All That Jazz
Second annual benefit concert for KKJZ to present Steve Tyrell, Jane Monheit and Jason Moran at Walt Disney Concert Hall
By Bliss Bowen 06/25/2014
Tune in to KKJZ 88.1 FM on a weekend morning and you’ll likely hear Johnny Magnus’ big-band celebration “Swing Time”; on Sundays, you’ll hear Jerry Sharell spinning vintage Sinatra. Weekend afternoons, Gary “the Wagman” Wagner rocks it up a bit with “Nothin’ But the Blues” — one of the precious few shows on LA radio regularly broadcasting blues and R&B (aside from Bill Gardner’s superb “Rhapsody in Black” on KPFK). Saturday nights, there’s Jose Rizo’s fine “Jazz on the Latin Side” and Miles Perlich’s “United Groove.” Throughout the week listeners can depend on a steady diet of bop, West Coast cool jazz, soul jazz, standards stylists, a bit of fusion and a lot of mainstream favorites spun by a small crew of DJs, including pianist/conductor David Benoit, former KPCC DJ Bubba Jackson and Pasadena POPS Principal Conductor Michael Feinstein. (The latter’s eclectic “Song Travels With Michael Feinstein” is worth booking an appointment with your radio or computer to hear).
Sure, the playlists can be predictable. The quality level is also dependable, even if the public radio station’s funding is not. Thus organizers are presenting KKJZ’s second annual benefit concert this Saturday at Walt Disney Concert Hall. The splashy fundraiser will feature Grammy-winning vocalist/producer Steve Tyrell, Grammy-nominated chanteuse Jane Monheit and noted pianist (and Kennedy Center artistic director for jazz) Jason Moran.
Headliner Tyrell’s genial stage demeanor and tailored panache present jazz as Rat Pack Lite — a more palatable offering for listeners whose understanding of jazz begins with Sinatra and ends with Tony Bennett. His unabashed romanticism makes him an engaging performer.
Tyrell’s lightly graveled tone will be counterbalanced by the sultry, clear-toned soprano of Monheit, who shares his affection for pop standards — although her expansive interpretation of “standards” includes the likes of Corinne Bailey Rae, Randy Newman and Stevie Wonder as well as Hoagy Carmichael, Duke Ellington and Rodgers & Hammerstein.
Of the three, the Houston-raised Moran’s opening set promises to be the most forward-looking. Edgy and conceptually weighty, his compositions have earned him numerous jazz awards and fellowship grants. How listeners respond in the future remains to be seen, but together, he and Monheit and Tyrell represent a few facets of modern popular jazz.
KJZZ Summer Benefit Concert with Steve Tyrell, Jane Monheit, David Benoit and Jason Moran, 8 p.m. Saturday, June 28, at Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., downtown LA; $47.50-$116. At press time, VIP tickets were sold out but general admission tickets were still available through Ticketmaster and the concert hall’s box office. Venue info: (213) 972-7211. jazzandblues.org, musiccenter.org