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In and Out in L.A.

SONGS OF UPLIFT AND OUTREACH: Los Angeles’ jazz
scene too often veers to one extreme or another. You’ve got “in”
cats and “out” cats, the mainstream, bop-fueled scene and the
adventurers on the outskirts, who pray to the muse of free
improvisation and concepts not normally embraced in public.
Avant-gardists and the straightaheadsters tend to glare at each
other across the freeway, if considering each other at all. It’s
too bad: interesting music can arise out of integration of
seemingly divergent energies and attitudes.

dwight_trible.jpgThere are notable exceptions, and we got
a scintillating taste of one last Monday at SOhO, with the arrival
of Dwight Trible, the
deftly individual L.A. vocalist who works with Horace Tapscott’s
Pan-African Arkestra
and with Pharaoh Sanders
(whose old singer, Leon Thomas, influenced Trible’s style). Trible
was in cahoots with pianist John Beasley, another
musician with solid and balanced musical chops. (Beasley played in
a later incarnation of Miles Davis’ band, among many other gigs).
Joining them were bassist Trevor Ware and drummer
Daniel Bejarano, impressive players who navigate
the proper course, structured or otherwise, and on moments’
notice.

At SOhO, the rhythm section opened up with Jobim’s sumptuous
“Jinji,” craftily reworked into a 5/4 groove. Trible came out
strongly with his signature piece “Little Africa.” His expressive
and precise improvisational dodge-and-weave approach laid out over
a long rubato intro, relaxing into a waltz feel and then a
medley-fying turn into “What the World Needs
Now
.” Just as he gave Burt Bacharach’s classic a new, hip set
of clothes, Trible offered a fresh, floating concept for the folk
song “Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair.” A roiling 7/4
piece found Trible on familiar turf, keeping his lines free but
dipping into gospel-ish grit. Overall, balance ruled.

Trible recently sang at the REDCAT in L.A., with the Tapscott
group, as part of the “Creative Music Festival.” Last year, he also
opened up for the late, great Alice Coltrane, in her last
L.A. concert. In those settings, as at SOhO, he left an impression
as a free-thinking underdog worthy of wider attention.

tierney_sutton.jpgFRINGE PRODUCT:
Needless to say, Tierney
Sutton
comes from a radically different corner of the
L.A.-based jazz vocalist community than Trible. Still, Sutton and
her great band demonstrate the importance of exercising creative
license in the standards trade, with inventive arrangements and new
angles on old chestnuts. She has been steadily climbing into the
upper reaches of the mainstream jazz vocalist world, and,
incidentally, has also mobilized a growing fan base in Santa
Barbara (it’s about time for that annual Lobero
concert, isn’t it?).

Nowhere is Sutton’s gently twisted mainstream aesthetic more
moving than in her latest and best album to date, On the Other
Side
(Telarc). Loosely speaking, the theme is happiness,
including redecorated versions of “Happy Days Are Here Again” (two
different versions), “Smile,” and broaches happiness’ evil twin in
“Glad to be Unhappy” and “Haunted Heart.” Really, the song set is
as much about our neurotic and frustrating quest for happiness as
its attainment. To that end, the dreamy-voiced singer kicks off
with one of two versions of “Get Happy”—one dirge-y,
one swampy-happy. She oozes the opening line “forget your
troubles/come on, get happy,” its major third chafing against the
bass line’s minor third, turning the song’s cheerful advice into a
dark taunt.

In her telling liner note, Sutton reasons that “Our search for
happiness is an odd business. This music is about that search; the
longing, the mania, the heartache, and perhaps even the joy of
finding something better than the illusion we were chasing.”
Touché.

TO-DOINGS: UCSB’s MultiCultural Center presented
two of the young year’s best concerts so far—Forro for All and the stunning
Tuvan throat-singing sensation Tyva Kyzy. This Friday, the house
belongs to the Polish Highlanders, from the Tatra
Mountains by way of Chicago.

(got e? fringebeat@independent.com)

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