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Mancini Institute Concerts to Showcase Young Talent

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

An ambitious schedule of concerts is on tap for the Henry Mancini Institute’s summer program for aspiring professional musicians. The intensive, career-oriented session, now in its second year, began Sunday and runs through Aug. 22 at the Cal State Long Beach campus.

The concerts, which bring together fine young musicians from around the world to play with the institute’s guest instructors, begin Thursday at the Skirball Cultural Center with the HMI Quintet and Sextet, with pianist Billy Childs. They conclude Aug. 19 at the Hollywood Bowl, when Jack Elliott directs the HMI Orchestra in a performance of Mancini’s “Piece for Jazz Bassoon and Orchestra” on a bill with Oscar Peterson and Diana Krall.

In between, free concerts held at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center on the Cal State Long Beach campus are scheduled for next Friday with the HMI Big Band, featuring trombonist Bill Watrous and pianist Dave Grusin; Aug. 8 with the HMI Orchestra, featuring Grusin; Aug. 13 with the HMI Big Band and saxophonist Ernie Watts; Aug. 14 with the HMI Chamber Orchestra and the Turtle Island String Quartet; and Aug. 15 with the HMI Orchestra, featuring Watts and the Turtle Island String Quartet.

In addition, the HMI Big Band and various small combos will perform at Disneyland throughout the day on Aug. 17. Free Wednesday night performances will be presented in downtown Long Beach on Pine Avenue between Ocean Avenue and 3rd Street on Wednesday and Aug. 12, from 6 to 8 p.m., with four different groups appearing.

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According to the institute’s executive director, Mitchell Glickman, this summer’s program of intensive master classes, panel discussions and hands-on performing experience includes 71 students from nine countries and 21 states, chosen from some 400 applications, all on fellowships.

“There’s no other program like it in the world,” Glickman says. “The question we try to address is, ‘What does it mean to have a life in music?’ Talent will only get you so far; there are a lot of other factors involved. We try to teach all the skills necessary to succeed as a musician.” For information about Henry Mancini Institute concerts: (310) 845-1905.

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More Jazz at the Beach: Borders Books and Music, 2110 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach, launches a new series of free jazz performances tonight at 8 with bassist Art Davis, a veteran of work with Max Roach, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk and others, discussing “Jazz in the 1960s.” The series continues Saturday with poet Kamau Daaood and his Army of Healers, 8 p.m., and continues every Saturday thereafter.

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Upcoming shows feature saxophonist Alfredo Rivera’s quartet on Aug. 8, singer Yvonne de la Vega on Aug. 15 and New York-based Blue Note recording artist, guitarist Fareed Haque on Aug. 22. Information: (652) 799-0486. . . .

The historically party-minded Long Beach Jazz Festival, next Friday-Aug. 9, adds a sophisticated touch this year with Aug. 9’s appearance of vocalist Nancy Wilson. Other highlights include vocalist Michael Franks next Friday, singer Etta James, bassist Stanley Clarke and pianist Gene Harris on Aug. 8 and trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, pianist David Benoit and saxophonist Ronnie Laws on Aug. 9. Information: (562) 436-7794.

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On Tal Farlow: Many of the musicians in attendance Tuesday at John Pisano’s weekly “Guitar Night” at Papashon Restaurant in Encino had not yet heard of the passing of guitarist Tal Farlow on Saturday, in Manhattan of esophageal cancer at the age of 77. “A great and important guitarist,” said 84-year-old seven-string pioneer George Van Eps, Pisano’s guest performer that night. “A master,” echoed composer-bandleader-guitarist Anthony Wilson, who was in the audience.

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Pisano first met Farlow in Los Angeles at Ciro’s in the late ‘70s and remembers comparing hand size with him. “His hands were legendary for their size among guitarists,” he says. “He was a genius of harmonic concept and the lines he played. Horn players came in to hear him so they could figure out how they could play lines like that.”

Farlow’s technique and fluidity as a member of vibraphonist Red Norvo’s trio in the early ‘50s and on his recordings for Verve, Blue Note, Concord and others set new standards of touch, timing and speed. While cherished by his fellow guitarists, he was not always rewarded with commercial success and spent time in the late ‘50s and the ‘60s semiretired from music and working as a sign painter. He became more active in the ‘80s and had last performed in public a month before his death.

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Jazz Singer: Vocalist Joe Williams, the scheduled headliner at last Sunday’s Jazz Bakery at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre concert, canceled his appearance the day of the show when he suffered shortness of breath before leaving his home in Las Vegas (he was replaced by Ernie Andrews and Bill Henderson). Contacted by phone Monday, Williams, 79, said that he suffers from emphysema.

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“I couldn’t breathe [Sunday],” Williams said, explaining his absence, “and that will cause a person to panic. I’m feeling much better today, but I’ve been in bed. It’s when you’re active that you need the oxygen.”

The singer canceled a five-day run at the Jazz Bakery in April because of respiratory problems.

Williams said he was scheduled to see his doctor and was hoping a way can be found to alleviate what he termed an “ongoing problem.” His manager, John Levy, said Wednesday that a decision had yet to be made about whether to cancel Williams’ six-day run at New York’s Blue Note club, set for Aug. 11-16.


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