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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