Hey, we’ve got a new February-March calendar up now!
As always, weekly events first followed by the daily listings:
Sundays there’s a klezmer brunch at City Winery, show starts round 11:30 AM – 2 PM, $10 cover, no minimum, lots of good bands.
Sundays from half past noon to 3:30 PM, bluegrass cats Freshly Baked (f.k.a. Graveyard Shift), featuring excellent, incisive fiddle player Diane Stockwell play Nolita House (upstairs over Botanica at 47 E Houston). Free drink with your entree.
Sundays in February there’s a Balkan jam at Goodbye Blue Monday starting at 3ish.
The 2009-10 series of organ concerts at St. Thomas Church continues most every Sunday (holidays excepted) at 5:15 sharp, featuring an allstar cast of performers. Concerts continue through the end of May 2010.
Stephane Wrembel plays Sundays at Barbes at 9. The guitarist has few if any equals as an interpreter of Django Reinhardt, but it’s where he takes the gypsy jazz influence in his own remarkably original, psychedelic writing – and what he brings to the Django stuff – that makes all the difference. One of the most interesting players in any style of music, anywhere in the world.
Every Sunday the Ear-Regulars, led by trumpeter Jon Kellso and (frequently) guitarist Matt Munisteri play NYC’s only weekly hot jazz session starting around 8 PM at the Ear Inn on Spring St. Hard to believe, in the city that springboarded the careers of thousands of jazz legends, but true. This is by far the best value in town for marquee-caliber jazz: for the price of a drink and a tip for the band, you can see world-famous players (and brilliant obscure ones) you’d usually have to drop $100 for at some big-ticket room. The material is mostly old-time stuff from the 30s and 40s, but the players (especially Kellso and Munisteri, who have a chemistry that goes back several years) push it into some deliciously unexpected places.
Every Sunday, hip-hop MC Big Zoo hosts the long-running End of the Weak rap showcase at the Pyramid, 9 PM, admission $5 before 10, $7 afterward. This is one of the best places to discover some of the hottest under-the-radar hip-hop talent, both short cameos as well as longer sets from both newcomers and established vets.
Mondays at the Fat Cat the Heun Choi String Quartet play a wide repertoire of chamber music from Bach to Shostakovich starting at 7
Mondays at the Jazz Standard it’s all Mingus, whether with the Mingus Orchestra, Big Band or Mingus Dynasty: you know the material and the players are all first rate. Sets 7:30/9:30 PM, $25 and worth it.
Mondays at the Delancey on the main floor, 8:30 PMish Botanica frontman and master of menace Paul Wallfisch presents the edgiest weekly music series in town, playfully called Small Beast, an international mix of some of the most intelligent (and frequently darkest) performers passing through town. It’s free and there’s always some kind of drink special or freebee. If you wish Tonic was still open, Wallfisch is keeping the flame alive. He typically opens the night solo on piano, reason enough to put this on your calendar. January artists include Greg Garing, Greta Gertler, Elisa Flynn, Kings County Queens, Kerry Kennedy and Marni Rice.
Also Monday nights Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks, a boisterous horn-driven 11-piece 1920s/early 30’s band play Sofia’s Restaurant, downstairs at the Edison Hotel, 221 West 46th Street between Broadway & 8th Ave., 3 sets from 8 to 11, surprisingly cheap $15 cover plus $15 minimum considering what you’re getting. Even before the Flying Neutrinos or the Moonlighters, multi-instrumentalist Giordano was pioneering the oldtimey sound in New York; his long-running residency at the old Cajun on lower 8th Ave. is legendary. He also gets a ton of film work (Giordano wrote the satirical number that Willie Nelson famously sang in Wag the Dog).
Mondays in February the Mercenaries – semi-legendary New York rockers who are sort of the missing link between the Stones and the Replacements – at Arlene’s 9 PM
Also Mondays in January starting on the 18th (and all of February) the Barbes house band, Chicha Libre plays there starting around 9:30. They’ve singlehandedly resurrected an amazing subgenre, chicha, which was popular in the Peruvian Amazon in the late 60s and early 70s. With electric accordion, cuatro, surf guitar and a boisterous rhythm section, their mix of obscure classics and originals is one of the funnest, most danceable things you’ll witness this year. Perhaps not so strangely, they sound a lot like Finnish surf rockers Laika and the Cosmonauts in their most imaginative moments.
Also Mondays in January Rev. Vince Anderson and his band play Union Pool in Williamsburg, two sets starting around 11 PM. The Rev. is one of the great keyboardists around, equally thrilling on organ or electric piano, an expert at Billy Preston style funk, honkytonk, gospel and blues. He writes very funny, very politically astute, frequently salacious original gospel songs and is one of the most charismatic, intense live performers of our time. Paula Henderson from Burnt Sugar is the lead soloist on baritone sax.
The second and fourth Tuesday of the month there are free organ recitals at half past noon at Central Synagogue, Lexington Ave. at 55th., an exciting list of first-class performers in a sonically gorgeous space, a great way to spend your lunch break if you work in the neighborhood.
Tuesdays the boisterous and very popular brass-heavy gypsy jazz band Slavic Soul Party plays Barbes at 9. Get here as soon as you can as the opening act is usually popular as well.
Tuesdays in January the Dred Scott Trio play astonishingly smart, dark piano jazz at the Rockwood at midnight.
Every Wednesday, Michael Arenella & the Dreamland Dance Band play sly yet boisterous oldtimey hot jazz at the Clover Club, 210 Smith St. (Butler/Baltic) in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, 8:30 -10:30 PM.
Every Friday in January at 8:30 PM at the Fat Cat Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens bring an authentic here-and-now Brooklyn church vibe, no slick theatrics, just soul.
Fridays there’s live Mediterranean music – Greek- Arabic, Turkish Armenian, Israeli fusion with Mike Stoupakis, Christos Zavolas, Sofia on on vocals, Elias Sarkar-oud/vocals, Kostas Konstantinou – drums, plus bellydancers at Lafayette Grill & Bar, 54 Franklin St., downtown,$20 cover, 10ish, free after 1 AM.
12/29 Senegalese roots reggae juggernaut Meta & the Cornerstones at Drom, 11 PM $10
12/30, 8 PM, wild, intense Balkan/Mediterranean/Middle Eastern rockers Ansambl Mastika – no longer just an instrumental band! – at Barbes. If you missed their show at Shrine last month, you missed a real treat.
12/30 propulsive early Dire Straits-style Americana rockers Whisperado at Hank’s 9ish
12/30 amusingly disconcerting bluespunks the Five Points Band at Rodeo Bar 10:30 PM
12/30 Dr. John & the Lower 9/11 at the Highline Ballroom, sets 7/9:30 PM, adv tix $35 (not avail. day of show)
12/31 Irving Louis Lattin and his Chicago blues trio at 55 Bar, early, 6 PM
12/31 tongue-in-cheek, period perfect early 50s hillbilly satirizers Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co 8 PM at Otto’s, then at about 1 AM Vic Ruggiero (of the Slackers) plays a rare acoustic show.
12/31, 9 PM psychedelic powerpopsters Ian Roure and Liza Garelik of the Larch and Liza & the WonderWheels play a rare acoustic show at Freddy’s – they did this at the Parkside back in the fall and it was off the hook.
12/31 we don’t usually list events like this, but this could be extra fun if you can afford it ($40 advance tickets available at serdarilhan.com) because it’s OPEN BAR with beer, wine AND rakija, the bewitching Layla Isis bellydancing and a pan-global, Mehanata-style dj mix at the Hungarian (Magyarhaz), 213 E 82nd St (between 2nd and 3rd Aves), starting 9ish.
Also 12/31 at the Bell House a bad segue between two killer bands: retro 60s soulsters Eli Paperboy Reed & the True Loves and then ferocious, haunting psychedelic garage rockers Obits plus free cans (?!?) of champagne, 9 PMish, $30 adv tix very highly rec.
Also 12/31, 10 PM at Spikehill a cheap and reliably high-energy way to say goodbye to a rotten decade with some fun Americana tunes by the Nightmare River Band and then the Woes at 11, dirt cheap at $10.
12/31 usually the last place you would want to be on New Year’s Eve – other than Times Square, anyway – is Bleecker St., but oldschool Chicago blues guitar monster – and soul singer par excellence – Johnny Allen is ushering the new decade in at 10 at Kenny’s Castaways
Also 12/31 Tammy Faye Starlite’s sick Stones cover band the Mike Hunt Band plays the seminal, serendipitously titled 1966 album “December’s Children (And Everybody’s)” at Lakeside, 11 PM but get there early.
12/31, 11 PM twangy western swing with Sean Kershaw & the New Jack Ramblers feat. guitar god Steve Antonakos at Banjo Jim’s, only $10.
1/1 atmospheric, haunting loop-driven art-rockers the Quavers at Barbes at 8 PM followed by haunting, slinky, Middle Eastern inflected oldtime Zanzibar dance music revivalists Sounds of Taraab at 10 PM.
1/1, sets 9/10:30 PM chanteuse Heather Masse of the Wailin Jennys does her jazz thing at the Cornelia St. Café, $10
1/1 twang for your hangover with Chip Robinson & the Roscoe Trio at Lakeside, 10 PM.
1/1 garage revivalists the Detroit Cobras – with ex-Moisturizer bass goddess Gina Rodriguez -at Maxwell’s, 10:30 PM, $15
1/1 half past midnight (actually the morning of 1/2) Akim Funk Buddha at the Blue Note, $8: “Somehow manages to juggle human beat-boxing with East Asian martial arts and African-inspired drum, making the circus reference the title more than appropriate.. from Tuvan throat singing, beat box, Ndebele clicks, to scat..”
1/2 at Nublu Love Trio – Ilhan Ersahin, Jesse Murphy, Kenny Wollesen – plays 9:30ish.
1/2 Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co. 10ish at the Bell House plus free mint juleps, $10
1/2 the Disclaimers play Spikehill at midnight. Two-tone soul siren duo fronting the band (or playing violin, trombone, keys, percussion or kazoo), swooping organ, scorching guitar and songs that veer from hypnotic 60s soul warmth to Radio Birdman style garage punk. One of the best bands in NYC.
1/ 3, 3 PM and 1/6, 8 PM pianist Niklas Sivelov plays Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier #s 13-24 at Bargemusic tix $35/$30/15 srs/stud.
1/3 innovative Greek blues guitarist Spiros Soukis at Lucille’s, 8 PM
1/3, 8 PM sharp, lyrical powerpop siren Patti Rothberg at the Delancey.
1/3 ex-Black Star hip-hop star Talib Kweli plus John Forte and others at the Brooklyn Bowl, 8ish, tix $10
1/3 at Nublu – the reliably charismatic Bato the Yugo & Gypsy Boogie, 9:30ish
1/5 at Barbes 8 PM the Mat Maneri Quartet. Mat Maneri -viola; Randy Peterson – drums; Garth Stevenson – bass, and Jacob Sacks – piano. Followed at 9 by Slavic Soul Party
1/5, 8 PM the adventurous Antara Ensemble play works by Corelli, Quantz, Janácek plus the world premiere of Ray Leslee’s “Shakespeare Songs for Tenor, Flute & Strings” at Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church, 619 Lexington Avenue (at 54th Street), $25 (stud/srs $20).
1/5 haunting, otherworldly, absolutely hypnotic Brooklyn Balkan vocal quartet Black Sea Hotel at Pete’s, 10 PM
1/6-12 the Clayton Bros. Band at Dizzy’s Club, 7:30/9:30 PM, $30 tix avail. John Clayton, bass; Jeff Clayton, alto saxophone; Gerald Clayton, piano; Terell Stafford, trumpet; Obed Calvaire, drums. Their weeklong stand here last year was deliriously fun.
1/6 the blazing, innovative, lushly atmospheric Joris Teepe Big Band at the Fat Cat, 8:30 PM
1/6, 8:30 PM George Garzone, saxophone (one of the most interesting, fearlessly intuitive players out there) with Rachel Z, piano; Peter Slavov, bass; Pete Zimmer, drums at the Cornelia St. Café, $10
1/6 ferocious psychedelic power trio Devi with special guest keyboardist Rob Klores at Sullivan Hall, 10 PM. They kicked ass with him at the Mercury last year.
1/6 the surfy Cuban Cowboys at Maxwell’s, 10 PM.
1/6, 10:30 PM ferocious two-guitar punk/garage rockers Des Roar – of Ted Bundy Was a Ladies Man infamy – at the Mercury, $10.
1/7, 7:30/9:30 PM the Kenny Barron Quintet with Anne Drummond on flute, meaning the powerhouse pianist may chill out a little, at the Jazz Standard, adv tix $30 highly rec.
1/7 Bad Reputation: Pierre de Gaillande sings George Brassens, 8 PM at Barbes – the Snow’s frontman has tackled the monumental task of rendering the iconic, fearless, often lewd French songwriter in a sort of noir cabaret context with a woodwind section. It works spectacularly well (the album’s due out sometime this year on Barbes Records) and it’s often hilarious.
1/7 adventurous, defiantly original, funny bluegrass band Frankenpine at Lakeside 9:30 PM.
1/7, 10 PM Raquy and the Cavemen play percussive Middle Eastern-inflected rock at Drom,$10 adv tix rec.
1/8, 8 PM haunting, danceable, psychedelic Brazilian forest music with Forro for All at Barbes
1/8 at the 92YTribeca an amazing bill starting at 8: the Snow’s Pierre de Gaillande singing his own translations of iconic French troublemaker/songwriter Georges Brassens; Mexican folk-rocker Rana Santacruz; devious Mexican janglerock sirens Pistolera; NYC’s funnest band, the psychedelic, surfy Peruvian-style instrumentalists Chicha Libre; the surf-rock Cuban Cowboys and then headlining around midnight,wildly intense Balkan brass band Slavic Soul Party!
1/8 ferociously powerful yet fascinatingly subtle powerpopster/guitar legend-in-the-making Pete Galub at Lakeside 9:30 PM.
1/8-9 in the West Village it’s the Winter Jazz Fest where a bunch of clubs that usually feature cheesy top 40 cover bands open their doors to some sensationally good jazzcats. Several of the cheap multi-artist bills here would cost you hundreds to see separately in more fancy surroundings. Too much good stuff going on to list here – the complete schedule is here. Highlights below:
1/8, 6 PM (six) at Zinc Bar: Soul Cycle with Jesse Fischer, keyboards / Louis Fouché, alto sax / Josh David, bass / Corey Rawls, drums / Shawn Banks, percussion; 7 PM Ben Williams & Sound Effect: Ben Williams, trumpet / Jamire Williams, drums / Jaleel Shaw, alto saxophone / Dave Bryant, piano; 8 PM the Chelsea Baratz Quartet with Chelsea Baratz, saxophone / Orrin Evans, Piano / John Davis, Drums / Corey Wilkes, trumpet; 9 PM the fiery Jaleel Shaw Quartet: Jaleel Shaw, saxophone / Ben Williams, bass / Johnathan Blake, drums / Aaron Goldberg, piano.
1/8, 6:30 PM at le Poisson Rouge: adventurous big band Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society; 7:20 PM Jamie Leonhart: Jamie Leonhart, vocals / Michael Leonhart, piano & trumpet / Gary Wang, acoustic bass and others; 8:20 PM ELEW / Eric Lewis solo: 9:20 PM trumpeter Nicholas Payton’s aptly titled SeXXXtet: Nicholas Payton, trumpet and vocals / Taylor Eigsti, piano/Rhodes / Vicente Archer, bass / Marcus Gilmore, drums / Daniel Sadownick, percussion.
1/8, 6:40 PM at Kenny’s Castaways the Joel Harrison Sextet: Joel Harrison, acoustic guitar / Donny McCaslin, sax / Christian Howes, violin / Dan Tepfer, keys / Stephan Crump, bass / Ted Poor, drums / Johnaye Kendrick, vox; 6:40 PM Briggan Krauss’ Trio Coordinate: Briggan Krauss, saxophone / Kenny Wollesen, drums / Skuli Sverrisson, bass; 8:40 PM the alternately Frisell-esque and haunting Americana jazz of Jeremy Udden’s Plainville with Jeremy Udden, saxophones / Brandon Seabrook, banjo and guitar / Pete Rende, pump organ and Fender Rhodes / Eivind Opsvik, bass / RJ Miller, drums; 9:40 PM the Matt Wilson Quartet: Matt Wilson, drums / Jeff Lederer, tenor & soprano saxophone, clarinet / Kirk Knuffke, trumpet / Chris Lightcap, bass; 10:40 PM Bobby Previte’s New Bump Quartet: Ellery Eskelin, tenor saxophone / Bill Ware, vibraphone / Brad Jones, bass / Bobby Previte, drums; 11:40 PM Mark Guiliana’s Beat Music:Mark Guiliana, drums / Jason Fraticelli, electric bass / Aaron Dugan, guitar / Nir Felder, guitar; 12:40 AM (that’s twenty before one in the AM) Jamie Saft’s Whoopie Pie with Bill McHenry, saxophone / Jamie Saft, bass and keys / Mike Pride, drums; 1:40 AM Peter Apfelbaum and the New York Hieroglyphics: Peter Apfelbaum, saxophone, piano, percussion / Peck Allmond, trumpet, reeds / Jessica Jones, saxophone / Tony Jones, saxophone / Josh Roseman, trombone / Natalie Cressman, trombone / Charlie Burnham, violin / Dave Phelps, guitar / Viva DeConcini, guitar / Patrice Blanchard, bass / Dafnis Prieto, drums.
1/8, 8 PM pianist Elena Ulyanova plays Soler, Chopin, Liszt, Debussy and Rachmaninoff at Bargemusic, tix $35, $30/15 srs/stud.
1/8, 8:30 PM multistylistic trombonist Reut Regev’s R Time w/special guest Judith Insell on viola at the Cornelia St. Café, $10.
1/8, 9 PM loud, hypnotic shoegazers Susu at Cake Shop.
1/8 Mostly Other People Do the Killing, the hilarious and potent Spinal Tap of improv jazz at Zebulon, 9:30ish.
1/8, 10 PM Spanglish Fly – who play the groovalicious catalog of boogaloo inventor Joe Cuba (sort of the Spanish Harlem equivalent of Fela) – are at Camaradas El Barrio, 2241 1st Ave (115th St.), $5.
1/8 fiery blues/Americana guitar genius – and first-rate lyrical songwriter – Lenny Molotov at Pete’s, 11 PM
1/9, the Winter Jazz Festival continues at 7 PM at le Poisson Rouge with Ben Allison: Jenny Scheinman, violin / Shane Endsley, trumpet / Steve Cardenas, guitar / Ben Allison, bass / Rudy Royston, drums; ay 8, the Occidental Brothers Dance Band International: Nathaniel Braddock, guitar / Josh Ramos, bass / Greg Ward, alto saxophone / Makaya McRaven, drums / Samba Mapangala, vocals; at 9, Jenny Scheinman & Jason Moran: Jenny Scheinman, violin / Jason Moran, piano; 10 PM, Lionel Loueke: Lionel Loueke, guitar and vocals / Massimo Biolcati, bass / Ferenc Nemeth, drums; at 11, the haunting, innovative Vijay Iyer Trio: Vijay Iyer, piano / Marcus Gilmore, drums / Stephan Crump, acoustic bass.
1/9, 7 PM at Zinc Bar Jayme Stone’s sparkling, psychedelic, rustic Africa to Appalachia project: Jayme Stone, banjo / Yacouba Sissoko, kora and vocals / Mike Barnett, fiddle / Brandi Disterheft, bass / Nick Fraser, percussion.
1/9 the world’s funniest oldtimey Americana band – sort of the Dead Kennedys of the steampunk set – the Asylum St. Spankers at the Bell House, 8 PM. Also at the Gramercy Theatre with another good, energetic roots music band, the Wiyos on 1/11 at 9:30.
1/9, 7:30 PM the Del McCoury Band w/the Preservation Hall Jazz Band featuring openers Marty Stuart + His Fabulous Superlatives + Sarah Jarosz at BB King’s adv tix $35 and worth it.
1/9 back at the 92YTribeca with another great bill starting 8ish, this time the sly humor of the Two Man Gentlemen Band, Luminescent Orchestrii’s Sxip Shirey, Boston oldtimey siren Miss Tess, the hellrasing hokum blues/grasscore juggernaut the New Familiars, the Hot Seats, plus sultry, retro 30s original swingstress Christabel & the Jons.
1/9 blues guitar powerhouse Bobby Radcliff at Lucille’s, 8 PM
1/9 sax player/composer Paul Carlon’s rocking, innovative Afro-Cuban jazz project at Bowery Poetry Club, 8 PM.
1/9, 9 PM amazing Balkan/Japanese gypsy/jazz powerhouse Fishtank Ensemble at BAM Café.
1/9, 9 PM the Stagger Back Brass Band – the hilarious, virtuosically scurrying Keystone Kops of Balkan Brass music – at Union Pool
1/9, 9/10:30 PM, Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, the “steampunk big band,”at the Jazz Gallery, $15.
1/9, 9-ish powerpop siren Patti Rothberg at Rodeo Bar followed by alt-country pioneer Zane Campbell at 11ish.
1/9, 9:15 PM at Kenny’s Castaways the highlight of the Winter Jazz Festival with tenor sax monster JD Allen and his Trio prepping for another stand at the Vanguard: JD Allen, tenor saxophone / Gregg August, bass / Rudy Royston, drums. Followed eventually by the Mary Halvorson at quarter past midnight: Mary Halvorson, guitar / John Hebert, bass / Tomas Fujiwara, drums. And then at quarter past two in the morning the Tyshawn Sorey Guitar Trio with one of the most interesting drum/percussion guys around, Tyshawn Sorey, drums/percussion/compositions / Todd Neufeld, nylon string guitar / Chris Tordini, acoustic bass, nylon string guitar
1/9, 9:30 PM at Sullivan Hall Dr. Lonnie Smith on the B3 organ plus Jamire Williams, drums; Jonathan Kreisberg, guitar.
1/9, 9:45 PM at the Bitter End another monster jazz evening with the Claudia Quintet with Gary Versace: John Hollenbeck, drums / Ted Reichman, accordion / Chris Speed, reeds / Matt Moran, vibraphone / Trevor Dunn, bass / guest: Gary Versace, piano; 10:45 PM Rudder with Chris Cheek, saxophone / Henry Hey, keys / Tim Lefebvre, bass / Keith Carlock, drums; 11:45 PM Todd Sickafoose’ Tiny Resistors: John Ellis, clarinet & tenor saxophone / Alan Ferber, trombone / Steve Cardenas, guitar / Mike Gamble, guitar / Rudy Royston, drums and percussion / Todd Sickafoose, bass / Jenny Scheinman, violin; quarter to one, Michael Bellar’s As-Is Ensemble: Michael Bellar, keys / Rob Jost, bass / Brad Wentworth, drums / Brook Martinez, percussion; and at a quarter to two the Randy Newman Project with Mark Soskin, piano / Roseanna Vitro, vocals / Dean Johnson, vocals / Sara Caswell, violin / Steve Cardenas, guitar.
1/9 devious, unpredictable alto sax monster Jon Irabagon at the Fat Cat, 10 PM with supporting cast TBA
1/9, 10ish sophisticated yet intense Americana siren Julia Haltigan at Glasslands
1/9 LES punk/surf/soul legend Simon & the Bar Sinisters at Lakeside, 10:15ish
1/9, 1 AM (actually morning of 1/10) the gothic Americana of the Kezners at Cake Shop.
1/10 the devious, virtuosic, amazing Isle of Klezbos (mostly female, ostensibly lesbian, original klezmer rockers) at City Winery, half past noon for klezmer brunch. A new Frank London project opens the morning (literally) at eleven-ish, $10, no minimum plus kids free!
1/10 darkly lyrical jazz guitarist Massimo Sammi with a great quartet including bassist John Lockwood and sax connoisseur George Garzone at the Blue Note for brunch, sets at half past noon and 2:30 PM.
1/10, 2 (two) PM pianist Simone Dinnerstein with the American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME) at the PS 321 Neighborhood Concert, 180 7th Avenue, Park Slope, Brooklyn, $15.
1/10, 4:30 PM Italian choreographer/percussionist Alessandra Belloni leads a special Epiphany concert of her rarely performed drama La Cantata Dei Pastori at the Church of Most Precious Blood (Baxter Street near Mulberry in Little Italy) for a celebration of the Neapolitan Federation and region of Campania.
1/10, 6 (six) PM noir surf/jazz guitarist Jim Campilongo at 55 Bar
1/10 surf punk legends Agent Orange – still playing Everything Turns Grey with plenty of menace – at the Mercury, 10 PM, $10 adv tix.
1/10, 10 PM, country siren Alana Amram and The Rough Gems at Zebulon
1/11 multistylistic retro rock/country/noir cabaret goddess Rachelle Garniez at the Rockwood at 6, then she’s at Cornelia St. Café at 8:30 for $15/$10 stud.
1/11, 7 PM at Barbes – Ibrahim Maalouf. “French / Lebanese master trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf has made a name for himself as a fantastic interpreter of Western and Arab classical music forms. This performance will feature Maalouf’s work in blending modern creative music with his ancestral musical traditions, especially Arabic Makams. He performs on a unique quarter-tone trumpet that was invented by his father in the 1960s which allows him to play traditional scales used in Arabic music. Maalouf has accomplished much at a young age and has been featured in groups led by Sting, Salif Keita, Marcel Khalifé, and Amadou & Mariam among others.” Followed at 8 by Bio Ritmo spinoff Miramar who “besides original material, play many of compositions by Edmundito Disdier and the singer/songwriter Sylvia Rexach – one of the most famous and prolific composers of bolero music out of Puerto Rico.”
1/11, 7 PM accordionist Michael Hearst’s Songs for Unusual Creatures – sequel to Songs for Ice Cream Trucks – at Joe’s Pub, $15, followed by Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens at 9:30, separate admission, $16
1/11, 8:30 PM at the Mercury las Rubias del Norte, followed eventually by minor-key acoustic/Balkan/jamband Hazmat Modine at 10:30 PM. “Las RDN’s third album, out on Barbès on March 9th, will cover a wider range than usual. The songs run from an intimate Neapolitan ballad, to a Bollywood production, a Kurt Weill song in French, and a classic chicha; they incorporate a string quartet, vintage organs, vibes and marimba.” $10.
1/11 the Maria Schneider Orchestra ,8:30 PM at Birdland, $30.
1/12 violinist Hilary Hahn’s Bach Party at le Poisson Rouge, $20, 6:30 PM
1/12, 7 PM genre-defying Chinese/Middle Eastern/jazz keyboardist/singer Jen Shyu with a killer 7-piece band including JD Allen on tenor at 55 Bar
1/12 and 1/19, 7 PM innovative violinist/composer/country singer Jenny Scheinman at Barbes followed by Slavic Soul Party.
1/12-14 funny how two of the most influential guitarists of the last 30 years have almost the same name if not exactly the same style. This one’s the jazz guy. David Gilmore & Numerology, including a ferocious rhythm section of Christian McBride on bass, and Tain Watts on drums plus the subtle, soulful Claudia Acuna on vocals at the Jazz Standard, sets 7:30/9:30 PM, adv tix $20 highly rec.
1/12, alto saxist and paradigm-shifting composer Jacam Manricks and his quartet at Dakar in Ft. Greene, 7:30 PM, free. He’s also at St. Peter’s Church on Lex and 54th at 5 PM on 1/17 and then with just a trio at Grassroots Tavern on St. Mark’s at 8ish on 1/24.
1/12, 9 PM Sonia’s Party – who put a new spin on oldschool soul and Motown, with predictably fun results – at Union Pool 9 PM, free
1/12, 9:30 PM an exciting new music/Balkan-ish-tango Nuevo doublebill at Joe’s Pub with Ljova and the Kontraband (whose violist and leader, Russian-American Ljova Zhurbin is one of the smartest, wittiest tango composers around) plus bandoneonist Jofre Romarion’s New Tango Quartet, adv tix $12 very highly rec.
1/12 rousing retro R&B keyboard band the Brilliant Mistakes at Southpaw, 10ish.
1/12, midnightish, ferocious all-female rockers Beluga at the Cameo Gallery
1/13 the reliably innovative Quartet San Francisco plays Dave Brubeck at le Poisson Rouge, $15, 6:30 PM
1/13, 8 PM at Glasslands a benefit against domestic violence with No Place, Outernational, Inlets, Controlled Storms, Eartheater, just $10
1/13 clever, tongue-in-cheek early 50s hillbilly parodists Susquehanna Industrial Tool and Die Co. at Rodeo Bar, 10:30 PM.
1/14 dark, intense, brilliantly lyrical Americana songwriter Matt Keating, 7 PM at Banjo Jim’s.
1/14, 7 PM Moonlighters frontwoman Bliss Blood’s fiery barrelhouse blues band Delta Dreambox at Piattini Ristorante Vino Bar, 9824 4th Ave. in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, R train to 95th St., free, 2 for 1 drinks all night.
1/14, 9 PM at Barbes the Weal and Woe “offer for your listening pleasure vintage country and gospel classics and close harmony from a faraway time. Drawing from the deep well of country “brother” duets from the middle third of the twentieth century, they sing songs of love and loss, drinkin’ and cheatin’, Old Time Religion and life back home in the Gowanus Valley. With Barbara Ann (bass & vocals), Russell Scholl (guitar & vocals), Jason Cade (fiddle & banjo) and Mark Deffenbaugh (lap steel).”
1/14, 9 PM Stratospheerius play ornate chamber-metal in the Blues in Space vein at Fat Baby.
1/14 at Sidewalk an hour of haunting, intensely lyrical rock songwriting, emphasis on outsider anthems with half-hour sets by Erin Regan and then Randi Russo, 10 PM. Since the night has been booked by the estimable Bernard King, adventurous lyrically-inclined peeps might want to show up earlier to see who else he’s put on the bill.
1/14 Caribbean latin dance machine La Sovietika at Ace of Clubs 10:30 PM
1/14 up-and-coming world music star/agitator Zee Avi – of no Xmas for Me fame – at the Bell House, 11ish, tix $12.
1/15, 5 (five) PM country/Americana genius Greg Garing (whose phenomenal show at the Delancey we just reviewed) is at Banjo Jim’s for happy hour.
1/15 haunting, slinky, theatrical Egyptian vintage film music revivalists Zikrayat at le Poisson Rouge, 7 PM with soulful guest vocalist Salma Marjieh,and virtuosic percussionist Faisal Zedan, with the full Zikrayat ensemble, lead vocalist Salah Rajab, and their quartet of bellydancers.
1/15-16 Zlatne Uste’s Golden Festival uptown at the Good Shepherd School , 620 Isham (near 207th St. and Bway), two nights of food, drinking and at least thirty Balkan bands from around the world. Your best bet for tix is the $60 two-day pass, or, you can volunteer and see the shows for free, email for info.
1/15-16, 8 PM Italian choreographer/percussionist Alessandra Belloni’s new version of her Dionysan extravaganza Tarantella Spider Dance (the “Italian Riverdance”) at Theatre for the New City, where it premiered, 155 First Ave., near 10th St. The show repeats on 1/17 at 3 PM, $20, $15 stud/srs and possibly the following week end. “Erotic trance dances and ritual drumming from Southern Italy and the Mediterranean presented by a company of 15 performers, musicians, actors, acrobats and dancers who fill the stage with a celebration of culture unique to the Southern Italian experience.”
1/15, 9 PM, moody, slinky, groove-drivern shoegaze band El Jezel at Spikehill.
1/15-16, 9/10:30 PM excellent latin jazz bassist Pedro Giraudo’s Big Band at the Jazz Gallery, $15
1/15 Staten Island Afrobeat/experimentalists the Budos Band at Maxwell’s, 9:30 PM $12 adv.
1/15 the eerie, amusing Five Points Band at Rodeo Bar, 10:30 PM
1/15, 11 PM Marcellus Hall – one of the funniest, most acerbic lyrical masterminds out there, better than ever, at Union Pool
1/15 surf music classics and obscuities with the Boss Guitars at Lakeside, 11 PM.
1/15, midnight-ish, New Orleans songwriter Alex McMurray with excellent barrelhouse piano player Bill Malchow and his band the Go Cup All Stars at Sullivan Hall
1/16 haunting, literate yet amusing art-rockers the Snow play the cd release for their new one I Die Every Night at Joe’s Pub, 7 PM, $15 followed by the hypnotic, exhilarating Arabic ney flute player Bassam Saba’s Ensemble at 9:30, separate admission, $12.
1/16, 8 PM an excellent country/roots music extravaganza at the Jalopy with the Rooftops, Uncle Monk, honkytonkers the Newton Gang, Blue Harvest and Citigrass at midnight.
1/16, 8 PM Siouxsie and the Banshees bassist Steven Severin – who’s gone in an ambient, atmospheric, electronic direction in the recent past – plays his live soundtrack score for the 1928 surrealist silent film “The Seashell & the Clergyman”, plus a program of scores to short avant-garde films at Galapagos, $20; the show repeats on 1/17 at 7 PM.
1/16, 8 PM,haunting, slinky, Middle Eastern-inflected East African dance band revivalists Sounds of Taraab at Bush Baby, 1197 Fulton St, near Bedford in Ft. Greene, $8
1/16, 9ish fun synthy new wave dance revivalists Hank & Cupcakes at the Cameo Gallery
1/16, 10 PM Greek party monsters Magges at Mehanata, free before 10:30, bellydancing, ouzo shots, Susan Mitchell on evil gypsy viola, free before 10:30.
1/16 the reliably charming, oldtimey Moonlighters at Two Boots Brooklyn, 10 PM
1/16 “Brooklyn’s #1 regressive rock band,” Spinal Tap style metal parody band Mighty High at Trash, 10 PM
1/16 NYC’s answer to X, Spanking Charlene at Lakeside, 11 PM.
1/16 multistylistic ska punk party animals King Django at SOB’s, midnight, adv tix $10 highly recommended.
1/17 legendary soul/jazz/funk poet Gil Scott-Heron returns to his annual MLK day show at SOB’s, sets 7/10 PM, $22 adv tix highly recommended, no idea whether he’ll be in “on” or “off” mode but either way he’s someone you ought to see at least once in your life.
1/17, 8 PM, the eerie, murky, haunting accordion-driven Electric Black at Spikehill.
1/17, 8 PM East of the River featuring recorder virtuosi Daphna Mor and Nina Stern at Sixth St. Synagogue, 325 E. Sixth Street (between 1st Ave. and 2nd Ave.) $15 adv tix, $8 stud/under 21.
1/17 at Rose Bar the Colin Stranahan/Rudy Royston duo, sets 8:30/9:30, free. Anytime you can see Royston – the monster jazz drummer of our era – in this kind of offbeat circumstance – could be pure magic.
1/17, 9ish at Don Pedro’s the post-Golden Festival brass band show, and it’s a damn good one, our very own Veveritse Brass Band, What Cheer Brigade from Providence, and Black Bear Combo from Chicago, $10, “nobody turned away at the door.”
1/17 at the Nuyorican, reggae, calypso, and soca with Joe Barnes, Ras Dodieir, Superman, Ira-Dazle, Jah Dear & Bo Bo Saw backed by the I Lan Band, 10 PM, $15.
1/17 the hilarious, politically-fueled Paranoid Larry & His Imaginary Band at 10 at Otto’s followed at 11 by powerpop siren Patti Rothberg.
1/17, 10 PM the adventurous Carpe Diem String Quartet at le Poisson Rouge, $10.
1/18 charismatic Botanica frontman Paul Wallfisch and Brooklyn alt-country pioneers Kings County Queens, haunting noir rock chanteuse Elisa Flynn, and inimitable, deviously multistylistic keyboard genius Greta Gertler at Small Beast at the Delancey 8:30ish.
1/18 and 1/25, 9:45ish Chicha Libre are back at Barbes
1/18, 8 PM, $15, art-song legend John Kelly brings his multi-octave voice to a series of original songs that reflect his obsession with the paintings of Caravaggio, a collaboration with another four-octave siren, the carnivalesque, noir Carol Lipnik at Galapagos
1/18 powerpop legend George Usher at Lakeside 9 PM.
1/19 funkmeisters Groove Collective, gonzo B3 organist Dr. Lonnie Smith and P-Funk’s Bernie Worrell play a super funky benefit for the Haitian relief effort at le Poisson Rouge, 100% of ticket proceeds go to Haiti Action and Hands Together.
1/19, midnight Escarioka – the latin/Balkan/punk/ska tsunami, sort of Gogol Bordello del Sur – at Trash.
1/21, 7 PM, Iranian-American chanteuse and classic 1960s/1970s Iranian chanson revivalist Monika Jalili w/special guest Jamshied Sharifi and Hassan Hakmoun at le Poisson Rouge, $15.
1/21 a Tris McCall doublebill at Union Hall, 8ish starting with his potently anthemic band Overlord followed by his other project the Tris McCall Pillowfight. The sharply lyrical, tuneful rocker (and rare blogger who can actually write a good song) has a new album out, expect plenty of new material.
1/21, 8:15 PM funny yet furiously and smartly socially aware acoustic duo Left on Red play Caffe Vivaldi, sort of a cross between the Dixie Chicks and the Dead Kennedys
1/21 panstylistic rock goddess Jenifer Jackson at Banjo Jim’s, 9ish followed eventually by the Demolition String Band’s brain trust.
1/21, 10 PM bluegrass band Frankenpine at the Jalopy.
1/22, 9/10:30 PM George Garzone and the Australian Connection: George Garzone, tenor saxophone; Jamie Oehlers, tenor saxophone; Graham Wood, piano; Sam Anning, bass; Ben Vanderwal, drums at the Cornelia St. Café, $10.
1/22, 9/10:30 PM, the Gregg August Sextet – the terse yet intense bassist’s latest auspicious project – at the Jazz Gallery, $15.
1/22 the amazing, soul-drenched, guitar-and-organ-fueled, artsy, harmony-loving Disclaimers at Spikehill 10 PM
1/22 understated pan-American siren Marta Topferova at Barbes 10 PM
1/22 western swing with Sean Kershaw & the New Jack Ramblers at Lakeside 11 PM.
1/22 a rare live solo electric show by one of this era’s greatest lyrically-driven songwriters, Livia Hoffman at Freddy’s, midnightish
1/22 artsy Norwegian shoegaze/noiserockers Serena Maneesh at the Mercury, midnight-ish, adv tix $10, this will sell out
1/23, 1 PM a free concert at Bargemusic, most likely piano music; early arrival advised.
1/23 the reliably charming, hilarious, sharply literate Amy Allison at 8 PM at Banjo Jim’s followed by Americana rocker Craig Chesler’s cd release party featuring half the good oldtimey/Americana crew in NYC, followed at 10:30 by Chesler’s regular band, the great roots rockers Tom Clark & the High Action Boys.
1/23 darkly unwinding cello rockers Pearl & the Beard at the Mercury, 8 PM, $10
1/23, 9 PM at BAM Café, innovative baritone saxist/politically aware new music composer Fred Ho & The Green Monster Big Band.
1/23 noir/goth/art-rock pianist/singer Kristin Hoffmann at Caffe Vivaldi, 9 PM.
1/23 hilarious hip-hop party monsters Chronikill at Bowery Poetry Club, 10 PM.
1/23, 10 PM Mississippi hill country-style blues guitar monster Will Scott at Two Boots Brooklyn
1/23 NYC’s pre-eminent alt-country crew Demolition String Band at Rodeo Bar, 10:30 PM
1/23, 11 PM, the entertaining, fearlessly filthy Cudzoo & the Faggettes doing their nasty retro 60s girlgroup pop thing at Trash
1/23 soul/blues siren Bethany Saint Smith & the Gun Show at Lakeside, 11 PM.
1/24 rousing, haunting, original klezmer and some amazing obscurities with Metropolitan Klezmer at City Winery, 11:30 AM-ish for brunch.
1/24, 6 PM at the Rubin Museum of Art, 150 W 17th St., violinist Gil Morgenstern, pianist Don Berman accompanied by Obie Award-winner Elizabeth Marvel reading from Sylvia Plath’s poetry, journals, and short stories. A program inspired by C.G. Jung’s legendary Red Book of The Stuff Dreams Are Made On. Admission to the concert includes a private tour of the Museum at 5:15 where the Red Book, which has never before been seen in public, is on display.
1/24, 9 PM a good bill at Spikehill starting with Nashville gothic-inclined roots band Pale Horse Company, raucous Connecticut cowpunks Sidewalk Dave at 10 and then the clever lyrical Small Beast-style pop/acoustic/new wave of Carrie Erving at 11.
1/25, 7:30 PM, free, the Tessera Quartet plays the String Quartet in E-flat Major by Mendelssohn; String Quartet No. 4, Op. 103 by Lowell Liebermann; String Quartet in D minor by Sibelius at Advent Lutheran/ Broadway United Church, 2504 Broadway at 93rd St.
1/25 a smart, jazzy triplebill at Spikehill starting at 8 with the Anicha Quartet’s intriguing multistylistic jazz/tango/avant stuff with accordion, clarinet, guitar and mandolin;then unaffected, smartly understated jazz chanteuse Calley Bliss at 9 and then latin-inclined jazz singer Deadra Hart, who has an amazing band – at least on her upcoming cd.
1/25 Botanica keyboardist Paul Wallfisch, hauntingly powerful southwestern gothic rocker Kerry Kennedy & Ghostwise, edgy noir cabaret accordionist Marni Rice’s Le Garage Cabaret and noir rocker Mark Steiner’s cd release show at Small Beast at the Delancey 8:30ish
1/25 Homeboy Steve Antonakos, ubiquitous lead guitar monster plays a solo show of his own Americana-inflected stuff at Banjo Jim’s 8:30 PM.
1/25 Daria Grace and the Pre-War Ponies play charming oldtimey and country songs at Rodeo Bar, 10:30 PM
1/26, 8 PM organist Gail Archer celebrates Bach’s 325th birthday at All Souls Unitarian Church, 1157 Lexington Avenue at 80th Street, free – she did Messiaen in 08, Mendelssohn in 09, and this ought to be equally imaginative and interesting.
1/26, 8 PM at the Stone, vividly lyrical piano jazz with the Deanna Witkowski Quartet
1/26 the Second Fiddles do their rousing acoustic hokum blues and oldtimey country at Rodeo Bar, 10:30 PM
1/28, 8 PM surf rock legends the Ventures at BB King’s $33.50 adv tix..
1/27 alternately haunting and hilarious alt-country rockers Maynard & the Musties at Lakeside, 9:30ish
1/27, 6:30 PM Tamara Stefanovich on piano playing music of Bartók, Carter, Ligeti, and Rachmaninoff at le Poisson Rouge, $15 followed at 10 by the gorgeous atmospheric longing and gentle intensity of chamber-rock band Edison Woods with a separate $10 cover.
1/27, 11 PM, country jugband the Flanks at Union Pool.
1/28, 7 PM at “Jewish Artists for Haiti” featuring fiery, fun, multistylistic all-gal klezmer powerhouse sextet Isle of Klezbos with other diverse artists at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, 30 W 68th St, NYC. Proceeds to American Jewish World Service Haiti Emergency Fund, $18 minimum donation. Advance tickets via Workmen’s Circle, 212-889-6800 x212 or phone/online at SWFS
1/28, PM powerpop guitar god Pete Galub and his band the Annuals play Glasslands. “First up is a performance artist named Brian Dinwiddie who will channel a Jimmy Swaggart sermon called “Get Mad at Sin!” then Pete Galub at 7:30, then Wolfe & the Wayside who play country/barroom rock and are celebrating the release of their new EP.”
1/28-31, 7:30-9:30 PM the high-energy Jeremy Pelt Quintet feat. JD Allen on tenor at the Jazz Standard, adv tix $25 ($30 Fri-Sat).
1/28 at SOB’s a killer hip-hop benefit for Haitian earthquake relief, $30 donation (all proceeds to Haitian charities) gets you headliner Immortal Technique plus support from Epryme, Cormega, Mikey Factz, Chinahblac, plus Styles P and an appearance by Kid Capri. Show starts at 9, probably will sell out, doors at 7 PM.
1/28, 9 PM the rambunctious, ferociously funny country sounds of the Jack Grace Band at the Jalopy.
1/28, 9 PM Washington DC bluegrass hellraisers Hollertown at Spikehill.
1/29, 7 PM, pianist Simone Dinnerstein and the pioneering new music advocates American Chamber Music Ensemble offer an intriguing sneak peek of their upcoming tour at the Greene Space, $10, adv tix absolutely necessary, this will sell out.
1/29, 7 PM another good benefit for Haitian earthquake survivors at the Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street, mezi 1st a 2nd Avenue, featuring pan-latin songwriter/chanteuse Marta Topferova, Lucia Pulido, Gods & Monsters guitarist Gary Lucas plus special guests, suggested donation $20, all proceeds to charity.
1/29 sprawling nine-piece horn-driven minor-key Balkan/klezmer/reggae jam band Hazmat Modine at Terra Blues, 7:15ish. Beyond psychedelic.
1/29 at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, 7:30 PM, American Composers Orchestra performs “Orchestra Underground including two world premieres: Sebastian Currier’s Next Atlantis, inspired by New Orleans and written for string orchestra and pre-recorded sound, with video by Pawel Wojtasik; and Roger Zare’s Time Lapse, a piece for orchestra influenced by photographic techniques, commissioned by ACO as part of its Underwood Composers Readings for Emerging Composers. Latin jazz innovator Paquito D’Rivera’s Conversations with Cachao is the centerpiece of the program, and receives its New York City and Philadelphia premieres in these performances. A tribute to Israel ‘Cachao’ López, the Havana bass player who made Cuban Mambo a worldwide phenomenon, the piece is a double concerto featuring D’Rivera’s clarinet and alto sax in dialogue with the double bass, played by Robert Black, recalling the style and personality of the man who served as friend and mentor to D’Rivera and many Cuban musicians. Anne Manson makes her ACO concert debut conducting Orchestra Underground.” $38 tix available.
1/29 smart, funny acoustic alt-country band Tall Tall Trees at the Postcrypt Coffeehouse, 8 PM, 5895 Lerner Hall, 2920 Broadway, 1 to 116th St.
1/29 the Brooklyn What – with their three guitars, furious and funny songs, they’re just about the most charismatic rock band in town right now – at Santos Party House, 9ish. Oh yeah, we picked their cd The Brooklyn What for Borough President as best album of 2009.
1/29, 9 PM, alternately haunting and exhilarating Balkan/Middle Eastern rockers Ansambl Mastika at Shrine
1/29-30, 9/10:30 PM soulful Chilean-American chanteuse Claudia Acuna and her surprisingly intense band at the Jazz Gallery, $15. They absolutely blew us away last year at Rose Bar.
1/29, 10:30ish classic boogaloo revivalists Spanglish Fly play the Joe Cuba catalog – mambo meets Motown – at Rose Bar
1/29 the Jack Grace Band at Rodeo Bar, 10:30 PM.
1/30 “Sound-Off for Haiti” noon til 8 PM at BREC Auditorium, formerly Humanities HS, 351 W 18th St. with salsa – jazz – Americana – klezmer – Celtic – Dominican – punk – rock… and more, click her for full schedule, just $10 to come & go all day. Multistylistic Metropolitan Klezmer among many notable performers.
1/30, 8 PM, pianist Simone Dinnerstein with the American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME) playing “Bach and the Concerto” – Selections from the Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II; Selections from The Art of the Fugue, BWV 1080; Concerto in D minor, BWV 1052; and Concerto in F minor, BWV 1056. The mistress of the Goldberg Variations teams up with a new-music juggernaut to play 300-year-old baroque compositions! Should be fun! At the Miller Theatre at Columbia University, 2960 Broadway at 116th, tix $7-$35.
1/30, 9 PM reliably retro, charming Hawaiian swing harmony band the Moonlighters at nouveau speakeasy Flute Bar, 205 West 54th Street,$12; free munchies at the bar 7/8 PM; show goes til midnight.
1/30 Raya Brass Band at Tea Lounge, 9 PMish – this should be a fun – ferocious, assaultive powerhouse South Serbian style brass brand shaking up the laptop crowd at the coffee shop.
1/30, 10 PM ferocious garage/punk rockers 18 at Port 41 out behind Port Authority, cheap, $5.
1/30, 10 PM-ish supertight funk band Baby Daddy (featuring NYC underground legend Joe Filosa from the Nopar King on drums) in Bay Ridge at 3 Jolly Pigeons, 6802 3rd Ave., corner of 68th St, R train to Bay Ridge Ave. The Joe Franklins open the night at 9.
1/30 the Kreptaka Bar Band play Balkan music at Mehanata 10ish
1/30, 10 PM at the Stone: Sam Shalabi’s Land of Kush feat. Radwan Moumneh (saz, vocals tapes) Ariel Engle (vocals, harmonium),Sam Shalabi (guitar, oud, tapes) “Sam Shalabi, one of Canada’s most unique and prolific players over the past twenty years. The Egyptian Canadian Shalabi performs constantly on electric guitar and oud, with regular appearances in numerous jazz and free improv ensembles, membership in a kaleidoscope of avant rock bands, and at the compositional helm of various musical assemblages large and small. Shalabi has seen a dozen full-length album recordings released in the last eight years. Land of Kush is a sprawling, gorgeous conceptual and compositional framework modeled on classical orchestras from late Nasser-era Egypt era.”
1/30 the propulsive, smartly tuneful, post-Wilco rockers the Brixton Riot at Maxwell’s, 11 PM, $8.
1/30, midnight-ish at le Poisson Rouge a joint benefit for Medecins sans Frontieres and Fabian Alsultany, just $12 with a terrific cast of Middle Eastern/North African and funk talent: Hassan Hakmoun & Zahar Falu; Basya Schechter of Pharaoh’s Daughter; Luqmon Brown of Funkface; Malika Zarra, and Haale of The Mast.
1/31,7 PM darkly potent, lyrical Americana songwriter Rick Barry – who draws a strong Matt Keating comparison – plays Spikehill followed at 8 by the Sunday Blues – who call themselves the “alt-country Wings” but are considerably better.
1/31 a rare US appearance by St. Croix roots reggae band Midnite at SOB’s, 8 PM, $30.
1/31, 8 PM devious Americana chanteuse Kelli Rae Powell – whose most recent album landed smack in our top ten last year – at the Black Sheep Pub, 428 Bergen St in Brooklyn, any train to Atlantic Ave
1/31, 9:30 PM, guitarist Stephen Griesgraber’s lushly atmospheric, fascinating new music ensemble Redhooker at le Poisson Rouge, $10.
2/1, 6:30 PM at le Poisson Rouge Johannes Moser, cello and Phyllis Chen, piano/toy piano playing Shostakovich, Stockhausen, Debussy, and works for electric cello and toy piano at le Poisson Rouge, $15; afterward at 9:30 with a $15 separate admission there’s the Fauré Piano Quartet.
2/1 the quietly intense Jenifer Jackson at the Rockwood 8 PM
2/1 charismatic Botanica frontman Paul Wallfisch, multistylistic steampunk goddess/keyboard monster Rachelle Garniez and the reliably menacing, utterly psychedelic Martin Bisi – no worse for the angst of taking down the legendary wall at B.C. Studios last month – at Small Beast at the Delancey 8:30ish.
2/2 at Rose Bar 10 PMish pianist Jason Lindner and his latin jazz trio Now Vs Now with Mark Guiliana & Panagiotis Andreou.
2/2, 11 PM stark, rustic acoustic Americana group Rescue Bird at Bruar Falls
2/2-7 terse, cutting-edge tenor saxist/composer JD Allen and his Trio (Gregg August on bass and Tyshawn Sorey on drums this time, which should put the songs and the tunes even more front and center than usual) at the Vanguard.
2/2-7 the Wess “Warmdaddy” Anderson Quintet w/Terell Stafford, Marc Cary, Neal Caine & Jeff “Tain” Watts7:30/9:30 PM at Dizzy’s Club $30 tix avail.
2/2, 9 PM fiery, politically astute, Fela-influenced Afrobeat siren Nneka at SOB’s 9 PM, adv tix $15 highly rec.
2/3 9 PM legendary soul/blues crooner Bobby Bland at BB King’s $25 adv tix rec.
2/3 oldtimey fun with Those Darlins at Maxwell’s 10ish.
2/3 hooky two-guitar 90s Britrock style band the Royal Chains at Union Hall 11:30ish
2/4, 7 PM the Chiara String Quartet plays three choice Beethoven quartets at PS 321, 180 7th Ave., Brooklyn, $15. The following day 2/5 they’re at Good Shepherd-Faith Presbyterian Church, 152 West 66th Street at 8. The whirlwind NY tour winds up on 2/7 at 4 (four) PM at Union Church of Bay Ridge, 80th Street and Ridge Blvd., Brooklyn.
2/4 fun, multistylistic bluegrass and oldtimey music with Frankenpine at Lakeside, 9:15ish.
2/4 the reliably boisterous, enelope-pushing Steven Bernstein’s Millennial Territory Orchestra at 10 PM at 55 Bar.
2/4 edgy, bluesy, bucolic Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds at Arlene’s 10 PM
2/4 ukelele player/lyricist/sultry chanteuse Kelli Rae Powell at Rodeo Bar, midnight.
2/5, 6 (six) PM Moroccan world music innovator Malika Zarra with her band including Brahim Fribgane on oud and Mamadou Ba on bass at 55 Bar.
2/5 Sounds of Taraab at Barbes, 8 PM: “a spicy blend of Arabic modes, Indian melody, and a driving African beat.”
2/5, 9 PM soul siren Bethany Saint Smith & the Gun Show at Banjo Jim’s followed by Pork Chop Willie at 10 and then at 11 RL Burnside’s grandson Kent Burnside each playing hypnotic Mississippi hill country blues.
2/5 The Mast FKA Haale play their haunting, crescendoing, hypnotically intense Iranian-inflected psychedelic rock at Joe’s Pub, 9:30 PM.
2/5 the Dred Scott Trio at BAM Cafe 10 (ten) PM, free. The fiery, haunting, envelope-pushing jazz pianist – somewhat similar to Vijay Iyer – has lately leveraged his weekly Tuesday midnight Rockwood show into bigger-room gigs like this. Get to know him before he’s famous.
2/5, 10 PM classic 1960s style boogaloo revivalists Spanglish Fly at Camaradas El Barrio, 2241 1st Ave (115th St.), absurdly cheap at $5.
2/5, 11 PM potently tuneful powerpop Brooklyn What guitarist John-Severin and the Quiet 1s at Fat Baby
2/5, 11 PM, ageless faux French garage band les Sans Culottes at Spikehill.
2/5 majestic, symphonic, impressively tuneful 70s-style art-rock revivalists Igor’s Egg at the Bitter End, 11 PMish.
2/5 charming country harmonies and oldtimey tunes with Those Darlins at Bowery Ballroom, 11ish
2/5 the Cannabis Cup reggae band at BB King’s 11:30 PM $22 adv tix; they’re also here on 2/12 at 7:30.
2/6, 1 PM a free concert at Bargemusic, most likely piano music; early arrival advised.
2/6, 2 (two) PM wild, innovative, insanely popular Balkan brass monsters Slavic Soul Party plays a free show !!! at Coney Island Brooklyn Public Library, 1901 Mermaid Avenue (Near West 19th Street), any train to Stilwell Ave.
2/6 Egyptian/Australian brothers Joseph Tawadros on oud and James Tawadros on percussion play original compositions at Alwan for the Arts, 9 PM, early arrival very highly advised since their last show here sold out.
2/6 gorgeously retro 60s-style soul harmony sisters the Sweet Divines at BAM Cafe, 9 PM.
2/6 Husnu Senlendirici & NY Gypsy All-Stars at Drom, 10 PM, $25 adv tix very highly rec. The clarinetist who’s something akin to the Turkish Miles Davis’ show last year at le Poisson Rouge with these guys had many moments of real transcendence.
2/7, 3 PM the Neos Quartet plays Schumann, Piazzolla and Schubert’s Death & the Maiden at Bargemusic, tix $35 $30/15 srs/stud.
2/7 casually smart female-fronted rockabilly/surf band Catspaw play Otto’s at 7:30.
2/8 psychedelic, hypnotic Mississippi hill country blues guitar powerhouse Will Scott at LIC Bar, 9 PM. He’s also at Bar 4 in Brooklyn on 2/26 at 10.
2/8 noir gypsy/ragtime with Gutbucket and then a solo piano show by Botanica’s master of menace, Paul Wallfisch at Small Beast at the Delancey, 10 PM
2/9, 6:30 PM Zuill Bailey plays the cd release show for his new one the Bach Cello Suites at le Poisson Rouge, $15.
2/9 cutting edge tango nuevo with Emilio Solla & the Tango Jazz Conspiracy at the Jazz Standard, 7:30/9:30 PM, $20: Emilio Solla – piano; Chris Cheek – saxophones; Victor Prieto – accordeon, Jorge Roeder – bass; Richie Barshay – drums, 7:30/9:30 PM, $20
2/11, ACME plays Henryk Górecki at le Poisson Rouge, 8 PM, $15
2/11, 9 PM ageless rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson at the Knitting Factory, adv tix $15
2/12, 7:30 PM, Nnenna Ogwo, piano plays Beethoven and Debussy at the Third St. Music School Settlement, free.
2/13, 2/20, 2/27 legendary, indomitable Irish-American rockers Black 47 – whose Iraq cd was Lucid Culture’s pick for best album of 2008 – at Connolly’s.
2/13, 8 PM and repeating 2/14, 3 (three) PM a romantic program of classical music with the Chelsea Symphony at St. Paul’s Church 315 West 22. Music from Bizet’s “Carmen,” Augusta Holmès’ “La Nuit et L’Amour” and the world premiere of violist, accordionist and composer Seth Bedford’s “Cabaret Music.” Prokofiev’s First Violin Concerto rounds out the program on Saturday, Sunday it’s Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme.
2/13 haunting, otherworldly Balkan/Appalachian vocal duo Æ at Banjo Jim’s. They’re also at the Jalopy on 2/14 with Allison Williams opening.
2/13 charismatic noir rocker Tom Warnick and his band at one of the possibly final shows at Freddy’s, 11 PM
2/14 edgy, original, genre-busting klezmerites Isle of Klezbos at Cith Winery, 11:30 AM-ish for brunch.
2/15, 7:30 PM, free, the East Coast Chamber Orchestra plays Britten, Purcell, Elgar, Turina and Tschaikovsky at Advent Lutheran/ Broadway United Church, 2504 Broadway at 93rd St., 1/2/3 to 96th St.
2/17, 8 PM Spanish rhumba rock with Canteca de Macao at Highline Ballroom, $20 adv tix rec.
2/19, 7 PM Absolute Bach: Kristian Jarvi’s Absolute Ensemble with Simone Dinnerstein on piano at le Poisson Rouge, playing Innovation J.S. by Charles Coleman; Reinventions by Gene Pritsker; Undertow by Matt Herskowitz; Raga on a Theme by Bach by Mike Block; and toopART Reinventions by Daniel Schnyder, $25.
2/19, 9 PM Ameranouche play gypsy guitar jazz at Drom, $10
2/18, 9:15ish iconic Tuareg desert rockers Tinariwen at the Highline Ballroom, adv tix $25. They’re also at the Bell House the next night 2/19 at 8:3o for the same price, adv tix also very highly rec.
2/19 Steve Wynn – whose classic, warped 2001 desert rock album Here Come the Miracles we just named Best Album of the Decade – at Lakeside 9:30ish, early arrival recommended
2/20, 1 PM a free concert at Bargemusic, most likely piano music; early arrival advised.
2/21, 3 PM the world-class Greenwich Village Orchestra plays Prokofiev – Violin Concerto No. 1 and Shostakovich – Symphony No. 5 at Washington Irving HS Auditorium (Irving Place betw. 16/17), cheap, $20 donation.
2/21, 8 PM George Clinton & The P-Funk All-Stars at BB King’s adv tix $37.50.
2/22 Shana Wooley, cello and Fredrica Wyman, piano play Beethoven, Bloch and Takemitsu; also Nathaniel LaNasa, piano plays Bach and Debussy, 7:30 PM at the Third St. Music School Settlement, free.
2/23-24 Bay area steampunks Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers at the Jazz Standard, 7:30/9:30 PM, $25
2/23-28 the Christian McBride Big Band at Dizzy’s Club, sets 7:30/9:30 PM, $20 tix avail.
2/24, 7:30 PM the Bang on a Can All-Stars: Ashley Bathgate, cello; Robert Black, bass; Vicky Chow, piano; David Cossin; drums and percussion; Mark Stewart, guitars and Evan Ziporyn, clarinets at Merkin Concert Hall playing a typically cutting-edge program of world premieres by Nik Bärtsch, Oscar Bettison and Christine Southworth, plus more, tix $30/$25.
2/25-28 the Lionel Loueke Trio: Lionel Loueke – guitar, Massimo Biolcati – bass, Ferenc Nemeth – drums at the Jazz Standard, 7:30/9:30 PM,$25/$30 Friday & Saturday
2/26, 7:30 PM at the Third St. Music School Settlement inscrutable songwriter/pianist Lee Feldman shows off his classical chops, playing Bach, Chopin and Feldman (one assumes his own devious stuff).Eddy Kronengold, piano, and Elinor Amlen, piano follow with music of Milhaud, Mozart and Schumann.
2/26 evocatively Booker T-style Memphis soul/groove instrumentalists the City Champs at Highline Ballroom, 8 PM. The North Mississippi All-Stars headline.
2/26-27, 9/10:30 PM haunting, pioneering Middle Eastern jazz trumpeter Amir ElSaffar and his band (recently commissioned here) at the Jazz Gallery, $15.
2/27 at Bowery Poetry Club a killer ska bill with Tri-State Conspiracy, the Hub City Stompers, Simon and the Bar Sinisters, and special guest Tommy Ramone.
2/27 the Sadies (Neko Case’s longtime backing band doing their own dark, bristling Americana) at the Mercury, 11 PM, $13.
3/15 amazingly adventurous, genre-hopping string quartet Brooklyn Rider play the cd release show for the lastest one at the Angel Oresanz Center
3/28 the Komeda Project – who hauntingly and intensely keep the work of legendary, doomed jazz composer and RomaPolanski collaborator Krzysztof Komeda alive – are at the Cornelia St. Café, 8:30 PM, $10 featuring pianist/composer/arranger Andrzej Winnicki and saxophonist Krzysztof Medyna, along with trumpeter Russ Johnson and a rhythm section.
4/9, 7:30 PM at Carnegie Hall – Orchestra Underground performing “Louis & the Young Americans,”Jeffrey Milarsky conducting: Louis Andriessen – Symphony for Open Strings (New York City Premiere); Missy Mazzoli: These Worlds in Us (World Premiere, new orchestration); Michael Fiday: HST: In Memoriam Hunter S. Thompson (World Premiere, ACO Commission); John Korsrud: New Work (World Premiere, ACO Commission). This is a big deal in NYC music
The Asylum Street Spankers – the world’s funniest, most irreverent (and many would say, best) oldtime Americana hellraisers are playing the Bell House at 8 PM on January 9 – tickets are going fast, get ‘em while they last. Wammo, the Spankers’ singer, washboard player and one of the group’s several resident wits took some time out of his busy holiday season to answer a few questions about the show and the band’s new album:
Lucid Culture’s Correspondent: Your new cd God’s Favorite Band is just out. How much if any rightwing backlash has there been? Did Oral Roberts issue a fatwa against you before he croaked?
Wammo: Did Oral Roberts finally die? Remember back in ’87 when he announced that God would kill him if he didn’t raise a million dollars? That guy was a genius.
LCC: OK, is there a tally of pissed-off atheists? Or do they realize that like all the other styles of roots music that the Spankers play, it’s just classic Americana, really not so much of a divergence from your other stuff?
Wammo: I think you answered that one yourself, so I’ll ask my own question to all of the atheists out there. If you were standing on an icy sidewalk and down by your feet was a steaming cup of hot chocolate and as you were reaching down to grab the delicious beverage, your pants split, making you jerk, rip your shirt open and slip on the ice, only to plummet and land chest first into the boiling confection, horribly scalding your areola but enticing a little puppy to scamper up and begin licking the hot chocolate off of your heaving nipple, how could God not be the force that didn’t make this scenario not happen?
LCC: Is it rude of me to ask about your own spiritual beliefs, upbringing and/or lack thereof?
Wammo: No, I don’t think it’s rude at all.
LCC: One of your originals on the album asserts that God drives a Volkswagen Thing. I was pleasantly surprised to see that you’d do a song about a VW Thing, let alone that you’d make it divine – and that you’d make the connection to the Nazi WWII vehicle which it pretty much was a carbon copy of, with a little bigger engine. Why a VW Thing, instead of, say, a Beetle, which floats and therefore could be construed as walking on water?
Wammo: Back in the ’70s, Volkswagen created these ridiculous commercials that depicted VW Things painted all kinds of crazy ways: flags, starscapes, rainbows, etc.. Even as a little kid, I knew that they must have found a cheap way to get the old Nazi jeep back into production. I’d be watching The Dirty Dozen and suddenly a commercial would come on with hippies riding around in the same ugly-ass jeep that Lee Marvin blew up only seconds before. I figured God would want a little anonymity when visiting earth, so God would pick the ugliest car for cruising around. Hence, God drives a Volkswagen Thing. The joke, explained.
LCC: What’s the inspiration for the other original of yours, Right and Wrong? Is that a Bush War era song or does it go back further than that?
Wammo: I think the concept of right and wrong goes back further than the Bush administration but it’s so hard to remember… I wanted to write a song that showed the absurdity of the “my God is right” mentality. I intended for it to go in that direction but it ended up becoming confessional. It’s like being in such a hurry to get your shoes on, you don’t realize that you’ve tied your laces together.
LCC: What’s the genesis of this album? Was this a deliberate attempt to make another thematic live album a la What? And Give Up Show Business?, or did you just have the tracks kicking around and figured, holy smokes, we can get another live album out of this?
Wammo: The whole thing was planned out — booking, rehearsing and playing the gospel shows, hiring someone to record the shows, buying new gear, having Christina [Marrs, the Spankers’ frontwoman and multi-instrumentalist] learn how to use the gear and then mix the record. She did a great job, don’t you think?
LCC: Um, if it’s ok with you it’s ok with me. Seriously, though, I like the album a lot. So what can we expect from you at the Bell House on January 9? Are you doing a straight-up gospel show or are you going to air out a few fan favorites? At least the Medley of Burnt Out Songs?
Wammo: This is the Salvation and Sin tour, the first half is stuff from the new gospel record and the second half is all of the dirty, nasty, secular stuff. We give you redemption and follow it with madness. If you think about it, that’s the way it usually works in real life. Show starts at 8 PM.
LCC: After this album and this tour, what’s next for the Spankers? Or has the big G not told you yet?
Wammo: We’ll be heading to Europe and Japan this year but believe it or not, we’re cutting back on touring. There’s a new album already in preproduction, so we’ll be recording sometime this year. I’ll be doing some solo gigs and Fringe Festival stuff. I did a one-man show at PS 122 in Manhattan and I’ll be touring that soon. Last time I called the big G, I couldn’t get past the automated menu, “If you’re in hell, press one. If you’re on Earth, press two. If you’re having an existential crisis, press null…”
Larkin Grimm’s solo show last spring at the Delancey was a dazzling display of imaginative vocal technique. This one was a lot more accessible, a mix of lush, smartly arranged, often rustic and unabashedly sexy songs. What Grimm does is closer to an update on folk-rock bands of the 70s like Fairport Convention, but more stark and sparse. Alternating between a miniature harp and acoustic guitar and backed by a concert harpist, two violinists (one of whom doubled on keys and then mandolin) and former David Bowie bassist (and producer to the stars) Tony Visconti playing some really excellent, interesting four-string work, Grimm was a strikingly down-to-earth presence even as her songs took off into artsy territory. The strings fluttered and flew off the beat as the harps’ lines interwined and Visconti moved from minimalist metronomic lines, to graceful slides, the occasional well-chosen boomy chord and even some harmonics. The songs ranged from the lush, dreamy, pastoral number that opened the show, to a sultry cabaret-inflected song about a hooker, a disquieting number inspired by “finding [your] inner child while fucking,” a one-chord Indian-style tune done with Visconti on recorder, another hypnotic song about waking up in a cornfield and having to dodge tractors, and an understatedly fiery retelling of a Greek myth about Apollo skinning some poor guy alive. That one Grimm wrote, she said, after she’d paid a visit to Dolllywood (she’d snuck in, too broke to pay for admission), thinking about her own disastrous experiences in the music business. She closed with a translation of a Hafez poem cast as a crescendoing anthem where a woman goes to bed with a guy, takes off her clothes and decapitates him. “But isn’t that…philosophy?” she asked, deadpan.
Martin Bisi played the first half-hour of his set as a suite, segueing from one part to another by frantically laying down one searing loop of guitar feedback on top of another. This time Bisi’s band had lead guitar, bass, drums and a caped crusader wailing frantically on what sounded like a little Casio running through a million noisy effects, sharing the stage with a woman whose graceful miming quickly became the show’s focal point. In a strange twist of fate, Bisi, like Visconti, is best known for producing great albums for famous bands (Sonic Youth, Herbie Hancock, the Dresden Dolls, ad infinitum), but ultimately it’s his songwriting which is his strongest suit. This evening’s numbers had a distinctly early 80s, East Village feel, sort of Nick Cave as covered by Blue Oyster Cult, ornate and haunting but also with a sense of humor that ran from cynicism to unaffected amusement. About halfway into his suite he ran through the mythology-based Sirens of the Apocalypse (title track of his excellent 2008 album), barrelling through the lyrics without a pause to take a breath. A more recent track, Drink Your Wine came off with an irresistible sarcasm, a word of warning to a lightweight; a dedication to his daughter, far from being mawkish, was a dark garage rocker evocative of the Libertines but tighter. They finally closed their set with a big riff-rock anthem that threatened to burst into flame after it had finally gone out, but it didn’t. The audience wanted more but didn’t get it.
From the Maine woods comes this beguiling, hypnotic, rustic album of dark, minimalist, ambient Americana. Arborea’s self-titled debut made a splash last year and drew accolades from NPR and the BBC, and has since sold out (it’s still available on itunes). Their verdant, bracingly earthy follow-up album takes the listener even deeper into the forest. Singer/banjo player Shanti Curran has an ethereal, frequently otherworldly voice that reminds of Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval, but with considerably more gravitas and soul. As an instrumentalist, she makes every note count: her plaintive, thoughtfully spaced plucking fits well with her voice alongside her husband Buck Curran’s acoustic and electric guitar shading. Iron and Wine is an obvious comparison, although Arborea can be considerably darker, and have a broader sonic palette: this is not a band where you could say that after awhile, all their songs pretty much sound the same. And it’s not freak-folk, although fans of that genre will undoubtedly be taken with their sound as well.
The album’s opening track, River and Rapids blends dreampop and oldtime folk, banjo playing a sparse, circular melody beneath somewhat disembodied vocals. The way the guitar gradually builds and then interpolates within the hypnotic banjo melody of Beirut is gorgeously intricate. On Alligator, insistent banjo functions as a bassline beneath Shanti Curran’s soul-inflected vocals and dreamlike layers of acoustic and slide guitar. With its guy/girl vocals, the long, pensive Dance, Sing, Fight echoes the Cure back when they were a goth band, concluding with a particularly apt Midnight Oil lyrical quote. Then it segues into the haunting Look Down Fair Moon, banjo playing a Middle Eastern-style oud taqsim line, but in the minor scale.
The gentle, Indian-inflected drone of the title track brings back the contemplative vibe of the first part of the album, its meticulously layered arrangement evocative of Brooklyn “porch techno” art-rockers the Quavers. Then the cd wraps up with the minimalist, reflective Onto the Shore, segueing into the final cut, In the Tall Grass, a warm, inviting lullaby with harmonium loops that grow to include the subtlest of slide guitar accents and vocalese after a long intro. It’s chillout music for smart people and it’s a clinic in how to say more with less. Arborea next play the Solidarity Center, 20 Ivers Street in Brewer, Maine on January 8 at 7 PM and then they’re off on European tour (check the link above for dates).
Concert Review: The Lost Crusaders and the Mike Edison Space Liberation Army at Lakeside, NYC 12/18/09
Looking a little pale and thin and fresh off a morphine drip (don’t worry, he’ll be fine), Lost Crusaders frontman/harmonica player Michael Chandler and his steady guitarist Johnny Vigneault were wrapping up their six-week-or so duo residency at Lakeside. Vigneault sat, stomped his foot and blasted the increasingly packed back room with a reverb-laden roar while Chandler, eyes tightly closed, slammed a tambourine against his leg and ran through a bunch of the garage-gospel songs that are the band’s specialty. The style was different, but the feel was totally R.L. Burnside or T-Model Ford – it could have been a shotgun shack in the Mississippi hills. Midway through the set, they ran through the soulful What Have You Done, a standout track from their 2007 album Have You Heard About the World that features a fantastic Laura Cantrell vocal. The whole thing went on nonstop for almost an hour, with a few oldschool spirituals amped up for good measure.
Early shows at Lakeside are a rare enough event, doublebills even more so. Chandler’s old 80s Raunch Hands pal, Mike Edison, inventor of the Bongcaster and author of the hellraising memoir I Have Fun Everywhere I Go brought his Space Liberation Army: Dean Rispler on bass, Hollis Queens of Boss Hogg supplying a supple, laid back drumbeat and Jon Spencer wailing – and tossing off a couple of perfect Hendrix quotes on lead guitar. Edison ranted and railed, occasionally punching a soul organ riff on his Nord Electro or lashing at his theremin to emphasize a point. Although drinking what looked to be straight bourbon, he didn’t miss a beat, only occasionally referring to a cheat sheet as he gleefully recounted tales from a booze-and-drug-soaked past or savaged the right wing, Jello Biafra style as the band snaked along behind him. His story of one particularly crazy one-off Raunch Hands gig in Spain was impossible not to smile at, especially when after that show, the band discovered that although the folks who’d hired them had left them a copious bagful of drugs, the cocaine was all gone. Predictably, pandemonium ensued. “What if I crush up some of these [unidentified] pills and snort them?” a panicked Edison asked his guitarist.
“Nope, I already tried,” was the response.
Another long rant snidely revealed the truth about Jews for Jesus: they’re not Jews, they’re really rightwing Christian nuts who want all the Jews to convert so they can bring on the Rapture (presumably, that means nuclear war, or at least something Halliburton can use to get rid of all that nasty waste from their nuclear power plants). The crew closed with a careening salute to first amendment rights, drug legalization, alcohol and porn – and the criminalization of daytime tv (this is right about where all the very strong two-for-ones started to kick in and the memory gets fuzzy). Edison’s site doesn’t have any upcoming shows listed, but watch this space: you ought to see him sometime.
The title of Jon Lundbom & Big Five Chord’s new album is sarcastic, quite possibly a slap at critics who might think that they haven’t been quite “jazz enough” in the past. The press materials for the album quote one reviewer who classifies them as fusion, which completely misses the point. With Lundbom on electric guitar, the irrepressible Moppa Elliott on bass, Thelonious Monk competition winner Jon Irabagon on alto, Bryan Murray on tenor and Danny Fischer on drums, this is a group for whom thinking outside the box is second nature. They have about as much in common with, say, Chick Corea as they do with Grizzly Bear. They’re not quite as vitriolic as their PR says they are, but there’s plenty of bite here. The cd cover features a couple of passengers’-eye snapshots taken on what looks like the Bear Mountain Highway in upstate New York – will they go over the cliff, or won’t they? – which speak volumes for what’s inside. Interestingly, Lundbom plays it pretty clean here – he goes straight through his amp, without effects, showing a preference for sinuous horn voicings. Elliott, by contrast, is his gritty, growling self, in particularly snarling mode here, although he does contribute the same kind of sly, snide humor of his own band Mostly Other People Do the Killing. Irabagon and Murray add clever and often unanticipated color.
Lundbom takes his time getting started, but eventually starts wailing and tremolo-picking and goes off the hinges as the rhythm section rumbles on the opening track, Truncheon, Irabagon firing off a whole series of rapidfire blues licks straight out of the Ron Asheton playbook. Elliott moves the next cut, Phoenetics along methodically with funeral march and then bell motifs, a study in contrasts between the prettiness of the sax-driven head and the uneasy permutations that follow. The third track is a cover of the Louvin Bros.’ The Christian Life, which they play straight up with just a bit of tongue-in-cheek uptightness until Murray tosses off a casually dismissive little trill, and within seconds Elliott is in on the fun, punching the beat sarcastically. Murray then tries a high-spirited “woops, I forgot we’re in church” solo, but it’s too late, the genie is out of the bottle and when the band stomps all over Elliott’s silly guitar voicings at the end, it’s hilarious.
Lundbom bends and sways, Bill Frisell style, to open the next cut, Tick-Dog, a Cedar Walton adaptation, shifting from unease to swing to a big squalling Murray solo and then a puckish ending from Elliott. The final cut, Baluba, Baluba is a funky stomp, horns accenting Lundbom’s big, early 70s-style blues/funk solo, Irabagon then adding an unleashed Jimmy Page feel way up the scale. When the band finally smashes the thing to pieces after about eight minutes worth of this, the chaos is deliciously rewarding: after keeping it together for the whole album, they’ve earned it . Great headphone music for anyone who’s just closed down the bar but needs more of the night.
The debut concert of CONTACT!, the New York Philharmonic’s new-music series proved auspiciously to be a lot more than just a PR opportunity, a brazen attempt to court a younger audience: these people mean business. The NY Phil has commissioned works for decades, but the fact that they selected Arlene Sierra, Lei Liang, Marc-Andre Dalbavie and Arthur Kampela to create an inaugural program of world premieres for a series devoted exclusively to the avant garde underscores the seriousness of their commitment. Under the direction of composer-in-residence Magnus Lindberg – making his NY Phil debut as a conductor – players from the Orchestra demonstrated a versatility and an unabashed enthusiasm for a program that was challenging and often highly unorthodox (and thus a welcome break from the familiar canon – it probably couldn’t have been timed better for the musicians).
Sierra’s Game of Attrition was described beforehand in a brief dialogue between composer and conductor as essentially math-rock for orchestra, a Darwinian competition for space between instruments of similar timbres. Composers have been sending motifs on a journey around the orchestra, or from one rank of the organ to another, since before Bach. But with a playfulness and an understated deliberation, Sierra’s simple ideas grew as she said they would into larger, more expressive figures: evolution on display, the warmth of the lows contrasting with the ominous portents of the highs and what sounded like a deliberate quote from The Eton Rifles by 70s mod punk rockers the Jam. The tension was most appealingly apparent toward the end in a detente-breaking conversation between marimba and piano. And then it was over.
Lei Liang’s Verge, for 18 Strings was another successful attempt to put new spin on an old idea, in this case using the notes of the scale to spell out a name. It’s been done scores of times – you assign a note to the first twelve letters of the alphabet, and then you start over. Google Prelude and Fugue on B.A.C.H., for example and see what you get. Liang dedicated this one to his infant son: he’d started the piece before the child was born, hence the title. With the strings arranged T.S. Eliot style in four quartets with a bassist at each end of the stage, it was a hypnotic, ambient, oscillating tone poem replete with quadrophonic effects that built to a dramatic, windswept crescendo of Mongolian tonalities on the second movement, evocative of throat singers Huun Huur Tu’s most recent work. It was the high point of the evening.
Marc-Andre Dalbavie and Lindberg met in Paris in the 80s and bonded over their passion for spectral music. Dalbavie told the audience that he was moving further and further toward a horizontality in his composition, and his Melodia, for Instrumental Ensemble cleverly blended in the well-known Dies Irae theme from Gregorian chant, an effective update on what Rachmaninoff did with Isle of the Dead. While the tonalities would shift ever so slightly, the dynamics bubbled and lept, often in considerable contrast with the stillness of the melody, such that there was.
Arthur Kampela’s Macunaima takes its title from a seminal Brazilian magic-realist novel from the 1920s. To be fair to the composer, it seemed from the point of view of one unfamiliar with the book to be a narrative, and for that matter, it might have been spot-on. But for those in the crowd who hadn’t read it, it sounded – as one cynic put it – “like the four-year-olds in my morning class when you pass out the instruments.” It actually wasn’t that bad, percussive and carnivalesque, but like the kind of carnival that takes place on the far side of a Stop and Shop parking lot in northern New England, where it seems that the carnival guys have left all the best rides back in Massachusetts, and the sounds that make their way across to the folks on the other end aren’t exactly enticing enough to lure the eight-year-olds who make up their target audience. It was impossible to tell whether the ensemble were enjoying themselves or just counting time until the end, which they did perfectly: the composition didn’t afford them the opportunity to do much of anything else.
Don’t just take our word for all this: the entire concert will be rebroadcast in its entirety on q2, WQXR’s contemporary online classical music stream this Sunday, December 27 at 2 PM. And even more auspiciously, CONTACT! continues on April 16 at 8 PM at Symphony Space, Alan Gilbert conducting world premieres by Sean Shepherd, Nico Muhly and Matthias Pintscher.
This absolutely gorgeous album – just out on Mostly Other People Do the Killing’s Hot Cup label – is a lock for one of the best of 2009 in any style of music. It’s marketed as jazz, although it could just as easily be called minimalism or classical. It would make an amazing soundtrack if the label could find a film that deserved it. Baritone sax player Charles Evans uses the entirety of his instrument, not just the low registers. He can make it sing, like Gerry Mulligan, but with more imagination, adding overtones and harmonics and a vibrato that he can slow waaaaaay down to Little Jimmy Scott speed. The most obvious comparison, imaginatively if not exactly stylistically, is genre-defying funkstress and ambient baritone sax composer Paula Henderson. Pianist Neil Shah is a first-rate rock songwriter and barrelhouse player, but what he does here is 180 degrees from that – to say that his playing here is haunting is a considerable understatement. Jazz fans will hear echoes of Keith Jarrett, but his real antecedent is Erik Satie. This album, a suite of six pieces, has Shah laying down a frequently macabre, terse mode that Evans colors with deliberateness and precision; other times it’s Evans who introduces the mood and has Shah embellish it ever so slightly. It’s as poignant as it is hypnotic.
The first two pieces are trio suites of their own, the intial track, Junie, quickly establishing the otherworldly glimmer that will dominate from here on in. Shah expertly works two different palettes, ominous in the left hand, colorful and Romantic in the right, when it comes time for his solo. They take it out with a Messiaenesque warped boogie of sorts, Evans supplying rhythmic accents loaded with implication. The second mini-suite, On Tone Yet, demonstrates the uncanny chemistry between the two musicians: the two play these songs as a truly integral unit, as if a single mind was bringing them to life (or exhuming them – this is dark stuff). Shah’s insistent series of simple chords, switching a single voice among the keys for an effect that goes from subtle to sinister in a split second, veers off into a strikingly cantabile passage and then menacingly back again, is a high point. They float it out with Indian-inflected ambience, sax holding the piano up to keep it from disappearing into the murk.
Mono Monk is the most minimalist song on the album, Evans and Shah emphasizing the space between the notes with as much stern judiciousness as what they play. The lone cover here, Jan Roth’s sarcastically titled An Die Fliegenden Fische (The Flying Fish) is more of a jellyfish, albeit a playful, bluesy one, Evans contributing a pretty, lyrical solo matched by Shah’s Bill Evans-style cascades. The cd wraps up with a nine-minute number with a title that goes on almost as long and fairly neatly sums up the whole set: mournful Satie-esque piano followed by Evans’ most expansive, bluesiest solo of the night; some call-and-response; a pregnant pause, and then sax and piano switch roles.
There are only two drawbacks here. The first is an overabundance of crowd applause after the songs – we’re talking thirty seconds at the end of the cd. That’s Guns & Roses stuff, and while it’s hardly a disaster, it is annoying. It sounds like there were three people in the audience and they’re trying to compensate for it, and they can’t (but what a treat to have been one of those three, in what is obviously a sonically exquisite space!). The other quibble is that, hey, they’re at Saint Stephens: da-da, da da-da-da-da, da-da-DA, da-da-DA, da-DA-da-da-da! Dude, why not do that one? Dollars to donuts these two would do something with it that would make Jerry Garcia proud.
You know a band has to be good if they can keep a smart crowd entertained with a bunch of Christmas songs. Let’s face it – Christmas music sucks, bigtime. Almost as much as Nickelback or Lady Gag. In fact, the only holiday music that’s any good is the non-Western stuff: Diwali, Passover, Ramadan. And of course Halloween. But the Somebodies – with a lot of help from some good friends – had obviously really worked hard on putting together a theme night that in a lesser group’s hands would have been pure schlock.
The band’s sound is concretized sometime in the 80s: their faster stuff has a scurrying new wave beat; the anthems look back to a time before grunge, before hair metal, in fact, when you were supposed to sing them casually, unaffectedly, without any cliches. But they didn’t play any of those. Usually the bass carries the melody, as Graham Maby used to do on Joe Jackson’s early albums. Their three originals in their set list at Lakeside on the sixteenth included a brisk, punchy pop number that would have made a good b-side to What I Like About You, another with a propulsive, melodic reggae bassline that went doublespeed on the chorus, and the last song of the night, where bassist Luke Mitchell got to go deep into his bag of chops for some slinky slides, hammer-ons and fat, boomy chords. And these were all well-received, but it was the holiday stuff that made smiles out of winces.
They started with the Eric Carmen weepie (and Rachmaninoff ripoff) All By Myself, just Mitchell and drummer Phil McDonald who gave it the most deviously deadpan vocal you could want. Then frontman/guitarist Pete Derba joined them for Feliz Navidad, which in his hands was basically the same lyric over and over again. That was mercifully over fast. Dylan Keeler of the Disclaimers took a reluctantly amusing turn as Elvis impersonator on Santa’s Back in Town; later, Derba did Blue Christmas back into deadpan territory with some help from a ringer chorus on backup vocals. Kate Thomason and Naa Koshie Mills – the duo who give the Disclaimers their signature soul sound – did a lighthearted rap number, and later a Christmas soul song from the 60s. For her absolutely sultry cover of Eartha Kitt’s Santa Baby, Mills peeled off her shiny fake fur coat to reveal an equally shiny 60s cocktail dress and then brought down the house.
Keeler and his fellow Disclaimers guitarist Dan Sullivan gave Santa Claus Is Coming to Town a sublimely ridiculous Blues Brothers vibe, Sullivan doing most of the jumping and kicking around in front of the stage: “He knows when you forget the lyrics,” he deadpanned. But the most affecting moment of the night was when Jerome and Susan O’Brien of the Dog Show led the crowd in an acoustic singalong of So This Is Christmas. “War is over, if you want it…” If only this year’s Nobel winner could have been there, he undoubedly would have a good time, notwithstanding this timely reminder of how little has actually changed since that auspicious day in November of last year.
Bay area avant chanteuse Amy X Neuburg’s new album the Secret Life of Subways (picked up by the boundary-busting Starkland label for distribution) is disjointed, it’s rhythmically pretty much impossible to follow and for that matter pretty much impossible to follow at all unless you have headphones on. It’s also funny, and it tells a story. It’s a very ambitious, dizzying ride with a distinctly 80s feel, evocative of the first years when the avant garde was trying on a punk ethos and the line between new wave and experimental got fuzzier and fuzzier. “I’m a Vaseline lens girl,” Neuburg announces, and she’s not kidding. She may sing with a dramatic, operatic delivery but it’s never clear where she’s going – which is part of the fun. Backed by the Cello ChiXtet – Jessica Ivry, Elaine Kreston and Elizabeth Vandervennet – she creates a loosely thematic series of surreal, theatrical, Bowie-esque vignettes and epics, some harsh and aggressive, others ambient and atmospheric to the point of wooziness.The music matches the lyrics, often in an extreme fashion, accentuating the weirdness or unease of the storyline – although just as frequently it can be comedic.
“I can’t spill this one because everybody would drown,” Neuburg states emphatically as the story begins, alternately ambient and insistently staccato. “Do not lean on the doors or you might lose your focus,” which more than telegraphs the plot, if you’re paying attention. “Too many brokers in here, too many deals on the line.” The cellos grow menacing, and Neuburg hits her octave pedal for a horror movie effect.
“Everyone knows that beautiful is the opposite of smart,” she rails cynically as the strings rise to meet her on the third track, the understatedly titled, Kate Bush-inflected Difficult. The story continues with the apprehensively scurrying, disassociative Someone Else’s Sleep and then follows a crescendo to a catchy, somewhat haunting circular theme on The Gooseneck, a series of cynical stream-of-consciousness observations on conspicuous consumption. She hits a stunning faux-Broadway vocal coda on This Loud, brings things down for the baroque-themed Be Careful and then carefully enunciates the menace and exasperation of Body Parts, a requiem that works on several levels. The somewhat self-explanatory Dada Exhibit is actually more coherent than it would seem, a study in sudden rhythmic shifts with a vividly cinematic string interlude and a funny pun at the end. The cd closes with its centerpiece, Shrapnel, a deliberately out-of-focus eulogy for a dead relationship floating on layers of vocals and an eerie choir of processed, disembodied voices at the end. There’s a sort of bonus track here, an imaginative, absolutely spot-on cover of Back in NYC by Genesis which while it resembles Rasputina far more than Peter Gabriel, maintains and even heightens the nonplussed, confrontational vibe of the original. It’s an apt choice, because fans of prime-era art-rock like The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway ought to go for this album as much as the Bang on a Can crowd will. Watch this space for NYC dates.