Good Vibes (and Sax, Etc.) at These New Year's Eve Spots


We bet you've made that holiday gift list and, to quote a Duke Ellington song title, given it a "Check and Double Check."

Perhaps in all the uproar over making sure you've got the presents squared away, you may have forgotten to finalize your plans for the ultimate festive event of 1995: New Year's Eve. Well, here's a rundown of what's shaking around town, in terms of jazz, on the last night of the year:

* Christian McBride, a man whose bass notes are wide and rich, leads a fine quartet at Catalina Bar & Grill in Hollywood, (213) 466-2210. Seating begins at 7:30 p.m., there's a five-course meal and all the music you can handle from 9 p.m. $95.

* At the Jazz Bakery in Culver City, (310) 271-9039, pianist Billy Childs and drummer Joe La-Barbera lead a crack quartet. From 8:30, there's a buffet dinner, then music. $40.

* Things will be popping at Fifth Street Dick's in the Crenshaw District, (213) 296-3970, where the intrepid pianist Horace Tapscott leads a quintet from 10 p.m. Sparkling cider--Dick's is a coffee house--will be served. $10.

* Pianist Don Randi has played most NYE's during the 25 years his Baked Potato in North Hollywood, (818) 980-1615, has been open, and this year is no different. With seating from 8 p.m., enjoy dinner, two well drinks and music from Randi's Quest. $50.

* A mix of contemporary, Brazilian pop tunes and R&B; will be heard when singer Kevyn Lettau headlines at La Ve Lee in Studio City (818) 980-8158. Special dinner menu, and Lettau's songs, all from 8:30 p.m. $60.

* At that new, all-but-unpronounceable (they say "Blouses") and pleasingly high-tech room, Bjlauzezs in Sherman Oaks, (818) 789-4583, listen to singer Nina Hill work out with a group featuring guitarist Rick Zunigar and pianist Mike Garson. Seating from 7 p.m., special dinner menu. $75.

* Frank Capp's enlivening Juggernaut big band will be the fare at Twin Palms in Pasadena (818) 577-2567. Seating for dinner show from 8 to 9:30, special menu, open bar. Reservations nonrefundable after Wednesday. $145.

* Dancers are catered to by Page Cavanaugh's orchestra, which holds forth at St. Moritz in Toluca Lake, (213) 851-8844. Dinner shows at 6 p.m. ($45) and 9 p.m. ($65).

* A swell blend emanates from saxophonist Jimmy Madden's Happy Blues-Jazz Train, which steams into Chadney's in Burbank (818) 843-5333. Special dinner menu, music from 9:15 p.m. $7.

* Pop-tinged jazz is saxophonist Sonya Jason's calling, and she unleashes bevies of it at Jax in Glendale (818) 500-1604. The regular menu will be bolstered by special items, but you don't have to eat: Jax's usual no-cover/no minimum policy is in effect.

* Vibist Tommy Vig and his wife, Mia, have spirited takes on mainstream jazz, which they'll reveal at New York West in Tarzana (818) 758-3900. Three-course dinner, complimentary bottle of champagne, seating from 7 p.m. $50.

* Jazz slips in among the Dixieland and Top 40 tunes at Jimmy's in Beverly Hills (310) 552-2394. Singer Pat Livingstone's band entertains, full-course dinner. $115. If you just want to hang out at the bar, there's no cover.

* There's also a variety of sounds at the Moonlight Tango Cafe in Sherman Oaks (818) 788-2000, where singer Lenetta Kidd and the Palm Beach Trio are featured. Dinner show is at 9 p.m. $89.

* Elaine Gibbs sings with jazz flavor at Joseph's Restaurant in Culver City (310) 645-2891. Dinner from 8 to 11 p.m. $48.50.

Those willing to travel would do well to consider New Year's Jazz at Indian Wells, (310) 799-6055. At three hotels in the resort community east of Palm Springs, you'll be treated to the likes of Conte and Pete Candoli, Barbara Morrison, Stephanie Haynes, Roger Neumann's Rather Large Band with Madeline Vergari, saxophonist Rickey Woodard and a number of blues, Latin and traditional jazz bands. Tickets from $35 (one-day pass) to $250 (complete package).


Hailing Nancy: For an across-the-board, pre-New Year's Eve bash that can't be beat, join Herbie Hancock, George Duke, Kenny Burrell, Joe Williams, the Frank Capp Juggernaut, Jody Whatley and many others in "A Salute to Nancy Wilson." The fete for the grand jazz-based vocalist will be held Dec. 29 at the Century Plaza Hotel and is a benefit for the Minority AIDS Project.

Information: (213) 936-9339.


Stocking Stuffers: Jazz books and videos make quick and easy last-minute holiday gifts, and their long shelf-life is an added bonus. Three recent books with particular appeal are: "Jazz: The Rough Guide" (Rough Guides, $24.95), an information-rich encyclopedia by British jazz folk Ian Carr, Brian Priestly and Fairweather, which gives thumbnail sketches, and available CDs, of most important jazz players; "Jaco: The Extraordinary and Tragic Life of Jaco Pastorius" (Miller Freeman, $22.95), a passionate account of the late and evolutionary electric bassist by guitarist-writer Bill Milkowski; and "The Blue Note Years: The Jazz Photography of Francis Wolff" (Rizzoli, $58.50), which compiles gorgeous black-and-white photos of artists--from Hancock and Dexter Gordon to Art Blakey and John Coltrane--who recorded for Blue Note Records.

And if your taste runs to videos, try these: "A Great Day in Harlem" (ABC Video, $19.95), which documents the taking of a famed jazz photograph in Harlem in 1958; "Oscar Peterson: Music in the Key of Oscar" (View Video, $29.95), a two-videocassette package that is notable for no-holds-barred interviews with Peterson concerning race and other provocative issues; and "Marsalis on Music" (Sony, $59.95), the four-videocassette work that finds Wynton Marsalis interacting with Seiji Ozawa, delineating deep knowledge about all manner of music.

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