It’s November, which means the busy holiday season is almost upon us. But we still have a few weeks left to catch a variety of great shows coming to L.A. before our schedules get too hectic, so I thought I’d share some of my Rhythm Planet concert picks for this month. From flamenco and tango to the east-west fusion of Pakistani classical music and jazz, this month also brings world music and dance lovers the fiery vocals of an Israeli Sephardic singer and much more!
Saturday, November 4 | The Paco de Lucía Project (Northridge)
The late Paco de Lucía practically reinvented flamenco guitar and reinvigorated the genre, influencing the next generation of flamenco artists. Javier Limón is a top flamenco guitarist and producer in Barcelona, known for his work with Buika, Diego El Cigala, and other major artists of the genre today. For this very special show, Limón and members of Paco de Lucía’s original touring band will celebrate the flamenco guitar master’s legacy on the 50th anniversary of his very first album, The Fabulous Guitar of Paco de Lucía, from 1967. The sextet includes guitarist Antonio Sánchez, Antonio Serrano (harmonica), David de la Jacoba (cante/singer) and gypsy dancer Antonio Fernandez “Farruco.” This tribute concert is a must for flamenco aficionados. For tickets and info, click here.
Saturday, November 4 | Scott Colley, Brian Blade & Edward Simon “Steel House” (Downtown L.A.)
Three top jazz musicians—Venezuelan pianist Edward Simon, bassist Scott Colley, and drummer Brian Blade—will perform at The Colburn School’s Zipper Concert Hall, an acoustically perfect venue that features a 9-foot Steinway. This rare L.A. appearance promises to be an evening of “extraordinary instrumentalists [converting] their shared histories into nimble, poetic, genre-leaping music.” For tickets and info, click here.
Thursday & Friday, November 9–10 | Forever Flamenco & Cihtli Ocampo Present “Voces” (Hollywood)
The Fountain Theatre has long been L.A.’s home of flamenco, with performances that keep this beautiful tradition alive and well. Spanish dancer Cihtli Ocampo joins Forever Flamenco on November 9 and 10 to showcase the dance and vocal styles of Latin boleros, gypsy flamenco, and African-American jazz and blues. Mexican bolero singer Stephanie Amaro, gypsy singer and palmero Luis de la Toda, and jazz vocalist Maya Sykes will also perform that weekend, alongside bassist Reggie Hamilton and percussionist Diego Alvarez. For tickets and info, click here.
Friday, November 10 | Kurt Rosenwinkel (Santa Monica)
Kurt Rosenwinkel is the kind of guitarist that other guitarists observe, record, and take notes on from their first row seats whenever he plays. He’s what you call a guitarist’s guitarist. His Village Vanguard album, The Legend, completely blew my mind. Any chance to see Rosenwinkel perform in an intimate concert venue like the Moss Theater at the New Roads School in Santa Monica should not be missed, since he doesn’t come to Los Angeles very often. Rosenwinkel’s playing has been referred to as “the future of jazz” (Chicago Tribune), and he’s been called a genius by Eric Clapton. He’ll be joined by Frederico Heliodoro (bass and vocals), drummer Bill Campbell, and Pedro Martins (guitar, keyboards and vocals).
Saturday, November 11 | Eddie Palmieri (East Los Angeles)
Pianist Eddie Palmieri is the last of the mambo kings, a rarified universe whose members once included Tito Puente, Tito Rodríguez, Beny Moré, Celia Cruz and other celestial beings. Over the past 60 years of his professional music career, Palmieri has recorded dozens of top Latin jazz albums and received a total of 10 Grammy Awards. A powerhouse of a piano player, Palmieri and his band will explode onto The Luckman Fine Arts Complex stage on Saturday, November 11, with an energy that will sweep the audience off its feet. Come celebrate this tireless bandleader’s 80th birthday together with his orchestra. For tickets and info, click here.
Saturday, November 11 | Tropicália Music & Taco Festival (Long Beach)
This MASSIVE event brings together a hugely eclectic lineup of top alt-Latino, electronica, lo-fi, regional Mexican artists and more at the Queen Mary Park. Headliners include veteran Mexican group Café Tacuba, Norteño super-group Los Tigres del Norte, Colombia’s La Sonora Dinamita, and L.A.’s own Chicano Batman.
To highlight just a few others on the bill that day, The Delfonics, Evelyn “Champagne” King, Colombian vallenatos Very Be Careful, alternative crooner King Krule, and local cumbia stars Buyepongo will also perform the Tropicalía Festival. It’s a big festival to put it mildly, and the price of admission includes all-you-can-eat tacos (until 4 p.m.) for all attendees. To get you in the mood, the event organizers have put together this official Spotify Playlist featuring the extensive list of festival artists. For tickets and info, click here.
Tuesday, November 14 | The Sachal Ensemble: Songs of Lahore (Northridge)
The groundbreaking classical/jazz collective known as The Sachal Ensemble combines western instruments like the piano and bass with eastern ones such as the tabla, dholak, and sarangi. I wrote about this unusual Lollywood group when a documentary about them, called Song of Lahore, was released in 2015. Inspired by Dave Brubeck’s visit to Lahore as an American jazz ambassador for the U.S. State Department in 1958, the musicians decided to take up jazz after the military dictatorship banned Pakistani popular music in 1977. The storyline follows that they eventually managed to contact Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and made the pilgrimage to the New York City jazz shrine to perform together with the orchestra.
This will be the The Sachal Ensemble’s first tour of the U.S., during which they’ll perform a mix of traditional Sufi music, ragas and Pakistani film songs, plus Western standards with their own unique South Asian spin. Their set will, of course, include their rendition of Brubeck’s “Take Five,” which has become a real YouTube sensation. Brubeck, who passed away in December of 2012, said it was “the most interesting recording of it I have ever heard.” For tickets and info, click here.
Wednesday, November 15 | Yasmin Levy (Downtown L.A.)
Yasmin Levy is an Israeli Sephardic singer whose voice could pierce armor. She sings in Ladino, an ancient form of the Spanish language that has been kept alive by Sephardic Jews. Her sound is fiery and intense, echoing the suffering and displacement of the Jews from Spain and Portugal from 1492 to 1493 A.D. Levy’s powerful music brings many cultures together—flamenco, Turkish, and Persian—and celebrates them all. Special guests for her show at The Theater at Ace Hotel include three top Iranian artists: singers Hamed Nikpay and Faramarz Aslani, plus dancer Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam. For tickets and info, click here.
Saturday & Sunday, November 18–19 | The Verdi Chorus Presents “Love’s Passions and Potions” (Santa Monica)
Founded in 1983, the Verdi Chorus celebrates its 35th year as the only choral group in Southern California focused on music for opera chorus. The group’s diverse repertoire spans over 300 choruses from 81 operas performed in seven different languages. On November 18 and 19, over 50 singers—both young and old, from college students to talented opera aficionados—will come together to present the Verdi Chorus’s fall concert, “Love’s Passions and Potions,” under the artistic direction of Anne Marie Ketchum. It’s a wonderful chance to hear Italian operatic classics by Verdi and Donizetti, French opera composer Jules Massenet and more, especially for Westsiders who won’t have to fight eastbound traffic to enjoy it. The Saturday evening concert will be reprised by a Sunday matinee performance. For tickets and info, click here.
Saturday & Sunday, November 18–19 | Tango Buenos Aires: Spirit of Argentina (Costa Mesa)
The capacious Segerstrom Center for the Arts presents Tango Buenos Aires, whom many aficionados regard to be the most bona fide tango troupe performing today. The Spirit of Argentina pays homage to legendary singer Carlos Gardel and will also include music by composer Astor Piazzolla. Four performances, including a matinee and evening programs each day, will take place over the weekend of November 18 and 19. In connection with these upcoming performances, the Segerstrom Center will offer free tango lessons on November 7, 9, 14 and 16. Guests are also invited to attend a free tango party from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m before the performance on Saturday, November 18. The Spirit of Argentina is part of the region-wide Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative celebrating Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles.
Watch members of Tango Buenos Aires perform as Gustavo Dudamel conducts the L.A. Philharmonic in Piazzolla’s “Adios Nónino.”