February Concert Picks from Rhythm Planet

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South African choir Ladysmith Black Mambazo performs at UCLA’s Royce Hall on February 20 Photo: Shane Doyle

Friday, February 7 | Gregory Porter | Royce Hall (Westwood)

Gregory Porter has a way of pulling audiences into the sound of his rich baritone and his soulful and uplifting songs. This upcoming show will not be an exception, and I’ll be happy to be out there in the Royce Hall audience. Click HERE for tickets and more information.

Saturday, February 8 | Otmaro Ruíz-Larry Koonse-Sezin Ahmet Turkmenoglu-Mark Ferber | bluewhale (Downtown)

Venezuelan Otmaro Ruíz is an elegant pianist, and for this intimate show at Little Tokyo’s bluewhale, he’ll be joined by guitarist Larry Koonse, drummer Mark Ferber and bassist Sezin Ahmet Turkmenoglu. Click HERE for more information. Tickets at the door.

Listen to Otmaro Ruíz’s beautiful improvisation in this video:

Saturday & Sunday, February 15 & 16  | STOMP | The Soraya (Northridge)

The inventive percussion show STOMP uses a junkyard of instruments including supermarket carts, paint cans, plumbing fixtures, Zippo lighters and just about everything else to create the show’s rhythm and music. There’s an imitation of an idling Harley Davidson motorcycle that is very clever, too. STOMP has been around for 20 years but has changed throughout the years with new material added as it continues to tour globally. If you haven’t seen it recently, it’s time to go back! Click HERE for tickets and more information.

Check out what STOMP does with a few brooms:

Tuesday, February 18 | Yuja Wang | Walt Disney Concert Hall (Downtown)

Chinese pianist Yuja Wang is a virtuoso like few contemporaries. She has risen to the top of the classical piano world playing a large repertoire of music new and old. For this solo recital she performs Chopin, Bach, Berg, Albéniz, and Scriabin. I’m sure Disney Hall will be full even on a Tuesday night. Wang is a force of nature! Click HERE for tickets and more information.

In this video she plays the demonically difficult Prokofiev Toccata:

Thursday, February 20 | Ladysmith Black Mambazo | Royce Hall (Westwood)

Back in the day on KCRW, we were spinning Ladysmith Black Mambazo (LBM) on import South African vinyl from the Kohinoor Store in Johannesburg long before the male Zulu choir found global fame from Paul Simon’s 1986 best-seller Graceland. Simon told me how LBM had never flown on a plane before traveling to New York for their big show with him. (Remember apartheid was still in force then.) When the plane got to Kennedy airport, they asked Simon when they had to report to the police. They were stunned when he told them they didn’t have to. Then the limo showed up to pick them up with a white chauffeur! I love it. Click HERE for tickets and more information. **Note that this show has been postponed to Thursday, March 19 so that the group can attend the memorial services for its founder Joseph Shabalala.**

Wednesday, February 26 | Hélène Grimaud | Walt Disney Concert Hall (Downtown)

I am a big fan of the wonderful classical pianist Hélène Grimaud and her two albums Water (2016) and Memory (2018). I went to her Disney Hall show last year and was really impressed not only by her virtuosity but by her elegant interpretation of the impressionistic repertoire that night. For this show, she performs material from her album Memory, featuring works by Silvestrov, Debussy, Satie, Chopin, and Schumann. Click HERE for tickets and more information.

This is one of the works she’ll perform, Debussy’s “Arabesque”:

Wednesday, February 26 | Greg Reitan Trio | bluewhale (Downtown)

I love the LA-based jazz pianist Greg Reitan and have enjoyed his albums on Sunnyside Records for years. The Greg Reitan Trio will perform works from his 2019 album West 60th at this bluewhale evening. Click HERE for more information. Tickets at the door.

Friday, February 28 | Omar Sosa & Yilian Cañizares: Aguas TrioRoyce Hall (Westwood)

Cuban pianist Omar Sosa and violinist-vocalist Yilian Cañizares team up to perform a variety of tropical Latin music, including Cuban classics, Western classical music, and jazz. Aguas, their album with Venezuelan percussionist Gustavo Ovalles, celebrates water and in particular Oshun who, along with Yemaya, are Yoruba goddesses of Love and Mistresses of Rivers in the Lucumi tradition of Yoruba belief. They have performed this music on tour in many places, but this is their first concert in LA showcasing this deeply-felt Cuban devotional music. Click HERE for tickets and more information.