Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Coolin' with the Luckman Jazz Orchestra

There are few things I find more relaxing than listening to jazz. There's just something about the sound that simply soothes the soul.  Last Saturday, I attended the Luckman Jazz Orchestra's tribute concert to Mr. Hank Mobley at the Luckman Fine Arts Complex - a perfect venue for a jazz concert. It's small and intimate, the way jazz should be experienced in my opinion. As soon as the music started, I could feel all my cares and worries of the week melt away. The rhythm of the bass made my toes tap as if they had a mind of their own. The swingin' percussions and swayin' horns had me dancing in my seat. Me, along with many others in the audience, whose heads you could see bobbing side to side and up and down with the music.

I think it's safe to say we were all having a good time. What I appreciated about the experience was the informality of it all. The conductor, Mr. Charles Owens - who is a jazz master in his own right - had a warm and welcoming presence that basically let us all know, "hey, we're just here to have some fun." Whether you knew a thing or two about jazz, were a casual fan (as I consider myself), or had never heard a jazz tune in your life, you were going to enjoy yourself.

There's a nice little article from the L.A. Times about Mr. Owens, which paints a great picture of who the fellow is, and why I've become a fan of LJO. I think it helped too, that the band seemed to really get along and were a bunch of old school jazz and bebop "cats" who oozed passion for the art.

LJO is an interesting cast, with musicians from across the country and impressive resumes which included performing with legends like Ray Charles, Miles Davis and Lou Rawls, among others. The group is of such a caliber that it even boasts one Mr. Bennie Maupin as one of its members. It's not a surprise LJO is one of the finest jazz orchestras.

The arrangements and tribute to Mr. Mobley's career were fresh, soulful and outstanding. Had a cocktail been in my hand, the evening would have been perfectly complete. The show left me immediately texting and planning a gathering with some friends for upcoming LJO tribute concerts to J.J. Johnson (March 10) and Charlie Parker (May 19).

Here are a few other highlights from the Luckman Fine Arts events calendar not to be missed:
Visit the ExperienceLA.com calendar for more performances at the Luckman Fine Arts Complex.

Cheers (and go listen to some live jazz!) -

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