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An Iconic Horror Film For the Ears

What better to kick off this year’s annual October-long Halloween celebration of dark music than one of the alltime great horror movies for the ears? Dmitri Shostakovich wrote his Symphony No. 4 in 1936, when he first earned the wrath of Josef Stalin for daring to create interesting and relevant music that didn’t glorify the genocidal Soviet regime.

Sound familiar?

Censorship and totalitarianism existed long before the lockdown, the needle of death, Facebook and Google. The Leningrad Symphony Orchestra was pressured not to premiere the symphony, which wouldn’t see the light of day until 1961. The composer reputedly called it his favorite.

As political satire, it’s one of the most withering pieces of music ever written. It’s a mashup of Stravinsky, Tschaikovsky, Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King and Schoenberg, but more venomously political than anything any of those composers ever wrote. There’s a spellbinding live recording by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Gianandrea Noseda, streaming at Spotify, that you should hear if you can handle savagely troubled music right now.

This particular album is taken from two concerts at the Barbican in November 2018. Noseda’s dynamics are vast and dramatic to the extreme, as they should be. Whether explosive, or shuddering with horror, or ruthlessly parodying Stalin’s campy pageantry, the orchestra are a force of nature.

The first movement comes in with a shriek, a pulsing post-Sacre du Printemps dance of death and all kinds of foreshadowing of how Shostakovich would expand on this kind of phantasmagoria, far more politically. All the strongman themes in Shostakovich’s symphonies, from the third on, are phony: he never lets a tyrant, whether Stalin or Krushchev, off the hook.

Coy cartoons suddenly appear livesize and lethal. This is a cautionary tale, the composer telling us not to take our eye off the ball, or else. A rite of the dead of winter, intertwined with terrified individual voices, rises to a vicious crescendo. The first of many references to Anitra’s Dance, the Grieg theme, appears. Concertmaster Roman Sinovic and bassoonist Rachel Gough become plaintive and persistent witnesses to history.

Movement two is nothing less than an indictment, a sometimes ghostly, pervasively anxious waltz wafting in and out, the ruthlessness of the regime baring its fangs to a terrorized citizenry. The concluding third movement begins too casual to be true, as the orchestra calmly allude to another macabre Russian classic, Moussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain. The chase scene early on doesn’t have quite the horror of the KGB pursuit theme in Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 8, but it’s close.

The ensemble offer a twisted parody of a Germanic minuet as a spitball at the entitled Russian collaborator classes, Noseda getting maximum cynical gossipy fervor out of the strings. Stormtroopers gather and wreak havoc, the orchestra building a devastatingly phantasmagorical parody of Tschaikovsky’s Nutcracker. Clashes of ideologies, musical and otherwise, grow more combatively surreal. The seemingly ineluctable, gruesome march out doesn’t get to fade down without a series of accusatory ghosts.

As with all of Shostakovich, there are innumerable other details that could take up ten more pages to chronicle: buckle up for this carnival of dead souls. The London Symphony Orchestra’s ongoing series of live albums comprise some incredible performances and this might be the very best of recent years.

Live Music Calendar for New York City and Brooklyn for October 2021

As expected, outdoor concerts and those which are officially open to all New Yorkers have tapered off this month, but there are still performances popping up all over the place. If you go out a lot, you might want to bookmark this page and check back regularly.

A lot of venues aren’t enforcing the Mayor’s evil and sadistic apartheid policy: if you’re thinking of trying to catch an indoor show, use your intuition. Williamsburg venues are completely fascist these days, but other parts of town are quietly working back toward normalcy.

If you’re leaving your hood, don’t get stuck waiting for a train that never comes, make sure you check the MTA delays and out-of-service page for cancellations and malfunctions, considering how unreliable the subway has become.

If you don’t recognize a venue where a particular act is playing, check with the artist, or check the list of over 200 New York City music venues at New York Music Daily’s sister blog Lucid Culture. The list hasn’t been updated since this past summer, but it has directions and links.

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.

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 typo or an extra comma or something like that, remember that while you were out seeing that great free concert that you discovered here, somebody was up late after a long day of work editing and adding listings to this calendar ;)

10/1, 6 PM the Italian Expressiveness and Expressionists Quartet “performs a program that spans four centuries, from Isabella Leonarda, a 17th century Ursuline Nun, to the 20th century expressionist and avant-garde composer, Niccolò Castiglioni” at Pier 3 Greenway Terrace toward the south end of Brooklyn Bridge Park

10/2, 7 PM Ray Santiago’s Afro-Cuban Jazz Band in the community garden at 640 E 12th St (B/C)

10/3, starting noon ish the annual Atlantic Antic street fair extending from northern Atlantic Ave all the way to the Atlantic Ave. subway station, there are always lots of street performers and usually a Middle Eastern band up the hill a couple of doors from Sahadi’s

10/3, 5 PM mighty Brazilian drumline street band BatalaNYC leads a parade starting in the community garden at Ave C and E 9th St

10/3, 6 PM the Chupacabras play psychedelic cumbia surf jazz at the community garden at 84 Ave B at E 6th St

10/3, 5 PM, repeating 10/6 at 6:30 colorful, charismatic pianist/salonniere Yelena Grinberg joins forces with violinist Emilie-Anne Gendron of the Momenta Quartet for a program of works by CPE Bach, Brahms, Mozart and Beethoven at Grinberg’s popular monthly upper westside salon, email for deets here., a 3  minute walk from 1/2/3 train at 96th St.

10/3, 3 PM violinist Clara Kim leads a quartet playing Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s exhilarating 5 Fantasiestücke, Op.5 plus works by Angel Lam: and Schubert’s String Quartet no. 14, ‘Death and the Maiden at Concerts on the Slope, St. John’s Episcopal Church, 139 St. John’s Place downhill from 7th Ave, sugg don

10/2, 8 PM intense saxophonist Jeff Lederer’s Leap Day Trio w/ Mimi Jones and Matt Wilson at Bar Bayeux

10/4, 4 PM nimble tsimblist Pete Rushefsky‘s Boardwalk Serenade play rippling klezmer tunes up on the Brighton Beach Boardwalk near the Volna Restaurant (corner of Brighton 4th St.).

10/5, half past noon pianist Ayako Shirasaki at Bryant Park

10/6, 8 PM jazz drummer Savannah Harris’ Group at Bar Bayeux

10/8, 7 PM the irrepressible, colorful, alternately atmospheric and picturesque Erica Seguine/Shannon Baker Jazz Orchestra  outdoors at Culture Lab in Long Island City

10/9, 2 PM mesmerizing soprano saxophonist Sam Newsome plays solo at the Urban Meadow (President St & Van Brunt St, in Red Hook)

10/9, 2:30 PM drummer Aaron Edgcomb with guitarist Will Greene, bassist Simon Hanes, possibly playing John Zorn material on Vanderbilt Ave btw Bergen and Dean, 2 to Bergen St and walk uphill

10/9, 4 PM violinist Sarah Bernstein‘s mesmerizing, microtonal Veer Quartet with Sana Nagano, Leonor Falcon and Nick Jozwiak on bass at Oliver Coffee on Oliver south of East Broadway, take any train to Canal and go down Mott

10/13, 8 PM bassist David Ambrosio‘s allstar Civil Disobedience project w/ Duane Eubanks, Donnie McCaslin, Bruce Barth and Victor Lewis at Bar Bayeux

10/14, 3 PM Venezuelan jazz pianist Gabriel Chakarji at Haswell Green Park, 60th/York Ave

10/16, 5 PM  energetic delta blues/Romany swing guitarist Felix Slim at Culture Lab outdoors in LIC, down the block from his old haunt LIC Bar

10/17, 2 PM epic, Americana-inspired multi-reedman Mike McGinnis leads his group to accompany a couple of dance performances at at Parkside Plaza, corner of Parkside and Ocean Aves in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Q to Parkside Ave

10/21, 5:30 PM jazz bassist John Benitez leads his latin jazz group at Wright Park, Haven Ave/170th St., Washington Heights

10/22, 6:30 PM  the cinematic, eruditely comedic Broken Reed Saxophone Quartet with special guest singer Tammy Scheffer outdoors at Open Source Gallery, 306 17th St south of 6th Ave, South Park Slope, R to Prospect Ave

10/23, 11 AM the Hudson Horns play brassy funk and soul sounds on Bridge Park Dr and Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park

10/23, 2 PM jazz bassoonist Sara Schoenbeck solo & duo w/drummer Andrew Drury at the Urban Meadow (President St & Van Brunt St, in Red Hook)

10/23, 2 PM Sonido Costeño play oldschool salsa on the steps of the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza

10/25, 2 PM high-voltage psychedelic cumbia/Afrobeat jamband MAKU Soundsystem   at Wingate Park in Crown Heights, 2/5 to Sterling St.

10/26, 5 PM irrepressible composer/performer and improviser Ljova solo on fadolin outdoors at Anita’s Way, 137 W 42nd St

10/29, 3 PM chanteuse/uke player Dahlia Dumont’s Blue Dahlia playing edgy, smartly lyrically-fueled, jazz-infused tunes in English and French with classic chanson and Caribbean influences  at Ruppert Park. Second Ave. bet. E. 90 St. and E. 91 St.

10/31, 4 PM a creepy classical program TBA plus candy for the kids outside the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music

10/31, two sets starting around 6 PM trumpeter Pam Fleming’s colorful, cinematic reggae jazz Dead Zombie Band at the block party on Waverly Ave in Ft. Greene between Willoughby and DeKalb, closest train is the G to Clinton-Washington

10/31, 7 PM haunting Mexican singer Magos Herrera – who does classic film score music as well as nuevo cancion and classical music – leading a quintet at Terrazza 7, free

A Carefully Crafted Recording of the Schubert Octet to Give Us Solace in Troubled Times

Until the lockdown, Franz Schubert’s Octet had been a staple of the classical concert repertoire for more than a century. But it wasn’t popular at the time it was written. Reviews of the 1827 premiere were not positive, and it wasn’t revived in concert until more than thirty years later. Let that endurance inspire us in our own struggles to return all the way back to normal. In the meantime, there’s a meticulous, insightful recording featuring the Modigliani String Quartet streaming at Spotify to inspire us.

As the album liner notes conclude, is the Octet an awakening of “A poetic language, in which exuberance and despair meet?” Until the end, there’s far less outright revelry than courtly conviviality, and a recurrent if distant sense of any attainable happiness slipping away. When he wrote this, Schubert was already battling the illness that would eventually kill him.

He nicks the principal opening theme from his song Der Wanderer, Sabine Meyer’s wistful clarinet signaling the suite’s first shift and then serving as a foil, more or less, to the increasingly warmer, elegantly pulsing atmosphere. Listen closely and you’ll hear a moody tarantella bubble to the surface, and then approximations of a harpsichord from the quartet: violinists Amaury Coetaux and Loic Rio, violist Laurent Marfaing and cellist François Kieffer. Very clever.

This ensemble – which also includes Bruno Schneider on horn, Dag Jensen on bassoon and Knut Erik Sundquist on bass – really bring the lights down for the nocturnal second movement. The third is also on the muted side even as the rhythms pick up. Horn and bassoon move closer to the sonic center amid the lustre of the fourth movement until Meyer returns, unwaveringly in character.

Movement six’s minuet has an especially delicate quality, the strings often stark against the wind instruments rather than simply building luxuriant atmosphere. The rattle of Kieffer’s foreshadowing beneath the wafting, distantly cautionary melody as the conclusion gathers steam is a refreshingly dynamic touch. After teasing the listener with a Beethovenesque series of false endings, the ensemble wrap it up in a cheery ball at the end.

And the quartetalso have a new album of Bartok, Mozart and Haydn works.

A Neglected Russian Romantic Orchestral Treasure From Pianist Irena Portenko

While the heroes of last year’s lockdown were working long hours at hospitals where staff had been cut by fifty percent in order to engineer the illusion of a crisis, there was a much humbler kind of triage going on at this blog: sorting out the equally imperiled digital part of a constantly growing archive. A brief listen revealed that one album which had slipped through the cracks and didn’t deserve that fate was pianist Irena Portenko‘s 2016 performance of Prokofiev and Tschaikovsky concertos with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, conducted by Volodymyr Sirenko. The recording quality of the album, Versus – streaming at Spotify – is very old-world: for a digital production, the sound is very contiguous, in the spirit of a vinyl record. This is the kind of album that you can listen to over and over again and discover something new every time.

The balmy, Debussyesque introduction to Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2 offers no clue where this beast is going to go, Portenko’s emphatic upward cascades against increasing lushness punctuated by an anxious, searching flute. But Prokofiev remains one of the kings of phantasmagoria, and Portenko and the ensemble quickly sink their fangs into a marionettish strut and then a distantly macabre haze before bringing back the Asian diatonics.

That’s just the first half of the first movement. The way she hangs back and lets the increasing unease speak for itself pays off mightily when she slams into the big, grim crescendo afterward, the orchestra circling like a hungry condor. The gusty, stricken second movement is over in a flash; the third, a processional written as a requiem for a friend of the composer who killed himself, is far more sinister in places. The flute and staccato strings in tandem with the piano are creepy to the extreme. Again, the restraint of both soloist and orchestra enhance the mysterious intensity of the concluding movement, Portenko’s sabretoothed ripples and icepick chords finally gaining traction as the orchestra linger and pulse behind her.

They shift gears for Tschaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, one of the most ravishingly beautiful (curmudgeons might say treacly) pieces of classical music ever written. It’s been ripped off by thousands of pop songwriters over the decades. Portenko doesn’t let it go there, with a clenched-teeth attack that raises the drama factor several times over, matched by Sirenko’s lavish touch in front of the orchestra. Yet there’s great subtlety from the ensemble: a bass breaks the surface, then flourishes from the reeds, matched by Portenko’s coy bit of a fugue in the first movement. Her gritty, intricate proto boogie-woogie in the movement’s third part screams out for the repeat button.

The second movement is balletesque yet replete with longing, Portenko rising to the challenge of the composer’s machinegunning rivulets. Starry, starry night! The third movement is where the Ukrainian bandura melody that Tschaikovsky polishes up and rips off throughout this piece really gets a workout: folk-rock, 19th century style. There are passages here that seem breathtakingly fast, compared to other orchestras’ interpretations: they seem to want everybody to hang on and enjoy the ride, up to the warmly familiar coda.

The ARC Ensemble Continue Their Quest to Resurrect Neglected Jewish Composers

Canadian group the ARC Ensemble are in the midst of a heroic project, resurrecting music by underrated or undeservedly forgotten Jewish composers, Their latest album – streaming at Spotify – is the debut commercial recording of three works by Russian composer Dmitri Klebanov. Like all of his contemporaries in the Soviet era, his themes were circumscribed by Stalinist repression. There’s a sense of an inner modernist longing to cut through the doctrinaire Romanticism, and it’s rewarding to hear that fearlessness unleashed in so many places here.

String Quartet No. 4 opens as a swinging, folksy, wintry theme and variations. The second movement begins as a stark, windswept tableau, anchored by the lingering harmonies of cellist Thomas Wiebe and violist Steven Dann, violinists Erika Raum and Marie Bérard picking up the pace with a graceful counterpoint, growing more insistent, alternately joyous and stern.

Puckish pizzicato cedes to more of an autumnal dance in movement three, which continues and rises to a triumphant coda in the concluding movement. It’s an enjoyable if not particularly substantial piece.

There’s a similarly dancing quality but considerably more gravitas to Klebanov’s Piano Trio No. 2, which actually turns out to be much more of a work for strings. Pianist Kevin Ahfat provides a precise lilt in the first movement as Berard and Wiebe add wistful color, with close echoes of an iconic Rachmaninoff piece throughout. The three musicians light into the sudden, furtive interlude afterward with relish, violin cascades against mutedly assertive, rhythmic piano.

The trio have fun negotiating the tension between Beethovenesque glitter and a jagged Russian dance in the second movement. Movement three is the real stunner here, plaintive strings over tolling, low-key piano, rising to an aching waltz that grows more hypnotically troubled as the rhythm straightens out. Debussy visits Borodin on the steppes as the unsettled conclusion pounces along, somewhat hesitantly, Kudos to the ensemble for unearthing a piece that deserves to be vastly better known.

The four strings return to an assertive, martially-tinged Russian dance theme to introduce Klebanov’s considerably more adventurous String Quartet No. 5, with a meticulous, persistently uneasy counterpoint. It would be an overstatement to call the thematic development demonic, but a gremlin definitely could be involved.

There’s a Bartokian vividness and astringency in the second movement The third and final movement strongly brings to mind Shostakovich’s middle-period quartets, in terms of persistent grey-sky atmosphere and exchanges that darkly wind their way back to Haydn, all the way through the deviously jaunty ending. What a joy it is to discover music like this: it only makes you wonder what else this ensemble have up their collective sleeves.

Ieva Jokubaviciute Explores the Color and Disparity of New Nordic Music on Her New Album Northscapes

Musicologists have a history of obsession with the relationship between terrain and musical traditions. Conventional wisdom is that Nordic composers tend to focus on the dark side, considering the length of winter and winter nights there. And yet, in the summer, that same turf becomes the land of the midnight sun. On her new album Northscapes – streaming at Bandcamp – Lithuanian pianist Ieva Jokubaviciute plays a mix of 21st century works by a terrific cast of well-known and more obscure composers from that part of the world, seeking to capture the influences of landscape, and a lowlit or unlit milieu, rather than reaffirming any preconception of Nordic traditions. The record turns out to be much more colorful than you might think.

Case in point: the two works by Norwegian composer Lasse Thoresen, which bookend the album. The former, Pristine Light, begins with energetically rolling ripples that give way to steady minimalism punctuated by sparkling figures. Subtly, Jokubaviciute balances rhythm and glittering forward drive as the composer reverses the effect of the two devices

Both pieces are taken from Thoresen’s Four Invocations suite. In the finale, Rising Air, Jokubaviciute has fun contrasting a spacious, reflecting-pool minimalism with a spritely hailstorm of upper-register riffage bristling with thorny accidentals.

In keeping with her signature, vast expanses, Icelander Anna Thorvaldsdottir‘s Scape blends disquieting flickers at either end of the keyboard with long, sustained notes, sometimes enhanced by an ebow guitar effect, at other times by prepared strings. A thimble is also involved.

A trio of pieces from Danish composer Bent Sorensen‘s 12 Nocturnes are next, drawing on the character Mignon from Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister. Jokubaviciute takes her time developing the distantly Romantic allusions of Mignon and the Sun Goes Down, cuts loose considerably more in the miniature Night River and lets the altered love ballad Midnight with Mignon linger enigmatically.

She follows a dichotomy similar to the one in the Thorvaldsdottir piece, if more elaborately cascading and intertwined, in Kaija Saariaho‘s 2007 Prelude. Jokubaviciute also explores contrasts in the lone late 20th century piece here, Lithuanian composer Raminta Šerkšnytė’s Fantasia, shifting between registers, a rather stern longing, playful leaps and bounds, challenging pointillisms and a coy expectancy. It’s the most entertaining piece here.

Latvian composer Pēteris Vasks‘ Music for a Summer Evening is a picturesquely energetic, shifting, seemingly Satie-influenced sunset prelude. Describing the music, he writes, “Towards the end, a kind of folksong is heard: ‘We have survived the time of tyranny and have kept our identity.’” May we all live to do that and more on summer evenings next year.

The Boston Symphony Orchestra Release a Rivetingly Detailed, Harrowing Shostakovich Album

It might be unfair to artists playing original material to say that Andris Nelsons and the Boston Symphony Orchestra‘s new live recording of three Shostakovich symphonies and an immortal smaller-scale theme – streaming at Spotify – is the frontrunner for best album of the year. Even so, the conductor and orchestra go unusually deep into these profoundly troubled, relevant works: they couldn’t have chosen a more appropriate era to be releasing their Shostakovich symphonic cycle. It’s riveting and timely music, subtly and sensitively performed. Nelsons and the ensemble work a vast dynamic range from a whisper to short of a scream. Unorthodox as this program is, it makes sense in context, the phantasmagoria of the composer’s ambitious first symphony coming into full, savage bloom in two late symphonies and also the Rudolf Barshai string orchestra arrangement of Shostakovich’s harrowing, antifascist String Quartet No. 8.

Let’s start with that piece, the last one on the album, since it’s the most apropos to our time. Shostakovich wrote the string quartet thinking it could be his final work since Krushchev was strong-arming him to join the Communist Party, or else. It’s as timely now as it was when the composer frantically wove his initials into it, in musical notation, over and over again. In 1960, those creepy chromatics meant a knock on the door from the KGB, its drifting desolation a requiem for the victims of Stalin’s regime, its chase scenes being the gestapo coming for a composer who’d finally crossed too far over the line. This remarkably subdued, solemn, utterly chilling interpretation makes an apt soundtrack for the health department marching into an elementary school, lethal needles in hand. Or a New York City hospital ward filled with comatose Medicare patients being sedated to death in order to create the illusion of a pandemic. Or the Australian police ruthlessly tracking some poor guy who’d escaped from solitary confinement after testing positive for a bioweapon-induced illness that went extinct months ago.

Symphony No. 1, which opens the recording, has withstood the test of time well and gets a triumphantly carnivalesque treatment here. There’s a balletesque lilt to the first movement… and that bassoon strut makes an eerie predecessor for a much more macabre theme in Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No. 6.

The lithe, cynical bustle of movement two is irresistible, the orchestra’s vaunted strings adding a gossamer, deep-space twinkle and not the slightest hint of the whirlwind coda that will soon follow. Nelsons’attention to the pulsing echo effects in the forebodingly crescendoing third movement is a characteristically insightful touch, as are the plaintive soloists, foreshadowing the horror-stricken calm of the composer’s Symphonies No. 10 and 11. He holds back the fireworks in the fourth movement until the hordes are at the great gate of Kiev, with the xylophone-like piano a stunning contrast. What a picturesque exhibition.

Shostakovich liked to recycle some of his most twisted themes, and he does that a lot in his final Symphony, No. 15, from 1971. It’s arguably his most death-obsessed work. The flutey intro, followed by an even more cynical bassoon melody and faux pageantry that quotes liberally from the William Tell Overture could be read as death dancing outside the window, whether that’s the gestapo or just the ravages of time – although it’s hard to imagine this composer failing to add his usual sociopolitical context. When the brass come stomping in, the orchestra’s pinpoint precision leaves no doubt what’s going on. In case you wonder what that whiplash percussive effect is, it’s a real whip.

Seamlessly switching gears, Nelsons holds the lingering, vast stillness of the second movement in check: somber passages from solo cello, winds and horn are muted in the face of seemingly inevitable doom, a throwback to Symphony No. 11. The brief third movement is all portents and marionettish evil, underscored by the orchestra’s sheer matter-of-factness. In the final movement, Nelsons puts the spotlight on the parade of wistful figures flickering as the curtain behind draws closer. So the point where someone – or a whole society – meets a sudden, tragic end midway through really packs a punch. At the end, the gulag and the executioner – or just a haunted witness to a hideous period in Russian history – dissolve into shadow puppets.

Symphony No, 14, from 1969, is a lavish, death-obsessed song cycle of sorts much in the same vein as the Babi Yar Symphony, No. 13. Soprano Kristine Opolais and bass Alexander Tsymbalyuk take turns in alternately brooding and acidically surreal interpretations of poetry by Garcia Lorca, Apollinaire and Wilhelm Kuchelbecker – hardly doctrinaire Soviet-approved artists.

The utter solemnity of Garcia Lorca’s De Profundis cedes to the grand guignol ballet of his macabre Malaguena. The duet of Apollinaire’s Lorelei is every bit a depiction of a twisted, beckoning Aryan witch as the poet could have imagined.

Similarly, the contrast between Opolais’ angst and the still backdrop in his portrait of a suicide’s grave is downright chilling, as is the carnivalesque antiwar message in On Watch. Those qualities pervade the rest of the symphony, through a whisperingly grim prison-cell tableau, martial belligerence and incessant grim imagery: exactly what the entire world has been forced to grapple with since the spring of 2020.

Except that these are only cautionary tales.

Fond Farewells and New Revelations at This Year’s Concluding Naumburg Bandshell Concert

Tuesday night in Central Park, a collective “awwwwww” swept through the crowd when the Naumburg organization’s Christopher London announced that the East Coast Chamber Orchestra‘s concert with pianist Shai Wosner would be the final one of the summer at the bandshell. What a blessing it has been to have these performances at a time when orchestral music has never been more imperiled. And what a great year it’s been! At this time last year, who would have imagined that we would be in a position to be so celebratory now?

It was a night to revisit familiar Mozartean comfort in newfound intimacy, but also to be entranced by far more recent material. The evening’s piece de resistance was Hanna Benn‘s Where Springs Not Fail, based on a morbid Gerard Manley Hopkins poem. Dov Scheindlin, one of the three violists in the orchestral string collective, introduced it as “impressionistic and haunting,” which turned out to be an understatement. With an elegance that would define the night, the group parsed its slow, somber, insistent pastoralia with collegial attention to dynamics, anchored with visceral intensity in the lows.

Bassist Anthony Manzo introduced a mournfully tolling theme, the ensemble rising toward fullscale angst but not quite going there. Eventually a sense of closure, however mournful, appeared. The fade down at the end was obliterated by a passing helicopter. Technology destroying the soul: a metaphor for 2021 from above, literally.

The orchestra found even more angst in Osvaldo Golijov’s 1996 composition Last Round, equal parts boxing parable and salute to the composer’s iconic countryman and foundational influence Astor Piazzolla. As a portrait of the combative godfather of nuevo tango bedridden after a stroke and battling but slowly and ineluctably losing it, it’s set up as a couple of string quartets with the bass in the center as referee.

Sparks flew as agitation rose, then a poignant quote from Piazzolla’s Libertango appeared and was spun through a series of permutations. The sudden glissando at the moment of death was crushing; the group’s rise from a hush to a picturesque series of reflections was a vivid an elegy as anyone could have wanted.

The big hits with the crowd were Mozart favorites, which Wosner played from memory with exceptional attunement to underlying emotion. His approach to both the Piano Concerto No. 114 in E flat and No. 12 in A was unhurried, and spacious, and insightful to the nth degree: he’s really gone under the hood with this material.

He opened the night’s first concerto with a liquid, comfortably nocturnal legato, then left no doubt that the second movement was a love song. The conclusion was irresistibly fun, a puckish game of hide-and-seek, and the strings responded in kind.

The closing concerto was just as fresh and convivial, Wosner taking his time with the lustrous contentment of the opening movement, then backing away even further for a muted tenderness and then a sudden sense of trouble around the corner, a cautionary tale stashed away inside a glittery wine-hour piece for the entitled classes of Vienna, 1782-style. Both of these pieces are as standard as standard repertoire gets – and how rare it is that an ensemble can bring out as much inner detail as Wosner and the orchestra did here.

The pianist encored with a poignant, affectionately paced version of Schubert’s Hungarian Melody, D817. This is it for 2021 for the Naumburg Concerts, but a series for 2022 is in the works.

Live Music Calendar for New York City and Brooklyn for August and September 2021

***IMPORTANT*** – this calendar was compiled before Bill DiBozo’s’ vile and unconstitutional medical “passport” spyware requirement for admission to indoor concerts, bars and dining was announced. A random sample around town indicates that some businesses are allowing themselves to be weaponized against us, and that some aren’t. America’s Frontline Doctors have brought a civil rights lawsuit against the Mayor’s office, so between that and general noncompliance, the restrictions may not last long. In the meantime, if you’re thinking about going to something that’s happening on August 16 or later, don’t waste a trip, check with the venue to make sure they’re not using it. For the moment, only shows where there are definitely no restrictions are being listed here.

If you go out a lot, you might want to bookmark this page and check back regularly.

If you’re leaving your hood, don’t get stuck waiting for a train that never comes, make sure you check the MTA delays and out-of-service page for cancellations and malfunctions, considering how unreliable the subway has become.

If you don’t recognize a venue where a particular act is playing, check with the artist, or check the rigorously 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.

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 typo or an extra comma or something like that, remember that while you were out seeing that great free concert that you discovered here, somebody was up late after a long day of work editing and adding listings to this calendar ;)

8/1, 5 PM Los Cumpleanos – with Nestor Gomez – vox/percussion; Lautaro Burgos – drums; Eric Lane – keyboards; Alex Asher – trombone and others playing trippy, dubwise tropical psychedelia at the Riis Park Beach Bazaar, Bay 9 East at Riis Park in the Rockaways

8/1, 7 PM wild, sizzling guitar-and-brass-fueled Ethiopian jazz jamband Anbessa Orchestra at Pier 1 on the Hudson

8/1, 7 PM the Harlem Gospel Travelers and irrepressible 60s-style blue-eyed soul singer Eli “Paperboy” Reed at Our Wicked Lady, $15

8/1, 9 PM singer Richard Julian and pianist John Chin play Mose Allison songs at Bar Lunatico. Perfect pairing: Julian’s wry sense of humor and Chin’s erudite chops.

8/2-6, half past noon lyrical, dynamic original jazz pianist Victor Lin solo at Bryant Park

8/3, 7 PM fiery electric bluegrass and C&W with Demolition String Band at Shipyard Park, 13th St and McFeeley Drive in Hoboken,

8/3, 7:30 PM the East Coast Chamber Orchestra play works by Mozart, Golijov and others at the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park

8/3, 8/10 PM postbop jazz supergroup the Cookers – Billy Harper, Cecil McBee, George Cables, Eddie Henderson, and Billy Hart – at the Blue Note, $30 bar seats avail

8/3, 9 PM  otherworldly French-Algerian singer Ourida with her combo at Bar Lunatico

8/4, 6:30, PM guitarist Oren Fader and and pianist/salonniere Yelena Grinberg reprise their sold-out performance of rare duo works by Vivaldi, Beethoven, Hummel, Moscheles, Weber, Boccherini, Munier, Castelnuovo and Piazzolla at Grinberg’s popular monthly upper westside salon, email for deets here., a 3  minute walk from 1/2/3 train at 96th St.

8/4, 7:30/9 PM cult favorite gonzo pianist Dred Scott plays Chick Corea at Mezzrow, $25

8/4, 8ish cinematic noir soul instrumentalists the Ghost Funk Orchestra at Our Wicked Lady, $12

8/4, 9 PM the Jimi Hendrix of the cuatro, Jorge Glem with pianist Cesar Orozco at Bar Lunatico

8/5. 7 PM cutting-edge Indian music collective Brooklyn Raga Massive outdoors at Culture Lab in Long Island City

8/5, 7 PM Veronica Davila’s twangy, Bakersfield-flavored hard honkytonk band Low Roller at Mama Tried, 147 27th St, Bay Ridge, R to 25th St

8/5, 7 PM what’s left of the hi-de-ho Cab Calloway Orchestra at Astoria Park, on the water, take the N to Astoria Blvd.

8/6, 7 PM soaringly explosive jazz composer/torch singer Nicole Zuraitis at 55 Bar

8/6, 11 PM clever, fiery, eclectic ten-piece Balkan/hip-hop/funk brass maniacs Slavic Soul Party at Drom, $20

8/7, 2 PM an amazing improvisational jazz triplebill: baritone sax monster Josh Sinton with Daniel Carter and Sam Newsome, then brilliant, politically fearless visionary/tenor sax improviser Matana Roberts , and also flutist Laura Cocks solo at Oliver Coffee, 5 Oliver St (cor. St. James), Chinatown

8/7, 7 PM dark psychedelic acoustic blues/klezmer/reggae/soca jamband Hazmat Modine at Terra Blues. They’re also here on 7/21

8/7, 9:30 PM latin soul jams with the Brooklyn Boogaloo Blowout at 55 Bar

8/8, 2 PM ish Indian violinist Parthiv Mohan and ensemble play magical carnatic themes in Prospect Park; walk onto Parkside Ave from Machate Circle.”Once you pass Prospect Park Tennis Courts on your right, enter the park to your left. Then walk onto East Drive. From there you will be able to see Prospect Park Lake. Stay really close to the southwest corner of the lake (also its southernmost point). If you walk east along the lake from there, you’ll encounter a big patch of land which juts into the lake. It’s a pretty noticeable clearing” Closest train is the G to Ft Hamilton Pkwy – be aware that there is no F service this weekend

8/8, 7:30/9 PM  intense pianist Gerald Clayton solo at Mezzrow

8/9-13, half past noon lyrical, shapeshifting Brazilian pianist Luiz Simas solo at Bryant Park

8/10-12 Digable Planets at the Blue Note are sold out

8/10, noon torchy cumbia/swing singer and accordionist Erica Mancini  with Americana guitarist and Johnny Cash sideman Smokey Hormel outdoors at the corner of Pearl and Willoughby in downtown Brooklyn

8/11, 7 PM slinky, hypnotic percussive Moroccan trance band Innov Gnawa on the steps at the Grand Army Plaza branch of the Brooklyn Public Library

8/12, 8 anthemic speedmetal band Cold Dice, 9 PM the debut of Certain Death (the house band from Pfizer or Moderna maybe?) 10 PM wild fuzzy stoner metal band Grave Bathers followed by the even more macabre Castle Rat at Our Wicked Lady, $12

8/13, 5 PM ageless, jangly, purist NY surf rock originals the Supertoness at the Riis Park Beach Bazaar, Bay 9 East at Riis Park in the Rockaways

8/13, 8 PM   ferociously dynamic, tuneful,female-fronted power trio Castle Black at Culture Lab outdoors, 5-25 46th Ave in Long Island City, down the block toward the water from LIC Bar; 8/28 they’re outdoors at the Greenpoint Terminal Market at 3, Market St. past Kent Ave on the water, G to Nassau Ave

8/14, 4 PM B’Rhythm blend Indian music and classical dance moves at Garfield Place between Prospect Park West and 8th Ave. in Park Slope, music by Bala Skandan, choreography by Brinda Guha and Sonali Skandan and an A-list slate of dancers

8/14, 5 PM day one of a two-night surf rock festival: surfed-up tv themes from Commercial Interruption, the killer, dark Wiped Out at 6:30 and the majestic, darkly cinematic TarantinosNYC at 8 at the Riis Park Beach Bazaar, Bay 9 East at Riis Park in the Rockaways

8/14, 7/9:30 PM popular lyrical postbop trumpeter Jeremy Pelt leads his quartet at Smalls $25

8/14, 9:30 PM  this era’s most consistently interesting jazz pianist, Vijay Iyer at Prospect Park Bandshell. Listen from outside (try around the back) since the arena may still have restrictions

8/15, 3:30 PM not a musical event but a crucial moment on the way to freedom in NYC: march on Gracie Mansion (88th and East End Ave) to protest Bill DiBozo’s Orwellian medical “passport”

8/15, 5 PM closing night of a two-night surf rock festival: kick-ass original third-wavers Tsunami of Sound at 5, the cinematically-inspired Cameramen at 6:30 and Blue Wave Theory at 8 at the Riis Park Beach Bazaar, Bay 9 East at Riis Park in the Rockaways

8/16, 7:30 PM irrepressible wind ensemble Quintet of the Americas play a counterintuitive program of classic film and tv themes from Sanford and Sons to the Hair soundtrack and Woody Allen’s Radio Days at All Saints Episcopal Church, 85-45 96th Street in Woodhaven, J/Z to 104th St.

8/16, 9 PM boisterously funny oldschool 60s C&W and brooding southwestern gothic with the Jack Grace Band at Skinny Dennis

8;17, noon fingerstyle delta blues guitarist Noe Socha at the corner of Pearl and Willoughby in downntown Brooklyn

8/17, 7 PM Dominican jazz guitarist Yasser Tejeda & Pelotre at Gantry Plaza State Park

8/17, 7/8:30 PM  charismatic, adventurous postbop/avant garde trombonist/crooner Frank Lacy‘ at Smalls, $25

8/17-19, 8/10 PM the Bernie Williams Collective at the Blue Note, $25 bar seats avail. Not a vanity project: the greatest centerfielder of his time is a solid latin jazz/funk guitarist.

8/18, 7 PM feminist Guinean songwriter Natu Camara on the steps at the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza

8/18, 7/8:30 PM eclectic jazz pianist Art Hirahara and his trio at Smalls, $25

8/18, 5 PM the Harlem Quartet at Times Square. Where? Follow the sound, it seems

8/18, 8 PM Stoogoid stoner boogie band Sun Voyager, noisy early 80s style postpunk band Smock and fuzzy acid blues/doom band Grandpa Jack at Our Wicked Lady, $12

8/18-22, 8/10 PM postbop jazz trumpeter and sly crooner Nicholas Payton at the Blue Note, $25 bar seats avail

8/19, 5:30 PM the Bryant Park Accordion Festival kicks off with rustic Colombian cumbia specialist Foncho Castellar, torchy cumbia/swing singer Erica Mancini , hotshot Brazilian forro player Felipe Hostins and more

8/19, 7 PM double threat Camille Thurman – equally dazzling on the mic and the tenor sax – with the Darrell Green Trio, and trombonist Conrad Herwig with his Quintet at Drom, $30

8/19, 7/9:30 PM edgy jazz oudist and bassist Omer Avital and his group where he got his start at Smalls, $25

8/19, 11 PM sardonic and punky Japanese girlband the Hard Nips at Our Wicked Lady, $12

8/20, 7 PM amazingly dynamic drummer  Johnathan Blake and his trio and wildfire Colombian harpist Edmar Castaneda with drummer Ari Hoenig at Drom, $30

8/20, 7 PM Gordon Lockwood (blues guitar monster Jeremiah Lockwood and drummer Ricky Gordon) at Terra Blues

8/20, 7/8:30 PM the Sun Ra Arkestra’s legendary nonagenarian EWI player Marshall Allen and group at Smalls, $25

8/21, 7 PM legendary second-wave Afrobeat band Antibalas at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park, be prepared to hang on the fringes because there may be restrictions

8/21, 7 PM edgy, incisive, terse jazz guitarist Russell Malone and his Quartet at Drom, $20

8/21, 9 PM purposeful, incisive Red Molly dobro player/songstress Abbie Gardner and newgrass band Damn Tall Buildings at Nimbus Studios, 329 Warren St btw Morgan & SteubenJersey City Jersey City, $5, PATH to Grove St.

8/22, 7 PM paradigm-shifting Romany jazz/psychedelic rock guitar mastermind Stephane Wrembel at Drom $30

8/23, 7 PM  sharply surrealistic folk noir/outlaw country band Maynard & the Musties at Cowgirl Seahorse

8/23, 7/8:30 PM erudite pianist Orrin Evans‘ richly tuneful, purist, stampeding Captain Black Big Band at Smalls,$25

8/24, noon,  chanteuse/uke player Dahlia Dumont’s Blue Dahlia playing edgy, smartly lyrically-fueled, jazz-infused tunes in English and French with classic chanson and Caribbean influences  at the corner of Pearl and Willoughby in downtown Brooklyn

8/24, 6 PM the Donald Harrison Quartet with the Harlem Orchestra play Charlie Parker’s Bird with Strings at Marcus Garvey Park, be prepared to hang on the fringes because there may be restrictions

8/24, 7/8;30 PM hard-hitting  postbop saxophonist Mike DiRubbo’s quartet at Smalls, $25

8/25, 8 PM punk/rockabilly band the Screaming Rebel Angels, goth-punks the Wh0res, and fiery, deviously fun oldtimey swing guitarist/crooner Seth Kessel at Our Wicked Lady, $12

8/25, 4 PM not a music event but an important one for people who miss seeing indoor concerts: there will be a huge protest against mandatory lethal injections outside City Hall. The NYC union presence will be in full effect

8/26, 5:30 PM the Bryant Park Accordion Festival continues with klezmer maven Shoko Nagai, Gogol Bordello’s Yury Lemeshev, Argentine tango bandoneonist Tito Castro, charismatic Romany/Balkan chanteuse Eva Salina with pyrotechnic accordionist Peter Stan and others

8/26, 6 PM smart, lyrical, politically-inspired pianist Zaccai Curtis leads a trio at Times Square, Bwy at 43rd St

8/27, 6 PM an oldschool salsa dance party with 70s style charanga Son Del Monte at Alexander Avenue at Bruckner Boulevard in the Bronx

8/28, 5 PM nimble bassist Dawn Drake & Zapote‘play latin-tinged hard funk at the Riis Park Beach Bazaar, Bay 9 East at Riis Park in the Rockaways

8/28, 6 PM jazz violinist Melanie Dyer w/ poet Bonita Penn and bassist Ken Filiano at the Clifton Pl. Community Garden (1031 Bedford Ave), Ft. Greene, G to Bedford-Nostrand

8/28, 8 PM kinetic Cuban jazz pianist Elio Villafranca outdoors at An Beal Bocht Cafe, 445 W. 238th St. in the Bronx, 1 train to 238th St.

8/29, a parade of dancers with music by guitarist/bagpiper David Watson make their way through the Rockaways starting at 1 PM on the sand at Beach 86 St and end at 7 at Beach 110 St, performers include Toni Carlson, Yve Laris Cohen, Maggie Cloud, Marc Crousillat, Brittany Engel-Adams, Moriah Evans, Daria Fain, Lizzie Feidelson, Melanie Greene, Kennis Hawkins, Iréne Hultman, Shayla-Vie Jenkins, Burr Johnson, Niall Jones, Sarah Beth Percival, Jess Pretty, Antonio Ramos, Alex Rodabaugh, Carlo Villanueva, Anh Vo, Kota Yamazaki

8/29, 4 PM drummer Willie Jones III leads an allstar Charlie Parker centennial celebration band with Sarah Hanahan, Godwin Louis, Justin Robinson, Erena Terakubo with Donald Vega on piano and Endea Owens on bass at Marcus Garvey Park

8/29, 5 PM, repeating 9/1 at 6:30 colorful, charismatic pianist/salonniere Yelena Grinberg, violinist Eric Silberger and cellist Madeline Fayette play Haydn’s “Gypsy” piano trio, Mozart’s warmly lyrical Piano Trio in C and Beethoven’s daunting “Ghost” piano trio at Grinberg’s popular monthly upper westside salon, email for deets here., a 3  minute walk from 1/2/3 train at 96th St.

8/30-9/3 half past noon latin jazz pianist Isaac Bin Ayala solo at Bryant Park

9/1, 7:30ish noiserock legends Yo La Tengo at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park

9/2, 7 PM the irrepressible, cinematic, comedic Broken Reed Saxophone Quartet at Open Source Gallery, 306 17th St at 6th Ave. Park Slope, closest train is the R to Prospect Ave

9/3, 5:30 PM the Bryant Park Accordion Festival concludes with a global cast of A-list players TBA

9/3, 7 PM deviously erudite jazz chanteuse Svetlana & the Delancey Five at Culture Lab in Long Island City,

9/9, 7 PM tunefully scruffy pastoral jazz guitarist Tom Csatari leads his noir-tinged Uncivilized band outdoors at the Flying Lobster, 144 Union St off Hicks, just over the BQE, outdoors, F to Smith/9th. On 9/10, tuba player Ben Stapp and the First Eonic Clock Reading with Sam Newsome (soprano sax), Shanyse Strickland (french horn, flute), Noel Brennan (drums) open the night at 8; at 9 Uncivilized record a live album at Record Shop in Red Hook, 360 Van Brunt St., close to the B61 bus stop or just walk from the F train.

9/8, 7 PM the aptly named Firey String Sistas play their edgy chamber jazz at Pier 84, 44th st. and the Hudson just south of the Intrepid

9/11, 5 PM the NY Ska Orchestra at the corner of Ashland and Lafayette in downtown Brooklyn, downhill from BAM

9/11, 5 PM newschool gospel with Mary Mary singer Erica Campbell, the Walls Group, Lena Byrd Miles and Jason McGee and Choir at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park

9/11, 7 PM astringent avant garde ensemble WeFreeStrings and  fiery singer Amirtha Kidambi on the plaza at Lincoln Center, no ticket required

9/12, 4 PM the Overlook String Quartet play music by black composers Eleanor Alberga, Florence Price, and Chevalier de Saint-Georges at the Morris-Jumel Mansion, 65 Jumel Terrace about a block south of 162nd St., Washington Heights, free, A/C to 163rd St.

9/12, 7 PM southern soul songwriter Valerie June at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park

9/13, 4 PM a massive protest against the DiBozo apartheid and massive city firing plan at Foley Square, Centre St. north of Chambers downtown. A huge union presence will be in the house; the Highwire will be covering the event, and host Del Bigtree is scheduled to address the crowd.

9/14, noon iconic latin percussionist Willie Martinez leads his classic salsa/mambo trio at the corner of Pearl and Willoughby in downtown Brooklyn. 9/19 and 9/26, 2 PM he’s playing on President between Columbia and Van Brunt in Red Hook

9/14, 10:30 PM epically ferocious art-rock jamband Planta on the terrace outdoors at Terraza 7, $10

9/16, 6 PM the American Symphony Orchestra String Quartet play rarely heard works by William Grant Still, Carlos Simon, George Walker, Duke Ellington, Gabriela Lena Frank at at Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 3 Greenway Terrace toward the south end of the park

9/17, 7 PM the world premiere of Allison Loggins-Hull’s Diametrically Composed – the great Alicia Hall Moran singing collection of new works for flute, voice and piano exploring the conflicts of motherhood and having an artistic career – at Bryant Park

9/18, 1 PM a major freedom rally to celebrate World Freedom Day at Columbus Circle

9/18-10/3 the LUNGS Festival at various community gardens throughout the LES, a celebration of an oldschool pre-gentrification NYC artistic community spirit, the calendar is a work in progress, lots more to be added

9/18 a bunch of Americana performers at various locations on Pier 6 on the south end of Brooklyn Bridge Park starting at 3 with the guy/girl vocals of Bears of Alaska, at 4 acerbic, intense former Cricket Tell the Weather frontwoman Andrea Asprelli and at 5 anthemic loose cannon Olivia Lloyd. There’s also a “main stage” lineup starting at 3 with the charming oldtimey harmonies of the Queens of Everything, at 4 hotshot violinist Mazz Swift, at 5 protest singer Crys Matthews and Heather Mae, at 6 folk-pop singer Eleanor Buckland and at 6:30 the soaring, all-female Maybelles.

9/18, 4:30 PM bass goddess/soul singer Felice Rosser’s ageless reggae-rock-groove band Faith at El Sol Brilliante Garden, 522 East 12th street btwn B and C. 9/25 at around 4 they’re at Tompkins Square Park and 10/1 at 8 they’re at the LUNGS Festival in the Green Oasis Garden, 368 East 8th street btwn C and D

9/18, 5 PM the NY Ska Orchestra at the corner of Pearl and Willoughby in downtown Brooklyn

9/18, 8 PM legendary second-wave Afrobeat band Antibalas at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park, be prepared to hang on the fringes because of restrictions

9/18, 7:30 PM Trombone Shorty at Prospect Park Bandshell. We might have to listen from outside since the arena may still have restrictions

 9/18, 4 PM an all-afternoon Americana/folk lineup at the Dumbo Archway just west of Water St in Dumbo starting at 4 with colorfully lyrical original front-porch songwriter Melanie Curran, at 5 Britfolk singer Danni Nicholls, at 5:30 PM electric blues songstsress Edan Archer, at 6 nuevo-Orbisonesque crooner Bobby Blue, at 7 the brilliant swing jazz-inclined Samoa Wilson, and Spirit Family Reunion’s fiery Maggie Carson at 9

9/19, free coffee/breakfast snacks at 10:30 AM, show at 11 Sybarite5 cellist Laura Metcalf, guitarist Rupert Boyd, violinists Michelle Ross and Katie Hyun and violist Melissa Reardon play music by Astor Piazzolla, Osvoldo Golijov, Florence Price, Beyoncé and more outdoors in the courtyard at the Cell Theatre, 338 W 23rd St (8th/9th Aves), reservations req. 9/23, 7 PM they’re playing another free outdoor show at the Porch, 147th and St Nicholas Ave

9/19, 3 PM a bunch of Americana performers at various locations on Pier 6 on the south end of Brooklyn Bridge Park starting with energetic New England folk fiddler Emerald Rae, at 4 PM hotshot violinist Mazz Swift, at 5 the spare, atmospheric Treya Lam, the once-ubiquitous and brilliant multi-instrumentalist Joanna Sternberg at 5:30 and then at 6 rising star banjo player Nora Brown

9/19, 5 PM, repeating on 9/22 at 6:30 colorful, charismatic pianist/salonniere Yelena Grinberg, celebrates the Beethoven 250th birthday anniversary with a program of Bagatelles and his Diabelli Variations at her popular monthly upper westside salon, email for deets here., a 3 minute walk from 1/2/3 train at 96th St.

9/19, 7 PM Patti Smith at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park, be prepared to hang on the fringes because of restrictions

9/20-24, half past noon energetic, classically-inspired, colorful jazz pianist Ayako Shirasaki at Bryant Park

9/21, noon trumpeter Wayne Tucker leads his sunny soul-infused jazz quartet on the plaza at the corner of Pearl and Willoughby in downtown Brooklyn

9/23, 6 PM the American Symphony Orchestra String Quartet play an all-Italian baroque program of works by Boccherini, Donizetti and others at Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 3 Greenway Terrace toward the south end of the park

9/23, 6 PM fiery alto saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin & Pursuance at Marcus Garvey Park

9/24, 5 PM brilliant Americana and swing jazz chanteuse Samoa Wilson at Pearl Plaza, Pearl St. and Anchorage Pl. in Dumbo

9/24, 6 PM punk Balkan brass and oldtimey swing: the Rude Mechanicals followed by Baby Soda Band at La Plaza Cultural de Armando Perez (Ave C & 9th St)

9/24, 6 PM sizzling, politically fearless latin jazz pianist/composer Arturo O’Farrill’s Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra on the plaza at 300 Ashland Pl. down the block from BAM

9/25, 3 PM newschool latin soul/boogaloo dance band Spanglish Fly at the block party at 88 S Portland St in Ft Greene, C to Lafayette Ave

9/25, 3 PM first-class improvisation: Steve Wirts and George Garzone on tenor sax, Francisco Mela on drums and others at 11BC Garden 11th St (Aves B & C)

9/25, 4 PM Los Fascinates play oldschool salsa at the 9C Garden (Ave C & 9th St)

9/26, 4 PM downtown jazz guitar icon Elliott Sharp plays a rare outdoor gig at La Plaza Cultural de Armando Perez (Ave C & 9th St)

9/26, 4 PM lyrical saxophonist Avram Fefer leads a trio at First Street Green Cultural Park, 33 East 1st St.

9/26, 5 PM punkabilly rockers the Screaming Rebel Angels at the Riis Park Beach Bazaar, Bay 9 East at Riis Park in the Rockaways

9/30, 5 PM deviously entertaining hot 20s swing chanteuse Sweet Megg Farrell and band at Albee Square on the Fulton Mall in downntown Brooklyn

9/30, 6 PM the American Symphony Orchestra String Quartet play a wild jazz-oriented program of works by Piazzolla, Lonnie Johnson, Esperanza Spalding and others at Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 3 Greenway Terrace toward the south end of the park

9/30, 6:30 PM pianist Andrew Boudreau leads an improvisational trio in the community garden on E 8th St (Ave C/D)

10/1, 7 PM 90s psychedelic noiserock legends Yo La Tengo at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park, be prepared to hang on the fringes because of restrictions

10/3, 1 PM  hard-hitting, brass-fueled newschool latin soul/boogaloo dance band Spanglish Fly at Playground 52,  Kelly St bet. Av St John and Leggett Ave in the Bronx, 6 to Longwood Ave

A Sizzling, Cutting-Edge, Wildly Funky String Jazz Collaboration in Long Island City

It’s impossible to think of a more capsulizing moment for music in New York in 2021 than the concert in a Long Island City parking lot last Sunday. Overhead, the skies blackened, but on the ground, string quartet the Lotus Chamber Music Collective and jazz quartet Momentum joined in a wild, ecstatic collaboration that spoke to the indomitability of New York musicians creating the newest sounds around.

Lotus’ charismatic cellist, Sasha Ono, didn’t bother trying to hide how amped she was to finally be able to play her first concert since last year’s lockdown. The electricity shared by all eight players – perched on the back of a trailer and the bed of a battered 1963 Ford pickup – was pure unleashed cabin fever. This crew had obviously been playing and refining their chops during the time live music was criminalized here. And a big crowd had come out for the fireworks, defying the thunderclouds overhead.

The quartet – which also included violinists Tiffany Weiss and Emily Frederick alongside violist Gizem Yucel – opened with a mixture of lushness and groove, Ono and Momentum bassist Isaac Levien doubling up on the fat low end riffage throughout most of JJ’s Dance, by drummer Elé Howell. It was a slinky, shapeshifting number that gave the band a long launching pad to rise through a blend of Afrobeat, trip-hop and psychedelic funk that drew a straight line back to Roy Ayers. From the back of the truck bed, guitarist Quintin Zoto drove it to a searing peak with a long, feral but erudite solo, capped off with some savage tremolo-picking.

Cultural Appropriation, by Julia Chen had a coy calypso bounce fueled by Howell’s loose-limbed clave, with a similarly slinky Levien bass solo, vibraphonist Grady Tesch rippling through what the clouds overhead were foreshadowing.

Ono told the crowd that she’d been inspired to come up with her arrangement of Dave Brubeck’s La Paloma Azul as a reflection on the South American refugee crisis, the strings introducing its lustrous initial theme followed by the rest of the ensemble’s lilting, bittersweet, Mexican folk-tinged rhythms.

The most ambitiously symphonic interlude of the afternoon was when the two groups mashed up Swing, Low Sweet Chariot with themes from Florence Price’s Five Folksongs in Counterpoint for String Quartet (her Symphony No. 1 was the most-played orchestral work by any American composer in the 1930s). Ono and Tesch had come up with that idea after doing a webcast focusing on Price, whose gospel and jazz-influenced music is getting a long-overdue revival. The highlight was Yucel’s stark viola solo amid the polyrhythms and the constant dynamic shifts.

The eight musicians closed the first set with a determined, lavishly funky take of Shunzo Ohno‘s Musashi, debuting string parts which the jazz legend had written for this performance. It was akin to a particularly energetic segment on the Crusaders’ live album with B.B. King, switching out King’s string-busting bent notes for a torrentially icy guitar attack channeled through Zoto’s chorus pedal. Welcome to the future of serious concert music in New York, 2021: if this is any indication, it’s going to be a hot summer.

The more-or-less weekly outdoor series in the parking lot out behind Culture Lab, 5-25 46th Ave in Long Island City continues at 5 PM tonight, July 24 with careening, microtonally-tinged electric blues band Jane Lee Hooker. The space is just down the block from LIC Bar, further toward the water; take the 7 to Vernon Blvd.