October’s Angel City Jazz Festival casts wide net with Thumbscrew, Pharoah Sanders and more

Drummer Tomas Fujiwara, Mary Halvorson and Michael Formanek of Thumbscrew, who perform in Santa Monica Oct. 16 as part of the Angel City Jazz Festival.
(Brian Cohen)

The Angel City Jazz Festival has always cast a wide net in its lineup, which reliably looked to transcend boundaries musical and generational. With nine performances over the next three weekends from Santa Monica to downtown, its geographic reach continues to expand as well.

Again setting aside a multi-act one-day centerpiece, the festival draws heavily from the jazz vanguard, including a saxophonist who helped forge the spiritually charged sound of free jazz in the ‘60s, Pharoah Sanders. 

Below, what to watch for in Angel City’s fall offerings:



Steven Gordon Quartet, The L.A./Chicago Project

What to watch for: Gordon is a young pianist who studied at UCLA before winning this performance slot in the festival’s young artist competition, but keep an ear out for our city’s connection with the Windy City in a band that includes guitarist Larry Koonse, pianist Josh Nelson and saxophonist Josh Johnson, whose star has continued to rise since his Angel City performance last year.

LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., 6 p.m. Free.



Ingrid Laubrock & Tom Rainey Duo, Vinny Golia Quartet

What to watch for: German-born saxophonist Laubrock has a rich history of collaboration with Rainey, who in addition to playing drums on her recent albums “Ubatuba” and the live duet “Buoyancy” is also her husband. Expect expressive exchanges both contentious and controlled, but always in a unique sort of harmony.

Los Angeles City College, Clausen Hall, 855 North Vermont Ave., 8 p.m. $15-$25


Pharoah Sanders, Jose Gurria-Cardenas Gurrisonic Orchestra

What to watch for: With his unfettered contributions to John Coltrane’s late ‘60s recordings as well as albums such as 1969’s “Karma,” Sanders helped forge a path into free jazz. He’ll have a tough act to follow in the Gurrisonic Orchestra, which will deliver the U.S. premieres of “Street Signs: A Love Letter to the Angel City” with clarinetist Don Byron and a tribute to Ornette Coleman’s landmark symphonic piece “Skies of America.”

Ford Theater, 2580 Cahuenga Boulevard East. 6 p.m. $35-$60

Oct. 7


David Binney Trio, Steve Lehman Trio

What to Watch for: Binney and Lehman are saxophonists open to incorporating elements of electronics into their sound. A welcome newcomer to the L.A. scene after joining the faculty at CalArts, Lehman merged jazz with global hip-hop on the arresting 2016 release “Sélébéyone,” but here brings his taut alto runs to a trio with Matt Brewer and Damion Reid.

The Edye at The Broad Stage, 1310 11th Street, Santa Monica, 8 p.m. $35

Oct. 8

Kris Davis and Craig Taborn, Julian Lage 

What to watch for: A pianist with a restless approach to composition and her instrument, Davis has earned comparisons to Cecil Taylor and other high-flying improvisers. Taborn was just one of the luminaries who joined her on “Duopoly,” an album split between composition and  improvisation with the likes of Bill Frisell, Tim Berne and Lage, who in addition to being a deft, melodic soloist, could also take a turn with Davis here.

Zipper Hall, Colburn School 200 South Grand Avenue, $15-$25 8 p.m.


Oct. 9

David Gilmore, Samuel Blaser + Gerry Hemingway Duo

What to watch for: Double-check that spelling—you will not be hearing “Comfortably Numb” here, but you will hear a guitarist who has backed Wayne Shorter, Uri Caine and MacArthur Grant recipient and M-Base founder Steve Coleman. Blaser and Hemingway, an evocative duo of trombone and drums, will also perform. 

The Blue Whale 123 Astronaut E S Onizuka St. #301, 9 p.m. $25

Oct. 14

‘Extreme Bass Night’

What to watch for: High notes are concerns for others in a celebration of rhythm that includes veteran L.A. improviser Steuart Liebig along with two session heavyweights in Mike Valerio and Timothy Lefebvre — heard in David Bowie’s jazz-tilted “Blackstar” band — and Miles Mosley, part of the galaxy of homegrown talent in Kamasi Washington’s group the West Coast Get Down.

The Edye at The Broad Stage 8 p.m. $35

See the most-read stories in Entertainment this hour »

Oct. 15

Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Bird Calls, Joshua White’s Codes

An alto saxophonist capable of breathtakingly swift turns, Mahanthappa paid tribute to Charlie Parker with his 2015 album “Bird Calls,” which views the master’s legacy as a framework to expand, explore and explode. White is a pianist steeped in classical and gospel music, a connection that will be underscored in a band that will include the inspirational sound of vocalist Dwight Trible. 

Los Angeles City College, Clausen Hall $15-$25 8 p.m.

Oct. 16

Thumbscrew, Joel Harrison’s Spirit House

With a bent, slippery tone that can melt within itself or churn with metallic edges, Mary Halvorson of Thumbscrew is the next great guitar hero in jazz. Joel Harrison, a guitarist whose ventures often tilt toward chamber jazz, performs in a group that includes trumpeter Cuong Vu and drummer Brian Blade.

Ann and Jerry Moss Theater, 3131 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica, $15-$25 8 p.m.

Follow me over here @chrisbarton.


Get our daily Entertainment newsletter