Jazz in the City of Angels

Experiencing jazz in Royce Hall is really something special. Sure the acoustics are perfect, it’s a big hall with a small vibe, especially if you’re really into the music , but it’s also jazz lovers and listeners who help make it so special.

They are truly among the coolest audience we see every season. Our jazz events always rank as season highlights and generate powerful memories every year. I’m really not saying that just because I work here. I was only a marginal jazz listener until I began experiencing the jazz artists we bring to the program in this space. My first experience with free jazz was Ornette Coleman’s appearance here and it broadened (and blew) my mind. I (semi-sheepishly) confessed that in an email exchange after the performance with one of the best jazz writers in town. He said: “You picked a great one to start with. Be careful, this is how jazz addictions start…I speak from experience.”


Side note: Jazz writers amaze me. It’s like they know how to use words in exactly the way the artists they write about seemingly effortlessly use the notes surrounding them to create this utterly unique and thought-provoking picture of the world. No one describes music like jazz writers.

I think there’s jazz just steeped into the walls of Royce Hall. All the greats have played here, Thelonius Monk, McCoy Tyner, Alice Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Sonny Rollins, Keith Jarrett…the list goes on and on. It will continue to go on and on.

And there’s definitely plenty of jazz addiction in Los Angeles, you don’t even have to look very hard to find it.

This season we’re incredibly proud that Royce Hall will play host to the grand jazz proselytizers of Angel City Jazz Festival. Our presentation of Bill Frisell and Bill Morrison: The Great Flood Oct. 13 and An Evening with Vijay Iyer Oct. 14, mark the culminating performances of this multi-venue annual celebration of jazz.

These guys really do it right. Every year they thoughtfully curate a seasonal theme and seek to introduce Los Angeles to new talent, or thrill them with legends of the craft. This year, in conjunction with the beloved Jazz Bakery (which is on a “moveable feast” adventure for the present while their new home gets built in Culver City), they’re doing both with the theme “Artists and Legends.” Check out the lineup, shows starts October 5.

Angel City was a natural and welcome partner for CAP UCLA, because like us the organization is committed to bringing jazz to the masses. Angel City is also investing in the future of jazz in L.A. with its annual Young Artists Competition, which invites young jazz performers (often high-schoolers) to showcase their talent and get feedback from working pros.

You can see this year’s finalists tomorrow night in action as they perform short sets at The Blue Whale in front of a panel of judges consisting of legendary jazz performers and educators. (Stick around afterward for the fabulous Christian Scott Quartet). The winners get a gig as the opening ensemble for Angel City Jazz Festival’s opening night at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on October 5, 2012.

And definitely don’t miss Bill Frisell and Vijay Iyer. They’ll most certainly be adding their indelible stamp to Royce Hall this year.