Jazz

FEATURE: Museums of Los Angeles: Part Three

LACMAWe began these spontaneous looks at three of Los Angeles’ cultural icons with The Norton Simon Museum, followed by The Getty Center. Now we come to the third side of the triangle and I am still trying to define LACMA.  Perhaps that is because I am most familiar with it; spend the most time at it. Of the three museums it is the most diverse in content, the most bureaucratic in design and administration, and also perhaps the most ambitious in its reach. You can go to LACMA’s website and discover the history of its birth on your own. Today we again arrive as a stranger with no bigger an agenda than to see what we can see.

PART THREE:  LACMA

THE LOS ANGELES COUNTY MUSEUM OF ART

Though the newer buildings get the big “oohhhh” when you first arrive at LACMA, it is the old buildings that I find have held up quite well. The Times Courtyard is a wonderful place to gather with a friend and plan your time and what you want to see. If you don’t have an official agenda, you will be surrounded by choices.

The Japanese Pavilion with its Guggenheim-like spiral, the Hammer Building with the most comprehensive collection of Korean art outside of Korea and Japan, the Arts of the Americas Building which has special exhibits on the 2nd floor while the 3rd and 4th levels will take you through both pre and post European influenced art. There, ancient feathered serpents shake hands with Diego Rivera, David Hockney and Millard Sheets give you differing birds eye views of Los Angeles, American landscapes prove equal to the best of the Barbizon, and social realism reminds us that our relatively short history is filled with powerful human stories—Reginald Marsh’s Third Ave. El, Miki Hayakawa’s Portrait of a Negro, Paul Cadmus’s Coney Islandall are grand fine art, and of these last, sometimes I wish LACMA would give them the greater promotion that they deserve.

The two new stars of the LACMA campus are the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, and the even newer Resnick Pavilion. Both are mega-buck ultra contemporary architectural superstars. BCAM, as the Broad is called, is for those who love or who are at least curious about the cutting edges in Contemporary Art. For those who “get it” no more need be said—they will embrace the silk purse while others will hold their nose at the stench from the sow’s ear—and some will see nothing and insist the emperor is naked.  Rapture or anger, you won’t be bored.

The Resnick Exhibition Pavilion is the newest member of the LACMA family and already has had a major success with Olmec: Colossal Masterworks of Ancient Mexico.  Renzo Piano’s designs for the BCAM and Resnick structures is all 21st Century optimism, colors and shapes and promises for the eyes. And they reflect LACMA’s focus on the future demographics of Los Angeles.

However it is the Ahmanson building that is still the “museum” building at LACMA…the grand lady where you can find a genuine Egyptian mummy and “Jack the Dripper” just one floor apart, and while running from one to the other, have some Tea with Henri Matisse and gawk at Giacometti and puzzle over Modigliani and don’t miss those weird unhappy German expressionists and why did Picasso make all those women look like horses as he went from Neo Classic to Cubism and then to a fusion of both and how can you not see the big black thing in the lobby. The Ahmanson building has it all, plus Hindus and Buddha and a nod to Islam.

The gallery for the Impressionists/Post-impressionists/Paris School is weak. No way around it. And the reason is simple. The Getty and the Simon are the raucous offspring of wealthy individuals. LACMA is the hesitant creation of a city born of orange groves and dreams, trying to puff up its chest and imitate its East Coast peers. The great examples of European Modern Art were mostly bought and sold before LACMA even existed. However given how late it got into the game, LACMA has rolled the stone up the hill and done worthy job for the tax payers and the museum goers.

I want to end this piece with a treasure hunt for some modest works of art that continue to draw me back again and again. I’ll give you clues but you will have to search for them and find them. In the Art of the Americas building is a trio of works hanging side by side, paintings by two students and their teacher: Miki Hayakawa, Yun Gee and Otis Oldfield. I leave it to you to learn the stories behind them. In the Ahmanson on the 3rd floor are two great little paintings, one hung so high up you might need a step stool to find it. They are Painting and Music by Martin Drolling and Palermo Harbor with a View of Monte Pellegrino by Martinus Rorbye. This last one is very small; actually it was a sketch in oil for a later work. However if you can get close enough to see the amazing detail in even this sketch, you will see that this very small painting is every equal to a much larger nearby masterpiece, View at La-Ferte-Saint-Aubin, Near Orleans by Constant Troyon. Lastly, look for a beautiful and almost life-sized bronze, Seated Hercules by Guillaume Boichot, stare into the face and wonder…in wonder.

LACMA is very big and there is a lot to see, worth seeing, worth sharing with people you care about. It has free jazz concerts on Friday nights, and movie programs, and it has places where you can sit and be alone with a piece of art and take your time getting to know it. And if you do that with just one work of art, then LACMA is a success. You can learn more about the Los Angeles County Museum of Art at their website, www.lacma.org.

- By John Ireland

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Reverse Discovery

44303_429030174317_267386114317_4742142_5663448_nA friend of mine and sometime contributor to this site Helen Kearns recently introduced me to the site, www.whosampled.com, a pretty amazing operation whereby you can look up an artist or title of a song, and the search engine supplies you with a catalog of other recordings that artist/song sampled and vice versa. The site is clearly still growing, and definitely doesn’t have every musician or track you can think of. But it is symbolic of an interesting trend I’m seeing more and more in contemporary music: reverse discovery.

It’s different than nostalgia in that often one reverse-discovers music they’ve never heard before, and instead of the present reminding them of the past, it’s the past reminding them of the present. What I believe this is leading to in the music industry (and entertainment industry) at large is the reissue of old recordings, not ones that were once popular Billboard hits, but ones that may have may have silently slipped through the cliched cracks of mainstream culture.

In fact, this is already happening on a small scale. One of my newest favorite albums, for instance, Air Over Water by Wall Matthews and Rusty Clark was released this year, but all the tracks featured were originally recorded from 1974 to 1986, the year Clark passed away. Chances are you probably haven’t heard of this album or these musicians, unless you reverse-discovered them through the popular British DJ, Four Tet, who illegally sampled their song “Neptune Rising” in his “She Moves She” (a fact not found on whosampled.com).

Matthew’s and Clark’s music is hardly irrelevant or untimely, however. They just happened to be performing and recording a few decades before vocal-less acoustic and “Imagistic”—to use a word from the subtitle of the album, “Imagistic Music for Guitar and Violin”—were readily available outside of coffee shops and experimental dance troupes.

To be fair, the name of the album does sound like an Enya-esque meditation soundtrack (though Enya is vastly underrated in my opinion, and has most likely enjoyed some reverse-discovery herself). But the actual music has no electronics, no singing, and with the exception of a few tracks, sticks to just two instruments. It could be dubbed minimalist if it were not for the full and entrenching landscapes these two instruments create.

The first song of the album, “The Two Snails Who Went to the Funeral of a Dead Leaf” is a brash, Indian-inflected violin solo from Rusty Clark, a call to the wild that dances between Philip Glass-like repetitions and something more raw and untamed. The level of musicianship is clearly marked high from the very beginning, and maintains the kind of virtuosic intensity you simply don’t hear that much these days outside of a symphony.

The second track, “Gypsies,” inaugurates the guitar-and-violin duets, which make up most of the album. And they are truly duets. The two instruments trade off positions of melody and landscape many times within a single song, and almost imperceptibly.  Matthews finger-picks his guitar in fast, clear, ringing tones, reminiscent of Nick Drake, but with more complexity and variety. Meanwhile, Clark leads his violin through a veritable wonderland of genres, from medieval-court-like fare to free jazz to pop to what, in “Alabama Sketches” and “The Clowns,” I can only describe as pastoral dread.

It’s tempting to call the songs on Air Over Water cinematic, because they are so visual, but then again, the music is what dominates here, and I’m not sure if would work taken into the soundtrack of a movie. What Wall and Rusty did, instead, and what feels more natural, was use it for dancers—a far more interpretive arena of expression that, like the instrumentation itself, works with (rather than on top of or below) the sounds.

“The Clowns” is a quick favorite for any new listener to Matthews and Clark. It’s ostensibly simple, with a clear, defined structure, and brings to mind a comforting type of rustic domesticity. But there’s also a creeping suspicion in it, and the repetition becomes and integral part of what ultimately makes the piece so haunting.

“The Blue Heart” introduces the first bits of piano into the mix, a welcome addition, especially with its combination of music-box simplicity and dissonant jazz. It a beautiful imbalance dancing with with innocent, would-be major key melody. It borders on the noir—a dangerous and flirtatious seduction between two ballroom waltzers.

Whereas the album began with a triumphant violin solo from Clark, the album ends with an unassuming “Little Piece” by Matthews, just him on guitar, gently leading the listener out of his world, at least for now. I began to realize, then, how the idea of reverse-discovery might be inherent in some music, how even when Wall and Rusty were recording these works back in the 70’s and 80’s, they weren’t just doing it for that specific time. They were inviting an entire future, real or imagined, to experience and discover their unique vibrations.

- By Joshua Morrison

If you wish to reverse-discover more, you should definitely check out Matthews’s Riding Horses, Heart of Winter, Zen Gardens, Color of Dusk, and Gathering the World, as well as the work of the Entourage Music and Theatre Ensemble.

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Extra! Extra! Win Tickets to See Angel City Jazz Festival!

Wadada_Leo_SmithThere’s a famous quote from Miles Davis addressed to the younger, dynastic, neo-traditionalist jazz musician/composer Wynton Marsalis; he simply asked, “Didn’t we do it right the first time?”

Davis was referring to the newest movement in jazz at the time (the 1980’s), neo-traditionalism, which was exalted more by critics and record companies than musicians and fans, and was dedicated to a strict, backwards-thinking definition of the genre. Essentially, musical virtuosos like Marsalis were limiting the scope of their instruments to “swing” only, ruling out borderline off-shoots like “Dixieland” and “free jazz.”

These days, though, the great Davis has officially been vindicated. Establishments such as the Angel City Jazz Festival—which commences its 3rd annual live-concert series tomorrow, Saturday October 2nd, and lasts an entire week, hitting various spots around Los Angeles—has committed themselves to “rethinking jazz.”

The eye of this Angel City Jazz storm takes place on Sunday, October 3rd, at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood, spotlighting five future-thinking, jazz-influenced musicians beyond category.

The first is a name most anybody in or out of the jazz world has heard of: Coltrane. Not John, of course, but his second son, Ravi—named after the famous sitar player. Ravi, though steeped in the tradition of his father, studied under Steve Coleman, founder of the M-Base movement, which goes beyond definition in its own definition, but often combines looping rhythmic patterns with free improvisation, creating an unpredictable and complex sound.

Also joining Ravi on Sunday night are avante-garde composer, multi-instrumentalist, and philosopher Wadada Leo Smith; improvising trio Sons of Champignon (with Wilco guitarist Nels Cline); multi-woodwind performer Vinny Golia; and Kneebody, a wild, post-modern jolt of free jazz, post-rock, and the avante-garde.

To win two free tickets to this amazing night of experimental jazz, simply enter your first name, last name, and e-mail address into the form below, and not only will you be put in the running for Sunday night’s 5:00 PM show, but also our next three ticket give-aways as well. Jazz is important for a reason, and to continue to support its on-going evolution is to continue to support American music. That’s what Miles really meant.

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Extra! Extra! Ticket Giveaway to see All-Star George Gershwin Tribute!

george_gershwinBy far one of the greatest opening sequences of any film ever made is Woody Allen’s Manhattan. Yes, it’s the photography, the voice-over narration, the shots of New York City at its finest, but more than anything, it’s George Gershwin’sRhapsody in Blue.” The undertow of buzzing clarinet and twinkling piano, combined with the slow, celebratory build of the entire orchestra induces a simultaneous feeling of hopeful anticipation and relaxed confidence. In Gershwin’s own words: “I heard it as a sort of musical kaleidoscope of America, of our vast melting pot, of our unduplicated national pep, of our blues, our metropolitan madness.”

No, no. Too expected. Too pretentious. Calls too much attention to the movie. Try it again.

By far one of the best pieces of music to completely and flawlessly capture the essence of an entire season is “Summertime,” by George Gershwin. Originally conceived for the ‘folk-opera,’ Porgy and Bess, the aria—which has been covered more times than “Blackbird”—manages to somehow smell like summer. You need an iced tea when you hear it. And what better time, what better place than the Hollywood Bowl

No. Just get to the point, Josh. You’re supposed to be giving away tickets. That’s all people care about. Just do your job.

This Wednesday, August 25th at 8:00 PM at the Hollywood Bowl, the LA Philharmonic presents Gershwin Across America, an all-star, all-genre tribute to the legendary composer and upcoming CD of the same name. Artists include Jason Mraz, Monica Mancini (daughter of film composer Henry Mancini), gospel singer Bebe Winans, Grammy Award-winning Nancy Wilson), St. Vincent (for the hipster fetishists among us), and an accompanying big band and strings section feautring the Shelly Berg Trio, Gordon Goodwin, Tom Scott, Arturo Sandoval and more.

To win two tickets to this summertime rhapsody of sorts, all you have to do is enter your first name, last name, and e-mail address into the form below,and you will automatically be entered into the running for this concert, as well as our next three ticket giveaways.

I guess that’s good enough. Why make a blog longer than it needs to be? Why even write these things? God, it’s hot out… I wish I could play the piano…

- By Joshua Morrison

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Extra! Extra! Win Tickets to Legendary Count Basie Orchestra!

count-basie-orchestra-0011Jazz remains one of the few indigenous, American art forms, in that nothing quite like it ever existed before Buddy Bolden and Jelly Roll Morton started mixing up ragtime with the blues in an early 1900’s city called New Orleans. And to understand the history of jazz, as well as its incredible influence on our culture, is to understand the history of America and American music from slavery on up. Simply put, no artist you listen to today could exist without jazz. Which is why the genre makes its sudden flares of resurgence from time to time, and why you can still walk into most hip coffee shops around the city—notably, the Downbeat Café on Alvarado—and find a slick laptop-er or two subconsciously tapping their heels to the likes of Duke Ellington or Count Basie.

This Wednesday, July 28th at 8:00 PM at the Hollywood Bowl, jazz proves its not dead with the internationally renowned Count Basie Orchestra—still going after eighty years. Known for popularizing the Kansas City-style of big band jazz, as well as initiating some of the greatest artists in history (including Billy Holiday, Jo Jones, and Charlie Parker), Basie, himself, passed away in 1984, but his band plays on under different direction and with a regenerating cast of musicians. The current Orchestra doesn’t strictly adhere to its Kansas City roots (i.e. rhythmic riffs under improvised solos), but instead incoporates more of the East coast, neo-classisist style of big band jazz, with complex arrangements by director Bill Hughes.

That’s not to say, however, that such Count classics as “One O’Clock Jump” or “April in Paris” won’t be bouncing through the Bowl on Wednesday—along with the Dave Holland Big Band, the Dave Douglas Big Band, and yes, maybe you. Due to the overwhelming response of our last giveaways, FineArtsLA.com is once again raffling off two tickets to the Hollywood Bowl to see the Count Basie Orchestra live at 8:00 PM. Just enter your first and last name into the form below, as well as your e-mail address, and you are automatically entered into the running to win not just Wednesday night’s tickets, but also the next three FineArtsLA.com giveaways. So brush up on your two-step, and dust off those dancing shoes; even if you don’t win our contest, you can still buy tickets here.

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Chills of Recognition

6a00d8341c630a53ef01156f223ac4970c-500wiThe best thing about A Chorus Line—and there’s a lot of good things—is that there’s a moment every ten minutes or so when chills run up your spine. You know these chills, too. They are the chills of recognition, chills of connection. They are the cells inside your body racing alongside your bones, like an excited dog, at the mere thought of meeting something or someone like them.

A Chorus Line—which opened at the Pantages Theatre this past Tuesday, and runs for two weeks only until June 13th—comes loaded with history. Michael Bennett’s visionary piece, since 1975, has been a staple of Broadway, off-Broadway, and high-school productions alike. It has won numerous prizes, including the Tony and Pulitzer Prize for Best Musical. It spawned an awful film adaptation, and a wonderful documentary. In 2006, the show was revived on Broadway by the original co-choreographer, Bob Avian. It broke all sorts of box office records. And the cousin of Avian’s revival still tours today, occasionally to Los Angeles for brief, two-week runs.

But for all the bombast, A Chorus Line is best when it sticks to its roots—the loose grouping of Broadway dancers that Michael Bennett brought together in 1974 at the Nickolaus Exercise Center to tell their stories on tape. The show often veers from this core focus, unable to restrain from bits of bravado, much like the character Cassie (Rebecca Riker) does when told by her ex-boyfriend/director Zach (Derek Hanson) to stick to the choreography. These hardly un-enjoyable departures, however, only allow for the true moments—when Paul (Nicky Venditti) has his monologue, when Sheila (Ashley Yeater) starts to sing “At the Ballet,” and of course when Diana (Selina Verastegui) leads the cast in “What I Did For Love”—to shine all the brighter.

As far as this particular production goes, it’s pretty much what you would expect, which, when talking about A Chorus Line, is a good thing. Because you expect to be thrilled, and to be sad, and be privy to that oh-so rare sight in musical theatre: honesty on stage. Without a doubt, actor Andy Mills, who plays the show-stealing character of Mike, steals the show. Mills is so good-looking he stands out from the mezzanine, and his dancing is so flawless you find yourself using him as the bar for other dancers. I also enjoyed Derek Hanson, who’s interpretation of Zach—the fictional director that remains in the shadows for most of the show—was complex enough to support the facets of the for-sure Michael Bennett stand-in character. Other notables include Rebecca Riker, Ashley Yeater, Donald C. Shorter, and Nathan Lucrezio.

A Chorus Line is a musical that kind of begs to be updated or adapted. I’d love to hear one of the dancers talk about bulimia, for instance. Or have a character make a comment on gay marriage, or the economy. But seeing the show live, and with such an excellent cast makes me realize this is not the way to go. Every line and every step of Bennett’s masterwork holds up, and though it wouldn’t exactly be sacrilege to change a few things to make it more topical, there’s really no need to change what still gives me those chills up my spine. 

A Chorus Line runs until June 13th at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. For more information, please call 323-468-1770, or visit www.broadwayla.org.

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La Vie En Rose: Jazz Legends at Fahey/Klein Gallery

various_ex_legends_01-216x300Capturing the magic of the jazz age can’t have been too hard.  From Duke Ellington at the piano to Frank Sinatra on stage, cigarette firmly in hand, it’s easy to see the je ne sais quoi that was ubiquitous in the days of bow ties and soul singers.  To read articles about jazz legends, to listen to their music, and to see photographs of their personal moments, we can catch a glimpse of the spirit of the music; the pain and the passion that made the jazz age so spectacular.

Not that you’ve ever needed a new reason to fall in love with Frank Sinatra or Billie Holiday, but on view now at Fahey/Klein Gallery are two exhibits by legendary photographers who got a chance to capture musical icons from jazz greats like Miles Davis to rock stars like Mick Jagger.  In the big gallery space, you’ll find a plethora of black and white images that make you wish you’d worn your white gloves and perhaps a broach.  One image that stands out among the rest is the one above, of Frank Sinatra in silhouette on stage in a smoky room – the photo is large and the effect washes over you.

In the smaller room, find brightly colored, bold, and marshall_ex_trust_08-300x202fantastical images of Jimi Hendrix on his knees on stage, the Allman Brothers sitting with their equipment outside a venue, and a young Santana in his element.  The photos in this room look like stories in and of themselves; if they were taken during indifferent moments, they surely created stories after having been captured.  The represented jazz photographers are such household names as Herman Leonard, William Gottlieb, and William Claxton with rock and roll photographs hailing from the lens of Jim Marshall.

If you’ve ever wondered what getting someone under your skin Frank Sinatra - Classic Sinatra - His Great Performances, 1953-1960 - I've Got You Under My Skin or what Billie’s “Stormy Blues” actually looks like, this exhibit is for you.  Walking through the exhibit, you may spontaneously feel like you hear a saxophone playing faintly or Ella Fitzgerald’s sultry voice.  You may wish the room suddenly became darker or filled with smoke and whispered stories about the scene at Musso and Frank’s or the old Dominick’s.  Good thing this exhibit’s a little easier to get into.

“Legends of Jazz Photography” and Jim Marshall’s “Trust” are on view at Fahey/Klein Gallery now through May 15, 2010.  For more information, please call (323) 934-2250 or click here.

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New Year, New Art

The way you start off a new year is very important to the way the new year ends up going for you.  At least that’s what they say.  Put their theory into practice with some of January’s most promising arts events in our fair city – would you like your 2010 to look a little more Bond-like? Would you rather it looked a little more experimental than your 2009?  It’s so tempting to answer those questions with: there’s an app for that, but really your city has got what it takes to kick off your new year just the way you’d like.

Mr. Bond

Friday, January 1 is not likely to be your most shining and perky day.  That doesn’t mean you can’t start on a sleek, technologically advanced, Bond-like bend – from 7:30pm at the Egyptian Theatre there’s a double feature of Dr. No and You Only Live Twice.  You may not be at your sharpest on Friday, but you’ll soon make a better Bond than Mr. Connery.  If you’re less than interested in leaving your house that day, worry not.  Saturday evening (January 2) from 7:00pm, they’ll be screening Goldfinger and Thunderball – if you don’t have a love/hate relationship with villains after a weekend like that, you’re not cut out to be the next Mr. Bond.  And that’s no way to start a new year.

Please click here for the Egyptian Theatre’s full January 2010 calendar.

Barely There

At Sam Lee Gallery, just near Dodger Stadium, you’ll find local artist Jeff Gambill’s exhibit “Barely There,” on through January 23.  His paintings have this generally zen, colorful feeling that convey the transient, transitional message he’s going for.  Fresh from a trip to Japan, you’ll definitely see an East Asian influence in each of his works.  They don’t scream out at you, but they definitely make you want to look closer.  And what better message than looking closer at something that doesn’t shock and awe for a new year?  Time to delve a little deeper, kids.

The Sam Lee Gallery is located at 990 N. Hill Street #190.  Please call (323) 227-0275 or click here for more information.

New Year, New Music

It’s so easy to fall into an all-Mozart (or all-Beyonce) rut.  Take some time in January 2010 to break out of it.  It may not last the whole year, but at least you can say you tried.  On Saturday, January 16 at the First Presbyterian Church in Santa Monica,Jacaranda invites you to discover Thomas Ades, Benjamin Britten, Peter Maxwell Davies, George Benjamin, and others.  The concert, called Licorice and Rosin (“licorice” is a slang term for clarinet and rosin is a solid form of resin used on string instruments), will present some of Britain’s more exciting contemporary music from the last twenty-five years.

If a church is the last place you’d like to be, Monday Evening Concerts at the Zipper Concert Hall at the Colburn School kicks off 2010 on January 11 at 8:00pm with a concert called “Mostly Californian.”  Featuring compositions by Clint McCallum, Luciano Chessa, Michael Pisaro, and others, you will hear sounds of contemporary California.  (No, that doesn’t include woeful cries for our current economic situation.) The composers in question present lyrical, theatrical works that won’t sound like anything else you’ve heard before.

Please click here for more information about Jacaranda.  Alternatively, click here for information about Monday Evening Concerts.

Soundtrack for a Revolution

The Grammy Museum just celebrated their first birthday – still haven’t been? Monday, January 11 at 7:00pm they’re presenting Reel to Reel: Soundtrack for a Revolution, a documentary that looks at the American civil rights movement and the unparalleled soundtrack that went along with it.  Filled with archive footage, interviews with civil rights leaders, and a soundtrack of freedom songs sung by modern day R&B, Hip Hop, and Soul legends like Joss Stone, Wyclef Jean, The Roots, and John Legend.  Monday’s screening will be followed by a panel discussion chock full of everyone you’d like to get advice from for a soulful 2010 – Danny Glover, filmmakers Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman, producer Dylan Nelson, and music producer Corey Smyth.

For more information, please click here.

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Turning Your Holiday Houseguests into Local Art Lovers

We imagine that a great many of you, dear readers, have guests in town for the holidays.  If you’re lucky enough to have them staying at your house, you’ll appreciate this little listing of places to send them so that they can experience all the art and culture that LA has to offer. (Remind them that Woody Allen was wrong when he said it was only frozen yogurt and right turns on red…)

Bergamot Station

A healthy sized collection of art galleries in Santa Monica, Bergamot Station does actually have something for every walk of life.  Your sister-in-law prefers installations while your uncle is a photography nut? Send them west of the 405 to this once dilapidated train station for a day filled with some of LA’s most innovative galleries.  They’ve even got a café, salon, and vintage clothing shop on site, so let them know they could be occupied for hours!

Bergamot Station is located at 2525 Michigan Ave in Santa Monica.  Please call (310) 828-4001 or click here for more information.

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Annenberg Space for Photography

Your guests will surely appreciate a jaunt to Annenberg Space for Photography’s latest exhibit: SPORT: Iooss and Leifer.  Read our take on it here.  It’s a spectacular collection that chronicles the recent history of sports including inspiring snaps of Serena Williams and Mohammad Ali.  They have no excuse to come back before grabbing a bite at the little café downstairs and then maybe catching a movie across the street at the Century City shopping center – drop a hint about your favorite shops in the mall.

The Annenberg Space for Photography is located at 2000 Avenue of the Stars #10 in Century City.  Call (213) 403-3000 for more information or click here.

 

Walt Disney Concert Hall

If you’ve got guests over New Year’s Eve, grab a couple seats to see Big Bad Voodoo Daddy take advantage of the unparalleled acoustics at Disney Hall.  There’s a show at 7:00pm and one at 10:30pm – we’d recommend a quick bite either before or after the performance at Kendall’s Brasserie across the street at the Dorothy Chandler to help ring in the New Year!

Walt Disney Concert Hall is located at 111 South Grand Ave. in Downtown LA.  Please call (323) 850-2000 or click here for more information.

fine arts la getty villa malibu

Getty Villa in Malibu

There is no better place to remind your guests that you live in paradise than the Getty Villa in Malibu.  It’s free to view the ancient Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiques and objets d’art, you’ve just got to make a reservation beforehand for parking.  On view now at the Villa is an exhibition called “Reconstructing Identity: A Statue of a God from Dresden.” Once you’ve gotten your fill of the gorgeous views and Roman-inspired architecture, head a bit farther down PCH to Cross Creek Road, where you’ll find Taverna Tony’s (delicious Greek food) and some dangerous shopping.

The Getty Villa is located at 17985 Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu.  Please call (310) 440-7300 or click here for more information.

Posted in Architecture, Art, Bring Your Flask, Contemporary Art, Downtown, Exhibitions, Food & Drink, Galleries, High Brow, Jazz, Low Brow, Museums, Music, Painting, Photography, The Social Scene, West LA No Comments »

Langston Hughes’ Mama Will Teach You A Thing or Two

What do you get when you cross Langston Hughes with The Roots and vocalist de’Adre Aziza? Ask your mama.  What are the twelve moods of jazz? Ask your mama.  Where can you hear an intricate score accompanying quotes said by greats like Louis Armstrong and Bill Bojangles? Ask your mama.

Langston Hughes knew something we should all know – Mama knows best!  His collaboration with composer Laura Karpman, “Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz,” is a seriously exciting concert that encompasses music, film, and spoken word with such guests as The Roots, conductor George Manahan, famed soprano Jessye Norman, Nnenna Freelon, and de’Adre Aziza.  Within about 90-minutes, the concert weaves its way through jazz, German song, Latin music, Middle-Eastern styles, and Afro-Cuban sounds for your listening pleasure.  It was inspired by Hughes’ unparalleled career and his experiences with music and the people that love and make it across the globe.  Started in 1961, this visual, auditory, emotional, enticing poetry-cycle was well before its time, melding the sounds and senses of both fine arts and street talk.  It’s really the sort of project you can never say enough about – there’s always some intention or meaning that you’ve run out of time (or words?) for.

To get a taste of what Langston Hughes’ mother must have taught him, “Ask Your Mama” is coming to the Hollywood Bowl tomorrow night!

Following Mr. Hughes and his crazy, visual, musical poem project is a triptych of classic jazz, if you will, on Wednesday, September 2.  Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, and Lenny White are heading to the Bowl for a musical conversation on all kinds of jazz from acoustic to electric and back again.  Their performance comes with guests artists you may have heard of like Chaka Khan, Jean Luc Ponty, and John Scofield.

Don’t worry: mama would approve if you bought tickets to both concerts.  Jazz she liked; it’s that darn rock’n’roll she thought was just noise.

“Ask Your Mama” is on at the Hollywood Bowl tomorrow night (Sunday, August 30) at 7:30pm.  Corea, Clarke, and White are performing at the Hollywood Bowl on Wednesday, September 2 at 8:00pm.  For more information, please call (323) 852-2000 or click here.

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