Angel City Jazz Festival lineup looks to past, present and future

Angel City Jazz Festival lineup looks to past, present and future
Allison Miller brings drum skills to fest. (Lena Adasheva)

The Angel City Jazz Festival may not have the historical heft of its neighbor to the north in Monterey (also kicking off this weekend), but it's off to a strong start since its 2008 debut. Presented by the Jazz Bakery and co-produced by Angel City Arts, this year's installment again walks a rewarding line between looking into jazz history and gazing toward its future in a lineup that stretches across eight days and seven venues.

Below, a rundown of what's on the menu.


Roberto Miranda, the Interstellar Quintet at LACMA

The festival begins with a trio led by a Los Angeles bassist who has influenced countless local jazz musicians both with his tone and as a longtime instructor at UCLA. Appropriately enough, Miranda's openers are an ensemble from Cal State Northridge who were winners of a festival competition open to young and student musicians ages 16-22. Friday, 6 p.m. Free.

Youn Sun Nah, John Beasley & Dwight Trible at Aratani Theatre

With a lush tone, Korean jazz vocalist Youn Sun Nah turned quite a few heads with her 2013 album "Lento," which soared on a delicate acoustic backing that included guitarist Ulf Wakenius (on hand here) and diverse material that looked to both Nine Inch Nails and the Korean tradition for inspiration. The double bill features another inspired duet: keyboardist Beasley and spirited vocalist Trible. Saturday, 8 p.m. $35.

Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom, Satoko Fujii & Kappa Maki at REDCAT

A richly skilled drummer and composer, Miller built on the promise of her 2010 debut with last year's "No Morphine, No Lilies," an eclectic set that skipped across genre lines with the help of a taut ensemble that includes violinist Jenny Scheinman and pianist Myra Melford. Pianist Fujii was a free-flying force of nature at the 2011 Angel City Jazz Festival; this duet with trumpeter Maki (also known as Fujii's husband, Natsuki Tamura) should be just as explosive. Sunday, 8 p.m., $25.

Vinny Golia Ensemble, Bobby Bradford Quartet, Steve Adams Duo at the Blue Whale

One of the engines of L.A.'s improvised music scene, reedist and founder of the Nine Winds label Vinny Golia has performed with Han Bennink, John Zorn and an array of local talent. Here he leads a seven-piece group that includes tuba and cello. The bill also features Rova Saxophone Quartet's Steve Adams with bassist Scott Walton and local trumpeter Bobby Bradford in a group that also includes Golia. Monday, 8 p.m. $20.

Matana Roberts, Slumgum at the Blue Whale

Roberts speaks volumes with her fiery alto and the probing personal-history-as-social-commentary of her two-volume "Coin Coin" albums. She performs at the Blue Whale with her Anthem quartet, and if her efforts to organize a recent benefit concert for the late Mike Brown are any indication, she'll have plenty to say here as well. Also on hand is local quartet Slumgum, whose members Trevor Anderies and Jon Armstrong have proved to be formidable bandleaders on recent albums. Sept. 25, 8 p.m., $20.

Toshiko Akiyoshi Trio, Cathlene Pineda Quartet at REDCAT

A 2007 National Endowment for the Arts jazz master, 84-year-old pianist-composer Akiyoshi was discovered by Oscar Peterson on a tour of Japan, and in the 1970s, she led a big band with husband Lew Tabackin that explored elements of Japanese music. She's joined by rising young pianist Pineda, whose recent album, "A Week's Time," is a graceful pleasure. Here, she performs work inspired by L.A. poet-laureate Eloise Klein-Healy in a group with trumpeter Kris Tiner. Sept. 26, 8 p.m. $35.

Anthony Braxton, Wadada Leo Smith's Silver Orchestra at Zipper Hall

Arguably the festival's marquee draw, recently named NEA jazz master Braxton may be a divisive figure for his idiosyncratic, uncompromising approach to composition, but there's no questioning his essential artistry. Braxton doesn't come this way often; backing him will be trumpeter Taylor Ho Bynum (who is embarking on a West Coast tour via bicycle) and the laptop-assisted improvisations of singer Kyoko Kitamura. Having recently released the two-disc cycle "The Great Lakes Suites," trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith also performs with an ensemble heard on his 2004 album, "Lake Biwa." Sept. 27, 8 p.m. $45.


Angel City Jazz Festival: 'Full Circle' at Barnsdall Art Park

The event's most "festival-like" day also marks a return to where the event began. There's a wealth of offerings at the donation-suggested outdoor stage that include local favorites in groups led by Brad Dutz, Gavin Templeton, Daniel Rosenboom and the durable Azar Lawrence, who released a hard-swinging album, "The Seeker," this year. Inside the Gallery theater, the ticket prices grow, but it's worth the cost in sets by pianist Josh Nelson's Discoveries project as well as the boundary-pushing Cuban jazz of the Aruán Ortiz Trio, Taylor Ho Bynum's West Coast Ensemble, the transfixing solo piano of Craig Taborn, and a tribute to ailing saxophonist Arthur Blythe with an all-star band that includes Oliver Lake, Bob Stewart, David Binney and Alex Cline. Sept. 28, 2:30 p.m. $20-$80.