HOLLY ASKED HOW LONG I’D BEEN WRITING VOICE CHOICES AND PICKS. DIDN’T KNOW, BUT THERE WAS A STRETCH WHERE IT WAS LIKE 10 A WEEK. HERE’S ONE STASH FROM AN ANCIENT EMAIL FOLDER. (collage of ephemera above – no charge)
Frank Lacy’s Vibe Tribe
The trombonist’s big band pits thick blues riff and against thick blues riff, weaving lines and tying knots and waving the flag for brass ‘n’ reeds frenzy. If you’re feeling glum, they can be a cure-all.
Jazz Gallery Thursday, 17 & Friday, 18. PICK
Marcus Strickland Quartet
One of the most respected new reed players around, he’s made hay with Roy Haynes and turned head with his drumming brother. His tenor playing brims with the kind of post-Wayne savvy it takes to wax both inside and out.
Jazz Gallery. Saturday, 19.
Larry Coryell, Badi Assad & John Abercrombie:
Their “Three Guitars” ensemble is a mix ‘n’ match endeavor that succeeds through breadth and bonding. A wordly chamber vibe arises when the group really unites.
Satalla. Saturday, 19
The canny pianist’s interests are many; his approach to Monk and Morton is both skittish and fetching, bring an ambitious modern sensibility that’s rooted in his own Jewish blues.
Barbes. Wednesday, 16
His hushed voice has another, somewhat unusual attribute for a ballad singer – it’s naturally jaunty. That makes you trust him, which makes makes his standards register a bit more deeply than then otherwise might.At his best? Magical.
Smoke. Friday, 18 and Saturday, 19 PICK
Marty Ehrlich Trio
The recent *News On the Rail* explains what the multi reedist can do with a mid-sized ensemble. But smaller groups are a great way to hear just how rich his own horns are. With alto, bass clarinet and flute in the mix,this outing, with Susie Ibarra on drums, might stress color.
55 Bar. Wednesday, 16 PICK
The utterly imaginative big band composer returns to the spot where she recorded her latest disc, and the large ensemble that has been winning polls in the jazz mags will be well-tuned – they’ve just completed a string of European dates.
Tuesday, 22. Jazz Standard. PICK
James Finn + Jason Hwang
Tenor player Finn takes his formidable outcat cues from Ayler & Shepp; his recent *Plaza Del Toros* alludes to the culture of bullfighting, and there’s derring to in the music. Violinist Hwang often investigates his Asian heritage in free-improv moves.
Thursday, 17. Jimmy’s Restaurant. 43 East 7th Street.
Wynton with Strings:
Hard-driving swing is where trumpeter Marsalis shines best, but his playing is so rich these days that its earthy tone should bring something unusually fetching to this collaboration with a string orchestra. Robert Sadin conducts.
Jazz at Lincoln Center. Thursday, 17 – Saturday, 19.
Marcus Roberts Trio:
He raised a ruckus last time through town. Loads of splash, hard, hard groove. The nuances that define the pianist’s approach are in cahoots with a sensibility that ain’t afraid to swagger. That where the rhythm section comes in…
Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. Wednesday, 16 – Sunday, 20. PICK
Red Hot Holiday Stomp
Wynton’s *Crescent City Christmas Card* always makes the cut at my house during holiday time. This show looks to be a live update of same. Second-lining through “Sleigh Ride” could be a thrill, and I bet the team – which includes Gordon, Temperly, Goines, and a banjo player – will also romp through Jellyroll Morton.
Once a quiet renegade, now an icon of idiosyncrasy, the middle-age saxophonist has constructed his own career path and lined it with as much innovation as audiences could absorb. His choice of lines is both sage and squirrelly, and *Channel Three*, his long-awaited leap into the waters of sax trio, illustrates just how impressively odd turns can coincide with deep swing. His five night stint starts with a quartet you should try to catch and the premiere of the Tain-driven trio that’s a must.
Jazz Standard. Wednesday, 16 – Sunday, 20.
Michael Wolff & Impure Thoughts:
With tabla and tenor setting the tone, the pianist’s wide-angle view gets him to spots that others gloss over. They’ve romped through Sly, The Tempts, and Marvin Gaye himself, but as they do you hear nothing but intrepid improv in the mix.
Sweet Rhythm. Friday, 11 & Saturday, 12. PICK
Rothenberg + Tronzo +Takeishi + Buck:
Can’t recall whether reedist Rothenberg and guitarist Tronzo have connected before, but I do know they share a dedication to flexibility. Their free jazz instincts are two of the music’s most reliable, so this quartet should catch fire quickly.
Issue Project Room. Sunday, 13. PICK
The Boston vocalist has been covertly dropping into town of late; she’s fine-tuning a new book that blends poetic originals with personalized chestnuts, and her band is sweet indeed.
Sweet Rhythm. Tuesday, 15. PICK
If the insistent push of swing didn’t mark each track on the new *Flute On The Edge*, I might say Steig’s current music was whimsical. It’s actually deeper and more judicious than that. But the art of play finds its way into every measure. Pianist Jim McNeeley will bring it to yet another level.
Cornelia Street. Friday, 11.
Plush bits of bop lingo stretched until their sensuousness is firmly in the foreground – the veteran alto saxophonist knows all about the dynamics of sound. And the subtleties of swing, as well.
Jazz Standard. Thursday, 10 – Sunday, 13 PICK.
Promising tenor players dot the land these days; the Israeli native sticks out because he has ways of demonstrating the heft of his lines without imbuing them with too much macho. Guitarist Peter Bernstein, who shares the front line tonight, will teach his cohorts a few lessons in lyricism.
55 Bar. Wednesday, 9
Wess Anderson – Kengo Nakamura Quintet
There’s plenty of derring do in Anderson’s alto lines; if you’re still buying his early-on marketing as a neo-con, you need to get hip. His bassist-partner is always making the interesting harmonies bubble up, too.
Friday, 11 – Sunday, 12
The skronktronica created by Bobby Previte and Charlie Hunter occasionally gives itself over to groove. But nothing lasts forever in the very rich, mildly abstract world created by the guitarist and drummer – their intricacies are all about flux.
Tonic. Tuesday, 15. PICK
Now in his mid-80s, the astoundingly vital Cuban pianist is riding a bonafide come back. His simmering duet with flamenco crooner El Cigala turned lots of heads. His pairing with violinist Federico Britos was radiant, and his latest disc illustrates the continued eloquence of his big band charts and the unmistakable oomph of his descarga spirit. The term “legend” hovers over his performances, so don’t miss this rare siting. And keep an eye on that left hand.
Village Vanguard. Wednesday, 9 – Sunday, 13.
In theory, the mix of Brazilian insouciance and harmonica twee that should spell trouble. But in practice Meurkens invests in enough subtlety to give his new *Amazon River* an enchanting vibe. On stage, there will an extra component to focus on: chops.
Jazz Standard. Tuesday, 8.
One of the most expressive freebop trumpeter players in town, Horton’s in the process of testing a book of tunes written for his new reeds, brass, vibes front line. A few weeks ago at Barbes, the music had a chamber-swing dignity and an explorer’s sense of vision. Trading brashness for balance, he comes up with a keen spin on animated introspection.
Kavehaz. Saturday, 5
Steve Coleman and Five Elements
Can a band be skittish and stable simultaneously? Coleman’s rigorous M-BASE antics – an amalgam of precise zig-zag melody lines and intricate cross-rhythms – offers a resounding “hell, yeah.” They’re one of the most self-assured outfits you’ll ever see.
Jazz Gallery. Thursday, 27 – Saturday, 29
Steve Swallow and the Ohad Talmor Sextet
Realized by a drummerless reeds, brass, strings ensemble, Swallow’s tunes have a chamber feel. They also have one of the most evocative natures to come down the third stream in ages. If I’m recalling correctly, they don’t play out much. Catch ’em now.
Jazz Standard, . Thursday, 27 – Sunday, 30.
Kenny Garrett Quartet
He remains one of the fiercest alto saxophonists around, a guy whose power and eloquence goad all those around him. His bandstands have a tendency to be storm centers, but isn’t having your head messed with why you hit the clubs in the first place?
Iridium. Wednesday, 26 – Sunday, 30
Boasting the fattest trumpet sound this side of Wynton, Payton’s sleek nu-bop always guarantees one thing: a respect for sensuality. His a chops dude who’s addicted to interplay, so expect plenty of intra-band jousting.
Birdland. Wednesday, 26 – Saturday, 29.
The pianist has swooped into town from the West Coast, hooked up with the best young jazzers we’ve got, and set up shop. He’s a breadth guy – one of his last disc’s defining tunes is entitled “Louisiana Raga” – and his horn band (Jerome Sabbagh & Josh Roseman) should elaborate on what that scope encompasses these days.
Cornelia Street. Saturday, 29
Drummer Allison Miller has spent 2005 stepping out as a leader and side(wo)man, and her working band can be both sketchy and thorough in an Andrew Hill kind of way. Friday, 28. Cornelia Street.
Slavic Soul Party:
For the past few weeks Matt Moran and exclamatory associates have been celebrating the release of *Bigger*. It cements their spirited Balkan/Gypsy brass band esthetic, but you’ve gotta catch ’em live to get the full hit. This is their home venue. Barbes. Tuesday, 2
One of the most beguiling trumpeters on the scene, Harrell has a 100 ways to approach the articulation of a line. That makes his modern hard bop tunes rich with options and peppered with surprise.
Village Vanguard. Wednesday, 26 – Sunday, 30
There’s always élan – wait, make that humor – in the bari player’s work. So don’t be shocked that she calls her Rahsaan Roland Kirk tribute outfit her “Rah-Rah” band. Two pieces of brass help Daley and the rhythm section tackle the multi-horned maestro.
Sweet Rhythm. Thursday, 20 PICK
Henry Threadgill’s chamber jazz makes you feel like dancing sometimes, but that’s the kind of clever dodging of stereotypes we’ve come to expect from the composer. When they’re firing on all cylinders, they have the power to sweep you away.
Jazz Gallery. Thursday, 20 & Friday, 21. PICK
Cuong Vu Trio
He’s a striking trumpeter who has recently become a part of Pat Metheny’s ensemble. But on his new, expressionistic *It’s Mostly Residual* it’s Bill Frisell that provides the psychedelics. His trio gigs are marked a piercing tone and a perpetual swirl of lines.
Tonic. Saturday, 22. PICK
A few weeks ago in DUMBO the saxophonist tore shit up. His freewheelin’ post bop has a Jimmy Lyons fierceness to it, and the rhythm section of this working band knows how to push his buttons when it comes to aggression.
Blue Note. Monday, 24. PICK.
On the new *Time Was – Time Is* the master conguero places Myron Walden and Joe Magnarelli side by each; the keening blend of their brass ‘n’ reeds almost turns your head from the exquisite sense of groove the leader and Bobby Sanabria drum up.
Smoke. Friday, 21 & Saturday, 22
The last few times I’ve caught the tenor player, it’s been his stamina that’s impressed most. While judiciously choosing line after line, Allen’s energy ultimately defines the bandstand action.
Wednesday, 19. Barbes.
With a capacity to jump-start almost any situation, the pianist blasts off in these trio gigs. Last year’s *100 Dreams Ago* is still spun in my house, and not just because of the gorgeous way Waltzer interprets Strayhorn.
Thursday, 20. Kitano. PICK
Dizzy Gillespie Alumni AllStars:
The songbook contains some of jazz’s most forceful tunes. And the participants – Moody, Hargrove, Miller, Hampton among them – know all the nooks and grannies to investigate. That often turns a lighthearted romp through standards into something much deeper.
Blue Note. Wednesday, 19 – Sunday, 23.
The jazz bassist has recently jumped into the local scene, and already tongues are wagging. His charts for three horns filled with exclamation points and memorable melodies.
Smalls. Thursday, 20.
Geoffrey Keezer Trio:
The pianist is hard to pin down. Some of his discs seem glossy and elaborate. But he’s recently dueted with Jim Hall, and his own sense of romance brings a grace his decidedly thoughtful mainstream outings. This return to the classic combo should illustrate how deep his chops are.
Village Vanguard. Wednesday, 19 – Sunday, 23.
George Cables Project
The pianist absorbed hard bop, doused it with plenty of romance, and came up with a sound that can be reflective or demonstrative, depending on what’s needed. These days he’s the definition of a key, under-the-radar mainstream talent. I hope you’re looking for some blues eloquence, because he delivers big-time.
Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. Wednesday, 19 – Sunday, 23. PICK.
He can be a marvel – certainly fellow guitarists think so. Each time Martino sets up shop in a club, the first few rows are dotted with string players with their jaws on the floor. Us regular folks just like the intrepid way his bands swing.
Birdland. Wednesday, 19 – Saturday, 22. PICK.
Min Xiao-Fen, Okkyung Lee, Susie Ibarra:
The expression that comes from Xiao-Fen’s pipa can be dauntingly intimate. With a nod to Don Cherry’s sense of gentility, she and her pals (cello, drums) see how nuanced they can make their abstractions. The Stone. Thursday, 20
Don’t be shocked to see the saxophonist’s *Jibaro* on a few “best-of-the-year” lists; the kind of agility and assurance he brings to the table can be captivating. Methinks that why veteran leaders like Charlie Haden have signed him up. Zenon’s quartet is expert at messing with dynamics. An explosion here, a stillness there – in cahoots with pianist Luis Perdomo he establishes some feisty drama on the bandstand.
Jazz Standard. Tuesday, 25.
Billy Hart Quartet:
The cagey drummer has assembled a terrific team for his excursion through the back alleys of freebop. The Bad Plus’s Ethan Iverson is expert at bending rules and saxophonist Mark Turner makes elliptical maneuvers seem as forceful as hell.
Jazz Standard. Wednesday,12 – Thursday, 13 PICK
Houston Person Quartet:
A plush tenor sound and a yen for old-school groove sometimes masks the very hip moves Person puts down. And then sometimes, like on “Please Send Me Someone To Love” from the new *All Soul*, those two attributes are quite enough to rock your world.
Lenox Lounge. Friday, 14 & Saturday, 15. PICK
Jimmy Cobb’s Mob:
Some mainstream jazz leaders take a measured approach to bandstand tactics, but the drummer’s deep swing and sense of frolic nudges him ahead of the pack where dynamics are concerned. Having Craig Handy and George Colligan on board doesn’t hurt, either.
Sweet Rhythm. Friday, 14 – Saturday, 15.
Cooper-Moore & Asif Tsahar:
When these two get their flow on, they’re liable to go anywhere. Tiny, tapped pulses are the percussionist’s forte; nimble leaps into the stratosphere are key to the reed player’s lingo. Their duets discs on Tsahar’s Hopscotch label are great diversions from real life.
Zebulon. Monday, 17. PICK.
Roy Haynes Band:
His version of modern hard bop has “clobberin’ time” attached to it, but it’s the level of finesse you’ll recall as you stroll home. The 80-year-old drummer plays with youthful upstarts who please him by showing off their individualism.
Iridium. Wednesday, 12 – Sunday, 16. PICK.
It’s a trio of Pavement buff and gospel zealot Cyrus Chestnut, impeccable drummer Louis Nash, and slippery bassist George Mraz. They dazzle with unerring precision and nimble interplay.
Wednesday, 12 – Sunday, 15. PICK
Straight-ahead, they used to call it. The drummer-bandleader brings panache to his mainstream swing, though. And the clarity of his charts fuels the fire of his delivery.
Birdland. Wednesday, 12 – Saturday, 15.
The club’s latest series blends spoken word with visual art and music. Flutist Robert Dick is surely up for it all; he’s previously brought Hendrix to his horn and shown that his experimental pieces always have wisdom sewn into them.
Monday, 17. Cornelia Street.
It’s a new group for the adventurous saxophonist, and the reeds-brass-guitar front line may focus his freewheeling solos a tad. Nothing wrong with that; Malaby’s adept at coloring both inside and outside the lines.
Saturday, 15. Cornelia Street.
Dr. Lonnie Smith
The old-school organ virtuoso is fully attuned to the splash needed to keep your ears pinned back. Allison Miller is his aggressive new drummer. Peter Bernstein is his secret weapon.
Thursday, 13 – Saturday, 15. Smoke. PICK
The guitarist makes his most compelling disc yet by summoning the spirit of Pat Metheny. *Oceana* frontloads shimmering tones and fierce rhythmic incisiveness. But look out: he likes to explode the most beatific moments. Thursday, 13. Barbes. PICK.
George Schuller Circle Wide:
The essence of pleasurable swing is the bedrock for the bandleader’s most daring moves, which is why his reeds-guitar-vibes group sounds a bit different everytime you catch them.
55 bar. Wednesday, 12.
Harris Eisenstadt’s “Where Is Brooklyn?”:
Relocated from the Left Coast, the percussionist-composer is a judicious progster with yen for lyrical patterns. Celebrating Don Cherry’s 1966 disc, he and his trio (including fellow Cali outcat Vinny Golia) interpret the trumpeter’s tunes.
The Stone. Thursday, 6
Avram Fefer & Bobby Few
The pair’s two new discs echo the work pianist Few did with saxophonist Steve Lacy throughout the years. *Heavenly Places* is excursionary, rippling with buoyant hubbub; saxophonist Fefer makes long lines of thought glow with idea after idea. They’ll bounce through a Don Cherry tune or two during their set.
Wednesday, 5. The Stone. PICK
Bill Charlap Trio
One of the era’s most enjoyable pianists becomes more so with each passing gig. Credit his commitment to concise arrangements and precise interaction. His threesome puts a bounce into their every move.
Village Vanguard. Wednesday, 5 – Sunday, 9. PICK
Mario Pavone Quintet
Two reeds in front of a very hard-driving rhythm section, especially when given the green light to head to parts unknown, is a beautiful thing. Pavone’s tunes issue such permission, but they’re balanced by melody lines that also explain how to get back home.
Barbès. Wednesday, 5.
Tribute to Steve Lacy:
From his art songs to his Monk tunes, the soprano saxophonist was one jazz’s most singular personalities. Fifteen of his cohorts and admirers – Aebi, Lovano, Teitelbaum, Rudd, Lucas included – turn out to stroll through Lacy’s enormous songbook. You may be quizzical about “Futurities,” but you’re sure to be tickled by “Bone.”
Merkin Concert Hall. Thursday, 6. PICK
Aaron Goldberg Trio:
Gigs with Josh Redman and Mark Turner have helped illustrate just how effective the pianist’s ideas can be. He’s a great young centrist, drawing from myriad sources until his swing sounds utterly cosmopolitan.
Jazz Standard. Thursday, 6. PICK
Billy Martin & Dave Burrell:
Burrell’s post-McCoy expressionism has always left room for bluesy pulse, and his duets with David Murray illustrate how sensitive he is to the needs of others. That makes his romp with the MM&W drummer promising indeed.
Tonic. Thursday, 6. PICK
Delfeayo Marsalis Quintet:
The trombonist’s music is occasionally thicker than need be. But the activity can be rewarding, and his ensemble for this date (Mulgrew Miller, Donald Harrison, Ralph Peterson), which will busting some new material, can clear out any corn at any time.
Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. Friday, 7 & Saturday, 8.
Pharaoh Sanders Quartet:
The mighty tenor saxophonist is an icon of spirit-speak, blending Trane’s glorious storms with a very refined and occasionally lusty ballad sense. His shows are built on the anticipation of delirium.
Iridium. Wednesday, 5 – Sunday, 9. PICK
Bags is still in the house. Graceful vibraphonist Locke hooked up with Milt Jackson’s rhythm section, and the new *Rev-elation*, assures they keep things the way the master MJQ’er would want ’em: bluesy and bouncy.
Kitano Hotel. Friday, 7 & Saturday, 8
Ari Hoenig/Chris Potter
This duet is enticing because the drummer has a way of tapping out melodies as he moves around his rhythm patterns, and the saxophonist is expert a bolstering beats by dramatizing certain phrases. Watch ’em run.
55 Bar. Tuesday, 11. PICK
Joel Harrison and the Starfish Parade
We know he’s an expressive guitarist and we know he’s recently ruminated on both C&W and George Harrison. But we don’t know four strings-brass-accordion outfit is going to sound like. It seems like the kind of gig where you learn about artistic persona. And it’s part of a smart new Brooklyn series.
Tuesday, 11. Koze Lounge 676 5th Ave. Brooklyn @21st st.
Andy Bey Duo:
Some voices beg to be isolated, and Bey has sensuous way with timbre (and a grand phraseology) that makes you wonder how he would sound alone. Check his recent “Speak Low” for proof, and dig the rapport he breeds with his partner tonight.
Jazz Gallery. Saturday, 8. PICK
Jazzers have been respinning tunes by everyone from introspective Joni to abstract Thom, but James Carter & Cyrus Chestnut’s march through the melodies d’Malkmus truly turns your head. Not because they blend skronk and song with Pavement’s slacker ‘tude, but because they brighten the corners with all sorts of go-anywhere, do-anything subtleties. Watch the irony drop away when the gospel pianist starts Monkian around with “Trigger Cut.”
Joe’s Pub. Friday, 7.
The acclaimed singer forsakes the bop acrobatics and heads to balladville on the stark new *Once to Every Heart*. It suits him well; sometimes we forget just how plush and candid his voice can be. Till Bronner’s trumpet makes for a great foil.
Birdland. Wednesday, 28 – Saturday, 1 PICK.
Ben Allison New Quartet:
Juxtaposing clearly defined lines is one way the bassist-composer makes his melodic tunes enticing. He’s never worked a guitar/trumpet front line previously, but you can bet your boots his team’s agility will speak for itself.
Tonic. Wednesday, 28. PICK
Jane Ira Bloom Quartet + Cindy Blackman:
Saxophonist Bloom has developed an eloquent group sound based on her soprano and Jamie Saft’s electronics. Pick up *Like Silver, Like Song* if you’ve got a yen for pointedly dynamic and somewhat spacey suites. Drummer Blackman’s hat-tip to Tony Williams always comes across with requisite punch.
Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. Wednesday, 28. PICK
Billy Martin & Socket:
Have you heard the latest news from Neptune? The MM&W drummer unzips his inner Sun Ra on Socket’s latest affair, storming through wooly territory that uses Shelly Hirsch’s voice, Cyro Baptista’s percussion, and Eyvind Kang’s trumpet as sonic touchstones.
Tonic. Friday, 30.
Jazz con Salsa:
If you ever grooved your way through the famed Monday night shows at the Village Gate, you know what Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra is shooting for here. Pushy solos, sensuous lyricism, and irresistible rhythms. The latter they’ve got down; the former categories will be fulfilled by Joe Lovano, Greg Osby and Lew Soloff.
Rose Theater. Friday, 30 & Saturday, 1. PICK.
Looking to beef up textures and catch the ear of the kids, the engaging trumpeter with the Miles fetish blends wheels of steel and glitzy keybs into his otherwise acoustic mélange. He’s got some of the competition beat: the level of interplay in Roney’s bands is usually terrific.
Joe’s Pub. Friday, 30. PICK.
Freddie Hubbard and the New Jazz Composers Octet:
The maestro can be hit or miss these days. But even money says that for every flubbed line there’s a clarion pronouncement that reminds you of how he earned his regal stature. And the NJCO is always strong, so the pot is perpetually being stirred.
Iridium. Thursday, 29 – Sunday, 2.
Jeff “Tain” Watts Group:
Modern hard bop with and lots of horsepower and loads of command. The drummer often approaches his sets like a jam, giving all his mates some elbow room.
Jazz Gallery. Thursday, 29 – Saturday, 1. PICK.
Regina Carter Group:
With Stuff Smith and Stephane Grappelli in her heart, she goes chasing after Paganini and makes a dent. The violinist’s formality has its downside, but, god, its upside counts for a lot. Exquisite tone and inventive solos are the common springboards.
Jazz Standard. Wednesday, 28 – Sunday, 2.
Organizing Lee Konitz’s ideas a few weeks ago, the tenor saxophonist with the arranging chops reminded the room of his engrossing solo capabilities. His new quintet looks promising.
Wednesday, 28. Barbes
I love the saxophonist’s body language while soloing. Last weekend in Brooklyn he kept is elbows in and his heels rockin’ – recall how Braxton goes at it? His elaborations on the thematic material kept twisting around themselves, drawing you in with a measured sense of exclamation.
Thursday, 29. Fat Cat. PICK.
The vibraphonist leads his cohorts through a program entitled “In the Spirit of Don Cherry” – the kick-off gig of a three-week series celebrating the late trumpeter. Graham Haynes is in the brass chair, and his mildly elliptical lines might just have you thinking of yesteryear.
The Stone. Saturday, 1.
Ralph Peterson’s Fo’tet:
A captain of clobber, some feel the drummer is the Tain that came before Tain. And it’s true: Peterson’s fierce splashes invariably suit the robust freebop ‘tude that marks most of his work – from his motoring of the Murray Octet way back when to his recent explosions with Charles Tolliver’s big band. His clarinet ‘n’ vibes fo’tet – this time including Don Byron – loves to romp.
Sweet Rhythm. Saturday, 1.
The Claudia Quintet:
The pomo chamber music concocted by John Hollenbeck’s outfit milks prog rock, but happily brings some heart to it in the process. The Claudias are about texture and design as much as anything: accordion, vibes, and reeds are stirred in a unique way.
Sunday, 25. Cornelia Street Café.
George Colligan Quartet
There’s a “Holiday for Strings” on the recent *Past-Present-Future* that let’s you know the pianist enjoys beating up on a bauble now and then. His hard driving will be assisted by drummer Ralph Peterson.
Sweet Rhythm. Friday, 23.
The Bad Plus
They’re deconstructionists who don’t just leave the shit laying there on the ground – they’ve got plenty of ideas about resurrection. After a few spins, the new *Suspicious Activity?* seems strong in that regard. Cohesion is a jazz essence, and even the trio’s trademark bombast can’t hide its accord.
Village Vanguard. Wednesday, 21 – Sunday, 25. PICK
Bill Frisell’s Unspeakable Orchestra
Hooking up with Hal Willner on last year’s *Unspeakable*, the guitarist’s shimmering languor got its groove on – a nice change. Here’s the gig to back it up, with Willner himself on the wheels of steel and scad of the smartest string players in town.
Tonic. Wednesday, 21. PICK
Bill Mays Trio
What happens when keen arrangements connect with rambunctious action? Ask Ahmad Jamal or the MJQ. But pianist Mays can give you an answer, too. His new live date illustrates how extrapolation benefits from focus.
Jazz Standard. Wednesday, 21. PICK
Matt Wilson Quartet
Hadn’t heard the drummer in several months, so when he lifted the bandstand at a recent Lee Konitz gig, it was like being impressed with him anew. Nuance is his stock in trade, impeccable time is his bedrock, and derring-do is his signature. His two-tenor outfit is always a blast.
Sweet Rhythm. Thursday, 22. PICK
The violinist’s recent Tonic affair was an elaborate date that found the tunes from the new *12 Songs* done with lots of string players. Here’s its opposite: a trio gig with Scheinman, her guitarist pal Moe Hawk, and a drummer. Intimacy has always been on her side, so expect the evocative miniatures to carry the day.
Jazz Standard. Thursday, 22. PICK
Peter Brotzmann Trio
Rigor is central to the German reed player’s art. Though his daunting bluster may occasionally lapse into outcat bathos, he’s usually reliable when it comes to pinning your ears back in an engaging manner.
Tonic. Saturday, 24.
Celebrating Bird and Kansas City Jazz:
Lincoln Center heads to KC this week, and here’s some intriguing trickle-down. Charles McPherson’s alto is well aware of Bird’s beauty; fleet, itchy and wise, he makes the bop lingo seem fresh.
Jazz Standard. Thursday, 22 – Sunday, 25.
John Coltrane’s 79th Birthday:
Joe Lovano knows how to celebrate a forebear without sacrificing his own ideas, and I recall a “Lonnie’s Lament” and a “26-2” that honored Trane in the most personal way possible. Big Joe gets help from Steve Kuhn, who preceded McCoy in the great one’s classic quartet.
Birdland. Wednesday, 21 – Saturday, 24. PICK
Oliver Lake/John Hicks Big Band:
Together, the leaders have a wide perspective on the jazz designs of the last 30 years; alto saxophonist Lake brings a leftie sensibility to the table, while pianist Hicks is a mainstreamer with good ideas that spill in all directions. Bet their troupe is middle-aged and ready to rumble.
Jazz Gallery. Thursday, 22 – Saturday, 24. PICK
Roy Campbell & Louis Belogenis:
More celebrations of Trane’s b-day. The hard-hitting trumpeter & tenor player will feel the spirit with a rhythm section who did time on the master’s bandstand: Reggie Workman and Rashid Ali. Sounds like it could be a powder keg. PICK
The Stone. Friday 23 & Saturday, 24
It’s the third big Coltrane party of the week, and the tenor titan with the Beantown connection is just the guy to effectively elaborate on his hero’s book. He’s at ease with both Prestige-era lyricism and Impulse-era ballyhoo.
Cornelia Street Café. Friday, 23.
Kidd Jordan + William Parker + Hamid Drake
Up from the floodwaters of his ravaged hometown, the mighty New Orleans tenor player hits town to record for AUM Fidelity, and knock out a trio date that pairs him with a tumultuous freebop rhythm section. They’ve got the inside-out thing down.
Barbes. Saturday, 24. 7 p.m. PICK
Kansas City: KC and The Count:
Wynton Marsalis’ swing mantra is most vibrant when applied to hard-driving blowing vehicles like the nuggets of pleasure that were created in the ’30s by Kansas City patriarachs such as Basie, Moten, and McShann. That’s the book this program’s culled from, and from boogie to bounce, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra are solid senders when it comes to interpreting its boundless animation. If everything goes right, Rose Hall could turn into the Reno Club.
Frederick P. Rose Hall, Time Warner Center. Thursday, 22 – Saturday, 24.
Higher Ground: Hurricane Relief Benefit
You knew N’awlins native Wynton Marsalis would be inviting pals to
help Katrina’s victims, and jazz-centric cosmopolitains from Nora Jones to Paul Simon to Bette Midler comprise the pop elite on board. True jazzers include McCoy, Paquito, and Cassandra, and by the time Wynton’s done ringing the bell, a boatload more, you can bet.
Saturday, 17. Rose Theater, Lincoln Center. PICK
Bill Frisell’s Unspeakable Orchestra with Hal Wilner :
The maestro’s guitar prowess often overshadows his compositional skills – perhaps this aggregate will show us what’s up with his bittersweet cowpoke persona? Certainly it will
Tuesday, 13. Tonic
The tenor saxophonist is a bit of a chess player; his horn lines are judicious, and they invariably set up the next gambit for his team to consider. Working a plush sound, he’s also an under appreciated balladeer.
Fat Cat. Thursday, 15. PICK
Ken Vandermark’s FME
There’s virtuosity in the saxophonist’s steely sound; the audacity that springs from his technique seems to inform his art as much as any other muse. That intrepid vibe will be on display with this horn-bass-drums trio, the “free music ensemble.”
Sunday, 18. Tonic. PICK
Tim Berne’s Hard Cell:
There’s a ritualistic nature to the group improvs led by the veteran reed player. His trio hammers away at thematic riffs, chipping and stretching them simultaneously. One of our most physical outfits.
Monday, 19 Tonic. PICK.
Henry Grimes & William Parker:
Eight strings and a shared vision. The intrepid bassists are cut from a similar esthetic cloth, comfortable with outcat frenzy and hard-thumping confession. Their cross-generational chat should be both glib and dramatic.
Saturday, 18. The Stone. PICK
At a recent Fieldwork gig, the pianist gave a left-hand rumble enough fitful impact to disturb the patrons next to me – some people can’t handle drama. His own quartet bevels such maneuvers; their rugged action is wildly eloquent these days.
Joes Pub. Wednesday, 14.
Dave Brubeck Quartet:
The pianist-composer has tried his hand at mammoth pieces with varying results. This show, part of the New York Jewish Music Fest, premieres “The Commandments,” which finds his working group in cahoots with a 90-voice chorus and an 11-piece orchestra.
Rose Theater. Wednesday, 14.
Adam Rogers Group:
The more I listen to the recent *Apparitions*, the more I appreciate the balance between the guitar’s fleet lines and his tunes’ thick action. His working band is comprised of the young mainstream’s most engaging players.
Jazz Gallery. Friday, 16 & Saturday, 17. PICK.
During his hard bop heyday, the trombonist could tame the notoriously difficult horn, bringing a genuinely unusual fluidity to his solos. Now 70, the one-time Jazz Messenger is still pushing the gritty stuff. His new *Keep It Simple* has bite.
Sweet Rhythm. Friday, 9 & Saturday, 10.
Toshiko Akiyoshi Trio:
She’s known for her large ensemble arrangements, but the pianist’s small group outings have always had a certain élan that just may stem from a lack of responsibility (leading a big band ain’t easy). Her strong suit is reflection, but prep for a forthright approach, too.
Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. Saturday, 17.
James Carter Organ Trio + Blood Ulmer & Hamiet Bluiett
New fangled dudes messing with old fangled sounds can push your pleasure buttons, and the explosive saxophonist’s grooves are layered with the sweetest skronk around when guitarist Ulmer and bari-blaster Bluiett kick some swamp his way. Check the recent *Out of Nowhere* for proof.
Blue Note. Thursday, 15 – Sunday, 18.
Paul Motian, Joe Lovano & Bill Frisell
An extraordinary group, and the definition of ensemble unity. Together, the drummer, saxophonist and guitarist have found a way to make dreamy escapades carry weight, and heavy improvising sway mercurially. No small feat.
Village Vanguard. Wednesday, 14 – Sunday, 18.
The rapport between saxophonist Dave Liebman and pianist Richie Beirach has been well documented over the years. This quartet with Billy Hart on drums, takes nothing lightly; it has traditionally burrowed deep into its material.
Wednesday, 14 – Saturday, 17. Birdland.
Last year’s solo disc illustrated just how wily the pianist is when it comes to bending a tune to fit his Tatum to Taylor scope. Now he’s back with a road-tested new rhythm section of bassist Thomas Bramerie and drummer Mark Mondesir, and a live disc that reiterates his yen for precision within his signature romp ‘n’ stomp through standards. Want to know what Pilc’s all about? Check his kaleidoscopic blend of Monk’s “Jackie-ing” and “Misteriso.”
Iridium. Wednesday, 14 – Sunday, 18.
Peter Apfelbaum & Dafnis Prieto
Sax & drum duets can be riveting events, and the tenor player’s muscular approach should mesh well with Prieto’s rump-shaking intricacy.
Tonic. Thursday, 8.
The Williamsburg Jazz Fest offers one of the trumpeter’s hardest swinging groups, with bassist James Genus and drummer Clarence Penn. Some call it his “Rhodes and reeds” band, and its book, like “Seventeen” for example, gives us a chance to hear the leader drop a little swagger.
Galapagos. Friday, 9. PICK
The new *Live in Japan* is a good example of how instruments can operate outside their prescribed roles. The free jazz interplay finds the leader/pianist pushing like a drummer, bassist Mark Dresser thumping out subtexted melodies, and percussionist Jim Black coating the action in a silvery scrim. As for trumpeter Natsuki Tamura – call him a skywriter.
Tonic. Sunday, 9.
E.J & Marcus Strickland:
The brothers (E.J. drums, Marcus, reeds) have made a big dent on the local scene in the last couple of years; chalk it up to a shared perspective great enough to have post-Trane volition intertwine with backbeat and syncopation.
Sweet Rhythm. Monday, 12.
Barry Harris Quintet:
The seminal bop pianist still has it. Each of his flurries boasts a judiciousness that lets you know age and experience are major assets in jazz. He’s hedging his bets, though. Including Charles Davis on tenor is a cagey move.
Birdland. Wednesday, 7 – Saturday, 10.
John Scofield Plays the Music of Ray Charles:
I’m guessing the star vocalists from the new Verve disc won’t be around at this club date, so Sco’s touring outfit can really burrow into the Genius’s forever resonant tunes. From the introspective twang of “Crying Time” to the focused fonk of “Let’s Go Get Stoned,” something tells me he’ll hit the bulls-eye.
Blue Note. Wednesday, 7 – Sunday, 11. PICK
Russell Malone Quartet
On the surface, the guitarist adheres to all the tenets of the mainstream lingo – there’s lots of pleasure in his deep, deep swing. But zoom in on his choice of notes in any given solo and you’ll find a guy who likes to mess with the norm.
Jazz Standard. Thursday, 8 – Sunday, 11. PICK
Stefon Harris & Blackout:
I recall initially teasing the vibraphonist’s pomo funk band for its submission to flash. But after catching ’em a couple times, I’m here to say that in performance, that flash turns into syncopated exclamation. Fun band.
Iridium. Wednesday, 7 – Sunday, 11. PICK
David Binney & Friends:
Agility is at the heart of the alto player’s work – his horn darts around a tune, acting as an agent provocateur. He’s also the center of an amazing clique; this three night affair boasts a sextet made of Blade, Rogers, Taborn, Potter, and Colley.
Friday, 9 – Sunday, 11. 55 Bar. PICK
Tony Malaby Trio:
He blossomed big-time, just like his early supporters had hoped. The ubiquitous tenor saxophonist has an intrepid spirit and an equal yen for blowing both furtive and fiery.
Barbes. Wednesday, 7.
The inventive guitarist seldom leads mid-sized ensembles – his mark has been made on the graceful jitters of his small-group soloing. The brass, reeds and strings of his new septet will definitely show us another side of his persona.
Saturday, 10. The Stone. PICK
Steve Coleman & Five Elements:
The Williamsburg Jazz Fest hosts one of jazz’s most kinetic outfits. When Coleman’s itchy alto glides through the labyrinth of rhythms that’s become his music’s defining element, you’ll marvel at its focus and certainty.
Galapagos. Saturday, 10. PICK
Vision Fugitive Orchestra:
JD Allen has spent the better part of the last year interpreting Butch Morris’ tunes – often in trios or quartets.
Sweet Rhythm, 88 Seventh Ave S, 212-255-3626. 8 & 10PM, $15.
The Trumpet Shall Sound:
The ongoing brass series has been a great glimpse into young talent, but to celebrate its 10th anniversary, the Gallery (and curator Roy Hargrove) places a string of established horn players in our laps. From sly veterans Claudio Roditi (Fri) and Tom Harrell (Sat) to intrepid youngsters Darren Barrett (Weds) and Nicholas Payton (Sat), they’ll bring their instrument’s regal nature to the fore. Don’t be surprised if Hargrove blows a few choruses, too.
Jazz Gallery. Wednesday, 7 – Sunday, 11.
Dave Douglas Brass Ecstacy:
The trumpeter continues to refine the art of reconfiguration, placing his horn in the center of discrete ensembles that have singular methods of blowing your mind. His new brass outfit will have the forward-looking oom-pah of Marcus Rojas’s tuba on its side, and as they pump through typical Douglasian fare – Missy Elliott, Martha Wainwright, and John Mayer tunes are part of the book – they’ll illustrate why melody is as valuable as exploration. The show is part of the six-night, 14-band New Trumpet Music fest. To a player, its participants are valuable.
Jazz Standard. Thursday, 4.
Charles Tolliver Big Band
It’s a progressive disposition that made trumpeter Tolliver bend the clarity, aggression, and wit of hard bop to his liking back in the ’70s. Mixing storminess with sensitivity, he brokered a novel turn for horn players to follow. These days the 60something bandleader is enjoying a second act. His large ensemble has been causing local tongues to wag for a year or so now. Their strong point is working often enough to eliminate the rag-tag feel that sometimes mars other sizable reeds ‘n’ brass projects.
Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. Wednesday, 3 – Sunday, 7.
Maybe simplicity is the new flash. The guitarist’s solo date *Quiet Now* puts melody first and extrapolation second, illustrating telling us Bill Evans and Robert Schumann made the most of pretty formalism, and “Giant Steps” might not be the manic romp we all assumed.
Jazz Standard. Thursday, 25. PICK
Steve Nelson Quartet:
There’s a sense of calm in the vibraphonist’s music. Last year’s *Fuller Nelson* was proud of its bounce, but sustained the kind of decorum the MJQ might cherish. That said, Mulgrew Miller and Lewis Nash can light a fire in just an instant or two. They’re both on this gig.
Sweet Rhythm. Friday, 26 & Saturday, 27. PICK
Soweto Kinch & Abram Wilson:
M-BASE told us that hip-hop and jazz could create an intriguing nexus; now, from London come the saxophonist and trumpeter whose blend of rap rhythms and swing beats seems pretty damn natural. Pretty damn impressive, too.
Jazz Gallery. Sunday, 28. PICK.
The guitarist approaches high-flying prog-prov the way any South Asian native with a SoCal childhood might. His music blends organ grooves and sitar-guitar lines that resound with both fusion fancies and echoes of trad Indian motifs.
Knitting Factory Old Office. Monday, 29.
Wess Anderson Quartet:
A few of Wynton’s early playmates were deemed conservative, but check the recent work of Wycliffe Gordon or Anderson himself and you’ll find audacious solo after audacious solo. The alto saxophonist is steeped in the blues, but he bends the basic lingo in several enterprising ways.
Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. Tuesday, 30 PICK.
We remember the idiosyncratic alto player for his sweet ‘n’ sour sound and poetic solos. Musicians, or at least pianist Eric Reed, who helms this tribute band, hears remembers the composer’s tunes. Wess Anderson is in the horn chair, and if “Feathers” is on the docket, beauty will come your way.
Iridium. Thursday, 25 – Sunday 28. PICK
George Cables Project:
You don’t look to the agile pianist for breadth of book, but last time out he rocked both Carole King and Erik Satie. This time out he places himself and his pal Gary Bartz in front of Branford Marsalis’ rhythm section.
Jazz Standard. Friday, 26 – Sunday, 28.
Ray Barretto and New World Sextet
The new *Time Was – Time Is* fulfills on both sides of the Latin Jazz coin. Rhythm is primary, solos are exciting. The veteran percussionist invests in a youngish band that’s able to stay grounded while making the music percolate. Secret weapon: Myron Walden.
Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. Wednesday, 24 – Sunday, 28. PICK
Don Friedman Trio
Some improvisers have sharp sense of balance when it comes to combining abstraction with melody. Friedman’s one: both his ruminations and expressionism has the feel of poetry, not prose.
Kitano Hotel. Friday, 26 & Saturday, 27.
The bassist is a go-to sideman around town; his dates as a leader suggest that his instrumental agility seeps into his compositional style. There’s something athletic about the music he plays.
Friday, 26. Cornelia Street Café.
Doug Wieselman + Adam Kolker:
The clarinetist opens the evening with a solo program that might change your mind about the sometimes recalcitrant horn – Wieselman’s nothing if not poised. Saxophonist Kolker is sharp at balancing in and out esthetics; his best solos shake their rump as they ruminate.
Barbes. Wednesday, 24
There’s a big thump in the air when the bassist attacks his instrument. Back in action locally after a stretch abroad, the Israeli native can be counted on to bring vehemence to the bandstand; like Mingus, he likes to push ideas around.
Friday, 26 & Saturday, 27. Fat Cat.
John Lindberg + Susie Ibarra:
Two consummate expressionists, the bassist and percussionist make textural forays, drone dreams, and cage-rattling seem like enlightened maneuvers. There’s a bit of that on Lindberg’s new *Winter Birds*, where Ibarra’s part of the quartet. Alone together they should be even more striking.
Cornelia Street Café. Wednesday, 24
Jaleel Shaw Quintet
The young Philly transplant has had a great hook-up with respected dudes like Robert Glasper and Mark Turner; his pithy blues licks and protracted excursions make him an alto player to watch. He’s celebrating the arrival of his new *Perspective*.
Jazz Gallery. Friday, 19. PICK
Sherman Irby Quartet
You can call it a comeback. The saxophonist turned a few heads with a couple Blue Note discs several years ago and then hit the down-low for a spell. His new *Faith* teems with the chipper post-bop that earned him his initial flurry of accolades. But its ballads are cagier and more emotional that expected.
Sweet Rhythm. Friday, 19 – Saturday, 20. PICK
Modern improvisers have highjacked revered popsters from Joni to Radiohead, so concept-wise Dave Kikoski’s spin on the Fabs ain’t big news. But music-wise it’s a blast. Especially when the pianist and his agile rhythm section refract obscurities like “Blue Jay Way.”
Iridium. Thursday, 18 – Sunday, 21 PICK.
Cedar Walton Quintet:
The pianist is always impressive in a trio setting, but his horn bands provide a more complete perspective about his musicianship. There won’t anything kinda-sorta about the way Steve Turre’s bone blends with Vincent Herring’s alto; Walton the composer likes his stuff tight.
Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. Wednesday, 17 – Sunday, 21. PICK
Kurt Rosenwinkel Group:
Whether he’s drifting off toward dreamland in an effects-laden ballad, or storming through a harmonic minefield with his pal Mark Turner riding shotgun, intellect always intellect guides the guitarist. Listening to his strings entwine with Turner’s horn is one of the scene’s reliable joys.
Birdland. Wednesday, 17 – Saturday, 20. PICK
Slide Hampton Sextet
Working relaxed cadences is the way the veteran trombonist demonstrates his eloquence. This mid-sized ensemble veers for breezy grounds by spending the week investigating the intricate and alluring tunes of Jobim.
Village Vanguard. Wednesday, 17 – Sunday, 21.
Chris Potter’s “Underground”
There’s majesty in his horn. I recently caught the tenor player tipping a hat to Ed Blackwell with a romp through “Togo” that seemed sage. A true charisma has seeped into his already technically compelling playing.
Friday, 19. 55 Bar. PICK.
Jenny Scheinman Trio
Her new *12 Songs* is all about the details that go into concocting mood. Sometimes it’s texture, sometimes it’s tune. Always it’s the way a melody can be milked for its emotion. I’m fond of the way she and her pal Frisell connect on the Celtic stuff.
Sunday, 21. 55 Bar.
Ron Horton + Michael Blake Trio:
The trumpeter’s design sense sates both melody lovers and extrapolation nuts. His new drummerless foursome includes insightful vibraphonist Tom Beckham. Blake’s a saxophonist who thrives in a trio setting because he adores leeway and is able to turn quick asides into resonant statements.
Barbes. Wednesday, 17. PICK.
Out of the blue comes a classically-trained bassist with a yen for Caribbean cadences. Grab a copy of *Late August*: it explains the subtleties of syncopation and swing, and illustrates the way a feisty little band can use pith to work towards profundity.
Thursday, 18. Smalls.
Eric McPherson + Nasheet Waits + Abe Burton:
Trap drums, percussion, and a wailing alto – there’ll be a bit of loft era vernacular in the air when this unusual outfit starts to kick thing around. Expect both color and thrust from the drummers.
The Stone. Saturday 20 PICK
Eli Degibri Quartet
With props from Herbie Hancock and gigs with Al Foster, the tenor saxophonist is getting some real traction these days. Musicians like him cause his chops are deep; fans like him cause his melodies are attractive.
Jazz Gallery. Saturday, 20.
Mulgrew Miller’s 50th Birthday
Call him a quiet dazzler. The pianist’s sober side precludes him from being a poster boy for any particular movement. But dazzle he does, and the jazz mainstream he inhabits is a bit brighter when he’s on his game. His recent *Live at Yoshi’s* discs illustrate just how well he blends wisdom and animation, as does his guest-filled program this week. Tonight’s a piano duo with Kenny Barron. The weekend sees Joe Lovano and Steve Nelson added to the ranks.
Sticks & Stones:
To be successful, free improv needs to frontload kinetics and communication. This trio – Chad Taylor, Mantana Roberts, Josh Abrams – honed their rapport at Chicago’s esteemed Velvet Lounge, and these days their architectural know-how (built on equal parts prog-rock and AACM soundsculpting) is tight, tight, tight.
The Stone. Thursday, 11.
Charles Fambrough’s Experience
Locally, the bassist comes in and out of action every few years. When he does he surrounds his supple lines with those of key scenesters who could use some more spotlight. Be sure to follow tenor player Craig Handy wherever he goes, and absorb the majestic splash of drummer Ralph Peterson.
Sweet Rhythm. Friday, 12 & Saturday, 13. PICK
John Benitez Group:
Last time I caught the Puerto Rican bassist here, the Afro-Caribbean aura of *descarga* was everywhere. Benitez’s combos light a fire quick; the two dancers who join tonight’s quartet will have plenty of propulsion.
Jazz Gallery. Friday, 12.
Dave Douglas & Keystone
Fatty Arbuckle isn’t a dude who usually gets a nod on jazz discs, but Douglas isn’t a dude who does things the usual way. The trumpeter’s forthcoming CD is made by a new band with funk, dub, pop, and outcat groove on its mind. Noisy and graceful – no wonder Fatty is its cause celebre. Kneebody and Jonathan Findlayson share the bill on this Festival of New Trumpet Music show.
Tonic. Saturday, 13. PICK
The social music elements of backbeat and funk mark the new *Have You Heard,*, and some moments veer toward cliché. But the saxophonist is a smart improviser and a natural swinger. So other moments taste like the finest cheese you’ve ever been served.
Kitano Friday, 12 Saturday, 13
Wolfe’s most recent tunes are carefully sculpted, so there’ll be both design and dynamics on stage. Maybe a lot of the latter, actually: red hot saxophonist Marcus Strickland ain’t afraid of exclamation.
Small’s. Friday, 12 & Saturday, 13. PICK
It’s the start of the pianist’s 50th birthday party, and if you’ve spun those recent live discs you know his mainstream is teeming with hard grooves, nuanced commotion, and loads of chops (on “Comes Love,” they all bubble up at once). Miller kicks off a guest-filled week by adding vibraphonist Steve Nelson to the mix.
Jazz Standard. Tuesday, 16. PICK
The terrific violinist with the radiant new disc organizes a strings-only ensemble for Butch Morris to conduct. That means spontaneous maneuvers cued by the guy with the baton will be sculpted into an extended piece that needs no roadmap to arrive at its destination.
Barbes. Tuesday, 16. PICK
Al Foster Quartet:
The drummer has one of the most individual senses of swing in jazz,
sauntering one moment, galloping the next. Somehow,
just as you start to think that it couldn’t get any more unstable,
a balance is struck and the grace of his actions becomes obvious. It often adds up to edge-of-your-seat fun. Keep your ear on saxophonist Eli Digibri.
Village Vanguard. Wednesday, 10 – Sunday, 14.
Cedar Walton Quintet:
The pianist is always impressive in a trio setting, but his horn bands provide a more complete perspective of his musicianship. There won’t anything kinda-sorta about the way Steve Turre’s bone blends with Vincent Herring’s alto; Walton the composer likes his stuff tight.
Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. Wednesday, 10 – Sunday, 14. PICK
David ‘Fathead’ Newman: A Tribute to Ray Charles:
Damn right – I’d be milking it, too. What you’ll hear when the earthy tenor player applies his horn to his old boss’s tunes is pop-jazz in its most literal form. If you call honking R&B pop, that is. Prep for a goose bump or two.
Iridium. Thursday, 11 – Sunday, 14.
Lou Donaldson Quartet
He brought quite a bit of boogaloo into jazz, so you know he’s all about socializing. That don’t mean he’s down on art. The sublime alto saxophonist has a way of turning simple riff tunes into thoughtful escapades.
Birdland. Wednesday, 10 – Saturday, 13.
The violinist’s recent ruminations on a troubling Vietnam stint have nudged him closer to the mainstream – on his last two CDs overt swing is in cahoots with animated abstraction. Working a sweet ‘n’ sour timbre and gritty sense of passion, Bang is usually a go-for-broke guy on the bandstand. And when he moves into the traditional Asian melodies, there’s a poetic beauty afoot as well.
Sweet Rhythm. Thursday, 11.
If you’ve got a knack for making knotty compositional pieces come off with a natural élan, you’re half-way home as a jazz performer. The young bassist does, and it gives his ensembles a way to avoid the overly formal or disruptingly tentative actions his peers sometimes proffer. He’s also got a thing for twin tenors, and this new group, with Tony Malaby and Mark Turner, should develop into something sweet.
Zebulon. Monday, 8.
Festival of New Trumpet Music:
The spacey voodoo that Graham Haynes milks from his dubadelic soundscapes gets by on more that mere atmosphere and noodling – try to stay focused on the nuance at play. Cuong Vu’s back from the land of Metheny to disturb you with his precision and advanced sense of calibration. You’ve never heard a trumpet trio like this.
Jazz Standard. Wednesday, 3.
Caramoor Jazz Festival:
The final weekend of the Westchester wingding is an insightful mix of the scene’s more enchanting personalities. Benny Green and Russell Malone’s duo is simultaneously glib and grand. Luciana Souza is one of New York’s most mesmerizing vocal improvisers. Pianist Bill Charlap has made button-down bebop an item of interest. And artistic director Joe Lovano leads a scad of singers through Sinatraville.
Saturday, 6. 2 p.m. – 9 p.m. Girdle Ridge Road, Katonah.
Duane Eubanks Quintet:
Having logged plenty of time at after-hours jam sessions in Philly, the trumpeter is now a dude to watch. He’s in the process of figuring out his sound, and the moves he busts are impressing listeners with their bold take on classicism. Tonight’s band is exceptional.
Sweet Rhythm. Thursday, 4.
Marcus Strickland Quartet
The young saxophonist is cropping up everywhere, and the steady work is building his chops big-time. He can be fierce – one of Strickland’s fortes is his ardor. But there’s an obvious lyricism to his playing. His working foursome has a real personality right now.
Jazz Gallery. Friday, 5.
The pianist’s modal magnificence has never had a problem reaching for the sky, so this outdoor gig should have the same piercing impact as any club show. Expect swell after swell of ten-fingered tenacity, and don’t forget that his formula is currently marked by finesse.
Castle Clinton, Battery Park. Thursday, 4.
James Blood Ulmer:
The Fat Possum dudes reminded us how visceral solo outings can be, and Blood, or perhaps his producer Vernon Reid, had his ear to the ground. The new *Birthright* finds the guitarist on his own, and if it’s not Muddy’s *Folk Singer* it’s at least Hooker’s *Serves You Right to Suffer.* Meaning limber and swinging and ornery and intimate. Can you be harmolodic alone?
MetroTech Commons, Flatbush & Myrtle Aves, Bklyn, 718-636-4100. Noon. Thursday, 4. PICK.
Festival of New Trumpet Music:
The whole fest skews left, and this evening’s program illustrates how varied the left can be. Baikida Carroll’s got a fat tone, poetic phrasing, and Tim Berne’s rhythm section. Roy Campbell’s sweet ‘n’ sour timbre is bolstered by a passionate attack and knowledge of limits. Steve Bernstein’s brazen glisses and wry arrangements become skeleton keys for all sorts of usually-locked doors.
Jazz Standard. Saturday, 6.
Marc Ribot Trio:
The guitarist can explode the simplest of motifs into something gnarled and virtuosic. Non jazzers get on board because he also works a groove by keeping clarity in the center of his storms. This new threesome is percussion-heavy.
Tonic. Friday, 5. PICK
Mark Dresser Trio
School’s out for the bassist, a former New Yorker who’s now a West Coast academic. Back in town for a bit, Dresser has been bringing his extraordinary chops and stern expressionism to all sorts of ensembles. This is his piano threesome with Denman Maroney and Michael Sarin.
Tonic. Sunday, 7.
Clark Terry Big Band:
The wit comes naturally – being a quipster is simply a part of being Clark Terry. The other part is imagination – a blend of invention and grandeur still marks the elaborate blues riffs the iconic trumpeter is famous for. His large ensemble may seem off the cuff, but they’ll have some sharp charts on their side.
Blue Note. Wednesday, 3 – Sunday 7. LONG PICK
Archie Shepp/Roswell Rudd
Wanna talk continuity? It made sense that 2001’s *Live In New York* opened with the same tune as 1966’s *Live In San Francisco*. On and off, these maestros of bluster have been in cahoots for almost 40 years. Their freedom swing was prescient, and it still has charm.
Iridium. Thursday, 4 – Sunday, 7. LONG. PICK
Frank Lacy Organ Ensemble:
With his arm outstretched and that golden slide moving quick, Lacy knows how to get the party started. Some say organ bands make social music in the first place, and when the trombonist puts some skronk on top of the swing it’s hard to disagree. Secret weapon: JD Allen.
Jazz Gallery. Friday, 5.
The Hubbard/Spaulding/Mabern affair that gives these young outfits their name was a Brooklyn jam band: stand back they’re gonna blow. The loose feel of and straight-ahead vibe is what’s carried over when Kenyatta Beasley and Anthony Wonsey lead the action Friday night. Saturday might have a more modern wrinkle thrown in. Robert Glasper and Marcus Strickland are turning plenty of heads right now.
Sweet Rhythm. Friday, 5 & Saturday, 6. PICK.
Bill McHenry Quartet:
The young tenor saxophonist has an unusual rapport with Paul Motian. Last time they set up shop at this venue, their sculpted outbop was long on cunning. McHenry has geometry in his solos, but there’s a sense of drama, too. The foursome’s turmoil usually has a tender side.
Village Vanguard. Wednesday, 3 – Sunday, 7. LONG PICK
What sounded weird at first – tenor/accordion/traps – now sounds natural. The trio has refined their somewhat chamberish interaction to a huge degree. Even their most abstract moments are organized, fluid, and, at best, entrancing.
Saturday, 6. The Stone
The last time I saw him he was all splash and swing and strength. Ain’t that what art’s about? The pianist is a pomo inclusionist who doesn’t forsake the tried and true verities of organization and design.
55 Bar. Friday, 5.
When Mark Helias convenes a band, camaraderie is usually in the air. At this late date, the middle-aged bassist knows who he wants to play with, and that familiarity marks the music in an unmistakable way; there are no “kinda/sorta” moments. His rapport with trombonist Ray Anderson, saxophonist Ellery Eskelin, and drummer Tom Rainey will be obvious, and their authoritative freedom swing will
Sunday, 31. 55 Bar.
Fred Hersch Trio
The delicacy of the pianist’s solo affairs only partly informs his trio work. He’s always a tad fiercer than his critically vaunted lyrical gifts leads you to believe. A working band elevates the feistiness: Drew Gress and Nasheet Waits aren’t along for anyone’s ride. Together they’re able to formulate canny abstractions and open-ended excursions that you’ll swear are “tunes.”
Village Vanguard. Wed-Sun 9 & 11pm, Fri & Sat 12:30am.
Charlie Haden’s Land of the Sun
Rumination occasionally leads to sentimentality, and on last year’s nod to Mexican balladry, the bassist’s spin on J.S. Marroquin’s music was a tad too sweet. The vivid nature of a live gig might bolster the grit a tad, and surely Miguel Zenon and Tony Malaby will turn some heads.
Blue Note. Thursday, 28 – Sunday, 21.
Joe Maneri + Vijay Iyer
Two separate solo turns by guys who usually play in ensembles. Iconoclastic reed maestro Maneri just pulled the plug on his longstanding group; his idiosyncratic music involves the use of microtones, and it can be entrancing. Pianist Iyer is expert at the pummeling process. His dissonant splashes have a way of wooing you – credit profound architectural skills.
The Stone. Saturday, 30. PICK
Larry Willis Quintet:
The pianist is a veteran sideman with a soulful persona that often finds him dipping into bluesville. His ensemble’s secret weapon isn’t the left-handed oomph his music often relies on, but the sax ‘n’ ‘bone antics of Gary Bartz and Steven Davis. This is bustling mainstream jazz that’s thick with ideas.
Jazz Standard. Thursday, 28 – Sunday, 31. PICK
Ravi Coltrane Quartet:
The foursome’s work is a telling snapshot of the way left-leaning mainstream jazz operates these days. The interplay is never short of intrepid. With the boss’s elliptical lines on tenor and soprano marking the action, it seems Wayne Shorter is his aesthetic dad.
Birdland. Wednesday, 27 – Saturday, 30. PICK
Charles Tolliver Big Band
The respected trumpeter’s recently revitalized large ensemble has several gigs under its belt, and its punch suggests that the fierceness and fluidity of his brash horn temperament also defines his charts.
Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. Tuesday, 1.
With a thump that can knock you back a foot or so, the bassist is in locomotive mode every time he takes the stand. He has to be for this gig; drummer Jeff Watts likes everything full steam ahead. Wolfe’s most recent tunes are carefully sculpted, so there’ll be both design and dynamics on stage.
Sweet Rhythm. Wednesday, 27. PICK