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wither jazz?


The not‑so‑good news: What has so far been a strong concert season for world‑class jazz in Santa Barbara — with artists such as Dave Brubeck, McCoy Tyner, the Bad Plus, Chick Corea, and Tierney Sutton — is coming to a premature halt in the spring. Apart from a scattered few shows, including the return of John Pizzarelli, the jazz genre starts its long holiday. Jazz fans in Santa Barbara get spoiled and somewhat deluded into thinking the jazz muse has come to dwell in our town, only to be reminded otherwise. It would appear that she actually just likes to winter here. The good news comes from the world‑music end of this spring’s concert spectrum. Venerable acts like Ladysmith Black Mambazo and the father‑daughter duet of Ravi and Anoushka Shankar, along with the intriguing eclectic‑Mixtec artist Lila Downs, give the season a worldly kick.

SBCC Jazz Ensemble Concert The Santa Barbara City College Jazz Ensemble concerts, showcasing its three bands of increasing musical worth, are always worth checking out. This spring’s affair has added punch with the arrival of veteran flugelhornist Clark Terry as special guest. Now 86 and often issuing bright sounds and jokes from his wheelchair, Terry is a true legend, whose résumé includes stints with Charlie Barnett, Count Basie, and Duke Ellington. Mon., Mar. 27, 7pm; Garvin Theatre, SBCC West Campus.

Nate Birkey Used to be that trumpeter Nate Birkey was a hometown musician you could always count on to deliver the musical goods, whether as a trusty bandmember in one project or another, or in the leading role as a horn player and singer of no small talent and lyricism in his own band. Birkey sightings/soundings are rarer now, and more important to note, now that he has more or less relocated to N.Y.C., where he has made inroads to the jazz scene there, and is about to release a live album with his East Coast band. His West Coast band makes a springtime stop at SOhO. Wed., Mar. 29, 8pm; SOhO, 1221 State St.; 962 7776.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo Paul Simon may be responsible for helping to spread the gospel internationally about this remarkable South African a cappella sensation by including them on his Graceland album, but Ladysmith Black Mambazo is its own finest sounding board. Once you’ve heard the band, you’re hooked for life. Fortunately, they keep on keeping on, mixing their joyous and sophisticated African musicality with styles that can be compatible with Westerners — including guests like Emmylou Harris and the English Chamber Orchestra, on recent recordings. They never fail to, quoting their 2004 album, Raise Your Spirits Higher. Thu., Apr. 6, 8pm; UCSB’s Campbell Hall; 893 3535.

John Pizzarelli Trio The suave and proudly mid career, old school singer/guitarist has proven to be a source of considerable pride to his old man, pioneering jazz guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli. Born in 1960, Pizzarelli the Younger started his career back in the ’80s in more of a pop flecked style, but has found both greater success and artistic integrity as he delved into the Great American Songbook and other niches of the mainstream jazz world — in other words, his father’s jazz. Pizzarelli returns to Jazz at the Lobero, which he charmed two years ago with his warm post Sinatra, post Nat King Cole vocal stylings and smartly dexterous guitar approach. Thu., Apr. 6, 8pm; Lobero Theatre; 963 0761.

Mike Melvoin Quartet, featuring Pete Christlieb Mike Melvoin (father of former Prince ally Wendy) is one of Los Angeles’s finer jazz pianists, and his rare appearance in Santa Barbara is something of which to take note, especially since his quartet features one of the very finest of L.A.’s tenor saxists, Pete Christlieb. The afternoon gig is sponsored by the S.B. Jazz Society. Sun., Apr. 9, 1pm; SOhO, 1221 State St.; 962 7776.

Lila Downs Synthesizing her native Mixtec musical influences, ranchera, and north of the border styles, Lila Downs has created quite a buzz in the last several years. Hers is a definitively American music, in the large sense, but tapping into particularly compelling strains of Mexican traditions. Hearing her live puts a fresh, vibrant spin on what her records convey: Downs is a captivating live performer, who can melt you with a heated, well placed canción. Tue., Apr. 18, 8pm; UCSB’s Campbell Hall; 893 3535.

Ravi and Anoushka Shankar The world’s best known sitarist, Ravi Shankar, has thankfully played in Santa Barbara many times throughout the years, partly because it’s a short drive from his San Diego home. He remains the most important champion of Hindustani music in the Western world, but, George Harrison and Philip Glass connections aside, Shankar is best appreciated as a musician who reaches depths rarely achieved in any tradition. In recent years, he has sometimes been accompanied by his enormously gifted and gracious sitarist daughter Anoushka (yes, yes, her half sister is Norah Jones). The chance to hear the profound family act live is something to savor. Sun., Apr. 30, 7pm; Arlington Theatre; 963 4408.

Rebecca Kleinmann Santa Barbara based flautist Rebecca Kleinmann recently released a fine Brazilian/world/jazz CD, Raio de Sol, and brings an array of musicians to this Mother’s Day gig at SOhO, including Rio born pianist Jovino Santos Neto. Sun., May 14, 8pm; SOhO, 1221 State St.; 962 7776.

Chris Walden Big Band,featuring Tierney Sutton German born and Los Angeles based big band arranger and bandleader Chris Walden made a strong first local impression at SOhO last year, made even stronger with a dazzling cameo by the great jazz vocalist Tierney Sutton. Walden and company pay another visit, with Sutton in tow, and anyone with an appreciation for the culture of smart big band music must mark their calendars. Now. Mon., June 12, 8pm; SOhO, 1221 State St.; 962 7776.

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