MacArthur Park

This is just a Facebook post from 6/27/15,nd while not exactly Pulitzer worthy, for completeness sake I’m posting it here….

Jose Rizo’s Jazz on the Latin Side All Stars and fireworks last nite at the Levitt Pavilion in MacArthur Park…what a perfect Saturday night. Damn those guys are good…Justo Almario going nuts on tenor. Andy Langham getting some room to move on the piano. Smitty Smith his usual bonkers self on the drums. Wonderful band, every time I’ve seen ’em…which is dozens of time by now going waaaaaaaay back. And then the fireworks. Fyl and I loved it. The band are at Hollywood & Highland this Tuesday June 30 from 7-9. That one is free too.

That was our second trip to MacArthur Park in three days since we saw Mexico 68 there on the same stage on Thursday and that was incredible…what a monster grooving band, playing AfroBeat for real. They could have played for hours. Mix of Fela and originals. They have a terrific four saxophone section. Very tight horn arrangements and a lock groove rhythm section, drummer doing the Tony Allen thing. Seung Park took a great tenor sax solo on that last tune, the cat can play. Certainly one of the very best bands in LA. Opening act was a surprise–all the shows we go to and a stoney cumbia band like Buye Pongo are somehow new to me. Dug them a lot too.

And I was tripping on MacArthur Park, man…there was a time when you wouldn’t have been able to have such a splendid scene down there, all was craziness. Killings, gangs, drugs. I knew guys who went down there to die. There was even a police riot. And now it’s one of my favorite venues. Oh yeah, summer in the city, baby. LA has so much free music all summer long it’s heaven.

And I guess the god of fools (well, goddess of fools, if I get a choice) was looking after me tonite. Left the house in Silver Lake at 8:05 and hit a streak of green lights from Temple to Wilshire. Every one a beautiful emerald green. Luck of the Irish. Turned right onto Wilshire and there was a parking space. Looked at the clock. 8:15. We got from Silver Lake to MacArthur Park on a Friday night in ten minutes. It was pleasantly surreal. Or a time portal. Beam me up.

Bruce Forman again

Prepping for the liner notes, I’m spinning the early mixes of the latest Bruce Forman Trio album. The Book of Forman Two, I think it’s called. Smitty Smith is on drums and damn, he and Bruce seem to be pushing this guitar trio thing into unknown territory. Smitty is a rolling and tumbling polyrhythm machine and its like a canvas for Forman’s deft stokes, big and fat, that float out in front. (That is some sloppy mixed metaphoring, I know.) I think that’s Alex Frank in the middle, keeping the bass line simple, walking here, measuring time there, sometimes carrying the melody. I’m no expert on jazz guitar trios, not at all, but this sure sounds unlike any of them I’ve heard before. Bruce just might have something different here. I grooves, it swings, it tears it up. My right foot has been dancing on an imaginary kick pedal, my left on the high hat, trying to keep up with what’s happening. The music has insinuated itself here too, in the prose, sentences flowing like Forman solos, punctuated by Smitty dropping bombs. I’d expect this disc to be getting a lot of play on jazz radio. This’ll keep your eyes wide open on the ride home. Might even get you a speeding ticket.

No idea when the album will be released, but in the meantime the Bruce Forman Trio with Smitty Smith will be at Viva Cantina in Burbank (right here in Los Angeles) soon. Like real soon, and often. I love Viva Cantina, so exquisitely old school Toluca Lake, horses and cowboys and rednecks and rockabilly and jazz hipsters mingling over booze and Mexican grub, heckling the band. Bob Wills, Patsy Cline and John Pisano. Spade Cooley jokes. Hacking laughter turns to coughing fits. I mean what’s not to love. Across the street is a hockey rink. Next door is the equestrian center. The fragrance of road apples and stale cow hand cigarettes, the taste of good whiskey. Mexican girls with pompadours so high they’re illegal in several states. Somebody smoking something funny out back. If I ever get off my jaded can and begin telling people about shows again, you’ll read about the when here.

And the last note of the last number fades as I finish this sentence. Talk about perfect.