An end-of-summer fixture since its debut at Barnsdall Art Park in 2008, the Angel City Jazz Festival has drawn top-tier talent from figures across the jazz vanguard, including John Abercrombie, Archie Shepp, Ravi Coltrane, the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra, Anthony Braxton and the Necks.
Proudly billing itself as L.A.’s only “noncommercial jazz and new music festival” and presented in collaboration with the Jazz Bakery, Angel City may be missing a multi-act “festival” centerpiece as in years past. Yet for fans of uncompromising musical expression, Angel City continues to offer an unmatched tour through the leading edge of jazz without concern for geographic or genre borders.
With an expansive run of concerts scheduled in Santa Monica, Hollywood, Northridge and downtown L.A., the festival's reach spans eight venues and 14 ensembles. Below, a rundown of what’s in store.
Miguel Atwood-Ferguson Ensemble, the J-Bac Quartet
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 5905 Wilshire Blvd. (presented in association with LACMA), 6 p.m. Friday. Free
On a year when L.A. native Kamasi Washington’s debut “The Epic” has dominated the national jazz conversation, it’s a bit disappointing not to see him on the bill (he's on tour). But the fertile Brainfeeder scene around Washington's orbit can be heard in Atwood-Ferguson, whose deft hand as a violinist, arranger and bandleader draws the city's forward-thinking jazz and beat music fans in equal force. The J-Bac Quartet, winners of the festival’s young artist competition, will open.
Lisa Mezzacappa’s Glorious Ravage, Mark Dresser Quintet
REDCAT, 631 W. 2nd St. 8 p.m. Saturday. $15-$25
Curator of the Hammer Museum’s annual JazzPOP concert series, the Bay Area-based Mezzacappa leads a large ensemble that includes flautist Nicole Mitchell, reedist Vinny Golia and pianist Myra Melford through a multimedia suite inspired by female adventurers of the Victorian age. Avant-garde bassist and bandleader Dresser takes part in Mezzacappa’s ventures as well as his own quintet.
Lucian Ban & Mat Maneri, the Empty Cage Quartet
The Blue Whale, 123 Astronaut E. S. Onizuka St., Suite 301. 9 p.m. Oct. 1. $15-$20
An encore performance from the 2013 festival, Romanian-born pianist Ban teams with Maneri to revisit their live album, "Transylvanian Concert." The acoustic pairing of Ban's restless piano and the churning hum of Maneri's viola ventures through darkened tributaries of jazz, blues and Baltic folk well suited to the season. The thoroughly modern jazz of the Empty Cage Quartet closes the show.
Yosvany Terry / Baptiste Trotignon Ancestral Memories Quartet
The Ann & Jerry Moss Theatre at the Herb Alpert Educational Village, 3131 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica. 8:30 p.m. Oct. 2. $25
Cuban American saxophonist Terry teams with the French-born Trotignon to explore where the traditions of Caribbean music meets the French colonial sites such as Haiti and New Orleans. The quartet is rounded out by Terry’s brother, Yunior, on bass and hard-swinging drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts.
Jen Shyu & Jade Tongue, Motoko Honda and Vanessa Vo
Barnsdall Gallery Theatre, 4800 Hollywood Blvd., 9 p.m. Oct. 3. $15-$20
Heard on recordings by Steve Coleman as well as her own albums, Shyu mixes Taiwanese lute, dance and a beguiling vocal style. Her latest album, “Sounds and Cries of the World,” features Maneri's viola paired with trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, who follow Shyu with a similarly boundless sonic imagination. Also on the bill, eclectic keyboardist Honda performs with the Vietnamese zither of Vo.
Josh Johnson’s UNREST: Confronting Collective Memory, Jon Armstrong’s “Burnt Hibiscus”
The Edye at the Broad Stage, 1310 11th St., Santa Monica. 8 p.m. Oct. 9. $25
A graduate of the Thelonious Monk Institute, saxophonist Johnson combines with a septet to perform a 45-minute suite inspired by the photography of Gary and David Leonard, whose images chronicled a city in chaos following the Rodney King verdict in 1992. Saxophonist Armstrong opens the show with a long-form piece that filters the L.A. experience through 10 musicians and seven Indian ragas.
John Beasley’s MONKestra, the Thelonious Monk Institute Jazz Performance Ensemble of UCLA
Musician Institute Theatre, 6752 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. 8 p.m. Oct. 10. $25
Grammy-nominated pianist Beasley offers an eclectic celebration of Monk’s birthday with energetic takes on the jazz master by a nimble big band that includes trumpeter Dontae Winslow and drummer Ronald Bruner Jr. With a similar eye for continuing a legacy, the Monk Institute’s current class of seven musicians offers an opening set.
Alex Cline’s Flower Garland Orchestra: Oceans of Vows
Plaza del Sol at the Valley Performing Arts Center, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge 7:30 p.m. Oct. 11. $15-$20
Backed by an all-star ensemble from L.A. and beyond, L.A. percussionist Cline offers a suite dedicated to Zen Buddhist author and teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. Incorporating sounds from East and West in a 13-piece band that includes the captivating voice of Areni Agbabian backed by the likes of violinist Jeff Gauthier, Cibo Matto’s Yuka C. Honda and Cline’s twin brother, Nels, on guitar, the orchestra has all the elements for approaching transcendence.
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