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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.


Drifty, Starry Sounds in Ridgewood on the Sixth of the Month

In Chinese astrology, each lunar year is assigned to one of a dozen animals. January 22, 2023 marks the first Year of the Hare since 2011. In a distant preview of what might be coming, Queens band Year of the Hare – who have an interesting, intricate sound that falls somewhere between spacerock, shoegaze and psychedelic folk – are playing on Dec 6 at 8:30 PM at Bar Freda in Ridgewood. Cover is $10.

Like innumerable New York bands, it’s been awhile since their last recording. But their most recent release, a self-titled 2018 ep streaming at Bandcamp, is intriguing. From what they have up there, it seems there may have been some turnover in the band, but that’s no surprise considering how much has happened since they released it.

The first track, In Faulkner Co. has a sparkling but enigmatic web of electric and acoustic guitars. Axemen Ian Milliken and Ryan Hopper blend voices with a similar freshness as the drums finally kick in – that’s either Matt Nelson or Zach Fisher behind the kit. The autotune interlude is an unwelcome interruption

Leon Johnson’s slide steel enhances the drifty dreampop ambience of the second track, Hunters. The most atmospheric yet also most energetic track here is Two Lights, with Johnson adding violin to the shimmery mix: guitarist Meera Jagroop is in there somewhere as well. Then the band wind up the album with its most delicate cut, Architrave. Given an engaged crowd and a decent sound system, this could be music to get lost in.

Toxic Metal in Gowanus Tomorrow Night

There’s a metal quadruplebill tomorrow night, Dec 3 at 8 PM at Lucky 13 Saloon with a couple of solid bands at the top and the bottom of the bill. It might be an even better deal for a $12 cover if the acts in between were more interested in building their brands. Name your band after a saint, or a notorious crypto scam, and the search engins will bury you if you don’t have something like a Soundcloud.

The 11 PM headliners, Fire Haze, are a death metal act who aren’t well represented on the web but what’s up at youtube shows that they have plenty of riffs and use them ruthlessly. The openers, black metal band Antimony, are new. Multi-instrumentalist Sasan Kasravi recorded their debut album, Ending, as a solo project, which is up at Bandcamp as a name-your-price download.

How toxic is this four-part suite? Kasravi layers offhandedly brutal tremolo-picking, vampy distorted chords that get more ambitious as he goes on, and staggered, loopy riffs with the guitars front and center. After awhile, the whole thing essentially becomes a single, enveloping sonic cauldron: each one of the tracks clocks in at more than ten minutes. Paysage D’Hiver’s endless winterscapes seem to be an influence. The mix is on the midrangey side: it doesn’t sound like there’s any bass on it, and the drums, doublebass kicks and all, are in the back where they should be.

Kasravi likes enigmatic, brooding modes and uses them a lot. There are places on the record that bring to mind the more interesting instrumental parts that Sonic Youth would detour into in the late 80s. Elsewhere, there are a couple of fleeting, baroque-flavored acoustic chorales, a bittersweet Britfolk-tinged interlude and a snowstorm. All this is as catchy as it is relentless.

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

Slashing Pseudonymous Protest Punk From Somewhere in Scotland

This blog tries not to be all-plandemic, all the time: everybody needs a break from the ongoing holocaust sometimes. But at the same time, we need to keep an eye on what the globalist fascists are up to. One artist who’s doing that – and putting out a killer series of punk rock songs and animated videos – goes by the name of William Wallace, after the great Scottish freedom fighter. And even better than watching them at evil censorious youtube, you can see them all at Frances Leader’s Substack.

With a snarling, serpentine minor-key lead guitar line, Won’t Be Defeated is the catchiest and edgiest of the songs. The imagery in the opening seconds of the video for Twilight Zone – a hybrid cellphone/hand sanitizer/spycam robot – says it all, and the guitars are deliciously noisy.

Rich Man’s Trick (a shout-out to the documentary masterpiece) is more of a standard-issue bludgeoning punk rock tune and has a video with a great punchline. Wallace calls out Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and the rest of the bankster criminals for their role in the controlled demolition of the world economy in Megabank. The first song in the series, Your Government Loves You, is the only video that shows the three-piece band, albeit with faces blanked out: is it a coincidence that the tune is a knockoff of Mongoloid, by Devo?

Although Leader is best known as an environmentalist – she has been a real-life leader in the UK anti-fracking and anti-5G movements – she also has great taste in music and puts up the occasional playlist. She’s a controversial figure and has been banned on social media. One of her most cited articles is probably the most comprehensively sourced page on the web for the dangers of 5G (like all EMF frequencies, it gets more deadly the higher up you go). She’s also an expert in ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine, a satirist, and a psychic. You may not agree with all her contentions but she always gives you something provocative and entertaining.

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.

$10 for Percocet in Queens

There’s a strange and interesting rock and rock-adjacent triplebill coming up on Dec 1 at Bar Freda in Ridgewood, where the segues are kind of weird, but the acts on the bill are flying under the radar and are definitely worth checking out for a $10 cover. At 8 PM, there’s First Crush, with their fetching guy/girl harmonies and newschool front-porch folk vibe. At 9 the very eclectic, sometimes noisy, sometimes icily 80s-influenced Percocet follow on the bill, with minimalist shoegazers To the Wedding headlining.

Percocet are the most intriguing act of the evening, and infinitely more lively than their name implies. Their debut album – streaming at Bandcamp – is slyly titled Enjoy. An eerie, ugly, pool of sound introduces the first song, A Body, then guitarist Digo Best shifts between cyclotron swirl and lingering jangle.

The drums hit a somber Atrocity Exhibition tumble groove in the second song, I’m Leaving: it’s like the slow version of Joy Division’s Transmission with a woman out front and denser, more distorted guitars. Track three, Coded (as in, dead?) is a beefier take on watery, opaquely drifting Cocteau Twins sonics, right down to frontwoman/bassist Jennica Best’s disembodied vocals.

The final cut is October, a lilting clave tune with hypnotically circling, lingering chorus-box guitar. These guys (and woman) have a good sense of humor and deserve to be better known.

Eugene Chrysler Brings the Retro Rock Party to a Familiar Williamsburg Haunt

One of the tracks on Eugene Chrysler‘s latest album Hillbilly Fun Park – streaming at Bandcamp – is titled Mr. 1-4-5. It’s an insider music joke but it’s a good one, a sly sideways salute to 1950s formulas. Chrysler is a rarity in rock, a bassist and a frontman who is known to play his big bull fiddle behind his back, Hendrix style, when the mood strikes. He’s a connoisseur of retro 50s sounds – rockabilly, honkytonk and surf rock – and he’s playing Skinny Dennis, his usual New York home base, on Dec 5 at 9 PM.

The record opens with the title track, a slinky Stray Cats style tune. Chrysler goes down to his Sleep LaBeef low register to match the smoky baritone sax, guitarist Bill Kirchen finding cool new things to do with a familiar four-chord progression with his reverb full on.

The rest of the record is a fun, expert mix of styles, some of which you wouldn’t think would work that well together, but Chrysler has his tail fins up and leaves a lot of wannabes breathing his twin exhaust. Track two, Darlin’ has pedal steel sailing over a jump blues-influenced groove. Dementia is a Peter Gunne Theme style tune complete with creepy theremin. Broke On Bob Wills Music, a shout-out to the heroes of western swing, has all the right touches – clarinet, fiddle, steel, even a little piano break – where the guy who invented the stuff would have put them.

Speed Trap harks back to the hillbilly boogie roots of 60s biker rock. Chrysler follows that one with I Cannot Forget, a Gentle on My Mind-style countrypolitan shuffle and then returns to jump blues with Eugene’s Boogie.

The band romp through train-line rock with Uh Uh Honey, a deliciously Lynchian roadhouse theme in I’ve Been Better, and then an amusing detour back into western swing with One More One More. From there Chrysler hits a vintage Carl Perkins pulse in Cut Me Down and then vintage Tex-Mex in Big Bad Habit.

Kirchen’s guitar scrambles and sparkles with a characteristically polymath 50s touch in It Is What It Is. The funniest song on the album is Plate Glass Window, a Johnny Cash-inspired kiss-off anthem. The last of the sixteen tracks on this monster of a playlist is Too Much Coffee, which is awfully obvious and an old trick, but a lot of fun all the same.

A Smart, Dynamic Debut Album and a Bed-Stuy Show by a Rising Star Saxophonist

It was mid-May, 2021 – eighteen months ago, but it feels like a lifetime. At that point in time, no one in New York knew whether indoor concerts that weren’t clandestine would ever exist in this city again. Fortuitously, photographer Jimmy Katz had been scheduling a series of free outdoor jazz shows in Central Park, moving from one location to another in search of the ideal spot.

One of those locations was a clearing a few blocks north of the 82nd Street entrance on the west side. Mark Turner had played an unselfconsciously gorgeous set with a trio up on the hill to the south the previous afternoon. This particular day, a twentysomething tenor saxophonist with a muscular style was volleying her way through a handful of classic Coltrane tunes, out in front of a chordless quartet. Who was this fiery yet thoughtful player?

As it turned out, it was Julieta Eugenio. Even more serendipitously. she stuck around. She put out an album, Jump – streaming at Spotify – and has a gig coming up on Dec 6 at 9 PM at Bar Lunatico with the rhythm section on the record, Matt Dwonszyk on bass and Jonathan Barber on drums.

On the record, Eugenio is more reserved than she is onstage: either way, she doesn’t waste notes. The opening number is titled Efes – a shout-out to the delicious Turkish lager beer, maybe? No Turkish flavor in this one, but sizzling trills, a shout-out to an iconic Paul Desmond riff, and a lot of judicious use of space as Barber reaches for textures and surprise punches from around the kit. Meanwhile, Dwonszyk runs catchy, spring-loaded riffage, holding the center and firing off a wryly colorful solo midway through.

Eugenio opts for a balmy approach in the album’s title track, Barber prowling among the cymbals this time, Dwonszyk again serving as incisive anchor. There’s striking contrast between her spare, reflective lines, Barber’s carnivalesque drive and Dwonszyk’s bounce in La Jungla.

Eugenio stays in misty, even more spacious mode in the fond, vivid ballad For You. Racoon Tune turns out to be a warmly ornamented, latin funk-tinged number and a long launching pad for Eugenio to dance here way up to a percussively burning bass solo.

The version of Flamingo here is a samba, Dwonszyk working a supple, long-limbed pulse over an altered clave as Eugenio clusters and then backs away. She builds brooding, modally-infused resonance over a similar groove in Another Bliss, the album’s most darkly striking number, which the band take down to a mysterious whisper at the end.

Eugenio reinvents Billie Holiday’s Crazy He Calls Me as an opiated, expansive jazz waltz until Dwonszyk breaks the spell with his sober solo out. The group hit a pensive drive with Snowbirds, the bandleader in enigmatic mode again, Barber holding back from chewing the scenery with his boom-and-splash. It’s the best song on the album.

The trio close with the similarly moody Tres: it’s an ambience that suits these three well. Eugenio is really someone to keep your eye on.

A Viscerally Transcendent New Album and a Bed-Stuy Gig From Pianist Eri Yamamoto

Pianist Eri Yamamoto survived a hideous attack to make a beautiful record. In the early days of the 2020 lockdown, Yamamoto was assaulted on a Brookyn street. Her attacker mistook her for Chinese (she’s Japanese) and accused her of unleashing the Covid virus (which seems to have been manufactured in China, but was invented in a North Carolina bioweapons lab). This is the kind of incident that takes place when a society is divided and conquered, when orange-haired demagogues step to the podium to make divisive anti-Asian statements.

Although Yamamoto is a streetwise New Yorker – she honed her chops back in the 90s at the gritty Avenue B Social Club – the assault left her so shaken that she began wearing a purple wig and shades to hide her features.

But she transcended the attack, to the point where for the first time, she sings on record. Her new album A Woman With a Purple Wig is streaming at Bandcamp. She’s playing Bar Lunatico on Nov 30 at 9 PM.

On the album, Yamamoto reflects on the grimness of 2020, but also offers hope for the future. She opens the first track, Challenge, with a series of biting, brooding arpeggios over the low-key, lithe groove of bassist David Ambrosio and drummer Ikuo Takeuchi. With a calm determination, she expands from the center, building almost imperceptibly to a handful of jaunty flourishes. Takeuchi churns around as Yamamoto chooses her spots and then returns with a sober baroque focus before handing off to Ambrosio’s punching, dancing lines.

“One day I bought a wig on the internet, my favorite color,” she sings over a brisk, tightly wound stroll on the album’s title track: “Only twenty bucks…did you know that a purple wig has a special power?” Sarcasm reaches redline until Yamamoto runs the song’s chilling central mantra: it will resonate with anyone who’s been targeted for violence. It’s impossible to think of a more powerful jazz song released this year.

Ends to Start reflects Yamamoto’s hope that we will emerge from the ongoing reign of terror to create a better world, the intricate piano/bass polyrhythms in a tight interweave as Takeuchi shifts subtly between waltz time and a steady clave. Again, Yamamoto’s lines are spacious and reflective, up to a puckish crescendo and an eventual;y restrained majesty following a flurrying bass solo.

She returns to the mic for Colors Are Beautiful, a slow, catchy, allusively gospel-tinged singalong salute to ethnic diversity. Her gentle but bright oldschool soul riffage quickly falls away for a hushed bass solo over misty cymbals as Sounds of Peace gets underway, then she works through a pensive series of gospel-inspired variations.

Track six is titled Shout, a sleekly undulating, blues-infused number with lively extrovert drums. Yamamoto closes the album with Internal Beat, her most complex and animated postbop-style tune here, fueled by Takeuchi’s colorful accents.