July Concert Picks from Rhythm Planet

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Sunday, July 1 | KCRW World Festival: Reggae Night XVII | Hollywood Bowl (Hollywood)

It’s hard to believe that this year marks the 17th annual Reggae Night at the Bowl. While the shows are always fun and festive each year, what caught my eye in this summer’s lineup was the presence of Alpha Blondy from the Ivory Coast. Blondy brings an African dimension to the reggae sound. I once saw him many moons ago at the legendary Music Machine on Pico Blvd., and he packed the house. Blondy rarely comes to L.A., and here he is in the august company of dancehall and lovers rock superstar Beres Hammond and the roots-style artist Protoje. Click HERE for tickets and more information.

I once listened to this song turned up loud while driving my ragtop Alfa Romeo up Fairfax Avenue: “Jérusalem,” sung in Hebrew and French.

Saturday, July 7 | José Rizo’s Mongorama | La Plaza de Cultura y Artes, Co-Presented by the Jazz Bakery (Downtown)

José Rizo, host of KJZZ’s “Jazz on the Latin Side,” founded Mongorama in appreciation of Mongo Santamaría’s music. The Afro-Cuban jazz ensemble features L.A.’s best tropical Latin musicians, including Justo Almario on sax, Danilo Lozano on flute, and Dayren Santamaría on violin. Wear your dancing shoes and dance the summer night away under the stars! Click HERE for tickets and more information.

Check out this smoking track from their 2013 album Baila Que Baila:

Thursday, July 12 | Greg Reitan Trio | Bluewhale (Downtown)

One of my favorite jazz pianists, Greg Reitan, will play two sets (9:00/10:30 p.m.) at one of my favorite jazz spots in town. I’ve really enjoyed Reitan’s Sunnyside albums over the past few years. His intimate and refined piano trio sound celebrates the style of Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett. Reitan can also swing like a bell. His superb trio features Jack Daro on bass and Dean Koba on drums. The Bluewhale in Little Tokyo is a terrific venue for jazz, with reasonable covers, good sound, and a nice grand piano. Click HERE for tickets and more information.

Friday and Saturday, July 28-29 | Max Richter’s SLEEP | Grand Park, The Music Center (Downtown)

J. S. Bach once wrote a composition to help a nobleman fall asleep, but I think Max Richter’s epic recording SLEEP counts as the ultimate lullaby, clocking in at 8 hours. These two overnight live performances of SLEEP (from 10:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.) will take place outdoors for the first time, so the audience will get to watch the dawn break in a dreamy haze as the music ends. Cots will replace traditional seats and are included with ticket purchases. An additional free listening area in Grand Park will be open (with a $6 handling fee) for those who simply want to experience the music (no cot, no view of stage). As one of classical music’s newest minimalist composers, Richter’s albums on Deutsche Grammophon—as well as his super-popular concerts—have found big audiences in Europe and North America. This unique event is a must for Einstein on the Beach fans. Click HERE for tickets and more information.

Saturday, July 28 | Dayramir González & Habana enTRANCé: The Grand Concourse with Special Guest Candi Sosa | Grand Performances (Downtown)

The young Cuban pianist Dayramir González recently released his U.S. debut album The Grand Concourse, which he calls “an album for dreaming, for falling in love, and for sharing with your close ones.” I featured a track from it on a recent Rhythm Planet show. Born and raised in Havana, González won a scholarship to Berklee College of Music, then moved after graduation to the South Bronx and struggled to make a name for himself in the Big Apple. He toughed it out and this is his debut performance in Los Angeles. Joining him on the California Plaza stage will be local singer Candi Sosa, a favorite of salsa lovers here.

Dayramir González (Photo courtesy of Grand Performances) (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Grand Performances hosts some of the best summer shows in Los Angeles. Just to list three awesome things about Grand Performances concerts: 1) exceptional talent; 2) free and open to all; 3) areas for dancing. If you’ve never been there, this show will provide a great introduction to this wonderful venue. The show is FREE; click HERE for more information.

Here is a recent video of González and his group Habana enTRANCé: