Tag Archives: jazz

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

Must-See Three – Jazz In NYC This Week

Michael Formanek’s Drome Trio w/ guest Angelica Sanchez   Roulette   Tuesday, January 24

“My intention was to write down my musical ideas and consciously bend them back around to where they started,” says Michael Formanek about his latest book of tunes. “This psychological trick that I played on myself was to try and keep me from thinking only in a strictly linear way.” The resourceful bassist’s band is inspired by the equilibrium of palindromes – the group likes to split things evenly, fore and aft. So really, when Formanek, drummer Vinnie Sperrazza and saxophonist Chet Doxas burrow into a piece, it’s all about P-L-I-A-B-I-L-I-T-Y and the smarts needed to keep symmetry at the top of the agenda. Ideas can seem elastic in these kind of gambits. Last summer at Downtown Music Gallery, Team Drome reminded how flexible a trio can be, with the leader pulling explosive taffy from his instrument, the horn player surveying the value of every phrase he concocted, and the percussionist handling all aspects of interrogation and ignition. It was magnificent. Let’s see how a sizable stage and an inventive new ally on piano amends their balance.


John Hebért Quartet    The Django  Thursday, January 25

When virtuosity is delivered through a judicious filter, its impact expands. The esteemed bassist is one of those improvisers whose playing makes everything around him blossom further than expected. Onstage, Hebért constantly applies his impressive skills – weighty like Mingus but slippery like Peacock – in ways that enhance the ensemble action, and the mates he’s chosen for this Django hit are all fellow travelers who have worked together in various subsets, sharing an aesthetic slant when it comes to nurturing a seasoned outcat eloquence. Check Hebért’s balanced lyricism on Lossing’s Folks record from last summer. Check saxophonist Adam Kolker’s interplay with Hebért on “In Or Out” from the horn player’s Flag Day. Check the eerie uplift from drummer Billy Mintz when all four of them exhale together on “Song Along The Way” from Kolker’s Reflections. The bandleader – who’s augmented ensembles led by heroes such as Andrew Hill and Paul Bley – knows how to cull from the tradition to choose a setlist that will tickle an audience. This is a kind of a go-anywhere, do-anything outfit, as entertaining as they are arty.

George Garzone + Ari Hoenig    Bar Bayeux       Friday, January 27

The feisty tenor saxophonist is one of those cats who wows a room, especially a cozy club like Bayeux. Last time he blew in from Boston, where his rep as a performer is iconic and his shadow as an academic is long, he was ready to roll, riding every splash, thud and paradiddle that drummer Jeff Watts threw his way. It’s a persuasive sound that comes from Garzone’s horn, as often filled with romance as it is bluster. With his longstanding freeprov unit The Fringe, he’s built a rep on being equally comfortable waxing sentimental or defiant. I’m recalling an “I Remember You” from a few years ago that managed to blend both emotions in one performance. I’m also recalling an ancient Providence gig where he was blowing so hard we thought the nails would come out of the walls. Now 72, Garzone is as ardent as ever; he doesn’t get to NYC as often as his local fans would like, but lately he has been hitting town with more frequency than previous. This time he shares the stage with the remarkably agile drummer Ari Hoenig. Be wise and swing by Prospect Lefferts Gardens to catch a dude who can make informed speculation scan as regal proclamation



Tim Berne/Gregg Belisle-Chi/Tom Rainey  Lowlands  January, Thursday 26

Joel Ross     Seeds      Wednesday, January 25-28

Jeff Davis, Eivind Opsvik, Jonathan Goldberger     MAIN DRAG       Wednesday, January 25

Free Birds    Jazz Gallery    Wednesday, January 25   

Sam Newsome / William Parker, Ellen Christi, Patricia Nicholson   Art For Arts show at Five Myles  Saturday, Jan 28

Brad Mehldau Village Vanguard Tuesday, January 23-29

Bill Charlap Trio Smoke January 26-29

Aaron Parks, Vincente Archer, Nasheet Waits Mezzrow Saturday, January 28

Jacob Garchik’s Clear Line iBeam Friday, January 27

Brandon Ross’ “Glyph/Sonic” Roulette Friday, January 27

Akiko Pavolka Trio Barbès Wednesday, January 25

Devin Gray/Chris Lightcap/Ralph Alessi      Endless Life Brewing     Saturday, January 28

Thulani Davis + Wadada Leo Smith     Harlem Stage    Friday, January 27  

Miles Okazaki residency       The Stone (at the New School)    January 25-28

Joel Harrison Roulette Thursday, January 26

Harish Raghavan LunÀtico Sunday, January 29

Oscar Noriega’s Crooked Quartet Barbès Friday, January 27

King Kozy (Michael Blake, Ed Cherry, Tony Scherr, Allan Mednard) LunÀtico Monday, January 30

Peter Evans + Elias Stemeseder     Record Shop, Red Hook     Friday, January 27 

Tim Berne’s Bat Channel Barbès Saturday, January 28

Mike McGinnis + 9 Road*Trip Band    Barbès  Tuesday, January 31   

Amir ElSaffar /  Michael Sarian  double bill   The Owl Music Parlor    Sunday, January 29  

Carmen Staaf/Caleb Wheeler Curtis/Jeremy Stratton/Keyon Gordon    Bar Bayeux  Thursday, Jan 26

Bookworms / Charmaine Lee / Nate Wooley’s Mutual Aid Music /  Piotr Orlov aka Dada Strain    Sisters    Wednesday, January 25

Must-See Three – Jazz In NYC This Week

David Murray Quartet    Village Vanguard January 17-22

Bandleaders are often on the hunt for talent, so it wasn’t that odd to be sitting next to David Murray at Barbès a few months ago as he scoped out the whirlwind that is Marta Sánchez, and it wasn’t that odd when the OG saxophonist announced this Vanguard hit with the celebrated pianist as part of a new foursome. Murray has interacted with a wealth of strong personalities during his four-decade plus career; mixing and matching characters is a way of revitalizing an instantly recognizable horn sound that helped usher in jazz’s freedom swing era back in ‘80s. Using Sánchez as a cornerstone, the adventurous tenor player has designed what promises to be a rollicking rhythm section. I recently caught bassist Luke Stewart at the Record Shop in Red Hook and was reminded just how brawny and limber his approach is (shades of former Murray mate Fred Hopkins, I dare say). And drummer Kassa Overall is a provocative choice that should take the music to unexpected zip codes. In the last five years he’s found numerous ways to bump hip-hop beats towards spots that enhance valuable improvising options. Along with Sanchez’s sophisticated tension and release methods, this outfit is brimming with the kind of promise that could put a 2023 spin on the leader’s loosely defined notion of interboogieology.

Piotr Orlov’s Murray portrait for WNYC

Aurora Nealand & The Royal Roses   Barbès Friday, January 20 

The NOLA-based whiz has been intermittently bopping north the last couple of years, and each visit finds her spreading a couple gospels that can always use a dusting-off: interplay is everything, and social music has its own brand of gravitas. Whether knocking out an aw-shucks version of “Margie” at Sunny’s, lilting through a joyous “Sweet Lorraine” at Ear Inn, or tipping the hat to Roy Montrell’s mellow saxophone at Hometown BBQ, she reminds that swing lives damned close to rock ‘n’ roll, and the language forged by Armstrong, Dodds, etc remains one of the most entertaining sounds around. Me, I like it when she shifts into Bechet mode, because therein lies both ferociousness and delicacy. Nealand’s clarinet can weave through “Petit Fleur” the same way her alto can bounce through “Little Coquette.” As a soloist, she’s a fire-starter who often hedges her bets by having a real-deal pianist in her camp, and yes, of course she brought her accordion along with her. Don’t be shy to over-tip the band if it’s “Toploulou” you wanna hear. (We’ll get to her work with George and Tim Berne when next those occasions arise.)

Billy Hart Quartet     Birdland  Tuesday, January 17 – 21

Stood directly behind the maestro at Le Poisson Rouge one night, and it was deeply revealing to watch all four of his limbs generate the wealth of surprises that steadily goosed his associates. Meaning the sometimes genteel-sounding pieces on the band’s ECM releases received all the oomph they need to make a club gig start shooting off sparks. Saxophonist Mark Turner sounded a bit less lithe and a bit more audacious. Pianist Ethan Iverson’s well-considered gambits revealed their aggressive side. And bassist Ben Street’s fluid punches financed the boss’s steady stream of nuanced drama. Along the way, some aspect of brooding took on a valiant gregariousness These guys truly come together when they hit the stage.


Dan Weiss / Miles Okazaki   LunÁtico      Tuesday, January 17   9 pm  

Tim Berne/Gregg Belisle-Chi/Tom Rainey  Lowlands January, Thursday 19 8 pm

Al Foster’s 80th Birthday Smoke Jazz Club Thursday, January 19 – Saturday, January 22

Ches Smith The Stone Wednesday 18-21

Improv Nights – A Tribute To Derek Bailey Roulette Thursday January 19-21

Jerome Sabbagh Quartet Cafe Bohemia Friday, January 20

Adam Kolker/Marty Ehrlich/Owen Howard/ Jeremy Stratton Bar Bayeux Thursday, January 19

Devin Grey solo + WRENS Record Shop, 360 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn Thursday, January 19

Michael Formanek Drome Trip ft. Angelica Sanchez Roulette Tuesday, January 24

Mingus at 100 – New Now Know How

April is the Charles Mingus Centennial, so let’s share one choice Mingus piece per day. What’s yr fave CM?

Jazz in July 2015 Starts Tonight!

Whenever you come across the 92 Street Y’s Jazz In July series touted in print, you’re likely to see the word “exquisite” attached. Artistic Director Bill Charlap sculpts his programs and performer lists to stress the kind of grace that he himself brings to the stage when leading his piano trio. As usual, this year he peppers the repertory-slanted sched with vocalists. Ernie Andrews gives Duke a smooch, Ann Hampton Callaway glides through Sondheim and the mighty Kurt Elling embraces the mighty Frank Sinatra. Each will be bolstered by some of the city’s most sage improvisers. Vets Dick Hyman, Houston Person and Bucky Pizzarelli are part of an ever-changing cast that includes skilled boomers Matt Wilson, Ken Peplowski and Marcus Roberts. Mainstream jazz is full of finesse, and as the week-long fest puts its personal spin on history and unpacks the kind of splendor that tickles the button-down crowd, a distinct POV will emerge. Bet it’s exquisite.

Jazz in July schedule and deets

Village Voice

Tim Berne’s Snakeoil @ Jazz Standard, Tuesday night

There’s a bit of obsession in the dense beauty of Tim Berne’s music on You’ve Been Watching Me (ECM) – once it nails a motif, it doesn’t let go until it’s been examined and exhausted. The wily saxophonist’s tumult comes in calibrated waves, and each splashes toward one exuberant goal. Like its two predecessors, the new album’s action feels elastic, always morphing to put one of the group’s instruments in the foreground. Sometimes it’s the luscious clarinets of Oscar Noriega, sometimes it’s the steely piano of Matt  Mitchell, sometimes it’s the octopus percussion of Ches Smith. Further amazing – even with the additional density of new guitarist Ryan Ferreira, Berne’s thick ensemble passages find a way to bust out some breathing room while still delivering on the promise of their signature whomp. Give your speakers some real juice while the band gets ultra agile on “Semi-Self Detached” and you’ll likely agree. Arrangement and chemistry FTW. The quintet tends to explode club gigs like their Jazz Standard romp into a million pieces. Be there.

Jazz Standard

Here’s what I said about ’em a couple years ago.

Here’s what Richard Gehr says about ’em this time.

Here’s how Hank Shteamer hears ’em.

Ferreira Comes Onboard

Michael Blake Quartet @ Jazz Standard on Wednesday

The wily saxophonist’s Tiddy Boom (Sunnyside) popped up on several 2014 best-of lists, with most praise citing the lyricism and oomph Blake brought to the table on a mainstream quartet date that had plenty of lefty leanings. That’s his way, of course. For the last two decades, his tenor has been keen on finding eloquence in both swing and skronk. The killer band from the record is on this gig, and expect the agility of bassist Ben Allison and drummer Rudy Royston to tickle pianist Frank Kimbrough into even more inventive territory than usual. Through the lines, you’ll hear a nod to Hawk and Pres – one of Blake’s goals for this project – and as the music settles, you’ll know how inspiration is passed down through the jazz lineage.


Jazz Standard

116 27th Street NYC

Wednesday April 1  7:30 pm + 10 pm
Tickets are $25

Happy Birthday Cecil Taylor

Love Garden, and respect Indent, Spring of Two Blue-Js and Silent Tongues, but for expression, concision and the recorded sound of instrument, here’s the solo album I go back to most often. ‘Cept for that homemade cassette of the maestro rocking in Providence in the mid-’80s.

Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Bird Calls @ Jazz Standard Tomorrow Night

There was some visible jaw dropping in the audience when Rudresh Mahanthappa‘s band blasted their first notes at the Winter Jazzfest in January. The quintet came out charging, its fractured spin on Charlie Parker’s songbook teeming with the ardor that has come to define the saxophonist’s work. The new Bird Calls catches all this fierceness. Mahanthappa has crafted original tunes inspired by a signature phrase or thematic element in the Parker canon, and his squad breaks them apart and glues them back together with a maniacal glee. In a modern tongue, they sustain all the joy and physicality that helped define bebop’s beginnings.

Tuesday March 20  7:30 pm + 10 pm
Tickets are $25

Jazz Is a Tree