VALLEY WEEKEND : Susie Hansen Stirs Big Band Flavor Into Salsa Music : The violinist and her seven-piece band will cater to the dance crowd by playing originals from her ‘Solo Flight’ CD.


It’s hard not to be moved by violinist Susie Hansen’s vibrant Latin-based sound. There’s a compelling energy, a winsome sense of melody that grabs hold of a listener.

When she holds forth on Friday and Feb. 2 at New York West in Tarzana, Hansen offers mainly salsa, the sparkling dance music that grew out of Cuban conjunto and charanga styles, and includes a healthy dose of ‘40s and ‘50s big band sound.

In the violinist’s version of salsa, she makes sure there are plenty of jazz solos; improvising is her raison d’etre, she says.


“Soloing is . . . what’s the word . . . is ecstasy. It’s the reason I play music,” says Hansen, who grew up in Chicago and is the daughter of James Hansen, a violinist with the Chicago Symphony.

“It’s a spiritual experience, kind of like giving up control and getting into the energy of a song, being part of the song,” says Hansen. “It’s raw expression in the moment and it’s the most exciting thing I do.”

At New York West, Hansen’s show features her seven-piece band delivering a repertoire of originals from her “Solo Flight” CD on Jazz Caliente Records as well as tunes by such Latin greats as Eddie Palmieri and Tito Puente. The program is designed for dancers, and the musician says the club is ideal, with a good dance floor and an intimate atmosphere.

“We played there last week and it was great. The whole club was dancing, and though we soloed a lot, nobody complained,” she reports.

Hansen works a good deal these days. Her music, she says, as much as her bank account, is the beneficiary. “When I can work enough so that the same people play with me, then we sound like a band, we play like a band, and that’s gratifying.”

* Susie Hansen plays Friday and Feb. 2, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., at New York West, 19540 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana. No cover, no minimum. Information: (818) 758-3900.


Horn Switch: Originally a be-bop alto saxophonist in the melodically rich Charlie Parker-Cannonball Adderley vein, Steve Rosenblum now plays mostly tenor sax. And his heroes are such musical descendants of John Coltrane as Michael Brecker, Jerry Bergonzi and Rick Margitza, players known for their edgy, energetic approach more than their singing melodies.

Rosenblum, who grew up in Encino, likes the zip and surprise of his current tack. “My style gives me more freedom harmonically, so I can be more spontaneous,” says the horn man, 33, who plays Sunday at Common Grounds.

Rosenblum applies his modern-minded manner to a variety of material and at Common Grounds, he, trumpeter Jeff Bunnell, pianist Robert Van and two others will delve into originals and arrangements that Bunnell has done on tunes reminiscent of the great Horace Silver.

“I love Horace’s sound, with tenor and trumpet blending,” says Rosenblum, who has played and/or recorded with Louie Bellson, Matt Catingub and Dick Berk. “It’s a cross between a gospel-blues thing and the complexity of be-bop. It grooves with hip changes.”

Rosenblum has had an interesting career: When he was just 21, he’d already had it with the jazz life. “I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in smoky clubs,” says the sax man who had played with Bellson’s big band while still a senior at Reseda High School. He moved to Santa Cruz, studied piano, and started playing on cruise ships. He still does. It’s a great opportunity to practice, read and still have money coming in.”

* Steve Rosenblum’s quintet plays Sunday, 8 p.m., at Common Grounds, 9250 Reseda Blvd., Northridge. No cover, no minimum. (818) 882-3666.


Good Genes: As the daughter of the wondrous pianist Jimmy Rowles, trumpeter-fluegelhornist Stacy Rowles claims an extraordinary lineage. But the daughter has established her own name, playing a swell brand of mainstream jazz that’s noted for lyricism and smooth swing.

Rowles is tooting her delightful horn twice this week: tonight with drummer Dennis LaPron at Monteleone’s in Tarzana (818-996-0662) and again on Saturday at Chadney’s in Burbank (818-843-5333). At Chadney’s she is joined by trombonist-baritone horn player Betty O’Hara in a dandy band called the Jazz Birds.