New York Music Daily

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Tag: erik satie

Jazz Piano Icon Satoko Fujii Launches Her Ambitious 2018 Album-a-Month Project

What Wadada Leo Smith is to the trumpet, Satoko Fujii is to the piano: one of the most riveting improvisers to ever play the instrument. Like Smith, her themes can be epic and ambitious to the nth degree, yet her playing is meticulous and nuanced. Where a lot of musicians think in short phrases, Fujii thinks in paragraphs. Her most recent big band album, the harrowingly relevant Fukushima suite, topped the Best Albums of 2017 list here. Her latest project is to release an album a month this year to celebrate her sixtieth birthday. In person, beyond the sheer depth of her music, her indomitable joie de vivre, sense of wonder and daunting chops transcend preconceptions about age. The first release in the series is simply titled Satoko Fujii Solo.

Full disclosure: many of these albums seem to already be in the can. This first one was recorded live in concert in the fall of last year in Yawatahama, Japan. From the first magnificent, moody neoromantic chords of her eight-minute opening number, Inori, the way she distills them down to a simple, catchy three-chord riff and variations is a clinic in tunesmithing. Fujii is also a very site-specific pianist: she feels the room, figures out how long the reverb lasts,  then makes it an integral part of the music. She does that here with stabbing chords that build to a series of leaps and bounds. then a starlit outro. Chopin probably worked up a lot of his material this way.

This is a very otherworldly record, bristling with uneasy, insistently modal tangents. Don’t be fooled by the high drone that opens the second number, Geradeaus. That’s not a defect – that’s Fujii bowing and rustling around inside the piano. She finds a low pedal note, expands around it in an emphatic Keith Jarrett way, goes back inside and adjusts the timbre ever so slightly, then lightens a bit and dances around with uneasy chromatics. The few carefree flourishes turn out to be a red herring as this mood piece turns more savage and enigmatic.

As the twelve-minute Ninepin gets underway, Fujii juxtaposes muted gamelanesque taps on the strings…and what sounds like an electric sander on them. Slowly and methodically, she develops what could be a misterioso Indian wee-hours raga…but cuts off the pedal on each phrase suddenly – wherever this is going, we’re not there yet.  Some of it could be Satie, or Lennie Tristano, severity balanced against tongue-in-cheek humor.

The even longer Spring Storm is all about foreshadowing: stygian low torrents rise and then subside, give way to hints of a clearing, but that big black cloud is going to hang awhile! It’s Debussy’s garden in the hailstorm, but feeling the force of the elements row by row instead of the cloudburst simply shredding everything in its path.

In Gen Himmel, Fujii lets her Mompou-esque belltones linger, flits around under the lid, and cuts off phrases sharply, Intimations of gospel enter the picture, only to be elbowed out by funereal motives and restless close harmonies. The wryly titled Up Down Left Right begins as a funny study in how gremlins can pop up all over the keyboard, then morphs into twisted, bellicose quasi-boogie-woogie  Fujii closes the show by reinventing  Jimmy Giuffre’s Moonlight as a distantly menacing, saturnine elegy. “The stars settle slowly, in loneliness they lie,” Phil Ochs sang. Boy, do they ever.

Where does this rank in the immense Fujii catalog (over eighty albums)? Probably in the top ten, alongside her magical, mordant duo album with fellow pianist Myra Melford, for example.

Now where can you find this magical album…other than a Soundcloud page? Stay tuned!

The Tarras Band Bring Their Haunting, Exhilarating, Historically Rich Music Back to Barbes

“Lemme tell ya about Naftule, he was the biggest drunk of all of them,” pianist Pete Sokolow told the crowd at his most recent Barbes show. He was referring to Naftule Brandwein. “He was a real wildman, sort of the Sidney Bechet of klezmer clarinet.”

Sokolow has plenty of stories like that, and he loves to share them. He’s the leader of the Tarras Band, the all-star ensemble who play the repertoire of his old bandmate, the brilliant clarinetist Dave Tarras, along with music associated with other cult heroes from the Jewish jazz demimonde of the 1950s and further back. Sokolow self-effacingly calls himself “Klezmer Fats,” not because he’s overweight, but because he bridges the gap between Fats Waller and centuries of dance music from throughout the Jewish diaspora. He and the band are back at Barbes tomorrow night, April 7 at 7 PM opening for Slavic Soul Party, who made a name for themselves bringing funk and hip-hop into Balkan brass music, but more recently have been reinventing the Duke Ellington catalog. The whole night is bound to be pretty amazing.

What’s hard to figure out is how the music the Tarras Band plays somehow hasn’t reached a broader audience. It’s deep, it’s otherworldly, it’s historically rich and it’s incredibly fun. At their show last month, Sokolow reaffirmed his reputation as a living archive of Jewish music history as he chatted up the crowd and sparred with his bandmates, verbally and musically. When Erik Satie was writing his Gnossiennes and Gymnopedies, was he stealing ancient Jewish themes….or was Sokolow subtly interpolating Satie into his mesmerizing cascades of eerie passing tones? Maybe both? It was hard to tell.

Notwistanding his reputation as a hardass, there are few musicians who are aware of Sokolow who wouldn’t jump at the chance to play with him. This show featured Michael Winograd on clarinet, who shares Tarras’ crystalline tone and silky legato: the way he plays, even at escape velocity, it’s a wave that just happens to move up and down in microseconds. Drummer Dave Licht was all about counterintuitive accents and wryly vaudeville-tinged fun, occasionally smacking an upside-down cymbal atop his kickdrum for good measure. Bassist Jim Guttman dug in deep and darkly and bowed most of his lines until the end, when the music hit a swing groove and stayed there. Trumpeter Ben Holmes harmonized intricately with Winograd when he wasn’t opening a song with a moody, hauntingly Middle Eastern-tinged improvisation.

Early in the set they did a World War I-era narrative about Jews fighting in the trenches, along with alternately sizzling and brooding originals by Winograd and Holmes. Sokolow illustrated the similarities between a Russian sher and a Virginia reel: the call-and-response and “reptile dance” at the end, where everybody forms a line. They delved into the bristling, edgy catalog of Sam Musiker, an early proponent of klezmer jazz who was way ahead of his time, dead at 48 in 1963 – the same year as Brandwein, Winograd grimly reminded. From there they romped through a tango and a medley from Tarras’ cult classic 1955 Tanz album, a commercial flop now considered a landmark of genre-smashing esoterica. And as much as what this band plays is very distinctly Jewish, with lots of chromatics and minor keys and humor and irony, it’s music that would resonate with anyone who likes Gogol Bordello, or any of the current crop of circus rock bands. Be the first in your tribe to get to Barbes and find this band playing your soul.

Yet Another Great Noir Album and a Rare NYC Show from Punk Jazz Legends Iconoclast

New York punk jazz group Iconoclast’s latest album Naked Rapture is a masterpiece of noir, a sound they’ve been mining since the 80s. Much of it is a cleverly assembled theme and variations based on a brooding, utterly abandoned Julie Joslyn alto sax theme, interspersed among short pieces as diverse as a stripped-down reimagining of Dizzy Gillespie’s A Night in Tunisia, a jazzed-out version of Chopin’s Revolutionary Etude (the only two covers among 25 tracks) and a deliciously acerbic sendup of takadimi drum language. Saxophonist/violinist Joslyn‘s evocation of the quintessential solitary busker, back up against a midtown brickwall sometime after midnight, serenading herself with a rapt, bittersweet beauty (heavier on the bitter than the sweet) is picture-perfect, unselfconsciously plaintive and worth the price of admission alone. She and her conspirator, drummer/pianist Leo Ciesa are playing a rare New York show this Friday, Oct 17 at 7 PM at Michiko Studios, 149 W 46th St.

Joslyn, for the most part, maintains a stiletto clarity on the sax, occasionally diverging to a haphazard wail, or creepily cold and techy when she hits her pedalboard. She plays violin less here than on other Iconoclast albums, using the instrument more for atmospherics or assaultiveness than for melody. Ciesa is a similarly nuanced player, even though he may be best known for his ability to summon the thunder (he also plays in long-running art/noise band Dr. Nerve). In addition, he provides alternately moody, resonant, Satie-esque or rippling, hammering Louis Andriessesn-ish piano and keyboard loops here and there.

The album is best appreciated as a suite, a single, raindrenched, wee-hours urban mood piece rather than a series of discrete tracks. Dancing, furtively stalking motives hand off to more austere, poignant passages. Ciesa leaps and bounds through the more jaunty parts, but he’s always there with a muted roll of the toms or a skull-cracking thud to signal a return to the mystery. There are also occasional moments of humor, a death-obsessed, Burroughsian jazz-poetry piece, and a hint of gamelanesque mayhem. It’s a Sam Fuller film (or Manfred Kirchheimer doc) for the ears. Now where can you hear this sonic treat? Right now, live, all the more reason to check out the show if dark cinematic sounds are your thing. There’s also plenty of audio and video documentation of the band’s career at their webpage.

Ciesa also has a solo drum album out that on face value might only be of interest to his fellow drummers – which it assuredly is, but is also a must-own for anyone who records music. Can’t afford to hire Ciesa for a record date? No problem. There are so many good, swinging beats here, from the simple and relatively four-on-the-floor to more complex and thought-provoking, perfectly suitable for innumerable projects across many genres.

Otherworldly, Eclectic, Rumi-Inspired Indian Grooves from Saffron

Saffron’s new album Dawning is a glimmering, imaginative blend of classical south Indian ragas, jazz and western classical music. At its most rhythmically complex, it recalls Sameer Gupta’s Namaskar or some of Vijay Iyer’s work, athough it’s more hypnotic than it is lively. It’s also largely improvised, Shujaat Khan’s sitar sometimes nocturnally resonant, sometimes insistently intense against Kevin Hays’ moody, often plaintive piano and Rolling Stones saxophonist Tim Ries’ terse, agile lines. Overhead, rapt and meticulous, Katayoun Goudarzi recites Rumi poems in the origianl Persian.

The practically 21-minute opening track comes together slowly in the style of a classic raga, Reis’ soprano sax adding the occasional bubbly cadenza or edgy Middle Eastern motif, Hays evoking Erik Satie, the band shifting between still, misterioso ambience and galloping intensity as a tabla rhythm picks up the pace. The second track, The Inquisitor evokes Pat Metheny (or Iyer in a rare carefree mood)  as it develops a dancing, springlike theme, Reis building a bittersweet Pharaoh Sanders-ish Waiting on a Friend ambience

Yours is a comparatively brief tone poem of sorts that contrasts Hays’ bright sunshower piano with low drones. They follow with another epic, Tease, Reis’ goodnaturedly animated soprano sax bounding over hard-hitting sitar and januty blues piano, Hays wryly vamping out on the Beatles’ Blackbird at one point. But the two real stunners here are the next couple of tracks, which are vastly darker. Hays evokes noir piano legend Ran Blake in the anxious, creepily chromatic first one, Overcome, Reis’ bass clarinet adding a smoky swirl as Khan plays menacing major-on-minor lines. Trembling, true to its title, is even more anxious with its rapidfire tabla intro, the band exchanging variations on its apprehensively rustling melody. The album winds up with a brief flute number that sounds like an Indian Baul minstrel dance. The band doesn’t seem to have a web presence of their own, but you can check out the album at Palmetto Records‘ site: it’s also up at most of the usual places you’d expect to find stuff like this.

Make Music NY: A Fool’s Errand

“I’m Julia Haltigan, and my feet are on fire,” said the blonde woman in the black dress as the sun burned down on the impromptu stage Thursday afternoon in front of the Walgreen’s on Astor Place. Stepping up and down in her sandals as if on a devil’s treadmill out in front of her six-piece band, firing off chords from a big, beautiful Gibson hollowbody guitar, she was obviously in pain. Haltigan’s powerful voice can be a lot of things – torchy, lurid, seductive, brassy, menacing or downright dangerous – and the element of danger in her vocals has never been more present than it was during her brief set that she shut down after only half an hour in the heat. Seriously – physical exertion when the temperature is in the triple digits is at best uncomfortable and at worst a genuine hazard. A generously sympathetic guy in the audience offered her a wet towel to put over her burning kicks, but it wasn’t long before she was improvising another stepdance while she played. It could be that the pain was pushing her to new levels of intensity, but realistically speaking, she’s always like this, indomitable and charismatic, refusing to concede defeat.

Yet Haltigan is only half of the story: the other half is her amazing band. Her lead guitarist fired off flurries of clenched-teeth jazz chords, psychedelic blues, swaying unhinged C&W and a literally searing, reverberating surf-drenched solo on the most intense song of the entire day, That Flame, a gorgeously noir, stomping tango. The single best one of the day was an expansively country-flavored anthem that hit a breathtaking crescendo as the chorus kicked in: “Here it comes, over the western plains, over the hills,” Haltigan belted, the band cooking up an unstoppably jangling, clanging, careening paisley underground pulse behind her, Haltigan’s dad Emmet adding an extra layer of bite with his electric mandolin (he also played smart, tersely wary blues harp on a handful of songs). My Green Heart showed off the frontwoman’s aptitude for southwestern gothic, in this case a blend of Tex-Mex, apprehensive blues and oldschool country. They turned the garage rock tune I Don’t Want to Fall in Love into something like the Yardbirds at their peak, then the bass player walked them slyly through a slinky come-hither jazz number: “I’m gonna take you way out, you won’t wanna come back,” the chanteuse purred. They swung their way soulfully through the latin-tinged, Henry Mancini-esque It’s a Trap and closed with a roaring southwestern gothic riff-rock song that wouldn’t have been out of place in the Steve Wynn catalog, the lead player veering from paint-peeling Dick Dale surf licks to concrete-smashing Poison Ivy riffage. Haltigan’s grandmother was one of the popular Larkin Sisters back in the 40s and that lineage is clear, but this singer takes the concept of torch song from that era and incorporates pretty much every era since then, including this one. Neko Case has nothing on her. Julia Haltigan and her band are at the big room at the Rockwood this Friday the 29th at 11.

Up at Calvary Church on Gramercy Park North, another singer and her band couldn’t have been more dissimilar. Luckily for them, Rachel Brotman and her subtle samba-soul quartet played under a canopy, and nobody seemed to want to move a muscle. The drummer flicked his brushes, the bassist kept to a smart, minimalist pulse and the pianist hung back with his quietly jazzy ambience while Brotman painted the corners of her moody songs with a gentle vividness a notch above Norah Jones. In a way, this performance was the perfect one for a groggy day, inobtrusive and contemplative – and a chance to let the impact of the express train that was Haltigan and her band sink in. Too bad that the space this band occupied was smack between two coveted parking spots, quickly taken by a restaurant equipment van and then an ambulette, both armed with ear-shattering reverse gear alarms. Of all the vocalists playing this year’s Make Music NY, Brotman deserved this sonic assault the least – and so did her audience. This year, if it wasn’t the heat, it was the sonics. There’s a good reason why buskers don’t typically occupy this particular slice of landscape.

Down at Washington Square Park, it was the relentless heat that did Ann Klein in. Playing a duo set with a melodic bassist, each performer’s amp powered by solar panels belonging to worldbeat jamband Solar Punch – who were scheduled to play later on-  the guitar goddess shut down her set after just fifteen minutes since her acoustic kept going out of tune as the strings and the fretboard grew hotter. It was a tremendously good fifteen minutes, Klein channeling Hendrix in soulful, Third Stone from the Sun mode when she wasn’t firing off nimble blues, lickety-split bluegrass on her mandolin or snaking her way through suspensefully crescendoing, jangly country lines. But she’s a pro and she knew this was a battle she couldn’t win.

Each of these performances were held under the MMNY rubric, the NYC contribution to the worldwide Fete de la Musique held every June 21st. Conceptually, it’s brilliant: a nonprofit organization dedicated to obtaining permits for musicians to play a daylong festival of busking in city-owned and other public spaces. But weatherwise, this thing is pretty much dead in the water. Participation keeps going down, both in terms of actual performances and number of musicians involved, for obvious reasons, perhaps compounded by various venues offering their own MMNY shows independently of the organization. After all, what would you choose: an evening gig on an air-conditioned stage or a half-hour in the blazing sun with your guitar constantly going out of tune and the van backing into the parking space across the street making it impossible for you to be heard?

In a way, the day’s earliest show was the most enjoyable one. A series of vibraphonists around the world had taken it upon themselves to stage Erik Satie’s surreal, twisted Vexations, an eighteen-hour piece that loops a characteristically brooding melody that quickly takes on a macabre edge via a series of tritones. At a little past eleven in the morning, the New York contingent was represented by Matt Evans, who managed to keep perfectly precise time even while friends and random strangers tried to strike up conversations with him. As he ran the melody over and over again, quietly and methodically, it took on an even more claustrophobic, ineluctable sadness than Satie’s more famous Gnossiennes and Gymnopedies. Watching this from the shaded steps of the New York Mercantile Bank, it was an auspiciously introspective way to start the day – and in retrospect, it would have been a good way to end it. Many of the performances of this piece from last Thursday from around the world were recorded, and you can hear them here.

At 4 PM, the Chinese Music Ensemble of NY was scheduled to play Chatham Square, but was nowhere to be found: if they’d cancelled, or on the spur of the moment decided to move their performance elsewhere, they were entitled to. Up the block a little at Columbus Park, an impressive contingent of erhu and lute players were vying with each other sonically, including one who’d attached a battery-powered amp to the base of his fiddle and was able to overwhelm pretty much everyone around him – including his three bandmates, two on erhu and one on sanxian (Chinese banjo) – with his wickedly precise hammer-ons and glissandos. A lot of Chinese folk music sounds Celtic, and that’s what this crew played, drawing plenty of applause from the neighborhood crowd gathered in the shade under the trees.

And that’s where, at least as far as this blog is concerned, Make Music NY 2012 came to a close. A couple of attempts to keep the evening going turned out to be a waste of time: one act was a no-show and the other was still AWOL almost an hour after they were scheduled to hit the stage at one of the nicest, most powerfully airconditioned venues in town. A cynic would say, why not just stay indoors, go online and check out all these acts rather than playing hooky from work and running around all day, risking the same hazards and probably feeling just as sweaty and gross as the musicians playing the festival? Answer: because staying in is lame. It only reinforces the stereotype of the 400-pound music blogger living in his mom’s basement, pondering the merits of Stone Temple Pilots versus the Spin Doctors, only emerging when the pizza delivery arrives. And staying in eliminates any possibility of the kind of unexpected, random discoveries that make all this effort worthwhile.

But another equally valid stereotype also exists: the kids just in from Osaka, or Idaho Falls, or Rotterdam for the first and probably only time in their lives, breathlessly lost on the subway when not immersed in their festival guides, CMJ badges slung around their necks to prove for everyone to see that they’ve finally Made the Bigtime Now. In a way, that stereotype’s just as ugly as the first one. And it’s not one that anyone should aspire to, especially here. Global warming has won this war: it’s time to either move Make Music NY to a less climactically harsh time of year, or throw in the towel.

A Secret Guide to Make Music NY 2012

Thursday is Make Music NY, the New York equivalent of the French Fete de la Musique, the all-day buskathon that started out back in the 70s and has since spread around the world. Make Music NY started out in 2007 with high hopes, got even better very fast and then quickly dissipated. One could say that perfectly capsulizes the state of music in New York at this point in time, but that’s too cynical. Music is thriving in this town, just not in a particularly visible way. Which, to shatter some romantic notions of how great it supposedly was in the punk era, or the early indie era, or the classic jazz era, is pretty much the way it’s always been. Duke Ellington played the big hotel bars, but so did a bunch of now-forgotten combos phoning in covers of showtunes. The Ramones played CBGB not because they wanted to but because no other venue would give them a gig. And Yo La Tengo still play their December residency at little Maxwell’s in Hoboken because when they started out, they had a hard time getting gigs too. A look at the Make Music NY calendars – by artist, and by venue, which, by the way, don’t share information – shows an increasingly smaller number of participants. A lot of these people pop up here every year and then disappear til June 21 rolls around again; many of the singer-songwriters are hopeless open mic types; but there’s also a surprising amount of potentially amazing shows here.

If the heat doesn’t stop everything in its tracks. It threatened to in 2010 and then did exactly that last year. Be aware that a lot of artists reserve daytime space in public parks, or at popular intersections, and then don’t show up til after the sun goes down. Who can blame them? However, there are a handful of spots that get completely booked from early afternoon to evening. From the point of view of a music blogger looking for diamonds in the dust, Make Music NY at its best will deliver that many times over. And it’ll disappoint just as much, if you choose unwisely. If you’re crazy enough to ditch work and spend a day being a music tourist, here’s the New York Music Daily game plan, a series of performances carefully chosen for A) the likelihood that they’ll happen at all, B) the likelihood that they’ll start on time and C) minimizing travel time between destinations. NYMD’s representative will be at some of these events, wearing a Mets hat and shades (yeah, so will a lot of people – just trying to add to the mystery factor) and will have a report for you on this page soon afterward. So here’s the plan!

Starting at 6 AM (yawn), a series of vibraphonists will be playing Erik Satie’s satirical (some would say interminable and annoying) magnum opus, Vexations at Broad and Water Streets in the financial district. Satie was a surrealist and this is a surreal piece of music, but it’s very rarely staged and since it literally goes all day, you have all day to see it. That’s going to be the first stop on this adventure. What time? You decide. NYMD’s professional witness will probably get there by 11 AM, in order to make it to the noon performance by torchy chanteuse Julia Haltigan, who’s playing at Astor Place west of the cube at noon. Haltigan is a force of nature and even crushing heat has no effect on her: she radiates charisma and lush oldtimey sultriness. Whether playing with a band or solo, she’s always on her game, as she was last year, playing in the middle of Central Park to no one in particular with the Dirty Urchins. If for some reason the show here is running behind, there’s also oudist Jeff Peretz and Abu Gara at half past noon at St. Mark’s Park, 10th St. and Second Ave.

At 1 PM, another jazz-influenced singer, Rachel Brotman, is scheduled to play Calvary Church at the corner of Gramercy Park North and Park Avenue. That’s barely a ten-minute ride north on the 6 train and offers a temporary respite from the heat. Then at 2 PM, Indian indie classical percussionist Somnath Khartal and his band play St. Mark’s Park (another quick train ride). His music seems eclectic, and he hasn’t showed up on the radar here before, meaning that this may be a rare opportunity to see him play.

3 PM is too hard a choice to make – if you’re coming along on this crazy trip, you have to choose on your own. The excellent, new wave-influenced two-keyboard band Changing Modes – sort of the teens equivalent of what Pulp was in the UK in the 90s – are playing the Prospect Park boathouse. Ostensibly this is in the park beyond the Lincoln Road/Ocean Avenue intersection, via the B or Q to Prospect Park. That’s a bit of a hike, and not knowing where the boathouse is, if you see somebody wearing a Mets hat and shades, it’s probably not somebody from this blog. But you never know. The faster option, travelwise, is the “metal under the BQE” bash just past Union Pool (484 Union St. in Williamsburg, L to Lorimer St, not listed on the Make Music NY calendar, but it’s definitely happening) which starts at 3 featuring Thinning the Herd, SOS and a bunch of other excellent Brooklyn and Queens metal bands. To throw a wild card into the mix, the excellent, hip-hop influenced PitchBlak Brass Band are playing Water St. Restaurant in Dumbo (66 Water St., on the river), but it’s not clear whether they’ll be indoors or out. If indoors, beware, that place is expensive!

At 4 PM the amazing 40-piece Chinese Music Ensemble of NY plays Chatham Square in Chinatown. Don’t let the prosaic name fool you – they play everything from plaintive folk tunes to ecstatic opera pieces. The closest train is actually the B or D to Grand St.; walk south and then take a right on Division and it’ll be straight ahead, otherwise take any train to Canal and take Mott all the way downhill to the intersection with Bowery and East Broadway. Sonics may be an issue here since East Broadway is on a bus route and there’s a stop out in front of the dumpling place just past the park. Another option is the excellent Alon Yavnai Big Band, who play original Middle Eastern flavored big band jazz; their show is also at 4 PM at Bryant Park, and again, sonics may be an issue since there are bus stops nearby.

At 6 PM, NYMD’s representative is going to the movies in midtown (which was a done deal before the decision to attend any Make Music NY event ever entered the picture; that’s how the Bryant Park show came up). In the approximately 90 minutes it’ll take for the movie to screen, you might be interested in haunting, historically rich songwriter Elisa Flynn, who’s scheduled to play at 5 at Bitter and Esters, 700 Washington Ave. between St. Marks Ave. and Prospect Pl. in Ft. Greene. Or you could see another New York treasure, the lush, epic, intense NY Arabic Orchestra, who’re playing outside the UN at First Ave. and 46th St. at 6 followed at 7 by a gathering of oud players which, if they know what they’re doing, could be heaven. The opposite is also possible.

At 8, NYMD’s rep is scheduled to see Daniel Stampfel, who back in the late 90s and early zeros fronted the Inevitable Breakups, a fantastic powerpop band who had the misfortune to sign with a major label and consequently got royally screwed. He’s playing at Fontana’s; there’s a cover charge. There’s also Empire Beats, fronted by soul chanteuse Camille Atkinson at the playground on W 46th St between 9th & 10th Aves.

At 9, the Old Rugged Sauce – Brooklyn legends who have been doing their own irreverent but strangely brilliant take on guitar-driven vocal jazz – are at Brooklyn Rod & Gun Club, 59 Kent Ave. between N 10th/11th. in Williamsburg. Knowing them, they’ll go til late, and they’re a short train ride away. There are two other excellent choices among the late-night acts: twin-trombone Afrobeat dub band Super Hi-Fi are scheduled for Hanson Dry, 925 Fulton St in Ft. Greene, C to Clinton/Washington. And haunting, intense Lebanese/French trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf is playing Drom at 10 for free, although you may need to RSVP to (212) 777-1157. It would be a memorable way to end a long day (just so you know, Drom has excellent air conditioning). Don’t count on anybody from here making it that far – but you never know.