Pop & Hiss

Little Tokyo's Blue Whale is on a roll with Dave Douglas, Ralph Alessi and more

In the conventional model of a jazz club, it used to be that acts would come through town for three or four nights, offering multiple chances to catch nationally known music.

While that structure remains a part of Los Angeles at the stalwart Catalina Bar & Grill (this weekend brings vocalist Steve Tyrell), the beloved jazz incubator the Blue Whale in Little Tokyo is on such a hot streak that its offerings could be considered a mini-residency of top-quality acts in its own right (a full calendar is available at the club's website).

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Trumpeter and indie label head Dave Douglas has been hopscotching through a variety of palettes and styles since the '90s, including collaborations with John Zorn, experimental filmmaker Bill Morrison and electronic artist Shigeto. Thursday finds him coming to the Blue Whale with an adventurous quintet that includes pianist Fabian Almazan, drummer Rudy Royston, saxophonist Jon Irabagon and bassist Linda Oh. The group released the deft "Brazen Heart" in 2015, and while Douglas remains a moving target catching him here will offer a glimpse of his expansive output. (Thursday, 9 p.m. $30)

The very next night, one of the artists on Douglas' label, trombonist-bandleader Ryan Keberle, and Catharsis carve a broad path though a variety of jazz tributaries (among his many projects, Keberle has also backed singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens). His latest record, "Azul Infinito" draws from Latin America more than ever before with increased contributions from vocalist-guitarist Camila Meza, who just released a strong album in her own right, "Traces." (Friday, 9 p.m. $15)

On Saturday, New York-based flugelhornist John Raymond performs from an inspired self-titled record with his trio, Real Feels. Backed by guitarist Gilad Hekselman and drummer Colin Stranahan, Raymond draws from a broad songbook that includes a rollicking take on the roots music standard "I'll Fly Away" and Thom Yorke's "Atoms for Peace." (Saturday, 9 p.m. $15).

As if that weren't enough, trumpeter and CalArts alumnus Ralph Alessi comes to the Blue Whale next week for a two-night stand with his atmospheric Baida quartet. His 2013 record on ECM featured one of the top talents in jazz piano in Jason Moran, and here he features another rising star in David Virelles, who joins a band that includes bassist Drew Gress and boundary-pushing drummer Gerald Cleaver. (Feb. 23-24, $20).

Read more from me on Twitter: @chrisbarton.

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