Heading into its fifth year this week, the Angel City Jazz Festival has become appointment viewing for jazz fans in Los Angeles and beyond. This year operating under the heading “Artists & Legends,” the collaborative effort of Angel City Arts, the UCLA Center for the Art of Performance and the still-itinerant Jazz Bakery spreads across four venues and six adventurous evenings.
It may not offer a complete portrait of modern jazz in 2012, but in bringing a wealth of top-flight artists together in a span of two weeks, the festival promises a one-of-a-kind vision regardless. Among the highlights:
Anthony Lucca Quintet, Phil Ranelin Ensemble. The winner of the festival’s young artist competition, pianist and USC Thornton School of Music student Lucca performs with a group that includes members not yet old enough to buy a drink in local clubs. They’ll be joined by veteran trombonist and former Freddie Hubbard sideman Phil Ranelin, who was a key figure coming out of Detroit in '60s and '70s with such recordings as the funk-leaning “Vibes From the Tribe.” LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Friday, 6 p.m. Free.
Anthony Wilson, Larry Goldings and Jim Keltner. One the most memorable nights of music in 2012 was a spring concert at the Blue Whale that featured gifted guitarist Wilson and versatile organist Goldings paired with session diety Keltner. Freely touching on atmospheric funk, Brazilian-tinged jazz and something beyond definition, the trio’s rich, genre-blind excursions will be further underscored by an opening discussion on honoring and breaking with jazz tradition that will feature the Bakery’s Ruth Price and rising star trumpeter (and USC adjunct instructor) Ambrose Akinmusire. REDCAT, Walt Disney Concert Hall, 631 W. 2nd St. Saturday, 7:30 $25.
Angel City Jazz Festival. The festival’s multi-act centerpiece returns to friendly confines of the Ford to underscore its ongoing theme in bold type, particularly in a headlining set that pairs Akinmusire with one of his influences, fiery saxophonist Archie Shepp in a rare L.A. concert with his quartet. The evening also will feature Akinmusire with his own quintet, bassist Mark Dresser with Bobby Bradford and a trio that includes drummer Peter Erskine paired with his nephew Damian. John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. E., Hollywood. Sunday, 5 p.m. $35.
Myra Melford and Snowy Egret, Marilyn Crispell. A restlessly inventive pianist who has released bewitching recordings with the ensembles Be Bread and the nimble Trio M, Melford presents a new band loaded with imaginative New York improvisors including drummer Tyshawn Sorey and guitarist Liberty Ellman and, as a wild card, L.A.-based butoh dancer and choreographer Oguri. Opening is one of Melford’s influences in Crispell, who has recorded music by modern composers including John Cage and Pauline Oliveros. REDCAT, Walt Disney Concert Hall, 631 W. 2nd St. Oct. 12., 8:30 p.m. $25.
Bill Frisell and Bill Morrison: "The Great Flood." An imaginative, Americana-tinged guitarist who has performed unique soundtracks for the films of Buster Keaton and the Dust Bowl photographer Disfarmer, Frisell once again turns his instrument toward images of our nation’s past in performing a live soundtrack to a film by Morrison examining the 1927 flood of the Mississippi River using evocatively degraded newsreel footage from the time. The flood helped inspire early blues (Charley Patton’s “High Water Everywhere,” anyone?) and will surely send Frisell to higher planes as well. Royce Hall, UCLA. Oct 13, $25-$35.
Vijay Iyer Trio and Sextet, featuring Steve Coleman. Iyer is one of the most celebrated pianists working today. His latest album, “Accellerando,” is a hard-hitting celebration of the groove that treats the music of Flying Lotus and Duke Ellington with equally inventive flair. Even the taste-making indie rock website Pitchfork stepped into the jazz realm to laud Iyer’s talents, and this performance with Iyer's usual energetic trio and a new, larger ensemble featuring M-Base founder and innovator Coleman on saxophone should keep the raves coming. Royce Hall, UCLA. Oct. 14. 7 p.m. $25-$35