New York Music Daily

Love's the Only Engine of Survival

Tag: music

A Darkly Psychedelic, Brilliantly Epic New Album From the Frank Flight Band

It takes a lot of nerve, or just plain honesty, to call your new album’s opening number The Odyssey. In eighteen minutes, the Frank Flight Band validate that, as they veer from snarling Stonesy rock, to heavy soul, swaying country clang, an electrified raga and a searing guitar boogie on the way out. This music isn’t for people with short attention spans, but their new record, Impossibly Obscure – streaming at youtube – could be the high point of an already brilliant if underrated career. And that includes the apocalyptic, visionary Remains album as well as the more Doors/Santana-influenced Outrunning the Sun.

On one hand, you could make the case that the Frank Flight Band are the British Blue Oyster Cult. But the Southport-based group are a lot more diverse, and lyrically sharp. Guitarist Frank Flight is neither the lead instrumentalist nor the singer in this project, but instead surrounds himself with a shifting cast of musicians who bring many different shades of brilliance to his darkly psychedelic, frequently epic songs.

The group’s latest addition, keyboardist and lead singer Michael Woody Woodward contributes that first magnum opus. We hear the ocean lapping the shore as the first anxious, spare twin-guitar theme flickers into focus in this metaphorically bristling, desperate account of disaster and a herculean effort to reclaim lost time. Lead guitarist Alex Kenny fires off one slashing, succinct, Gilmouresque lead after another over Danny Taylor’s spare, melodic bass and Dave Veres’s understatedly colorful drumwork.

Taylor’s strutting bass pushes the second track, Well Connected, a snarling broadside aimed at a corrupt, sinister Boris Johnson type, Woodward’s organ and synthesized orchestration over the snappy forward drive.

Flight flings out icily luscious layers of jangle and clang to open Dead on Arrival, a practically thirteen-minute opus that evokes the Doors as much as his band’s own magnificently ominous Dark Waters, from the Remains record. The contrast between Kenny’s purist, piercingly bluesy leads and Woodward’s symphonic sweep, a persistent trope throughout the album, comes into sharp focus here.

The band switch between a relentlessly creepy, crawling chromatic theme and Lynchian Orbison noir sweep in Not If But When, an allusively imagistic portrait of a world at the edge of collapse. This could be the theme song for 2022.

They make a big, emphatic psychedelic anthem out of a vintage 60s soul tune in Medicine Man, a cautionary tale about pharmaceuticals (the kind people do for fun) with a spiraling Woodward piano solo. Flight adds layers acoustic guitar and mandolin to the sepulchrally ringing mix in Tango for Lost Souls, a gorgeously swaying coastal tableau: “Haunted eyes turn like daggers when the music starts to play.”

The band take a surprising turn into brisk folk noir to introduce the final cut, Man in Red, then rise to an angst-fueled 6/8 sway on the wings of Kenny’s incisive volleys of blues. We’re about halfway through the year and there hasn’t been a rock record released this year that can touch this. Fans of the visionary dark psychedelic classics: Floyd, the Doors, peak-era Nektar, and the first four BOC records will love this album.

Remnants of a Well-Loved Western Swing Group Onstage Outdoors This Month

From 2012 through March of 2020, the Brain Cloud played a rambunctious take on western swing that was just as outside-the-box as what Bob Wills did when he mashed up swing jazz with 1930s hillbilly music and blues. The group got their start as subway buskers and took the name the Cangelosi Cards when they launched their first residency at the old Banjo Jim’s in the East Village back in the late zeros. They rebranded themselves as the Brain Cloud – after a Wills lyric – when they took over another Monday night residency at a popular Park Slope venue which at the time was open to all New Yorkers. While their band members would disperse to other jazz and Americana-adjacent groups during the week, from Red Hook to Williamsburg, they built a devoted following at the 9th Street residency.

Like so many other New York bands, they didn’t survive the 2020 lockdown, although several of their members have emerged with their own projects in recent months. Co-founder Dennis Lichtman, who played clarinet, violin and mandolin, is leading his latest group tomorrow evening, July 7 at 6 PM under the Dumbo archway. Take the F to York Street, go downhill a couple of blocks, hang a left to the bridge underpass and follow the sound. And the group’s deviously charming, tapdancing frontwoman Tamar Korn is leading her band at a free outdoor lunchtime show at noon on July 27 at the pedestrian mall at Willoughby and Pearl in downtown Brooklyn.

The Brain Cloud put out three albums: the last one was a charming and often sizzling 2017 Park Slope live set, and it’s still up at Bandcamp. If you were there, it will bring back a lot of memories. They open with a frenetically fun western swing version of the Carter Family’s Jealous Hearted Me and wind up with a similarly rambunctious take of Patsy Cline’s Love, Love, Love Me Honey Do.

In between, Lichtman’s clarinet trades off with Korn’s playful and sometimes irresistibly droll vocalese. Guitarist Skip Krevens channels a cosmopolitan Nashville pre-rockabilly vibe, circa 1953, while lapsteel player Raphael McGregor sails and plays thorny jazz clusters, and impersonates a trombone when Korn isn’t doing that.

Andrew Hall’s punchy bass looms large in their hi-de-ho version of Comes Love, the klezmer-swing hit which Korn would always hit out of the park. The little shivery echo that she throws to Lichtman is priceless, as is Korn’s solo later on – is she a clarinet or a theremin, or both? McGregor’s theremin-like steel solo keeps the entertainment going all the way through to drummer Kevin Dorn’s final emphatic thud.

Lichtman also plays seamless fiddle and takes a rare turn on electric mandolin for uncharacteristically chilling, incisive ambience in a couple of tunes. There’s a couple of instrumentals, a subdued swing version of Jimmie Rodgers’ Any Old Time and a couple of moments where you might wish this was a video since it’s impossible to tell whether that’s the clarinet or the steel, or Korn making fun of them.. What a great time this band had, and they brought the audience along with them.

The last time anyone from this blog was in the house at a Brain Cloud gig, it was July of 2019 and they were jousting and messing with each other pretty much like they do on this record, with Korn deserting the stage for the outer bar while McGregor and Krevens took extended solos. If there’s a band you really like playing somewhere in this city this summer, you might want to catch them now because you may never get another chance.

A Lushly Ambitious New Album and a Return to a Favorite LES Haunt From Becca Stevens

Becca Stevens has made a career out of defying all attempts to fit her songwriting into any particular category. It’s probably overly reductionistic to call her an artsy rock tunesmith who has engaged various configurations of jazz musicians – and most lately, Balkan and classical ensembles – to play her acerbically complex material. Her latest album may be her most ambitious yet, a collaboration with her husband, violist Nathan Schram’s group the Attacca Quartet, streaming at Soundcloud.

The music itself is closer to Elvis Costello’s Juliet Letters album, or Tift Merritt’s work with Simone Dinnerstein, than, say, Rasputina or My Brightest Diamond.

The tracks are a mix of material from throughout Stevens’ career. The original of the opening number, Be Still was a more energetic take on what a certain songwriter who quit Spotify in a huff over something Joe Rogan did was doing back in the 70s. This version is more lush, as you would expect, but also more hypnotic, although Stevens’ vocals are impassioned bordering on breathless.

The quartet – which also includes violinists Amy Schroeder and Domenic Salerni and cellist Andrew Yee – dig in with a similarly rhythmic attack in the second track, Reminder, an anxious entreaty to try to smile, more or less.

There’s a welcome storminess in Canyon Dust, downplaying the spiky circularity of Stevens’ earlier version. A new number, For You the Night Is Still coalesces into an energetic lullaby out of Stevens’ signature, tricky syncopation. She and the ensemble elevate No More – from her 2011 Weightless album – from a catchy, swaying ukulele pop tune to a striking, dynamically shifting, metaphorically loaded seaside tableau.

Venus is even punchier and more anthemic than the original, tightly tethered by a stern undercurrent from Schram and Yee. Schram’s new chart gives welcome, pulsing gravitas to I Am No Artist, the closest thing to a straight-up pop song here.

She and the quartet play Radiohead’s 2 + 2 = 5 with a crescendoing, flamenco-esque, rhythmic drive, Stevens rising to a practically feral intensity on the mic. It blows the original away – and that was a good song. 45 Bucks, one of Stevens’ big rockers, gets a slightly stripped-down, starkly pulsing attack: it makes a good segue.

She sticks with the world of numbers, in a brooding, alternately stark and sweeping version of 105, from her 2015 Perfect Animal album. The quartet have fun with a plucky take of Little Dragon’s Klapp Klapp, raising it far above the level of the original’s second-rate Goldfrapp goofiness.

There’s an icy glisten to the acoustic guitar mingling within the steady gusts from the quartet in We Knew Love: it’s one of the most evocative numbers here. Stevens’ signature anthem Tillery has a determined sway with a lull before the end. She and the quartet close the record with the balletsque bounce of Traveler’s Blessings.

Her album with brilliant Balkan group the Secret Trio made the best albums of 2021 page here and this one ought to do the same when the best of 2022 page is up here in December – if there is an internet in December, anyway. Stevens’ next gig is with the Secret Trio on July 7 at 7 PM at the big room at the Rockwood. Cover is $20.

Some Fireworks But No Marching Bands on Today’s Fourth of July Playlist

Today Americans celebrate a nation born in a spirit of defiance and freedom. Wherever we are in the world, the time has come to reclaim our sovereignty. As this blog’s favorite intuitive, Adrienne Elise says at her youtube channel today, “It’s time to stop living everybody else’s lie.”

So here’s a playlist to give us a jumpstart: about half an hour of good tunes and a few snarky visuals, since we don’t want to lose our ability to laugh at the New Abnormal, right? If you know this blog, you know the drill: click on artist names for their webpages, click on titles for video or audio.

The most telling clip of this entire playlist is ten seconds of a baby girl responding to a muzzled adult. Sometimes a video really is worth a thousand words. Thanks to Substack author Mathew Aldred for passing this along.

On the sweet vengeful visual tip, Alex Schaefer paints the LA Federal Reserve in flames, with a gallows in the foreground. Thanks to the mysterious polymath New Yorker who calls himself the 2nd Smartest Man in the World – whose Substack is a must-read – for spotting this.

First song on this list is Pretending, Van Morrison’s gorgeous, bittersweet portrait of lockdown-era atomization. “Pretending I’m not depressed…pretending that it’s not real…pretending I’m someone else, pretending that I’m in the present tense, I’m really miles away in a trance.”

This rare solo acoustic clip of New York noir legend LJ Murphy playing his big mid-zeros audience hit Sleeping Mind makes a great segue.

Milwaukee legend Peggy James delivers a somber parable of both Kristallnacht and the Putin invasion of Ukraine in her dark Americana ballad Isn’t Anybody Coming. One of the most gorgeous songs of the year so far.

There were a million Siouxsie wannabes kicking around in the 80s. Ava Vox‘s Silent Tear is better than most of them were. Is this about a lockdown suicide? A satanic ritual? Both?

Lydia Ainsworth‘s hypnotically drifting orchestral rock miniature Cosmic Dust makes a good setup for Maria BC’s Carol Lipnik-lite Betelgeuse. Then we crash back down to earth with Love’s Sudden Death, by Darkher.

Thereminist Nebula and the Velvet Queen‘s Can U Teach A Robot How 2 Love? is pretty self-explanatory: “Will it cry or will it pretend to cry?”

Let’s bring this full circle with a cruelly amusing meme: here’s Jake Shields’ idea of a hot new toy, the Pfizer Doll. An unbeatable Halloween present! Thanks to El Gato Malo for passing this along.

Trumpeter Nate Wooley Tackles the Deceptively Simple Challenges of a Michael Pisaro-Liu Solo Piece

It’s rare that an album of music for a solo wind instrument is of much interest to anyone beyond those who play it. There are notable exceptions. Wadada Leo Smith has put out several breathtakingly beautiful solo trumpet albums. Peter Evans’ solo trumpet work is more spectacularly breathtaking (and electronically enhanced). And Natsuki Tamura’s solo trumpet albums are a lot of fun for those who appreciate his renegade extended technique and irrepressible sense of humor.

Nate Wooley is probably not the first trumpeter you’d think of doing a solo record, especially considering his dense and bracing recent output with his Columbia Icefield project. But he has a solo album (for trumpet and sinewave), a recording of Michael Pisaro-Liu’s longform, minimalist composition Stem-Flower-Root. It hasn’t hit the web yet, although there’s a live version from 2017 up at Soundcloud. The calm and unhurried development of the work might be reflected in Wooley’s upcoming gig on July 5 at 6:30 PM at Downtown Music Gallery, where he’s playing with Cuban saxophonist Hery Paz and drummer Tom Rainey. Jazz bassist Henry Fraser and Americana violinist Cleek Schrey make an intriguing duo afterward at 7:30; it’s a pass-the-bucket situation.

Pisaro-Liu’s work requires Wooley to sustain a series of simple tones using subtly different timbral approaches, and a changing series of mutes. If a reveille or fanfare could exist on Pluto, this triptych would be both. But it’s not all warmly immersive reflection: there are a few moments where the harmonies edge into unexpectedly acerbic territory, and there’s a joke about two thirds of the way in which, intentional or not, is too good to spoil.

The album also comes with a chapbook designed by Jessica Slaven, where in similarly uncluttered prose, Pisaro-Liu raises many provocative philosophical questions. Some are eternal, some more specific to the piece. To what extent does the architecture of musical composition mirror the symmetry of nature? Can a composition, or for that matter, a whole genre, have a genuine personality? What improbable practical lessons can be gleaned from music as rigorously structured and focused, yet as comfortably atmospheric as this?

The composer and performer also share an interesting dialogue concerning both the nuts and bolts of playing it, along with some of the philosophical ramifications.

A Haunting, Picturesque Portrait of an Iconic Black Sea Port by Ukrainian Pianist Vadim Neselovskyi

Over the past ten years, Ukrainian pianist Vadim Neselovskyi has built a career out of writing brooding, evocative songs without words that draw equally on jazz, the High Romantic classical tradition and 21st century composition. He takes the inspiration for his new solo album Odesa: A Musical Walk Through a Legendary City – streaming at Bandcamp – from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. It’s a colorful, picturesque, and aptly stormy portrait of the pianist’s home turf.

He opens his salute to the city’s railway station with a turbulent, stygian lefthand, rising to a bouncing but emphatic drive with hints of Tschaikovsky and a bustling minor-key folk dance. As the train moves out of the city, the ride calms and the tormented mood lifts on the wings of Neselovskyi’s righthand accents. Ultimately, the message is hopeful: you can’t keep this train off the rails for long.

Winter in Odesa is a steady, icy stroll, Neselovskyi’s glistening melody rising and falling canonically. Potemkin Stairs, inspired by the famous city landmark, has a thorny, intricate, frequently crosshanded melody, its rippling variations echoing late 70s art-rock as well as Herbie Hancock’s Rockit. Neselovskyi fires off lightning upper-register clusters over a strutting lefthand in Acacia Trees, drawing on a famous movie theme by Odessan composer Isaac Dunaevsky.

There’s similarly rapidfire articulacy but also lingering disquiet in Waltz of Odesa Conservatory, a shout-out to Neselovskyi’s teenage alma mater. October 1941 is an outright chilling tableau that commemorates the massacre of Jews there at the hands of the Nazis: machine gun fire. civilians falling left and right and after a pregnant pause, a stunned wisp of what could be a playground song. It’s one of the most harrowing pieces of music released in recent months.

He lifts the mood with Jewish Dance, a diptych with a bright, allusively chromatic intro that grows more glittery, percussive and North African-flavored. It brings to mind the work of Lebanese composer Tarek Yamani.

My First Rock Concert is Neselovskyi’s playfully contrapuntal, incisively kinetic tribute to defiant Russian rock songwriter Victor Tsoy and his new wave hit Blood Type (and also Jimi Hendrix, maybe).

As he winds up the album, Neselovskyi references Mussorgsky with a couple of brief, grimly bounding interludes, the second to introduce the final cut, The Renaissance of Odesa, a pensive, muted pavane that offers (very, very) guarded hope for the future once the twin nightmare of the Putin invasion and the Zelensky dystopia is over.

Neselovskyi starts a European tour at the end of the month. Those interested in how he plays similarly moody but more postbop-influenced material can catch him as part of drummer Christian Finger‘s trio tomorrow, July 3 at the Blue Note with sets at half past noon and 2:30 PM; cover is $15.

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

All these concerts are free of restrictions. Lots of listings being added, almost daily, like the good old days before March 2020!

Weekly events first followed by the daily calendar.

Sundays at around 1 PM trumpeter Jon Kellso and (frequently) guitarist Matt Munisteri lead the Ear-Regulars in NYC’s only remaining hot jazz jam session at the Ear Inn

7/13, 7/20 and 7/27, 7 PM the Attacca Quartet play music by 21sst century composers at Madison Square Park

7/1, 7 PM sizzling, politically fearless latin jazz pianist/composer Arturo O’Farrill’s Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra at Bryant Park

7/1, 7:30 PM purist postbop jazz guitarist Ed Cherry leads a two-guitar quartet with fellow axeman Mike Moreno at the Django, $25

7/1-2, 7:30/9 PM saxophonist John Ellis – as adept at postbop jazz as he is with haunting, theatrical noir art-song – leads a quartet at Smalls, $25. 7/2  feral tenor saxophonist Eric Wyatt and band follow at 10:30 and returns on 7/9, same time

7/2, 4 PM oldschool-style high plains C&W singer Hope Debates & North 40 at Skinny Dennis

7/2, 7:30 PM  tuneful oldschool soul/jazz trombonist Dave Gibson at the Django, $25

7/2, 8 PM the monthly surf rock show has resumed with the eclectic Weisstronauts, surfed-out tv themes from Commercial Interruption sand the majestic, darkly cinematic TarantinosNYC. at Otto’s

7/3, half past noon/2:30 PM drummer Christian Finger leads his moody European jazz trio with the haunting Vadim Neselovskyi on piano at the Blue Note, $15

7/3, 3 PM ish the ageless godfather of boogaloo, Joe Bataan in the courtyard at Union Pool, free

7/3, 5:30 PM art-rock chanteuse Andromeda Anarchia followed by Queens of the Stone Age soundalikes the Velvicks – at Culture Lab in Long Island City

7/3, 7:30/9 PM baritone saxophonist Frank Basile leads a two-baritone quintet with Gary Smulyan at Smalls, $25

7/3, 9 PM first-class bluegrass bandleader/bassist Allison Kelly at Skinny Dennis

7/4, 9 PM one of the alltime most thrilling guitarists in Americana, Rosie Flores at Skinny Dennis. Note that there is a $5 cover

7/4, 10:30 PM  expansive, expressive jazz pianist Miki Yamanaka at Smalls, $25. She’s back on 7/11

7/5, 6:30 PM Cuban saxophonist Hery Paz improvises with trumpeter Nate Wooley and drummer Tom Rainey followed at 7:30 by bassist Henry Fraser and violinist Cleek Schrey at Downtown Music Gallery

7/5, 10:30 PM  fiery electric Cuban hill country music with Los Hacheros at the Django, $25

7/7, 6 PM Brain Cloud western swing mastermind and multi-instrumentalist Dennis Lichtman and band under the Dumbo archway, F to York St

7/7, 7 PM pensive, eclectic, tuneful jazz/art-rock songwriter Becca Stevens with intense, rapturous Balkan/Middle Eastern ensemble the Secret Trio at the big room at the Rockwood, $20. It’s a good night there. She’s followed at 8:30 by steamboat soul crooner/pianist Nat Osborn. Downstairs irrepressibly sardonic janglerock/folk-punk songwriter, New Yorker illustrator and White Hassle alum Marcellus Hall plays at 7 for $10

7/7, 7:30/9 PM trombonist Alan Ferber leads his immersively innovative, sometimes symphonic nonet at Smalls, $25

7/8, 7 PM  brilliant, fearlessly political B3 organist Greg Lewis in the park on the Hudson at 125th St.

7/8, 7:30 PM the NYChillharmonic – who play lushly intricate art-rock with big band jazz orchestration – at Culture Lab in Long Island City

7/8, 7:30 PM catchy oldschool roots reggae with a fearlessly populist Senegalese feel from Meta & the Cornerstones at the Poisson Rouge, $20 adv tix rec

7/8, 10:30 PM an absurdly cheap triplebill of latin artists from Canada and Chile: Mexican folk guitarist Quique Escamilla, psychedelic latin rockers Battle of Santiago – the missing link between Willie Colon and Pink Floyd – and cumbia songwriter Ramon Chiccarron at Drom, $10

7/10, 5 PM Red Baraat trumpeter Sonny Singh plays funky bhangra psychedelia at Culture Lab in Long Island City

7/10, 7 PM jaunty female-fronted original retro rocksteady band the Big Takeover at Pier 1 at 70th St. and the Hudson

7/8, 7 PM every kind of swing jazz you could imagine with the Baylor Project at Bryant Park

7/10, 7 PM oldschool salsa triplebill: Lower East Salsa, Domingo Quinones and Puerto Rican Power at the Coney Island Amphitheatre. free

7/11-14, half past noon eclectic, often haunting Armenian jazz pianist Armen Donelian at Bryant Park

7/12, 6:30 PM tuneful, state-of-the-art postbop jazz guitarist Will Bernard in a rare solo show at Downtown Music Gallery

7/12. 7 PM blazing all-female street band the Brass Queens at Gantry State Park in Long Island City. They’re at Radegast Hall on 7/30 at 1 PM

7/12, 7:30 PM  A Far Cry  play an innovative program of string arrangements of Bartok miniatures plus works by Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, Dvorak, Beethoven and Karl Doty at the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park

7/12, 7:30 PM  kinetic Cuban jazz pianist Elio Villafranca at the Django, $25

7/12, 7:30/9 PM charismatic, adventurous postbop/avant garde trombonist/crooner Frank Lacy leads a quartet at Smalls, $25 cash at the door.

7/12-17, 8/10:30 PM constantly shapeshifting hip-hop icon Talib Kweli & the Whiskey Boys at the Blue Note, $30 standing room avail

7/12. 9 PM noir Americana siren Eilen Jewell sings Loretta Lynn at Skinny Dennis, there is a cover charge $tba

7/13, noon  trumpeter Wayne Tucker – who veers between sunny postbop jazz, Afrobeat and goofy vocal shtick – at the pedestrian plaza at Willoughby and Pearl in downtown Brooklyn

7/13, 7:30 PM purist postbop tenor saxophonist Stacy Dillard with his band at the Django, $25, He’s also at Smalls on 7/16 and 7/23 at 10:30

7/14, noon thunderous all-female Colombian coastal trance-dance ensemble La Manga at the pedestrian plaza at Willoughby and Pearl in downtown Brooklyn

7/14, 7:30 PM imaginative indie classical choir Roomful of Teeth followed by a live interview with avant garde legends the Kronos Quartet at Prospect Park Bandshell

7/15, 7 PM the oldtimey band that started the whole revival back in the 90s, the Squirrel Nut Zippers at Bryant Park

7/15 7 PM psychedelic Afrobeat jammers the Brighton Beat at Culture Lab in Long Island City

7/15, 7 PM powerful, lyrical classical piainist Mimoza Keka plays works by contemporary Macedonian composers Tomislav Zografski and Dimitrije Buzarovski .at Gallery MC

7/15, 7:30 PM lyrical pianist Rich Germanson leads a quartet at the Django, $25. Followd at 10:30 by New Orleans reedman Craig Handy & Second Line Smith

7/16, 5 PM slinky new wave bassist/bandleader Yula Beeri at Culture Lab in Long Island City

7/16, 7:30 PM innovative, captivating carnatic singer Emmanuelle Martin with violinist Siddharth Ashokkumar and mridangam player Bala Skandan at the Chhandayan Center For Indian Music, $25

7/16, 8:30 PM slinky soul-influenced psychedelic band Chicano Batman at Prospect Park Bandshell

7/17, 7 PM smoldering female-fronted Colombian psychedelic band Yotoco at Culture Lab in Long Island City

7/17, 7 PM  Danny Jonokuchi & The Revisionists play 1930s style swing jazz at Pier 1 at 70th St. and the Hudson

7/18-22, half past noon lyrical jazz pianist Deanna Witkowski plays solo at Bryant Park

7/19, 7 PM  mighty, sweeping ensemble Mariachi Real de Mexico at Gantry State Park in Long Island City

7/19, 7:30 PM lyrical, thoughtful tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander leads a quintet at Smalls, $25 cash at the door.

7/19, 8:30 PM wickedly jangly surf/twang/country instrumentalists the Bakersfield Breakers at 11th St Bar

7/20, noon saxophonist John Ellis – as adept at postbop jazz as he is with haunting, theatrical noir art-song – at the pedestrian plaza at Willoughby and Pearl in downtown Brooklyn

7/20, 7:30 PM the best singing pianist (and the best piano-playing singer) in jazz, Champian Fulton at the Django, $25

7/20, 8 PM wild Danish klezmer band Mames Babagenush at Drom $20 adv tix rec

7/20, 9ish organ groovemeister Cory Henry at Central Park Summerstage

7/21, half past noon sizzling, politically fearless latin jazz pianist/composer Arturo O’Farrill’ leads a sextet at St. Marks Park, 2nd Ave/10th St

7/21, 7 PM bass trombonist Jennifer Wharton’s Bonegasm at Culture Lab in Long Island City

7/21, 7:30 PM erudite tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffery leads his quartet at the Django, $25

7/21, 7 PM charming oldtimey swing band Fleur Seule at Astoria Park, Shore Boulevard between the Hell Gate Bridge and the pool

7/22, 7:30 PM colorful,  eclectic, paradigm-shifting B3 jazz organist Brian Charette plays the album release show for his new one at the Django, $25

7/22-23, 7:30/9 PM innovative alto saxophonist Caroline Davis leads a quartet with Matt Mitchell on piano at Smalls, $25

7/22, 110 PM the slinky, fiery Macedonian-flavorted Sedi Donka Balkan Band at St. Mazie’s

7/22, 11:30 PM  pyrotechnic clarinetist Ismail Lumanovski’s ferociously kinetic NY Gypsy All-Stars with haunting Middle Eastern trumpeter Ibraham Maalouf at Drom, $30 adv tix rec

7/23, 11 AM the all-female Egalitarian Brass play new classical works to wake the neighborhood up at Washington Square Park

7/23, 4ish bad segue, good twinbill: smart female-fronted gutter blues jamband Jane Lee Hooker followed at 5 by lyrical, thoughtful jazz pianist Eugenia Choe at Culture Lab in Long Island City

7/23, 7 PM cutting-edge big band salsa jazz with drummer Bobby Sanabria’s Big Band at Bryant Park

7/23, 7:30 PM santoor virtuoso Vinay Desai with tabla player Mir Naquibul Islam at the Chhandayan Center For Indian Music, $25

7/24, 3 PM ish 80s reggae star Sister Nancy in the courtyard at Union Pool, free

7/24, 7 PM saxophonist Joseph Herbst’s Ghost in the Mirror large ensemble jazz project with adventurous string ensemble Quartet Davis at Culture Lab in Long Island City

7/24, 7 PM brasy second-wave Ethio-jazz band Molly Tigre at 70th St. and the Hudson

7/24, 7 PM slinky piano-fueled soul band the Claudettes at the big room at the Rockwood $15

7/25-29, half past noon sly, cinematic, tuneful Microscopic Septet pianist Joel Forrester at Bryant Park

7/25, 7:30 PM purist, purposeful jazz guitarist Russell Malone with pianist Rick Germanson and bassist Luke Sellick at Mezzrow, $25

7/25, 8 PM busy surf rock cover group Band of Others at Cowgirl Seahorse

7/26. 7 PM Zikrayat play slinky, cinematic classics from the golden age of Arabic song at Gantry State Park in Long Island City

7/26, 7:30 PM edgy orchestra the Knights & Lara St. John, violin soloist play Mendelssohn’s Scottish Symphony plus works by Avner Dorman at the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park

7/26, 7 PM soul/gospel belter (and Lenny Molotov collaborator) Queen Esther, Americana banjo songwriter Hilary Hawke  and bassist Mali Obomsawin and her band at the basement room at the Rockwood, $15,

7/26, 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

7/27, noon irrepressible, ebullient Brain Cloud jazz chanteuse Tamar Korn at the pedestrian plaza at Willoughby and Pearl in downtown Brooklyn

7/27, 7 PM Los Cumpleanos – with Nestor Gomez – vox/percussion; Lautaro Burgos – drums; Eric Lane – keyboards; Alex Asher – trombone and others playing trippy, dubwise tropical psychedelia aat Pier 45 in Hudson River Park – take W 10th St to the river

7/27, 8 PM a Lee Konitz tribute with saxophonist Ohad Talmor, pianist Dan Tepfer, bassist Jeremy Stratton and drummer George Schuller at Seeds

7/28, half past noon the self=explanatory Gipsy Jazz Caravan at St. Marks Park, 2nd Ave/10th St

7/28, 6 PM Cuban tres player Junniel Jiminez and band under the Dumbo archway, F to York St.

7/28, 7 PM the Horne Electric Band play brassy funk at Culture Lab in Long Island City

7/29, 7 PM one of the most haunting songwriters in folk noir, Emily Jane White opens for minimalist/darkwave chanteuse Eivor at the Poisson Rouge, $30 adv tix rec

7/29, 7 PM cosmopolitan retro Euro-swing band the Hot Sardines with Nellie McKay on vocals at Bryant Park

7/29, 7 PM the Hudson Horns play brass music from the Balkans to New Orleans at Culture Lab in Long Island City

7/30, 4:30 PM Heart of Afghanistan, with Afghani TV star Ahmad Fanoos on vocals and harmonium, his sons Elham Fanoos on piano and Mehran Fanoos on violin, and Hamid Habibzada on tablā, followed eventually at around 9 by feral female-fronted psychedelic cumbia/tropicalia/dub allstars Combo Chimbita on the plaza at Lincoln Center

7/30, 7 PM Afro-Peruvian funk singer/bandleader Araceli Poma at Culture Lab in Long Island City

7/30.,7:30 PM electrifying vibraphonist Simon Moullier and band at the Django, $25 at the Django, $25

7/30, 5 PM pensive Turkish chanteuse Aynur, ferociously powerful, politically fearless southern gothic guitar/banjo player Amythyst Kiah  and  thunderous Ukrainian folk-punk stompers Dakhabrakha at Damrosch Park

7/30, 10:30 PM mighty Brazilian drumline street band BatalaNYC at Drom, $20 adv tix rec

7/31, 2 PM slinky, horn-driven retro bugalu band Spanglish Fly at the Harlem Meer Boathouse in Central Park south of 110th St.

8/2, noon feral tenor saxophonist Eric Wyatt and band at Columbus Park, Cadman Plaza East and Johnson St. in downtown Brooklyn

8/2, 7 PM clever, fiery, eclectic ten-piece Balkan/hip-hop/funk brass maniacs Slavic Soul Party  at Gantry State Park in Long Island City

8/2, 7:30 PM  lush, majestic string ensemble the East Coast Chamber Orchestra play works by Adolphus Hailstork, Maureen Nelson and Schubert’s String Quartet No. 14 in D minor, D 810, ‘Death and the Maiden’ at the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park

8/4, 7 PM darkly psychedelic Afrobeat groove group Budos Band at Corporal Thompson Park in Staten Island

8/5, 3 PM a bunch of Red Baraat-adjacent artists and then the hypnotically explosive live bhangra dance band itself at Central Park Summerstage

8/6, 6 PM psychedelic tropicalia band the Meridian Brothers and psychedelic cumbia/reggaeton bandleader Ana Tijoux at Corporal Thompson Park in Staten Island

8/7, 3 PM a Dominican triplebill with merengue tipica band Grupo d’AhoraEl Gran Alcover and merengue star El Rey Supremo Luis Vargas at Central Park Summerstage

8/11, 6 PM psychedelic funk/Afrobeat jammers the People’s Champs  under the Dumbo archway, F to York St.

8/11, 7 PM Video Music Box legend Ralph McDaniels hosts a mostly nostalgic hip-hop multiple-bill with Sweet Tee, Girl Codee, Black Sheep, Smif n Wessun, Special Ed at at the Coney Island Amphitheatre. free, get here early or else

8/12, 7 PM ferocious, female-fronted Afrobeat band Underground System at Pier 45 in Hudson River Park – take W 10th St to the river

8/13, 7 PM Video Music Box’s Ralph McDaniels hosts a 90s dancehall reggae bill with Wayne Wonder and others at Central Park Summerstage

8/16, noon  iconic latin percussionist Willie Martinez leads his classic salsa/mambo group at Columbus Park, Cadman Plaza East and Johnson St. in downtown Brooklyn

8/16 7 PM playful avant garde cancion singer Sofia Rei at Gantry State Park in Long Island City

8/19, 7 PM atmospheric jazz guitarist Rafiq Bhatia at Bryant Park

8/20, 7 ish the all-female Resistance Revival Chorus sing epic, inspiring original populist gospel tunes and political broadsides, and Burnt Sugar celebrating 20+ years of lush Braxton-ish largescale improvisation, hard funk, James Brown and Bowie covers at Marcus Garvey Park

8/26, 7 PM a “habibi festival” that transcends the style: North African dancer Esraa Warda & the Châab Lab, kanun virtuoso Firas Zreik, and haunting French-Tunisian saxophonist Yacine Boulares’ Ajoyo project at Bryant Park

8/26, 7 PM jaunty female-fronted original retro rocksteady band the Big Takeover at Pier 45 in Hudson River Park – take W 10th St to the river

8/27, 4 PM ish socially conscious jazz chanteuse Nikara’s Black Wall Street project, bassist Buster Willliams and his band and trumpeter Terence Blanchard with the Turtle Island Quartet at Marcus Garvey Park

8/28, 2 PM the Sun Ra Arkestra  make their yearly appearance at the free outdoor concert series at Union Pool

8/28, 3 PM purist jazz guitarist Pasquale Grasso, swing trumpeter/singer Bria Skonberg, intense tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana and Archie Shepp and Jason Moran with Cecile Mclorin Salvant at Tompkins Square Park

9/8, 7 PM two very different, very distinctive jazz pianists: Aaron Diehl and Orrin Evans at Bryant Park

9/11, 6 PM Gaijin A Go Go – the satirical J-pop equivalent of Les Sans Culottes under the Dumbo archway

9/15-18, 7:30 PM this year’s Momenta Festival with the reliably adventurous Momenta Quartet resumes, rescheduled from July with a program tba at Broadway Presbyterian Church (601 W 114th St. free

9/16, 7 PM the annual accordion festival returns: Heart of Afghanistan, with Afghani TV star Ahmad Fanoos on vocals and harmonium, his sons Elham Fanoos on piano and Mehran Fanoos on violin, and Hamid Habibzada on tablā. and others at Bryant Park

9/17, 7 PM the American Symphony Orchestra play a program tba at Bryant Park

The Best-Ever Playlist on This Page

Today’s playlist is a murderer’s row of singles. Just for starters: a deviously subtle new video for the best song of 2020, and a new electric recording of the best song of 2016. There’s about half an hour worth of music here, plus some funny visuals. If you know this blog, you know the drill: click artist names for their webpages, click titles for audio or video.

Karla Rose’s allusive, slinky serial killer parable Battery Park topped the charts here in what was a pretty nightmarish 2020. She’s got a new video for it: see if you can spot her!

Another noir-inspired artist, LJ Murphy earned the top spot for 2016 with his cruelly prophetic Panic City. It was mostly acoustic then; it’s an electric scorcher now.

We live in perilous times, and Grace Bergere offers a more metaphorical take in A Little Blood, one of the most offhandedly chilling songs of the past several years.

Mark Breyer made a name for himself as sort of the Elvis Costello of powerpop and janglerock with his long-running studio project, Skooshny. And he keeps cranking out sharp, jangly anthems as Son of Skooshny. His latest is Runs in the Family: imagine the Church at their lyrical peak in the 80s..

Atlanta band Faithless Town‘s roaring slide guitar-driven protest anthem New World Order has a great newsreel video: protestors battling SWAT teams in Europe in the summer of 2020, images of the Lockstep tabletop exercise and Event 201, and plenty of usual Davos suspects.

Amy Rigby was not idle during the lockdown here in New York. Here’s her hauntingly hazy cover of the Bob Dylan classic Not Dark Yet

From the anonymous protest songwriter known as POTP – the same guy responsible for the viral video Bill Gates Sings – here’s Vaxx in the Cradle, sung to the tune of the old Harry Chapin hit. Beyond the snarky jokes, it’s amazingly well-crafted – it even follows the plotline of the original. “This song has Emergency Use Authorization to be deployed far and wide in the effort to stem the epidemic of infant experimentation.”

Loosie‘s No Future is the catchiest, most anthemic thing the band’s ever done, with a wistful Lynchian edge. A scruffier Sharon Van Etten, maybe?

You might know Mike Adams as the scientist in the lab coat who founded Brighteon, home to innumerable good censored videos. Want to know what video is at the very top of the search page today? The full stream of the Plandemic II documentary!. But believe it or not, Adams also has a history as a rapper. Check out his hauntingly prescient 2010 video Vaccine Zombie, which has resurfaced courtesy of the consistently brilliant and provocative Midwestern Doctor Substack page.

Moirai’s Völuspa is a starkly gorgeous recreation of an ancient Icelandic dragonslayer myth. Is this classical music? Folk music? 21st century minimalism? Maybe all of the above?

Let’s close with some funny stuff. First, click and scroll down the page for a 45-second tv ad for Oomph’s new “human meat plant based burger” via Jeff Childers’ indispensable Coffee & Covid. Reputedly the jury’s out on how it tastes compared to genuine human flesh.

And here’s a meme from cartoonist Anne Gibbons: a spot-on take on the FDA’s self-declared “future framework,”  where if they get their way there will be no more safety trials for any pharmaceutical products.

A Gorgeously Drifting, Lynchian Album With a Tragic Backstory

New York instrumentalists SussNight Suite album, released earlier this year, was a gorgeously evocative, drifting travelogue akin to the recent Freedom Convoy, tracing a highway trip from New Mexico to the California desert. The equally picturesque sequel, Heat Haze – streaming at Bandcamp – continues the journey in a similarly southwestern yet less gothic vein. Tragically, one of the band members only appears on this road trip in a metaphorical sense. Keyboardist Gary Lieb died suddenly in March of last year shortly after wrapping up recording, just as so many musicians have in the wake of the lethal Covid injections. It’s not known what role, if any, that may have played in his untimely death.

In a cruel stroke of irony, Lieb’s floating synth plays a major role throughout the record, mingling with the guitars of Pat Irwin and Bob Holmes and the pedal steel of Jonathan Gregg. It’s often impossible to figure out who’s playing what, beginning with the slowly shifting, tectonic ambience of the title track, at least until Gregg’s steel and a few low, ominous reverb-guitar notes come into focus over the horizon.

Lieb’s keyboards pulse hypnotically behind spare, loopy acoustic and electric riffs in the second track, aptly titled Shimmer. Gregg’s steel takes centerstage over gentle acoustic strums and the occasional low clang in Grace: the group seem to be emerging into more populated territory by now.

Lieb layers calmly circling layers beneath reverb riffs that pan the speakers on track four, Train: this is the real midnight in the switching yard, with a sonic joke or two which are too good to spoil. The most immersively ambient track here is the final one, Pine. If this is all that’s left of the band’s recorded output, it’s a memorable departure.

Lurid, Lyrical, Lynchian Sounds From Eclectic New Mexican Kristy Hinds

Songwriter Kristy Hinds has played everything from 80s-inspired rock, to bossa nova and other tropical, often trippy sounds. Mentored as a gradeschooler by Bo Diddley – a fellow rancher in her native New Mexico – she began as a singer and percussionist, moved to guitar and most recently, ukulele. Lately she’s taken a surreal, absolutely Lynchian plunge into dub reggae. Just as auspiciously, she scored John Funkhouser – a rare triple threat on jazz piano, organ and bass – to join her on her latest short album Play Me Out, streaming at her music page.

“This is when the road divides, this is when I’ll break your heart, this is where the violence starts…play me out,” she teases luridly in the ep’s title track. “Rich men in the white coats, and the shark teeth” don’t hold up too well here.

On the second song, Feeling Good, Hinds rises out of murky mystery to stark, spare reggae with a sleek, slinky organ solo. Funkhouser’s creepy bass drone underneath is luscious. For the last song, Hinds reinvents Fleetwood Mac’s Gold Dust Woman at just about doublespeed, as straight-up backbeat rock – and, it’s cool to be able to actually understand the song’s lyrics for once! Funkhouser winds it up with a crashing, crescendoing piano solo.

Hinds also has a ton of music up at her Soundcloud page, a mix of rock, jazz and latin styles. And she has a fearlessly populist sensibility: check out Images in a Box, her snarky anti-corporate media broadside. Her next gig is at 5 PM on July 18 at Corrales Bistro Brewery, 4908 Corrales Rd. in Corrales, New Mexico.