Free Friday Concerts Added by Museum

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Spring soon will begin its graceful exit and we'll bid hello to summer, with its torrid days and balmy nights. It's also the time of year when hearing jazz in a pleasing outdoor venue is a swell idea.

One of the most aggressive jazz proponents has been the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where a program of big bands on summer Sundays was instigated in 1987.

Last year, when the museum expanded its Friday evening hours, staying open until 9 p.m., it also added free Friday jazz concerts. These affairs, which run from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., have featured such top L.A. artists as Frank Strazzeri, Bobby Bradford, Kei Akagi, Gordon Brisker and Joyce Collins.

On tap tonight is expressive guitarist Thomas Tedesco's quartet, with Cecilia Coleman, piano, Louis Spears, bass, and Rob Rozelle, drums. The Soma Quartet plays May 14, drummer Steve Theard appears May 21 and saxophonist Kim Richmond is set for May 28.

"The Friday jazz programs attract a new audience to the museum, and the museum attracts new audiences for jazz, so we're building audiences for music and art at the same time," said Cheryl Tiano, LACMA's music programs coordinator.

The free summer big band series, which spotlighted two bands in 1987, will host eight this year, kicking off with Med Flory's band, plus the L.A. Voices, on June 6, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Also in the lineup are bands led by Gerald Wilson, Bob Florence, Frank Capp, Roger Neumann and Bill Holman.

LACMA will present its first ticketed jazz event on June 16, when drummer Chico Hamilton's band, Euphoria, performs in the Leo S. Bing Theater at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10-$15. The concert is being held in conjunction with an exhibition by African-American painter Jacob Lawrence, which opens June 10.

Information: (213) 857-6010, 857-6115.

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In the Racks: Like so many musicians, pianist Fred Hersch grew up playing the classics, and while he says that being a jazz player is the "center" of what he does these days, he still loves to sit down and dig into the classical repertoire, as he does on "Red Square Blue," his new Angel/EMI release.

The album finds Hersch, flutist James Newton, saxophonist Phil Woods and harmonica player Toots Thielemans investigating themes by such Russian composers as Scriabin, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff. "It's challenging to do a classical piece, trying to make it valid as a jazz vehicle without watering it down," says the New York-based Hersch--who appears at the Jazz Bakery tonight with the Greene String Quartet, playing a mix of jazz and classics, and Saturday with bassist Charlie Haden.

Hersch's pure jazz side is revealed on "Dancing in the Dark," a straight-ahead trio date just out on Chesky Records. Such pop standards as "All the Things You Are," "For All We Know" and the title track are included.

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