Ballade No. 3, Polonaise Fantasy, and Sonata No. 3. Click HERE for tickets and more information.

Watch Cho perform Debussy. He is reverential and transfixed by the music:

Seong-Jin Cho carousel photo c/o Harald Hoffmann