December Concert Picks from Rhythm Planet

Banner image: Jazz vocalist Kurt Elling (Photo by Anna Webber)

Saturday, December 1 | Luciana Souza: The Book of Longing | Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA (Westwood)

Brazilian singer Luciana Souza grew up in a musical family and graduated from the Berklee School of Music. The Grammy Award-winning vocalist excels in so much more than Brazilian styles. In this show, she’ll present music from The Book of Longing, one of her most personal albums yet with original music written to the poetry of Leonard Cohen, Emily Dickinson, and more. Click HERE for tickets and more information.

Friday-Sunday, November 30 and December 1-2 | Michael Tilson Thomas and Tchaikovsky 6 | Walt Disney Concert Hall (Downtown)

Tchaikovsky’s final symphony, the Pathétique, is both tragic and triumphant. He wrote the powerful and spellbinding work during the last years of his life and completed it just before his untimely death. Everybody should hear this one live, and Michael Tilson Thomas leading the LA Philharmonic will surely thrill with a passionate performance. Click HERE for tickets and more information.

Michael Tilson Thomas (Photo by Kristen Loken)

Sunday, December 2 | Carmen Lundy | Presented by the Jazz Bakery at the Moss Theater at New Roads School (Santa Monica)

I’ve always loved jazz singer Carmen Lundy’s sound, style, and vocal timbre. After earning a degree in music from the University of Miami, she jumped right into work with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, and later collaborated with top musicians like Bill O’Connell, John Hicks, and Onaje Gumbs. She writes a lot of her own material and is an accomplished painter as well. Click HERE for tickets and more information.

Here is Carmen singing her inspiring original “Grateful”:

Friday, December 14 | Michael Feinstein Holiday Show | Musco Center for the Arts (Orange)

A giant of American Popular Song, Michael Feinstein has helped to resurrect interest in the genre, which he has championed for 30 years and counting. The singer, pianist, and five-time Grammy-nominated artist will delight the audience with both holiday songs and pop standards in his Musco Center debut. Click HERE for tickets and more information.

Michael Feinstein (Photo courtesy of Musco Center for the Arts)

Friday, December 14 | Kurt Elling | Presented by the Jazz Bakery at the Moss Theater at New Roads School (Santa Monica)

Kurt Elling always manages something new on his albums, and his 2018 The Questions is no exception. On it, he covers music by Paul Simon, Jaco Pastorius, Bob Dylan, and Leonard Bernstein, among others. I first saw Kurt Elling in the mid-1990’s, during a three-week stretch when he performed every night—quite an impressive feat of endurance. I’ve followed his thoughtful and edgy songs ever since. A graduate of the University of Chicago Divinity School, Elling’s music is imbued with soul and spirit. He excels in both scat and vocalese, with impeccable phrasing and enunciation. A truly superb lyricist and one of the top male vocalists performing today.

For this show, he’ll be joined by Stu Mindeman (piano & organ), Clark Summers (bass), Christian Euman (drums), John McLean (guitar), and Marquis Hill (trumpet). Click HERE for tickets and more information.

Here Elling sings an unusual vocalese version of Coltrane’s classic song “Resolution” from A Love Supreme:

Elling’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain is A-Gonna Fall” from his latest album, The Questions:

Saturday, December 15 | The Beautiful Day: Kurt Elling Sings ChristmasSegerstrom Center for the Arts (Costa Mesa)

Kurt Elling’s heartfelt style will lend a special touch to the holiday material on the bill when he performs the next evening in Orange County. He has a way of convincing listeners, and his versions of holiday standards will never be boring or stale. Click HERE for tickets and more information.

Sunday, December 16 | Forever Flamenco Presents Gala Flamenco | Fountain Theatre (Los Angeles)

Forever Flamenco’s latest production Gala Flamenco features star dancers Vanessa Albalos, Manuel Gutierrez, and Wendy Castellanos, plus singer José Cortes in an intimate setting. In addition, Maria “Cha Cha” Bermudez will come all the way from Spain as a special guest. Click HERE for tickets and more information.

Flamenco dancer Wendy Castellanos (Photo courtesy of the Fountain Theatre)

December 1-24 | Los Angeles Ballet’s The Nutcracker | Multiple Venues Across Los Angeles

The holidays never seem complete without watching a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet. The music, the dancing, the costumes, and the sets continue to entrance more than 125 years after the ballet’s debut in 1892. If you have kids, bring them, too. It’s a magical holiday event that sounds fresh, with wondrous and vibrant music. I still thrill to see it even after many years. Click HERE for tickets and more information.