The Undead Jazz Festival: Ten Must-See Shows

Man, you can’t see ’em all. There’s something like 50 shows, after all. But you can try to slip into the ones you think might tickle you hardest. It’s an wonderfully imaginative line-up, as I mentioned in the Voice.  Get a grip on the scope of it all, high-light your own choices, and head out. Take along the 50 Songs of June Jazz list and add your own entries. Argue over the 25 Jazz CDs That Just Might Make End-of-the-Year Lists. Here are 10 key Undead gig suggestions that stretch from the Village to Gowanus.

1. Paradoxical Frog (Sullivan Hall, 23)

Kris Davis, Tyshawn Sorey and Ingrid Laubrock (along with guest Mat Maneri) made a devastating statement at the Vision Festival. They’ve honed their delivery of abstract dramatic episodes to a tee.

2. Duets Night (Bell House, 24)

You can call it a suite in progress. Here’s a game for you: close your eyes for the entire show and see if you can recognize each of the characters who take the stage.

3. Ches Smith’s Cong’s For Brums  (Cameo, 26) 

A philosophy major with Curran and Oliveros in his past,  Smith has become one of town’s key percussionists. His solo thingee incorporates all sorts of soundscapes, from aggressive to ambient.

4. Dave King Trucking Company (Sullivan Hall, 23) 

Two reeds up front, plenty of ideas in the back. The Bad Plus drummer has insights into blending swing pulses and rock clatter, and he feeds his new band mates provocative notions at every turn.

5. Jeff Lederer’s Sunwatcher  (Littlefield, 25)

The tenor saxophonist has been hitting a stride of late (check his frenzied eloquence with Matt Wilson’s quartet), and this hat tip to Ayler reveals just how much joy there is in ecstatic undertakings.

6. Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog  (Le Poisson Rouge, 23)

Long story short, they tear shit up, bringing new ideas to older templates. Their spin on the Doors is deadly and their rerouting of the power trio archetype inspired.

7. Erik Friedlander  (Cubana Social, 26)

The cellist’s new Bonebridge  features a fetching band and catchy tunes. This solo recital might distill that approach, with limber lines and sleek writing. He’s quite experienced at enchanting a room all by himself.

8. Elliott Sharp Plays Monk  (Cross Fit Gym, 25)

The experimental guitarist is all about pointed perspectives, and he has quite the novel take on Thelonious’ jewels. Especially “Well, You Needn’t.”

9. Michael Blake, Ben Allison, Rudy Royston  (Kenny’s Castaways, 23) 

After playing a few times a Kush, their freebop definitely has a chemistry. Keep an ear on Blake, who seldom fails to steal the show with his blend of sentiment and storminess.

10. Andrew D’Angelo’s Big Band  (Sullivan Hall, 23)

I only caught their nascent gigs, when things were still coalescing. Word has it that they’ve blossomed into a hard-hitting lot that wax refined while still throwing a few elbows around. And you know the boss likes to throw elbows.

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