It’s a shotgun blast, really. You either take it head on and laugh, or wander away wounded. Lots of fans manage the victory of the former, because the Winter JazzFest is designed for the deeply committed as well as the mildly interested. Happily, the annual multi-night barrage of improvisers usually manages to tickle both crowds. This year will be no different. More than 100 acts swamp myriad venues all around the Village (and its outer reaches), bringing all sorts of sub genres to the fore. Two evenings spotlight the ECM label (shows stretch from guitarist David Torn’s solitary musings to the mega stomp of bassist Michael Formanek’s Ensemble Kolossus), and there are rare NYC visits from Dutch rads The Ex and Bay Area sax daredevils ROVA, who augment their ranks with plugged-in guests such as Nels Cline to salute Trane’s Ascension (Rogue Art DVD hits on 1/15). Of course NYC has its own deep well of talent, and each January reminds that this tidal wave of action – which stretches from trumpeter Amir ElSaffar to guitarist Gilad Hekselman to pianist James Carney to saxophonist Matana Roberts to drummer Jim Black to bassist Bill Laswell to the inimitable Sex Mob, is a perfect way to sample it, one solo at a time. Pay special attention to that Ches Smith/Craig Taborn/Mat Maneri confab. It’s gorgeous.
January 13-17 #NYCWJF