This isn’t the newest live music calendar here – there’s a new one for January and February 2011 here. A few things you should know about this calendar: acts are listed here in order of appearance, NOT headliner first and supporting acts after; showtimes listed here are actual set times, not the time doors open. If a listing here says something like ”9 PM-ish,” chances are it’ll run late. Cover charges are those listed on bands’ and venues’ sites: always best to click on the band link provided or go to the venues page for confirmation since we get much of this info weeks in advance. As always, weekly events first followed by the daily listings:
Sundays there’s a klezmer brunch at City Winery, show starts around 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 12/5 and 12/12, then resuming 1/23 through May of 2011, the series of free organ concerts at 5:15 PM continues most every week (holidays excepted) at St. Thomas Church, 53rd St. and 5th Ave.
Stephane Wrembel plays Sundays at Barbes at 9. He’s something of an institution here, plan on arriving EARLY, 45 minutes early isn’t too soon since the whole bar gets packed fast. 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 Choi Fairbanks String Quartet play a wide repertoire of chamber music from Bach to Shostakovich starting at 7.
Sundays in January the Arturo O’Farrill Jazz Orchestra at Birdland, 9/11 PM, $30.
Mondays starting a little after 7 PM Howard Williams leads his Jazz Orchestra from the piano at the Garage, 99 7th Ave. S at Grove St. There are also big bands here most every Tuesday 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 in January the Williamsburg Salsa Orchestra plays the Brooklyn Bowl at 6 (six) PM, free
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 at Tea Lounge in Park Slope at 9 PM trombonist/composer JC Sanford books big band jazz, an exciting, global mix of some of the edgiest large-ensemble sounds around. If you’re anybody in the world of big band jazz and you make it to New York, you end up playing here: what CBGB was to punk, this unlikely spot promises to be to the jazz world. No cover.
Also Mondays in November 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 slinky but boisterous rhythm section, their mix of obscure classics and originals is one of the funnest, most danceable things you’ll witness this year.
Also Mondays in December 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 songs and is one of the most charismatic, intense live performers of our time. It’s a crazy dance party til past three in the morning. Paula Henderson from Burnt Sugar is the lead soloist on baritone sax, with Dave Smith from Smoota and the Fela pit band on trombone, with frequent special guests.
Resuming in January, the second and fourth Tuesday of the month there are free organ concerts at half past noon at Central Synagogue, 652 Lexington Ave @ 55th St. curated by celebrated organ adventurer Gail Archer, a global mix of veteran and up-and-coming talent.
Tuesdays in December Balkan brass maniacs Slavic Soul Party play Barbes at 9. Get here as soon as you can as they’re very popular.
Tuesdays Julia Haltigan plays 11th St. Bar at 10 “for the rest of her life.” A nuanced, cleverly lyrical country/Americana chanteuse with a terrific band behind her and a growing catalog of first-class original songs. See her now before it costs you big bucks at the Beacon.
Tuesday nights at 10, Marc Ribot has taken on booking a weekly show at Watty & Meg, 248 Court St. in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn: two guitarists each week, each playing solo, then trading songs, ideas, conversations, possibly jamming, $15 cover includes a drink. Some fascinating bills coming up: 1/4 Sebastian Cruz and Alex Simon; 1/11 Steve Cardenas and Smokey Hormel; 1/18 Elliott Sharp and that grotesquely self-indulgent metal chick; 1/25 oud genius Brahim Fribgane and also Ben Tyree.
Tuesdays 12/7 and 12/14, 10 PM Palomar plays Rock Shop in Gowanus, $10. Tuneful female-fronted powerpop/jangle band who were one of the 90s/early zeros best indie label groups. For a band that doesn’t draw on a trendoid crowd (who don’t have to work for a living and can go out any night they want), a Tuesday residency in a distant part of town like this is tough, plus every show here is a benefit for a cause. Get out and support if you like these folks.
Tuesdays in January the Dred Scott Trio play astonishingly smart, dark piano jazz at the smaller room at the Rockwood at midnight.
Tuesdays in January electric blues vet Johnny Winter plays B.B. King’s at 8 PM.
Wednesdays in January at 10 Marc Ribot plays le Poisson Rouge – opening with a solo set, followed by sets with La Cumbiamba eNeYe and Cotito (1/5), bassist Henry Grimes (1/12), Young Philadelphians playing warped Philly soul (1/19) and Ribot’s Ceramic Dog power trio (1/26)
Wednesdays at 9 PM Feral Foster’s Roots & Ruckus takes over the Jalopy, a reliably excellent weekly mix of oldtimey acts: blues, bluegrass, country and swing.
Every Thursday the Michael Arenella Quartet play 1920s hot jazz 8-11 PM at Nios, 130 W 46th St.
Thursdays in January raucous Indian brass band Red Baraat is at Barbes, 10 PM
Fridays at Mehanata it’s Bulgarian sax powerhouse Yuri Yukanov and the Grand Masters of Gypsy Music, 10 PM, $10.
Fridays in January at midnight Streams of Whiskey play Pogues covers at Arlene’s
12/1, 4 PM at Galapagos composer Lisa Bielawa celebrates the releases of two new albums – Chance Encounter and In medias res. “The performance will feature music from both albums including selections from Bielawa’s Double Violin Concerto for violinist/vocalist Carla Kihlstedt and violinist Colin Jacobsen and from Chance Encounter for soprano Susan Narucki and the Knights, as well as Bielawa’s Synopses solo pieces for Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) members pianist Sarah Bob, percussionist Robert Schulz, and harpist Ina Zdorovetchi.” $15
12/1, 8 PM conscious hip-hop with the Peace Poets and Genesis Be, then intense hypnotic Iranian/American psychedelic rockers Haale and the Mast and then literate, politically aware songwriter Stephan Said at Drom, $15
12/1, 8 PM at Issue Project Room, legendary avant-garde composer Luciano Berio’s complete Sequenzas performed by Claire Chase (flute), Shelley Burgon (harp), Daisy Press (voice), Stephen Gosling (piano), Chris McIntyre (trombone) John Pickford Richards (viola), James Austin Smith (oboe), Jennifer Choi (violin), Joshua Rubin (clarinet), and Gareth Flowers (trumpet).
12/1, 8 PM saxophonist Erik Lawrence’s Honey Ear Trio at Barbes
12/2, 2 PM, cellist Friedrich Kleinhapl plays Zemlinsky, Schittke, Beethoven, Gulda and Rachmaninoff at Town Hall, $12.
12/2, 6 PM the legendarily clever Spinal Tap of jazz, the Microscopic Septet at Birdland playing selections from their brand-new cd Friday the 13th: The Micros Play Monk, $20
12/2 Mr. Ho’s Vibraphone quartet (vibraphonist Mr. Ho (Brian O’Neill) Geni Skendo on bass flute/woodwinds, Noriko Terada on percussion, and Jason Davis on acoustic bass) plays Esquivel rarities at Caffe Vivaldi, 7 PM.
12/2-5, jazzy tango nuevo with the Pablo Ziegler Quartet: Pablo Ziegler – piano; Claudio Ragazzi – guitar; Hector Del Curto – bandeon; Pedro Giraudo – bass plus Prometheus Jenkins (12/2-3( and Regina Carter (12/4-5), 7:30/9:30 PM at the Jazz Standard, $30.
12/2, 8 PM the Spokes, who “may be the most portable group in jazz” at Barbes: Andy Biskin: clarinet; Phillip Johnston: soprano saxophone; Curt Hasselbring: trombone
12/2, 8 PM bluegrass with the Union St. Preservation Society at the National Underground.
12/2, 8:30 PM wry, clever Canadian bluegrass/Americana songwriter Luther Wright & the Wrongs at Hill Country
12/2 check this out for a bizarrely good doublebill: Williamsburg jazz legends the Old Rugged Sauce open for Geen Ween’s acoustic show at the Knitting Factory, 9 PM, $25.
12/2, 9 PM haunting, hypnotic Middle Eastern chamber rock group Pharaoh’s Daughter at the 92YTribeca, $15 adv tix rec
12/2 fiery improvisational rock siren Katie Elevitch’s birthday show at Banjo Jim’s 10 PM.
12/2 danceable Brazilian/C&W/New Orleans band Nation Beat at Rodeo Bar, 10:30 PM.
12/3 Lenny Kaye plays Banjo Jim’s, 7 PM. What can you say about the guy: he’s Patti Smith’s lead guitarist, invented noiserock guitar pretty much singlehandedly, and also happens to be one of the great powerpop songwriters. And is a wryly charismatic performer. Only in New York…
12/3, 7 PM Peter Hook of Joy Division plays Unknown Pleasures with his band the Lights at the big room at Webster Hall. Joy Div it’s not – but if you’re a rabid fan, there are $26.50 adv tix available at the Irving Plaza box office.
12/3, 7:30 PM pianist Tatyana Sirota plays Beethoven and Schubert at the Third St. Music School Settlement auditorium, free.
12/3, 7:30 PM singer Lainie Fefferman’s Quartet “Phthia” – a quirky acoustic ensemble of all-star players (Sara Budde on clarinets; James Moore on banjo, guitar, and mandolin; and Missy Mazzoli on melodica) plus ubiquitously good avant clarinetist/reedman Ken Thomson and Slow Fast celebrate the release of their new CD It Would Be Easier If at the First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn, 124 Henry St., downtown Brooklyn, $10.
12/3 at BB King’s, 8 PM: George Clinton & the P-Funk Allstars
12/3 terse expat Chicago blues guitarist Irving Louis Lattin at Lucille’s, 8 PM.
12/3, 8 PM the Particle Ensemble – Thomas Buckner (baritone), Earl Howard (electronics and saxophones), Mari Kimura (violin and electronics), and J.D. Parran (winds) play premieres by the group members at Greenwich House Music School, 46 Barrow Street (between Bedford St. & 7th Ave. S), $15/$10 stud/srs.
12/3, Andy Laster’s Yiash play arrangements of early 20th-Century Egyptian pop by Jewish composers Zaki Murad and Dawud Husni, among others, followed by the world premiere of Laster’s new string trio plus works for string quartet and quintet, 8:30 PM at Roulette.
12/3, 8:30 PM literate indie rock songwriter Richard Buckner at the Mercury, $12 adv tix. rec.
12/3 soul, funk and Ethiopian-tinged instrumental grooves with the Budos Band at Bowery Ballroom, 9 PM, $15.
12/3, 10 PM haunting 1950s/60s style Mexican/Pan-American harmony band las Rubias del Norte at Barbes – their new album Ziguala is a strong contender for best of 2010.
12/3 clever, wry Americana tunesmith Luther Wright & the Wrongs at Rodeo Bar 10:30 PM
12/3-4, 11:30 PM lyrical soul bandleader Chocolate Genius at Joe’s Pub, $TBA.
12/4, 7 PM noir garage rocker Lorraine Leckie solo acoustic at Banjo Jim’s: “Lets get drunk after cause Christmas is coming and thats always a horror show!!!!”
12/4, 7:30 PM ageless, hypnotic, swirling psychedelic punk pioneers Band of Outsidersat Bowery Electric, $10
12/4 haunting, ornate, majestic, lyrically brilliant art-rockers the Snow at 8 PM at Pete’s.
12/4, 8 PM sharp at Barbes – a screening of the new documentary Soul Power, about the legendary 1974 soul concert in Kinshasa, Zaire featuring James Brown, Bill Withers, Celia Cruz, Yomo Toro, Franco, Rochereau, the Spinners, Miriam Makeba.
12/4, 8/9:30 PM klezmer brass with Frank London’s All Star Jew Review at Drom, adv tix $10 highly rec
12/4, 8 PM fiery, smart Chicago style electric blues guitarist Bobby Radcliff at Terra Blues
12/4, 8 PM at the Greene Space pianist Fei-Fei Dong and author Gish Jen collaborate on a Global Piano and Literary Salon: All Along the Silk Road, includes a drink (they have good wine here!),
12/4, 8 PM, Beefstock comes to Bay Ridge at 3 Jolly Pigeons, 6802 3rd Ave. for jamband drum legend Joe Filosa’s bday bash feat. Beefheart cover band Shmeefbrain, plus retro soul crew the Nopar King, spectacular all-female noise-punk trio Out of Order, punk/metal monsters Black Death and others.
12/4, 8 PM, Luther Wright & the Wrongs – the clever Canadian acoustic Americana songwriter responsible for the bluegrass version of Pink Floyd’s The Wall – at 68 Jay St. Bar.
12/4, 8 PM the Brentano Quartet plays Schumann: Quartet in F Major, Op. 41, No. 2; Berg: Quartet, Op. 3; Beethoven: Quartet in E flat Major, Op. 127 at Washington Irving HS Auditorium, $12.
12/4, 8 PM a choreographed baroque/contemporary concert by Anthony Roth Costanzo, countertenor, with Joelle Harvey, soprano and the Second Instrumental Unit, that “explores human expression as conceived in baroque terms. Incorporating music, dance, and spoken text, the evening touches upon three questions: How can we communicate our deepest hollows? How can we start a conversation between the internal and the external? How can we make pain beautiful?” Yikes! $20 at Abigail Adams Smith Auditorium, 417 E 61st St. between York and First Ave.
12/4, 9 PM George Ziadeh – vocals and oud with Tareq Abboushi – buzuq; Amir ElSaffar – santoor and trumpet; Zafer Tawil – violin and percussion at Alwan for the Arts, $15, playing classic Egyptian repertoire including Oum Kaltsoum classics.
12/4, 9 PM smartly aware, funny hardcore punk and hip-hop with Prayers for Atheists at Bowery Poetry Club, $7
12/4 Unsteady Freddie’s monthly surf rock show returns triumphantly to the now-reopened Otto’s; show starts at 9 with Preston Wayne, the Surfalicious Dudes at 10, the North Shore Troubadours at 11 and Thee Icepicks at midnight.
12/4, 9 PM the hilarious, theatrical oldtimey Ukuladies’ cd release show at the Jalopy, $10.
12/4 at 9/10:30 PM and repeating on 12/5 at 8:30 PM the Joel Harrison Septet:Joel Harrison, guitar; Zach Brock, violin; Donny McCaslin, saxophones; Dana Leong, cello; Gary Versace, piano; Stephan Crump, bass; Clarence Penn, drums at the Cornelia St. Café
12/4 ska sax legend Dave Hillyard’s Rocksteady 7 at Two Boots Brooklyn, 10 PM.
12/4 ferocious, intense Radio Birdman style garage punk band the Mess Around at Trash, 11 PM
12/4, 11ish oldschool 70s style soul/funk with JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound at Public Assembly.
12/4, 11 PM Antibalas take a break from being the Fela pit band with a gig at le Poisson Rouge
12/5, 2 (two) PM klezmer violin titan the Alicia Svigals Trio at Flushing Town Hall, $16.
12/5, 4:30 PM the Chiara String Quartet plays Gorecki’s String Quartet No. 2 and Huang Ruo’s Calligraffiti (World Premiere) at Galapagos, $15. It’s the second in the ongoing series of Creator/Curator concerts where the Chiaras play a new commission plus other material chosen by the composer.
12/5, 8 PM the gorgeous retro country harmonies of the Sweetback Sisters at the Jalopy, $10
12/5, 8 PM violist Lars Anders Tomter with pianist Nelson Padgett playing Schubert, Britten, Grieg plus the US premiere of Ragnar Söderlind’s Friesiche Landschaft at Church of Christ and St. Stephen’s, 120 W 69th St. (Columbus/Broadway), $15/$10 srs/$5 stud.
12/5 Streams of Whiskey play Pogues classics at 9 followed by Pork Chop Willie’s Mississippi hill country blues at 10 at Spike Hill.
12/5, 10 PM lyrical powerpop monsters John-Severin & the Quiet 1s (who are not so quiet) at Trash.
12/6, 8 PM the Sara Serpa 4tet – this one’s a guitar jazz unit led by the intense, poignant third-stream jazz chanteuse – followed by bass genius Felice Rosser’s timeless, timely funk band Faith at 9ish at Local 269
12/6, 8:30 PM intense, haunting, soaring Americana chanteuse/songwriter Jan Bell at Rock Shop in Gowanus, $10
12/6, 9 PM captivating, hypnotically lyrical noir rocker Alice Texas, Avondale Airforce (Peter Aaron from the Crome Cranks with Stanton Warren) at 10 and then ferociously charismatic siren Vera Beren’s Gothic Chamber Blues Ensemble at 11 at Small Beast at the Delancey.
12/6, 9 PM big band jazz with Joshua Shneider EasyBake Orchestra at Tea Lounge in Park Slope, free
12/6 Ted Leo Pharmacists at 9 followed by the New Pornographers at Terminal 5, all ages, $30 adv tix rec.
12/7, 7 PM jazz/Americana violin multistylist Jenny Scheinman at Barbes
12/7 star reedman Doug Wieselman plays solo at 8 followed at 10 by his Trio S with Jane Scarpantoni on cello and Kenny Wollesen on drums at the Stone, $10.
12/7 catchy latin-tinged Americana rock with the Porchistas at Arlene’s, 11 PM
12/8, 6 PM highly regarded Latvian pianist Vestard Shimkus plays Beethoven, Chopin, Soler and Gershwin at the Yamaha Piano Salon, $TBA.
12/8, 7 PM the Arcos Orchestra play G. F. Handel – Judas Maccabaeus Overture; Samuel Adler – Concertino No 3; Dimitri Terzakis – Nymphs of Night and Fire (world première) and Béla Bartók – Divertimento, free at Temple Emmanu-El, Fifth Ave/65th St.
12/8 a first-rate pop/soul triplebill: multi-instrumentalist/soul singer Don Piper, British expat art-rocker Edward Rogers – who really nails the 70s Birmingham sound – and then sometimes soaring, sometimes haunting, multistylistic Americana/pop siren Maura Kennedy at Bowery Electric, $10
12/8, 8 PM los Crema Paraiso play funky Venezuelan psychedelic grooves at Shrine.
12/8-9, 9 PM witty oldschool country followed by one of the more popular alt-country bands of the 90s: Hayes Carll followed by the Old 97s at Bowery Ballroom (SOLD OUT), $25. Tix still available for the 12/10 show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg for the same price.
12/8 hilarious period-perfect early 50s hillbilly rock satirists Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co at Rodeo Bar, 10:30 PM
12/9, 7:30 PM, ISSA Sonus Ensemble incl. Laura Falzon (flute); Emily Ondracek (violin); Erik Peterson (viola) and Adrian Daurov (cello), perform the New York premiere of Munir Beken’s A Turk in Seattle and other works by NY women composers at Symphony Space, $15 adv tix rec.
12/9 this month’s Hipster Demolition Night at Public Assembly – NYC’s most consistently entertaining monthly rock show – starts at 8 with the garage rocking Demands, jangly Byrdsophiles Jay Banerjee & the Heartthrobs, psychedelic rockers Whooping Crane and oldschool soul stylists the Solid Set.
12/9, 8 PM lyrical, tuneful, Aimee Mann-inflected songwriter Andrea Wittgens at Caffe Vivaldi
12/9, 8 PM the Weal and Woe: “vintage country, gospel classics and close harmony” at Barbes followed at 10 by Nashville piano/guitar legend Greg Garing.
12/9, 9 PM intense, chromatically charged Veveritse Brass Band’s cd release show at the Jalopy, $10
12/9, 10 PM Steven Bernstein’s Millenial Territory Orchestra at 55 Bar
12/10, 7 PM captivating noir rocker Peg Simone at Bowery Poetry Club.
12/10 Tommy Ramone’s Americana duo Uncle Monk at 7 PM at Banjo Jim’s followed eventually by the Big Star style sounds of the Nu-Sonics at 9.
12/10, 8 PM, free, the NYU Repertory Orchestra and cellist Eric Jacobsen of Brooklyn Rider perform a new “expanded arrangement” of Ljova Zhurbin’s Garmoshka as well as music by Chopin, Phillip Glass and Schubert at the NYU space at 35 W. 4th St., early arrival advised.
12/10, 8ish a heavenly noiserock night with the Sediment Club, Nice Face at 9ish, K-Holes at 10ish and Woman – whose screaming noir blues/noise album from last year was one of our favorites – headlining at 11 or so at Death by Audio.
12/10, 8 PM House of Stride with Allison Leyton-Brown – piano; Russ Meissner – drums; Jim Whitney – upright bass and special guest Daria Grace at Barbes followed at 10 by Red Baraat and their Indian brass band madness.
12/10, 8 PM the Chelsea Symphony play Dai: The Night Before Christmas; Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 5 at St. Paul’s Church, 315 W 22nd St., $20 sugg don.
12/10, 8 PM Latin-Jazz Coalition Big Band led by Demetrios Kastaris performs with special guest, trombonist, Steve Turre; bouzouki player Theofilos Katechis plays folkloric Greek music with jazz trumpeter Yiannis Economides. Making their debut, Conjunto Kathari plays gospel salsa with four trombones at Flushing Town Hall, $15.
12/10, 9 PM anthemic, ridiculously catchy, smartly lyrical highway rock band Wormburner at the Mercury, $12 adv tix rec. If Springsteen still wrote good songs he’d sound like these guys.
12/10 9 PM smart, lyrical, eclectic, artsy Canadian pianist/songstress Ashley McNeaney at Tea Lounge in Park Slope
12/10 sly banjo-driven acoustic Americana jam band Tall Tall Trees followed by the funky Brooklyn Qawwali Party and then the eclectically danceable Brazilian/C&W/New Orleans sounds of Nation Beat at Littlefield, 9 PM, $10 adv tix rec.
12/10, 10 PM smart eclectic Americana chanteuse Julia Haltigan at the small room at the Rockwood.
12/10 raucous, virtuosic barrelhouse blues with the 4th St. Nite Owls at Two Boots Brooklyn, 10 PM.
12/10 innovative yet retro latin soul revivalists Spanglish Fly at Rose Bar in Williamsburg, 10 PM
12/10, midnight, hilarious heavy metal spoof Mighty High at Cake Shop
12/11 hypnotic, tuneful, torchily captivating indie pop/downtempo trio Mattison play their 7″ release show at Cake Shop
12/11, 8 PM the Microscopic Septet at the Gershwin Hotel, playing “at least two sets” of selections from their brand-new cd Friday the 13th: The Micros Play Monk, $25
12/11, 8 PM Nellie McKay playing stuff from her new one Home Sweet Mobile Home at Highline Ballroom, $20 adv tix rec.
12/11 klezmer/bluegrass titan Andy Statman at Barbes, 8 PM, $10.
12/11, 9 PM, Abdel Rahim Boutat on the Algerian loutar plus Ahmed Sahel and Adel Bror on the bandir playing hypnotic, haunting sounds at Alwan for the Arts, $15
12/11 dark low-key Americana-tinged rock with Mad Juana at Bowery Electric, 10 PM
12/11, 10 PM scorchingly noisy, distantly Balkan tinged avant jazz/rock with Ben Syversen’s Cracked Vessel at Freedom Garden, 294 Troutman St, Bushwick.
12/11 punk/rockabilly/surf guitar genius Simon & the Bar Sinisters at Lakeside, 10:15ish
12/11, 11 PM art-rock songwriter Christina Courtin at the big room at the Rockwood.
12/12, 7 PM the Enso String Quartet at Barbes followed at 9 by gypsy guitar powerhouse Stephane Wrembel
12/12, 8 PM BedStuy Ewe play Afrobeat at Shrine.
12/12 darkly torchy Americana rock siren Essie Jain at Glasslands, 11ish.
12/12, 11:30 PM artsy noir rock legends Elysian Fields at Joe’s Pub.
12/13, 7 PM new music guitar styles Gyan Riley at Barbes followed at 9:30 by the incomparably fun 70s Peruvian style chicha/surf band Chicha Libre
12/13, 7:30 PM the Sospiro Winds plus violinist Miranda Cuckson and pianist Aaron Wunsch, playing music of Gyorgi Ligeti at Advent Church, 93rd and Broadway, 7:30 PM, free.
12/13, 7 PM at Galapagos the American Modern Ensemble presents “an evening of sextets by eight of America’s most talented composers under 40″ incl. A Matter of Truth by New York’s own Hannah Lash, OK Feel Good by Jonathan Newman and Robert Paterson’s Sextet, inspired by criminals on Route 66 as well as Action Figure by Washington DC based composer Armando Bayolo and Haiku Catharsis by Philadelphia composer David Ludwig, as well as Chris Chandler’s the resonance after…, the winning work of AME’s Fifth Annual Composition Competition. All of the composers will be in the audience, $20
12/13, 8ish at the Knit, hilarious, politically incorrect X-rated faux girl-group punks Cudzoo & the Fagettes,$10.
12/13 the JC Sanford Orchestra play Tea Lounge in Park Slope, 9 PM. Their show here a couple of months ago was off the hook – if modern big band jazz is your thing this is a must-see and it’s free.
12/14 Abjeez play Persian rock and ska at Drom, 9 PM, $15 adv tix rec.
12/14, 9 PM alt-country husband-and-wife duo Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis at Bowery Ballroom, $25.
12/14 Miss Tess & the Bon Ton Parade play torchy swing jazz and countrypolitan songs at Rodeo Bar, 10:30 PM
12/15 cruel choice at 7 PM at the Rockwood: intense lyrical rocker Matt Keating in the small room or haunting Middle Eastern tinged art-rock trio Deoro feat. chanteuse Dina Fanai in the big one? Maybe shuttle between rooms?
12/15, 9:30 PM at the Tank: Dialogues of Silence by Sabrina Lastman, Armored Old Banger by Marcos Wasem & Out of the Word, into the Sound by Ernesto Estrella Cózar: existentialist multiamedia poetry; poems based on excerpts taken from interviews to Israeli soldiers on duty in checkpoints in the occupied territories during the 02-03 intifada and sonically reprocessed poems from the Hispanic tradition, $10.
12/15 soul/funk night at Drom with Maya Azucena, Soul Cycle and keyboardist Chris Rob, $12 adv tix rec.
12/16, 1 PM pianist Akimi Fukuhara plays a free lunchtime show at Trinity Church.
12/16-19, 7ish PM at Cafe Orwell (247 Varet St. between Bogart and White in Bushwick, L to Morgan Ave.) adventurous cellist/composer Valerie Kuehne hosts the first annual Super Coda Festival , which is sort of Small Beast for adventurous avant garde, jazz and uncategorizable stuff, with all sorts of unexpected collisions between genres. The entire lineup is here.
12/16, 7 PM Eugene Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble play latinized versions of Hanukah classics at Baruch Performing Arts Center (BPAC) Engelman Recital Hall, Baruch College, 55 Lexington Ave., $15/$10 stud.
12/16, singer-songwriter Rebecca Martin airs out her jazz book with Bill McHenry on tenor sax and Larry Grenadier on bass, 7:30/9:30 PM at the Jazz Standard, $20.
12/16, 7:30 PM growling Link Wray-inspired instrumental rockers the Howlin Thurstons at the National Underground downstairs, $TBA
12/16-17, 8 PM and repeating on 12/18 at 2 PM and 8 PM, the Paul Winter Consort plays their annual solstice shows at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine with Armenian vocalist Arto Tunçboyaciyan, gospel singer Theresa Thomason and the Forces of Nature Dance Theatre, who lit up the show last year. The Consort includes Paul Winter, soprano sax, double-reed master Paul McCandless, Eugene Friesen on cello, keyboardist Paul Sullivan, percussionists Jamey Haddad and Bill Cahn and Tim Brumfield on the Cathedral’s pipe organ. $35 tix avail.
12/16-18, 7:30 PM and repeating 12/19 at 3 PM, Craig Harris’ God’s Trombones – a musical interpretation of James Weldon Johnson’s 1927 collection of poems – at Aaron Davis Hall uptown, $35 adv tix highly rec.
12/16, 8:30 PM Balthrop Alabama play a Xmas show at the Atrium at Lincoln Center, free, get there at least a half hour early or get shut out. Just letting you know a little ahead of time.
12/16 Brubeck-esque jazz composer and pianist Fahir Atakoglu at Drom, 9 PM, $25 adv tix rec
12/16, 9/10:30 PM the Alan Ferber Nonet with Strings at the Jazz Gallery, $20.
12/16, 10 PM jazz/Americana guitarist/banjoist Matt Munisteri at Barbes
12/16, 10:30 PM AwShockKiss at the Mercury, $10. Retro 80s anthemic pop in the best possible retro way – good tunes, catchy choruses, a soulful, fiery frontwoman in Kiri Jewell and smart songwriting by multi-instrumentalist Stef Bassett. Last spring they played one of the best shows we’ve seen this year.
12/17 the NY Phil’s popular avant garde series Contact at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 7 PM and repeating on 12/18, 8 PM at Symphony Space featuring the world premieres of James Matheson’s True South and Jay Alan Yim’s neverthesamerivertwice conducted by Alan Gilbert Also on the program: Julian Anderson’s Comedy of Change (U.S. premiere).
12/17, 7:30 PM Erin & Her Cello’s full-band “holiday spectacular” at the big room at the Rockwood.
12/17 the amazingly psychedelic Electric Junklyard Gamelan with their hypnotic beats and homemade instruments at Barbes 8 PM followed at 10 by the carnivalesque hot 20s jazz sounds of Brian Carpenter’s Ghost Train Orchestra.
12/17 fiery, dark female-fronted powerpop/new wave stars the New Collisions at Crash Mansion time TBA
12/17, 9 PM Pierre de Gaillande’s Bad Reputation plays his incredibly clever English translations of Georges Brassens songs feat. special guests Joel Favreau (Brassens’ lead guitarist), and Jean Jacques Franchin at the 92YTribeca, $15.
12/17-18, 9/10:30 PM jazz guitarist Rez Abbasi’s Invocation: Vijay Iyer, piano; Rudresh Mahanthappa, alto saxophone; Johannes Weidenmueller, bass; Dan Weiss, drums at the Cornelia St. Café, $15
12/17, Causing A Tiger: Carla Kihlstedt (violin, vocals) Matthias Bossi (drums, piano, vocals) Shahzad Ismaily (electric bass) 10 PM at the Stone, $10.
12/17 the Boss Guitars play surf classics and obscurities at Lakeside, 11 PM
12/18 this year’s New York area Unsilent Night procession takes place on December 18, leaving at 7 PM at the arch at Washington Square Park and marching to Tompkins Square Park. Arrival by about 6:40 PM is advised.
12/18 at Trash hilarious, ferocious anti-gentrification rockers the Brooklyn What’s monthly kick-ass rock night starting at 8 with by power trio New Atlantic Youth, the Proud Humans (ex-Warm Hats), the Highway Gimps (the missing link between My Bloody Valentine and Motorhead), the Brooklyn What, postpunk rockers Mussles and finally the new Pistols 40 Paces at midnight. Open bar on PBR/wells from 8-9. What a great night.
12/18, 8 PM the ferociously funny, politically charged all-star Citizens Band at Highline Ballroom, $35.
12/18, 8 PM legendary third-wave ska/soul band the Slackers at Brooklyn Bowl, $12 tix rec.
12/18, 8 PM the NY Philharmonic’s exciting cutting-edge new music series Contact at Symphony Space, $21.
12/18, 8 PM and repeating 12/19, 3 PM Trio Vela play Mozart, Tschaikovsky and Rachmaninoff’s legendary Trio Elegiaque at Bargemusic, $35, $30 srs./$15 stud.
12/18, 9 PM jazz with Scott DuBois – guitar; Jon Irabagon – tenor and soprano saxophones; Pascal Niggenkemper – bass; Jeff Davis – drums at Tea Lounge in Park Slope
12/18, 10 PM Roots Vibration play roots reggae at Shrine.
12/18 the hellraising Jack Grace Band play classic 60s style country from their excellent new album Drinking Songs for Lovers at Rodeo Bar, 10:30 PM.
12/18 smart, funny, X-ish Americana punk rockers Spanking Charlene at Lakeside, 11 PM
12/18, midnight, lyrical Americana rocker Derek James and band at the big room at the Rockwood. His first album was excellent. His second one was beautifully produced but not so good. Worth seeing what he’s up to now.
12/19, 3 PM the Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra plays Saint-Saens: La Muse et Le Poete with Judy Spokes, violin and David Cho, cello followed by Dvorak: Symphony #6 at St. Ann’s Church in downtown Brooklyn.
12/19, 7:30 PM Gamelan Dharma Swara play their annual holiday concert, this time at le Poisson Rouge, featuring music from their new double live cd of this year’s Bali concert tour/competition. The program will include “‘a performance of Kebyar Legong, the famously challenging 30 minute dance work of the virtuosic kebyar repertoire, the first time the complete work, composed in the 1920s by I Wayan Wendres, will be performed outside of Bali’” $15 adv tix highly rec., this will sell out.
12/19, 7:30 PM Aszure Barton’s Busk dance performance with live music by eclectic Russian/tango/worldbeat string band Ljova and the Kontraband at the Baryshnikov Arts Ctr., 450 W. 37th St., $25 adv tix gone – the 12/18 3 PM show is the only one left.
12/19, 8 PM dreampop with Su (ex-Susu), assaultive free jazz with Talibam and then legendary psychedelic/noir rocker Martin Bisi with his old pal Bill Laswell at the Knit, $8 dirt cheap.
12/19, 8 PM L’il Mo Passin’s monthly acoustic shindig is a doozy this time out with Elena Skye & Boo Reiners of Demolition String Band plus another pretty smoking guitarist, bluesman Bobby Radcliff at Banjo Jim’s
12/20 the Alan Ferber Big Band at Tea Lounge in Park Slope, 9 PM.
12/21, 9 PM charming, virtuosic oldtimey swing/blues band Lake Street Dive at the small room of the Rockwood followed by torchy chanteuse Marilyn Carino and bassist Ben Rubin of Mudville – who sound like Goldfrapp but better – at 11.
12/21, 9 PM Americana pop/rocker Craig Chesler, Bliss Blood’s barrelhouse blues project Delta Dreambox at 10 and then boisterious oldtimey trombonist J. Walter Hawkes at the Jalopy, $5
12/22, 9 PM intense, unpredictable Balkan party band Raya Brass Band at Radegast Hall.
12/22, 9:30 PM trombonist Alan Ferber leads his tuneful, cutting-edge Nonet at Smalls
12/23 lush, romantic, innuendo-driven French chanson revivalists les Chauds Lapins at Barbes at 8.
12/23 a rare reunion show by one of the best bands ever to come out of NYC, the Hangdogs – the missing link between Waylon Jennings and the Dead Kennedys – at Rodeo Bar, 10:30 PM
12/24 Bill Ware – the noir genius from the Jazz Passengers – leads his vibraphone combo at Puppets Jazz Bar, 9 PM.
12/24 eclectic world music/Middle Eastern/rock guitarist Demir Demirkan at Drom, 10 PM, $25 adv tix rec.
12/25, 8:30 PM at the Sixth St. Synagogue the unstoppable big-band golem Ayn Sof Arkestra & Bigger Band, trumpet star Frank London’s Hasidic New Wave, the klezmer/bop synthesis of Paul Shapiro’s Midnight Minyan, ancient/modern Jewish power trio Rashanim with Jon Madof on guitar, Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz on bass and Mathias Kunzli on drums, and Pitom, guitarist and composer Yoshie Fruchter’s Jewish jazz-punk-country-metal hybrid. Acts will probably perform in reverse order. $20 adv tix very highly rec.
12/26 kick-ass intelligent hip-hop with Strong Arm Steady, Jean Grae and Talib Kweli plus special guests at Highline Ballroom, 10PM, adv tix $22 very highly rec.
12/26, 10:30 PM colorful, phantasmagorical metal satirists Gwar at the Nokia Theatre, $22.50.
Until we get dug out of the snow, don’t expect trains to be running (afternoon of 12/27, still no trains in Brooklyn and North Bronx); check our venues page for updated club info.
12/27 Daria Grace’s charming obscure swing revivalists the Pre-War Ponies at Rodeo Bar, 10:30 PM
12/28-30 the Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio at the Jazz Standard 7:30/9:30 PM $30 ($35 on 12/30); 1/2 he’s playing a new trio show with Neel Murgai on sitar and Sameer Gupta on tabla.
12/28, 9:30 PM the John Farnsworth Quartet with Jeremy Pelt: John Farnsworth – tenor sax , Jeremy Pelt – trumpet , Lucas Brown – organ , Peppe Merolla – drums at Smalls
12/28-30 the annual rent party at the Stone. A cynic would say this is a lot of usual suspects – but it’s a hell of a cast of suspects! Ned Rothenberg, Sylvie Courvoisier, Dave Douglas, Peter Evans, Erik Friedlander, Brandon Ross, Zeena Parkins, etc., and John Zorn leading the jams. $20, sets at 8/10 PM, check the club calendar for the various nights’ lineups.
12/30, 8 PM period-perfect pre-rockabilly parodists Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co. return to Otto’s
12/30 the Grey Race at the small room at the Rockwood 10 PM.
12/30 eerie bluespunks the Five Points Band at Rodeo Bar, 10:30 PM
12/31 at Puppets Jazz Bar “legendary jazz all-stars playing all night long” which is no joke – and it’s free and you get champagne at midnight, no cover but donations to help pay the rent are gladly accepted
12/31 the most lyrical and probably most cost-effective New Years Eve show is Black 47 at Connolly’s – they’re just far enough away from Times Square amateur city for you to make your getaway via an east side train.
12/31 the gypsiest New Years Eve show is at Mehanata with Kagero at 9:30 PM.
12/31 the most goth New Years Eve show in NYC is Kristin Hoffmann and NLX at Caffe Vivaldi, 10ish
12/31 the most bang for your buck New Years Eve show is at Maxwell’s with the Detroit Cobras at 10:30 followed by the Fleshtones, $20 adv tix at the club and at Other Music.
12/31 the only possibly tourist/gentrifier-free New Years Eve show in the East Village is Tammy Faye Starlite’s side-splittingly funny Stones cover band the Mike Hunt Band at Lakeside, 11 PM
12/31 this year’s most danceable New Years Eve show is retro 60s latin soul/bugalu revivalists Spanglish Fly at Barbes, 11 PM, $15.
12/31 if you want to avoid the tourists on the LES on New Years Eve, the Birdhive Boys are playing bluegrass at the National Underground, 11 PM.
1/1, 9 PM at Rodeo Bar the annual Hank Williams tribute feat. the Lonesome Prairie Dogs, Greg Garing, Sean Kershaw, the American String Conspiracy, Travis Whitelaw and others
1/1 Gogol Bordello at Terminal 5, 10 PM, $35 adv tix onsale now.
1/3, 8 PM sly southpaw powerpop guitarslinger Sam Sherwin at the Mercury followed by David Peel (you know, the Have a Marijuana guy).
1/3, 8 PM, Balkan trumpeter Ben Holmes leads his Trio at Barbes.
1/4, 7:30ish Nation Beat bandleader Scott Kettner’s Forro Brass Band at Barbes.
1/4, 8 PM,multistylistic Americana chanteuse Julia Haltigan at the big room at the Rockwood
1/5 “Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune,” the new film about the iconic lyrical rocker premieres at the IFC Center (a.k.a. the Waverly.
1/5, 8 PM pianist Taka Kigawa plays Stravinsky – Trois Mouvements de Petrouchka; Dai Fujikura – Joule; Toshio Hosokawa – Haiku; and Debussy – Preludes for Piano, Book II at Bargemusic, $35.
1/5, 10 PM the Tyler Trudeau Attempt play stagy, cynical, bittterly lyrical 60s psychedelic pop with 80s goth tinges at Spike Hill. Their song I Just Want Things to Be Different ought to be mandatory listening for any alienated kid.
1/6 Melvin Van Peebles backed by a soul band featuring baritone sax sorceress Paula Henderson and the core of Burnt Sugar at Joe’s Pub.
1/6 an eclectic bill of world music chanteuses at Drom starting at 7 with Somi, Tamar-kali, Meklit Hadero & Pyeng Threadgill
1/6, 7:30 PM subversive musical comediennes Mel and El (notorious for Mel and El: Gay Married) at Comix, 353 W. 14th St, $10 “This month’s show will feature original songs like “Facebook Is Evil”, “Pamela Handerson” and “White Lady with a Black Baby.”
1/6, 8 PM eclectic Greek oud virtuoso/composer Mavrothi Kontanis with his band at Barbes.
1/6, 8 PM Steven Bernstein’s Millennial Territory Orchestra playing Sly Stone followed by new generation big band jazz with Richmond’s rhythmically intense Fight the Big Bull and then Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society at Littlefield, $15 adv tix rec.
1/6 a fun Americana roots triplebill at Ace of Clubs starting at 8:30 with the jangly, amusing Honey West Band, smart acoustic Americana band the Buckstops and comedic blues band Jimmy & the Wolfpack doing songs with titles like Stick Out Your Can
1/6 Chicago oldtimey/Americana band Dastardly at Arlene’s 9 PM.
1/6, 11 PM ageless faux-French garage rockers les Sans Culottes at Spike Hill.
1/7, 7 PM Americana chanteuse and Clash collaborator Ellen Foley at Lakeside.
1/7 an amazing quadruple bill at Drom starting at 7 with haunting, multistylistic oud band the Maeandros Ensemble, Bulgarian sax powerhouse Yuri Yunakov, newschool retro levantine chanteuse Gaida with her band and then clarinet monster Ismail Lumanovski’s reliably excellent, electric NY Gypsy All-Stars at Drom, $10
1/7-8 it’s the Winter Jazzfest where a bunch of the cheesy Bleecker St. clubs host an astounding mix of jazz legends and future legends: last year’s (known as the Undead Jazz Festival) was amazing by all accounts. The complete schedule is here.
1/7 a rare chance to see popular Ethiopian chanteuse Meklit Hadero in a small club setting: she’s at Barbes at 8 PM.
1/7, 9 PM Thunda Vida plays latin reggae and dub at Shrine uptown.
1/7, 10 PM the latest oldschool funk/soul rediscovery, Lee Fields & the Expressions at Boewry Balllroom, $17 adv tix rec.
1/7 oldschool Colombian-style cumbia punk hellraisers Very Be Careful ,11 PM at Bowery Poetry Club; they’re also at Coco 66 in Greenpoint at 11ish on 1/8.
1/7, 11 PM the Reformed Whores play satirical faux-oldtimey songs at at Pete’s. They’re also at Ace of Clubs on 1/21 at 11 for $10.
1/8, 5 PM, torchy oldtime harmonies and songwriting with the Parkington Sisters at the small room at the Rockwood.
1/8, 8 PM another phenomenal quadruple bill at Drom starting at 8 with Pierre de Gaillande’s Bad Reputation playing hilariously filthy English-language covers of Georges Brassens songs, les Chauds Lapins playing torchy retro French chanson, funk orchestra Brooklyn Qawwali Party and then minor-key blues/klezmer/reggae jamband Hazmat Modine.
1/8 three pianists (Steven Beck, Stephen Gosling, and Taka Kigawa) playing Haydn: Il Maestro e lo Scolare; Ligeti: Four Hands; Brahms: Hungarian Dances; Stravinsky: Rites of Spring, 8 PM at Bargemusic, $35.
1/8, 9 PM legendary Texas Americana guitar god/crooner Junior Brown at B.B. King’s, $25 adv tix rec.
1/8, 9 PM Bel Air play tuneful, upbeat, uncommonly interesting country and Americana rock at Spike Hill.
1/8, 10 PM the funniest oldschool country band around, the Jack Grace Band at Rodeo Bar.
1/8, 11 PM punk/rockabilly/surf guitar monster Simon & the Bar Sinisters at Lakeside
1/9 cheap tix for Globalfest at Webster Hall are SOLD OUT.
1/9, 11:30AMish the most diverse klezmer band on the planet, Metropolitan Klezmer at City Winery for brunch, $10, no minimum, kids under 13 free.
1/9, 3 PM the Antara Ensemble play Foote, Vivaldi, Bartók, Mercadente at St. Andrew’s Church, 2065 Fifth Avenue at 127th Street, NYC, $25/$20 stud/srs
1/9, 5 PM, funny folk parody band the Lascivious Biddies at the small room at the Rockwood.
1/9, 6 (six) PM the Third Wheel Band play catchy, fun oldtimey swing and hillbilly songs with ukele, mandolin and upright bass at Spike Hill.
1/9, 7 PM original, eclectic all-female string band the Real Vocal String Quartet at Drom, free.
1/9, 10 PM fiery, original San Francisco gypsy jazz band Gaucho at Shrine.
1/10, 8/10 PM Anais Mitchell’s Hadestown – a potently apocalyptic contemporary retelling of the Orpheus/Euridyce myth – at the big room at the Rockwood – full band performance featuring “the Hadestown Orchestra/Michael Chorney Sextet.”
1/10 Huun Huur Tu – the group that brought central Asian throat singing to the masses – at Hiro Ballroom, tix available at the Highline Ballroom box office.
1/11, 7 PM marvelously creepy noir soundtrack/downtempo instrumentalists Mojo Mancini at the big room at the Rockwood, $10.
1/11, 7:30 PM Neil Rolnick night $15 at le Poisson Rouge – it’s the Extended Family cd release show (a vividly bitter, crazed musical memoir of family mischegas at the time of his mother’s death) plus excerpts from Shadow Quartet, performed by ACME, (Rob Moose and Laura Lutzke, violins; Nadia Sirota, viola; Clarice Jensen, cello.) plus Faith for solo piano, performed by Bob Gluck; plus Rolnick dj’ing on his laptop.
1/11 powerhouse trumpeter Ben Syversen’s wild, crazy noise/jazz project Cracked Vessel at 8 PM at Local 269.
1/11 swirling female-fronted psychedelic pop/80s goth band Religious to Damn at 11ish at Glasslands.
1/12, 8 PM sharp at Littlefield, only $5 for a double feature: North Dixie Drive (“Often compared to Errol Morris’ Vernon, Florida, Mahoney’s debut film wonderfully showcases an eccentric group of characters in today’s Middle America”) followed at 9:15 sharp by Sometimes, City (“Jim Jarmusch’s cross-section of interviewees from all walks of life including cartoonist Harvey Pekar, explores a city plagued by racial division, poverty and urban decay”).
1/12, 10 PM country siren Drina & the Deep Blue Sea at Banjo Jim’s.
1/12, 10ish tongue-in-cheek, period-perfect early 50s style country from Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co. at Rodeo Bar.
1/12, 8 PM a benefit for the Street Pianos project (you know, the day when all these random pianos appear on the street for you to play) at Southpaw feat. Annie Rossi, Greene Girls, Emily Wells and Balthrop Alabama’s Georgiana Starlington, $10.
1/13 9ish self-styled “bebop terrorists” Mostly Other People Do the Killing and the Weasel Walter/Mary Halvorson/Peter Evans trio at Littlefield, $8 adv tix rec.
1/13 eerie, haunting soundtrack composer Thomas Simon at the Gershwin Hotel, 8 PM, $10.
1/13, 8:30 PM string/flute trio Silver Roots juxtapose global folk dance tunes with new avant garde compositions at the Atrium at Lincoln Center.
1/13, 9 PM crazy Danish Balkan brass band Bjonko & Copenhagen Chalgija at Drom, $10
1/13 hypnotic Middle Eastern psychedelic rockers the Mast at Joe’s Pub.
1/14, 7 PM ageless oldschool R&B revivalists the Brilliant Mistakes at the small room at the Rockwood
1/14, 7:30 PM and 1/15, 6 PM Golden Festival, NYC’s annual Eastern European music summit moves to Grand Prospect Hall, 263 Prospect Ave. in Brooklyn feat. dozens of bands incl. Ansambl Mastika, Raya Brass Band, Veveritse Brass Band, Lunas Altas, and of course Zlatne Uste, your best deal is $60 two-night admission.
1/14, midnight sly acoustic jamband Tall Tall Trees at the big room at the Rockwood.
1/15 haunting Irish-American songwriter Susan McKeown – whose latest album Singing in the Dark is excellent – at Highline Ballroom.
1/15, 8 PM, absurdly funny Merle Haggard cover band Bryan & the Haggards (a bunch of jazz guys having fun with country) at Banjo Jim’s
1/15, 9 PM sharp, literate downtempo rockers Elizabeth & the Catapult at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, $15.
1/15, 11 PM NYC’s fiery, amusing answer to X, Spanking Charlene at Lakeside.
1/15, 1 AM (actually morning of 1/16) the Grey Race play Zombies-esque psychedelic pop at the Rockwood.
1/17 the Ecstatic Music Festival at Merkin Concert Hall kicks off with a free 7-hour marathon from 2-9 PM. Take a deep breath, here’s the lineup: Ne(x)tworks – Julius Eastman, Stay On It; Timo Andres – Charles Ives, The Alcotts; Timo Andres, “Everything is an Onion” from It takes a long time to become a good composer; Face the Music – Missy Mazzoli, Death Valley Junction; Christine Southworth, Volcano; So Percussion – Selections from Imaginary City and Amid the Noise; NOW Ensemble – Judd Greenstein, City Boy; Chiara String Quartet – Jefferson Friedman, String Quartet No. 3; John Matthias, Adrian Corker & Andrew Prior – John Matthias, What Happens & Cortical Songs/Mercedes the Dancer (U.S. Premiere); Vicky Chow – Daniel Wohl, Aorta; NOW Ensemble with Corey Dargel & Nathan Koci – Corey Dargel, Other People’s Love Songs; Ashley Bathgate & Lisa Moore – Kate Moore, Velvet; Ashley Bathgate – Michael Gordon, Industry; Gabriel Kahane – A selection of songs by Gabriel Kahane; Nadia Sirota – Nico Muhly, Keep in Touch; Buke and Gass with Victoire – TBA.
1/17, 7 PM ferocious, multistylistic Balkan hellraisers Raya Brass Band at Barbes followed by Chicha Libre.
1/18 a good quadruple bill at Spike Hill starting at 8 PM with neosoul/downtempo Teletextile followed by female-fronted Radiohead-powerpop band Mixtape, 10 PM by retro 80s Cure/janglepop band Bona to Vada and then at 11 PM, sharp, smart guitar-and-violin-driven indie rockers Bern & the Brights.
1/19, 8 PM slinky low-register retro Cuban band Gato Loco – with baritone guitar, baritone sax, tuba and bas – plus eclectic Argentinian pianist Emilio Teubal and his quartet at Drom, $10 tix highly rec.
1/19, 10ish baritone country/western swing crooner Sean Kershaw & the New Jack Ramblers at Rodeo Bar.
1/20, 6-8 PM the opening reception for J Henry Fair’s interactive photo exhibit Landscapes of Extraction: The Collateral Damage of the Fossil Fuels Industries: “an eye-opening look at the increasingly extreme industrial processes used to extract fossil fuels including mountain top removal, deep sea drilling and hydro-fracking” at the second-floor gallery at Cooper Union.
1/21 slinky Middle Eastern/East African classics from the 20s and 30s with Sounds of Taraab at Barbes at 8 followed at 10 by Brian Carpenter’s Ghost Train Orchestra playing obscure hot jazz from the 20s.
1/21, 8 PM the St. Petersburg String Quartet at Bargemusic playing Shostakovich String Quartet No.1, Op. 49; String Quartet No. 2, Op. 68; Beethoven String Quartet No. 7 in F major, Op. 59, No. 1, $35 – also here playing more of the Shostakovich quartets and Beethoven late quartets on 1/22 at 8 and 1/23 at 3. The series repeats 2/18-20.
1/21, 8 PM the Boss Guitars play surf classics and obscurities at Lakeside, 11 PM.
1/21, 11 PM sarcastic Japanese postpunk band the Hard Nips at Spike Hill
1/22, 1 PM a free concert at Bargemusic – program TBA, most likely piano music, early arrival advised.
1/22 harpist/archivist Benjamin Bagby’s ensemble Sequentia sing French choral music from the 12th and 13th century at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, 8 PM adv. tix $35/21 stud. rec.
1/22, 9 PM Finotee plays roots reggae at Shrine
1/22 wild intense original bluegrass band Thy Burden at Lakeside, 11 PM.
1/23 bluegrass legends the Grascals at Highline Ballroom.
1/23 8 PM smart soul/funk bandleader Stephanie Rooker & the Search Engine at the big room at the Rockwood
1/24 the East Coast Chamber Orchestra (ECCO) at Advent Church, 93rd and Broadway, 7:30 PM, free.
1/25 soulful jazz/bossa/Americana chanteuse Sasha Dobson at Barbes at 8 followed at 10 by Slavic Soul Party.
1/25-29, 9/11 PM Nicholas Payton (trumpet) Javon Jackson (sax) George Cables (piano) Dwayne Burno (bass) Lenny White (drums) play Freddie Hubbard at Birdland, $30 seats avail.
1/25, 11 PM jazz/pop pianist/singer Abby Payne at the little room at the Rockwood.
1/27, 6:30 PM environmentalist Helena Norberg-Hodge’s documentary, The Economics of Happiness “advocates for localization — the rebuilding of communities and regional economies as the foundation of an “economics of happiness” to improve sustainability, raise cultural awareness and address societal woes tied to globalization,” at Cooper Union’s Great Hall (7 East 7th Street b/w 3rd and 4th Avenues), free
1/27, 7:30 PM, songwriters in the round were never this fearless and funny: Americana rock maven Rebecca Turner, devastating, intense, noir jazzy Erica Smith and hilariously lyrical janglerock genius Paula Carino at the Parkside.
1/27, 8 PM veteran blues crooner Bobby Bland’s birthday show at B.B. King’s, $27.50 adv tix rec.
1/27, 8:30 PM Stonerway play reggae-rock at Ace of Clubs.
1/27, 9 PM the NY Gypsy All-Stars at Drom, $10.
1/28, 8 PM Songs for Unusual Creatures at Barbes, brought to you by many of the same people behind Songs for Ice Cream Trucks: “A celebration of the under-appreciated creatures that roam the planet. From the Australian Bilby to the deep-sea Magnapinna Squid, to the Saddleback Caterpillar. The songs are brought to life by a gaggle of curious instruments and peculiar sounds including theremin, claviola, stylophone, and more..with Michael Hearst, Allyssa Lamb, Ben Holmes and Kristin Mueller.”
1/28 hypnotic roots reggae grooves with Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, 8 PM at the Nokia Theatre, $25.
1/28, 9 PM pensive atmospheric rockers Hurricane Bells at Bowery Ballroom, $15 gen adm.
1/28, 9 PM cellist Marika Hughes plays the cd release show for her two new ones at the 92YTribeca with an unbelievable ensemble: Kyle Sanna—guitar, Shahzad Ismaily—guitar, Todd Sickafoose—bass, Mathias Kunzli—drums, plus special guests Jim Campilongo—guitar, Charlie Burnham—violin, Mazz Swift—violin, Jessica Troy—viola, Elana Arian—violin and Jenny Scheinman—violin, $12.
1/28 ominously funny bluespunk band the Five Points Band at Rodeo Bar 10:30 PM.
1/29, 7 PM up-and-coming Americana chanteuse Sarah Jarosz at the little room at the Rockwood
1/29, 7 PM, Huun Huur Tu – the legendary throat singers of the former Soviet republic of Tuva – at Joe’s Pub.
1/29, 7:30 PM alto sax powerhouse Jon Irabagon with Pat Bianchi – organ, Rudy Royston – drums at the Bar Next Door.
1/29, 9 PM classical Indian sitar music with Ustad Ikhlaq Hussain Khan plus Dibyarka Chatterjee on tabla at Alwan for the Arts, $20/$15 stud.
1/29, 10 PM the huanting, slinky, psychedelic harmony-driven retro latin group Las Rubias del Norte at Barbes.
1/29, 10 PM Khalilah plays roots reggae at Shrine
1/30, 4 PM organists Kent Tritle, Renée Anne Louprette, and Nancianne Parrella perform and lead choral works by legendary, haunting French composer Jehan Alain at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola on the upper east.
1/30, 7 PM Composers Play Composers at Drom: over 20 composers including Joseph Pehrson, Dan Cooper, Gene Pritsker, John Clark, Luis Andrei Cobo, Patrick Grant play new material, $20 cover includes a drink.
1/30 the Dysfunctional Family Jazz Band at Rodeo Bar, 9ish.
1/31 is closing night at Max Fish. For anyone who remembers the days before the tourists and trust fund kids made the place a madhouse – or the days when it was the only bar on the block – it would be worth it to show up early and relive some memories. Supposedly ownership is looking for new digs, but wherever it ends up, it’ll never be the same.
1/31, 8 PM powerful soul/Americana chanteuse Jo Williamson’s cd release show at the big room at the Rockwood.
1/31, 8:30 PM the Becca Stevens trio with – Becca – Voice/Uke/Guitar plus Liam Robinson and Chris Tordini (accordion & bass) at the Bar Next Door.
1/31 Daria Grace & the Pre-War Ponies play torchy 20s/30s swing/jazz obscurities at Rodeo Bar 10ish.
2/3, 8 PM edgy, snarky British postpunk/dance rockers Deluka at the Bell House, $15 gen adm.
2/4 Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica, the “world’s only ensemble dedicated to the space-age big band music of Juan Garcia Esquivel,” 8 PM at Barbes followed by the Jack Grace Band.
2/4, 9 PM jazz/third-stream chanteuse/composer Sara Serpa with a first-rate band: Andre Matos- guitar; Kris Davis- piano; Matt Brewer-bass; Tommy Crane- drums, at the Cornelia St. Cafe. Serpa is scary-good, one of the most original singers and writers in any style around these days: her latest album with noir jazz piano legend Ran Blake is transcendent.
2/5, 10 PM Ansambl Mastika’s cd release show for their new one Songs and Dances for Life Nonstop at Barbes – early arrival advised.
2/5, midnight the Jack Grace Band at the small room at the Rockwood.
2/7, 7 PM sultry oldtimey chanteuse Robin Aigner and her band at the small room at the Rockwood.
2/8, 8 PM politically potent dancehall reggae star Anthony B at B.B. King’s, $20 adv tix rec.
2/9, 9 PM noir singer Nicole Atkins & the Black Sea at Bowery Ballroom, $16 adv tix rec.
2/10, 9 PM ten-piece, six-trumpet funk band the Chase Experiment at Spike Hill.
2/10, 10 PM retro country legend Greg Garing at Barbes.
2/11, 10 PM House of Stride feat. Allison Leyton-Brown – piano; Russ Meissner – drums; Jim Whitney – upright bass and special guest Daria Grace at Barbes.
2/11, 11 PM SOJA (formerly Soldiers of Jah Army) play roots reggae at Bowery Ballroom, $25 gen adm.
2/12, 1 PM a free concert at Bargemusic, program TBA, most likely piano music, early arrival advised.
2/12, 8 PM, repeating 2/13, 3 PM the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony plays Tschaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1 with the fiery, virtuosic Karine Poghosyan on piano and Rachmaninoff: Symphony #2 at All Saints Church, 230 E 60th St. (2/3rd Aves)., tix $20 rec.
2/13, 3 PM the Greenwich Village Orchestra play an all-Brahms bill: Hungarian Dance No. 5; the Double Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra, and Symphony No. 2 at Washington Irving HS Auditorium, $20 sug don. They’ve done all these previously, and brilliantly.
2/16 psychedelic Australian art-rock legends the Church at the Highline; on 2/17 they’re at B.B. King’s
2/16-18, 8 PM flamenco jazz piano titan Chano Dominguez’ Flamenco Hoy music/dance spectacular at NY City Center, 55th St. (6/7 Aves.), $35 tix avail.
2/19 le Poeme Harmonique sing a program titled Esperar, Sentir, Morir at Church of St. Mary the Virgin, 145 W 4th St., $35 tix avail.
2/21 the Enso Quartet at Advent Church, 93rd and Broadway, 7:30 PM, free.
2/22-26 alto sax legend Dave Liebman with his famous 80s quartet including pianist Richie Beirach, bassist Ron McClure and drummer Billy Hart, 8:30/11 PM at Birdland, $30 tix avail.
2/25, 8 PM Los Straitjackets at the Bell House, $15.
2/26 Rasputina at the Highline Ballroom, 7 PM.
3/8, 8 PM Ice Cube – yeah, the guy from the Friday movies, doing his rap thing (back in the day he was one of the great ones) at B.B. King’s, $27 adv tix rec.
3/9 adventurous string quartet Brooklyn Rider with Iranian spike fiddle virtuoso/composer Kayhan Kalhor at Alice Tully Hall 7:30 PM, $20.
3/10 Burnt Sugar play Bowie at the Atrium at Lincoln Center, 8:30 PM
3/18/11, 8 PM, repeating 3/19/11 at 9 PM at Symphony Space, legendary Lebanese expat oud icon/composer Marcel Khalife in the US premiere of his Concerto Al Andalus for oud and orchestra; Armenia’s most renowned kanun (zither) virtuoso, Karine Hovhannisyan, performing the concerto for kanun and orchestra by Khachatur Avetisyan; and clarinetist David Krakauer playing the NY premiere of the Klezmer Concerto by Ofer Ben-Amots for strings, harp, percussion and clarinet; plus the eclectic Orchestra Celebrate, conducted by Laurine Celeste Fox, $25 adv tix avail. at the World Music Institute box office and highly rec.
3/18/11 Richard Thompson at NJPAC in Newark – $35 tix still available according to their website.
3/28 the Jasper Quartet at Advent Church, 93rd and Broadway, 7:30 PM, free
Every day our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues all the way to #1. Tuesday’s album is #791:
Kenny Garrett – Songbook
Who would have thought when he made his debut as an elevator jazz guy back in the 80s that someday he’d be capable of this kind of brilliance? As both a composer and player, alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett was one of the 90s’ and zeros’ most potent forces and remains just as vital today. This one from 1997 really solidified his reputation, a retro, Coltrane-inspired triumph. With relentless energy and intelligence, Garrett locks in with Kenny Kirkland on piano, Nat Reeves on bass and Jeff “Tain” Watts on drums, through a diverse collection of cerebral workups and lyrical ballads. The opening track 2 Down & 1 Across opens it lyrically, picking up the pace with the catchy, insistent Wooden Steps and then the magnificently Middle Eastern-inflected, modal epic Sing a Song of Song, the most Coltrane-ish number here and one which became a real crowd-pleaser live. There’s also the funky Freddie Hubbard tribute Brother Hubbard; the boleroish ballad Ms. Baja; the magisterial Nat Adderley homage The House That Nat Built; the darkly syncopated blues She Waits for the New Sun; the pensive, expansive Before It’s Time to Say Goodbye and the warily exuberant Sounds of the Flying Pygmies. Pretty much everything Garrett else has done since 1990 is also worth hearing. Here’s a random torrent.
Every day our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues all the way to #1. Monday’s album is #792:
R.L. Burnside – Burnside on Burnside
R.L. Burnside played a whole bunch of different styles, depending on the times. He started out as an early 70s style, Marvin Gaye-inspired soul man, went into Chicago style blues, took a fortuitously brief turn into early 80s pop before finding his groove in hypnotic Mississippi hill country blues. Fans love this style for its trance-inducing, pounding vamps that hang on a single chord for minutes at a clip: it works as well as dance music as it does for stoners and drinkers. This 2001 live set recorded at a rock club in Oregon is his last and best album, capturing him at the absolute top of his game, amped to eleven and blasting through one careening number after another. Even though there’s no bass – the only other instruments in the band were drums and longtime slide guitarist Kenny Brown – the songs come at you in waves. At one point, he indulges in a little autobiography, but the crowd wants tunes. Robert Johnson’ Walking Blues roars and gallops; Muddy Waters’ Rolling and Tumbling is a tsunami of guitar distortion and primal stomp. The best track here might be the eerie, ominously clattering hobo tune Jumper on the Line; Brown gets to take his usual long slide solo on Going Down South and makes the most of it. Burnside died of a stroke in 2005; his grandsons Cedric and Kenny continue to play blues in the same raw, rustic vein. Here’s a random torrent.
Every day our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues all the way to #1. Sunday’s album is #793:
Gogol Bordello – Gypsy Punks
It’s only fair that we’d follow one great party band (P-Funk) with another. Gogol Bordello may not have been the first gypsy punks, but they took the sound gobal. This is their most punk album and the closest studio approximation of the pandemonium of their live show, the guitars roaring like the Clash on Give ‘Em Enough Rope. As usual, frontman Eugene Hutz alternates between English and Ukrainian when least expected; this time out, he adds Spanish to the mix. It’s got some of his most direct songs, especially I Would Never Wanna Be Young Again, an anthem for a million kids (and old kids) to sing along to. Not a Crime never identifies the specific act which, back in the day, used to be legal, but it doesn’t have to – it’s a classic for the paranoid post-9/11 world. Think Locally, Fuck Globally is self-explanatory, and it’s a classic. There are also plenty of surreal stories here: the bizarre East Village bathhouse scenario Avenue B; the crazed wedding narrative Dogs Were Barking, and a far more punk version of Start Wearing Purple than the one on the Everything Is Illuminated soundtrack. Toward the end of the album, the songs stretch out, with reggae and dub on Undestructable and Mishto and latin on Santa Marinella. Everything Gogol Bordello did is worth owning – they’re a band everybody who would never wanna be young again should see at least once in their lives. Here’s a random torrent.
Like the mythical character, indie classical trio Janus looks in two directions, forward and backward. Backward, with a genuinely lovely, often baroque-tinged sense of melody; forward, with a compellingly hypnotic edge occasionally embellished by light electronic touches. This is an album of circular music, motifs that repeat again and again as they slowly and subtly shift shape, textures sometimes floating mysteriously through the mix, occasionally leaping in for a sudden change of atmosphere. Many of the melodies are loops, some obviously played live, others possibly running over and over again through an electronic effect. Either way, it’s not easy to follow flutist Amanda Baker, violist/banjoist Beth Meyers and harpist Nuiko Wadden as they negotiate the twists and turns of several relatively brief compositions by an all-New York cast of emerging composers. A series of minimalist miniatures by Jason Treuting of So Percussion – some pensive, some Asian-tinged – begin, end and punctuate the album, concluding on a tersely gamelanesque note.
Keymaster, by Caleb Burhans (of Janus’ stunningly intense labelmates Newspeak) is a wistful cinematic theme that shifts to stark midway through, then lets Baker add balmy contrast against the viola’s brooding staccato. Drawings for Mayoko by Angelica Negron adds disembodied vocalese, quietly crunching percussion and a drone that separates a warmly shapeshifting, circular lullaby methodically making its way around the instruments. Cameron Britt’s Gossamer Albatross weaves a clever call-and-response element into its absolutely hypnotic theme, a series of brief movements that begin fluttery and grow to include a jazz flavor courtesy of some sultry low flute work by Baker. There’s also the similarly trancelike Beward Of, by Anna Clyne, with its gently warped series of backward masked accents and scurrying flurry of a crescendo, and Ryan Brown’s Under the Rug, which builds matter-of-factly from sparse harp and banjo to a series of crystalline crescendos with the viola. Gently psychedelic, warmly atmospheric and captivating, it’s a great ipod album. It’s out now on New Amsterdam Records.
It takes chutzpah to use a photo of skunk cabbage as the cover shot for your new cd. That’s what jazz vibraphonist Tyler Blanton did on his new one, Botanic. This may sound like an oxymoron, but it’s cool jazz with a summery, almost jungly ambience, sometimes evoking other types of vegetation, the kind that typically thrive in tropical climates. Blanton displays a remarkably original style: he’s not a thunderous, showy player in the Joe Locke mold. Rather, he crafts a dreamy, hypnotic web out of subtle, intricate textures, abetted by Joel Frahm on soprano and tenor sax along with Dan Loomis on bass and Jared Schonig on drums (with a couple of tracks anchored by the rhythm section of Aidan Carroll and Richie Barshay).
The title track, a song without words, blends a lot of characteristically interesting touches: a fast triplet pulse, a genial fanfare from Frahm and then a drumline-tinged solo from Schonig as Blanton takes over the rhythm, ratcheting up a mysterious ambience. Foreshadowing switches artfully from straight-up swing to a jazz waltz, sax and vibes working a glistening mesh of echoey broken chords versus staccato sax accents, a latin-tinged drum break and an eerie music-box outro. The prosaically titled Mellow Afternoon turns out to be a quietly lyrical bossa tune, Blanton taking it up once he hits his solo, just enough to break the trance before Frahm comes fluttering down out of the clouds.
The energy level rises as the album winds up. Practically a fugue, Little Two moves from twohanded conversationality to blues, to hypnotic waves of triplets and a muted drum rumble. Hemming and Hawing doesn’t do any of that, actually, working a catchy, soaring hook until Frahm steps in to cool it down, then Blanton runs waterfalls down the scale to pick up the pace again. The album closes with the vintage 60s style Vestibule and its meticulous latticework divided between vibes and sax, Frahm almost jumping out of his shoes with some bop inflections before winding it up on a somewhat triumphant note. It’s a good ipod album, and a good soundtrack for a slow wind back to reality on a Sunday.
Every day our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues all the way to #1. Saturday’s album is #794:
Funkadelic – America Eats Its Young
Here’s a band that pretty much everybody agrees on. But the two most popular “best-of” music lists up here in the cloud already grabbed One Nation Under a Groove and Maggot Brain. So what’s left? Pretty much everything P-Funk ever did. Here’s one you might not have thought about for awhile. This characteristically sprawling, eclectic, amusing, and frequently scathing 1972 double lp might be George Clinton’s most rock-oriented album, stone cold proof that these guys were just as good a rock act as a funk band. This is the core of the early group: the brilliant and underrated Tyrone Lampkin on drums, Bootsy on bass, Eddie Hazel on guitar and Bernie Worrell on swirling, gothic-tinged organ putting his New England Conservatory degree to good use. A lot of this takes Sly Stone-style funk to the next level: the fast antiwar/antiviolence shuffle You Hit the Nail on the Head; the artsy, orchestrated eco-anthem If You Don’t Like the Effects, Don’t Produce the Cause; and the vicious, bouncy antidrug anthem Loose Booty. I Call My Baby Pussycat is epic and funny; the title track is even more so, a slow stoner soul vamp with a message, an orgasmic girl vocalese intro, and a faux Isaac Hayes rap by Clinton: “Who is this bitch?” The pensive ballad Miss Lucifer’s Love predates Radiohead by 35 years; Bootsy gets down and dirty with an oldschool R&B feel on Philmore. Biological Speculation offhandedly makes the case that if we don’t pull our act together, nature just might do it for us – without us. And it’s got a pedal steel solo?!? The album closes with a politically charged gospel number, the guys in the choir trading verses with the girls. Here’s a random torrent.
Every day our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues all the way to #1. Friday’s album is #795:
Marcel Khalife – Taqasim
One of the world’s great oud players and composers, Marcel Khalife has been called the Lebanese Bob Dylan. As the leader of the Al-Mayadeen Ensemble in the 70s, he achieved extraordinary popularity for his politically-charged, anthemic, classically-tinged songwriting, often using lyrics by the great Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. Together with his human rights efforts on the part of the Palestinians, Khalife came under fire from the anti-Palestinian wing in Israel and was eventually driven into exile in Paris. This 2008 album, a hauntingly terse instrumental triptych, pays homage to Darwish. Backed only by bass and drums, Khalife builds a tense, shadowy atmosphere, brooding and often downright tormented; mournful resignation gives way to a stately dance that eventually goes deeper into darkness, with a barely restrained desperation. Only a small portion of Khalife’s extensive catalog has been released outside of the Arab world; this is one of the best. Likewise, torrents are hard to come by. It’s still available from Khalife’s site.
Reedman Marty Ehrlich and trombonist Ray Anderson first joined forces in Anthony Braxton’s band, but they bring a more trad sense of melody to the somewhat loose configurations on their new quartet album Live in Willisau. Recorded last year for Swiss radio, they’re playing to the crowd here, liberally quoting from the classics in a boisterous, good-natured performance anchored by the estimable Brad Jones on bass and Matt Wilson on drums. This is a fun, tuneful set: it’s not always full-throttle, but the chemistry in the band is contagious. There’s some New Orleans, a little latin, some funk and a single ballad, My Wish, which starts sparely as a tone poem of sorts before growing wistful and wary, Anderson’s trombone adding a shadowy touch in tandem with the rhythm section.
The opening cut is a fond portrait of the late violinist Leroy Jenkins, a lively duet that goes a little dixieland and then pulses nimbly on a clave beat with Ehrlich circling as Anderson bobs and splashes – the contrast is genuinely delightful. Hot Crab Pot, the most overtly N’Awlins number here is a showcase for Anderson, first terse and percussive, then wandering way out until Ehrlich reins it in with a wary chromatic approach. As often happens here, Jones holds it together when everybody else is off doing his thing, this time with some tastily booming chords. And then they’re back into it with an Ellington quote.
The Lion’s Tanz is a real crowd-pleaser, Ehrlich balancing Anderson’s staccato sputter before everybody goes off on a carnivalesque swirl that goes off the hinges, Ehrlich again bringing it back with a quote, this time from Coltrane. The Git Go has Ehrlich again playing serioso on the heels of Anderson’s droll ostentations, pulling a hook out of the air to nimbly shift the song from funk to swing. More southern than latin, Alligatory Rhumba could be a bar at happy hour, the conversational circle moving gradually further off-topic to the point that nobody remembers it…and then everybody takes a long break, leaving Wilson to mess with the crowd via a series of pregnant pauses and rimshot solos. The final track, Hear You Say floats a catchy funk hook over an almost reggae rhythm, almost being the operative word here: it’s tricky, the two horns playing hide and seek with it, all the way to a crashing, metalesque outro. At this point, the producer lets the applause ring out – they’ve earned it.