JAZZ / DIRK SUTRO : It's Only Rock 'n' Roll, but Jazz Artist Hates It

Guitarist Laurindo Almeida has played just about every kind of music, but he draws the line at rock 'n' roll.

"For 25 years, I did lots of work for motion pictures," said the Brazilian-born Almeida, who can be heard at Elario's in La Jolla through Sunday. "In 1976, when they asked me to use a wah-wah pedal, I said, 'This is the end of my motion picture career.' "

Almeida came to the United States from Brazil in 1947 and became known as a featured soloist with Stan Kenton's band.

Since then, the guitarist, known for his intricate finger-style work, always on nylon strings, has been busy in a variety of settings. He received one of his five Grammys for one of several albums he made with the Modern Jazz Quartet. He was a founding member of the L.A. Four, with Bud Shank, Shelley Manne and Ray Brown. You've heard his movie and television music on "Bonanza," "Wagon Train," "Camelot," "The Agony and the Ecstasy," "Funny Girl" and several other productions.

Almeida often writes music for his guitar ensembles, which frequently include fellow guitarist Charlie Byrd. Almeida's next album will be out in October. It's his fourth collaboration with Byrd.

At 72, he doesn't think advancing age is a detriment.

"Playing only depends on practicing," he said. "I do hand exercises every night. If I have time, I practice five to six hours a day."

At Elario's, he will be joined by San Diegans Jim Plank on drums and Bob Magnusson on bass.

One afternoon in April of last year, guitarist Larry Carlton was recording at his home studio in the Hollywood Hills when he heard noises outside. He saw two teen-agers and a dog, and went to close the door so the animal wouldn't come in. Suddenly, one of the boys pulled out a .357 magnum and fired, putting a bullet within a quarter of an inch of Carlton's voice box and hitting his carotid artery. Paramedics arrived in minutes and controlled the bleeding, but Carlton didn't perform again until last December.

Now fully recovered, he will play the Humphrey's Concerts by the Bay series Friday night.

Carlton has enjoyed wide popularity for several years, mainly because his playing is accessible to listeners of diverse tastes. His new album, "On Solid Ground," is a perfect example. While some cuts find him mixing lyrical pop licks with straight-ahead jazz improvisations, he uses rock as a jumping-off point on covers of Steely Dan's "Josie" and Eric Clapton's "Layla."

Carlton won his first Grammy in 1981 and a second in 1987 for his cover of Michael McDonald's "Minute by Minute." As a studio musician behind artists such as Steely Dan, Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson, Neil Diamond, John Lennon, Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt, he played on more than 100 gold albums. In 1971, he hooked up with the Crusaders and eventually played on 13 albums with the funky jazz band.

As a result of his assault, Carlton formed HIP, for Helping Innocent People, to assist victims of violent crimes. His comeback performance at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles in December was a benefit for the organization.

His Humphrey's shows are at 7 and 9 p.m.

When San Diegans hear the name Sprague, they often think of jazz guitarist Peter, which can be frustrating to his younger brother Tripp, a talented jazz player in his own right.

"Yeah, it can be hard. He's much better at promoting himself," said Tripp, who plays tenor and soprano saxes and flute.

Sunday night, the Spragues will sit in with bassist Chris Conner and drummer Barry Farrar at the Salmon House restaurant in Quivira Basin, near Mission Beach.

The brothers Sprague switched from rock to jazz in their teens, and Tripp won awards with jazz ensembles at San Dieguito High School. He lists Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Stan Getz and Paul Desmond among his influences, along with younger musicians Pat Metheny and Chick Corea.

"I guess I strive for improvisations that are melodically and thematically simple. I prefer that over playing really fast," he said.

The Spragues can also be heard with their own band tonight from 5 to 7 p.m. at Horton Plaza downtown, Friday at the Roxy restaurant in Encinitas and Saturday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the ferry landing in Coronado.

Oceanside hopes jazz will help change its image as a tough military town. On Sept. 16 and 17, the city is hosting contemporary jazz shows in the 4,500-seat Oceanside Pier Amphitheater. The events are fund-raisers for the United Broadcasting Students Assn. Windham Hill Jazz, known as a New Age label, is using the dates to showcase its contemporary jazz roster. Saturday's lineup includes Kit Walker, Andy Narell, Ray Obiedo and Tuck and Patti. Sunday, it's the Turtle Island String Quartet, Ben Sidran, Michael Manring and the Denny Zeitlin Trio.

RIFFS: Bass clarinet, flute and piano player Turiya appears at 9 p.m. Sunday at Rio Rita, 744 Revolucion Ave, Tijuana, with the Immediate Freedom Band. . . . Pianist Shep Meyers plays the Horton Grand Hotel's Palace Bar downtown from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, followed by pianist Bob Hamilton; Saturday night, it's Jimmy Corsaro and the Tony Ortega Trio. . . . Most Valuable Players and Archie Thompson are featured at the B Street Cafe & Bar Friday and Saturday nights. . . . San Diego vocalist Ayanna Hobson and her Jazz Ensemble will showcase material from her debut album, "I Wish for Love," from 8 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday at RUSE Performance Gallery, 447 5th Ave.

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