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.
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.
OTHER ITEMS OF INTEREST
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