Pardon the pun, but Santa Barbara’s live jazz calendar in the
New Year begins on a low high note. The low note in question comes
from Christian McBride, one of the finest bassists alive, paying
tribute to the late, great Ray Brown. A month later in that same
venue, we hear from another great bassist, Dave Holland, in a duet
with the subtle jazz guitar legend Jim Hall. As usual, the jazz
pulse in town is strong in the first quarter of the year. Now, if
we can just not let this rich period unduly whet our appetite for
the rest of the season.
Chris Walden, with Tierney Sutton Walden, a
wise young German now living/working in Hollywood, has created one
of the juiciest, most adventurous and swinging of West Coast big
bands, and thankfully, it has made SOhO a regular stop. As in
earlier gigs here, he brings along the remarkable “real jazz”
vocalist Tierney Sutton, whose own star and standing in the jazz
world has risen meteorically in the last few years, and for good
reason. Mon., Jan.15, 8pm. SOhO, 1221 State St. 962‑7776 or
Christian McBride Kindly monster bassist
McBride has been working both sides of the acoustic/electric fence
these days, making some vibrant retro-funky electric jazz of late.
But his first scene-making splash came on the upright, which we
last heard him play at the Lobero in Pat Metheny’s trio. Acoustic
bass tradition is also very much the subject of his trio show at
the Lobero, titled A Salute to Ray Brown. Besides extending an
influence on McBride and virtually every jazz bassist of the past
five decades, Brown invited McBride to play in the SuperBass trio
with John Clayton. Pianist Benny Green and drummer Greg Hutchinson
flesh out this powerhouse trio. Fri., Jan. 19, 8pm. Lobero Theatre,
33 E. Canon Perdido St. 963‑0761 or lobero.com.
Bobby McFerrin In his unique career, McFerrin has
flirted with classical and pop music (even scoring his fluke hit,
“Don’t Worry, Be Happy”), but we shouldn’t forget that jazz was the
first stomping ground where he shined and gained mass attention.
McFerrin, last at Campbell Hall in solo mode (though with his
multiple personalities in tow), shows up with his multi-vocal group
Voicestra, mixing jazz, gospel, “world” sounds, and more, with his
inimitable wit and wisdom. Tue., Jan. 30, 8pm. UCSB’s Campbell
Hall. 893‑3535 or www.artsandlectures.sa.ucsb.edu.
Jimmy Bruno Philly-based Bruno is one of many
mainstream jazz guitarists who may not be household names, but who
swing and burn on a high level. On numerous albums for Concord,
Bruno demonstrated his supple prowess, heating up fast tunes and
playing it sweetly cool on ballads. No nonsense, no rock
concessions here, just solid, traditional playing. Mon., Feb. 12,
7:30pm. SOhO, 1221 State St. 962‑7776 or sohosb.com.
Spanish Harlem Orchestra The Grammy-winning
salsa sensation promises to fill Campbell Hall with provocations
for head and feet. Their clean-machined salsa and merengue sound is
spiced with jazz colors and soloists, and their ranks include
veterans of bands led by Latin jazz greats Tito Puente and Ruben
Blades. Tue., Feb. 13. UCSB’s Campbell Hall. 893‑3535 or www.artsandlectures.sa.ucsb.edu.
Jim Hall and Dave Holland Hall belongs to an
elite echelon of influential jazz guitarists, cited by Bill
Frisell, Pat Metheny, and John Scofield as a primary hero, even
though Hall has always been too cerebral and individualistic to woo
either the mainstream crowd or the post-rock generation. Those who
“get” his playing tend to love it. Here, Hall is joined in a rare
duet by Holland, one of our supreme bassists, whatever the setting.
(Holland’s quintet show at the Lobero three years ago, for one, was
among the finest jazz concerts ever heard in this jazz-sensitive
venue.) Fri., Feb. 16, 8pm. Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido St.
963‑0761 or lobero.com.