The week ahead in music, Aug. 13 - Aug. 19: John Mellencamp, Harry Connick Jr., Crowded House, more
Here's our look at some of the most noteworthy music events scheduled for the coming week.
AUGUST 13 John Pizzarelli & Jessica Molasky, Catalina Bar & Grill, Hollywood, CA
John Pizzarelli spent years straddling the worlds of jazz, cabaret and pop music, and wound up succumbing to the adage "jack of all trades, master of none." Then, seemingly overnight, Pizzarelli turned on the charm, tuned out the rock influences and put his efforts into crowd-pleasing swing guitar solos and song selections -- and used his wife Jessica Molasky as a foil. It not only worked, Pizzarelli and Molasky developed one of the best club shows going, a highlight of any cabaret season in New York. He has found audiences across the country by varying the shows he performs -- emphasizing a specific repertoire such as Richard Rodgers or Duke Ellington, or a specific element with his style -- but the best way to see him is when he and the family are up to their swinging hijinks. As he once said from the stage of the Cinegrill, "we're the Von Trapps with martinis." They close their run Saturday.
Harry Connick, Jr., Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood, CA
It's assumed Mr. Connick will not be joining the judges table at "American Idol" next year which means -- based on reports from his recent stand on Broadway - more chances to see him do his Sinatra- to-'Fess run through 20th century music. When he appeared at the Neil Simon Theatre recently, Connick demonstrated that he finally has a handle on how to show his various sides without jolting listeners from one era to the next. In the 1980s and '90s. Connick went out of his way to make sure the audience knew which Harry they'd be seeing -- the jazz pianist, the big band singer, the pseudo rock star with greasy hair and a white T-shirt. Now that he has found a way to croon one minute and pay tribute to Professor Longhair or Thelonious Monk speaks volumes about his talent -- and the work he has put into becoming a good singer. They reprise the show on Saturday.
Seu Jorge, Club Nokia, Los Angeles, CA
Having interpreted David Bowie in Brazilian styles for the film "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou," Seu Jorge turns to Michael Jackson and Kraftwerk with his new three-piece band Almaz. Jackson's "Rock with You" and Kraftwerk's "The Model" are given samba treatments on his new disc "Seu Jorge and Almaz," which is full of variations on Brazilian traditions, funk and dub.
Elizabeth Mitchell, Getty Center, Los Angeles, CA
Elizabeth Mitchell performs with her husband Daniel Littleton and daughter in a family show to whet appetites for her Oct. 5 release, "Sunny Day," which features guest appearances from Levon Helm, Dan Zanes, Jon Langford of the Mekons, Larry Campbell, and the Children of Agape Choir of South Africa. Her song selections range from Korean nursery songs to Bill Withers' "Lovely Day," Chuck Berry's "School Days" and Augustus Pablo's "Reggae in the Fields."
David Gray and Ray LaMontagne, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD
Judging by descriptions of their new albums, the 22-show tour for these two singer/songwriters sounds plenty rustic. They will release new albums on Aug. 17, just days after starting the tour in Maryland. The trek ends Sept. 10 in Berkeley, CA, and includes a Sept. 9 stop at the Greek in Los Angeles. Gray's release, "Foundling," on Downtown/Mercer Street, is his ninth studio record, a return to his folk-music roots. LaMontagne's "God Willin' & the Creek Don't Rise" is his fourth studio album, which was recorded in two weeks at his home in the woods of Western Massachusetts.
Alice Russell, Bootleg Theater, Los Angeles, CA
Alice Russell sings soul and blues like few other Brits. There's a confidence in her voice that few others deliver with consistency, and her gospel flair makes her sound like she was raised in Detroit. She's no throwback, though, as evidenced by her performance on David Byrne and Fatboy Slim's "Let Us Be Loving."
Amos Lee, Largo at the Coronet, Los Angeles, CA
Prior to heading out to Farm Aid 25, Amos Lee will be trying out some material at two shows at the theater. Blue Note has his next album penciled in for early next year.
John Mellencamp, Grammy Museum, Los Angeles, CA
On the day his "No Better Than This" is released, John Mellencamp will discuss his career, social activism and the circumstances and locations that provided context for the new album produced by T Bone Burnett. Mellencamp will also perform at the museum's intimate theater.
Rodrigo y Gabriela, Greek Theater, Los Angeles, CA
Heavy metal and flamenco meet head-on in Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero's acoustic guitars.
Is there another act that can say their recent onstage guests have been guitarist Al DiMeola and Metallica bassist Rob Trujillo? They really let out their classic-rock side on the video of their new single "Hanuman," dedicating the song to Carlos Santana and creating visuals inspired by Pink Floyd's legendary Pompeii performance 40 years ago.
Crowded House, Club Nokia, Los Angeles, CA
Neil Finn and Nick Seymour continue their Crowded House reunion with "Intriguer," which Fantasy Records released on July 13. The 2007 tour was a delightful combination of past glory and Finn's fine songs from "Time on Earth," the band's heralded return. Their shows are running nearly two hours and feature up to two-dozen songs, about a quarter of them from the new disc.