Must-See Three: Jazz This Week In NYC

Marshall Allen & The New York City All-Stars Shift Friday, February 3

“Imagination is the magic carpet,” Marshall Allen told NPR a couple years ago. “It’ll take your soul to distant lands. And outer space.” The 98-year-old saxophonist, who joined Sun Ra’s Arkestra in 1958 and now leads the indefatigable outfit, is an anything-goes guy who likes to move things forward. Those pithy cri de coeurs he wails on the band’s version of “Firefly” from their Living Sky album are as heartfelt as they are disruptive. After decades of gigs with his mentor Ra, Allen knows that both angles can be in play simultaneously – their balance enriches the music’s emotional spectrum. For this rare non-Arkestra gig, a benefit for Arts For Art, Marshall is the maestro, leading a scad of intrepid improvisers. Vocalist Fay Victor, alto saxophonists Darius Jones and Aakash Mital, soprano player Sam Newsome, bassist Brandon Lopez, drummer Lesley Mok, and an array of others comprise the sizeable group. BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE. THE SUN RA ARKESTRA PLAYS AT THE WHITE EAGLE HALL IN JERSEY CITY ON SATURDAY.

Wendy Eisenberg / Ryan Sawyer / Lester St. Louis – Studies In Loyalty Roulette Friday, February 3

Kept my ears on Wendy Eisenberg the other night at John Zorn’s Derek Bailey fest because her musical decisions wouldn’t let me turn away. Whether it was some insightful raking she added to a string trio rounded out by Mary Halvorson and Bill Frisell, or a tender series of lyrical fillips she chose to deliver during another of the program’s insightfully curated subsets, the guitarist’s timing and choices continuously proved their value – birthing abstraction and then getting it to do her bidding is Eisenberg’s forte. And she does it with a smile on her face, as if her countenance was a billboard for the joy of creation. The unusual structures of her songs can momentarily perplex, but they’re built on idiosyncrasies whose playfulness is right up front. Genial oddities with pointedly poetic lyrics that long to have a pop impact regardless of their eccentricities – no wonder hints of Meat Puppets and minutemen waft by from time to time. She says this newish trio’s rapport is such that it feels like they’ve “been on the road for 20 years.” Spend time with her Bent Ring and Auto albums, and then imagine what a cellist and drummer can bring to the party. The trio will be “improvising around and beyond” her tunes.   (above image by Taylor Sesselman)

Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom Dizzy’s Club   Tuesday, January 31- February 1

Personnel shifts have only enhanced the vitality of the nimble drummer’s longstanding ensemble. Miller runs with the best jazz has to offer, and her previous choices for the group (Kirk Knuffke, Todd Sickafoose, Ben Goldberg, Jenny Scheinman) have delivered big-time through a handful of terrific albums (do be sure to stick your head into the wonderous Glitter Wolf). Because she’s as clever with her pen as she with her sticks, the leader always comes up with a book that employs crackling kinetics to broker catchy melodies that weave in and out of view while breaking bread with cagey improv passages. BTB’s latest iteration should be able to continue that tradition nicely. Joining longstanding pianist Myra Melford for this Dizzy’s hit is bassist Scott Colley and saxophonist Dayna Stephens. The former is expert at propulsion, always using a dash of vim to boost the music’s vigor; the latter is a tenor player whose command of the horn can be dizzying. Churchy exclamation, whispered asides – his range is wide and his truths are many. Miller’s multi-faceted approach to swing and off-hand ardor will surely keep them on their toes.

(image by Shervin Lainez)


Ben Wolfe Quartet Birdland Thursday, February 3-Sunday, 5

Peter Apfelbaum, Allan Mednard, Mike McGinnis Endless Life Brewing Saturday, February 4

Aaron Diehl Dizzy’s Club Thursday, February 2- 4

Mike McGinnis + 9 Road Trip Band Barbes Tuesday January 31

Kevin Sun Trio Lowlands Tuesday, January 31

Mat Maneri + Lucian Ban Bar Bayeux Wednesday, February 1

Stefon Harris + Blackout Smoke Thursday, February 2 – Sunday, February 5

John Cowherd’s Mercy Project Village Vanguard Tuesday January 31-5

Ethan Iverson Jazz Gallery Friday, February 3-4

Sun Ra Arkestra White Eagle Hall Saturday, February 4

Helio Alves The Django Friday, February 3

Andy Statman Barbes Wednesday, February 1

Mike McGinnis’ Experiments With Emotion and Sound iBeam Friday, February 3

The Marrow (Gordon Grdina, Mark Helias, Hank Roberts, Hamin Honari) Nublu 7 pm Sunday, February 5

Vijay Iyer Trio Miller Theater Saturday, February 4

Anthony Coleman Residency      Barbes   Saturday February 4,11,18,25  6 pm

Ken Peplowski Quartet Mezzrow Friday, February 3 – Saturday, February 4

Ingrid Laubrock, Fay Victor, Patricia Brennan, Michael Dessen, Joshua White, Mark Dresser, Gerald Cleaver Roulette Widening the Embrace: A Reduced Carbon Footprint Concert

George Garzone Trio Smalls Friday, February 3 – Saturday, 4

EJ Strickland Bar Bayeux Saturday, January 4

Eric Person + Houston Person St. Albans Church Jazz Vespers Series Saturday, February 4

Gentile/Nilsson/Hébert/Rainey iBeam Saturday, February 4

Max Johnson Trio Barbes Sunday, February 5

Lucian Ban’s Elevation LunÀtico Tuesday, February 7

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