As a board member of The Los Angeles Jazz Society I get a front row seat when we present our annual L.A. Treasure Award at one of Mitch Glickman’s Jazz at LACMA Friday night shows. Last year it was front and center for the great Ernie Andrews. Last night the award went to master guitarist Kenny Burrell.
Kenny Burrell is a professor and Director of Jazz Studies at UCLA, and I have linked to his biography on the UCLA Department of Ethnomusicology website. I suspect if you are reading this you probably already know quite a bit about this man’s storied career, which includes performances with the likes of Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie and Benny Goodman. He received the Jazz Society’s Jazz Tribute Award in 1999
I can’t really describe the waves of energy and power that poured out of Kenny Burrell’s LA Jazz Orchestra Unlimited last night. To be on the front line was an experience I will never forget. I have never seen so much security at a Friday night concert at LACMA – people were crowded around the bandstand, shouting and stomping, screaming, dancing….security guards were shooing people away who were getting too close to the stage with their cameras, iPhones, whatever. It was a fabulous feeding frenzy of fandom. (I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence. Walter Winchell would have loved it.)
The dramatic backdrop of the stunning Urban Light display created by the late Chris Burden makes for a vivid visual experience at Jazz at LACMA. Is the sound great? That depends on where you sit. The cement patio, open sides and high canopy are tough obstacles to overcome for any AV company. I’m glad it is not my job to make that work. Nonetheless, Jazz at LACMA remains one of the best live music experiences in LA, due to the setting and the booking chops of Mitch Glickman. And it certainly worked last night – especially for this big band freak sitting on the front row. Here are just a few photos and a brief video clip, none of which can possibly do it justice. Wow, just wow.
Below – Kenny Burrell waits quietly to accept his L.A. Treasure Award from the Los Angeles Jazz Society before his Jazz at LACMA performance.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl presents Kenny Burrell with a Proclamation from the County of Los Angeles. Sheila is a real trooper. I have never not seen her rise to the occasion. Her remarks were brief, funny, and to the point. This lady knows how to work a mic.
Kenny Burrell, LA Jazz Society President Flip Manne, and Jazz at LACMA series director Mitch Glickman. Not only did I get to experience this great concert from the front row, I was privileged to sit next to Flip. I have known her for almost 30 years. She is a champion of great music and jazz masters, and a positive influence on young musicians.
The horns, the lights. It was good to see the fiery trumpet player Javier Gonzales, who I got to know when he did a stint with Louie Cruz Beltran. That is Javier in the back row, fourth from the right. That is Justo Almario in the front row, on the right.
Dr. Bobby Rodriguez, along with Charley Harrison co – leads Kenny Burrell’s LA Jazz Orchestra Unlimited. Bobby is a charismatic musician and entertainer. It is always a lot of fun to experience this self described “East LA success story.”