Getting it live: Boston's Spring jazz preview

Singing and more in the clubs
By JON GARELICK  |  March 14, 2011

 Gretchen Parlato
VIBRANT VOX Gretchen Parlato celebrates a new album at the Regattabar on April 7.

Two of the most adventurous and enduring of Boston bands, both coming off banner years in which they celebrated their 25th anniversaries, are pushing hard into spring. The 10-piece "little big band" EITHER/ORCHESTRA, known in recent years for their collaborations with Ethiopian jazz musicians, have released Mood Music for Time Travellers (Accurate), a slice of their "American" mode of progressive boogaloos and post-bop. They play two gigs this spring: one at the Regattabar on March 24 backing the great Ethiopian vocalist Mahmoud Ahmed, the other on May 26 at Scullers fronting a more varied look at their book of wide-ranging originals.

The JAZZ COMPOSERS ALLIANCE ORCHESTRA celebrated their own 25th anniversary with the release of AWallflower in the Amazon (Accurate), which features the suspension-bridge grandeur and avant-playfulness of JCA mainstay composer Darrell Katz, with Rebecca Shrimpton singing Ellington as well as Katz's settings of the image-rich poetry of Paula Tatarunis. The JCA Orchestra play the YMCA Theatre in Cambridge on April 29.

It's a rich season for jazz singing. One of the highlights of the Scullers line-up is the return of South Shore diva DONNA BYRNE (April 28) after a few years away. Other vocalists on the Scullers bill this season are young star MICHAEL KAESHAMMER (April 13), the wonderful Italian jazz singer ROBERTA GAMBARINI (May 13), former Bostonian RACHAEL PRICE (May 19) — a member of the pop band Lake Street Dive, but also a charismatic jazz singer in her own right — and the queen of Boston jazz singers, REBECCA PARRIS, with harmonica virtuoso Mike Turk (May 27). At the Regattabar, meanwhile, the rising jazz star GRETCHEN PARLATO (April 7) celebrates a new CD, The Lost and Found (ObliqSound), with some of the stellar players from that release: pianist Taylor Eigsti, bassist Alan Hampton, and drummer Kendrick Scott.

Other gigs to watch for at Scullers include salsa-jazz legend EDDIE PALMIERI with mainman trumpeter Bryan Lynch (April 1-2), guitarist CHARLIE HUNTER (April 14), classical-jazz mash-up pianist/composer DONAL FOX (April 29), guitarists HOWARD ALDEN and BUCKY PIZZARELLI (May 11), and Cuban pianist OMAR SOSA (May 12). The Regattabar brings in Dominican piano genius MICHEL CAMILO with his trio (March 25-26), influential composer/pianist MICHEL LEGRAND (April 4 + 6), the wonderful Brazilian-born composer SERGIO BRANDÃO (April 8), alto-sax monster KENNY GARRETT (April 22-23), and drummer Gregg Bendian's MAHAVISHNU PROJECT (May 5).

In Cambridge's Inman Square, the Lily Pad continues its residencies with pianist BERT SEAGER's trio (first Thursdays) and Uruguayan composer FLORENCIA GONZALEZ's candombe-centered big band leading into bassist TAL GAMLIELI's trio (second and fourth Thursdays). On April 20, be sure to check out saxophone master JERRY BERGONZI's quartet. I'm also looking forward to saxophonists Charlie Kohlhase and Jason Robinson, pianist Josh Rosen, bassist Bruno Råberg, and drummer Curt Newton, who're calling themselves the OUTNUMBERED (April 30). And remember that every Monday, Boston's avant-garde institution the FRINGE hold forth. Across the Square, the distinguished Brazilian singer/composer FERNANDO HOLZ comes to Ryles on March 30.

And at the resolute avantish Outpost 186 (also in Inman Square), check out Ornette keyboard man DAVE BRYANT with saxophonist Tom Hall, bassist Jacob William, and drummer Eric Rosenthal (March 28), and pianist MATTHEW SHIPP with saxophonist Jim Hobbs (May 8). Young guitarist/composer JULIAN LAGE celebrates the release of Gladwell (EmArcy) at Club Passim ( in Harvard Square April 23-24. At the Beehive in the South End (, pianist VARDAN OVSEPIAN leads a quartet (April 4), and singer TAMMY SCHEFFER leads a sextet (April 12).

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  Topics: Jazz , Bert Seager, Kenny Garrett, Rebecca Parris,  More more >
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