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A Rare NYC Performance of a Centuries-Old French Epic

Music Before 1800’s monthly concerts give ambitious concertgoers a chance to hear rare works that sometimes haven’t been performed here for centuries..or maybe ever, in the hundreds of years since they were written. Most of these shows are at Corpus Christi Church at 529 W 121St St., just up the hil from the 125th St. stop on the 1 train. You can get in for as little as $10.

Has Marc Antoine Charpentier’s Christmas Pastorale, dating from around 1686, ever been performed in New York? If so, Music Before 1800 may have staged it. For serious verisimilitude, they’re bringing in French vocal and instrumental group Ensemble Correspondances to the church play it this Dec 16 at 4 PM. The ensemble – whose name means “connections” – recorded it a couple of years ago, and have a new album of Charpentier’s La Descent d’Orphee aux Enfers streaming at Spotify. It’s a good way to become acquainted with how they tackle Charpentier’s alternately lavish and spare dynamics, as well as his similarly diverse themes.

If you can get used to a Gallic group who roll their R’s, Spanish style, this album will immerse you in elegant, sometimes unexpected counterpoint, with striking yet comfortably balanced contrasts between the men’s and women’s voices. While this was not written in contemporary French, if you speak the language, the dialogue is remarkably easy to understand. While the suite’s theme may be on the hellish side, the music is anything but, with sinuous flute harmonies woven into lushly lilting strings and a thicket of viola da gamba, all imbued with the ambered, slightly astringent tone that period instruments deliver. As is the custom with digital recordings these days, the album is divided up into 26 separate tracks, many of them less than a minute long.

Soprano Caroline Weynants displays a stately but fetching, almost imploring delivery at times. As the protagonist’s journey becomes more perilous, the music grows more stark and austere, then tilts toward an epic grandeur. Breathlessly scampering nymphs, desperate shepherds, cowardly lovers, all sorts of torments and ghosts pass through the sonic frame. The way the group motor along in places, it becomes very clear that our hero and his entourage can’t wait to get the hell out. Lively operatic drama gives way to a brightly flurrying fanfare and then a moodily waltzing downward trajectory: Euridyce, show your face so this poor guy can go home! “Stay with us forever,” is the choir’s stately response. The end is every bit as somber as the intro is buoyant.

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Helen Sung Brings Her Picturesque Mix of Poetry and Jazz Back to Curry Hill with Cecile McLorin Salvant on the Mic

The confluence of music and poetry goes back for millennia in cultures around the world, but it’s less common here. In American jazz, spoken word is typically associated with improvisation, which makes the new album Helen Sung with Words – a collaboration with poet Dana Gioia – a rarity. That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of blazing jams on the album, streaming at Spotify. It’s a latin jazz song cycle incorporating the poet reading several of his playfully aphoristic rhymes. Sung debuted the project memorably at the Jazz Standard last year; she’s bringing it back there for a show on Dec 13 with sets at 7:30 and 9:30 PM. Cover is $30; Sung is also bringing along Cecile McLorin Salvant as a special guest on vocals, which makes sense since Sung plays piano in Salvant’s majestic, menacing Ogresse big band tour de force. And since Salvant will be in the house, the show will probably sell out, so reserving now would be a good idea.

Gioia’s wistful, wry memory of youthful jazz clubbing opens the album’s first track, animated counterpoint between John Ellis’ tenor sax and Ingrid Jensen’s trumpet setting the stage for a scampering swing anchored by Sung’s spacious, incisive attack over Reuben Rogers’ bass and Kendrick Scott’s drums. Ellis, Jensen and then the bandleader follow in turn, climbing the ladder and fueling the blaze.

Jean Baylor sings the bolero-tinged ballad The Stars on 2nd Avenue with an airy, regretful, distantly Sarah Vaughan-ish delivery, lowlit by Sung’s low-key, wee-hours piano and Samuel Torres’ tersely propulsive congas. “Let’s live in the flesh and not in the screen,” Gioia intones as Torres’ flurries kick off Hot Summer Night, Christie Dashiell and Carolyn Leonhart trading off energetically, the rest of the band following suit over a straight-ahead hard-funk beat.

The band shift subtly between swing and clave as Baylor builds a knowing bluesiness in Pity the Beautiful, Sung’s move from loungey comfort to plaintiveness mirroring Gioia’s contemplation of how good looks will only get you so far. Too Bad, a catchy salsa-jazz kiss-off number, features Dashilell and Leonhart out front again along with a triumphantly flurrying Jensen solo, Sung prancing and scurrying up to a horn-driven crescendo.

The album’s strongest track is Lament for Kalief Browder, who killed himself after being thrown into solitary confinement on Rikers Island for two years as an adolescent. Ellis’ muted bass clarinet over airy vocalese and tiptoeing bass introduces a weary, brooding theme reflecting the hopelessness of prison life; from there, the band take it further into the blues before a grim return, Rogers bowing somberly in unison with Ellis.

They pick up the pace again with the catchy syncopation of Into the Unknown, Ellis’ tenor dancing between the raindrops, Sung offering momentary solo pensiveness before leaping back in alongside bright horn harmonies. Her enigmatically chiming piano interchanges with Rogers’ flitting figures and Scott’s mistiness throughout Touch; it brings to mind the work of Spanish composer Federico Mompou.

In the Shadowland has catchy, moody tango inflections; Ellis’ soprano solo may be the album’s most lyrical moment. Dashiell and Leonhart bring understated exasperation to the punchy final track. Mean What You Say. One can only imagine what kind of magic Salvant will bring to this stuff live.

Spottiswoode at Joe’s Pub: Elegant Dissolution

The most unselfconsciously beautiful solo during Spottiswoode’s album release show at Joe’s Pub Friday night came during the louchest song of the night. Candace DeBartolo added subtle flourish to her deep-Coltrane tenor sax resonance during a number titled Love Saxophone. For anyone who hasn’t already guessed, you need a Y chromosome to own one. Frontman/guitarist Jonathan Spotitiswoode said that at the time he’d written that one, he was “another person.”

There were many other unselfconsciously beautiful moments throughout the night. Still Small Voice Inside, one of the best tracks on the new album Lost in the City, comes across as cutting, knowingly aphoristic, Ray Davies-ish late 60s folk-rock. Onstage, the band played it even more mutedly – as it turns out, it has a spiritual dimension, inspired by a familiar saying by the bandleader’s North Dakota-born singer mom. Spottiswoode asked the sold-out crowd if they’d indulge him in a “kumbaya moment” on the vocalese section after the chorus: pretty much everybody sang along.

Another unexpected high point, if a similarly quiet one, was Batman & Robin. The band played this straight-up jazz song with elegance and grace, an expansively poignant, picturesque account of a guy trying to get the most out of weekend custody with his kids. Spottiswoode isn’t necessarily known as a jazz guitarist, but the song underscored whatever cred he wants to take from it.

There were plenty of loud songs, too, all of them drawn from the new album, since as lead guitarist Riley McMahon confided, this band never thought they’d never get back together after the bandleader’s recent relocation to his native London. Guest violinist Antoine Silverman’s shivery, slithery acerbic, Romany riffage kicked off The Walk of Shame, a booze-infused wee hours confrontation with grim reality. Throughout the show, Spottiswoode’s weathered baritone brought to mind Nick Cave, especially when he really cut loose. Knocking back several drinks – vodka cranberry, maybe? – during the set probably had something to do with that.

Trumpeter Kevin Cordt added ripe, Lynchian tones to raise the menace of the more cabaret-infused tunes. Bassist John Young switched nimbly between Fender and upright, drummer Tim Vaill maintaining a slinky, often latin-flavored groove and Spottiswoode fired off some unhinged blues licks during a couple of latin soul anthems. But the star of the night, musically, was pianist Tony Lauria. Shifting effortlessly between surreal Brecht/Weill blues, starlit neoromanticism, lively Afro-Cuban tumbles, funereal organ and even a perfect evocation of Springsteen pianist Roy Bittan, he put on a clinic in how to make the music match the mood. The group closed counterintuively and almost elegaically with I Don’t Regret, a calmly waltzing shout-out to Spottiswoode’s days living on East 5th Street, when the East Village was a hotbed of artistic talent. Those days are gone, for now anyway – but at least we have the album, and a group no worse for the wear and tear of 21 years together.

Jazz Improvisation at Its Most Adrenalizing and Interesting at Barbes

That two of New York’s best bass players made the trip to Park Slope to watch their four-string colleague Max Johnson improvise with saxophonist Matt Nelson and drummer Brian Chase last month speaks for itself. Opening for Balkan brass legends Slavic  Soul Party, the trio delivered everything that makes improvisation the highest musical art form, at least when everybody’s on their game. Suspenseful slow builds, boisterous conversations, viscerally breathtaking displays of extended technique, stories, ideas, good jokes: this set had it all. Johnson is bringing the potential for all that back to Barbes on Dec 12 at 8 PM with a new trio including Anna Webber on tenor sax and flute plus veteran Michael Sarin on drums.

The first guy to pull out all the stops at the November 6 gig was Nelson. Playing soprano sax, he  fired off what seemed to be twenty nonstop minutes of circular breathing. Part of what required that was endlessly circling variations on the kind of tightly clustering, cellular phrases he plays in Battle Trance. That was spectacular enough, but he raised the bar several notches, punctuating the river of sound with wildfire, Coltrane-like glissandos, paint-peeling duotone harmonics, shrieks and wails. At the end, he was about as winded as any horn player can be: to say that this was epic to witness is an understatement. Switching to tenor, he gave himself some opportunities to breathe for the rest of the set, but the intensity was pretty much unrelenting.

Johnson was also on a mission to air out his chops, whether bowing whispery, ghostly harmonics, churning out mesmeric, pitchblende rivers of chords on the two lowest strings, racewalking through swing and taking a couple of bouncy, funky detours for the closest thing to comic relief here. Meanwhile, Chase took charge of the dynamics: he was on sentry duty. Whenever it seemed that a lull might be imminent, he’d smack something and the rest of the trio would pick up on the signal. At one point, he pulled the bell of the hi-hat off the stand and gave it a solid whack: it turned out to be the cork on this champagne bottle. Flickering through his hardware and along the rims, wirewalking on the bell of his crash cymbal and driving the final nail through whatever peak presented itself, he engaged the audience as tersely and emphatically as he did his bandmates.

This month’s show has similar potential if completely different personalities. As an improviser, Webber is more of a tunesmith but isn’t afraid of noise. Sarin comes from a completely different era and idiom, but so does Chase, who’s had a money gig with an indie band for years. You can see for yourself what kind of quirk and charm and maybe new elements get invented on the 12th of the month at Barbes.

Playful, Quirky Indie Classical Sounds at Lincoln Center

“We are home to free year-round programming that is as eclectic as you are this evening.” Lincoln Center’s Meera Dugal grinned as she introduced Sugar Vendil’s Nouveau Classical Project this past evening in the Broadway atrium space. “A project that we’ve been dreaming about having for a long time,” Dugal confided: “One thing that’s very unique about this ensemble is that these pieces were all commissioned by the band.” Co-sponsored by the Asian-American Arts Alliance, this performance was a rare opportunity to hear a first-class group of instrumentalists tackle some quirky, playful material which is pretty much exclusive to the group right now, as Dugal pointed out.

Clarinetist Mara Mayer kicked off Olga Bell’s Zero Initiative against samples of banal crowd conversation, flutist Laura Cocks dancing over the staccato strings of violinist Maya Bennardo and cellist Thea Mesirow. Pianist Vendil joined the dance and then backed away as the music decayed to calm washes, then leapt back in. Onstage, the piece seemed both more dynamic and more hypnotic than the version on their new album Currents – but that’s a vey subjective observation. A flitting riff that the band quickly disassembled seemed lifted from Tschaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, no surprise considering that Bell originally hails from Russia.

The second piece on the bill was Isaac Shankler’s Artifacts, whose maddeningly tricky opening rhythms and expectant upward trajectories also seemed more frenetic and bustling than the bubbly recorded version. Light electronic touches filtered through the mix behind emphatic, catchy, cell-like phrases, which fell away for enigmatically crescendoing ambience punctuated by delicate flickers from the winds. The tongue-in-cheek disco pageantry midway through was mostly confined to the laptop.

David Bird’s Cy Twombly homage, simply tilted Cy, had a similarly ambient intro, the ensemble’s momentary microtonal motives creating a pervasive restlessness that eventually verged on terror. Clarinetist Eric Umble led them safely underneath, at least until Mesirow dug in hard on her glissandos and scrapes.The music came across as less horizontal than a brisk limo ride over a series of speed bumps.

They closed with Gabrielle Herbst’s Where Is My Voice – which as it turned out was on the laptop as well, the group’s calm resonance anchoring flitting samples of vocalese and labored breathing. Then they picked up with a hammering, Julia Wolfe-like insistence before Cocks’ agitated spirals and Vendil’s catchy lefthand riffage provided a cloudburst. Moody Satie-esque themes and syncopated circular hooks, led by Mayer’s luscious bass clarinet, punctuated the stillness of the rest of the work. Everybody in the group rocked custom-made stagewear by Jenny Lai: it’s classy, and it’s not all black.

The next concert in the mostly-weekly series at the Lincoln Center atrium space on Broadway just north of 62nd St. is Dec 13 at 7:30 PM with wildly eclectic virtuoso violist and film composer Ljova, a.k.a. Lev Zhurbin leading a series of colorful ensembles. Get there early if you want a seat.

A Feast of Catchy Tunesmithing, Big Ideas and Picturesque Themes on Annie Chen’s New Album

Composer/singe Annie Chen’s imagination knows no bounds. By any standard, her music is richly layered and often lavishly orchestrated. There’s an unusual majesty and cinematic sweep to much of her work, especially for a vocalist. The dream world is a recurrent reference point, as are several striking musical themes woven throughout her songs, some of them drawing on traditional Chinese melodies.

Chen’s writing is extremely clever, and a lot of fun, often infused with an irrepressible sense of humor. Sara Serpa is a viable comparison, another rare jazz singer who doesn’t shy away from big. sometimes nebulous ideas; interestingly, both have roots outside the US, Serpa hailing from Portugal and Chen from China. Chen’s new album Secret Treetop, a jazz sonata of sorts, is streaming at Bandcamp; she and her group are playing the release show on Dec 9 at 8:15 PM at Shapeshifter Lab. Cover is $15.

It opens auspiciously with Ozledim Seni,Matthew Muntz’s stygian solo bowed bass intro over drummer Jerad Lippi’s rattles rising tensely with Chen’s melismatic, looming vocals…suddenly she hits a big flourish and the band is bouncing along with a distant Balkan tinge, spiced with Glenn Zaleski’s rippling piano and Rafal Sarnecki’s spare, emphatic guitar. Alto saxophonist Alex LoRe takes it down to a suspenseful, modal pulse, then rises with chirpy determination to where Chen leaps back in with her vocalese.

Majo Kiki in12 Days opens with a dramatic flight scenario and plenty of suspense, too; as usual, Chen flips the script, segueing without warning into a glittering nocturnal theme before bringing back the A-section An enigmatic, insistent, staccato bass-and-guitar conversation gives way to Tomoko Omura’s acerbically dancing violin solo and then a catchy descent beneath the stars.

Chen begins the ten-minute Chinese classical epic Ao Bao Xiang Hui stately and cool, Sarnecki’s sparsely circling guitar and LoRe’s alto expanding and pulling back. David Smith’s trumpet is a herald in the forest; spikily dancing piano fuels majestically ominous horn riffage. Buzzy guitar takes the song further out on a postbop tangent; this trip ends suddenly and counterintuitively.

The title track is a more direct variation on that same circular theme and variations, this time with expansive piano rivulets and a long, emphatic, pouncingly rhythmic crescendo. Orange Tears Lullaby has a darkly elegant, spiky guitar-and-piano intro and rises to a jubilant, precisely undulating theme spiced with stark violin. ‘Never doubt me under the covers,” Chen asserts.

The diptych Mr.Wind-Up Bird, Strange Yearning circles upward to a jaunty groove that’s part samba, part Chinese anthem and part mighty urban bustle. LoRe gets a long launching pad to sail and spiral from; Sarnecki plays it closer to the vest.

Leaving Sonnet is one of the many studies in contrasts here, a breathless yet precisely articulated travelogue over a lustrous backdrop lit up with a trumpet solo that grows from wistful to frenetic and back as the band shift in and out of a lush waltz. Chen weaves the album’s main circling theme into her syncopated reinvention of the 1980s Taiwanese pop hit Gan Lan Shu (Olive Tree): the pairing of piano ripple and guitar clang is absolutely luscious. The final track, My Ocean Is Blue in White, a pensive tale of a thwarted seduction, has a surreal hint of bluegrass. There is no one in the world who sounds like Annie Chen.

Vocally speaking, sometimes it’s hard to tell where Chen’s English – still a work in progress – leaves off and the vocalese kicks in. But that’s not a big deal. These colorful songs speak for themselves.

Aruan Ortiz Brings His Lavish, Ambitious, Relevant New Material to the West Village

Pianist Aruan Ortiz gets plenty of props for his chops, but he deserves more appreciation for how eclectic he is. Like Vijay Iyer, he’s ambitious enough to play an entire set on microtonal piano (in Ortiz’s case, with Amir ElSaffar’s eerily majestic large ensemble). Like most of the current crop of expat Cuban pianists, the depth of his classical training informs his knack for a catchy tune, as well as his orchestral ambitions.

There will be a lot of those at his show Dec 6 at 7:30 PM at Greenwich House Music School. The first set features a duet with a unnamed special guest (wild guess: Paquito D’Rivera). The second features two new chamber-jazz pieces: Living in the Midst of a Twisted Globe, performed by violinist Mary Rowell, cellist Jeffrey Zeigler and pianist Geoffrey Burleson; and Ogguere (When the Soul of the Earth Dances Around Spectral Motions), played by a brass quintet including Daniel Blankinship and Nate Wooley (trumpets), Ryan Keberle (trombone), Vince Chancey (French horn) and José Dávil (tuba). Cover is $25/$20 stud., which hints that the special guest might be really famous.

Ortiz’ album Orbiting, streaming at his music page, offers a good look at his diverse approach to composition as well as his formidable technique. The performances are expansive; everybody in the band gets plenty of opportunity to contribute, and the material doesn’t often fit any kind of easy A-B-C pattern or facsimile thereof.

The first number, Ginga Carioca begins with a brain-warping duel between Ortiz’s left and right hand, in completely different time signatures, finally coalescing as Rashaan Carter and Eric McPherson’s elegant bass and drums come in, guitarist David Gilmore taking centerstage with a low-key but punchy, tropically-inflected solo. Lingering piano belltones anchor a bubbly, bustling bass solo and then recede; finally a steady clave kicks in amid the rhythmic jousting.

The title track opens with a trickily syncopated, aptly circling theme, then edges toward a gritty waltz on the jagged wings of the guitar. From there, a brief Afro-Cuban interlude and then a darkly insistent coda complete the picture. From a catchy, rubato build through the opening riff and dancing solo bass, The Heir follows a long build to a wary, syncopated, distorted Gilmore solo, enigmatically spiraling chromatic piano and finally a towering McCoy Tyner-esque coda

Koko morphs from a squirrelly intro to a brisk swing shuffle with wry, jaunty conversation between Ortiz and Gilmore. Numbers, a tone poem of sorts, alternates between majesty and murky menace: it wouldn’t be out of place in the early Herbie Hancock catalog.

Held together with spacious, lingering block chords from Ortiz over a scrambling backdrop, Wru is a launching pad for a long Gilmore solo that finally cedes to the bandleader’s dark resonance and hypnotically clustering attack. After a long, majestic solo Ortiz intro, Green City shifts between clave gravitas, hard-hitting urban bustle and more darkly subdued territory,

The album concludes with the most funereal take of Alone Together you could imagine: flickering brushwork, mournful chords and surreal volume-knob guitar move slowly outward to bolero hints, a judicious, spare bass solo and takes your breath away when the band come full circle. This is very serious, tuneful stuff: give it a spin before the Greenwich House show if you’re going.

Ben Holmes Brings His Darkly Tuneful Naked Lore Project Back to Barbes

Trumpeter Ben Holmes has been a mainstay of the Barbes scene practically since the beginning. With roots in klezmer, Balkan music and postbop jazz, he will often shift between all three idioms in the course of a single song…or even a single solo. Blasting away with endless volleys of notes is not his thing: his full, resonant tone, which comes out especially when he’s on the flugelhorn, pervades his dark chromatics, moments of sardonic humor and unselfconsciously poignant lyricism. Over the years he’s played the Park Slope hotspot with all sorts of bands, from legendary pianist Pete Sokolow’s Tarras Band to the Yiddish Art Trio, and most recently, with Big Lazy.

That iconic noir trio have experimented with horns many times over the years, but Holmes is the one trumpeter who really gets their ilngering menace. He sat in with the band after a more distantly uneasy set with his Naked Lore trio at the end of August and held the crowd rapt with his spacious, enigmatic lines and occasional stalker-from-the-shadows burst. Big Lazy guitarist/frontman Steve Ulrich likes to employ horns to max out the suspense in his crime jazz themes, and Holmes picked up on that in an instant. He also added spicy hints of Ethiopian style to a couple of more recent, rather epic Big Lazy numbers which look back to the group’s days of deep, dark dub exploration in the early zeros. Big Lazy’s next gig is at 8:30 PM this Dec 6 at Bar Lunatico.

Holmes’ set with Naked Lore to open that August Barbes gig was a chance to see how tightly the trio have refined their sound over the past several months. Guitarist Brad Shepik had cut the fret finger on his left hand – and was playing acoustic. Was he going to be able to pull this off? Hell yeah – even when that meant running tricky, syncopated cyclical phrases over and over, as he did on one recent number, or chopping his way through fluttery tremolo-picked passages. Was there any blood? Not sure – Shepik played the set seated next to drummer Shane Shanahan, and the venue was crowded, so it was sometimes hard to see the stage.

What’s become obvious lately is how prolific Holmes has been, and how vast his catalog of unrecorded material is. The best song of the set was a diptich of sorts that he’d begun as an attempt to write a pastoral jazz tune, but then he “Lapsed into freygish mode,” as he put it, drifting into biting Middle Eastern microtones as the melody grew more overcast. Naked Lore are back at Barbes on Dec 8 at 8 PM on a typically excellent if bizarre Saturday night bill. Trombonist Ron Hay’s fascinating Erik Satie Quartet – who reinvent works by Satie and other early 20th century composers as pieces for brass and winds – open the evening at 4 PM; bizarro, unpredictable psychedelic salsa revivalist Zemog El Gallo Bueno plays afterward at 10.

And catching the debut of Holmes’ brand-new trio earlier this month, again at Barbes, was a revelation. The not-so-secret weapon in this band is pianist Carmen Staaf. Among the sort-of-new, “rising star” generation of New York pianists, only Arco Sandoval can match her in terms of consistent edge, imagination and tunefulness. In fact, the best song of the night, built around a clenched-teeth, circling minor-key riff, might have been hers. Holmes’ own picturesque, pensive tunes gave her a springboard for plenty more of that. While Shanahan’s playing with Holmes is spacious, terse and part of a close interweave, this group’s drummer, Jeff Davis romped and thumped behind the kit, raising the energy at the show several notches. They closed with a funky, catchy number of his. Where Naked Lore is all about close attunement and interplay, this group is just the opposite: three very different personalities in contrast. Let’s hope this trio stay together and reach the depths that Naked Lore have been able to sink their chops into.

Live Music Calendar for New York City and Brooklyn for December 2018 and January 2019

Daily updates – if you go out a lot, you might want to bookmark this page and check back regularly. If you’re leaving your hood, make sure you check http://www.mta.info for service changes considering how the trains are at night and on the weekend.

If you don’t recognize a venue where a particular act is playing, check the comprehensive, recently updated list of over 200 New York City music venues at New York Music Daily’s sister blog Lucid Culture.

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

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

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

On select Wednesdays and Sundays, an intimate, growing piano music salon on the Upper West Side featuring iconoclastically insightful, lyrical pianist Nancy Garniez – a cult favorite with an extraordinarily fluid, singing, legato style – exploring the delicious minutiae of works from across the centuries, beverages and lively conversation included! Next performance is 12/5 at 7 PM with special guest violinist Gregor Kitzis playing Mozart, email for details/address

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

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

Also Monday and Tuesday nights Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks, a boisterous horn-driven 11-piece 1920s/early 30’s band play Iguana, 240 W. 54th St ( Broadway/8th Ave) , 3 sets from 8 to 11, surprisingly cheap $15 cover plus $15 minimum considering what you’re getting. Even before the Flying Neutrinos or the Moonlighters, multi-instrumentalist Giordano was pioneering the oldtimey sound in New York; his long-running residency at the old Cajun on lower 8th Ave. is legendary. He also gets a ton of film work (Giordano wrote the satirical number that Willie Nelson famously sang in Wag the Dog).

Mondays at the Vanguard the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra – composer Jim McNeely’s reliably good big band vehicle – plays 9/11 PM, $30 per set plus drink minimum.

Mondays in December, 10 PM noir guitar legend Jim Campilongo leads his trio at the big room at the Rockwood, $10

Mondays in December, Rev. Vince Anderson and his band play Union Pool in Williamsburg, two sets starting at 10:30 PM. The Rev. is one of the great keyboardists around, equally thrilling on organ or electric piano, an expert at Billy Preston style funk, honkytonk, gospel and blues. He writes very funny, very politically astute, sexy original songs and is one of the most charismatic, intense live performers of our time. It’s a crazy dance party. Paula Henderson from Burnt Sugar is the lead soloist on baritone sax, with frequent special guests.

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

Wednesdays in December, 8 PM the Binky Griptite Orchestra (formerly Sharon Jones’ brilliant oldschool soul backing band) at Threes Brewing Outpost, 113 Franklin St (Greenpoint/Kent Aves) in Greenpoint, free

Thursdays at 8 in December the Brooklyn Raga Massive – a rotating cast of A-list Indian, jazz and rock musicians who love to jam out classic Indian themes from over the centuries to the present day – play the Jalopy, $15 adv tix at the bar at the main space. Tons of special guests followed by a wild raga jam!

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

Fridays at 7:30 PM tenor saxophonist Ken Fowser leads his band at the Django. Jukebox jazz in a JD Allen vein but not as dark and more straight-ahead/groove-oriented: as postbop party music goes, nobody’s writing better than this guy right now.

Free classical concerts on Saturdays at 4 PM in October at Bargemusic;  usually solo piano or small chamber ensembles. If you get lucky, you’ll catch pyrotechnic violinist/music director Mark Peskanov and/or the many members of his circle. Early arrival advised.

Sundays in December, at sometime past noon at Hank’s, Nashville gothic crooner Sean Kershaw‘s legendary honkytonk brunch is back; special guests from his wide circle of NYC Americana acts keep the afternoon going until about 7. It’s just like 1999 again -at least until the bar closes sometime this year

Sundays in December, 8 PM purist guitarist Peter Mazza – who gets the thumbs up from bop-era legend Gene Bertoncini – leads a series of trios at the Bar Next Door; the 12/30 show is a very very rare solo gig

12/1, 5 PM, cinematic guitar-and EFX dude Xander Naylor  followed by atmospheric, cinematic drummer/composer Tim Kuhl – sort of a more straightforwardly trippy version of John Hollenbeck – at Pete’s

12/1, 7 PM Tejas Tope solo on tabla, sarangi player Rohan Misra, then a carnatic vocal performance by Shankhadip Chakraborty with Misra, Todd Miller on tabla and Niyati Kashyap on harmonium at the Chhandayan Center For Indian Music, $20

12/1, 7:15 PM dark psychedelic acoustic blues/klezmer/reggae/soca jamband Hazmat Modine at Terra Blues. They’re also here on 12/15

12/1, 8ish acerbic, smartly historically-inspired, politically fearless acoustic songwriter Kristin Lems at the People’s Voice Cafe, sugg don, $20, “more if you choose; less if you can’t; no one turned away.”  

12/1, 8 PM brilliantly improvisational pianist Mara Rosenbloom‘s philosophically-inspired FLYWAYS with bassist Adam Lane and singer/percussionist Anais Maviel   at I-Beam, $15

12/1, 8 PM drummer Devin Gray’s intricately kinetic, highly improvisational Dirigo Rataplan at Greenwich House Music School, $15/$12 stud/srs

12/1, 8 PM a rare NYC appearance by high-voltage Afro-Colombian bullerengue bandleader Darlina Saenz at the Jalopy, $15

12/1, 8 PM imagistic, compellingly lyrical acoustic songwriter Sandy Bell guests at chamber pop stylist Alice Bierhorst’s album release show followed at 10 by epic ranchera/bolero brass crew Banda de los Muertos at Barbes

12/1, 8 PM the NYU01 Orchestra play Elgar: Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85; Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 4 in A major, Op. 90, “Italian” at the NYU Skirball Center, LaGuardia at Washington Square South, free

12/1, 9 PM a stripped-down oud and vocal version of Balkan chanteuse Jenny Luna‘s haunting, slinky, oud-driven Turkish band Dolunay at the Owl

12/1, 8:3o PM soul-rockers NO ICE‘s charismatic frontman Jamie Frey followed by scruffy indie gutter blues duo Eleanor at the Gutter, $5. Frey is also at Freddy’s the following night, 12/2 at 8.

12/1 Unsteady Freddie‘s monthly surf rock extravaganza at Otto’s begins at 9 PM with the surf-punk Tsunamibots, the Swiss Obsidians, the brand-new Renegade Lounge and sometime around midnight the kazoo-driven El Muchacho

12/1, 9 PM ten-piece country/carnivalesque/acoustic rock powerhouse M Shanghai String Band at the Jalopy, $!0

12/1, 9 PM the Space Merchants – the missing link between the Stooges and X – at Hank’s, $8

12/1, 10 PM oldschool soul ballads with singer Camille Atkisson’s Empire Beats at the Way Station

12/2, 1 PM low-key deep-Brooklyn sounds with Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens playing a gospel brunch show at Bar Lunatico. They’re also here on 12/16

12/2, 2 PM Trio Solisti play works by Haydn, Brahms and Dvorak at the Town Hall, $17

12/2, 2:30 PM erhu player Feifei Yang leads her quartet playing a wild mix of 1930s Shanghai speakeasy tunes, coy classical and cheesy top 40 covers at Flushing Town Hall, $16/$10 stud free for 18 and under

12/2, 3 PM Chloe Fedor and Jessica Park,violin; Monica Davis,viola; Benjamin Larsen,cello and Stuart Breczinski,oboe play Mozart: Oboe Quartet in F Major, K. 370; Paolo Marchettini: Septem vitia capitalia (The Seven Deadly Sins); Britten: Phantasy Quartet for Oboe & String Trio in F minor, Op. 2 and Beethoven: String Quartet No. 11 in F minor, Op. 95 at Concerts on the Slope, St. John’s Episcopal Church, 139 St. John’s Place downhill from 7th Ave, Park Slope, any train to Grand Army Plz, sugg don

12/2, 3 PM the the NJ Symphony Orchestra play works by  Milhaud, Stravinsky’s Firebird and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in  Blue with soloist Aaron Diehl at NJPAC in Newark, $20 tix avail

12/2, 3 PM the Greenwich Village Orchestra play the Beethoven Triple Concerto in C Major and the Bartók Concerto for Orchestra at All Saints Church, 230 E 60th St (2/3rd Aves), $20, $20

12/2, 3:15 PM concert organist Daniel Brondel plays a program TBA at St. Patrick’s Cathedral

12/2, 4 PM the Orchestra Now plays Bartok’s Symphony No. 6 at Symphony Space, free

12/2, 7:30 PM serpentine, cinematic, epic art-rock band Book of Harmony and string metal band Stratospheerius at Drom, $10 adv tix rec. This twinbill absolutely slayed at Gold Sounds last summer.  

12/2, 8 PM perennially tuneful, pensively lyrical Americana janglerocker Mike Ferrio of Tandy and Good Luck Mountain at 11th St. Bar

12/2, 8:30 PM Cameron Mizell – the best pastoral jazz guitarist not named Bill Frisell – at Pete’s

12/3, 6 PM the improvisationally-inclined Osso String Quartet at the Fat Cat

12/3, 7 PM the Argus Quartet premiere string quartets by Ted Hearne, Christopher Cerrone and Juri Seo at 1 Rivington St., 2nd Fl. just off Bowery, $20/$10 stud,

12/3, 7 PM diverse, purposeful, poignant bassist/composer Iris Ornig  plays the album release show for her new one Storyteller with a killer quintet featuring Arco Sandoval on piano at 55 Bar

12/3, 8 PM witheringly lyrical Texas populist songwriter James McMurtry at City Winery, $28 standing room avail

12/3, 8 PM fascinatingly lyrical, individualistic pianist Sylvie Courvoisier with her trio, then joined by trumpeter Nate Wooley at Roulette, $18 adv tix req

12/4, drinks at 5:30 PM, show at 6, perennially interesting piano/percussion ensemble Yarn/Wire play works by Crumb, Saint-Saens and Tschaikovsky at the Miller Theatre, free

12/4, 7 PM lustrous singer and badass cello-rock bandleader Serena Jost  at Pangea, $20

12/4, 7:30 PM the NY Philharmonic play Britten’s Violin Concerto and Shostakovich’s ferocious antiwar Symphony No 7 at Avery Fisher Hall, $30 tix avail

12/4, 8:30  PM Thurston Moore leads a series of non Sonic Youth bands at the Stone at the New School, $20. Get there early. Choice pick: opening night with Bill Nace (guitar) Samara Lubelski (violin)

12/4, 9 PM wickedly torchy noir songwriter Julia Haltigan and her killer band on her old home turf at 11th St Bar

12/4, 10 PM Ensemble Ipse play recent music for string quartet including works by Stephanie Griffin (the hilarious Happy Car Ride from her Lost String Quartet), Alex Hall, Ari Sussman, Ursula Brown and Can Bilir at Arete Gallery, $20/$10 stud/sr

12/4, 10:30 PM charismatic, adventurous postbop/avant garde trombonist/crooner Frank Lacy leads his sextet at Smalls

12/5, 1 PM rising star pianist Mackenzie Melamed plays works by Rachmaninoff, Scriabin and Medtner at the Greene Space, free, res req 

12/5, 7 PM the New School Studio Orchestra plays a rare all-John Clayton big band jazz program at the New School auditorium at 63 Fifth Avenue, Room U100, free

12/5, 7:30 PM postbop sax cult hero Kenny Brooks leads his quartet at Smalls

12/5-8 the annual three-day free Roots & Ruckus Festival at the Jalopy starts tonight, with short sets by an insanely good, pan-global cross section of the NYC folk underground. Stage 1 at the Jalopy Theatre begins at 9:00 PM – The Jalopy Chorus; 9:30 PM – Taylor Plas; 10:00 PM – Yva Las Vegass 10:30 PM – fearlessly haunting, dynamic, charismatic Romany/Balkan chanteuse Eva Salina with pyrotechnic accordionist Peter Stan; 11:00 PM – Lord Youth; 11:30 PM – Rashad Brown; Stage 2 at the Jalopy Tavern starts at 8:00 PM – Wyndham Baird; 9:00 PM – Hannah Thompson 10:00 PM – The adrenalizing, bluegrass fiddling Berger Sisters; 11:00 PM – Anna J. Witiuk

12/5, 8 PM Dervisi feat. guitar god Steve Antonakos play “exotic Greek gangsta blues” and Middle Eastern flavored hash smoking anthems at Troost

12/5, 8/9:30 PM  rising star singer/pianist and Christian McBride protegee Kelly Green with Alex Tremblay (bass), Evan Hyde (drums) at Mezzrow, $20

12/5, klezmer clarinet/mandolin wizard Andy Statman at Barbes, $10

12/5, 9 PM bass goddess/soul singer Felice Rosser’s ageless reggae-rock-groove band Faith  at C’Mon Everybody, $10

12/5, 9 PM Lainie Fefferman premieres her electroacoustic song cycle White Fire, “about feminist ways of re-owning foundational Jewish texts – attempting to give a powerful voice to matriarchs and heroines often sidelined in the narrative,” at Issue Project Room, $15/$12 stud/srs

12/6, 7 PM cellist Matt Haimovitz and the Mannes Cello Ensemble play a program TBA at the New School auditorium, Room A106, 66 W 12th St, free

12/6, 7 PM the Jazz Passengers’ spectacular vibraphonist Bill Ware leads his quintet followed by the great unsung NYC hero of darkly purposeful, noir-tinged jazz guitar, Saul Rubin at the Fat Cat. Rubin is also here on 12/11 and 12/18 at 7

12/6, 7:30 PM, repeating on 12/8 at 8 Jaap van Zweden leads the NY Philharmonic playing Mozart’s Symphony No. 40, plus works by Schubert and Strauss at Avery Fisher Hall, $31 tix avail

12/6, 7:30 PM adventurously tuneful pianist Aruan Ortiz with special guest tba; the concert’s second half features two chamber pieces: Living in the Midst of a Twisted Globe, to be performed by the trio of violinist Mary Rowell, cellist Jeffrey Zeigler & pianist Geoffrey Burleson; and Ogguere (when the soul of the earth, dances around spectral motions), played by brass quintet: Daniel Blankinship and Nate Wooley (trumpets), Ryan Keberle (trombone), Vince Chancey (French horn) & José Dávil (tuba)  at Greenwich House Music School, $25/$20 stud/srs

12/6, 7:30 PM kinetic Cuban jazz pianist Elio Villafranca leads his trio at Aaron Davis Hall, free, rsvp req 

12/6, 6 PM klezmer violinist Jake Shulman-Ment with rippllng tsimbl (Ukrainian Jewish dulcimer) player Pete Rushefsky at Poe Park in the Bronx.

12/6, 7 P{M pianist Biljana Petrovska plays a rare program of works by Macedonian composers Tamislav Zografsky, Damjan Temkov, Bete Ilin and Dimitrije Buzarovski plus her own haunting arrangements of folk tunes at Gallery MC

12/6, 7:30 PM the playful the Nouveau Classical Project perform a program of emerging composes TBA at the Lincoln Center Atrium, free, early arrival advised

12/6, day 2 of the annual three-day free Roots & Ruckus Festival at the Jalopy continues with short sets by an insanely good, pan-global cross section of the NYC folk underground. Stage 1 at the Jalopy Theatre starts at 8:30 PM – Miss Maybell with Charlie Judkins; 9:00 PM – Brooklyn Raga Massive with Neel Murgai & Mir Naqibul Islam; 9:30 PM – Bobby Blue The Balladeer 10:00 PM -western swing faves Brain Cloud’s frontwoman Tamar Korn – who can impersonate any instrument ever made; 10:30 PM – wild, spiraling, rare rustic minor-key Polesian klezmer dances and grooves with Litvakus;11:00 PM -pensively psychedelic, massively tuneful Moroccan/Venezuelan-influenced songwriter Miriam Elhajl; 11:30 PM – fiery oldtimey string band the Four O’Clock Flowers. Stage 2 at the Jalopy Tavern has 8:00pm – Paisley Fields; 9:00pm – Mara Kaye; 10:00pm – Skalopy Brass

12/6, 8 PM New York’s most charismatic, darkly compelling lyrical songwriter/storyteller/keyboard genius Rachelle Garniez followed by Balkan chanteuse Jenny Luna‘s haunting, slinky, oud-driven Turkish band Dolunay  at Barbes

 12/6, 8 PM deviously theatrical oldschool C&W/rockabilly parodists Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co with “guest vegan” Stella Rose Saint Clair at Mable’s Smokehouse, 44 Berry St, Williamsburg, free

12/6, 8:30 PM the world’s creepiest crime jazz/film noir band, Big Lazy at Bar Lunatico

12/6, 9 PM intense, soaring harmonium player/singer Elana Low – a more organic, trancey version of Marissa Nadler, maybe –  at Petes

12/6, 9 PM Betsayda Machado y La Parranda – “the voice of Venezuela” and the Jimi Hendrix of the cuatro, Jorge Glem lead an allstar band playing  parranda, gaitas y aguinaldos and more at Drom, $25 gen adm

12/6, 10 PM perennially haunting, atmospheric folk noir/art-rock chanteuse Marissa Nadler at Rough Trade, $15 gen adm

12/6, 10:30 PM long-running phantasmagorical art-rockers/circus punks Devotchka at the Manderley Bar, $27.50. 12/8 at 8 they’re at Elsewhere, $27.50 gen adm

12/7, 6 PM magical ex-Chicha Libre timbalera Karina Colis leads her latin jazz group followed at 10:30 by cutting-edge B3 organ and trombone soul/jazz grooves with the Jared Gold and Dave Gibson Band at the Fat Cat

12/7, 6:30 PM high-voltage psychedelic cumbia/Afrobeat jamband MAKU Soundsystem at the rec center at Marcus Garvey Park, free. The following evening, 5/8 an hour earlier they’re at the Arrow Fieldhouse, 35-38 35th St. in Astoria, free, N/W to 36th Av e, They’re also at Joe’s Pub on 12/13 at 9 for $15

12/7, 7 PM the Bil Afrah Project celebrates one of the Middle East’s legendary albums: Ziad Rahbani’s 1975 Bil Afrah suite. An all-star NYC lineup includes percussionist Michel Merhej, who played on the haunting, dynamic original album, very rarely played live in its entirety. The group absolutely slayed with this last year –  at CUNY Elebash Hall, 365 5th Ave north of 34th St., $25

12/7 day 3 of the annual three-day free Roots & Ruckus Festival at the Jalopy continues with short sets by an insanely good, pan-global cross section of the NYC folk underground. Stage 1 at the Jalopy Theatre starts at 8:00 PM – Eli Smith 8:30 PM -the haunting Ukrainian Village Voices; 9:00 PM – plaintive Yorkshire/Appalachian singer Jan Bell – whose gloomy chronicles of Brooklyn gentrification are spot-on; 9:30 PM – charismatic, politically fearless, historically-inspired oldtime country blues duo Piedmont Bluz; 10:00 PM – The Sunwrays (Frankie Sunswept & Kyle Morgan);10:30 PM – The Horse-Eyed Men; 11:00 PM – Isto; 11:30 PM – Nat Myers. Stage 2 at the Jalopy Tavern has 7:00 PM – Starcrossed Losers; 8:00 PM –  blues guitarist Will Scott – who can play just about any style from all over the country; 9:00 PM -King Isto’s Tropical String Band play jaunty, balmy Hawaiian sounds; 10:00 PM – Balkan chanteuse Jenny Luna‘s haunting, slinky, oud-driven Turkish band Dolunay ; 11:00 PM – The Rocket 88’s

12/7, 7 PM irrepressible, transgressively funny postbop saxophonist Jon Irabagon does double duty, first with his noisy Axis project, then with pianist Gabriel Zucker. Cellist Mariel Roberts of the Mivos Quartet follows, solo at Spectrum, free

12/7, 8 PM amazing string quintet Sybarite5 – who are also the world’s coolest Radiohead cover band – at the Cell Theatre, $27

12/7, 8 PM downtown guitar icon Elliott Sharp followed by Hat (the electroacoustic Iranian music project) at Happy Lucky No. 1 Gallery, $20 for both sets, $15 for one. Sharp is also there the following the night, 12/8 an hour earlier followed by eclectically tuneful keyboardist Brian Marsella & Tuba Mob

12/7, 8:30 PM fearlessly smart, eclectic, avant garde-inclined Toot Sweet accordionist Mary Spencer Knapp solo at the Gutter, $5

12/7, 10 PM Pangari & the Socialites play classic ska and rocksteady – most of it from the 60s Skatalites catalog – at Barbes 

12/7-8, 10 PM purist, lyrical postbop tenor saxophonist Alexa Tarantino leads her group at Birdland, $30

12/8, 4 PM the Erik Satie Quartet – Ron Hay (trombone), Max Seigel (bass trombone), Ben Holmes (trumpet), and Andrew Hadro (bari sax) –reinvent classic and obscure Satie chamber pieces as well as rare compositions by his obscure contemporaries, followed at 8 by Holmes’ broodingly Middle Eastern/klezmer-tinged Naked Lore trio with Kyle Sanna and Shane Shahanan and then at 10 by psychedelic salsa bandleader Zemog El Gallo Bueno at Barbes

12/8 day 4 of the annual free Roots & Ruckus Festival at the Jalopy continues with short sets by an insanely good, pan-global cross section of the NYC folk underground. Stage 1 at the Jalopy Theatre starts at 7:00 PM – Barry Clyde; 7:30 PM – Brother Roy; 8:00 PM – preteen banjo sensation Nora Brown; 8:30 PM – Aaron Frazer; 9:00 PM – perennially relevant, boisterously amusing acoustic Veracruz-style folk-punk band Radio Jarocho; 9:30 PM -soul/gospel belter (and Lenny Molotov collaborator) Queen Esther 10:00 PM -eclectic, tuneful accordionist/songwriter Ali Dineen; 10:30 PM – high-voltage Americana jamband Spirit Family Reunion;; 11:00 PM -dark, carnivalesque oldtimey songwriter Feral Foster; 11:30 PM – haunting flamenco/Sicilian folk chanteuse Julia Patinella. Stage 2 at the Jalopy Tavern has 7:00 PM -brilliantly lyrical dark oldtimey songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Pete Lanctot & the Stray Dogs ; 8:00 PM – Fatboy Wilson & Old Viejo Bones; 9:00 PM –Brotherhood of the Jug Band Blues – who do an awesome, slyly funny evocation of the Memphis Jug Band; 10:00 PM – La Nueva Canción; 11:00pm – Wyndham Baird & His Band

12/8, 7 PM rapturously bristling minor-key viola and clarinet duos and improvisations: Lev ‘Ljova’ Zhurbin & Vasko Dukovski at Spectrum $15

12/8, 7:30 PM pianist Jonathan Biss plays music by Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart and Schumann at Irving Auditorium, Irving Pl/17th St., $16

12/8, 8 PM the Barnard-Columbia Chorus’ Holiday Concert with the Symphony of Psalms: Igor Stravinsky, Magnificat: J. S. Bach at Church of the Ascension, 221 W 107th St. 

12/8, 8 PM the 60-piece Manhattan Wind Ensemble play works by Camille Saint-Saëns, David Holsinger, David Maslanka, Johan de Meij and Hector Berlioz at Symphony Space, $18 adv tix rec

12/8, 8ish veteran politically fearless acoustic songwriter Charlie King at the People’s Voice Cafe, sugg don, $20, “more if you choose; less if you can’t; no one turned away.” 

12/8, 8 PM drummer Sanah Kadoura’s Middle Eastern jazz group at the Cell Theatre,

12/8. 8 PM terse, anthemic dark folk/Americana songwriter Lara Taubman followed at 9 by raucous, politically sharp, anthemic folk noir songwriter Mac McCarty at Sidewalk

12/8, 8:30 PM the Spheres chamber music collective play new works by Adam Billings, Rohan Chandler, Cem Guven, Kyle Brenn, Elliott Roman and Nathan Shreve at Scholes St. Studios, $10

12/8, 10 PM the slinky, cinematic Ghost Funk Orchestra play the vinyl release show for their new single at Footlight Bar

 12/8, 10 PM sizzling electric bluegrass and C&W with Demolition String Band  at Skinny Dennis

12/8, 11 PM funny, explosive oldschool style punk rockers the Live Ones at Hank’s, $10

 12/9, 2:30 PM the 2001 at 50 festival at Barbes with a free screening of the Space Odyssey with a new score by Aaron Kruzini & Ryan Pate; Arturo Reyes; Chris Bacon (Claudio Carboni); Chris Northrup; Dinnersss; Jay Vilnai; Nick Shea; Peter Litvin and Rajeev Maddela. 

12/9, 4 PM fiery, force-of-nature klezmer/classical violin/piano duo Lara St. John and Matt Herskowitz at the Dreck Center at the Brooklyn Public Library, free, no under-sixes.

12/9, 6 PM guitarists Jay Sorce and Jordan Dodson, cellist JoAnn Whang, clarinetist Mark Dover, saxophonist Kendra Emery play music by Susanna Hancock,Maria Kaoutzani, Finola Merivale, Emma O’Halloran, Gemma Peacocke, and Shelley Washington at 1 Rivington St., 2nd Fl. just off Bowery, $20/$10 stud,

12/9, 6 PM Fackpamp (guitarist Anders Nilsson, drummer Hampu Ohman-Frolund and amazing microtonal violinist Sarah Bernstein followed at 7 by irrepressible, transgressively funny saxophonist Jon Irabagon‘s noisy Axis sax trio with John Hegre and Nils Dronen and at 8 by the compellingly conversational Giacomo Merega and Kent O’Doherty bass/sax duo at Downtown Music Gallery

12/9. 7 PM spine-tingling, darkly mystical art-rock/avant-garde/chamber pop songwriter Carol Lipnik – pretty much everybody’s choice for bst singer in all of NYC – with similarly haunting pianist Matt Kanelos at Pangea, $20

12/9, 7 PM crystalline-voiced noir Americana songwriter Jessie Kilguss shares a short-set bill with a lot of cult-favorite talent: Dave Derby, Nathan Schram, badass Whiskey Girls cellist Patricia Santos, first-class Americana crooner Cliff Westfall at Mirror Tea House, 575 Union St., (3rd Ave/Nevins), Gowanus, free

12/9, 7 PM genre-smashing avant-jazz saxophonist/singer Stephanie Chou  and her band debut her harrowing jazz suite about women forced into sexual slavery under the Japanese in WWII at the third stage at the Rockwood, $15

12/9, 7:30 PM rapturously eclectic jazz chanteuse Marianne Solivan leads her quartet at Smalls

12/9, 7 PM jamgrass/folk-punk road warriors Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band at the Mercury, $12 adv tix rec

12/9, 8ish NYC’s answer to Stevie Ray Vaughan, Hugh Pool at 11th St Bar

12/9, 8 PM reggae-rockers Zion80 and wild, hilarious klezmer punks Golem at Drom, $15 adv tix rec 

12/9, 8:15 PM cinematic, kaleidoscopic jazz composer/singer Annie Chen plays the album release show for her new one at Shapeshifter Lab, $15

12/10, 11 AM sharp the Momenta Quartet play their deviously hilarious multimedia Lost String Quartet for children with original music by Momenta violist/composer Stephanie Griffin, theater direction by Mexican director Fernando Villa Proal and scenography by Pedro Pazáran Trujillo. Kids love the crazy humor, but the music is very sophisticated and will grab you regardless of how old and cynical you are. At Time In Children’s Arts Initiative 227 W. 29th Street, Studio 4R, free, rsvp reqd, 

12/10, 5 PM perennially tuneful, lyrical piano improviser/composer Kris Davis leads the New School Jazz Orchestra in an all-Carla Bley program at Room I531, Arnhold Hall, 55 West 13th St, free

12/10, 8 PM pianist/composer Burnett Thompson plays his new jazz arrangements of Chinese tribal melodies with bassist Alex Blake at Mezzrow, $20 

 12/10, 8:30 PM wildfire guitarist Brandon Seabrook with Cooper-Moore on diddley bow and Gerald Cleaver on drums at Bar Lunatico

 12/11, 7 PM “the Slippery Fish pay tribute to the Mexican pedal steel master Tõno Quirazco, who in the 1960’s combined the new sound of ska music out of Jamaica with country twang to invent a twist on the Caribbean sound. With Ari Folman-Cohen – bass and John Echelay – pedal steel,” followed at 9 by clever, fiery, eclectic ten-piece Balkan/hip-hop/funk brass maniacs Slavic Soul Party at Barbes

12/11, 7 PM magical microtonal violinist Sarah Bernstein’s Unearthish and the vocal/piano duo of Shelley Hirsch and klezmer-jazz piano icon Anthony Coleman at Arete Gallery, $15

12/11, 7:30/9:30 PM bassist Harish Raghavan with Joel Ross – vibraphone; Immanuel Wilkins – saxophone; Micah Thomas – piano at the Jazz Gallery, $15

12/11, 7:30 PM the Manhattan Chamber Players perform Shostakovich’s ethereal, haunting String Quartet No. 13 in Bb minor, Bruch’s Kol Nidre Variations, plus works by Brahms and Schumann at the Baruch Performing Arts Center, $25

12/11-14, 8PM hauntingly jangly noir Americana/surf/punkgrass band the Sadies at Union Pool, $20. Wickedly catchy Americana/paisley underground rockers Girls on Grass open the 12/11 show at 8, with the Sadies at 9.

12/11-15, 8:30 PM no wave laptop percussion legend Ikue Mori leads a series of ensembles at the Stone at the New School, $20. Choice pick: 12/13 with amazing, darkly intense pianist Satoko Fujii’s latest quartet Mahobin (Japanese for “thermos”), and 12/14 with Mephista: Ikue Mori (electronics) Sylvie Courvoisier (piano) Susie Ibarra (drums)

 12/11-16 and then 12/18-23, 8:30/10 PM hard-hitting postbop piano legend Kenny Barron leads his bands at the Vanguard: the first stand with his quintet, the second as a trio with special guest Regina Carter on violin

 12/11, 8:30 PM ambitious, smart, noir-inclined tenor saxophonist Patrick Cornelius with Jared Gold on B3 organ and Mark Whitfield Jr. on drums at the Bar Next Door, $12

12/11, 9ish explosive, creepy, colorful psychedelic rembetiko metal band Greek Judas  at Hank’s

12/12, 7 PM violinist Siwoo Kim and violist John Stulz play works by Vivian Fung, Andrew Norman, and Stulz in a “string-trio concert evoking a musical house of mirrors” with Metropolis Ensemble cellist Michael Katz at 1 Rivington St., 2nd Fl. just off Bowery, $20/$10 stud,

12/12, 7:30 PM magical percussionist Rajna Swaminathan’s improvisational Indian band Mangal with María Grand – tenor sax; Linda May Han Oh – bass; Joel Ross – vibraphone + special guest Imani Uzuri – voice at the Jazz Gallery, $15

12/12, 7:30 PM the amazing, haunting, otherworldly NY Andalus Ensemble – who play ancient Middle Eastern and North African Jewish sounds from as far back as a thousand years ago  –  at La Nacional, 239 W 14th St, $20/$16 stud/srs

12/12, 8 PM the all-female Resistance Revival Chorus sing epic, inspiring populist gospel tunes and anti-trumpie broadsides at the Knitting Factory, $20

12/12, 8 PM bassist Max Johnson presents a wild new trio made up of  Anna Webber (saxophone, flute), and Michael Sarin (drumset), performing all newly written and rearranged original compositions at Barbes

 12/12, 8:30 PM poignant, eclectic, lyrical jazz bassist/composer Pedro Giraudo leading his Tango Quartet at Bar Lunatico. 12/15 they’re at Barbes at 8

12/12, 9 PM fiery, psychedelically bluesy oldschool soul/southern rockers Lizzie & the Makers at LIC Bar

12/12, 9 PM edgy lefty lead guitarist Damian Quinones and his psychedelic latin soul band at Bar Chord

12/12, 10 PM NY horror surf legends the Coffin Daggers at the Mercury, $10

12/13, 7:30 PM blues harpist Frank Fairfield and guitarist Meredith Axelrod play oldtimey country blues at Symphony Space, $30/$20 thirty and under

12/13, 7:30/9:30 PM lyrical latin jazz pianist Helen Sung plays her Helen Sung with Words project with special guest Cecile McLorin Salvant at the Jazz Standard, $30. Sung is also solo at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem on 12/18 at 7 for a third the price

12/13, 7:30 PM Ljova – one of the world’s great violists, and a colorful, cinematic composer – plays “an adventurous evening of his music for strings, featuring an expanded ensemble with members of the PUBLIQuartet, Secret Quartet, and special guest” at the Lincoln Center Atrium, free, early arrival advised

12/13, 8:30 PM hard-charging oldschool soul/funk/rock singer Bette Smith and band at Bar Lunatico

12/13, 8 PM baritone crooner Jack Grace does double duty, first leading his country/southwestern gothic band then fronting his legendary 90s jamband Steak at Hank’s, $10. Grace and his current band are also at Bar Chord at 9 on 12/28

12/13, 8 PM avant jazz composer-performer summit: Anthony Davis and Earl Howard reconvening their quartet at Roulette, $20 gen adm

12/13, 8 PM “Sara Milonovich, Daria Grace and Vibeke Saugestad are The Wynotte Sisters. They discovered a mutual love for three part harmonies and genre-crossing covers off the beaten track. From vintage Andrews Sisters to Steve Earle to Pink, they deliver an unexpected trove of holiday chestnuts. With special guest: Greg Anderson,” at Barbes

12/13, 9 PM hauntingly atmospheric pan-Asian chanteuse/composer and multi-instrumentalist Jen Shyu‘s latest work-in-progress at Arete Gallery, $15

12/13, 9 PM wild live techno band Bombrasstico  at Bar Chord

12/14, 3 PM the Mannes Orchestra play Beethoven’s Egmont Overture and Dvorak’s Symphony No. 6 Auditorium, University Center, 63 Fifth Avenue, Room U100, free

12/14, 6 PM fearlessly political, picturesque retro folk/blues songwriter Joshua Garcia at the American Folk Art Museum

12/14, 6 PM charmingly inscrutable Parisienne jazz chanteuse Chloe & the French Heart Jazz Band at Club Bonafide, $20

 12/14, 7 PM unpredictably fun, funny psychedelic art-rock band the Academy Blues Project at Shrine

12/14, 7:30 PM the Trump Beatles – who sing Beatles hits with hilarious new political lyrics – at Drom, $10 adv tix rec

12/14, 7:30 PM the Orchestra Now  play  Rimsky-Korsakov’s first symphony, and Reinhold Glière’s expansive Symphony No. 3 at Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall $25 tix avail

12/14, 7:30 brilliant, eclectic jazz oudist Dhafer Youssef at the Poisson Rouge, $30 adv tix req

12/14, 8 PM the Shantypeople sing twisted sea chanties; Mike Baggetta and Nick Millevoi duel it out on their guitars; the Endangered Heart Quartet with Jazz Passengers Roy Nathanson trombonist Curtis Fowlkes, join versatile bassist Tim Kiah and violinist Jesse Mills at the Owl

12/14, 8 PM playfully lyrical, fearlessly political superduo Kill Henry Sugar – guitar/banjo mastermind Erik Della Penna and drummer Dean Sharenow –followed at 10 by the intoxicatingly clattering, sintir bass lute fueled Moroccan trance grooves of Innov Gnawa at Barbes

 12/15, 1/4 PM puppeteer Lake Simons’s annual theatrical performance of Saint-Saens’ subtly creepy Carnival of the Animals at the Miller Theatre. No under-fours; kids get in for $9, adults for $15.

12/15, 2 PM jazz pianist Roberta Piket solo followed by cinematic bassist Mark Wade leading his lyrical piano trio at Flushing Town Hall, $5

12/15, 3 PM the Washington Heights Chamber Orchestra play Marin Alsop’s Gospel Messiah (the Handel epic with an African-American gospel spin) at the United Palace Theatre, 4140 Broadway in Washington Hts, $15 tix avail

12/15, 4 PM new klezmer music by pyrotechnic clarinetist and Dave Tarras protege Michael Winograd and trumpeter Ben Holmes followed at 8 by poignant, eclectic, lyrical jazz bassist/composer Pedro Giraudo leading his Tango Quartet at Barbes

12/15, 7:30 PM the acclaimed Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio play the first part of the Beethoven trio repertoire at Irving Auditorium, Irving Pl/17th St., $16

12/15, 7;30 PM edgy Middle Eastern-inspired alto saxophonist Uri Gurvich with Peter Slavov on bass and Francisco Mela on drums at Bar Next Door

12/15, 8 PM dark blues/folk noir/oldschool soul songwriter Kelley Swindall followed by similarly shadowy Britfolk songwriter Adam Masterson at Berlin, $10

 12/15, 8 PM an eclectic concert of works by adventurous composer/conductor Sarah Weaver with a fantastic series of lineups. “Sound in Peace (2016)” Joe McPhee, multiple instruments, Sarah Weaver, electronics. “Symmetry of Presence (2018)” David Taylor, bass trombone, electronics, Sarah Weaver, electronics. “Fountain of Synthesis (2018)” Jane Ira Bloom, soprano saxophone, Yoon Sun Choi, voice, Julie Ferrara, oboe, english horn, Joe McPhee, multiple instruments, Ned Rothenberg, woodwinds, Min Xiao-Fen, pipa, sanxian, ruan, Ray Anderson, trombone, David Taylor, bass trombone, Denman Maroney, piano, Mark Helias, bass, Gerald Cleaver, drumset, percussion, $25/$20 stud/srs at the DiMenna Center

12/15, 9 PM ageless CB’s era funk-punk/postrockers the Bush Tetras at the Kitchen, $20

12/16, 3 PM, repeating on 12/21 at 7 PM the Salvatones vocal ensemble, New York Virtuosi string quartet, and organist Stephen Fraser perform works by Bach, Vivaldi, Tavener, Fauré, Rachmaninoff, plus more traditional holiday fare at St. Malachy’s Church/The Actors’ Chapel, 239 W 49th St. free

12/16, 4 PM meticulous baroque vocal/chamber Ensemble Correspondances perform Charpentier’s Christmas Pastorale at Corpus Christi Church, 529 W 121St St, $10 tix avail

12/16, meet at the Washington Square arch at 5:45, march to Tompkins Square Park at 6 PM, this year’s Unsilent Night electronic music procession is a NYC institution and one of the funnest, trippiest things you can do this holiday season. Download one of the twinkling piece’s four tracks for your phone, stream it or borrow one of composer Phil Kline‘s original cassettes for your boombox. Fun for the whole family!

12/16, 6 PM guitarist Borche Naumoski and string quartet play baroque guitar concertos by Mauro Guiliani and Ferdinando Carulli at Gallery MC

12/16, 6 PM the Human Rites Trio with violinist Jason Kao Hwang, basssist Ken Filiano and drummer Andrew Drury jam it out at Downtown Music Gallery

12/16, 7:30 PM intense, fearlessly relevant Middle Eastern clarinetist Kinan Azmeh’s Syrian jazz City Band at Drom, $15 adv tix rec

12/16, 9 PM twangy Nashville gothic band Karen & the Sorrows  at C’Mon Everybody, $10

12/17, 8 PM Violist Jeongeun Park plays music by Fauré, Reinecke, Shostakovich, and Prokofiev with pianist Eric Zuber at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, $20

 12/17, 9:30 PM ex-Chicha Libre keyboard sorcerer Josh Camp’s wryly psychedelic cumbia/tropicalia/dub band Locobeach at Barbes

12/18, 7 PM slinky Ladino/Middle Eastern grooves with Alhambra followed by clever, fiery, eclectic ten-piece Balkan/hip-hop/funk brass maniacs Slavic Soul Party at Barbes

12/18, 7:30 PM violinist Elmira Darvarova, clarinetist Amy Zoloto, and hornist Howard Wall join pianist Thomas Weaver playing works by Villa-Lobos, Gershwin, Piazzolla and others at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, free, tix avail now at the box ofc

12/18, 8 PM the SoHarmoniums Women’s Choir presents “She Hath Wings,” songs of hope and perseverance, including new music by Abbie Betinis and Sarah Quartel as well as Vaughan Williams’ Magnificat” at Merkin Concert Hall, $25

12/18, 8 PM Adam Caine plays solo on guitar followed by accordion genius Shoko Nagai’s Fidoquartet with trumpeter Ron Horton and singer Maryanne de Prophetis at Scholes St. Studio, $15 sug don

12/18, 8:30 PM trumpeter Steven Bernstein’s legendary noir jazz outfit Sexmob in a rare Bed-Stuy appearance at Bar Lunatico

12/18, 9 PM jangly Dylanesque acoustic dude Hiss Golden Messenger at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, $20 adv tix rec

 12/18, 9 PM sharply lyrical janglerock/Americana/soul songwriter Matt Keating and guitarist Steve Mayone’s catchy new project the Bastards of Fine Arts at 11th St. Bar

12/18, 9:30 PM eclectic, globally-inspired violinist Dina Maccabee at Pete’s

12/18, 10 PM brilliant drummer/percussionist Willie Martinez & La Familia Sextet play classic salsa grooves at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe

12/19, 7 PM pianist Sunhwa Park plays works by Fanny Mendelssohn, Amy Beach and Brahms at Symphony Space, $30 adv tix req

12/19, 8 PM accordion genius Shoko Nagai ’s haunting Tokala Silk Road/klezmer mashup project at Barbes

12/19, 9 PM oldschool-style high plains C&W singer Hope Debates & North 40 at Bar Chord. 12/26, same time she’s at Skinny Dennis.

12/20, 7:30 PM Romany jazz/psychedelic rock guitar mastermind Stephane Wrembel duels it out with with fellow six-string hotshot Thor Jensen at Symphony Space, $30/$20 thirty and under

 12/20, 7:30 PM psychedelic cumbia singer/personality Miss Yaya at the Lincoln Center Atrium, free, early arrival advised

12/20. 8:30 PM rising star santoor player Vinay Desai with tabla player Ehren Hanson at the Jalopy, $15

12/21, 2 PM brilliant baritone saxophonist Lauren Sevian‘s LSQ at Flushing Town Hall, $5

12/21, 8 PM rustic Brazilian jungle guitar-and-accordion sounds with Regional de NY followed at 10 by accordionist/sitarist Kamala Sankaram’s hot surfy Bollywood/cumbia/psychedelic rock project Bombay Rickey – a launching pad for her spellbinding four-octave voice – at Barbes

12/21, 9 PM twisted twin-trombone dub reggae instrumentalists Super Hi-Fi play their sick dub xmas jams at Bar Chord

12/21, 11 PM the darkly eclectic, enigmatic Lorraine Leckie  – equally adept at Slavic and Americana noir and dark cabaret – at Sidewalk

12/22, 4 PM soaring, eclectic, picturesque Americana/ psychedelia/new wave songwriter Lianne Smith at Pete’s

12/22, 7:30 PM  a wild klezmer dance twinbill: pickup band the YNY All-Stars – with violinist Deborah Strauss and trombonist Daniel Blacksberg plus the Klez Dispensers (who are anything but sweet and crunchy) at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, 414 14th St (just east of 1st Ave), $20

12/22, 8 PM trombonist Vera Kemper’s Blu Cha Cha band followed by garifuna bandleader Andy Ordonez and his combo at Barbes  

12/22, 8:30 PM fiery gutbucket organ music with the Juke Joint Jelis with Brianna Thomas on vocals and Greg Lewis on B3 at Bar Lunatico

12/23, 2:45 PM fiercely populist Boston Yiddish choir A Besere Velt  celebrate fighting the power,  and also the 75th Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, at the Town and Village Synagogue, 334 E 14th St, $20

12/23, 7/9:30 PM short sets by edgy leading lights of Yiddish song past and present: the Klezmatics’ Lorin Sklamberg, Michael Alpert, Eléonore Biezunski, Nicole Borger, Joanne Borts, Sarah Gordon, Itzik Gottesman, Daniel Kahn, Jeanette Lewicki, Sasha Lurje, Ethel Raim, Mark Slobin, Pete Rushefsky, Jake Shulman-Ment and Josh Waletzky at the Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th St, $15/$10 stud/sr

12/24, 8 PM Yiddish salsa mashups with percussionist Roberto Juan Rodriguez, pianists Marilyn Lerner and Anthony Coleman, Danny Sadownick, the Klezmatics’ Richie Barshay, and the reputedly amazing OY-NY Yiddish Divas – Joanne Borts, Nicole Borger, Daniella Rabbani and Alexandra Czarny – at Drom, $15 adv tix rec

12/25, 8 PM a live recreation of two klezmer albums from the 50s. Pyrotechnic clarinetist and Dave Tarras protege Michael Winograd leads an all-star band performing Tarras’ legendary Tanz! album from 1955 – a cult classic and high point in mid-century minor key jamming. Then trumpeter Frank London of the Klezmatics and percussionist Deep Singh tackle Irving Fields’s schlocky 1959 LP Bagels & Bongos lp at the Town and Village Synagogue, 334 14th St, $20,

 12/25-30, 8:30/10 PM high-voltage tenor saxophonist Chris Potter leads his quartet at the Vanguard, $30

12/26, 7:30 PM a global klezmer lineup: Moldovan singer/composer Yefim “Fima” Chorny and pianist Suzanna Ghergus, Adrienne Cooper’s daughter Sarah Gordon, the perennially transgressive Daniel Kahn, pianist Marilyn Lerner, otherworldly crooner Ilya Shneyveys, nimble tsimblist Pete Rushefsky and other special guests at Bohemian National Hall, 321 E 73rd St. (between 1st and 2nd Ave), $25

12/26, 8 PM an all-Japanese series of ensembles play music from across the centuries: koto group Violyre. cello champions Cellissimo, plus the Jets a.k.a. Chia-Dan joining forces with the US National Cheerleading Champions at Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Halll, free tix avail now

12/26, 8 PM percussive, trance-inducing, bitingly tuneful, Middle Eastern-tinged female-fronted jamband SisterMonk at the small room at the Rockwoo

12/27, 9 PM scorching, purposeful, female-fronted heavy psych band Ruby the Hatchet and the slower, doomier Dead Meadow at the Knitting Factory, $25 adv tix rec

12/28, 7 PMNew York’s most charismatic, darkly compelling lyrical songwriter/storyteller/keyboard genius Rachelle Garniez plays her third annual farewell party at Pangea, $25

12/28-29, 8 PM a rare reunion of Thalia Zedek’s legendary, scorching 90s twin-guitar band Come at Union Pool, $20

12/28, 8:30 PM Antibalas spinoff Armo play Afrobeat at Bar Lunatico

12/29, 8 PM chanteuse/uke player Dahlia Dumont’s Blue Dahlia playing edgy, smartly lyrically-fueled, jazz-infused tunes in English and French with classic chanson and Caribbean influences at Barbes

12/29. 8:30 PM state-of-the-art postbop guitarist Will Bernard and group at Bar Lunatico

12/30, 7 PM sizzling steel guitarist – and Thelonious Monk reinventor – Mike Neer with his band at Barbes

The loudest New Year’s Eve concert of the year starts at 11 at St. Bartholomew’s Church with William Trafka at the organ, free

 New Year’s Eve, 10:30 PM Rev. Vince Anderson and his band play Union Pool in Williamsburg -charismatic, fearlessly political Brooklyn legend playing slinky organ funk jams with a great horn band behind him, free

New Year’s Eve, 11 PM ish the US Bombs – who have some of the coolest album titles of any punk band from any era – at the Kingsland, $25

New Year’s Eve, 11 PM awesomely slinky, psychedelic Israeli Ethiopiques groove instrumentalists Anbessa Orchestra  at Barbes, $20 no tv, no champagne toast

1/4, 8 PM Niger’s Tuareg psychedelic guitar sensation Mdou Moctar at Baby’s All Right, $15

1/24, 8:30 PM ambient guitar ensemble Fyrn – whose guitars are “bowed with metal files and metal bars, creating dense and hauntingly beautiful, decaying sonic ambient landscapes that engulf the audience as the ensemble sets up in a large circle around them,”  at Arete Gallery, $15

A Lushly Kinetic Album and a Chelsea Show by Inventive String Quintet Sybarite5

String quintet Sybarite5’s imaginative instrumental reinventions of Radiohead songs earned them worldwide acclaim, but their Thom Yorke fixation is only part of the picture. On their latest album, Outliers – streaming at Bandcamp – they bring their signature lush, kinetic sound to a collection of relatively brief, energetically balletesque pieces by some of their favorite indie classical composers. The result is part contemporary dance soundtrack, part 21st century chamber music: the connecting thread is tunefulness. They’re bringing that blend to a show at the Cell Theatre on Dec 7 at 8 PM; cover is $27.

The album opens with the catchy, punchily circling Getting Home (I must be…), by Jessica Meyer, the violins of Sami Merdinian and Sarah Whitney bustling tightly alongside Angela Pickett’s viola, Laura Metcalf’s cello and Louis Levitt’s bass.

Yann’s Flight, by Shawn Conley vividly echoes Philip Glass’ work for string quartet, right down to the dancing pizzicato from the bass and the cello’s stern counterpoint. As the group build the piece, hints of an Irish reel contrast with stillness, then more triumphantly rhythmic images of flight.

Eric Byers’ Pop Rocks is a playful, coyly bouncing staccato web of cell-like, Glassine phrasing. Dan Visconti’s triptych Hitchhiker’s Tales begins with the alternating slow swoops and momentary flickers of Black Bend, slowly morphing into a majestic blues with some snazzy, slithery, shivery work from the violins. The considerably shorter Dixie Twang gives the group a launching pad for icepick pizzicato phrasing, followed by another miniature, Pedal to the Metal, where they scamper together to the finish line.

They dig into the punchy, polyrhythmic scattato of Revolve, by Andy Akiho, with considerable relish; Levitt’s understated, modal bassline anchors the lithe theme, the violins eventually rising to a whirlwind of blues riffage. Mohammed Fairouz’s Muqqadamah, which follows, is the most pensive, airy, baroque-flavored track here.

The rest of the album is inspired by dance styles from around the world and across the centuries. The band expand deviously from a stark, wickedly catchy 19th century minor-key blues theme in Kenji Bunch’s Allemande pour Tout le Monde. Daniel Bernard Roumain’s Kompa for Toussaint also builds out of a minor-key oldtime blues riff to some neat, microtonal hints of a famous Nordic theme, then an enigmatic mist. Sarabande, another Byers piece, slowly emerges from and then returns to a wistful spaciousness.

The album’s most shapeshiftingly catchy track, Michi Wiancko’s Blue Bourée blends blues, the baroque and a little funk. The final number is Gi-gue-ly, by cinematic violist/composer Ljova, a delicious, Balkan-inflected, trickily syncopated tune that grows to pulsing misterioso groove. It’s a party in a box, probably the last thing a lot of people would expect from a contemporary classical string ensemble.