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Monty Alexander Feels the Spirits at Trinity Church

Pianist Monty Alexander told the crowd at his show at Trinity Church today that “Last year I hit that golden number called 78.” He was referring, of course, to the 78 RPM record, the vehicle that spread the golden age of jazz around the world.

No one would have known his age if the man who has come to personify Jamaican jazz hadn’t mentioned it. In a dynamic, rising and falling hour and a half onstage with bassist Luke Sellick and drummer Jason Brown, he fired off crystalline cascades, vigorous rhythms and an reaffirmed his status as first-ballot, inimitably quotable hall-of-famer. “If I stop playing the piano, I confuse the spirit.”

One early highlight was an Ellington tune with a lyrical bowed Sellick solo, then a misterioso drum break which Alexander leapt out of to reassert the lively mood with his pointillistic ragtimey descents, The dubwise segue into Bob Marley’s Forever Loving Jah was the first of the reggae-jazz remakes that came to define Alexander’s career for awhile in the 90s and zeros. This one gave him a chance to hit harder on the low end. Brown’s shamanic rimshots and Sellick’s grit on the low end completed the picture.

Alexander follow a series of hymnal variations to a an immersive resonance, then worked his way up into No Woman No Cry. The ornate High Romantic eight-chord fakeout midway through this spare, unadorned reinvention was the high point of the show. A series of phantasmagorical flourishes were also hardly expected in the jump blues version of A Night in Tunisia that followed, as were were Brown’s flashy rudiments.

Moments of unease also persisted but then receded as Alexander built a spare swing on the next number, Renewal. He mentioned how the cultural diversity of his native country mirrors this one in Out of Many, One People, his insistent, optimistically climbing riffs reaching a light-fingered reggae groove

Hope, as Alexander and Brown saw it this time out, began with a regal drama and, then the pianist mined stern, ambered 19th century gospel phrasing. The trio followed with a spacious take of Besame Mucho, picked up with a swing, and then merged minor-key bite in the blues boogie Slappin’, which Alexander dedicated to the piano teacher he’d fled when she slapped his finger with a ruler.

The trio brought the ambience down with River, another Alexander original, rising from mystical glimmer to a lithely understated reggae groove driven by Sellick’s dancing arpeggios. They closed with what seemed to be a determined, percussive mashup of Ray Charles’ What I Say and When the Saints Go Marching In.


Live Music Calendar for New York City and Brooklyn For December 2022

All these concerts are free of restrictions on entry. Weekly events first followed by the daily calendar. If a venue is unfamiliar, look for it on the old guide to NYC music venues here, which is more of a worksheet now, but it has links to most of the places on this calendar.

Thursdays in December, 5 PM poignantly lyrical, eclectic pianist Marta Sanchez at Bar Bayeux

Sundays at around 8 PM trumpeter Jon Kellso and (frequently) guitarist Matt Munisteri lead the Ear-Regulars in NYC’s only remaining weekly hot jazz jam session at the Ear Inn

12/1, 7:30 PM pianist Boris Berman plays a one-night-only concert of music by Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov, at the Baryshnikov Arts Center 450 W 37th St just east of the DiMenna Ctr., $25

12/1, 7:30 PM atmospheric vocal soundscaper Antonina Nowacka and Ego Death the duo of instrument builder Aho Ssan (aka Niamké Désiré) and haunting, atmospheric Polish composer/cellist Resina (aka Karolina Rec) at the Lincoln Center Atrium, free

12/1, 7:30 PM the Concert Chorale and Winter Festival Orchestra sing Vvaldi’s Gloria and Timothy Amukele’s What Sweeter Music at Merkin Concert Hall, $25

12/1, 8 PM pyrotechnic clarinetist Ismail Lumanovski’s ferociously kinetic NY Gypsy All-Stars at Drom, $15

12/1, 8 PM catchy guy/girl folk duo First Crush and eclectic noiserock/dreampop/new wave band Percocet and minimalist shoegazers To the Wedding at Bar Freda, $10

12/1, 8/10:30 PM jazz guitar and loopmusic icon Bill Frisell  solo at the Blue Note. 12/2-4 he leads a series of quartets, $35

12/1, 8 PM pianist Helene Grimaud plays works by Chopin, Debussy, Satie, Schumann and Valentin Silvestrov at Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall, $35.50 tix avail

12/2, 7 PM epic, haunting, searingly lyrical art-rock songwriter and baritone crooner Spottiswoode at the downstairs room at the Rockwood, $20

12/2, 7 PM  uneful oldschool soul/jazz trombonist Dave Gibson leads his Organ Quartet followed at 11:30 by smartly impressionistic postbop pianist Miki Yamanaka at Cellar Dog. She’s at Smalls on 12/5 and 12/26 at 10:30 for $25; he’s there on 12/17

12/2, 7 PM gorgeously jangly Northern Gothic band the Sadies – minus the late great Dallas Good – at Union Pool, $25

12/2, 7:30 PM brilliant baritone saxophonist Lauren Sevian leads a quaret at the Django, $25

12/2-3, 7:30/9 PM acerbic tenor saxophonist Rich Perry leads a quartet with Gary Versace on piano

12/2, 7:30 PM guzheng player Yang Yi leads an ensemble performing Angel Lam‘s song cycle Lost Shanghai (what a timely theme, huh?) at Merkin Concert Hall, $25/$20 srs/$10 stud

12/2, 10:30ish catchy, fun guy/girl indie soul band Sunshine Nights at Freddy’s

12/2-3, 8 PM powerhouse reedwoman Anna Webber’s Shimmer Wince with Adam O’Farrill on trumpet and Mariel Roberts on cello at Seeds

12/2, 8 PM roots reggae bandleader Nixon Omolla at Silvana

12/2, 8 PM  ambitious postbop saxophonist: Kyle Nasser and singer Simona Premazzi lead a quartet at Bar Bayeux

12/2, 9 PM  clever, fiery, eclectic ten-piece Balkan/hip-hop/funk brass maniacs Slavic Soul Party at BAM Cafe

12/3, 2 PM clarinetist Matthew Fontana leads a trio playing works by Bach, Bruch, Mozart and Schumann at the Brooklyn Heights Library, 286 Cadman Plaza W, free

12/3, 3 PM the Momenta Quartet and bassist Hilliard Greene celebrate Meredith Monk’s 80th birthday with a house concert of her music for strings, free, email for deets/NYC location 

12/3, 7 PM dark psychedelic acoustic blues/klezmer/reggae/soca jamband Hazmat Modine at Terra Blues. They’re also here on 12/17

12/3, 7 PM twangy altcountryAmericana/psychedelic crew American String Conspiracy at Freddy’s

12/3, 7:30 PM rising star Snehesh Nag on sitar with Aditya Phatak on tabla at the Chhandayan Center For Indian Music, $25

12/3, 7:30 PM the rousingly soulful Harlem Gospel Travelers at City Winery, $15 standing room avail

12/3, 8 PM enveloping, cinematic black metal band Antimony at Lucky 13 Saloon, $12

12/3, 8 PM a 50th anniversary celebration of Lou Reed’s Transformer album with Joe Hurley & the Gents with Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello and members of Bob Dylan’s band, the Ian Hunter Band, Roxy Music, Sonic Youth, with Edward Rogers, Mary Lee Kortes, Ellen Foley, Don Fleming, Tish & Snooky, Richard Barone, Eamon Rush, Roger Clark, Screaming Orphans, Michael Tee, Jesse Bates at City Winery,$30 standing room avail

12/3, 8 PM  evocative alto saxophonist Dmitri Baevsky and his quartet at the Django, $25

12/3, 8 PM  eclectic cosmopolitan jazz singer Sivan Arbell followed by pianist James Carney with Ravi Coltrane, sax; Dezron Douglas, bass; and Tom Rainey, the Owl

12/3, 8 PM surf night at Otto’s starting with surfed-out tv themes from Commercial Interruption, at 9:30 the alternately jangly and immersive Blue Wave Theory and at 11 cover group Band of Others

12/3, 8 PM new wave/powerpopstress Kira Metcalf followed eventually at 10 by blue-eyed soul guy Ben Pagano at Bar Freda, $10. Avoid the dorky 9 PM act in between

12/3, 9 PM ex-Chicha Libre keyboard sorcerer Josh Camp’s wryly psychedelic cumbia/tropicalia/dub band Locobeach at BAM Cafe

12/3, 11 PM sharply lyrical southwestern gothic/Americana songwriter Tom Shaner at LIC Bar. He’s also here New Years Eve at around the same time

12/4 3 PM iconic, tuneful Jamaican jazz pianist Monty Alexander leads his trio at Trinity Church, free

12/4. 8 PM trombonist Joe Moffet jams with saxophonist Sam Decker followed by trumpeter Kenny Warren’s invigoratingly noisy Sweet World trio with Christopher Hoffman on cello and Nathan Ellman-Bell on drums. at the Owl

12/4. 8 PM Korean oboeist/flutist Gamin leads her ensemble at Roulette, $25 adv tix rec

12/4, 9 PM deviously entertaining western swing chanteuse Sweet Megg Farrellt at Skinny Dennis

12/5, 8 PM catchy female-fronted powerpop band Cool Dead Woman at Our Wicked Lady, $14

12/5, 9 PM expert, extrovert rockabilly/retro rock bassist Eugene Chrysler and band at Skinny Dennis

12/6 Taraf de Chicago at Merkin Concert Hall are sold out

12/6, 7:30 PM vivid pianist Manuel Valera & New Cuban Express at the Django, $25

12/6, 8 PM cellist Amanda Gookin plays solo electroacoustic works by Pamela Z, Jessie Montgomery, Sarah Hennies, Camila Agosto, Seong Ae Kim at Roulette, $25 adv tix rec

12/6, 8:30 PM intriguing, atmospheric chamber pop/shoegaze band Year of the Hare at Bar Freda, $10

12/6, 9 PM acerbic, versatile tenor saxophonist Julieta Eugenio leads a chordless trio at Bar Lunatico

12/7 1 PM purist oldschool jazz guitarist Bill Wurtzel with bassist Jay Leonhart at the American Folk Art Museum.

12/7, 7 PM clever, purist B3 jazz organist Akiko Tsuruga at Cellar Dog

12/8, 7 PM eclectic 21st century composition specialists NOW Ensemble play a program tba at the Brooklyn Public Library Grand Army Plaza branch

12/8, 8 PM a screening of FW Murnau’s classic silent film Nosferatu with live score by creepy classical ensemble the Flushing Remonstrance at Lucky 13 Saloon, $12

12/7, 7:30 PM salsa/tropicalia cantante Mireya Ramos at the Lincoln Center Atrium, free

12/8, 7 PM Gangspil, featuring Sonnich Lydom on accordion and harmonica and Kristian Bugge on fiddle play rarely heard ancient Danish folk songs and dance tunes at Scandinavia House, $15

12/8, 7:30 PM the Korean-inspired Rin Seo Big Band at Culture Lab, $25

12/8, 7:30 PM Colombian vallenato accordionist/singer Diana Burco at the Lincoln Center Atrium, free

12/8, 8 PM performance poet Rena Anakwe followed by a rare improvisational showdown with Mary Margaret O’Hara & cellist Peggy Lee at First Unitarian Church, 116 Pierrepont St, downtown Brooklyn, $30, any train to Borough Hall

12/8, 8 PM  Certain General guitarslinger Phil Gammage plays his dark Americana and blues at 11th St Bar. 12/12, 7:30 PM he’s at Cowgirl Seahorse

12/8, 8 PM tenor sax improv titan George Garzone leads his band at Bar Bayeux

12/9, 7 PM  sweepingly intense, smartly lyrical art-rock songwriter Victoria Langford at the downstairs room at the Rockwood, $12

12/9, 7 PM soprano Aliana de la Guardia and a sextet perform Gabriel Bouche Caro’s new song cycle on themes of Puerto Rican identity at the Americas Society, 680 Park Ave, free

12/9-10, 7:30/9 PM  tuneful, refreshingly edgy pianist Rachel Z leads a quartet  at Smalls, $25

12/9. 8 PM state-of-the-art trumpeter Dave Douglas‘ Quintet with Jon Irabagon, Matt Mitchell, Matt Penman, Rudy Royston play two sets, the second backing brilliant Elysian Fields guitarist Oren Bloedow at the Owl, $20

12/9, 8:30 PM disquieting Elliott Smith-esque band Horror Movie Marathon at Bar Freda, $10

12/10, 4 PM multi-reedman JD Parran leads an ensemble playing classic ragtime and early jazz by James Reese Europe and the Harlem Hellfighters 369th Infantry, then plays his own adventurous stuff with a quartet at All Saints Episcopal Church, 728 7th Ave., south Park Slope, R to Prospect Ave.,

12/10. 6 PM Nora Stanley on sax, Victor Tsilimparis on keys and Eliza Salem on drums jam out at Downtown Music Gallery

12/10, 7:30 PM edgy, versatile bassist Max Johnson  leads his trio at the Django, $25

12/10, 9 PM  fiery electric bluegrass and C&W with Demolition String Band at Skinny Dennis

12/10, 10:30 PM  jazz nonet Small Kingdom with powerhouse singer Melanie Scholtz at the downstairs room at the Rockwood, $15

12/11, 3 PM cellist Benjamin Larsen leads a trio playing music by Haydn, Chausson and Lewis Spratlin at Concerts on the Slope, St. John’s Episcopal Church, 139 St. John’s Place downhill from 7th Ave,, $25

12/11, 5 PM brilliantly adventurous harpist Bridget Kibbey and the Calidore String Quartet plays works by Debussy and Caplet’s “Masque of the Red Death” at Our Saviour’s Atonement Lutheran Church 178 Bennett Avenue at 189th St, free

12/11, 8 PM the ageless, legendary band who started the klezmer revival, the Klezmatics at Drom, expensive, $35 standing room avail

12/11, 9 PM  elegant folk noir songwriter Jean Rohe at the Owl

12/12,7 PM postbop jazz supergroup the Cookers – Billy Harper, Cecil McBee, George Cables, Eddie Henderson, and Billy Hart – at the Schomburg Center, 135th/Malcolm X Blvd, RSVP required:

12/12, 7 PM innovative, atmospheric bassist Brandi Disterheft leads her quartet at Cellar Dog

12/12, 7:30 PM the best singing pianist (and the best piano-playing singer) in jazz, Champian Fulton at the Django, $25

12/12, 8 PM funk-jazz crew the Silver Arrow Band at Drom, free.

12/12, 9 PM Jazz Passengers sax legend Roy Nathanson with trombonist Curtis Fowlkes and Deidre Rodman at Bar Lunatico

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

12/13 half past noon organist Paolo Bougeat plays a program tba at Central Synagogue, 54th/Lex, free

12/13, 6:30 PM guitarist Ben Tyree with drummer Sameer Gupta followed by Abacoa with bassist Kenneth Jimenez, Hery Paz on sax and Willy Rodriguez on drums, then at 8:30 the Mahakala trio with Chad Fowler, Dave Sewelson on bari sax and Steve Hirsh on drums and at 9:30 noir-inspired low-register reedman Ben Goldberg leading a trio at Downtown Music Gallery

12/13, 7:30/9 PM  sweeping, swinging vibraphonist Behn Gillece leads a trio at Mezzrow, $25

12/13, 8 PM  intense janglerock/Americana/soul songwriter Matt Keating and guitarist Steve Mayone’s catchy project the Bastards of Fine Arts at  at the small room at the Rockwood

12/14, 7:30 PM lyrical, thoughtful tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander leads a quartet at the Django, $25

12/14, 8 PM eclectic bassist Nick Dunston’s trio with trombonist Kalia Vandever and DoYeon Kim on gayageum, wow, at Roulette, $25 adv tix rec

12/14, 9 PM reliably powerful tenor saxophonist Stacy Dillard leads a chordless trio at Bar Lunatico

12/15, 7 PM the New York Composers Circle presents world premieres of vocal and chamber music by Peter Kelsh, Scott D. Miller, Kevin McCarter, David Mecionis. Emiko Hayashi. Anthony Izzo, Sergey Oskolov and Patrick Andrew Thompson at Church of the Transfiguration, 1 E 29th St, $15

12/15, 8 PM pianist Eva Polgar plays an all-Hungarian program of music by Kodaly, Dubrovay and Kharitonov at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, $35 tix avail

12/15, 8 PM the Bergamot Quartet play a program of 21st century music tba at the Owl

12/15. 9 PM haunting, reverb guitar-driven noir cinematic instrumentalists Big Lazy at Bar Lunatico

12/15, 9 PM  iconic Afro-Cuban percussionist/bandleader Pedrito Martinez at Drom, $30 standing room avail

12/16-17, 7 PM politically fearless visionary/tenor sax improviser Matana Roberts solo and klezmer band Black Ox Orkestar at Union Pool, $25

12/16, 7:30 all-female Colombian salsa band Lulada Club at the Lincoln Center Atrium, free

12/16, 7:30 PM   jazz organist Mike LeDonne leads a trio at at the Django, $25 12/18. 7 PM he’s at Cellar Dog

12/16-17, 7:30/9 PM  erudite tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffery leads a quartet at Smalls, $25

12/16, 10 PM fiery, psychedelically bluesy oldschool soul/roadhouse jamband Lizzie & the Makers at the small room at the Rockwood. 12/30 at 8 they’re at Sunny’s

12/16, 11:30 PM a rare NYC appearance by brooding Turkish songwriter Niyazi Koyuncu at Drom, $30 standing room avail

12/17, 7:30 PM rising star Indian carnatic singer Rucha Jambekar leads her trio with Aditya Phatak on tabla and Anish Dharam on harmonium at the Chhandayan Center For Indian Music, $25

12/17, 8 PM downtown sax vet Marty Ehrlich leads his group at Bar Bayeux

12/17, 9 PM Irish party band the Narrowbacks at Connolly’s, $5ba

12/17, 10:30 PM  noir-inspired alto saxophonist/composer Nick Hempton  at the Django, $25

12/18, 4 PM  oldschool-style high plains C&W singer Hope Debates & North 40 at Skinny Dennis

12/18, 7:30 PM colorful,  eclectic, paradigm-shifting B3 jazz organist Brian Charette leads a trio at the Django, $25

12/18, 10 PM uneasily vivid bedroom pop songwriter Allegra Krieger at the Owl

12/19. 7 PM purist postbop jazz guitarist Ed Cherry leads a trio at Cellar Dog

12/19, 8 PM a new music extravaganza: Either/Or Ensemble performs works by Talib Rasul Hakim, Jō Kondō, James Díaz, and Katherine Young. Drew Wesely presents a solo prepared guitar performance in celebration of the release of their album and media book Blank Body. 4tet2duos (Katie Porter, Lucie Vítková, James Ilgenfritz, Teerapat Parnmongkol) presents an extended structured work for improvisers. Eli Wallace celebrates the release of his new album of solo prepared piano music. Ghost Ensemble presents the premiere of Ben Richter’s Roulette, $25 adv tix rec

12/19, 9 PM alto saxophonist Caroline Davis’ ambitious Portals quintet at Bar Lunatico

12/19. 10:30 PM cinematically tuneful jazz pianist Steven Feifke’s Big Band at the Django, $25

12/21, 7 PM irrepressible, ebullient Brain Cloud jazz chanteuse/tapdancer Tamar Korn leads her band at Cellar Dog

12/22, 6 PM terse, intense, individualistic, often hypnotic acoustic songwriter Kalyani Singh at the small room at the Rockwood

12/22, 8 PM gritty downtown rocker Diane Gentile, dark blues/folk noir/oldschool soul songwriter Kelley Swindall and well-liked, fearlessly political LES soul-rock songwriter/chanteuse Dina Regine at 11th St Bar

12/23, 7 PMcharismatic, adventurous postbop/avant garde trombonist/crooner Frank Lacy leads a quartet followed at 11:30 by deviously entertaining pianist Jinjoo Yoo at Cellar Dog He’s at Smalls on 12/27 at 7:30 for $25

12/23-24, 7:30/9 PM popular lyrical postbop trumpeter Jeremy Pelt leads a trio at Mezzrow, $25

12/24, 7 PM the NY String Orchestra play works by Mozart, Tschaikovsky and others at Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall, $21 tix avail. The program repeats on 12/28 at 8.

12/24, 8 PM a rare NYC appearance by versatile Turkish chanteuse Zuleyha Ortak – who ranges from haunting folk tunes to slick Anatolian disco – at Drom, $30 standing room avail

12/26, 7:30/9 PM classy, cinematic, purist NZ jazz pianist Alan Broadbent  leads a trio at Mezzrow, $25

12/27,8 PM plaintive Yorkshire/Appalachian singer Jan Bell –whose gloomy chronicles of Brooklyn gentrification are spot-on – with bassist Tina Lama at Sunny’s

12/30 7 PM purist postbop guitarist Sheryl Bailey leads her quartet followed at 11:30 by innovative, individualistic jazz organist Jared Gold and his trio at Cellar Dog

12/31, 9 PM the Binky Griptite Orchestra (formerly Sharon Jones’ brilliant oldschool soul backing band) at Bar Lunatico, $20 cover

Inspiration and Rapture From Harpist Edmar Castaneda in a Sonically Challenging Downtown Space

At his concert today at St. Paul’s Chapel downtown, harpist Edmar Castaneda told the small crowd huddled together in the wintry chill under the balcony organ that he was sick of playing “For computers.” The audience seconded that observation and roared their approval when he’d fire off sparkling cascades, playing brisk melody lines against supple basslines, bending the body of his instrument for a wah-wah effect, or slamming the strings at the end of a song like the inside of a piano to cap off a big coda. But lockdown-era cabin fever aside, at this show Castaneda felt the room’s nature reverb and focused more on rapture and resonance than the pyrotechnics he’s best known for.

His wife, singer Andrea Tierra, marveled at how the Financial District had revitalized itself in the years since she’d walked around the neighborhood during the somber, acrid aftermath of 9/11. “”We always have to fight…New York always has to keep coming back, I think this is a very important message in this part of the city,” she emphasized.

Airing out her understatedly powerful, expressive alto voice, she channeled a distant angst as her husband rose from a suspenseful pulsing, verdant intro to a slow, spiky, bolero-tinged ballad, possibly titled Me Voy Llorando. It was a prime example of the individualistic blend of latin jazz and nueva cancion he’s made a name for himself with – and has played with his wife, whom he instantly fell in love with at a jam session in Queens eighteen years ago.

Tierra introduced a more spare, dancing tune, Cancion Con Todos, as a message of unity for all the people of the Americas, giving voice to citizens struggling for peace, The group – which also included incisive soprano saxophonist Shlomi Cohen and a terse, purposeful drummer – took the song bouncing, doublespeed, with an insistent solo out.

Castaneda played solo on Hecho (“Acts,” a Biblical reference), bringing the atmosphere up from guarded hope to starrier, more rhythmic terrain and a graceful, reflective ending. From there, he brought the rhythm section back to close the set with a wildly flurrying, merengue-flavored tune, Fresh Water, bristling with modal intensity over staggered, strutting syncopation.

A Colorful, Frequently Rapturous Brooklyn Celebration of Yuko Fujiyama’s Music

Last night at Roulette an innovative, inspired cast of Japanese and Americana musicians played a fascinating salute to Yuko Fujiyama, concluding a two-night stand in celebration of the composer and pianist’s individualistic work. The dynamic shifts from animated, incisive, typically somewhat minimalist melodies, to hushed rapture and occasional controlled pandemonium, mirrored a distinctly Japanese sensibility more than the tonalities did.

Solo behind the drumkit, Tetsu Nagasawa opened the evening with an elegant hailstorm on the cymbals. Slowly moving to a coyly noirish rattle, he reached toward gale force, lashing the shoreline before descending to a muted rain on the roof that eventually drifted away. Following a steady, rather hypnotic upward trajectory, he then brought the ambience down to a hushed, shamanic ambience spiced with majestic cymbal washes.

Pianist Sylvie Courvoisier then joined him, adding a few judicious plucks over a distant rustle before introducing a staggered, minimalist pedalpoint. Eerie clusters alternated with simple, emphatic rhythmic gestures. Nagasawa signaled a detour into a flickering jungle; a good cop/bad cop high-lo dynamic ensued over a circular rumble. Courvoisier pounced and threw elbows, then she coalesced into a climb that mirrored the opening drum solo as it decayed to silence.

After the intermission, a cross-pollinated ensemble of Do Yeon Kim on gayageum (the magical, warptoned Korean zither), Satoshi Takeishi on drums, Ned Rothenberg on reeds and Shoko Nagai on piano took over with an improvisation that began with a little furtive prowling around and grew more agitated, Kim’s circling riffs leading the way up to an insistent, pansori-like vocal attack.

A bit of a blizzard gave way to rapturous deep-space washes fueled by Rothenberg’s desolate clarinet, Nagai adding icily spacious glimmer. Gently skipping piano anchored crystalline clarinet curlicues, Rothenberg and Nagai converging in dark circles as the other two musicians looked on but eventually edged their way in. Trails of sparks flickered off; Nagai, who’d moved to a small synth, hit a backwards loop pedal; the spaceship reappeared and everyone got in but chaos ensued anyway.

Rothenberg’s eventual decision to pick up his shakuhachi brought a return to woodsy mysticism, from which Nagai, back on piano, led the ensemble on a long scramble. A cantering forward drive and an unexpected turn into neoromantic rivulets grew grittier as Nagai brought the music to a forceful coda.

For the night’s concluding number, Fujiyama took over on piano, bolstered by additional flute and trumpet, with Nagai moving to accordion. Yuma Uesaka conducted. A brief, lustrous introduction set up Fujiyama’s judicious, otherworldly, Messiaenic ripples: mournful late 50s Miles Davis came to mind.

Pensive trumpet amid gingerly romping piano and an uneasy haze were followed by Kim’s graceful bends. which introduced an interlude that quickly grew squirrelly and eventually frantic.

Rothenberg’s emergence as voice of reason was temporary. Uesaka stopped the works, then restarted them as more of a proper upward vector, with flutters from the flutes and two drummers. The allusive charge down to a final drift through the clouds made a fittingly magical conclusion.

The next concert at Roulette is November 27 at 8 PM with John Zorn’s New Masada Quintet; you can get in for $35 in advance.

A Welcome Return For Pianist Max Lifchitz’s Latin-Tinged Chamber Music Series

Monday night at the National Opera Center, pianist Max Lifchitz admitted that he was “a little scared” by the prospect of plunging back into live performance after being sidelined by plandemic restrictions for the past two years. It was a triumphant return to his niche, the terrain where the Second Viennese School meets south-of-the-border sounds. Until the 2020 lockdown, Lifchitz and his various North/South orchestral configurations had been a familiar presence in concert spaces around New York and beyond.

Picking up where he’d been rudely interrupted, he opened with Robert Fleisher’s 6 Little Piano Pieces, a brief Schoenberg-inspired partita: jazz-inflected modalities within a minimalist stroll with little flourishes that leapt to the surface. Robert Martin’s 2 Ancient Pieces, emphatic student works from a half-century ago, were as effective a segue as a reflection of that era’s 12-tone obsessions (with a few winks to sweeten them).

Lifchtitz romped through Ruth Crawford Seeger’s 2 Piano Pieces in Mixed Accents, a final pair of miniatures built around minimalist, cascading eighth-note phrases. With as much power on her low end as the curlicues at the top, soprano Maria Brea took centerstage for an expresssive interpretation of Osvaldo Golijov‘s Lua Descolorida (“Colorless Moon”), a steady, almost marching nocturne with more than a a hint of a ranchera ballad.

Next, mezzo-soprano Melisa Bonetti took over for Jimmy Kachulis’ Healing Waters of the Amazon. From the opening mantra, “Come on and heal me,” over Lifchitz’s brightly methodical, increasingly bracing chromatic drive, she made it an aptly bittersweet invocation against what the world has had to battle since March of 2020.

Brea returned to sing Odaline de la Martinez’s 4 Afro-Cuban Poems, including a bouncy one about a Cuban guy in love with an American woman whose language he can’t speak, and a shout-out to a girl who does all the hard work around the house. Lifchitz’s own Me Acero y Me Retiro (“I Approach and I Withdraw”) featured both singers in an expansive, dynamically shifting, distantly imploring dialogue and then a harmonically bristling duet after a spaciously climbing, enigmatic piano intro. Lifchitz mirrored that with an arresting, syncopated solo fugue for a coda. It was the highlight of the night.

He closed the program with a trio of brief piano pieces. Venezuelan composer Francisco Zapata-Bello‘s leaping Scherzo Latino perfectly capsulized Lifchitz’s primary focus over the years. William Ortiz‘s Max en Soho Jamming con the Orishas was another of the concert’s high points, a mashup of ragtime and chromatic Scarlatti with a danse macabre at the center. Lifchitz went back to energetic twelve-tone territory for the final piece on the bill, Aurelio de la Vega’s Hamenagem.

The New York Composers Circle Keep the Creative Torch Burning Through Troubled Times

Last night at the cozy little Church of the Transfiguration on East 29th Street, the New York Composers Circle staged an intriguing performance of five world premieres and a New York premiere that featured a persistent unease as well as moments of puckish humor and considerable outside-the-box imagination.

Pianist Craig Ketter opened the concert with Hubert Howe‘s Moments of Uncertainty, which followed a staggered, increasingly spacious, warily Messiaenic call-and-response through a series of subtle dynamic shifts, some of them increasingly stark and minimalist. In less prosaic terms, a cautious stroll through a briar patch: daunting, but doable with care, as Ketter made sure.

He followed with four preludes and fugues from the second collection that Dary John Mizelle had written to keep himself entertained during the lockdown. Stern blues and oldtime gospel riffs in oddly strolling tempos would disintegrate into atonal ambiguity or push up against a steady, grimly looped walking bassline. A tongue-in-cheek sensibility sometimes percolated to the surface amid the thorns, especially in the baroque gestures of the fugues.

Bill Zito played Richard Brooks‘ Sonata for Guitar, a harmonically biting pavane descending to lithe fingerpicking and back as the first movement warmed with some Elizabethan tinges. The remainder of the work was an acerbic blend of baroque stairstepping with wry jazz phrasing, hints of flamenco and some welcome, recurringly humorous bits.

After the intermission, Ketter returned to the piano for Roger Blanc‘s Fantasy Variations, which the composer described as an attempt to get “maximum bang for buck” out of a seven-note scale. Uneasy close harmonies persisted in the opening stroll, which became more of a hauntingly hypnotic, rising and falling march. Ketter reveled casually in the fanged chromaties of the warily swinging fugue that followed. Blanc invested his buck well here.

Guitarist Oren Fader played Igor Vorobyov’s 2019 piece Elegy in the Old Style, a New York premiere springboarded by the Composers Circle’s ongoing cultural exchange with some of their Moscow colleagues. A call-and-response between spiky harmonics and spare, broodingly resonant chords harked back to Scriabin, an unexpected influence for guitar music. As Fader alternated between steady cascades and a brooding, spacious minimalism, it became a pensive ballad, interrupted.

The final piece on the bill was Consolations, a solo piano partita by Dana Dimitri Richardson. Ketter methodically parsed an increasingly agitated, chromatically-charged ballad for angst and rippling poignancy, then found a missing link between Rachmaninoff and Mompou. The progression from chiming, insistent belltones to High Romantic echoes amid a clenched-teeth, syncopatedly punching drive was the high point of the night.

The third part came across as a somber mid 20th century homage to the Chopin E minor prelude, the fourth a ringing, resounding mashup of a Balkan funeral ballad, Russian romanticism and late-period Ligeti, maybe. It made for a darkly glittering driving coda.

The New York Composers Circle’s next concert is Nov 20 at 2 PM with a program of works-in-progress TBA at the National Opera Center’s 7th floor studio at 333 7th Ave. in midtown. Space is limited and a rsvp is a good idea

Theo Walentiny Takes the Crowd on a Magical Mystery Tour of a Historic Downtown Space

Houses of worship tend to be less than optimal for music that’s fast or percussive. Earlier today, pianist Theo Walentiny and his trio sized up the natural reverb of the late 18th century architecture of St. Paul’s Chapel downtown and turned it into a fourth bandmate in a resonant, immersive performance that was often nothing short of eerie.

Throughout their hour onstage, Walentiny chose his spots for occasional rivulets, cascades or variations on circular clusters over a stygian, resonant lefthand. Until the final number, moments where he picked up the volume were few, and packed a punch when they occurred. Drummer Connor Parks rarely rose above a cymballine mist until the second half of the show while bassist Tyrone Allen matched Walentiny’s moody modalities, sometimes shadowing the piano, sometimes essentially taking over from the drums during the show’s most briskly swinging moments.

They reinvented Billy Strayhorn’s Chelsea Bridge as a murky kaleidoscope punctuated by a stern, loopy march motif and rainy-day upper register that Walentiny took into icily starry Messiaenic territory. The original after that pulsed with a muted suspense over a racewalking shuffle groove, Walentiny building tension with subtle variations on insistent, judiciously spaced clusters, loosening every so slightly into a more casual if wary stroll with a chilly reflecting-pool piano solo at the center.

From there Walentiny built the next number up from more of those circling clusters (that appears to have really become a thing in jazz conservatories these days), gingerly moving outward from a center to distant echoes of regally pugilistic McCoy Tyner and a quasi Giant Steps interlude with stabbing close harmonies. Parks in particular was masterful on this one, building a tabla-like atmosphere that lingered and left the crowd speechless for several seconds at the end.

From there the group parsed a forlorn, Birmingham-era Coltrane style tone poem of sorts: Walentiny hinted that he might go in a more lively direction but opted against it as Allen’s minute microtones edged upward. They closed with another original, Splattered Current, Parks finally cutting loose with his toms to underpin Walentiny’s stern pedalpoint in contrast to bright but meticulously space righthand accents and a few sizzling flurries. Either way, it was a magical tug-of-war with the sonics bounding and booming off the walls.

The final jazz concert at St. Paul’s Chapel this month is at 1 PM on Nov 22 with harpist Edmar Castaneda and his trio. Admission is free; be aware that you will be asked to empty your pockets as if you were at the airport if you want to get in. So far they don’t make you take your shoes off.

A Dynamic, Rewarding Choral Concert at Trinity Church

Two and a half years ago, it was uncertain if choral music in New York that wasn’t clandestine would ever exist again. So it was rewarding to walk into Trinity Church yesterday to see the Downtown Voices and the Novus NY string quartet gathered together onstage, and to see hardly a single surgical mask amid an impressively sizeable crowd who’d assembled in the pews.

Yet it was ironic to the extreme to view the blue-and-gold color scheme – ubiquitously associated with lockdown propaganda in Europe, less so here – projected behind the choir and ensemble, on a day when news of a cryptocurrency ponzi scheme laundering American taxpayer money through Ukraine to the Democratic Party was exploding around the world.

The music was a welcome diversion. Reduced to most basic and prosaic terms, the theme was minimalism in counterpoint. The effect was at times hypnotic, at times entrancing and frequently exhilarating. The highlight of the evening was Ola Gjeilo‘s partita Dark and Luminous Night. Once the quartet had introduced a fleetingly uneasy theme, the choir joined in a series of kinetic peaks and icy lulls, conductor Stephen Sands leading them from just short of a stampede to echoes of dark European folk and heroic Romanticism.

A more quietly captivating if equally dynamic piece was an arrangement of Jessie Montgomery‘s Source Code for choir and string quartet. An anxious chromatic violin theme and variations stood out over a quiet drone, quite a contrast with the orchestral version that A Far Cry played in Central Park last summer. Infused with bluesy cello glissandos over stark sustained chords, the two groups descended to a hazier, more wary ambience and eventual whispery rapture.

The singers and quartet nimbly negotiated the subtle but rhythmically tricky and demandingly spacious, characteristically cell-like development of the concert’s centerpiece, David Lang‘s National Anthems. A soprano soloist who resonated over the methodically staggered pulse of her choirmates added an air of poignancy. Lyrically, this seemed less a celebration of sovereignty than a distantly troubled and disjointed prayer for liberation, a profoundly relevant work for our time.

The concert’s most traditional and briefest moment was a calmly nocturnal Undine Smith Moore arrangement of the spiritual We Shall Walk Through the Valley.

The next concert at Trinity Church is December 4 at 3 PM with Jamaican jazz piano legend Monty Alexander and his trio. Admission is free; it couldn’t hurt to get there about ten minutes early if you want a good seat.

Live Music Calendar for New York City and Brooklyn For November 2022

Frequent updates, with a new calendar for the first week of December coming 12/1. As crazy as the world is right now, it makes more sense to play this by ear and pull together these listings week by week, rather than investing the 30 hours or so that it would take to compile a whole month at a time, only to see those concerts cancelled when the evil Hochul decides to play dictator again. Bookmark this page and hopefully we’ll all get through the end of the year together.

All these concerts are free of restrictions on entry. Weekly events first followed by the daily calendar. If a venue is unfamiliar, look for it on the old guide to NYC music venues here, which is more of a worksheet now, but it has links to most of the places on this calendar.

Sundays at around 8 PM trumpeter Jon Kellso and (frequently) guitarist Matt Munisteri lead the Ear-Regulars in NYC’s only remaining weekly hot jazz jam session at the Ear Inn

11/1, 6:30: PM guitarist Max Kutner with drummer Kevin Shea followed by the potentially combustible Astro Turf with mandolinist Sam Day Harnet, violinist Sana Nagano and bassist Zach Swanson at Downtown Music Gallery

11/1, 7:30 PM guitar-percussion-piano chamber group Hypercube play new music by Seong Ae Kim, Michael Fiday, and others at Mise-En Space, 341 Calyer St (Russell/Humboldt), Greenpoint, G to Greenpoint Ave., $10

11/1, 8 PM bassist Dominic Wagner leads an ensemble plays works by Montag, Martín, Penderecki, Gershwin and his own pieces at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, $34 tix avail

11/1, 8 PM funk-jazz crew the Silver Arrow Band at Drom, free. They’re back on the 28th

11/1, 8 PM avant garde piano titan Kathleen Supove, violinist Jennifer Choi and guitarist James Moore play works by Richard Carrick, Lainie Fefferman, James Ilgenfritz, Alexandra Vrebalov, Randall Woolf, and John Zorn at Roulette, $25 adv tix rec

11/1, 9 PM Arthur Kell on bass with Brad Shepik and Nate Radley on guitars, an auspiciously unorthodox lineup, at Bar Lunatico

11/1. 10:30 PM Los Hacheros, who play fiery electric tres-driven Cuban sounds at the Django, $25

11/2, 1 PM purist oldschool jazz guitarist Bill Wurtzel resumes his long-running stand at the American Folk Art Museum. He’s back on 11/16

11/2, 7:30/9 PM  purist postbop jazz guitarist Ed Cherry leads a trio at Smalls $25

11/2, 9 PM ferociously tuneful, kinetic merengue/tropical psychedelic Dominican guitarist Yasser Tejeda & Pelotre at Bar Lunatico

11/2. 10:30 PM  lyrical, thoughtful tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander at the Django, $25

11/3, 7 PM the Orchestra Now play obscure pre-WWII works by Brook, Apostel, Braunfels and Kauder at Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall, $15.50 tix avail

11/3, 7 PM classical guitarist Antonio Meneses and cellist Paul Galbraith play works by Bach, Schubert, Albeniz and others at the Americas Society, 680 Park Ave., free, res req to

11/3, 7:30 PM Rolling Stones tenor saxophonist Tim Ries leads his quintet at the Django, $25. He’s back on 11/10 and 11/17

11/3, 8 PM  iconic trumpeter and fearlessly political composer Wadada Leo Smith duets with low-register reed icon Scott Robinson at Roulette, $20 adv tix rec

11/3 8 PM Americana banjo songwriter Hilary Hawke  at Sunny’s

11/3. 10:30 PM uneful oldschool soul/jazz trombonist Dave Gibson leads his quartet at Smalls, $25.

11/4, 7 PM clever, purist B3 jazz organist Akiko Tsuruga at Cellar Dog

11/4, 8 PM fierce acoustic Americana/gospel/blues songwriter Rhiannon Giddens leads a cool acoustic Americana band with Amythyst Kiah on banjo at Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall, $32 tix avail

11/4, 8 PM ish slinky, horn-driven retro bugalu band Spanglish Fly at SOB’s, $15

11/4, 7:30 PM postbop  trombonist Conrad Herwig leads his quartet at the Django, $25

11/4-5, 7:30 PM  jazz organist Mike LeDonne leads a quintet at Smalls, $25. He’s also at the Django on 11/6 at 9

11/4, 8 PM wryly lyrical urban Americana vet Alex Battles at Sunny’s

11/4, 8 PM riveting Japanese shamisen player/singer/improviser Emi Makabe leads a trio with Thomas Morgan on bass, Vitor Gonçalves on piano/accordion at Bar Bayeux

11/4, 9 PM good-natured newgrass band Grain Thief at the downstairs room at the Rockwood, $12

11/4, 10 PM roots reggae band Sons of Solomon at Shrine

11/4. 10:30 PM classy, cinematic, purist NZ jazz pianist Alan Broadbent  leads a trio at Mezzrow, $25

11/5, 7:30 PM expressive carnatic singer Rajyashree Ghosh with tabla sorcerer Samir Chatterjee and Anirban Chakraborty on harmonium at the Chhandayan Center For Indian Music, $25

11/5. 8 PM a surf rock triplebill: Drip 2.0, the incisive Surf Junkies and at 11 darkly cinematic, ornate instrumentalists the Otto’s

11/5, 8 PM surreali art-song chanteuse Leila Adu and eclectic, tuneful folk noir accordionist/guitarist/songwriter Ali Dineen at the Owl, $12

11/5, 8 ish dynamic oldschool-style soul songstress Danielle Ponder at SOB’s, $20

11/5, 9 PM brilliant, fearlessly political B3 organist Greg Lewis does his Organ Monk thing at Bar Lunatico

11/5,10:30 PM  the great unsung NYC hero of darkly purposeful, noir-tinged jazz guitar,Saul Rubin leads his quartet at Smalls, $25.

11/6, 4 PM fiery, deviously fun oldtimey swing guitarist/crooner Seth Kessel at Skinny Dennis

11/6, 6 PM the Dave Stryker Organ Quartet play their low-down grooves at Cellar Dog

11/6. 6:30 PM New Orleans reedman Craig Handy followed at 9 by  jazz organist Mike LeDonne and trio at the Django, $25

11/6, 7:30 PM electrifying vibraphonist Simon Moullier and band at Smalls, $25.

11/6, 7:30 PM luminous latin-inspired jazz chanteuse Marianne Solivan at Mezzrow, $25

11/7, 7:30 PM violist Thomas Reibl and pianist Thomas Sauer play works by Schubert, Bach and Garth Knox at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, $23 tix avail

11/7. 8 PM pianist Myra Melford’s Fire and Water chamber jazz quintet at Roulette, $25 adv tix rec

11/7, 9 PM pastoral gothic accordion bandleader Sam Reider with the Jimi Hendrix of the cuatro, Jorge Glem at Bar Lunatico

11/7, 9 PM boisterously funny oldschool 60s C&W and brooding southwestern gothic with Jack Grace at Skinny Dennis

11/7, 10:30 PM tuneful, epic bassist Marcos Varela leads a piano-guitar quartet at the Django, $25

11/7. 10:30 PM smartly impressionistic postbop pianist Miki Yamanaka at Smalls, $25

11/8, 7 PM  haunting Middle Eastern jazz bassist Petros Klampanis leads a trio with pianist Kristjan Randalu at Drom, $15 adv tix rec

11/8, 7:30 PM a musical program featuring the poetry of iconic Norwegian poet Olav H. Hauge! with Reidun Horvei (voice) and Inger-Kristine Riber (keyboard and composition) at Scandinavia House, free

11/8. 7:30/9 PM eclectic. edgy violinist Zach Brock and pianist Steve Sandberg at Mezzrow, $25

11/8, half past noon organist Mark Pacoe plays a program tba at Central Synagogue, 54th/Lex

11/8, .8 PM ska/rockabilly band the Sweet Talkers and  wickedly jangly surf/twang/country instrumentalists the Bakersfield Breakers at 11th St Bar

11/8, 9 PM singer Veronica Davila’s twangy, Bakersfield-flavored hard honkytonk band Low Roller at Skinny Dennis

11/9, 7 PM lyrical Mingus band pianist David Kikoski solo at the Cutting Room, $24 adv tix rec

11/9, 7:30 PM haunting Turkish six-string kopuz player Ismet Ertas leads a quintet at Drom, $15 adv tix rec

11/9, 10 PM Melissa Gordon of Melissa & the Mannequins, one of the best purist janglerock songwriters in NYC, at LIC Bar. She’s also here on 11/16, 11/23 and 11/30

11/10, 7 PM underground NYC soul legend and crooner Ellis Hooks at Terra Blues

11/10, 7:30 PM poignant Palestinian pianist Rami Khalife at Drom, $25 adv tix rec. Followed at 9:30 PM (separate $15 adm) by a rare appearance by Turkish jazz bassist and singer Esra Kayıkçı with her quartet including Bilge Gunaydin on piano

11/10, 8 PM the bassoon/keyboard Sara Schoenbeck/Wayne Horvitz Duo perform material from their debut album, followed by spare, allusively haunting pianist/songwriter Robin Holcomb playing the album release show for her excellent new one  at Roulette, $25 adv tix rec

11/10, 8 PM a screening of Buster Keaton’s The General with music by Trio Ferrovia at the Owl, $12

11/10, 8 PM bombastic Massachusetts punk legends the Nervous Eaters and agelessly slashing, tuneful janglerock/powerpop icon Willie Nile at City Winery, $30 standing room avail

11/10, 11:30 PM deviously entertaining pianist Jinjoo Yoo leads her Quartet at Cellar Dog

11/11, 7 PM trumpeter Wayne Tucker – who veers between sunny postbop jazz, Afrobeat and goofy vocal shtick – leads his quartet at Cellar Dog

11/11, 8 PM violist Joanna Mattrey and percussionist Billy Martin’s spiritually-inspired Chanting project at Roulette, $25 adv tix rec

11/11-12, 7:30/9 PM free jazz tenor sax legend George Garzone leads a quartet at Smalls, $25. 11/12 the equally oldschool, purist  tenor guy Eric Wyatt  plays at 10:30 and runs the jam session afterward

11/11, 9 PM  cult favorite gonzo pianist Dred Scott‘s Cali Mambo band with Tom Beckham on vibes at Bar Lunatico, 11/15 at 7:30/9 PM Scott leads his regular trio at Smalls, $25

11/12, 4 PM  Sarah Durning & the Fun Sisters play twangy oldschool-style original honkytonk at Skinny Dennis

11/12, 6:30 PM sound artists Jad Atoui, Susie Ibarra, and Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe build surround-soundscapes to accompany Tarek Atoui’s exhibit The Whisperers at FLAG, 545 W 25th St, 9th Fl, free, rsvp reqd

11/12. 8 PM violinist Layth Sidiq – artistic director of the New York Arabic Orchestra – leads his quartet at Roulette, $30 adv tix rec

11/12, 8 PM bassist Dan Loomis leads his jazz quartet with Noa Fort – vocals; Mike McGinnis – clarinet; Jeff Miles – guitar playing his song cycle about the secret life of trees at a house concert in Ditmas Park, $18, email for deets

11/13, 3 PM cellist  Benjamin Larsen leads an eclectic quintet with guitarist Jordan Dodson playing works by Mozart, Paganini, Salerni and Dvorak  on the Slope, St. John’s Episcopal Church, 139 St. John’s Place downhill from 7th Ave, $25

11/13, 3 PM the Downtown Voices and the NOVUS NY string quartet present works by Undine Smith Moore, Jessie Montgomery, Jenni Brandon, and David Lang at Trinity Church, free

11/13, 4 PM Malian kora wizard Yacouba Sissoko at the Dreck Center at the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, free

11/13, 7 PM otherworldly Ukrainian harmony vocal trio Zozulka, rustic Colombian coastal trance-dance band La Manga and Greek psychedelic band Habbina Habbina at Pioneer Works, free

11/13, 7/9:30 PM baritone saxophonists Frank Basile and Gary Smulyan lead a quintet at Smalls, $25

11/13, 8 PM Changing Modes– NYC’s funnest, most unpredictable, sharply lyrical new wave art-rock band at Bar Freda, 801 Seneca Ave. in Ridgewood, M to Seneca Ave., $10

11/13, 8 PM retro continental swing sounds with singer Tatiana Eva-Marie & the Avalon Jazz Band at Drom, $25

11/13. 9 PM fiery electric bluegrass and C&W with Demolition String Band at Skinny Dennis

11/14, 8 PM Maria Brea, soprano; Melisa Bonetti, mezzo-soprano and Max Lifchitz, piano perform works by Ruth Crawford, Odaline de la Martinez, Aurelio de la Vega, Osvaldo Golijov, Robert Fleisher, James Kachulis, Max Lifchitz, Robert Martin, William Ortiz, & Francisco the National Opera Center, 330 7th Avenue, 7th Fl, free

11/14, 10 PM crooner Kevin Harris with jazz organ paradigm-shifter Brian Charette at the Ear Inn

11/15, 1 PM Bardekova Ensemble play woodwind music of Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, Ellington, Celia Cruz and others Williamsbridge Oval Recreation Center, 3225 Reservoir Oval East in the Bronx, 4 to Mosholu Pkwy

11/15, 6:30 PM a wild night of improvisation: a rare solo show by downtown jazz guitar icon Elliott Sharp followed by the Bob Musso/Mark Daterman guitar duo and then tuba player Ben Stapp with violinist Olivia De Prato at Downtown Music Gallery

11/15, 7 PM  innovative, atmospheric bassist Brandi Disterheft leads her quartet at Cellar Dog

11/15, 7 PM the New York Composers Circle play new music: Hubert Howe’s Moments of Uncertainty, Marina Shmotova’s Games I-III, Roger Blanc’s Fantasy Variations, Dana Dimitri Richardson’s Consolations, all for piano solo, Richard Brooks’s Sonata, Igor Vorobyov’s Elegy in the Old Style, both for solo guitar and Christopher Kaufman’s Mercury’s Shadow for 2 violins at Church of the Transfiguration, 1 E 29th St off 5th Ave, $15

11/15, 8 PM  fascinatingly lyrical, individualistic pianist Sylvie Courvoisier‘s lush Chimeara sextet feat. Christian Fennesz, Wadada Leo Smith, Nate Wooley, Drew Gress & Kenny Wollesen, wow at Roulette, $25 adv tix rec

11/16, 1 PM NOVUS NY, soloists from the Choir of Trinity Wall Street and Sandbox Percussion perform George Crumb’s American Songbook No. 1: The River of Life: Songs of Joy and Sorrow and Bartok’s Divertimento led by concertmaster Katie Hyun at St. Paul’s Chapel downtown, free

11/16, 8 PM a killer triplebill: the electro-surf Zolephants followed at 9 PM by Middle Eastern and Greek-flavored psychedelic surf-rock of the Byzan-tones and wickedly catchy Americana/paisley underground rockers Girls on Grass at 10 at Wonderville, 1186 Broadway, Bushwick, J to Kosciuszko St.

11/16, 10:30 PM tuneful, refreshingly edgy pianist Rachel Z leads her quartet at the Django, $25

11/17, 7 PM pianist Per Tengstrand and ensemble play Beethoven’s 4th Piano Concerto at Scandinavia House, $30

11/17, 7 PM the rustic Piedmont-style blues guitar duo Gordon Lockwood at Terra Blues

11/17, 8 PM Lloyd Cole plays a career retrospective at City Winery. $30 tix avail. He had a good run in the 80s as a Elvis Costello Jr. type and then in the 90s with a more psychedelic sound, would be interesting to see what he has left in the tank.

11/17, 7 PM organist David Enlow plays an all Cesar Franck program at Church of the Ascension, 10th St/5th Ave, $20. The organ there has rich French style colors and is well suited to the composer’s work.

11/18, 7:30 PM the Philosonia Quartet: Ji in Yang (violin), Stanichka Dimitrova (violin), Luke Fleming (viola), and Michael Katz (cello) perform works by Charles Peck, Alexander Borodin, & Dmitri Shostakovich at the Old Stone House in Park Slope, $20/$15 stud/srs

11/18. 7:30 PM bass goddess/soul singer Felice Rosser’s ageless reggae-rock-groove band Faith at the small room at the Rockwood

11/18, 7:30 PM jazz pianist Aaron Diehl performs Sir Roland Hanna’s 24 Preludes in their entirety alongside a prelude and fugue by J.S. Bach – plus a new composition at Merkin Concert Hall, $30

11/18, 8 PM Laurie Anderson, agelessly funny, perennially relevant grand dame of the avant garde, solo at Pioneer Works, $30 adv tix rec

11/18, 8 PM Renee LoBue’s darkly catchy veteran powerpop/art-rock band Elk City and jagged-edged Wire-ish postpunks Savak at Union Pool, $16

11/18 8 PM Lizzie Edwards of fiery, psychedelically bluesy oldschool soul/roadhouse jamband Lizzie & the Makers at Sunny’s

11/18, 8 PM ska night at Otto’s with surf band the Yeggs, Mephiskapheles spinoff Barbicide, the contagiously catchy Pandemics and at 11 slinky cumbia/reggae band Stop the Presses

11/18, 9ish psychedelic cumibia band Los Aliens play the album release show for their new one at C’Mon Everybody, $13

11/18, 11 PM ish dark carnival rock icon Franz Nicolay plays the album release show for his new one at Bar Freda in Ridgewood, $12

11/19, noon, there’s a freedom rally at Union Square. Bring friends, these things are fun!

11/19, 7:30 PM a serendipitous duo: lyrical pianist Geoffrey Keezer and innovative saxophonist Caroline Davis at Mezzrow, $25

11/19, 7:30 PM prolific postbop composer and tenor saxophonist Ken Fowser  leads a quintet at Smalls, $25

11/19, 7:30 PM Harold Rosenbaum conducts the New York Virtuoso Singers performing the choral movements from J.S. Bach’s Cantatas 134 through 146, with piano accompanist Eduardo de la Vega at Merkin Concert Hall, $30

11/19, 10 PM Certain General guitarslinger Phil Gammage plays his dark Americana and blues at Shrine

11/19, 10:30 PM powerhouse trombonist Mariel Bildstein leads a septet at the Django, $25 11/25, 11:30 PM she’s with her Quartet at Cellar Dog

11/20, 11 AM (in the morning) the Isidore String Quartet perform Dinuk Wijeratne’s The Disappearance of Lisa Gherardini, selections from J. S. Bach’s Art of the Fugue, and Billy Childs’ String Quartet No. 2 “Awakening” at the Museum of Art & Design, 2 Columbus Cir., $25, coffee/breakfast snacks included

11/20, 5 PM  soaring, politically relevant, brilliantly purposeful alto saxophonist Miguel Zenon with pianist Luis Perdomo, piano at Our Saviour’s Atonement Lutheran Church 178 Bennett Avenue at 189th St, free

11/20, 8 PM cult favorite improvisational pianist Yuko Fujiayama leads a sextet with Jen Shyu, Graham Haynes, Reggie Nicholson at Roulette, $25 adv tix rec. She’s back on the 21st with another unit including Sylvie Courvoisier, Ned Rothenberg, Do Yeon Kim, Satoshi Takeishi, Shoko Nagai,

11/20, 8 PM ish ska night with aggro reggaeton band Dub Corps, the Capturers and the ageless Hub City Stompers at Gold Sounds, $18

11/20, 8 PM trumpeter Wayne Tucker leads a trio at Bar Lunatico

11/21, 6:30 PM Cameron Campbell improvises solo on keys followed by saxophonist Ayumi Ishito, guitarist Aron Namenwirth and drummer Kevin Shea jamming at Downtown Music Gallery

11/21, 7 PM Neil Rolnick celebrates the release of his new album Lockdown Fantasies with spectacular and adventurous pianists Geoffrey Burleson and Kathleen Supové in two large scale pieces for piano and electronics at Mise-En Place in Greenpoint, $10

11/21, 10:30 PM  smartly impressionistic postbop pianist Miki Yamanaka at Smalls, $25

11/22, 1 PM wildfire Colombian harpist Edmar Castaneda leads his trio at St. Paul’s Chapel downtown, free

11/22, 7:30 PM colorful tenor saxophonist Michael Blake leads a quartet at Smalls, $25

11/22, 7:30 PM  kinetic Cuban jazz pianist Elio Villafranca leads a trio and choir playing his suite about Cuban freedom fighter Florentina Zulueta battling slave traders and conquistadors at the Lincoln Center Atrium, free

11/22-27, 8/10:30 PM perennially vital latin jazz piano sage Eddie Palmieri  at the Blue Note, expensive, $35 standing room avail

11/22, 9 PM the eclectic, electrifying accordion-driven Los Mochuelos play classic gangsta Colombian vallenato and cumbia at Terraza 7, $15

11/23, 7:30 PM the best singing pianist (and the best piano-playing singer) in jazz, Champian Fulton in followed at 10:30 by noir-inspired alto saxophonist/composer Nick Hempton at the Django, $25

11/23, 8 PM sharply lyrical southwestern gothic/Americana songwriter Tom Shaner followed at 10 by purist janglerock songwriter Melissa Gordon of Melissa & the Mannequins, at LIC Bar

11/23, 9 PM high voltage Irish drinking music with  Shilelagh Law at Connolly’s

11/24, 10:30 PM charismatic, adventurous postbop/avant garde trombonist/crooner Frank Lacy leads a quartet at Smalls, $25

11/25, 6 PM the Catalyst Quartet play works by Florence Price, Joseph Bologne (Chevalier de Saint-Georges), Germaine Tailleferre, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, William Grant Still, Ethel Smyth, George Walker at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Where? Ask the front desk girl

11/25-26, 7:30 PM a rare intimate solo show by Bill Evans-inspired pianist Bill Charlap at Mezzrow, $25

11/25, 8 PM irrepressible, ebullient Brain Cloud jazz chanteuse/tapdancer Tamar Korn  at Sunny’s

11/26, 7:30 PM evocative alto saxophonist Dmitri Baevsky leads his quartet at Smalls, $25. He pares it down to a trio at Mezzrow on 11/28, same time

11/26, 9 PM  the Binky Griptite Orchestra (formerly Sharon Jones’ brilliant oldschool soul backing band) at Bar Lunatico

11/26, 9 PM deviously entertaining hot 20s swing chanteuse Sweet Megg Farrell puts on her cowboy hat at Skinny Dennis

11/27, 7:30 PM crystalline-voiced, noir-tinged third-stream jazz chanteuse Tessa Souter with Luis Perdomo on piano and Dezron Douglas on bass at Mezzrow, $25

11/27, 7 PM whirlwind Indian violinist Arun Ramamurthy followed by Dan Kurfirst’s Arkinetics playing the album release show for their mesmerizing new one at Drom, $20 adv tix rec

11/28, 7:30 PM  eclectic, witty, paradigm-shifting B3 jazz organist Brian Charette  with a quintet at the Django, $25

11/28, 8 PM a great adventurous lineup: cornetist Kirk Knuffke with Matthew Shipp on piano and Michael Bisio on bass at Roulette, $25 adv tix rec

11/28. 8 PM thoughtful saxophonist Alain Metrailler with Dana Saul (piano), Mathias Jensen (bass), Matt Honor (drums) at Branded Saloon

11/29, 7:30/9 PM catchy, intricate guitarist Alicyn Yaffee – who bridges the gap between postbop jazz, pensive parlor pop and art-rock with trumpeter Jeremy Pelt and bassist Russell Hall at Mezzrow, $25

11/29, 8 PM powerhouse saxophonists Anna Webber and Angela Morris join forces with their Webber/Morris Big Band playing adventurous 18-piece big band jazz  at Roulette, $25 adv tix rec

11/29, 9 PM  tunefully eclectic pianist Leo Genovese leads a trio at Bar Lunatico

11/29-30, 8/10:30 PM guitar icon Bill Frisell leads an amazing quintet with Tony Scherr and Thomas Morgan on bass, Kenny Wollesen and Rudy Royston on drums at the Blue Note, $30 standing room avail

11/29, 9 PM ex-Chicha Libre keyboard sorcerer Josh Camp’s wryly psychedelic cumbia/tropicalia/dub band Locobeach at Terraza 7, $15

11/29, 10:30 PM Los Hacheros, who play fiery electric tres-driven Cuban sounds at the Django, $25

11/30, 6:30 PM the Modus Operandi Orchestra play a fantastic program of works by Jessie Montgomery, Richard Strauss’s epic Metamorphosen and Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony (the orchestral arrangement of his haunting String Quartet No. 8) and Piano Concerto No. 1 at Merkin Concert Hall, $30

11/30, 7:30 PM  tuneful, refreshingly edgy pianist Rachel Z leads her trio at the Django, $25

11/30, 7:30/9 PM a rare duo show with one of the great orchestrally-minded composers in jazz, Mike Holober on piano with Charles Pillow on soprano sax at Mezzrow, $25

11/30, 9 PM colorful, politically fearless jazz pianist Eri Yamamoto at Bar Lunatico

11/30, 7 PM short sets by crystalline-voiced noir Americana songwriter Jessie Kilguss, Lusterlit art-rock tunesmith Charlie Nieland, Americana songstress Andi Rae Healy, and others at Branded Saloon

12/1, 7:30 PM pianist Boris Berman plays a one-night-only concert of music by Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov, at the Baryshnikov Arts Center 450 W 37th St just east of the DiMenna Ctr., $25

The Ragas Live Festival 2022, Part 2: Hits and Misses

This year’s return of the 24-hour-plus Ragas Live festival of Indian music and related sounds was so epic that it requires two parts to reasonably digest. The frequently rapturous first half was reviewed here yesterday. The second part was also often transcendent, with some issues.

Let’s tackle those and then get to the good stuff. You’re never going to see fusion jazz on this page: with rare exceptions, good jazz is basically acoustic music. So if you enjoyed the tropical midnight act and the interminable Moroccan fusion interlude yesterday afternoon, glad you had a good time.

It would have been fun to catch sitarist Abhik Mukherjee‘s set to begin the second half of the marathon. Who knew that a trip for coffee a little earlier in the morning would also have turned into a marathon, a much less enjoyable one.

Back at Pioneer Works, bansuri flutist Jay Gandhi took an absolutely harrowing detour, running variations on a haunting, wary chromatic theme with Ehren Hanson on tabla for what seemed the better part of an hour. Beyond Gandhi’s breathtakingly liquid, perfectly modulated sine-wave attack, the somber mood was impossible to turn away from. These are troubled times: nobody has channeled that with such subtle power in recent months as these two. Which made their clever and allusive permutations on a bouncy nursery-rhyme-like riff afterward such a stark contrast. And yet, the darkness lingered, if at a distance.

Trumpeter Amir ElSaffar, whose most recent specialty has become oceanic Middle Eastern big band jazz, followed with about an hour of brooding electroacoustic sounds. Starting off on a labyrinthine rack of analog synthesizers, he rose from enveloping ambience to an achingly gorgeous, regal solo trumpet fanfare in a moody Iraqi maqam. Next, he looped an austere, baroquely churchy organ processional, then employed it as a backdrop for a constellation of santoor riffs which echoed Gandhi’s pervasive angst. He wound up the set on vocals with a similarly cautionary clarion call, more or less.

Another santoorist, Vinay Desai kept the angst at redline with a saturnine tribute to the late, great Shivkumar Sharma, who left us this past spring. We don’t know for certain if the lethal Covid injection took him out. With Vivek Pandya on tabla, the two musicians developed an absolutely gorgeous, elegaic, allusively chromatic theme and variations. Remaining mostly in the midrange, Desai rose for the great beyond with a somber glimmer before bringing it down to a dirge and the tabla entered. As the hour went on, Desai’s ripples off the walls of the space echoed into a galactic drift. Eventually, the duo took the theme skipping into the stars, a sober but energetic farewell to a pioneer.

ElSaffar returned for a second turn on santoor, joining percussionist Zafer Tawil and violinist Sami Abu Shumays behind impassioned veteran Iraqi crooner Hamid Al Saadi. After the sober, stately initial march, the maqam singer would begin the rest of the set’s expansive numbers with darkly dynamic, rubato intros, one leading to a surprisingly subtle call-and-response with ElSaffar. A little later, the group made their way into a swaying, ebullient major-key tune with a starkly contrasting santoor-and- violin break. They closed with undulating, biting chromatic theme with even more lusciously intertwined santoor and violin and a machinegunning coda.

Violinist Arun Ramamurthy gets credit for the festival’s most pyrotechnic performance, a role he’s become accustomed to. This time out he had his Indian jazz trio with bassist Damon Banks and Sameer Gupta on drums. This was the symphonic Ramamurthy: in the boomy space, with the natural reverb bouncing off the walls, he was a violin army. Banks would typically shadow him, Gupta inventively doing a nimble churning groove with tabla voicings on his kit, as the bandleader made his way through a rising and falling epic in tribute to his ancestors, to moments of icy ambience as well as frequent excursions through the bluesy raga riffs that he likes to mine in this context. Nobody knows how to draw an audience in with foreshadowing and judiciously spectacular slides and stabs better than Ramamurthy.

After that it was dance time. All-female Moroccan trance-dance ensemble group Bnat el Houariyat, featuring New York’s Esraa Warda took over the stage and then stomped and twirled and spoke power to male hegemony.

In her New York debut, singer/dancer and mystic Parvathy Baul brought ancient archetypes to life in a fervent but utterly unselfconsciously spiritual set of Bengali ritual songs. Showing off a soulfully soaring, meticulously melismatic, carnatically-infused voice which took on a grittier edge as her set went on, she sang innumerable mythical metaphors and cheerily translated them for the English-only crowd. Moving from ecstasy to tenderness and then an acerbic insistence, she cut loose and reminded that crowd that the truth is like a lion. All you have to do is set it free. Or words to that effect. Let’s hope there’s a Ragas Live festival in 2023.