Jazz Mobile West, a series of 15 free jazz concerts to be held at locations in the greater Los Angeles area, kicks off with a noon bash on May 19, at the Rotunda of Los Angeles City Hall. Modeled after the original Jazz Mobile, formed in New York in 1965, Jazz Mobile West is presented by the Los Angeles Jazz Society, with help from grants from the City of Los Angeles and the Music Performance Trust Fund, Local 47.
Jazz Mobile West will feature performances by trumpeter Al Aarons, saxman Herman Riley, pianist Gildo Mahones, bassist Allan Jackson, and drummer Kenny Dennis. The band will play both public venues and schools--including Point Fermin Park in San Pedro, the ABC Entertainment Center in Century City and the Canoga Park Elementary School. "We scheduled many of the concerts at schools because they need all the help they can get with arts enrichment programs," said Teri Aarons, LAJS president.
Several people's efforts brought the project to fruition, Aarons added, including Chuck Niles, who will emcee all the events, and drummer Earl Palmer. Aarons was particularly pleased that Mayor Tom Bradley supported the program with a recommendation for a grant.
Information: (213) 469-6800.
PIANIST'S VISIT: Though pianist-composer Toshiko Akiyoshi's Jazz Orchestra--which the current Manhattan resident formed while living in the Southland with her husband, reedman Lew Tabackin, from 1972-1982--played only 30 dates in 1988 ("It was miserable," she said), both Akiyoshi and Tabackin were able to work regularly as instrumentalists, making the year a financial success.
Among the spots where Akiyoshi, the be-bop-based pianist--who opens a four-night engagement with her trio at the Vine St. Bar & Grill in Hollywood tonight--played last year were Rio de Janeiro and Zurich. In Zurich, she worked with bassist Jimmy Woode, a former Ellington band member, and drummer Ed Thigpen, formerly with Oscar Peterson and Bud Powell. "We had a really good time because they swing so hard," said Akiyoshi, whose latest LP is "Interlude" (Concord Jazz).
In July, Akiyoshi and Tabackin travel with the Jazz Orchestra to Japan. Of particular interest will be her concert in Fukuoka, on the island of Kyushu, where she'll debut a commissioned work. "Fukuoka was important in my life," she said. "I lived there from 1947 to '48 and it was the first time I played with big bands."
COMPLETELY DIFFERENT: If Akiyoshi plays in a sometimes intense, somewhat complicated manner, pianist-composer Peter Kater, who appears with saxophonist Bob Redholz at At My Place Saturday, takes another tack. The pieces on his latest "Homage" (Gaia) LP are soft and soothing without the snap-crackle associated with modern jazz.
Many people would call his stuff New Age, but not Kater. "I play contemporary piano music, although it follows such chart categories as New Acoustic or New Adult Contemporary," Kater said.
Kater, currently touring the Southwest and West Coast with Redholz, enjoys the sparse blend of saxophone and piano. "A duo retains all the intimacy of a solo piano concert," said Kater, "plus you have another instrument that allows much more diversity."
**** "Monstrosity" (CSULA 888, available from (213) 343-4060) finds the first-rate Cal State Los Angeles Jazz Ensemble tearing through a handful of vital originals--Jose Arellano's title track and director David Caffey's "Samba de Linda" among them--and a couple of Woody Shaw cookers. Solid solos from the likes of saxophonists Sharon Hirata and Randall Willis and trombonists Luis Bonilla and Gary Smith abound. . . .