New York Music Daily

Global Music With a New York Edge

A Look Over the Shoulder at Americana Crooner Jack Grace’s Darkest Record

Since the early zeros, Jack Grace has been one of the bright lights of the New York Americana sceene. He tours constantly, puts out geat records, gets his songs in a lot of movies, is a hell of a guitarist and with that big baritone of his, can croon with anybody. He booked Rodeo Bar for years, until that late, lamented venue was forced out by a rent increase – and whose space is still unoccupied, two years later. Grace has a new album in the works, ostensibly titled Everything I Say Is a Lie. His next New York gig is at Bar Chord in Ditmas Park at 10 PM on Dec 10, and that is the truth.

Grace’s most recent album, The Money’s Gone Away – some of which is at Grace’s Soundcloud page– is where he really concretized the latin sound he was drifting toward on the one before that, 2010’s Drinking Songs for Lovers. But that’s a funny album and for the most part, this one’s dark and serious. The album’s title track is an uneasy cha-cha with creepy vibraphone lingering in the background, a grimly allusive early teens nocturne from when it was clear that the divide between rich and poor was only getting worse.

Hard Times All Around is the kind of midtempo oldschool C&W numbers Grace writes so well, backlit with keening pedal steel and his own stark guitar lines over the swinging rhythm section of his bassist wife Daria Grace and drummer Russ Meissner. Stark violin opens the tango-inflected Jack/Daria duet Warm Rock in the Sun, a horn-spiced cautionary tale.

Maybe Ya Wanna waltzes morosely out of a moody flamenco intro, a lament for missed chances that hits a bitter peak capped off by a bitingly psychedelic Grace guitar solo. The album’s haunting centerpiece, Don’t Run Out of Gas rises from spare, fingerpicked southwestern gothic to a towering backbeat drive:

Smoke has yet to clear
Battle was fought, I don’t think it was won…
Don’t run out of gas
My advice to you
Try to get there fast
For your troubles

With its creepy, icy chorus-box guitar and tuba pulse, Bothered to Think works the kind of blackly sardonic. bluesy Tom Waits territory that Grace dove headfirst into on his 2007 album The Martini Cowboy. Ghostly steel guitar mingles with spiky ukulele and terse violin in Polenca’s Blues, a windswept cinematic theme, followed by Poor Boy. a swinging 99-percenter lament.

Just when you might think that I Think I Broke My Heart is a mellow slice of dadrock, Grace hits a minor chord and runs his vocals through a vintage chorus pedal: “It hurts just to breathe,” he shivers.

Another real gem, the wistful Remember When We Were in Love, blends vintage Memphis soul and artsy late Beatles unease. By contrast, We Made It harks back to the surrealistically swinging oldschool C&W Grace was writing after his cult favorite 90s jamband, Steak, went on hiatus (they’re back on Dec 23 at the Bitter End, of all places)..

The only cover here is the Nancy Sinatra/Lee Hazlewood hit Summer Wine – it’s not awful, but there’s no getting away from the Vegas cheesiness. The album winds up with Lobster, Steak and Seafood, one of those silly, boisterous vamps that Grace likes to jam out live, a shout-out to roadside diners, which as dubious as they be, still beat the hell out of Olive Garden.

Slashing, Fearlessly Populist Classic Detroit-Style Rock from Sulfur City

Sulfur City evoke the hard-charging, uncompromising Murder City garage-punk intensity of Radio Birdman and Sonic’s Rendezvous Band, with elements of retro soul, psychedelia, a little funk and a fearlessly populist political sensibility. But they’re not from Detroit or Australia: they hail from Sudbury, in northeast Ontario. Their album Talking Loud is streaming at Soundcloud. And it’s one of the best four-on-the-floor rock records of the year.

The opening track, Whispers, is anything but. It’s basically a frenetic one-chord minor-key jam over a stomping hardcore punk pulse. The way frontwoman Lori Paradis bends her notes with just a hint of plaintive angst, she sounds a lot like the Passengers’ Angie Pepper with a slightly lower voice. Keith Breit’s organ interlude midway through is unexpected, and wouldn’t be out of place in the Radio Birdman songbook either.

The defiant War Going On, with its funky, organ-fueled sway, connects the dots between the grotesqueness of consumer capitalism and combat – is the reference to “plastic-wrapped people” a dis, or a grisly image of battlefield casualties?

Pockets is a sort of mashup of Bo Diddley, Rare Earth and the MC5 at their most populist and confrontational, with a snide gospel interlude. With its smoky organ, Ride With Me has a Sticky Fingers latin soul groove. It ‘s hard to figure out whether Paradis’ vengeful wail in Don’t Lie to Me is channeling the wrath of an abused woman, or if this is an S&M anthem. Jesse Lagace’s eerie slide guitar bends and warps through the gritty boogie backdrop of Sold, revisiting an ages-old, devilishly bluesy theme.

Highways, a ghoulabilly shuffle, keeps the lurid intensity going up to a tumbling, bluesy piano solo straight out of the Pip Hoyle playbook. With its intertwining minor-key guitar leads, the ominously elegaic murder ballad Johnny could be an outtake from Radios Appear with a woman out in front of the band. The album’s most epic track, One Day in June is a brisk noir blues in 6/8, fueled by Lagace’s slide guitar and Paradis’ grim, Patti Smith-ish vocals. It’s an apt post-election anthem: “We tell ourselves it’ll be ok, this too shall pass, everything must change,” Paradis intones. “The end of November and the leaves have all gone, and the air is cold and the snow’s about to fall, standing with my palms raised up to the sky.”

By contrast, Raise Hammer is a sarcastic Celtic punk number with layers of gritty open-tuned guitars and a carnivalesque organ solo. The album winds up with You Don’t Know Me, a gutter blues shuffle in an early 80s Gun Club vein. Lots of flavors and plenty of tunefulness from a group with great influences that seems to be on the verge of similar greatness.

The Best, Most Darkly Cinematic New York Show of 2016: Mamie Minch and Steve Ulrich at Barbes

The best show of 2016 in New York – at least the best one where this blog was in the house – was in mid-October at Barbes, where guitarists Mamie Minch and Steve Ulrich played a live score to silent films supplied by filmmaker Russell Scholl. And it was unquestionably the the year’s most cinematic, which makes sense considering both the context and the artists involved. Ulrich gets lots of work for film and for PBS, when he’s not fronting his slinky, Lynchian reverb guitar band, Big Lazy. Minch plays her own darkly individualistic, wit-infused take on classic country blues and Americana when she’s not running New York’s only woman-owned instrument repair store, Brooklyn Lutherie,. Both players have shows coming up. On Dec 6 at 6:30 PM, Minch is part of an excellent triplebill with fellow oldtime country blues purveyor Eli Smith and rustic 19th century style string band the Four O’Clock Flowers at the American Folk Art Museum, playing songs on the time-honored theme of death and mourning to coincide with the museum’s latest, wonderfully creeyp exhibition. Then she’s at Barbes at 8 on Dec 16. Ulrich is at Spectrum on Dec 10 at 7:30 PM with his Big Lazy bandmate, drummer Yuval Lion, where they’ll join Bob Dylan keyboardist Mick Rossi, Barbez‘s Peter Hess and Zion80‘s Jon Madof for a night of similarly creepy improvisation; cover is $15.

The night’s first movie at Barbes was a surrealistically nostalgic Coney Island tableau by Scholl, Minch singing a sad waltz that she’d originally written as a member of the badly missed oldtime harmony quartet the Roulette Sisters. Low and somber, she built a similarly moody Brooklyn oceanside scenario, the amusement park as a metaphor for passion that could go drastically wrong. It’s her Wall of Death.

Then Ulrich joined her for a brief set of his own shadowy film noir compositions while another Scholl pastiche – a defiantly individualistic, snidely anti-authoritarian work, like a Donald O’Finn mashup without the endless parodies of oversexed tv – flickered on the screen behind them. The two musicians have collaborated a lot over the past couple of years. Hearing Minch play Ulrich’s signature, menacing chromatics on her resonator guitar was a real treat, Ulrich supplying his usual macabre, resonant twang through a skeletally dancing number with hints of Romany jazz, then a morose graveyard stroll, Ulrich’s angst-fueled insistence against Minch’s steady, mournful chords. They wound it up with tricky syncopation and more rain-drenched chromatics that gave way to reflecting-pool psychedelia as the film hit a comedic coda.

Minch scored the night’s final film, Windsor McCay’s pioneering 1921 early animation flick The Flying House, chronicling the adventures of a man who motorizes his home and then takes it up into the clouds in order to escape the evil bankster who wants to foreclose on it. You want relevance? Minch switched slowly and masterfully from one oldtime blues tuning to another. interpolating those graceful blue notes into the score as she retuned, moving seamlessly through gemtly waltzing, pastoral passages, bouncily romping interludes, elements of psychedelic folk and 70s British art-rock, hardly styles that you would associate with someone regarded as one of this era’s great blueswomen. After the movie. the two treated the crowd to a cover of Johnny Cash’s Committed to Parkview – a Hollywood nuthouse if there ever was one – as well as a take of the Beatles hit Girl that really brought out all the menace in a femme fatale. They closed out the night with a solo Ulrich jazz tune and then Minch’s funereal rendition of the Bessie Smith murder ballad Sing Sing Blues. Only in New York, folks.

Dolunay Bring Their Turkish and Balkan Magic to Barbes on Saturday Nights This Month

A Dolunay show is like a long magic carpet ride: you never know where one song ends and another begins, and either way, you don’t want it to end. If there’s any sound that’s appropriate for this particular era in New York, it’s sad songs written by immigrants in hostile territory. Most of Dolunay’s serpentine ballads, drenched in melancholy and longing, draw on the tradition of the Rumeli people, native Turkish speakers who brought the spine-tingling ornamentation and Middle Eastern tones of their music to the Balkans.

With her full, expressive voice, vast range and wounded vibrato, frontwoman/drummer Jenny Luna is an ideal vehicle for this kind of material. She and the band – who lately has been a trio with oudist Adam Good and violinist Eylem Basaldi – have a three-week Saturday evening residency this December at 6 PM at Barbes. starting tonight, Dec 3 and then on the 10th and 17th as well. Next week will be a live radio broadcast, opening for fantastic Macedonian band Odglasi and then on the 17th Dolunay promises a long, luxurious set of classical Turkish maqam music.

Their most recent Manhattan gig was at the American Folk Art Museum last month. Luna played dombek (goblet drum) on the night’s faster numbers and daf – the boomy, funereal frame drum – on the slower tunes in the set, amplified by the museum atrium’s echoey sonics for extra majesty. Good got most of the intros and took several long, judiciously crescendoing solos, buildling matter-of-factly out of variations on catchy chromatic riffs and then taking them skyward. Luna took one mournful, melismatic vocal intro by herself over Basaldi’s resonant washes. The violinist alternated between tersely sailing lines, biting microtones and one particularly spine-tingling, shivery solo into one of the night’s many mysterious segues.

The songs covered plenty of familiar territory: people gone over the mountains and missing their loved ones, or returning to the family village only to discover that their sweethearts have gone off with someone else. The most memorable original was a Basaldi ballad that equated the end of a relationship to seaweed washed up onshore. Beyond its poignant beauty, this music is comforting in the sense that people have suffered for centuries yet somehow we’ve managed to survive – something we really have to figure out before January 21, 2017 comes around.

Dorian Devins Brings Her Inventive, Low-Key Jazz Nocturnes to the West Village

Singer Dorian Devins occupies a pretty unique place in jazz. She doesn’t just sing standards and the occasional obscurity: she reinvents instrumental numbers from across the years by penning her own pensive, tersely crafted, often subtly amusing lyrics. She sings in a cool, unadorned mezzo-soprano that harks back to golden age songbirds from June Christy to Peggy Lee, and like those singers, works the subtlest corners of her repertoire. For the past few years, she’s led a succession of trios and quartets and the occasional larger ensemble, gigging constantly from the West Village all the way out to deep Queens. Her latest album is titled The Procrastinator, parts of which are up at her webpage and at her youtube channel. Her next gig is out in front of a trio with her longtime pianist Lou Rainone and bassist Paul Gill at the Bar Next Door on Dec 5, with sets at 8:30 and 10:30 PM. Cover is $12.

The album’s opening number, Let’s Get Lost benefits from Devins’ low-key, enigmatic delivery – Karrin Allyson might have remade it this way. It’s about getting really lost, not just half-lost. Devins’ interpretation is a perfect match for the lyrics: “Let’s defrost, in this romantic mist.” Richie Vitale takes an animated, brightly toned trumpet solo followed by a bustling piano solo from Rainone.

A plush, balmy take of Wayne Shorter’s Deluge – retitled as Momentum – is next. Peter Brainin’s wary soprano sax adds welcome acidity, Rainone’s gracefully bluesy rainy-day lines matching the gritty mood. Kenny Dorham’s La Mesha gets an opiated, wary vocal echoed by a long, resonant, judicious Vitale solo, Rainone and the rest of the rhythm section – bassist Karl Kaminski and drummer Steve Johns – taking it into more jaunty territory.

I Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out to Dry, done here with equal parts steadiness and Rainone’s wee-hours glimmer, is a great choice of cover: Devins loves the surreal, and her deadpan approach to this one fits it to a T. Bob Dorough’s Better Than Anything, a jazz waltz, gets an unexpectedly emphatic treatment, and the ordinarily low-key Devins pulls it off, Brainin’s flute hovering in a Frank Wess vein, Rainone reaching an unexpected crescendo with his volleys of triplets.

The album’s title track, a Lee Morgan tune, gets reinvented with a neat intro where Kaminski shadows Devins’ wry 99-percenter lament, which she picks up with deft flights of chromatics. She invents Kurt Weill’s Speak Low as a nocturnal samba; Vitale’s sunny flugelhorn adds vivid contrast with Rainone’s darkly majestic, chromatically-charged attack. Likewise, Devins does Night Bird as tiptoeing, late-night swing, much more darkly than the famous Anita O’Day version, Vitale adding distant, steady unease. Devins’ devious little curlicue on the final “I still fly by night” is priceless.

Devins takes another Lee Morgan tune, Lament for Stacy, back in a grim St. James Infirmary direction, with a brooding bass solo. The final Lee Morgan number, Soft Touch. gets a surprising amount of oomph from Devins…and then she switches it up from a jazz waltz to flute-infused, latin-tinged swing.

Dreamer, better known as the Jobim tune Vivo Sonhando, has a hazy wistfulness and distant echoes of LA lowrider soul. The album closes with Time Was, best known as a Coltrane tune; Devins’ take gets a fondly nostalgic treatment, her calm delivery in contrast to the rhythm section, who are pretty much jumping out of their shoes.

Since this album came out in 2012, Devins reputedly has another on the way soon – maybe it’s time this blog was rebranded as The Procrastinator. Fun fact: Devins is not only a musician but also co-founder of New York’s Secret Science Club, a popular series that began as a WNYC program and predated the TED Talks by several years, covering all sorts of developments in technology, medicine and many other fields that will impact our lives in the near future.

New York City and Brooklyn Live Music Calendar for December 2016 and January 2017

Daily updates – you might want to bookmark this page and check back every so often. If you don’t recognize a venue where a particular act is playing, check the comprehensive, recently updated list of over 200 New York City music venues at New York Music Daily’s sister blog Lucid Culture.

This is not a list of every show in town – it’s a carefully handpicked selection. If this calendar seems short on praise for bands and artists, it’s because every act here is recommended if you like their particular kind of music. Many different styles to choose from here, something for everyone

Showtimes listed here are set times, not the time doors open – if a listing says something like “9ish,” that means it’ll probably start later than advertised. If you see a show listed without the start time, that’s because either the artist, their publicist or the venue in question sent incomplete info – those acts are usually listed last on a particular date.  Always best to check with the venue for the latest information on set times and door charges, since that information is often published here weeks in advance. Weekly events first followed by the daily calendar.

On select Thursdays and Sundays, an intimate, growing piano music salon on the Upper West Side featuring iconoclastically insightful, lyrical pianist Nancy Garniez – a cult favorite with an extraordinarily fluid, singing, legato style – exploring the delicious minutiae of works from across the centuries. Perennial possibilities: Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak (!). Sugg don $10 (pay what you can), delicious gluten-free refreshments, beverages and lively conversation included! email for info/location.

Mondays in December, 7 and 9 PM, erudite pianist Orrin Evans‘ richly tuneful, purist, stampeding Captain Black Big Band at Smoke

Mondays at 7 PM multi-instrumentalist Dennis Lichtman’s popular western swing band Brain Cloud at Barbes followed at 9:30 PM by a variety of south-of-the-border-style bands playing cumbias, boogaloo, salsa, maybe all of the above.

Mondays at the Jazz Standard it’s all Mingus, whether with the Mingus Orchestra, Big Band or Mingus Dynasty: as jazz goes, it’s arguably the most exhilarating show of the week, every week. The first-rate players always rise to the level of the material. Sets 7:30/9:30 PM, $25 and worth it.

Also Monday and Tuesday nights Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks, a boisterous horn-driven 11-piece 1920s/early 30’s band play Iguana, 240 W. 54th St ( 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 the Vanguard the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra – composer Jim McNeely’s reliably good big band vehicle – plays 9/11 PM, $30 per set plus drink minimum.

Mondays at 9 PM erudite, purist torchy jazz chanteuse Svetlana & the Delancey 5 at the Back Room, 102 Norfolk St just north of Delancey St, free

Mondays at 10 noir guitar legend Jim Campilongo leads his trio at the big room at the Rockwood

Also Mondays in December, Rev. Vince Anderson and his band play Union Pool in Williamsburg, two sets starting at 10:30 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, sexy original songs and is one of the most charismatic, intense live performers of our time. It’s a crazy dance party. Paula Henderson from Burnt Sugar is the lead soloist on baritone sax, with frequent special guests.

Tuesdays in December, 7 PM the great unsung hero of darkly purposeful, noir-tinged jazz guitar, Saul Rubin‘s Zebtet at the Fat Cat

Tuesdays in December, 8:30 PM the George Gee Swing Orchestra play surprising new arrangements of old big band standards at Swing 46, 349 W 46th St,  $15

Tuesdays in December, clever, fiery, eclectic ten-piece Balkan/hip-hop/funk brass maniacs Slavic Soul Party  at 9 PM at Barbes. Get there as soon as you can as they’re very popular. $10 cover.

Wednesdays at 8-ish, amazing, psychedelic instrumentalists Sandcatchers – who blend cinematic, pastoral Americana and Middle Eastern themes – at Cheryl’s Restaurant, 236 Underhill Ave. (Eastern Pkwy/Lincoln Pl.) in Ft. Greene. Closest train is actually the 2/3 to Brooklyn Museum.

Wednesdays at 8 the Brookliyn Raga Massive – a rotating cast of A-list Indian, jazz and rock musicians who love to jam out classic Indian themes from over the centuries to the present day – play Art Cafe, 884 Pacific St.(at Washington Ave) in Brooklyn, $15; closest train is the 2 to Bergen St.

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.

Fridays and Saturdays at 5 PM adventurous indie classical string quartet Ethel plus frequent special guests playing a mix of classical and more contemporary material at the balcony bar at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, free w/museum adm

Fridays in December at 9 Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens play oldschool 1960s style gospel at the Fat Cat.

Fridays at around 9:30 PM Bulgarian Romany sax legend Yuri Yunakov with his wild but haunting band at Mehanata

Saturdays in December at 4 PM at Bargemusic there are impromptu free classical concerts, usually solo piano or small chamber ensembles: if you get lucky, you’ll catch pyrotechnic violinist/music director Mark Peskanov and/or the many members of his circle. Early arrival advised.

Saturdays in December at 6 PM haunting Turkish and Balkan songs of heartbreak, longing and despair played by darkly slinky ensemble Dolunay at Barbes

Saturdays eclectic compelling Brazilian jazz chanteuse Marianni and her excellent band at Zinc Bar, three sets starting at 10 PM.

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 in December at sometime past noon at Hank’s, Nashville gothic crooner Sean Kershaw‘s legendary honkytonk brunch is back! It’s just like 1999 again!

Three Sundays in December, 12/4, 12/11 and 12/18, 2 PM fiery agitator Rev. Billy & the Church of  Stop Shopping Choir – sort of the Dead Kennedys or Public Enemy of original, politically spot-on original gospel music – at Joe’s Pub, $15

Sundays at 3 PM at the Stone a rotating cast of familiar faces from John Zorn’s circle perform from Zorn’s characteristically exhaustive, marathon collection of 300 works titled Bagatelles, recently composed between March and May 2015. “Each concert will be introduced by John Zorn, often in conversation with the musicians,” $15

Sundays in December, 7 PM spine-tingling darkly mystical art-rock/avant-garde/chamber pop songwriter Carol Lipnik – pretty much everybody’s choice for best singer in all of NYC – at Pangea

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.

Three Sundays in December, 12/4, 12/11 and 12/18, 9 PM hypnotically psychedelic, microtonally guitar-fueled East African psychedelic band 75 Dollar Bill at Union Pool, $10

Sundays at Barbes at around 9:30 PM paradigm-shifting Romany jazz guitarist Stephane Wrembel – who blends Django with ominous Pink Floyd art-rock and growling post-Velvets psychedelia.

12/1, 7 PM Texas Americana multi-instrumentalist (ex-Red Molly) Molly Venter and Goodnight Moonshine followed by Crescent City-flavored “steamboat soul” band Roosevelt Dime at the big room at the Rockwood, $15

12/1, 7:30 PM accordionist Christina Crowder’s haunting Bessarabian chamber jazz/klezmer quartet Bivolita at the Jalopy, $15

12/1, 7:30 PM pianist Peter Breiner leads an all-star octet playing Slovak Dances for Triango and Orchestra at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, free tix currently avail at the venue box office

12/1, 7:30 PM popular tenor saxophonist David Murray plays and sings Nat King Cole en Español at the Lincoln Center Atrium, free, early arrival advised

12/1-3, 7:30/9:30 PM at the Jazz Standard, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt’s “power quintet” with Steve Nelson – vibes; Danny Grissett – piano; Peter Washington – bass; Bill Stewart – drums, $25/$30 on the weekend

12/1-3, 8 PM, repeating on 12/4 at 2 PM singer/performer Jadele McPhersonoffers “a cosmic sonic journey through black liberation figures, conjurers and spiritual leaders from Haiti and Cuba, surrounded by fellow performers Val Jeanty, Maxine Montilus, Yomaira Gonzalez, Caridad Paisan Garbey and Daniel Gi,” at Jack, $18

12/1, 8  PM wit and lively piano-and-bass jousting – Uri Caine & Mark Helias at Mezzrow, $20

12/1, 8 PM fiery female-fronted psychedelic soul/funk band Sirsy (think, mythical temptress) at the Bitter End, $10

12/1, 8 PM singer Gabrielle Herbst leads a quartet with Missy Mazzoli on keys, Aaron Roche on guitar and Ludovica Burtone on violin at Roulette, $20 adv tix rec

12/1, 8/9:30 PM drummer Dan Weiss leads a tuneful trio withJacob Sacks, piano;  Thomas Morgan, bass at Cornelia St. Cafe, $20 incl a drink

12/1, 8 PM percussion and piano quartet Yarn/Wire  and indie vocal ensemble Ekmeles join forces for a composer portrait of Zasha Di Castri at the Miller Theatre, $30 tix avail

12/1, 9ish careening folk noir and heavy-duty grasscore: O’Death and Slim Cessna’s Auto Club at the Bell House, $15 adv tix rec

12/1, 9 PM haunting, purposeful viola improviser Jessica Pavone at Happy Lucky No. 1 Gallery

12/1, 9:30 PM fiery, noir-influenced guitarist  Andy Green leads a quartet with JC Sanford – trombone; Jeremy Udden – saxophone; Dave Ambrosio – bass at I-Beam, $15

12/2, 5:30 PM rustic guy/girl mid-Atlantic country blues duets with Piedmont Bluz at the American Folk Art Museum

12/2, 7 PM up-and-coming indie classical cellist Ashley Walters solo followed at 8:30 by tuneful, Middle Eastern-inspired tenor saxophonist Ole Mathisen leading a killer quartet:  Amir ElSaffar – trumpet; Bobby Avey – piano; Gregg August – bass at Spectrum, $15

12/2, 7 PM Middle Eastern-flavored psychedelic jams with Spaghetti Eastern Music at Silvana

12/2, 7:30/9 PM the mighty sixteen-piece, accordion-spiced cumbia-jazz Gregorio Uribe Big Band at Ginny’s Suppper Club, $20

12/2, 8 PM badass slowcore art-rock cellist/chanteuse Meaner Pencil, ethereally enchanting art-folk autoharpist/singer Elizabeth Devlin, enigmatic lo-fi janglerock/folk noir songwriter Tica Douglas and the fiery, theatrical, goth-tinged Catfox at the Park Church Co-op. 129 Russel St. at Nassau, $10, G train to Nassau Ave stop. 

12/2, 8 PM dark, fiery, female-fronted female-fronted surf rockers High Waisted  at the Knitting Factory, $10 adv tix rec

12/2, 8 PM the feral, frenetic NY Gypsy Allstars play their electric originals at Drom, $10 adv tix rec

12/2, 8 PM riveting, soaring singer/guitarist Julia Patinella – equally adept at flamenco and haunting Sicilian sounds at the Owl. 12/4 at 10 she’s at Sunny’s

12/2, 8 PM torchy, lyrically smashing original female-fronted oldtimey swing crew the Fascinators at Sidewalk

12/2, 8 PM trombone powerhouse Reut Regev’s smoky, funky, serpentine R-Time followed by fiery violinist/singer Carla Kihlstedt’s Causing a Tiger at Happy Lucky No. 1 Gallery 

12/2, 8 PM guitarist Douglas Bradford’s improvisational chamber jazz outfit Dragonfly: withPatrick Breiner – clarinet, Christopher Hoffman – cello, Sam Ospovat – drums followed at 9 by violinist Jason Kao Hwang’s Sing House with Andrew Drury – drums; Ken Filiano – bass; Chris Forbes – piano; Steve Swell – trombone at the Firehouse Space, $10

12/2, 8 PM David Broome (piano), Kate Dillingham (cello), Thomas Piercy (clarinet) perform works by Barash, Fetherolf, Galindo, and Schultz, alongside Henryk Górecki’s Lerchenmusik at the Broom Tree Theatre, 23-35 Broadway, Astoria (23rd/Crescent), free, reception to follow, R/W to Broadway

12/2, 8:30 PM a rare Brooklyn appearance by noir jazz legends the Jazz Passengers at Bar Lunatico. They’re also here on 12/22

12/2, 9 PM a Memphis Minnie tribute, all proceeds to fight the Dakota Pipeline, artistsinclude lbluesman Rashad Brown, Kylie Wilder, catchy, fun indie soul band Sunshine Nights, chamber pop/Romany/Americana violinist/songwriter Sarah Alden, her fellow badass violinist colleague Chloe eclectic, tuneful accordionist/songwriter Ali Dineen Swantner, fiery oldtimey string band he Four O’Clock Flowers, acoustic soul chanteuse Queen Esther, eclectic, tuneful accordionist/songwriter Ali Dineen  $10 sugg, give what you can

12/2, 9 PM enigmatically careening,wickedly tuneful, intense female-fronted power trio Castle Black, ageless, filthy oldschool punk/powerpop band Custard Wally – sort of the Blowfly of NYC punk rock –and paisley underground/punk trio the Unknown Nobodies, at Hank’s, be aware of $8 cover

12/2, 9 PM haunting folk noir/lo-fi psychedelic guy Jaye Bartell at Troost

12/2-3,9/10:30 PM bassist Petros Klamanis’ mighty, haunting Bpazia ensemble with Magda Giannikou, voice, accordion;  Yotam Silberstein, guitar;  Julian Shore, piano;  Keita Ogawa, percussion;  Roggerio Boccato, percussion;  Gokce Erem, violin;  Carrie Frey, viola;  Adam Fisher, cello at Cornelia St. Cafe, $20 incl a drink

12/2, 9 PM darkly edgy, politically-fueled Irish tunesmith Niall Connolly at the small room at the Rockwood

12/2, 9 PM Epica and their cello-metal Metallica covers at Webster Hall, $30

12/2, 9:30 PM the Jentsch Group No Net premiere the brillint cult favorite jazz guitarist’s Topics in American History – his chamber jazz abstraction of historical themes and events – at Shapeshifter Lab, $10

12/2, 10 PM this era’s most chillingly cinematic, shadowy reverbtoned noir guitar instrumentalists, Big Lazy at Barbes

12/2, 10 PM darkly torchy, individualistic psychedelic jazz/slowcore/noir singer Bianca Muniz with her band at Terra Firma 119 Ingraham St just off Porter, Bushwick, free, L to Montrose Ave

12/2-3, 10:30 PM state-of-the-art, pyrotechnically soulful trumpeter Ingrid Jensen leads her quintet at Smalls

12/2, 10:30 PM cutting-edge B3 organ and trombone soul/jazz grooves with the Jared Gold and Dave Gibson Band at the Fat Cat

12/2, 11 PM the Tsunambots – who put a creepy postrock spin on surf punk – followed at midnight by deviously theatrical oldschool C&W/rockabilly parodists Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co at Otto’s. The ‘Bots are also here the following night, 12/3 at midnight

12/3, 4 PM composer/accordionist Michael Hearst’s Songs About Extraordinary People  – including the Iceman found more or less intact after 5300 years entombed in ice, and Marie Curie, whose radioactive notebooks are still lethal – fo followed at 6 by intense Balkan chanteuse Jenny Luna‘s haunting, traditional Turkish band Dolunay, intense, intricately orchestrated, low register-loving psycho mambo band Gato Loco at 8 and then the blustery firepower of Sinaloa-style Mexican mariachi/ranchera brass group Banda de los Muertos at Barbes

12/3 7 PM the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra with pianist and composer Fazil Say performs Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 plus Say’s new cross-pollinated composition, Silk Road, plus works by Haydn and Rossini at Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall, $13 seats avail

12/3, 8 PM intense, rapturous Balkan/ Middle Eastern ensemble the Secret Trio –Tamer Pinarbasi, Ismail Lumanovski & Ara Dinkjian – at Roulette, $30

12/3, 8 PM a multimedia perfomance with dance, live painting, poetry and the Persian sufi music of ther Pejman Tadayon Ensemble at Alwan for the Arts, $20/$15 stud/srs

12/3, 8 PM pianists Azamat Sydykov and Nikita Galaktionov trade places and play works by Tchaikovsky, Rubinstein, Balakirev, Lyapunov, Rachmaninoff, and Scriabinat Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, $25 seats avail

12/3, 8 PM Sarah Rara of Lucky Dragons plays solo electroacoustic works followed by mesmerizing sound sculptor Lesley Flanigan at the Kitchen, $15

12/3, 8 PM haunting, intense flamenco jazz pianist Chano Dominguez & New Flamenco Sounds at Shapeshifter Lab

12/3, 9 PM the Alan Lomax of surf rock, Unsteady Freddie‘s monthly extravaganza at Otto’s starts with Bongo Surf, at 10 the cinematically twangy Agent Octopus, at 11 the the Luau Cinders (to be known in the future as the Kaweem Abdoo Jabbaws) and creepy surfy postrockers the Tsunambots

12/3, 9 PM hauntingly elegant Americana/chamber pop/noir chanteuse Jessie Kilguss and her excellent band at Muchmore’s

12/3, 9 PM visual scores by Aleksandra Vrebalov performed by Lynn Bechtold, Steve Bloom, Jennifer Choi, Dan Cooper, Du.0, Marija Ilic, John King, Hajnal Pivnick, Kathy Tagg, Aleksandra Vrebalov, and Dorian Wallace at Spectrum, $15

12/3, 10 PM Haunted Gypsy play their ominous Siouxsie-esque goth rock at Leftfield 

12/3, 10 PM the original lineup of tuneful indie powerpop favorites Palomar at Union Hall, $10

12/3, 11 PM rockabilly/surf guitar favorite Rev. Horton Heat at Warsaw, $22

12/4, starting at 9 AM an all-day Mannes Chamber Music Bash with performances across the campus at the New School’s Arnhold Hall: Ernst C. Stiefel Concert Hall, Baisley Powell Elebash Recital Hall, Room 450, and the Glass Box Theater, program TBA  

12/4, half past noon at Petteri Iivonen, violin; Ben Larsen, cello; Mika Sasaki, piano play piano trios by Hayen, Sibelius, Beethoven and Brahms at the Russian Orthodox Cathedral, 59 E 2nd St, sugg don

12/4, 3 PM the Greenwich Village Orchestra‘s annual family concert with holiday romp with Bizet’s toreadors, Copland’s cowboys, Brahms’ Hungarians, sleigh rides with Anderson and Prokofiev, and Sarasate’s gypsy violin music with young soloist Ben Lerman at Washington Irving HS Auditorium, 16th St./Irving Place, $20 sugg don., reception to follow

12/4, 4 PM Ko-Eun Yi, piano, performs works by Mozart, Debussy, Brahms, and Scriabin at the Dreck Center at the Brooklyn Public Library, free, no under-sixes.

12/4, 5ish Miwa Gemini – the darkly enigmatic missing link between Calexico and Shonen Knife – at Muchmore’s

12/4, 5 PM dynamic choral ensemble Musica Viva NY, joined by the Aeolus Quartet and colleagues bring the stormy heavenly battles of Bach’s four “Michaelmas” cantatas to life. Also on the bill: organist Renée Anne Louprette plays Knut Nystedt’s “Immortal Bach” and Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, at All Souls Church, 1157 Lexington Ave (at 80th St) $30

12/4, 5 PM the Brooklyn Brass Quintet play works by Matt Marks and John Altieri originals, as well as works by Ann Cleare and Tim McCormick followed by Karl Larson playing solo piano, program TBA at Spectrum, $15

12/4, 5 PM the Daedalus String Quartet play Beethoven string quartets – one early (#1) and one late (#14) –  at the Lounge @ Hudson View Gardens, 128 Pinehurst Avenue at W. 183rd St., suggested donation of $12 includes post-concert reception with the artists

12/4, 6 PM alto saxophonist Louise Jensen and guitarist Adam Caine:followed at 7 by the sax trio of Jensen with Chris Pitsiokos and Nick Lyons at Downtown Music Gallery

12/4, 7 PM Taylor Davis plays her violin covers of video game themes at the Mercury, $18 adv tix rec

12/4, 7 PM pianiist Nathaniel LaNasa plays a program TBA at Third Street Music School Settlement, free

12/4, 8 PM slashing, blues-infused guitarist/songwriter Mallory Feuer’s noisy quartet the Grasping Straws, jangly, sharply lyrical folk-rock/chamberpop band the Morning Sea – like a more stripped-down, less druggy Elliott Smith – and Dalton Deschain & the Traveling Show playing their creepy circus punk and arena rock at Bowery Electric, $8

12/4, 8 PM a solo acoustic Joanna Sternberg set, the Crimson Ragdolls:  Joanna Sternberg, Ali Dineen & Lucine Yeghiazaryanne and at 9:30 accordionist Dineen and band playing the album release show for her new one at the Jalopy, $12

12/4, 8 PM free jazz trombone powerhouse Steve Swell’s shout-out to Bartok, Kende Dreams with Rob Brown – alto saxophone; Dave Burrell – piano; William Parker – bass; Chad Taylor – drums, percussionat Roulette, $20 adv tix rec

12/4, 8 PM brilliantly cinematic, kinetic violinist Dana Lyn with eclectically atmospheric guitarist Kyle Sanna at the Owl

12/4, 8 PM drummer Adam Rudolph’s strikingly tuneful, rumblingly improvisational Go Organic Orchestra at the Brooklyn Conseratory of Music, $15

12/4, 8 PM TALIBAM! (Matt Mottel, synthesizer & Kevin Shea, drums); Tamio Shiraishi – alto saxophone; and David Watson – bagpipes and electric guitar at Jack, $15

12/4, 8:30 PM the haunting, creepy Dust Bowl Faeries circus rock/art-rock band and theatrical circus rock goth Luis Mojica at the Delancey 12/23, 7 PM they’re at Shrine

12/4, 8:30/10 PM Django Reinhardt tribute night with Olli Soikkeli, guitar;  Julian Labro, accordion;  Eduardo Belo, bass;  Max O’Rourke, rhythm guitar at Cornelia St. Cafe, $20 incl a drink

12/4, 10 PM explosive electric blues guitarist/songwriter Jackie Venson – arguably the best thing happening in Texas blues right now – at Silvana

12/4, 10:30 PM Middle Eastern-tinged Israeli guitarist Amos Hoffman leads his quartet at Smalls

12/5, 7 PM monster new music pianist Vicky Chow joins with the Momenta Quartet to play Alberto Ginastera’s hair-raising, rather sinister Piano Quintet, alongside rarely heard string quartets by two of his most celebrated students: Mesías Maiguashca and Joaquín Orellana at the Americas Society, 680 Park Ave at 68th St, $10 adv tix avail

12/5, 7 PM the tuneful, shapeshifting trombone-driven JC Sanford Quartet with Mike Baggetta on guitar at Spectrum, $15

12/5, 7 PM the up-and-coming indie classical ensemble Face the Music Symphony, directed by Whitney George, performs student composer Petite Symphony by Whitney George. Samurai Mama Big Band, Face the Music’s resident creative big band directed by Aakash Mittal, will perform Argue’s Transit and Snarky Puppy’s Kite at Roulette, $15 adv tix rec

12/5, 7 PM, repeating 12/17 and 1/5/17, 7 PM Austin Pendleton and Barbara Bleier perform their twisted theatre/cabaret show Tis the Season to Be Morbid with songs by Richard Maltby & David Shire, Gretchen Cryer and Nancy Ford, Lynn Ahrens & Stephen Flaherty, an unpublished song by John Bucchino and Amanda McBroom, at Pangea, $25

12/5-6, 8/10:30 PM 8/10:30 PM ageless, perennially hard-hitting jazz piano sage and ex-Coltrane bandmate McCoy Tyner with .his quartet feat. Gary Bartaz on baritone sax at the Blue Note, $30 standing room avail

12/5, 8:30 PM enigimatically witty, erudite jazz chanteuse/songwriter Dorian Devins leads her trio Lou Rainone on keys and Paul Gill on bass at the Bar Next Door

12/6, drinks at 5:30 PM, show at 6, the Curtis Chamber Ensemble play Brahms’s Piano Quartet in G minor, at the Miller Theatre, free

12/6, 6:30 PM oldtime country blues purveyor Eli Smith, rustic 19th century style string band the Four O’Clock Flowers, and badass resonator guitarist and delta blues/oldtime hillbilly music maven Mamie Minch play American folk songs centered around the theme of death and mourning in the down-home tradition at the American Folk Art Museum, $10. Minch is also at Barbes at 8 on 12/16.

12/6, 7 PM a rare duo performance by klezmer chanteuse Polina Shepherd with Klezmatics, accordion wizard Lorin Sklamberg followed by ten-piece funky Balkan brass/Ellington jazz monsters Slavic Soul Party at Barbes

12/6, 7 PM Jeremy Schonfeld’s Iron & Coal Holocaust-themed art-song project at National Sawdust, $35 adv tix rec

12/6, 7:30 PM amazingly eclectic original klezmer songwriter/chanteuse Lenka Lichtenberg at the Jalopy, $15

12/6-7, 7:30/9:30 PM at the Jazz Standard, intense pianist Gerald Clayton ’s trio plus special guest Miguel Zenon on alto, whooooah! $30

12/6, 7:30 PM a rare reunion of Austrian sax legend Karlheinz Miklin with his longtime American collaborators, Billy Hart on drums and Ron McClure on bass at the Austrian Cultural Forum, 11 E 52nd St, free but res req 

12/6, 8 PM the Columbia University Orchestra play Sibelius-Finalandia, Beethoven-Symphony #8 and Debussy-La Mer at Symphony Space, free

12/6, 8 PM roaring 20s hot jazz with Sweet Megg & the Wayfarers at Radegast Hall

12/6. 10:30 PM fiery alto saxophonist Lucas Pino’s twin-guitar No No Nonet at Smalls

12/6, 11 PM Of Clocks & Clouds play their twisted postrock and goth-tinged post-new wave anthems at the Knitting Factory $10 adv tix rec

12/7, 6:30 PM thought-provoking musicologist and Oxford History of Western Music editor Richard Taruskin considers an artist’s obligation to society, based on his book The Dangers of Music, Taruskin’s talk will be followed by a discussion with GC professor Scott Burnham, with a musical interlude at Elebash Hall at CUNY, 365 5th Ave. north of 34th St., free but rsvp req

12/7, 10:30 PM snarlingly atmospheric, cinematic, darkly psychedelic postrock cellist Helen Money at Trans-Pecos, $10

12/7, 10:30 PM fearlessly relevant, politically-inspired drummer/composer Rob Garcia and his quartet at Smalls

12/7, 7:30 PM slinky, carnivalesque Romany/Mediterranean band Dodo Orchestra at Club Bonafide, $15

12/7, 8 PM the first family of cinematic, rivetingly intense Middle Eastern classical music: oudist and partiarch Marcel, pianist Rami, and percusionist Bachar Khalife at the Town Hall, $35 tix avail

12/7, 8 PM Katie E, the Drunken Foreigner Band and noisy, hazily jangly, psychedelic slowcore/free jazz/avant instrumentalists Sunwatchers at Union Pool, $10

12/7, 8 PM psychedelic klezmer/bluegrass mandolin and clarinet legend Andy Statman at Barbes, $10

12/7 day one of the Jalopy’s Roots & Ruckus Fest opens at 9 PM with country blues guitarist Eli Smith; mid-Atlantic country blues duets with Piedmont Bluz at 9:30; Venezuelan tradiional singer Yva Las Vegas at 10; sly, rustic late 20s style jug band/hokum blues crew Brotherhood of the Jug Band Blues at 10:30; country covers with Aaron Frazer at 11; Crushed Out at 11:30 and at midnight, Brother Roy. Next door at the Jalopy Tavern starting at 10 there’s King Isto’s Tropical String Band playing awesomely fun, catchy Hawaiian slack-key guitar music and then the all-star Skalopy cover band, free.

12/7, 9 PM Dervisi feat. guitar god Steve Antonakos play “exotic Greek gangsta blues” at Troost. 12/15, 9 PM they’re at Espresso 77, 35-57 77th Street, Jackson Hts.

12/8, 7 PM a night of creepy storytelling – audience participation invited – with music from cleverly lyrical, murderously witty murder ballad/chamber pop allstars Charming Disaster at Green-Wood Cemetery, 500 25th St, Sunset Park,$20, take the 5th Ave entrance. “Some material may not be suitable for young audiences.”

12/8, 7 PM witty Microscopic Septet pianist Joel Forrester  promises to play back-to-back, differing versions of his repetitive classic Industrial Arts at Spectrum, $15

12/8, , 7 PM soaringly explosive jazz composer/torch singer Nicole Zuraitis at 55 Bar

12/8, 7:30 PM hauntingly lyrical, grimly witty folk noir/Nashville gothic band Thee Shambels at Post Mark Cafe,326 6th St (4th/5th Aves), Park Slope, closest train is the R to 9th St.

12/8, 7:30 PM eclectic, badass alto saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin and her oldschool soul/jazz group at the Lincoln Center Atrium, free, early arrival advised

12/8-11, 7:30/9:30 PM at the Jazz Standard, purist, low-key postbop guitarist Peter Bernstein leads a pretty chill, oldschool quartet with Harold Mabern – piano; John Webber – bass; Jimmy Cobb – drums, $30

12/8, 8 PM unstoppable guitar and banjo shredder Brandon Seabrooks Die Trommel Fatale, Tredici Bacci playing original psychedelic instrumentals inspired by Italian film soundtracks and irresistibly named female-fronted art-rock band Reina Terror at Trans-Pecos, $10

12/8, 8 PM a killer female-fronted triplebill of jazz pianists: the Kazzrie Jaxen Group, Virg Dzurinko Quartet and feral, wildly improvisational, tuneful Mara Rosenbloom Trio atr Scholes Ste. studio

12/8, day two of the Jalopy’s Roots & Ruckus Fest opens at 9 PM with warmly tuneful front-porch folk songwriter Joanna Sternberg, the rustically haunting Ukrainian Village Voices at 9:30, intense, fearless Romany/Balkan chaunteuse Eva Salina with pyrotechnic accordionist Peter Stan at 10; whirlwind clarinet and violin-fueled klezmer group Litvakus at 10:30; high-voltage late 19th century style string band Four O’Clock Flowers at 11; Gato Paloma at 11:30 and riveting, soaring singer/guitarist Julia Patinella – equally adept at flamenco and haunting Sicilian sounds at midnight

12/8, 9 PM pyrotechnic Balkan multi-reedman Greg Squared‘s Seyyah with the similarly amazing Kane Mathis on oud and Jenny Luna on vocals at Roots & Ruckus at the Jalopy

12/8, 9 PM smart, cleverly lyrical original swing chanteuse/songwriter/trombonist Emily Asher’s Garden Party at Radegast Hall

12/8. 9:30 PM explosive, theatrical, phantasmagorical indie/metal band A Deer A Horse at Footlight Bar, $10

12/8, 8 PM  the plush, balmy, oldtimey uke swing of Daria Grace & the Pre-War Ponies  followed by agelessly soulful Armenian clarinetist Souren Baronian’s Taksim Middle Eastern jazz combo at Barbes

12/8, 8 PM Joanna Choy’s popular Americana cover band Scotch Bonnet at Hifi Bar

12/9, 6 PM 6 PM crystalline-voiced, noir-tinged third-stream jazz chanteuse Tessa Souter and her band at 55 Bar

12/9, 6:30 PM cult favorite Americana soul songstress Dina Regine at the American Folk Art Museum

12/9, 7 PM confrontentially comedic singer Dan Finnerty’s hilarious, viciously sarcastic top 40 cover band the Dan Band play a holiday show – yikes – at Joe’s Pub, $22

12/9, 7 PM purist Memphis electric blues slide guitarist/singer Elizabeth Wise at Caffe Vivaldi

12/9, 8 PM eclectic, lyrical jazz bassist/composer Pedro Giraudo leads his Tango Quartet followed at 10 by an accordion trio summit: Vitor Gonçalves, Felipe Hostins and Rob Curto play an evening of choro, forró, samba and original music in the tradition of Dominguinhos, Sivuca and Chiquinho do Acordeom, featuring Scott Kettner on percussion and special guests.

12/9, 8 PM psychedelic cumbia band Yotoco and the eclectic, Balkan/latin/funk brass Underground Horns at Drom, $10

12/9, 8 PM riveting Indian classical sitarist Ustad Shafaat Khan at the Tribeca Performing Arts Ctr (the BMCC auditorium on Chambers east of the river), $21

12/9, 8 PM wryly trippy dub reggae bandleader Effie Liu at the Knitting Factory, $10 adv tix rec

12/9 day three of the Jalopy’s Roots & Ruckus Fest opens at 8:30 with the Berger Sisters‘ high-energy string band, at 9 Hubby Jenkins of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, at 9:30 a special duo set by Spirit Family Reunion, at 10 Brain Cloud’s tapdancing vocalese specialist Tamar Korn, at 10:30 darkly lyrical songwriter/impresario Feral Fosterat 11  the Crimson Ragdolls: at 11:30 pyrotechnic Balkan multi-reedman Greg Squared‘s Seyyah with the similarly amazing Kane Mathis on oud and Jenny Luna on vocals

12/9, 9 PM darkly minimalist, atmospheric chamber pop/art-rock chantuese Nico Turner at the Owl

12/9, 9 PM pensive, smart multi-instrumentalist Kristen Tivey – of Eliza & the Organix – fronts her own folk/jazz band at Pete’s

12/9, 10 PM one of the funniest men in rock, sardonically Beatlesque/Costelloesque powerpop songwriter Walter Ego  followed at 11 by purist reverbtoned instrumentalists Strange but Surf at Sidewalk

12/9, 10 PM funky, lyrically intense dark folk jamband the Sometime Boys– with the riveting Sarah Mucho on vocals – at the Way Station

12/9, 10 PM the Sun Ra Arkestra squeezing themselves into the tiny space for a stage at Nublu 151, 151 Ave C, $tba

12/9. 10:30 PM hilarious, sardonically careening glam/party band Haley Bowery & the Manimals at Hanks, be aware of $8 cover

12/9, midnight wry, jangly, retro 60s psychedelic popsters Gringo Star at Alphaville, $12

12/10, 2 PM the NY Phil play Dvorak’s Symphony No. 6 at Avery /fisher Hall, $33 tix rec

12/10, 7:30 PM Dylan keyboardist Mick Rossi’s Outliers Series presents You Break You Buy — a potentially very dark, cinematic collaboration with Peter Hess (Balkan Beat Box), Stephen Ulrich and Yuval Lion ( (Big Lazy), Jon Madof (Zion80). at Spectrum, $15

12/10, 7:30 PM incomparable country/jazz/janglerock icon Amy Allison with Lee Feldman on piano at Dixon Place. Briliant new material! Devastatingly funny between-song banter!

12/10, 7:30 PM Dover Quartet play Mozart: Quartet in B-flat Major, K. 589; Britten: Quartet No. 2 in C Major, Op. 36; Beethoven: Quartet in C Major, Op. 59, No. 3 at Washington Irving HS Auditorium, 17th/Irving Place, $14

12/10, 7:30 PM the Dessoff Choir sing works by Tavener, Handel, Bach, Robert Parsons and others at St. Peter’s Church, 54th/Lex, $25/$15 stud/srs The program repeats 12/18 at 4 PM at Saint John’s Episcopal Church, 139 Saint Johns Place, Park Slope, B/Q to 7th Ave, 2/3 to Grand Army Plaza

12/10, 8 PM dark intense cult favorite lyrical rocker LJ Murphy and his unstoppable, blues and Stax/Volt-infused noir band the Accomplices followed by Abraham’s River fka Mac McCarty & the Kidd Twist Band playing their fiery, sometimes unexpectedly poignant Pogues-ish punk and folk noir at Sidewalk

12/10, 8 PM a cant-miss, rare NYC show by Lynchian Michigan noir country duo the Whiskey Charmers followed eventually at 10 by wild, noisy, genuinely Hendrixian virtuoso lead guitarist Viva DeConcini and her band at the Way Station

12/10, 8 PM all-female indie classical sextet (well, that’s what they are) Nouveau Classical play at the Firehouse Space, $10

12/10, 8 PM the Cecilia Chorus of New York perform an especially interesting take on the tired “Bach Family Xmas” concept:.Bach’s Magnificat, a 15-minute comic intermezzo (mini-opera) by Jonathan Breit based on an altercation between Bach and one of his students, as well as Meine Seele Erhebet Den Herrn (“Magnificat” in German) by Johann’s cousin J. Ernst, and the Advent cantata Wachet Auf by his son J. Christoph Friedrich. at STern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall, $25 tix avail

12/10, 9ish trumpeter Steven Bernstein’s legendary noir jazz outfit Sexmob – who’ve distinguished themselves with their reinventions of Nino Rota Fellini soundtracks – make a rare Brooklyn appearance at the Owl

12/10, 9:30ish intense charismatic danceable metal cumbia/skaragga/latin rockers Escarioka at Mehanata, $10

12/10, 9:30 PM amazingly eclectic female-fronted latin/Mediterranean/Romany and charming French ye-ye pop with Banda Magda at Joe’s Pub, $20 adv tix red

12/10, 10 PM the Clean’s Hamish Kilgour’s new band Roya and tuneful, diverse retro 60s psychedelic garage rockers the Mystery Lights at Shea Stadium, $12

12/10, 10 PM boisterously funny oldschool 60s C&W and brooding southwestern gothic with the Jack Grace Band at Bar Chord

12/10. 10 PM Mimi Oz – a real kitchen-sink songwriter with soul and rock and darker sounds and an omnipresent sense of humor – at Pete’s

12/11, 3 PM the China Philharmonic Orchestra play Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 at Avery Fisher Hall, $25 tix avail

12/11, 7 PM Turkish crooner Ahmet Erdogdular  leads a nine-piece ensemble playing and singing bewitching classical Turkish, Greek Byzantine, Armenian, and Sephardi Jewish music at Merkin Concert Hall, $30

12/11, 7 PM Belarus folk noir songwriter Lavon Volski at Drom, $30 adv tix req

12/11, 7 PM pianists Nnenna Ogwo and Jiayin Shen play a program tba at Third Street Music School Settlement, free

12/11, 6 PM noir guitar legend Jim Campilongo and his trio followed by lyrical jazz pianist Jim Ridl tickling the plastic on the Rhodes at 55 Bar

12/11, 7:30 PM a killer Middle Eastern jazz/art-rock triplebill at Shapeshifter Lab, $15: dark surfy Israeli guitar monster Eyal Maoz and bassist Y Basstavi followed by guitairst Beledo and then Gilad Atzmon & the Art House Ensemble with special guests Amina Figarova on piano and Saul Rubin on guitar and Marko Djordjevic on drums, wow

12/11, 7:30 PM well-respected oldtime Americana multi-instrumentalist Bruce Molsky and band at the Jalopy, $20

12/11, 8 PM Daniel Epstein: piano; Jillian Blythe: cello play duos by Debussy, Beethoven and Rachmaninoff at the Firehouse Space, $15

12/11, 8:30 PM lots of enigmatic, darkly opaque possibilities: chanteuse Gretchen Parlato with Shai Maestro on piano at Mezxrow, $20

12/11, 9:30 PM noir, fearlessly political, lurid Americana: charismatic, powerhouse lyricist/banjoist Curtis Eller at at Pete’s

12/11, 9:30 PM multi-instrumentalist Dave Wechsler’s lush, historically-infused chamber pop project the Tyranny of Dave and subversively torchy, historically-informed, richly lyrical oldtime Americana chanteuse Robin Aigner & Parlour Game at Freddy’s

12/11, 10 PM explosively cinematic cello metal band Blues in Space at the big room at the Rockwood, $10

12/12, 7 PM drummer Will Mason leads his quatet with Kris Davis- piano; Ned Rothenberg- clarinet; Greg Chudzik- bass at Spectrum, $15

12/12, 7:30 PM the Jack Quartet and vocal ensemble Ekmeles join forces to perform music from and celebrating northern climes:  John Luther Adams – Canticles of the Sky interspersed with works by Karin Rehnqvist, Kajia Saariaho, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Jean Sibelius and Marc Sabat at Music Mondays, Advent Church, northwest corner of 93rd and Broadway, free 

12/12, 7:30 PM Juilliard’s contemporary ensemble, Axiom, play an all-Saariaho program at Alice Tully Hall, free tix avail. at the box ofc, get em now

12/12, 9 PM drummer Billy Hart and pianist George Cables‘ postbop supergroup the Cookers at Nublu 151 151 Ave C, $tba

12/13, 6:30 PM  up-and-coming guitarist/songwriter Alicyn Yaffee -the rare artist who successfully bridges the gap between lyrically-fueled chamber pop and jazz – at the Bar Next Door, free

12/13, 7 PM pyrotechnic Balkan multi-reedman Greg Squared‘s Circle followed by ten-piece funky Balkan brass/Ellington jazz monsters Slavic Soul Party at Barbes

12/13, 7 PM intense, edgily tuneful Texas tenor saxophonist Stan Killian leads his postbop quartet at 55 Bar

12/13, 7:30 PM pianist Anthony de Mare curates a dramatic evening in honor of Eric Satie’s 150th birthday year with fellow pianists Simone Dinnerstein, Adam Tendler and others at the Sheen Center, 18 Bleecker St. west of Bowery, $27 tix avail

12/13, 7:30 PM pianist Andrew Tyson plays works by Scriabin, Ravel, Petrossian, Gershwin and others at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, free, tix avail at 6:30 PM day of show at the box ofc

12/13, 8 PM fiery, deviously fun oldtimey swing guitarist/crooner Seth Kessel & the Two Cent Band at Radegast Hall 12/23 he’s at Sunny’s at 10

12/13, 8/9:30 PM saxophonist Caroline Davis leads a quintet with Marquis Hill, trumpet; Julian Shore, piano; Tamir Shmerling, bass; Jay Sawyer, drums at Cornelia St. Cafe, $20 incl a drink

12/13-18, 8:30/10:30 PM piano icon Kenny Barron leads his trio at the o at the Vanguard, $25. 12/14-25 he leads a quintet with Steve Nelson (vibes) Dayna Stevens (saxophone) Kenny Barron (piano) Kiyoshi Kitagawa (bass) Johnathan Blake (drums)

12/13, 8:30 PM oldtime blues/Americana resonator guitarist Zeke Healey and eclectic violist Karen Waltuch making psychedelic free jazz out of classic Appalachian and Americana themes followed by warmly tuneful front-porch folk songwriter Joanna Sternberg at Bar Lunatico

12/13, 9 PM Ruby the Hatchet – female-fronted metal bnad who blend darkwave and a classic 70s stoner vibe to their Iron Maiden-inspired assault – and hauntingly slinky psychedelic doom band Earthless at Bowey Balllroom, $15 adv tix rec. Either that or they’re at St. Vitus for three bucks more – both venues have the show listed.

12/13, 9:30 PM the Bronx Conexion play their mighty salsa big band jazz at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, $10

12/14, 2 PM Augustin Hadelich, violin & Joyce Yang, piano play works by Stravinsky, Beethoven, Mozart and Tschaikovsky at the Town Hall, $15

12/14-15, 7:30 PM purposeful rising star postbop saxophonist Melissa Aldana leads her quartet at Smalls. The 12/14 show is followed at 10:30 PM by inspired, cutting-edge trombonist/composer Ryan Keberle & Catharsis

12/14, 8 PM explosive psychedelic rembetiko metal band Greek Judas at Barbes

12/14, 8 PM hauntingly Middle Eastern-influenced alto saxophonist Uri Gruvich leads a quartet with Manuel Valera, piano; Edward Perez, bass; Francisco Mela, drums at Cornelia St. Cafe, $20 incl a drink

12/15 half past noon electically cinematic, kinetic klezmer/cumbia/reggae jamband Metropolitan Klezmer at Liberty Park (original site of Occupy Wall Street)

12/15, 7:30 PM mighty, sweeping, richly lyrical eighteen-piece big band the Christopher Zuar Orchestra – whose debut album is amazing = at Symphony Space, $22

12/15, 7:3o PM wickedly tuneful, funky chambet-pop/funk/art-rock cellist/songwriter Marika Hughes & Bottom Heavy at the Lincoln Center Atrium, free, early arrival advised

12/15, 7:30 PM flutist Adrianne Greenbaum leads her klezmer group at th Jalopy $15

12/15, 8 PM raucous oldtimey blues/bluegrass/acoustic jamband the Howlin’ Brothers at Hill Country Brooklyn

12/15, 8/9:30 PM shamisen player/singer/improviser Emi Makabe leads her quartet with with Vitor Gonçalves, piano, accordion; Thomas Morgan, bass; Nate Wood, drums; at Cornelia St. Cafe, $20 incl a drink

12/15, 8 PM pianist Mara Rosenbloom‘s ferally tuneful improvisational trio celebrates her birthday, plus bassist Sean Conly’s Re:Action+1:with Michaël Attias and Tony Malaby, saxophones; Kris Davis, piano; Gerald Cleaver, drums) at Greenwich House Music School, $18/$15 stud/srs

12/15, 8 PM cellist Hank Roberts killer new sextet Jacob Sacks – piano; MIchael McGinnis – reeds; Dana Lyn – violin; Brian Drye – trombone and Vinnie Speranza – drums at Barbes

12/15, 8 PM charismatic, eclectic cellist/songwriter Meaghan Burke at the Way Station

12/15, 9ish the original cello rockers, Rasputina, as fearless and funny and relevant as ever, at the Poisson Rouge, $15 adv tix rec

12/15, 9 PM tuneful jazz (and surf music) pianist/keyboardist JP Schlegelmilch at Happy Lucky No. 1 Gallery

12/16, 7 PM paradigm-shifting Indonesian bell orchestra works with Gamelan Son of Lion at Flushing Town Hall, $15

12/16-17 and 12-21-22, 8 PM, also 12/18 at 5 PM Alessandra Belloni‘s rustically witchy tarantella theatre spectacle La Cantata Dei Pastori, based on Andrea Perrucci’s traditional 17th century Neapolitan play, performed in Italian with English narration by La Befana, the “good Christmas witch,” with special guest from Apulia, Italy: Giovannagelo de Gennaro on vocals, accordion, bagpipe, viella at Theatre for the New City, 155 First Ave (between 9th & 10th Sts

12/16, 8 PM following a solo set, cellist Leila Bordreuil premieres “Memory City,” a new piece for large ensemble featuring Nate Wooley, Anne Guthrie, Chris McIntyre, Michael Foster and Ben Bennet. at Issue Project Room, suggg don

12/16, 8 PM cellist Hank Roberts’ edgy, awesome sextet at the Owl

12/16, 8ish legendary 1960s charangueros Orquesta Típica Novel at the Lincoln Center Atrium, free, early arrival a must

12/16, 8;15 PM ethereal, raptly haunting singer Sara Serpa s City Fragments Band: Sara Serpa, Sofia Rei, Aubrey Johnson- voices; André Matos- guitar; Erik Friedlander- cello. Tyshawn Sorey- drums at Shapshifter Lab

12/16, 9 PM a killer guitar duo: Mike Moreno & Rale Micic duo at Symphony Space Cafe, free

12/16, 10 PM ferociously dynamic, tuneful, female-fronted power trio Castle Black followed by the darkly eclectic, enigmatic Lorraine Leckie  – equally adept at Slavic and Americana noir – at Sidewalk

12/16, 10 PM hauntingly elegant Americana/chamber pop/noir chanteuse Jessie Kilguss and her excellent band at Hank’s $5

12/16, 10 PM hypnotic, catchy loopmusic cellist Laura Wolf at Pine Box Rock Shop

12/16, 10 PM eclectic, soulful, lyrical original oldtime Americana/folk band the Woes at Sunny’s

12/17, 7 PM ageless indie powerpop favorites the Figgs at the Mercury, $12

12/17, 7 PM the Bushwick Book Club – a collective of incredibly diverse, typically excellent songwriters including irrepressibly fun ringleader Susan Hwang, the haunting Jessie Kilguss, and parlor pop mavens Sweet Soubrette – play their “Best of 2016” show at Issyra Gallery, 300 Observer Hwy in Hoboken on the way to Jersey City, free

12/17. 7:30 PM art-rockers the Tea Club play their wild, eighteen-minute, early Genesis-esque epics at the Knitting Factory, $15 adv tix rec

12/17, 8 PM unpredictably eclectic, perennially edgy rising star alto saxophonist Aakash Mittal leads an improvisational trio with excellent tuneful guitarist Rez Abbasi at the Firehouse Space, $10

12/17, 8 PM garage punk duo Flyin’ J and the Ghostrobber – who compare themselves to Los Saicos and Mark Sultan – at Freddy’s. Anybody who knows who Los Saicos are in the first place is worth seeing.

12/17, 8 PM cult favorite, noisy 80s dreampop pioneer Kristin Hersh at Terminal 5, $30 adv tix rec

12/17, 9 PM rocksteady and reggae with the Frightnrs, Full Watts, and third-wave ska/soul/blues cult favorites the Slackers at the Bel House, $20

12/17. 9 PM searing, theatrical Romany/Balkan punk rockers Bad Buka at Mehanata

12/17, 9 PM violinist Ari Streisfeld plays Luciano Berio’s Sequenza VIII and Salvatore Sciarrino’s Six Caprices with the New York premiere of Robert Morris’s Variations with Aria and Kaija Saariaho’s mournful Nocturne in the middle. at Spectrum, $15

12/17, 10 PM Lux Vestra – who do a pretty good facsimile of the mid 70s Grateful Dead without turning into dadrock – at Leftfield

12/17, 10 PM baritone crooner Sean Kershaw‘s Serpentones play “hi octane Brooklyn honkytonk” at Bar Chord

12/17. 10:30 PM garage rockers the Britemores followed at 11:30 by hilarious, smartly political faux-French retro 60s psych-pop band les Sans Culottes at Hank’s, $8

12/17, midnight the catchy, propulsive, jangly new wave-ish Virginia & the Wolves at Pine Box Rock Shop

12/18, 4 PM Boston choir Blue Heron perform music for Christmas and the New Year in 15th-century France and Burgundy at Corpus Christi Church, 529 W 121st St, $10 seats avail

12/18. 6 PM it’s the flagship event of the annual, magically enveloping, global Unsilent Night boombox parade! For 23 consecutive years, composer Phil Kline has led this interactive parade from Washington Square Park to Tompkins Square Park. Show up no later than 5:45 PM, and you can pick up a boombox with a cassette of his carillonesque, pointillistic electronic score. Or download it for free, then bring your phone, mp3 player or tablet and join the fun! You can also stream it at soundcloud as you walk. A great family event!

12/18, 6 PM French harpist/chanteuse Margot Verret at Cornelia St. Cafe, $20 incl a drink

12/18, 7 PM the all-female Accord Treble Choir sing an eclectic mix of haunting Balkan choral works and pieces from the western classical tradition at Barbes

12/18, 8 PM the adventurous Washington Square Winds play tje choral-like A Better Collapse by Thomas Deneuville, Wayne Alpern’s fun-loving Serenade for Winds, with guest soprano, Alexandra Fees, performing Elizabeth Egan’s piece for wind quintet and soprano based off of Victor Hugo’s dark poem, Demainplay at Spectrum, $15

12/18, 9 PM indie classical quintet Ensemble Pamplemousse  at Jack, $10

12/20, 7 PM sizzling, hypnotically kinetic Middle Eastern/Northern African jazz trio Ensemble Fanaa followed by ten-piece funky Balkan brass/Ellington jazz monsters Slavic Soul Party at Barbes

12/20, 8 PM members of the SLM Ensemble perform solo and chamber music compositions and improvisations for peace, feat. an amazing lineup: Jane Ira Bloom, soprano saxophone, Yoon Sun Choi, voice, Julie Ferrara, oboe, english horn, Joe McPhee, saxophone, trumpet, Zafer Tawil, oud, ney, percussion, Dave Taylor, bass trombone, Min Xiao-Fen, pipa, Sarah Weaver, composer, electronics, at the Cell Theatre, 338 W. 23rd St, $20/$15 stud/srs 

12/20 9 PM eclectic Americana/klezmer fiddler/songwriter Lily Henley at the smalls room at the Rockwood

12/21, 7:30 PM legendary/obscure 90s NYC jug band Washboard Jungle – who predated the Brooklyn Americana explosion by 20 years –play the album release for their long long awaited new one at Dixon Place, $15

12/21-23, 8 PM a rare performance by John Zorn’s “mindbending”:Simulacrum organ trio with John Medeski (organ) Matt Hollenberg (guitar) Kenny Grohowski (drums) at the Stone, $20

12/21, 8/9:30 PM edgy, noir-inspired bassist Michael Blanco’s Spirit Forward quartet with John Ellis, tenor sax; Kevin Hays, piano; Clarence Penn, drums at Cornelia St. Cafe, $20 incl a drink

12/22, 7:30 PM mighty, slinky, kinetic klezmer big band Nu Haven Kapelye at the Jalopy, $15

12/22, 9 PM the eclectic, Balkan/latin/funk brass stylings of the Underground Horns at Radegast Hall

12/22, 10:30 PM unfailingly tuneful tenor saxophonist Ken Fowser leads a quintet at Smalls

12/22, 10:30 PM catchy janglerockers the Bellegards – a singer short of excellence right now – at Pine Box Rock Shop

12/23, 6 PM eclectic, tuneful accordionist/songwriter Ali Dineen n switches to piano for a show featuring shadow puppetry at Cornelia St. Cafe, $0 incl a drink. Followed at 9 and 10:30 PM by pianist concise, tuneful jazz pianist Marta Sanchez leading a quartet with Roman Filiu, alto sax; Jerome Sabbagh, tenor sax; Marta Sanchez, piano; Allan Mednard, drums, separate $20 adm

12/23, 7 PM a rare solo show by theatrical art-rocker/chamber pop songsmith Anais Mitchell at the Rubin Museum of Art, $30 adv tic rec

12/23-24, 8 PM a rare solo two-night stand by brilliant pianist Luis Perdomo at Mezzrow, $20

12/23, 10 PM deviously funny twin-trombone dub reggae crew Super Hi-Fi aplay their cult classic stoner Xmas carol collection A Very Duby Xmas at Bar Chord

12/23, 10 PM cleverly lyrical brilliant powerpop guitarist and songwriter Patti Rothberg at Arlene’s, $10

12/25, 2 PM an all-day screening of “It’s a Wonderful Life Backwards” by Donald O’Finn.“This is a “fair-use” re-purposed rendition on the Original Master work. The film is reversed and split screened into black and white vs color. Sides swap depending on the scene. Most of the audio is also in reverse, select statements are audible through-out. The film starts happy and ends sad,” at Freddy’s

12/26, 8:30 PM posttonal, polyrhythmic, lyrically intriguing violinist/bandleader Sarah Bernstein leads her Quartet at Cornelia St. Cafe, $20 incl a drink

12/27, 8 PM the Yiddish NY All-Stars, Balkan singer Sarah Small’s hauntingly mesmerizing avant-folk trio Hydra collaborating with brilliant psychedelic desert rock/cantorial art-rock band Sway Machinery , the Ternovka Ensemble with chanteuse Zhenya Lapotnik and the Brothers Nazaroff – a supergroup with Daniel “Danik” Kahn, Psoy “Pasha” Korolenko, Michael “Meyshke” Alpert and Jake “Yankl” Shulman-Ment play the album release show for their debut album, a tribute to obscure/legendary klezmer-punk precursor Nathan “Prince” Nazaroff and his wild cult favorite 1954 lp at Drom, $15 adv tix rec

12/27, 8/90:30 PM tuneful, exploratorily expansive pianist Eri Yamamoto leads her trio at Cornelia St. Cafe, $20 incl a drink

12/27, 8:30 PM sharply lyrical parlor pop stylist Heather Eatman at the third stage at the Rockwood, $10

12/27, 10:30 PM brilliant drummer/percussionist Willie Martinez & La Familia Sextet play classic salsa grooves at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, $10

12/28, 8/9:30 PM tuneful, moody third stream pianist Michel Reis leads a trio at Cornelia St. Cafe, $20 incl a drink

12/28, 9ish high-voltage oldtimey barrelhouse swing with the 4th St. Nite Owls  at Bar Chord

12/29; 10:30 PM noir-inspired alto saxophonist/composer Nick Hempton leads his group at Smalls

12/30, 7:30 PM a first-class ska triplebill with the Rudie Crew, Skarroñeros, the Pandemics and the Porkers at the Knitting Factory, $12 adv tix rec

12/30, 8 PM the Crimson Ragdolls and fearless Romany/Balkan chaunteuse Eva Salina with pyrotechnic accordionist Peter Stan at the Owl

12/30, 9 PM Knkarayku play moodily psychedelic Andean panpipe rock at Leftfield

12/30, 9:30 PM enigmatic female-fronted psychedelic popsters the New Tarot at the Poisson Rouge, $10 gen adm

12/30, 10 PM purist, harmonically rich “honkytonk power trio” Dylan Charles and the Layton Sisters at Pete’s

12/30, 11 PM newschool oldtimey country blues with Woody Pines at Hill Country

12/31, 10 PM awesomely slinky, psychedelic Israeli Ethiopiques groove instrumentalists Anbessa Orchestra f.k.a. Lions at Barbes

12/31, 10 PM gritty downtown guitar god Marc Ribot leads a killer trio with an even more legendary rhythm section, Henry Grimes & Chad Taylor.MMW drummerBilly Martin does an electroacoustic duo with Ribot to open the night at Issue Project Room, $30

12/31, 11 PM in an annual St. Bart’s tradition, William Trafka, Director of Music and organist performs works by Bach, Böhm, Franck, and Willan on the grand Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ at St. Bartholomew’s Church, Park Ave at 51st St, free, reception to follow.

12/31, 11:30 PM Sweet Tits – the “punk lesbian Spinal Tap” – at Freddy’s

1/12/17, 7:30 PM the Parker Quartet play Mendelssohn: Quartet No. 1 and Brahms: Clarinet Quintet at the Sheen Center, 18 Bleecker St. west of Bowery, $27 tix avail

1/14/17, 7:30 PM check out this awesome lineup and awesome program of rare oboe and bassoon works; Stuart Breczinski, oboe; Cat Cantrell, oboe; Nanci Belmont, bassoon; Brad Balliett, bassoon; Liz Dorman, piano play Sonatine for Oboe and Bassoon, Jolivet; Duo Sonata for Two Bassoons, Sofia Gubaidulina; Trio Sonata for Two Oboes, Bassoon, and Harpsichord/Piano, Zelenka at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 139 St. John’s Place, Park Slope, 2/3 to Grand Army Plaza, sugg don

3/17/17, 10 PM Pussy Riot at National Sawdust. Tix not avail yet – and might not be affordable – watch this space

Jackie Venson Brings Her Searing Guitar Chops and Smart Tunesmithing to Harlem

Jackie Venson is one of the most world’s most awe-inspiring Texas blues guitarists. She also happens to be a strong, eclectic songwriter and an excellent singer with a soaring top end to her vast range, similar to how she plays guitar. Her latest album, Live at Strange Brew – streaming at Bandcamp – captures her blazing fretwork, soulful vocals and a tight rhythm section at the top of their game in the intimate confines of an Austin coffeeshop. Now, you might wonder where this amazing musician might be playing when she swings through New York this weekend. Hmmm…Bowery Ballroom? The Beacon? Or, considering that she’s a blues player, you might expect her to be at Terra Blues, or Lucille’s, or maybe Paris Blues Bar uptown.

Nope. She’s playing Silvana – the younger, yuppier, yappier Columbia-area sister to the wonderfully scruffy Shrine further north- on Dec 4 at 10 PM. If great guitar is your thing, the trip on the D train will be worth it. And if you can’t make it, you can livestream the show here

The album’s opening track, Show My Light, comes across as a mashup of 70s Stevie Wonder and another Stevie, a guy from Venson’s home state, who used to play a Strat and left us way too early. The funky Real Love pulses along with an uneasy, spare vibe until Venson hits her volume pedal and delivers a long volley of counterintuitive triplets that really get the crowd going. Then she opens the moody Lost in Time with a trippy, echoey, dub reggae edge and has all kinds of fun with her pedals before spiraling off into deep-space blues.

Venson veers between a slow, gritty boogie and shuffling Hendrix funk throughout See What You Want. One Step Forward, a brisk, straight-up blues, is a cautionary tale to Venson’s fellow guitarslingers:

We lose our freedom when we’re too scared to fight…
When we make music and fall for the dollar sign
One step forward, two steps farther behind

The allusive, death-obsessed Back to Earth is the most overtly Hendrix-inspired (i.e. Third Stone from the Sun) track here. What I Need careens between 70s stoner riff-rock and reggae, rising to some pretty unhinged tremolo-picking. Then Venson pulses through the set’s poppiest number, Instinct, echoing both All Along the Watchtower and Foxy Lady.

The slow blues Rollin’ On gives Venson a launching pad for her most dynamic, thoughtful guitar work here, finally rising to a screaming, icy, reverbtoned peak: it’s the album’s best song. “Are you awake now?” she taunts the audience as she slinks into the final number, Always Free, with its understatedly poetic, broodingly relevant urban imagery and a sizzling solo midway through.

More artists should do live albums. Do it right and you can catch magic in a bottle like Venson did here (but you have to know your material and you can’t slack off and let the producer play your instruments for you like all the indie rock boys do). And live albums are truth in advertising: your audience, and your potential audience, know exactly what they’re getting in advance. It’s hard to think of better advertising for Venson than this. 

The Taksim Trio’s Album No. 2: Intricate, Rapturous, Haunting Beauty

One of the year’s most rapturously beautiful, plaintively lush albums is Turkish classical luminaries the Taksim Trio‘s latest release, simply titled Taksim Trio No. 2, streaming at Spotify. Baglama player Ismail Tuncbilek, clarinetist Husnu Senlendirici and kanun player Aytaç Dogan weave haunting, serpentine arrangements to get lost in. Their music’s intricacy is such that unless you listen closely, it’s often hard to tell who’s playing what. Yet the group has a conversational tightness: despite the fact that everybody’s playing a lot of rippling, spiraling notes, nobody steps on each other. The overall ambience tends to be pensive and brooding: most everything here is in a minor key. Tempos are slow and the compositions expansive, pretty much everything here clocking in at over five minutes.

The opening track, Unutmamali is one of the album’s catchiest, anchored by an uneasy, minor-key riff that eventually expands and then the band plays in unison, shifting from a twinkling, starlit lattice of individual voices to a biting hook that brings to mind the Romany party music from across the Black Sea.

Track two, Yesli Basli Govel Ordek, is a sort of a lighter variation on the opening number, lit up with gracefully sliding electric guitar chords and clarinet sailing over the bristling underbrush. By contrast, Ic Benim Icin builds off a spiky, rapidfire Turkish folk theme over a lilting guitar groove with a few artfully overdubbed layers. Seni Kimler Ani goes in the opposite direction, a wary, wounded dirge with the kanun and then the baglama’s mournfully tremolo-picked lines front and center. From there, the band picks it up with the dynamically shifting Elfa Laila, itsbrapidfire, cascading, distantly Egyptian-tinged dance motives interspersed within a windswept twilight atmosphere.

Sevda Degil follows a delicately cautious, sad tangent, wistful clarinet sailing over lingering, enigmatic guitar, incisive baglama and icepick kanun. Track 7, Naz, blends ancient, ambered baglama/clarinet lines with sparsely resonant guitar and picks up with an uneasy, dancing energy as it goes on. The band return to the fast lane, with tons of lickety-split picking throughout the catchy Kumsalda Dans, with echoes of both Brazil and Russian Romany music.

The waltz Unutamadim is a lot slower, moody clarinet contrasting with all the machinegunning string licks blazing underneath. Mahur Saz Samaisi has the album’s trickiest tempos and also its most easygoing melody, although it goes in a decidedly darker direction as it picks up. Yalan Dunya gives the band a platform to spaciously build variations on a suspenseful, unresolved riff, then they take it skyward as they speed up. They wind up the album with the hard-hitting, Hicaz Mandira, blending elements of flamenco and dizzyingly rhythmic Macedonian folk. This isn’t Middle Eastern music that’s been watered down for American hippies: this is the real deal, state-of-the-art, straight from the source. For whatever degree of wildfire improvisation may be going on here – taksim means “jam” in several Middle Eastern languages – the Taksim Trio sound like what they’re doing is completely composed.

While the group made a quick New York trip this summer and then went back to Turkey, there are two New York acts with shows coming up that fans of intricate Middle Eastern music will love. You can go to both this Saturday night if you want: at 6 PM, soulful singer Jenny Luna’s Balkan-Turkish folk band Dolunay play the first night of their monthlong December residency at Barbes. Then at 8, six stops north on the G train, the Secret Trio – virtuoso kanun player Tamer Pinarbasi, clarinet titan Ismail Lumanovski and brilliant oudist Ara Dinkjian – play Roulette at 8. Tix for that one are $30 and considering how mesmerizing that band was at their most recent show at Lincoln Center Out of Doors, it’ll be worth it.

A Slinky, Catchy New Album from Nubian Dance Band Alsarah & the Nubatones

Alsarah & the Nubatones call their music “East African retro pop.” That designation may be historically accurate, but it hardly does justice to the Sudanese-born singer and her band’s enchanting blend of slinky Middle Eastern sounds, starkly bluesy folk and propulsive dance grooves. They’ve got a new album, Manara – streaming at Bandcamp – and an album release show on Nov 30 at 7:30 PM at the Poisson Rouge. Advance tix are $12, but get ’em now – the band pretty much sold out Flushing Town Hall, a much bigger venue way out in Queens, earlier this year – and the 7 train wasn’t even running that evening.

The album’s opening track, Salaam Nubia, is basically a retro 70s disco groove with blues riffage from Brandon Terzic’s oud over clattering percussion and wickedly catchty vocal harmonies. Alsaarah’s tender but resolute vocals soar over a lush bed of strings and accordion on Alforag, a warmly propulsive love ballad. Its austere soul/blues phrasing make a stark reminder of the blues’ African origins.

Albahr follows a moody, minor-key, bluesy sway, eclectic percussionist Ramy El Aaser fueling its dancing peaks as Terzic ripples and simmers, up to a spacious oud solo. Jyan Tiban opens with Mawuena Kodjovi’s suspensefully bass and skeletal oud and builds to a trickily rhythmic, hypnotic call-and-response vamp. Terzic’s edgily dancing lines interspersed between the vocals.

The band follows the gently lilting, catchy minor-key Ya Watan and its wryly backward-masked oud with Nar, a study in dynamics with its airy psychedelic ambience bookending a scampering groove and biting oud solo. The album’s understatedly majestic, intricately orchestraed title track rides a slow pulse lit up by distant, muted trumpet contrasting with incisive, low oud and El Aaser’s misterioso tabla.

With Eroos Elnill, the group returns to catchy minor-key call-and-response, insistent syncopation and some vocal leaps from Alsarah that sound more like Bjork than anything African. Alsilah blends hints of vintage rocksteady and gospel harmony into its warmly hypnotic, undulating sway. The catchy, camelwalking bassline and interweave of voices in Fulani echo Malian desert rock, while the concluding cut, Safr Minni makes an aptly psychedelic, crescendoing coda. All of this is just as accessible as it is utterly exotic to western ears – and this band puts on a hell of a dance party live.

Beyond the love songs and the dance numbers, the Arabic lyrics often reflect on loss and longing for home. Nubian territory has had strategic value for millennia and as you would expect, has been overrun with regularity.  In the wake of mid-60s dambuilding, mass displacement followed, with thousand of migrants bringing their sounds to points further north. This music is a result of that.

A Historic Performance by Iconic Lebanese Composer Marcel Khalife and His Sons This Dec 7

Rami Khalife plays an elegantly allusive, haunting chromatic piano riff, his brother Bachar’s cymbals flicker and then the pianist goes inside, under the lid, for some otherworldly sonics echoed by the percussion. That awestruck deep-space ambience opens the brilliant, poignantly elegant new album Andalusia of Love by the great Lebanese oudist and composer Marcel Khalife with his pianist and percussionist sons, streaming at Spotify. They’re playing the Town Hall on Dec 7 at 8 PM and $35 seats are available. That’s a steep price by anybody’s standards, but consider that unless some kind of election recount magic happens, this is the last Americans will see of these guys on this continent for the next four years.

The elder Khalife knows no limits stylistically. Since his ascendancy among the elite composers of the Middle East in the late 70s, he’s played vividly bucolic protest songs, cinematic suites, lushly neoromantic orchestral themes, and some of the most poignant oud music written over the past forty years. Employing both traditional Middle Eastern and western instruments, he incorporates both European scales and the magical microtones of his native idiom throughout his diverse and individualistic oeuvre.While the arrangements on this album are somewhat more intimate than on Khalife’s titanically orchestrated 2012 magnum opus Fall of the Moon, the sound is hardly less lavish.

On the album’s opening track Rami’s extended technique on the piano is matched by the ripple of the kanun, the great oudist taking a brief, somber solo  – and then the band takes the piece flying, joyously, doublespeed. It’s victory snatched from the jaws of defeat, setting the tone for the rest of the album, a suite where pretty much every track segues into the next one. A spacious ballad, Ouhbouki, follows it, a richly spare but intricate web of piano, oud, kanun with an expressively crescendoing vocal from the bandleader, building to a characteristically pensive, plaintive swing. As the song hits a rippling peak, it segues into the scampering but similarly awestruck Ana Li Habibi.

Taratil, a spare, gracefully steady, minimalistically-flavored piano-and-drums duo is next, segueing into Nassiti, a hypnotic variation on the theme where the whole band picks it up with even more poignancy and then rises and falls through several dynamic shifts. Rami’s piano takes the conclusion, Maraya, out with a resonant. starlit unease.

The stately, brief levantine love ballad Ya Habibi gets followed by the swaying, rippling, uneasy Achtahiki, pulsing along on a distantly booming groove with the kanun and piano soairng overhead. Faracha, a tense interlude, features the piano almost fighting through a straitjacket of muffled, muted notes against the sparkling tones overhead. Nahla starts out much the same, but with vocals, and rises to a longing, majestic crescendo. Likewise, Araki rises toward a shadowy grandeur out of a tantalizingly brief, spiky kanun solo as it echoes the album’s opening.

A tolling bell motif holds firm as the kanun pulls upward, almost struggling, as Yadaik opens, rising and then quickly descending to a wary intensity. By contrast, Andalos Al Hob – a title track of sorts – is a scrambling, almost boogie-woogie take on joyous Egyptian habibi pop. The album winds up with its most epic number, Achikain, its opening contrast between muted and unmuted piano tones, briskly scampering groove and ending that’s so unexpected and symbolically charged that it’s too much to give away. The Arabic lyrics, by the late, great Mahmoud Darwish, tersely and symbolically reference an Andalucian golden age now gone but infinitely ready for a return. Middle Eastern music in 2016 doesn’t get any more eclectic or magical than this.