Critical Jazz

In his article on L.A.'s 10 top jazz clubs, Don Heckman puts the Club Brasserie on his list and says that “first-rate local acts” have been the club’s staple until recently, when “nationally known performers like saxophonist Greg Osby and pianist Brad Mehldau have appeared, strengthening the quality of the programming” (“Jazz Jewels,” Jan. 22).

That statement is a confession on Heckman’s part that he believes local talent, even the best of it, does not quite come up to the standard set by outsiders from the New York scene. The fact is, “locals” like saxophonist Teddy Edwards and pianist-composer Horace Tapscott have both appeared at the Club Brasserie. It’s hard to see how Osby and Mehldau “strengthened” that kind of programming. Master drummer Billy Higgins has also played at the club, but I suspect that, in Heckman’s eyes, Higgins’ many years on the New York scene remove the stigma of being a “local” musician, even though Billy was born and raised here and now makes Los Angeles his home once again.

Does Heckman need to be reminded that the list of great jazz musicians from Los Angeles is a long and distinguished one?




I would like to compliment the writing of jazz columnist Don Heckman. I’ve known of him since his Down Beat days, and I find him to be almost alone when it comes to commenting on the jazz scene today (Gene Lees is another that comes to mind).

One of the things I like most about Heckman’s writing is how he expresses his thoughts/descriptions of the music. It seems to me he’s coming from a musical perspective and doesn’t use the inane and uninformed words and phrases of most jazz writers.


San Francisco