Angel City Jazz Festival 2011

Roscoe Mitchell
Cover of Roscoe Mitchell

While there is some overlap between the Angel City Jazz Festival and the REDCAT schedule we recently posted, here is more detail of the former.

The festival venues include LACMA, REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney/Cal Arts Theater), The John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, Zipper Hall, The Echoplex, and The Blue Whale. Some of the artists performing at the festival include Armenian pianist and Thelonius Monk competition winner Tigran Hamasyan, Indian saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, the African ensemble Burkina Electric with percussionist Lukas Ligeti and special guest D.J. Spooky, Colombian harpist Edmar Castaneda, German vocalist Theo Bleckmann, French artists The Kandinsky Effect, the Australian trio The Necks, and a tribute to Art Ensemble of Chicago legend Roscoe Mitchell and a performance by his trio in celebration of his 70th birthday.

Thursday, September 22, The Australian cult band The Necks will open the festival with two shows (8:30pm & 10:00pm) at downtown’s newest jazz club, The Blue Whale. Chris Abrahams (piano), Tony Buck (drums), and Lloyd Swanton (bass) conjure a chemistry together that defies description in orthodox terms. Featuring lengthy pieces that slowly unravel in the most mesmerizing fashion, their music throws forth new charms on each hearing. Not entirely avant-garde, nor minimalist, nor ambient, nor jazz, the music of The Necks is possibly unique in the world today. Tickets will be $20 each set or $30 for both sets and can be purchased here:

Friday, September 23 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in the Miracle Mile district, the winners of the first annual Angel City Jazz Young Artist Competition, and the Larry Karush Quintet, will present a free concert. The winners of the competition will be chosen from applicants aged 16 – 24, and the finalists will perform in concerts at downtown LA’s popular new jazz club The Blue Whale. The winner will be chosen by a panel of esteemed performers and educators. The Larry Karush Quintet, featuring two percussionists, performs Larry’s jazz/world/new music comprovisations. This program will feature his “Songs for the New City” and the L.A. premiere of the revised version of “The Wheel”, originally commissioned by the City of Los Angeles through the LA Department of Cultural Affairs.

Saturday, September 24 at the Echoplex in Echo Park the festival brings a mélange of jazz, world beats and dance music to this hipster mecca with Burkina Electric with Lukas Ligeti and special guest DJ Spooky. Hailed by the New York Times as an “irresistible brew of West African music and electronica,” Burkina Electric is the first electronic music group from Burkina Faso, in the interior of West Africa. Burkina Electric’s music combines the traditions and rhythms of Burkina Faso with contemporary electronic dance culture, making it a trailblazer in electronic world music. A diverse and talented group consisting of four musicians and two dancers, they collectively participate in the creative process and represent disparate musical genres and sounds from across the globe. Led by noted percussionist Lukas Ligeti, this concert will feature a collaboration with the legendary New York electronic music artist D.J. Spooky.

Sunday September 25 at REDCAT in Downtown LA, the festival will feature vocalist Theo Bleckmann, and Tiny Resistors led by bassist Todd Sickafoose. The evening opens with a solo set by vocalist Bleckmann. A Grammy-nominated jazz singer and new music composer of eclectic tastes and prodigious gifts, Bleckmann makes music that is accessibly sophisticated, unsentimentally emotional, and seriously playful. His work provokes the mind to wonder, but connects immediately with the heart. Bassist Todd Sickafoose has become well known as Ani DiFranco‘s collaborator, and has opened concerts for her performing his own music in packed concert halls all over the world. He has also performed and recorded with Andrew Bird, Nels Cline, Jenny Scheinman, Trey Anastasio, Yoko Ono, Myra Melford, Tin Hat, Bobby Previte and many others. The consistency of his personal voice within wildly diverse collaborations prompted the LA Weekly to call him “One of the most comprehensive musical minds of this coast”. The San Francisco Chronicle has called him, “a captivating improviser, imaginative composer, and master of collaboration,” and The New Yorker has called him “Ani DiFranco’s secret weapon.”

The show on Friday September 30 at the Colburn School of Music’s Zipper Hall features The Edmar Castaneda Quartet and the Nick Mancini Trio with Special Guest Otmaro Ruiz. Colombian harpist Edmar Castaneda has taken New York and the world stage by storm with the sheer force of his virtuosic command of the harp. A master at realizing beautiful complexities of time, while skillfully drawing out lush colors and dynamic spirit, Edmar has been characterized by the New York Times as “almost a world unto himself.” Featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, Castaneda has performed at Carnegie Hall, The DC Jazz Festival, Jazz at Lincoln Center, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Tanglewood Jazz Festival, and with artists such as Paquito D’Rivera, Wynton Marsalis, John Scofield, and many others. Opening the concert will be the Nick Mancini Quartet with Venezuelan pianist Otmaro Ruiz performing the world premiere of Venenzuelan pianist/composer Ruiz’s original composition “Chorigno pra Ela”.

On Saturday, October 1 the Angel City Jazz Festival’s signature afternoon/evening “Global Jam” event will take place at the beautiful John Anson Ford Amphitheatre in the Hollywood Hills. The Jam begins at 5pm with Los Angeles’ own Pan Afrikan People’s Arkestra celebrating it’s 50th anniversary of furthering the legacy of iconic pianist Horace Tapscott, followed by the dynamic duo of Satoko Fujii on piano and Natsuki Tamura on trumpet at 6:15pm, continuing with the French progressive ensemble The Kandinsky Effect at 7:00pm, The Tigran Quintet featuring Armenian pianist Tigran Hamasyan at 8pm, and finishing with Indian saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa and Samdhi in their first west coast appearance at 9:30pm. Tickets, priced at $45 – $75, $18 for full-time students with ID and $12 for children 12 and under, are available at or 323 461-3673 (for non-visual media 323 GO 1-FORD). Through the Ford’s early buyer incentive, adults who buy tickets on or before 9/23/11 pay only $40.

The festival concludes on Sunday, October 2 with a tribute to Roscoe Mitchell at REDCAT. The evening opens with a performance of the Art Ensemble’s masterpiece “People In Sorrow,” as re-imagined by composer/percussionist Alex Cline. Included in this all-star band will be famed saxophonist Oliver Lake, woodwind player Vinny Golia, New York harpist Zeena Parkins, vocalist Dwight Trible, bassist Mark Dresser, and others. Then the legendary woodwind master Roscoe Mitchell celebrates his 71st birthday with a performance by his trio which includes percussionist William Winant, and James Fei on woodwinds. A founding member of Association for the Advancement of Creative Musician and the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Mitchell is currently a composer and artist in residence at Mills College in Oakland.

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