New York Music Daily

No New Abnormal

Tag: rap music

Live Music Calendar for New York City and Brooklyn for July and August 2021

Sure feels good to get this calendar back to a monthly schedule again! Who knew we’d ever be able to, without going to war. This is a work in progress, and errs on the side of freedom, as far as restrictions are concerned.

Every venue listed here has been vetted to the best of this blog’s ability, but this is a weird time. All of these shows appear to be unrestricted, but if in doubt, trust your intuition. Clubs that were laid-back and friendly in March of 2020 are still probably laid-back, and friendly, and life is probably back to normal there. If a venue was problematic before the lockdown, you can bet that if it’s still in business, it’s really problematic now.

If you go out a lot, you might want to bookmark this page and check back regularly. Rock shows are really lagging behind jazz and classical as far as getting back up and running again. Hopefully that will change. Additional shows will be added through the summer as they’re announced.

If you’re leaving your hood, don’t get stuck waiting for a train that never comes, make sure you check the MTA delays and out-of-service page for service cancellations and malfunctions, considering how unreliable the subway has become.

If you don’t recognize a venue where a particular act is playing, check with the artist, or check the 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.

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

Mondays starting at 9 PM sharp, Rev. Vince Anderson and his band play two sets at Union Pool. 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 award, 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 usual lead soloist on baritone sax, with frequent special guests. Sizzling guitarist Binky Griptite – Sharon Jones’ lead player – is also often there.

Fridays in July, 8ish torchy cumbia/swing singer and accordionist Erica Mancini at Sunny’s

7/1, 7:30 PM intense, rapturous Balkan/Middle Eastern ensemble the Secret Trio –Tamer Pinarbasi, Ismail Lumanovski & Ara Dinkjian – at Drom, $20. They’re back on 7/27 at 9:30.. After this show, at 9 moody, tuneful string-driven Americana and chamber pop with DM & the Expats play ($15 separate adm)

7/2, 7 PM Gordon Lockwood (blues guitar monster Jeremiah Lockwood and drummer Ricky Gordon) at Terra Blues. They’re back here on 7/9

7 /3, 7:30/9:30 PM cleverly lyrical, darkly klezmer-tinged pianist Uri Caine with Mark Helias on bass and Ben Perowsky on drums at Mezzrow, $25

7/5, 7 PM wryly retro, period-perfect classic 60s style female-fronted honkytonk band the Bourbon Express at Cowgirl Seahorse.. 7/10, 8 PM ish they’re at Schnitzel House, 7319 5th Ave in Bay Ridge, R to 77th St.

7/5, 9 PM the Binky Griptite Orchestra (formerly Sharon Jones’ brilliant oldschool soul backing band) at Bar Lunatico

7/6, 7/8:30 PM postbop trumpeter Josh Evans leads a quintet at Smalls, $25

7/6, 7:30 PM chamber orchestra A Far Cry play works by Grieg, Part, Jessie Montgomery and others at the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park

7/6, 8ish harmony-driven all-female Americana band the Maybelles at Sunny’s

7/6, 8 PM legendary, risque, politically spot-on calypso icon the Mighty Sparrow at Damrosch Park. Maybe listen from across the street because there may be restrictions.

7/6, 8:30 PM tuneful original delta blues and acoustic Americana from guitarist Jon LaDeau at Pete’s

7/6, 9 PM badass honkytonk/Americana songwriter Olivia Ellen Lloyd and band at Skinny Dennis

7/6, 9 PM Trio Catarina with hotshot Brazilian accordionist Felipe Hostins at Bar Lunatico

7/7, 6 PM new string quartet the Overlook with guest Tanya Birl-Torres play music by black composers: Leila Adu, Shelley Washington and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor at the Hispanic Society of America, 613 W 155th St. west of Broadway, 1 train to 157th St., free

7/7, 9 PM dark blues/folk noir/oldschool soul songwriter Kelley Swindall at Skinny Dennis

7/7, 6 PM horn player Cort Roberts leads an ensemble playing new classical repertoire tba at Madison Square Park. He’s back on 8/11

7/7, 8 PM ish edgy alto sax player Kate Mohanty plays her bday show followed by uneasy female-fronted psychedelic abstract rock band Gold Dime at Our Wicked Lady, $12

7/7, 7:30 PM the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center with Shai Wosner, piano; Chad Hoopes, violin; Kristin Lee, violin; Tien-Hsin Cindy Wu, viola; David Requiro, cello; Xavier Foley, bass play works by Beethoven and Dvořák at Damrosch Park. Maybe listen from across the street because there may be restrictions.

7/8, 6 PM soaringly explosive jazz composer/torch singer Nicole Zuraitis at 55 Bar

7/8, 8 PM painter Jim Watt completes his “1000 Watts” series of 1000 ink washes in the monochromatic Japanese Sumi style while an allstar jazz trio – trumpeter Antoine Drye, guitar icon Bill Frisell & drummer Kyle Benford – improvise behind him at Collab, 309 Starr St, Bushwick (St. Nicholas/Cypress Ave), L to Jefferson St, $20 sug don. Watt will donate $100,000 (a hundred grand, you read that right) to benefit jazz musicians imperiled by the lockdown through sales at his dealer Jim Kempner Fine Art.

7/8, 8 PM the NY Philharmonic play Carlos Simon: Fate Now Conquers; Stravinsky: Pulcinella Suite; Mozart: Symphony No. 40 at Damrosch Park. Maybe listen from across the street because there may be restrictions.

7/9, 7 PM perennially popular original feminist folksinger Toshi Reagon & Big Lovely at Bryant Park

7/9, 7/9:30 PM cutting-edge B3 organ grooves with the Jared Gold trio at Smallls, ,$25

7/9, 7:30 PM iconic Afro-Cuban percussionist/bandleader Pedrito Martinez at Drom, $15

7/9, 9 PM  fiery, deviously fun oldtimey swing guitarist/crooner Seth Kessel at Skinny Demis. . He’s back here on 7/31 at 4.

7/10, 2 PM afternoon improvisations: guitarist  Aron Namenwirth with Daniel Carter, Claire de Brunner, Tamio Shirashi plus poet No Land at Oliver Coffee, 5 Oliver St (cor. St. James), Chinatown

710, 4 PM Sarah Durning & the Fun Sisters play twangy oldschool-style original honkytonk at Skinny Dennis

7/10, 5 PM  lustrous singer and badass cello-rock bandleader Serena Jost in a rare solo show  at Five Myles, 558 St. Johns Place (Classon/Franklin), Crown Heights, 2/3 to Eastern Pkwy/Brooklyn Museum

7/10, 7 PM dark psychedelic acoustic blues/klezmer/reggae/soca jamband Hazmat Modine at Terra Blues. They’re back here on 7/24

7/10, 7:30 PM the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center play works by Haydn, Mendelssohn and Schumann at Damrosch Park. Maybe listen from across the street because there may be restrictions.

7/11, 3 PM dynamic front-porch Americana/blues songwriter Mary-Elaine Jenkins at Pete’s

7/11, 3:30 PM the Noga Band featuring amazing Middle Eastern oudist Avram Pengas at Wagner Park north and west of the Battery

7/11, 4 PM oldschool-style high plains C&W singer Hope Debates & North 40 at Skinny Dennis

7/12-16, half past noon sly, cinematic, tuneful Microscopic Septet pianist Joel Forrester at Bryant Park

7/12, 9 PM the perennially popular Western Caravan play western swing at Skinnny Dennis

7/13, 7 PM pensive, eclectic, tuneful jazz/art-rock songwriter Becca Stevens at the big room at the Rockwood, $15

7/15, 9:30 PM  ferociously dynamic, tuneful,female-fronted power trio Castle Black at Bar Freda, 801 Seneca Ave (Cornelia St/Putnam Ave) in Ridgewood, M to Seneca Ave

7/16, 7 PM  sizzling salsa dura band the Spanish Harlem Orchestra at Bryant Park

7/16, 7/8:30 PM drummer Sylvia Cuenca leads a quintet with Dave Kikoski on piano and Craig Handy on tenor sax at Smalls, $25

7/16, 8 PM  psychedelic supergroup the Elgin Marbles feat. members of Love Camp 7, Dervisi and Peter Stampfel’s jug band at the Parkside,$10

7/16, 9 PM the raucously oldtimey Buck and a Quarter Quartet at Pete’s

7/17, 5ish “a wonderful bunch” of sax players: Peter Apfelbaum, Claire Daly, Jonathan Haffner, Jeff Lederer, Jessica Lurie, Sam Newsome, Jay Rodriguez, and Stefan Zeniuk play a site-specific, echo-centric improvisation outdoors from the rooftops around 55 Waterbury St. in Bushwick

7/17, 9 PM Veronica Davila’s twangy, Bakersfield-flavored hard honkytonk band Low Roller at Skinny Dennis

7/18, 5 PM the all-femalle Lotus Chamber Music Ensemble play a program TBA at Culture Lab outdoors, 5-25 46th Ave in Long Island City, down the block toward the water from LIC Bar

7/18, 6 PM orchestrally epic alto valve trombonist Scott Reeves plays the album release show for his new lie one at 55 Bar

7/18, 7 PM brooding, intense lo-fi gutter blues songwriter/guitarist Breanna Barbara at Our Wicked Lady, free

7/18, 7:30/9 PM Falkner Evans solo on piano – sometimes inscrutable, sometimes darkly rapturous – at Mezzrow, $25

7/19, 7 PM the Orchestra of St. Luke‘s music for winds and brass by Ibert, Valerie Coleman, Stravinsky, Dukas, Scott Joplin, Leonard Bernstein and Matthew Arnold on the steps of the Brooklyn Central Library at Grand Army Plaza. 7/21, 3 PM they’re at the back of the northwest corner of the plaza at Lincoln Center and 7/22 at 7:30 PM they’re outdoors at the Queens Theatre in the Park in Corona

7/19, 9 PM darkly brilliant, psychedelic Klezmatics multi-reedman Matt Darriau‘s group plays a Yusef Lateef tribute at Bar Lunatico

7/20, noon classical ensemble the Sterling Strings play their hilarious string quartet versions of rap and pop hits at Metrotech Park in downtown Brooklyn

7/20, 7 PM vibraphonist Felipe Fournier‘s wild Tito Puente and Dave Brubeck cover band, Supermambo at Gantry Plaza State Park

7/20, 7:30 PM the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra play works by Purcell, John Blow and others at the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park

7/20, 7:30/9:30 PM  rapturously eclectic jazz chanteuse Marianne Solivan leads her trio at Mezzrow, $25

7/21, 6 PM noir-inspired honkytonk crooner Sean Kershaw at John Brown BBQ, 27-20 40th Avenue at 28th St., LIC/Astoria, any train to Queensboro Plaza

7/21, 7 PM adventurous indie classical ensemble Contemporaneous play edgy, often poignant new works by Alex Weiser, Zachary James Ritter, Yasmin Williams, toy pianist Lucy Yao and a world premiere by Yaz Lancaster at Pier 64, 24th St. and the Hudson, free, rsvp req  

7/21, 8 PM bhangra-klezmer mashups with Sharabi feat. trumpeter Frank London & Deep Singh with singer Sarah Gordon plus the psychedelic, Afrobeat and klezmer-influenced Zion 80 at Drom, $20

7/21, 9 PM deviously entertaining hot 20s swing chanteuse Sweet Megg Farrell and band at Skinny Dennis

7/22, half past noon mostly-female, kinetic klezmer/cumbia/cinematic jamband Isle of Klezbos at St. Marks Park, 2nd Ave/10th St.

7/22, 4:30 PM jazz singer Tahira Clayton’s Jazz Trio outdoors at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music

7/22, 7/8:30 PM colorful,  eclectic, paradigm-shifting B3 jazz organist Brian Charette  leads his organ trio at Smalls, $25

7/22, 8 PM original blue-eyed soul chanteuse Miss Tess in a rare duo show at Sunny’s. 7/23 she’s under the Dumbo Archway at 5.

7/22, 9 PM smart, purposeful Americana guitarslingers Jason Loughlin and band at Skinny Dennis

7/23, 7:30/9:30 PM tenor saxophonist Tivon Pennicott with Louis Cato on bass and Joe Saylor on drums at the Jazz Gallery, $20

7/23, 8 PM poignantly lyrical, eclectic pianist Marta Sanchez leads her trio with a killer rhythm section of Michael Formanek and Gerald Cleaver at Bar Bayeux

7/24, 2 PM improvisational keyboardist Matt Mottel plays his bday show at Oliver Coffee, 5 Oliver St (cor. St. James), Chinatown

7/24. 5 PM careening, microtonally-tinged electric blues band Jane Lee Hooker at Culture Lab outdoors, 5-25 46th Ave in Long Island City, down the block toward the water from LIC Bar

7/24, 7 PM dark psychedelic acoustic blues/klezmer/reggae/soca jamband Hazmat Modine at Terra Blues

7/24, 7/8:30 PM Mike LeDonne takes a relatively rare turn on piano with a trio  at Smalls

7/24, 7:30ish the Sun Ra Arkestra at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park, be prepared to hang on the fringes because there may be restrictions

7/24, 8 PM sprawling large jazz/ambient ensemble/jamband Burnt Sugar at Damrosch Park

7/24, 10 PM fiery electric bluegrass and C&W with Demolition String Band at Skinny Dennis

7/24, 10 PM allstar percussion and sax duo Matthias Kunzli and Peter Apbelfaum’s Soup du Jour at Pete’s

7/26-30 half past noon big band pianist Russ Kasoff solo at Bryant Park

7/26, 7 PM Certain General guitarslinger Phil Gammage plays his dark Americana and blues at Cowgirl Seahorse

7/26, 7 PM newgrass band Damn Tall Buildings at Pier 1 on the upper west

7/27 1 PM not a music event but very important and enlightening: America’s Frontline Doctors livestream their White Coat Summit to stop the ongoing lethal injection campaigns. Hero doctors Simone Gold, Scott Jensen, Lee Merritt, Steve LaTulippe, Mark McDonald and other allstar freedom fighters strategize a way out of the trap that was set for us on March 16, 2020.

7/27, 7 PM the George Gee Big Band play vintage 30s swing at Gantry Plaza State Park

7/27. 8 PM ambitious saxophonist Michael Thoma and his quartet outdoors at Queens Theatre in Corona Park

7/27, 10 PM catchy, uneasily jangly female-fronted psych-pop rockers War Violet at Our Wicked Lady, $12. They’re also at Pete’s on 7/31 at 10 for the tip jar

7/28, 6 PM vibraphonist Sae Hashimoto leads an ensemble playing new classical repertoire tba at Madison Square Park. She’s back on 8/4

7/28, 10 PM guy/girl harmony vocals and a mix of Americana and lyrical Waits-ish songwriting with Loose Change at Pete’s

7/29, half past noon fearlessly relevant, toweringly intense latin jazz pianist Arturo O’Farrill leads a smaller band than usual at St. Marks Park, 2nd Ave/10th St

7/29, 4:30 PM original klezmer stylings with violinist Zoe Aqua, trumpeter Dan Blacksberg and accordionist Ira Temple outdoors at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music

7/29, 7:30 PM the Mingus Big Band celebrate their new home at Drom, $30

7/29-31, 7/9:30 PM fiery, erudite pianist Orrin Evans leads his quartet featuring powerhouse sax player Immanuel Wilkins at Birdland, $30

7/29, 10ish sly blue-eyed soul pianist/crooner Nat Osborn at the big room at the Rockwood, ,$15

7/30, 8 PM Indian percussionist Ravish Momin’s Sunken Cages + Migiwa “Miggy” Miyajima‘s lavish large jazz ensemble at Damrosch Park, you can watch from across the street because there are draconian restrictions

7/30, 7:30 PM postbop saxophonist Greg Osby and his Quartet and clarinetist Oran Etkin’s Open Arms Project at Drom, $30

7/30, 11:30 PM expansive, expressive jazz pianist Miki Yamanaka leads her trio at Cellar Dog (the old Fat Cat)

7/31, 5:30 PM blazing all-female street band the Brass Queens at 5th Ave and 3rd St. in Park Slope

7/31, 7 PM salsa romantica crooner Tito Nieves at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park, be prepared to hang on the fringes because there may be restrictions

7/31, 8 PM Raga Maqam with paradigm-shifting trumpeter/santoorist Amir ElSaffar and members of  Brooklyn Raga Massive mash up hypnotic, often haunting Arabic and Indian sounds at Damrosch Park. Their Lincoln Center show a couple of years ago was off the hook. Hang on the sidewalk across the street because there are restrictions

7/31, 8 PM legendary Brooklyn psychedelic funk band Groove Collective at Drom, $20

7/31, 9 PM Veronica Davila’s twangy, Bakersfield-flavored hard honkytonk band Low Roller at Skinny Dennis

8/1, 5 PM Los Cumpleanos – with Nestor Gomez – vox/percussion; Lautaro Burgos – drums; Eric Lane – keyboards; Alex Asher – trombone and others playing trippy, dubwise tropical psychedelia at the Riis Park Beach Bazaar, Bay 9 East at Riis Park in the Rockaways

8/1, 7 PM wild, sizzling guitar-and-brass-fueled Ethiopian jazz jamband Anbessa Orchestra at Pier 1 on the Hudson

8/1, 7 PM the Harlem Gospel Travelers and irrepressible 60s-style blue-eyed soul singer Eli “Paperboy” Reed at Our Wicked Lady, $15

8/1, 9 PM singer Richard Julian and pianist John Chin play Mose Allison songs at Bar Lunatico. Perfect pairing: Julian’s wry sense of humor and Chin’s erudite chops.

8/2-6, half past noon lyrical, dynamic original jazz pianist Victor Lin solo at Bryant Park

8/3, 7 PM fiery electric bluegrass and C&W with Demolition String Band at Shipyard Park, 13th St and McFeeley Drive in Hoboken,

8/3, 7:30 PM the East Coast Chamber Orchestra play works by Mozart, Golijov and others at the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park

8/3, 8/10 PM postbop jazz supergroup the Cookers – Billy Harper, Cecil McBee, George Cables, Eddie Henderson, and Billy Hart – at the Blue Note, $30 bar seats avail

8/4, 6:30, PM guitarist Oren Fader and and pianist/salonniere Yelena Grinberg reprise their sold-out performance of rare duo works by Vivaldi, Beethoven, Hummel, Moscheles, Weber, Boccherini, Munier, Castelnuovo and Piazzolla at Grinberg’s popular monthly upper westside salon, email for deets here., a 3  minute walk from 1/2/3 train at 96th St.

8/4, 7:30/9 PM cult favorite gonzo pianist Dred Scott plays Chick Corea at Mezzrow, $25

8/4, 8ish cinematic noir soul instrumentalists the Ghost Funk Orchestra at Our Wicked Lady, $12

8/4, 9 PM the Jimi Hendrix of the cuatro, Jorge Glem with pianist Cesar Orozco at Bar Lunatico

8/5, 7 PM Veronica Davila’s twangy, Bakersfield-flavored hard honkytonk band Low Roller at Mama Tried, 147 27th St, Bay Ridge, R to 25th St

8/5, 7 PM what’s left of the hi-de-ho Cab Calloway Orchestra at Astoria Park, on the water, take the N to Astoria Blvd.

8/6, 7 PM trumpeter Terence Blanchard with the Turtle Island Quartet at Bryant Park

8/6, 10 PM haunting gothic Americana ballads with Flora Midwood at Pete’s. Brilliant storyteller, strong singer and tunesmith.

8/6, 11 PM clever, fiery, eclectic ten-piece Balkan/hip-hop/funk brass maniacs Slavic Soul Party at Drom, $20

8/7, 2 PM an amazing improvisational jazz triplebill: baritone sax monster Josh Sinton with Daniel Carter and Sam Newsome, then brilliant, politically fearless visionary/tenor sax improviser Matana Roberts , and also flutist Laura Cocks solo at Oliver Coffee, 5 Oliver St (cor. St. James), Chinatown

8/7, 7 PM dark psychedelic acoustic blues/klezmer/reggae/soca jamband Hazmat Modine at Terra Blues. They’re also here on 7/21

8/7, 8 PM guitarist Nick Demopoulos’ twinkling, psychedelic spacescape project Smomid followed at 9 by enigmatic, cynical, lyrical rock band Golden Alphabet at Pete’s

8/7, 9:30 PM latin soul jams with the Brooklyn Boogaloo Blowout at 55 Bar

8/8, 7:30/9 PM  intense pianist Gerald Clayton solo at Mezzrow

8/9-13, half past noon lyrical, shapeshifting Brazilian pianist Luiz Simas solo at Bryant Park

8/10-12 Digable Planets at the Blue Note are sold out

8/10, 9:30 PM lickety-split punkgrass with the Eugene Tyler Band at Pete’s

8/11, 7 PM slinky, hypnotic percussive Moroccan trance band Innov Gnawa on the steps at the Grand Army Plaza branch of the Brooklyn Public Library

8/12-14, 7/9:30 PM the best singing pianist (and the best piano-playing singer) in jazz, the irrepressible Champian Fulton leads her quartet at Birdland, $30

8/12, 8 anthemic speedmetal band Cold Dice, 9 PM the debut of Certain Death (the house band from Pfizer or Moderna maybe?) 10 PM wild fuzzy stoner metal band Grave Bathers followed by the even more macabre Castle Rat at Our Wicked Lady, $12

8/13, 5 PM ageless, jangly, purist NY surf rock originals the Supertoness at the Riis Park Beach Bazaar, Bay 9 East at Riis Park in the Rockaways There’s also a surf music festival, bands tba, there on 8/14-15

8/13, 8 PM   ferociously dynamic, tuneful,female-fronted power trio Castle Black at Culture Lab outdoors, 5-25 46th Ave in Long Island City, down the block toward the water from LIC Bar; 8/28 they’re outdoors at the Greenpoint Terminal Market at 3, Market St. past Kent Ave on the water, G to Nassau Ave

8/14, 4 PM B’Rhythm blend Indian music and classical dance moves at Garfield Place between Prospect Park West and 8th Ave. in Park Slope, music by Bala Skandan, choreography by Brinda Guha and Sonali Skandan and an A-list slate of dancers

8/14, 7/9:30 PM popular lyrical postbop trumpeter Jeremy Pelt leads his quartet at Smalls $25

8/14, 9:30 PM  this era’s most consistently interesting jazz pianist, Vijay Iyer at Prospect Park Bandshell. Listen from outside (try around the back) since the arena may still have restrictions

8/15, 8:30 PM catchy, pensive blue-eyed soul crooner/guitarist Noto at Pete’s

8/16, 9 PM boisterously funny oldschool 60s C&W and brooding southwestern gothic with the Jack Grace Band at Skinny Dennis..

8/17, 7 PM Dominican jazz guitarist Yasser Tejeda & Pelotre at Gantry Plaza State Park

8/17, 7/8:30 PM  charismatic, adventurous postbop/avant garde trombonist/crooner Frank Lacy‘ at Smalls, $25

8/17-19, 8/10 PM the Bernie Williams Collective at the Blue Note, $25 bar seats avail. Not a vanity project: the greatest centerfielder of his time is a solid latin jazz/funk guitarist.

8/18, 7/8:30 PM eclectic jazz pianist Art Hirahara and his trio at Smalls, $25

8/18, 5 PM the Harlem Quartet at Times Square. Where? Follow the sound, it seems

8/18, 8 PM Stoogoid stoner boogie band Sun Voyager, noisy early 80s style postpunk band Smock and fuzzy acid blues/doom band Grandpa Jack at Our Wicked Lady, $12

8/18-22, 8/10 PM postbop jazz trumpeter and sly crooner Nicholas Payton at the Blue Note, $25 bar seats avail

8/19, 7 PM double threat Camille Thurman – equally dazzling on the mic and the tenor sax – with the Darrell Green Trio, and trombonist Conrad Herwig with his Quintet at Drom, $30

8/19-21, 7/9:30 PM golden-age postbop tenor sax legend Donald Harrison leads his quartet at Birdland, $30

8/19, 7/9:30 PM edgy jazz oudist and bassist Omer Avital and his group where he got his start at Smalls, $25

8/19, 11 PM sardonic and punky Japanese girlband the Hard Nip at Our Wicked Lady, $12

8/20, 7 PM amazingly dynamic drummer  Johnathan Blake and his trio and wildfire Colombian harpist Edmar Castaneda with drummer Ari Hoenig at Drom, $30

8/20, 7 PM Gordon Lockwood (blues guitar monster Jeremiah Lockwood and drummer Ricky Gordon) at Terra Blues

8/20, 7/8:30 PM the Sun Ra Arkestra’s legendary nonagenarian EWI player Marshall Allen and group at Smalls, $25

8/21, 7 PM legendary second-wave Afrobeat band Antibalas at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park, be prepared to hang on the fringes because there may be restrictions

8/21, 7 PM edgy, incisive, terse jazz guitarist Russell Malone and his Quartet at Drom, $20

8/22, 7 PM paradigm-shifting Romany jazz/psychedelic rock guitar mastermind Stephane Wrembel at Drom $30

8/23, 7/8:30 PM erudite pianist Orrin Evans‘ richly tuneful, purist, stampeding Captain Black Big Band at Smalls,$25

8/24, 6 PM the Donald Harrison Quartet with the Harlem Orchestra play Charlie Parker’s Bird with Strings at Marcus Garvey Park, be prepared to hang on the fringes because there may be restrictions

8/24, 7/8;30 PM hard-hitting  postbop saxophonist Mike DiRubbo’s quartet at Smalls, $25

8/25, 8 PM punk/rockabilly band the Screaming Rebel Angels, goth-punks the Wh0res, and fiery, deviously fun oldtimey swing guitarist/crooner Seth Kessel at Our Wicked Lady, $12

8/26, 6 PM smart, lyrical, politically-inspired pianist Zaccai Curtis leads a trio at Times Square, Bwy at 43rd St

8/27, 6 PM an oldschool salsa dance party with 70s style charanga Son Del Monte at Alexander Avenue at Bruckner Boulevard in the Bronx

8/28, 5 PM nimble bassist Dawn Drake & Zapote‘play latin-tinged hard funk at the Riis Park Beach Bazaar, Bay 9 East at Riis Park in the Rockaways

8/28, 6 PM jazz violinist Melanie Dyer w/ poet Bonita Penn and bassist Ken Filiano at the Clifton Pl. Community Garden (1031 Bedford Ave.–b/n Clifton & Greene)

8/29, a parade of dancers with music by guitarist/bagpiper David Watson make their way through the Rockaways starting at 1 PM on the sand at Beach 86 St and end at 7 at Beach 110 St, performers include Toni Carlson, Yve Laris Cohen, Maggie Cloud, Marc Crousillat, Brittany Engel-Adams, Moriah Evans, Daria Fain, Lizzie Feidelson, Melanie Greene, Kennis Hawkins, Iréne Hultman, Shayla-Vie Jenkins, Burr Johnson, Niall Jones, Sarah Beth Percival, Jess Pretty, Antonio Ramos, Alex Rodabaugh, Carlo Villanueva, Anh Vo, Kota Yamazaki

8/29, 4 PM drummer Willie Jones III leads an allstar Charlie Parker centennial celebration band with Sarah Hanahan, Godwin Louis, Justin Robinson, Erena Terakubo with Donald Vega on piano and Endea Owens on bass at Marcus Garvey Park

8/29, 5 PM, repeating 9/1 at 6:30 colorful, charismatic pianist/salonniere Yelena Grinberg, violinist Eric Silberger and cellist Madeline Fayette play Haydn’s “Gypsy” piano trio, Mozart’s warmly lyrical Piano Trio in C and Beethoven’s daunting “Ghost” piano trio at Grinberg’s popular monthly upper westside salon, email for deets here., a 3  minute walk from 1/2/3 train at 96th St.

8/29, 9:30 PM irrepressibly sardonic janglerock/folk-punk songwriter, New Yorker illustrator and White Hassle alum Marcellus Hall  at Pete’s

8/30-9/3 half past noon latin jazz pianist Isaac Bin Ayala solo at Bryant Park

9/1, 7:30ish noiserock legends Yo La Tengo at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park

9/8 7 PM the aptly named Firey String Sistas play their edgy chamber jazz at Pier 84, 44th st. and the Hudson just south of the Intrepid

9/11, 5 PM newschool gospel with Mary Mary singer Erica Campbell, the Walls Group, Lena Byrd Miles and Jason McGee and Choir at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park

9/12, 4 PM the Overlook String Quartet play music by black composers Eleanor Alberga, Florence Price, and Chevalier de Saint-Georges at the Morris-Jumel Mansion, 65 Jumel Terrace about a block south of 162nd St., Washington Heights, free, A/C to 163rd St.

9/12, 7 PM southern soul songwriter Valerie June at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park

9/18, 7:30 PM Trombone Shorty at Prospect Park Bandshell. We might have to listen from outside since the arena may still have restrictions

9/19, 7 PM Patti Smith at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park,

10/3, 1 PM  hard-hitting, brass-fueled newschool latin soul/boogaloo dance band Spanglish Fly at Playground 52,  Kelly St bet. Av St John and Leggett Ave in the Bronx, 6 to Longwood Ave

Discovering Japan Without Graham Parker

The coolest thing about the new Rough Guide to the Best Japanese Music You’ve Never Heard compilation- streaming at Spotify – is that some Okinawan acts are represented. Okinawa is to Japan what Ireland is to the British isles; more rugged but also in a lot of respects more passionate and earthy, in terms of music at least. While this compilation was not assembled by anyone with Japanese heritage, it’s a very entertaining playlist and a decent introduction to the esoteric, surreal side of Japanese music. Most of these tracks are upbeat, many of them infused with sardonic humor. Obviously, Japan also has deep roots in innumerable other styles, notably noiserock and jazz improvisation, neither of which are represented here.

Utsumi Eika, with Munekiyo Hiroshi & Sui-i-test Sound kick off the playlist with Don-Don Bushi, a slinky mashup of traditional pentatonic min-yo folk music and cabaret, played with a jazz rhythm section but also bamboo flute and shamisen. It’s a wonderful night for a Tokyo moondance.

Yan, by Boomdigi Otemo is a tongue-in-cheek hip-hop/mim-yo mashup. Aragehonzi work a surreal blend of Tunisian rai, min-yo folk and rap in Detarame Kagura. Tsukudanaka Sanpachi follow with Eh! Eh? Eh!? Janaika, ska-punk with a pennywhistle.

Shigeri Kitsu do the same in Tokyo No Your, except with reggae and a steel pan in lieu of the pennywhistle; it’s over too soon.

The trippy, hypnotic, organ-and-tonkori-driven Okinawan psych-folk of Oki Dub Ainu Band‘s Suma Mukar is a real find and a triumph of sleuthing for the playlisters here.

The one-chord jams keep coming with Amamiaynu’s otherworldly, rustic Kyuramun Rimse. Okinawan sanshin player Kanako Horiuchi and Malian kora player Falaye Sakho contribute the vamping, spiky, cross-pollinated Hana Umui/Yaboyae. Rikki’s Kuro Usagi Haneta is an even more surreal, waltzing mashup of min-yo and twangy Americana.

Emiko and Kirisute Gomen reinvent a 60s Japanese tv theme as the cheery if skittish surf-rock hit Shoten. Chanteuse Lucy – of Lazygunsbrisky – is represented by the expansive, determined shuffle Hiyamikachibushi, with its a lively web of stringed instruments and a wickedly catchy new wave hook: if radio played this stuff, it would be the single.

Okinawan acoustic surf-punk legends the Surf Champlers’ previously unreleased version of Misirlou is as surreal and adrenalizing as you would expect, complete with haphazard shansin tremolo-picking. With its stately sway and guy/girl vocals, Tetsuhiro Daiku’s Kuroshima Kuduchi is both the most rustic and hypnotic number here.

Hantabaru, by Aragaki Mutsumi Naakunii is the album’s starkest recording, although the insistence of the vocals and shansin has plenty of drama…and stormy samples from the seaside.

Shamisen player Etsuko Takezawa contributes an elegantly spacious, rainy-day solo diptych, Ano Hi e no Michinori. The playlist winds up with avant garde act Cockroach Eater’s trippy, circling vocal/flute/vibraphone theme Saboten no Wakusei.

And here is where the Rough Guide playlisters may be thinking further ahead than many of us realize. Sure, digital music as a saleable item tanked years ago. But if you think that Spotify is going to last forever, whether as a free or on-demand service, you’re living in a dream world.

Japanese culture, happily, seems to be in a stronger position to survive than many others, at least in the short term, as the needle of death takes its toll. So far, Japan has largely resisted it. But word to the wise: if there’s a recording that means a lot to you, from any style of music on the planet, it’s worth owning in some kind of hard-copy form. Get it while supplies last.

Live Music Calendar For New York and Brooklyn For May and June 2021

We’re taking baby steps toward getting back to normal: new calendar for July and August coming 7/1 with probably hundreds more listings. In the meantime, more and more free outdoor shows popping up all over town, so this calendar is being updated more frequently. A lot of shows are being announced at the 11th hour, so you might want to bookmark this page and check back on a night, or an afternoon, when you feel like going out.

Please don’t patronize venues that continue to enforce  lockdown restrictions. Let’s all do our part to make sure New York doesn’t turn into an apartheid state!

5/8, 4 PM brilliant resonator guitarist/bluesmama Mamie Minch in front of the Wild Project, 3rd St between Aves A + B. She’s also at High Dive on 5th Ave and Carroll Street in Park Slope on 5/29th at 2

5/13, 5 PM  hard-hitting bassist Dawn Drake & Zapote‘play psychedelic Afrobeat and funk at the corner of Fulton and Bond in downtown Brooklyn

5/15, 3 PM ish powerhouse tenor saxophonist Mark Turner leads a chordless trio with Vicente Archer on bass and Johnathan Blake on drums in Central Park on the elevation about a block north of the 81st St. entrance on the west side

5/15, 4 PM composer-collective Oracle Hysterical premiere their new song cycle Terra Nova outdoors at the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza

5/15, time TBA avant garde chanteuse Jane LeCroy’s new punk cabaret duo project Shelter Puppy outdoors at City Reliquary, 370 Metropolitan Ave off Havemeyer, Williamsburg, free

5/16, 1 PM ish drummer Antonio Sanchez leads a trio with Donny McCaslin on alto sax and Matt Brewer on bass in Central Park on the elevation about a block north of the 81st St. entrance on the west side

5/16, 3 PM luminous, visionary vocalist/dancer Luisa Muhr, multi-reed legend Daniel Carter and a posse of many more improvise outside 166 N 12th St. in Williamsburg

5/16, 5 PM the SEM Ensemble play Petr Kotik’s Letters to Olga (1988) with text by Václav Havel for two narrators, winds and guitars at in the yard adjacent to the Willow Place Auditorium, 25 Columbia Place (Joralemon/State), downtown Brooklyn, closest train is the A/C to High St.

5/17, 5:30 PM the American Symphony Orchestra brass quartet play works by Tcherepnin, Carlos Chavez, Strauss and others at Bryant Park. The program repeats on 5/19.

5/18, 5:30 PM oboeist Alexandra Knoll leads a wind trio playing an all-French program with works by Poulenc, Francaix and others at Bryant Park

5/20, 5 PM dynamic, sometimes atmospheric jazz violinist Charlie Burnham and band at the corner of Fulton and Bond in downtown Brooklyn

5/21, 5 PM cellist Marika Hughes‘ New String Quartet with Charlie Burnham on violin, Marvin Sewell on guitar, and Rashaan Carter on bass in Central Park on the elevation about a block north of the 81st St. entrance on the west side. 5/27, 5 PM she’s at the corner of Fulton and Bond in downtown Brooklyn

5/22, 3 PM ish tsunami drummer Johnathan Blake leads a wild quartet with Mark Turner and Chris Potter on tenor sax and Dezron Douglas on bass, wow, in Central Park on the elevation about a block north of the 81st St. entrance on the west side

5/23 starting at half past noon an outdoor jazz festival starting at half past noon outside at 18 Whitwell Pl in Gowanus with saxophonist Ole Mathisen‘s Take Off Collective trio at 4:30 F/R to 4th Ave

5/23-24, 1 PM ish drummer Nasheet Waits leads a high-voltage quartet with Mark Turner and Steve Nelson on tenor sax, and Rashaan Carter on bass in Central Park on the elevation about a block north of the 81st St. entrance on the west side

5/26, 1 PM lustrous singer and badass cello-rock bandleader Serena Jost in a rare solo show at Bogardus Plaza, Hudson Street between Chambers & Reade, Tribeca

5/26, 7 PM, tunefully scruffy pastoral jazz guitarist Tom Csatari leads his  noir-tinged Uncivilized band at the Flying Lobster, 144 Union St off Hicks, just over the BQE, outdoors, F to Smith/9th

5/31, 2 PM drummer Michael W. Davis leads his trio with Lucas Pino on tenor sax, Martin Nevin on bass; at 3 trumpeter Jason Palmer leads his Quartet with Mark Turner on tenor sax, Edward Perez on bass and Kendrick Scott on drums in Central Park about a block north of the 81st St. entrance on the west side; take the trail up, to the right of the bridge

6/1, 3 PM, tenor sax titan Mark Turner leads a quartet with Jason Palmer on trumpet, Joe Martin on bass, Marcus Gilmore on drums in Central Park about a block north of the 81st St. entrance on the west side; take the trail up, to the right of the bridge

6/2, 1 PM Celtic-inspired pianist Will Armstrong‘s Trio at Bogardus Plaza, Hudson Street between Chambers & Reade, Tribeca

6/2-4, 1 PM ish pyrotechnic tenor sax player Mark Turner records a live album with Jason Palmer on trumpet, Joe Martin on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums in Central Park on the elevation about a block north of the 81st St. entrance on the west side

6/5. 4 PM  the world’s creepiest, slinkiest, most psychedelic crime jazz/film noir band, Big Lazy at a front-porch show at 182 Argyle Rd (Beverly/Albemarle). in Ditmas Park Brooklyn, Q to Beverly Rd.. 6/26 at 6:30 they’re at West Side Arts Concert series in Lincoln Park in Jersey City

6/6-8, 4 PM ish saxophonist Darius Jones records a live album with Dezron Douglas on bass and Gerald Cleaver next to the Catacombs in the middle of Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, R to 25th St.

6/6, 4 PM  amazing string quintet Sybarite5– who are also the world’s coolest Radiohead cover band – on the steps of the Grand Army Plaza branch of the Brooklyn Public Library

6/6 and 6/13, 2 PM a Scandinavian orchestral and chamber music festival with performers TBA on the Billings Lawn at Ft. Tryon Park. Artists associated with the late, great NY Scandia Symphony may be involved.

6/10, 7:30 PM bhangra-klezmer mashups with Sharabi with trumpeter Frank London & Deep Singh with singer Sarah Gordon at Wagner Park just north of the battery CANCELLED DUE TO THREAT OF RAIN

6/10, 7:30 PM perennially popular jazz bassist/singer Esperanza Spalding with drummer Teri Lyne Carrington and keyboardist Leo Genovese outdoors at the Clemente Soto VélezcCultural & Educational Center, 114 Norfolk St., LES

6/13, 2 PM carnivalesque Balkan punk monstrosity Funkrust Brass Band outdoors at 98 Dikeman St, (Richards/Conover) Red Hook

6/13 , 2 PM tenor sax player Danny Walsh leads a trio with bassist Yoshi Waki and dummer Richie Morales in Central Park about a block north of the 81st St. entrance on the west side, take the path up the hill to the left of the bridge

6/15, 7:30 PM orchestra the Knights with Gil Shaham, violin and Aoife O’Donovan, vocals play works by O’Donovan, George Walker and Beethoven at the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park, there may be restrictions, be prepared to linger on the fringes

6/18, 9 ish  torchy cumbia/swing singer and accordionist Erica Mancini at Sunny’s. She’s back on 6/25.

6/19, 4:30 PM intense Balkan chanteuse Jenny Luna‘s haunting, traditional Turkish band Dolunay outdoors at Barbes

6/19, 4;30 PM wildfire electric blues guitarist Celisse Henderson at the block party at Astor Place east of Lafayette

6/19, 6 PM House of Time play works by JS Bach, CPE Bach & Telemann; Suzanne Lorge sings azz with John Di Martino (piano) and Sophia Reyes (flute); pianist Evelyne Luest plays Schubert outdoors at the B-C Courtyard at Hudson View Gardens, 116 Pinehurst Ave, Washington Heights, A to 181st St., free

6/19, 8 PM fearless, psychedelic jazz trumpeter Jaimie Branch and band at San Pedro Inn, 320 Van Brunt St, Red Hook

6/20, 1 PM ish an allday outdoor jazz extravaganza with trombonist Bryan Drye’s Zodiac Quintet, Steven Bernstein’s Millenial Territorial Orchestra, drummer Jeff Davis’ quintet and Brooklyn psychedelic funk legends Groove Collective in front of I-Beam

6/20, 2 PM join some of the prime movers of the NYC pro-freedom movement for a summer solstice celebration in the park on Roosevelt Island with a picnic and activities, dedicated to the late great activist Rosa Koire. Tour starts at 2 at the café at Cornell Tech, 2 West Loop Road, a 10-minute walk south from the Roosevelt Island subway station.

2:00 – “Transhumanist dream” by art-rock singer/investigative journalist Tessa Lena (at Cornell Tech)
2:30 – “The biomedical roots of the Covid plandemic” by psychiatrist Dr. Karin Burkhard (Smallpox hospital ruins)
3:00 – “The evisceration of our freedoms” by investigative journalist/healer Cat McGuire (FDR Four Freedoms Memorial)
3:30 – gong-bath storytelling performance by Mary Ann Schmidt and Michael Jay
4:00 – acceptance celebration and healing circle
4:00-7:00 – percussion improvisation by Africa Forestdance

6/20, 3 PM alto saxophonist Abraham Burton leads a trio with Dezron Douglas on bass and Eric McPherson on drums in Central Park about a block north of the 81st St. entrance on the west side; take the trail up, to the left of the bridge

6/20, 5 PM repeating 6/23 at 6:30 PM clarinetist Bixby Kennedy, cellist Madeline Fayette and pianist/salonniere Yelena Grinberg play works by Beethoven, Ries and Mendelssohn at Grinberg’s now-resusciated monthly upper westside salon, email for deets here., convenient to 1/2/3 trains, $35 includes wine, munchies and good conversation afterward

6/21-24, half past noon lyrical jazz pianist Deanna Witkowski plays solo at Bryant Park

6/21, 6 PM dark psychedelic acoustic blues/klezmer/reggae/soca jamband Hazmat Modine under the Manhattan Bridge archway in Dumbo, F to York St.

6/21, 6:30ish the NY Mandolin Orchestra at Needle Park at the triangle at Broadway and 65th St.

6/21, 7 PM Zach Layton and Nick Hallett lead a performance of Terry Riley’s “In C” at Brooklyn Bridge Park Harborview Lawn on Pier 1, south of the old roller rink, walk up and west and you’ll find it

6/24, 6:30 PM surreal, rustic, lyrical klezmer from the Beary Brothers featuring Psoy Korolenko, Zisl Slepovitch and Ilya Shneyveys at Wagner Park just north and west of the Battery

6/26, 4 PM cinematic, psychedelic quirk-pop keyboardist Michael Hearst and his Songs for Unusual (fill in the blank: creatures, vehicles, you name it) at the Old Stone House in Park Slope

6/26, 7 PM clever, fiery, eclectic ten-piece Balkan/hip-hop/funk brass maniacs Slavic Soul Party  under the Manhattan Bridge archway in Dumbo, F to York St.

6/26, 8 PM tunefully scruffy pastoral jazz guitarist Tom Csatari leads his  noir-tinged Uncivilized band at San Pedro Inn, 320 Van Brunt St, Red Hook

6/27, 7 PM Charu Suri Raga Jazz w/ Sufi Maestro Umer Piracha at Drom, $15

6/29, 7:30 PM an oldtimey swing dance party with the Silver Arrow Band at Drom, free

6/29, 7:30 PM the Ulysses and Emerson String Quartets team up for music by Shostakovich, Mendelssohn, Richard Strauss and others at the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park

6/30, 7 PM the Brooklyn Conservatory Community Orchestra play music by Haydn, Dvorak and the Bruch violin concerto with concertmaster Luis Casal outdoors at the Old Stone House in Park Slope

7/1, 7:30 PM intense, rapturous Balkan/Middle Eastern ensemble the Secret Trio –Tamer Pinarbasi, Ismail Lumanovski & Ara Dinkjian – at Drom, $20. They’re back on 7/27 at 9:30.. After this show, at 9 moody, tuneful string-driven Americana and chamber pop with DM & the Expats play ($15 separate adm)

7/2, 7 PM Gordon Lockwood (blues guitar monster Jeremiah Lockwood and drummer Ricky Gordon) at Terra Blues. They’re back here on 7/9

7 /3, 7:30/9:30 PM cleverly lyrical, darkly klezmer-tinged pianist Uri Caine with Mark Helias on bass and Ben Perowsky on drums at Mezzrow, $25

7/5, 7 PM wryly retro, period-perfect classic 60s style female-fronted honkytonk band the Bourbon Express at Cowgirl Seahorse.. 7/10, 8 PM ish they’re at Schnitzel House, 7319 5th Ave in Bay Ridge, R to 77th St.

7/5, 9 PM the Binky Griptite Orchestra (formerly Sharon Jones’ brilliant oldschool soul backing band) at Bar Lunatico

7/6, 7:30 PM chamber orchestra A Far Cry play works by Grieg, Part, Jessie Montgomery and others at the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park

7/6, 7/8:30 PM postbop trumpeter Josh Evans leads a quintet at Smalls, $25

7/6, 8 PM legendary, risque, politically spot-on calypso icon the Mighty Sparrow at Damrosch Park. Maybe listen from across the street because there may be restrictions.

7/6, 8:30 PM tuneful original delta blues and acoustic Americana from guitarist Jon LaDeau at Pete’s

7/6, 9 PM Trio Catarina with hotshot Brazilian accordionist Felipe Hostins at Bar Lunatico

7/7, 6 PM new string quartet the Overlook with guest Tanya Birl-Torres play music by Leila Adu, Shelley Washington and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor at the Hispanic Society of America, 613 W 155th St. west of Broadway, 1 train to 157th St., free

7/7, 6 PM horn player Cort Roberts leads an ensemble playing new classical repertoire tba at Madison Square Park. He’s back on 8/11

7/7, 8 PM ish edgy alto sax player Kate Mohanty plays her bday show followed by uneasy female-fronted psychedelic abstract rock band Gold Dime at Our Wicked Lady, $12

7/7, 7:30 PM the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center with Shai Wosner, piano; Chad Hoopes, violin; Kristin Lee, violin; Tien-Hsin Cindy Wu, viola; David Requiro, cello; Xavier Foley, bass play works by Beethoven and Dvořák at Damrosch Park. Maybe listen from across the street because there may be restrictions.

7/8, 6 PM soaringly explosive jazz composer/torch singer Nicole Zuraitis at 55 Bar

7/8, 8 PM painter Jim Watt completes his “1000 Watts” series of 1000 ink washes in the monochromatic Japanese Sumi style while an allstar jazz trio – trumpeter Antoine Drye, guitar icon Bill Frisell & drummer Kyle Benford – improvise behind him at Collab, 309 Starr St, Bushwick (St. Nicholas/Cypress Ave), L to Jefferson St, $20 sug don. Watt will donate $100,000 (a hundred grand, you read that right) to benefit jazz musicians imperiled by the lockdown through sales at his dealer Jim Kempner Fine Art.

7/8, 8 PM the NY Philharmonic play Carlos Simon: Fate Now Conquers; Stravinsky: Pulcinella Suite; Mozart: Symphony No. 40 at Damrosch Park. Maybe listen from across the street because there may be restrictions.

7/9, 7 PM perennially popular original folksinger Toshi Reagon & Big Lovely at Bryant Park

7/9, 7/9:30 PM cutting-edge B3 organ grooves with the Jared Gold trio at Smallls, ,$25

7/9, 7:30 PM iconic Afro-Cuban percussionist/bandleader Pedrito Martinez at Drom, $15

7/10, 2 PM afternoon improvisations: guitarist  Aron Namenwirth with Daniel Carter, Claire de Brunner, Tamio Shirashi and otherworldly Turkish group No Land at Oliver Coffee, 5 Oliver St (cor. St. James), Chinatown

7/10, 7 PM dark psychedelic acoustic blues/klezmer/reggae/soca jamband Hazmat Modine at Terra Blues. They’re back here on 7/24

7/10, 7:30 PM the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center play works by Haydn, Mendelssohn and Schumann at Damrosch Park. Maybe listen from across the street because there may be restrictions.

7/11, 3:30 PM the Noga Band featuring amazing Middle Eastern oudist Avram Pengas at Wagner Park north and west of the Battery

7/12-16, half past noon sly, cinematic, tuneful Microscopic Septet pianist Joel Forrester at Bryant Park

7/13, 7 PM pensive, eclectic, tuneful jazz/art-rock songwriter Becca Stevens at the big room at the Rockwood, $15

7/14, 6:30 PM repeating 7/18 at 5 PM guitarist Oren Fader and and pianist/salonniere Yelena Grinberg play rare duo works by Vivaldi, Beethoven, Hummel, Moscheles, Weber, Boccherini, Munier, Castelnuovo and Piazzolla at Grinberg’s now-resuscitated monthly upper westside salon, email for deets here., convenient to 1/2/3 trains, $35 includes wine, munchies and good conversation afterward

7/16, 7 PM  sizzling salsa dura band the Spanish Harlem Orchestra at Bryant Park

7/16, 7/8:30 PM drummer Sylvia Cuenca leads a quintet with Dave Kikoski on piano and Craig Handy on tenor sax at Smallls, $25

7/18, 7 PM slashing lo-fi guttar blues songwriter/guitarist Breanna Barbara at Our Wicked Lady, free

7/18, 7:30/9 PM Falkner Evans solo on piano – sometimes inscrutable, sometimes darkly rapturous – at Mezzrow, $25

7/19, 9 PM darkly brilliant, psychedelic Klezmatics multi-reedman Matt Darriau‘s group plays a Yusef Lateef tribute at Bar Lunatico

7/20, noon classical ensemble the Sterling Strings play their hilarious string quartet versions of rap and pp hits at Metrotech Park in downtown Brooklyn

7/20, 7 PM vibraphonist Felipe Fournier‘s wild Tito Puente and Dave Brubeck cover band, Supermambo at Gantry Plaza State Park

7/20, 7:30 PM the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra play works by Purcell, John Blow and others at the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park

7/20, 7:30/9:30 PM  rapturously eclectic jazz chanteuse Marianne Solivan leads her leads her trio at Mezzrow, $25

7/21, 7 PM adventurous indie classical ensemble Contemporaneous play edgy, often poignant new works by Alex Weiser, Zachary James Ritter, Yasmin Williams , toy pianist Lucy Yao and a world premiere by Yaz Lancaster at Pier 64, 24th St. and the Hudson, free, rsvp req  

7/21, 8 PM bhangra-klezmer mashups with Sharabi feat. trumpeter Frank London & Deep Singh with singer Sarah Gordon plus Israeli reggae-rockers Zion 80 at Drom, $20

7/22, half past noon mostly-female, kinetic klezmer/cumbia/cinematic jamband Isle of Klezbos at St. Marks Park, 2nd Ave/10th St.

7/22, 7/8:30 PM colorful,  eclectic, paradigm-shifting B3 jazz organist Brian Charette  leads his organ trio at Smalls, $25

7/23, 7 PM orchestra the Knights play music by Jessie Montgomery, Anna Clyne, and Christina Courtin, alongside Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik. at Bryant Park

7/24 2 PM improvisational keyboardist Matt Mottel plays his bday show at Oliver Coffee, 5 Oliver St (cor. St. James), Chinatown

7/24, 7/8:30 PM Mike LeDonne takes a relatively rare turn on piano with a trio on piano at Smalls

7/24, 7:30ish the Sun Ra Arkestra at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park, be prepared to hang on the fringes because there may be restrictions

7/24, 8 PM sprawling large jazz/ambient ensemble/jamband Burnt Sugar at Damrosch Park

7/24, 10 PM fiery electric bluegrass and C&W with Demolition String Band at Skinny Dennis

7/26-30 half past noon big band pianist Russ Kasoff solo at Bryant Park

7/27, 7 PM the George Gee Big Band play vintage 30s swing at Gantry Plaza State Park

7/28, 6 PM vibraphonist Sae Hashimoto leads an ensemble playing new classical repertoire tba at Madison Square Park. She’s back on 8/4

7/29, half past noon fearlessly relevant, toweringly intense latin jazz pianist Arturo O’Farrill leads a smaller band than usual at St. Marks Park, 2nd Ave/10th St

7/29, 7:30 PM the Mingus Big Band celebrate their new home at Drom, $30

7/29, 10ish sly blue-eyed soul pianist/crooner Nat Osborn at the big room at the Rockwood, ,$15

7/30, 8 PM Indian percussionist Ravish Momin’s Sunken Cages + Migiwa “Miggy” Miyajima‘s lavish large jazz ensemble at Damrosch Park, be prepared to hang on the fringes because there may be restrictions

7/30, 7:30 PM postbop saxophonist Greg Osby and his Quartet and clarinetist Oran Etkin’s Open Arms Project at Drom, $30

7/31, 7 PM salsa romantica crooner Tito Nieves at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park, be prepared to hang on the fringes because there may be restrictions

7/31, 8 PM Raga Maqam with paradigm-shifting trumpeter/santoorist Amir ElSaffar and members of  Brooklyn Raga Massive at Damrosch Park. Their Lincoln Center show a couple of years ago was off the hook.

7/31, 8 PM legendary Brooklyn psychedelic funk band Groove Collective at Drom, $20

8/1, 7 PM the Harlem Gospel Travelers and irrepressible 60s-style blue-eyed soul singer Eli “Paperboy” Reed at Our Wicked Lady, free

8/3, 7:30 PM the East Coast Chamber Orchestra play works by Mozart, Golijov and others at the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park

8/6, 7 PM trumpeter Terence Blanchard with the Turtle Island Quartet at Bryant Park

8/6, 11 PM clever, fiery, eclectic ten-piece Balkan/hip-hop/funk brass maniacs Slavic Soul Party at Drom, $20

8/7, 2 PM an amazing improvisational jazz triplebill: baritone sax monster Josh Sinton with Daniel Carter and Sam Newsome, then brilliant, politically fearless visionary/tenor sax improviser Matana Roberts , and flutist Laura Cocks solo at Oliver Coffee, 5 Oliver St (cor. St. James), Chinatown

8/11, 7 PM slinky, hypnotic percussive Moroccan trance band Innov Gnawa on the steps at the Grand Army Plaza branch of the Brooklyn Public Library

8/14, 9:30 PM  this era’s most consistently interesting jazz pianist, Vijay Iyer at Prospect Park Bandshell. Listen from outside (try around the back) since the arena may still have restrictions

8/17, 7 PM Dominican jazz guitarist Yasser Tejeda & Pelotre at Gantry Plaza State Park

8/18, 5 PM the Harlem Quartet at Times Square. Where? Follow the sound, it seems

8/18 alto sax powerhouse Ravi Coltrane and the sultry Juke Joint Jelis feat. badass singer Brianna Thomas at Drom, time/price tba

8/19, 7 PM double threat Camille Thurman – equally dazzling on the mic and the tenor sax – with the Darrell Green Trio, and trombonist Conrad Herwig with his Quintet at Drom, $30

8/20, 7 PM amazingly dynamic drummer  Johnathan Blake and his trio and wildfire Colombian harpist Edmar Castaneda with drummer Ari Hoenig at Drom, $30

8/21, 7 PM legendary second-wave Afrobeat band Antibalas at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park

8/21, 7 PM edgy, incisive, terse jazz guitarist Russell Malone and his Quartet at Drom, $20

8/22, 7 PM paradigm-shifting Romany jazz/psychedelic rock guitar mastermind Stephane Wrembell at Drom $30

8/24, 6 PM the Donald Harrison Quartet with the Harlem Orchestra play Charlie Parker’s Bird with Strings at Marcus Garvey Park, be prepared to hang on the fringes because there may be restrictions

9/12, 4 PM the Overlook String Quartet play music by Eleanor Alberga, Florence Price, and Chevalier de Saint-Georges at the Morris-Jumel Mansion, 65 Jumel Terrace about a block south of 162nd St., Washington Heights, free, A/C to 163rd St.

9/18, 7:30 PM Trombone Shorty at Prospect Park Bandshell. We might have to listen from outside since the arena may still have restrictions

9/19, 7 PM Patti Smith at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park, maybe listen from outside because there may still be restrictions involved

In Memoriam: DMX

Charismatic hip-hop star Earl Simmons, best known to the world as DMX and one of the great lyricists of rap’s golden age in the late 1980s and 90s, died today after having been given the needle of death about ten days ago. He was 50.

While many rappers are creatures of the studio, DMX was devoted to performing live. His made both a live album and DVD, and he remains one of the alltime leading rap artists in terms of total concert appearances. Those weren’t just cameos, either: in his classic, gruff delivery, DMX would deliver a full set of crime rhymes, battle numbers, darkly cinematic portraits of inner city survival and the occasional sex joint. He was widely considered as a foundational artist of the east coast hardcore movement.

According to a statement by family members, DMX took the lethal injection in order to facilitate returning to live performance in New York State, which has not yet been liberated from dictator Andrew Cuomo’s fascist restrictions on free assembly. DMX joins baseball Hall of Famer Henry Aaron and champion boxer Marvelous Marvin Hagler as victims of the needle of death.

White supremacists have been using people of color as guinea pigs for human experimentation for years: the Tuskegee Experiment is just the tip of the iceberg. If black lives truly matter, it’s time to stop this latest experiment in genetic modification before it becomes a holocaust.

Live Music Calendar for New York City and Brooklyn For April and May 2021

Audiences from Florida to the Dakotas are back to normal while we’re still stuck in lockdown hell. But there’s a growing number of shows here this month, almost all of them outdoors and free. Sorry, no speakeasy shows listed here: we can’t snitch on them!

New listings are being added, sporadically: it couldn’t hurt to bookmark this page and check back in about a week to see what else is on the schedule!

4/4. 11 AM alto saxophonist Sarah Hanahan, trumpeter Giveton Gelin, bassist Phil Norris, and drummer Robert Lotreck followed at 1:30ish by the Wayne Escoffery/Jeremy Pelt Quartet with Dezron Douglas on bass and Johnathan Blake on drums, wow, at the south end of the mall in Central Park, enter at 72nd St and go south when you see the Naumburg Bandshell

4/6, 5 PM the Regeneration Quintet – Ras Moshe (saxophones), Matt Lavelle (trumpet),Ayumi Ishito (saxophone), Evan Crane (bass), Dan Kurfirst (drums) improvise in Prospect Park near the 11th St. entrance off Prospect Park West, F train to 7th Ave

4/10, 3 PM organist Gail Archer plays a rare program of Russian organ music at St. John Nepomucene church, 411 E 66th St at 1st Ave, sug don

4/10, noon AM alto saxophonist Sarah Hanahan,, bassist Phil Norris, and drummer Robert Lotreck followed at 1:30ish by bassist William Parker’s Trio with Cooper-Moore (on keys?) and Hamid Drake on percussion at Summit Rock in Seneca Village in Central Park, enter at 82nd St., follow the noise and look up

4/11, POSTPONED DUE TO THREAT OF RAIN alto saxophonist Sarah Hanahan,, bassist Phil Norris, and drummer Robert Lotreck followed at 1:30ish by tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana leading her Trio with Pablo Menares on bass and Kush Abadey on drums at Summit Rock in Seneca Village in Central Park, enter at 82nd St., follow the noise and look up

4/14, 5:30 PM serious improvisation: Becoming and Return – Daniel Carter (woodwinds/trumpet), Roshni Samlal (tabla), Dan Kurfirst (drums) in Prospect Park near the 11th St. entrance off Prospect Park West, F train to 7th Ave

4/15, 7 PM poignant, eclectic, lyrical jazz bassist/composer Pedro Giraudo’s tango quartet at Terraza 7, sug don $10

4/17, 1:30ish saxophonist Chris Potter leads a trio with Joe Martin on bass and Nasheet Waits on drums in Central Park on the elevation about a block north of the 81st St. entrance on the west side

4/17, 1:30 PM luminous, visionary vocalist/dancer Luisa Muhr, multi-reed legend Daniel Carter and a posse of many more improvise outside 166 N 12th St. in Williamsburg

4/20, 5:30 PM best show of the month: haunting Middle Eastern jazz with Ensemble Fanaa – Daro Behroozi (saxophone/bBass clarinet), John Murchison (double bass), Dan Kurfirst (drums/percussion) in Prospect Park near the 11th St. entrance off Prospect Park West, F train to 7th Ave

4/23, 7 PM noirish, tunefully scruffy pastoral jazz guitarist Tom Csatari leads his pastoral noir Uncivilized band at the Flying Lobster, 144 Union St off Hicks, just over the BQE, outdoors, F to Smith/9th

4/24, 1 PM ish trumpeter Marquis Hill‘s Quartet in Central Park on the elevation about a block north of the 81st St. entrance on the west side

4/25, 1 PM ish saxophonist Michael Thomas leads his Quartet with Michael Rodriguez on trumpet, Edward Perez on bass, and Johnathan Blake on drums in Central Park on the elevation about a block north of the 81st St. entrance on the west side

4/25, 5 PM spy-surf band the Royal Arctic Institute outdoors at 18th Ward Brewing, 300 Richardson St off Kingsland, Greenpoint, G to Nassau

4/27, 5:30 PM stoner downtempo grooves with Lateef Beats – Fima Chupakhin (keys), John Merrit (bass), Dan Kurfirst (drums) in Prospect Park near the 11th St. entrance off Prospect Park West, F train to 7th Ave

5/1, noon saxophonist James Brandon Lewis‘ Freed Style Free Trio with Rashaan Carter on bass and Chad Taylor on drums followed at 1 ish by sax player Aaron Burnett’s Quartet with Peter Evans on trumpet, Nick Jozwiak on bass, and Tyshawn Sorey on drums in Central Park on the elevation about a block north of the 81st St. entrance on the west side

5/2, 1 PM ish intense tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana leads a trio with Pablo Menares on bass and Kush Abadey on drums in Central Park on the elevation about a block north of the 81st St. entrance on the west side

5/3-4, 5:30 PM the American Symphony Orchestra String Quartet play works from south of the border by Manuel Ponce, Silvestre Revueltas and Carlos Chávez at Bryant Park

5/5, 5:30 PM the American Symphony Orchestra Percussion ensemble play an all Javier Diaz program in the park at Herald Square. The program repeats on 5/12

5/8, 1 PM ish cellist Marika Hughes‘ New String Quartet with Charlie Burnham on violin, Marvin Sewell on guitar, and Rashaan Carter on bass – hey, they’re all string players! – in Central Park on the elevation about a block north of the 81st St. entrance on the west side

5/10-11, 5:30 PM jazz pianist Lee Musiker leads a quintet at Bryant Park

5/15, 1 PM ish powerhouse tenor saxophonist Mark Turner leads a chordless trio with Vicente Archer on bass and Johnathan Blake on drums in Central Park on the elevation about a block north of the 81st St. entrance on the west side

5/15, time TBA avant garde chanteuse Jane LeCroy’s new punk cabaret duo project Shelter Puppy outdoors at City Reliquary, 370 Metropolitan Ave off Havemeyer, Williamsburg, free

5/16, 1 PM ish drummer Antonio Sanchez leads a trio with Donny McCaslin on alto sax and Matt Brewer on bass in Central Park on the elevation about a block north of the 81st St. entrance on the west side

5/16, 5 PM the SEM Ensemble play Petr Kotik’s Letters to Olga (1988) with text by Václav Havel for two narrators, winds and guitars at in the yard adjacent to the Willow Place Auditorium, 25 Columbia Place (Joralemon/State), downtown Brooklyn, closest train is the A/C to High St.

5/17, 5:30 PM the American Symphony Orchestra brass quartet play works by Tcherepnin, Carlos Chavez, Strauss and others at Bryant Park. The program repeats on 5/19.

5/18, 5:30 PM oboeist Alexandra Knoll leads a wind trio playing an all-French program with works by Poulenc, Francaix and others at Bryant Park

5/22, 1 PM ish tsunami drummer Johnathan Blake leads a wild quartet with Mark Turner and Chris Potter on tenor sax and Dezron Douglas on bass, wow, in Central Park on the elevation about a block north of the 81st St. entrance on the west side

5/23-24, 1 PM ish drummer Nasheet Waits leads a high-voltage quartet with Mark Turner and Steve Nelson on tenor sax, and Rashaan Carter on bass in Central Park on the elevation about a block north of the 81st St. entrance on the west side

5/29, 1 PM ish alto saxophonist Abraham Burton leads a trio with Dezron Douglas on bass and Eric McPherson on drums in Central Park on the elevation about a block north of the 81st St. entrance on the west side

5/31, 1 PM ish trumpeter Jason Palmer leads his Quartet with Mark Turner on tenor sax, Edward Perez on bass and Kendrick Scott on drums in Central Park on the elevation about a block north of the 81st St. entrance on the west side

6/2-4, 1 PM ish pyrotechnic tenor sax player Mark Turner records a live album with Jason Palmer on trumpet, Joe Martin on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums in Central Park on the elevation about a block north of the 81st St. entrance on the west side

6/ 6-8, 1 PM ish saxophonist Darius Jones records a live album with Dezron Douglas on bass and Gerald Cleaver on drums in Central Park on the elevation about a block north of the 81st St. entrance on the west side

6/10, 7:30 PM bhangra-klezmer mashups with Sharabi with trumpeter Frank London & Deep Singh with singer Sarah Gordon at Wagner Park just north of the battery

Ensemble Mik Nawooj Mash Up Cutting-Edge HIp-Hop With Classical Drama

There’s been more of a connection between classical music and rap than a lot of people realize. RZA is an imaginative keyboardist and may have played as much as he sampled on all those classic Wu-Tang Clan joints. Bushwick Bill is a big opera fan and did a loosely conceptual album based on it. And Yasiin Bey has been working with orchestras for more than a decade. Ensemble Mik Nawooj‘s album Death Become Life – streaming at Bandcamp – continues in that cutting-edge vein.

Bandleader/pianist JooWan Kim comes from the classical side: he had an epiphany when he first heard NWA’s Straight Outta Compton. On this album, MC Sandman fronts the group as they swirl and leap around, in a mix of original music and variations on well-known classical themes. The music here is closer to Bushwick Bill’s bombast than RZA’s looming, bellicose ambience, enhanced by the dramatic presence of soprano Anne Hepburn Smith. And the beats – all of them live and organic – are on the fast side, pushing Sandman to the peak of his lyrical skills.

Doesn’t it kill you when you hear a riff and you can’t place it? Is that Dvorak that the piano and then the strings echo on the title track? Meanwhile, Sandman’s torrential lyrics build a futuristic scenario and contemplate the possibility of reincarnation, through an unexpected, suspenseful lull on the bridge. It’s the first part of a trilogy: this is definitely as ambitious as any classical-rap hybrid ever devised.

There’s dramatic menace in the chromatics, string cascades, emphatic piano, tense calm and uneasy gusts in May Good Conquer Evil, Sandman firing off a long list of evils but also ways to beat them. That familiar piano riff and variations return in the suite’s conclusion, May Death Become Life, a swaying, understatedly operatic piece: big up to Kim for doing this live instead of sampling the piano intro from ELO’s Evil Woman.

With a mix of the baroque and brooding, cinematic lustre, Everything Ends relates the sudden loss of a dear friend. The band follow that with a low-key, sweeping instrumental aptly titled Hymn: is that a reference to the BeeGees’ How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?

The optimistic Everything Returns to One is the closest thing to a catchy, vintage 90s hip-hop joint here. The heroic, anthemically pulsing orchestration of Who Would Be Born takes centerstage over Sandman’s tersely provocative lyricism.

The album winds up with three energetically reflective numbers based on classical works. Mozart on Joy is a clever mix of famous riffs, Sandman cutting loose with one of his most sharply ironic lyrics here. Beethoven on Struggle fuses variations on the Coriolan Overture and other big hits, a majestic salute to the world’s rugged individualists. The album’s coda is Bach on Transcendence, with a deliciously new orchestration of the Toccata in D: it’s as funny and formidable as the composer ever could have imagined. The group turning in this inspired performance includes both original and new members:  Joyce Lee on flute; Liam Boisset on oboe; Davis Hampton on clarinet; Jamael Smith on bassoon; Craig James Hansen on horn; violinists Philip Brezina, Clare Armenante and Laura Keller; violist Ivo Bokulić; cellist Evan Kahn; bassist Michel Taddei and drummer Lyman Jerome Alexander II.

There’s also a matching series of videos scheduled. And Ensemble Mik Nawooj are a great live act: in their New York debut four years ago, they transcended a hideous sound mix at a ramshackle Manhattan space to deliver an irresistibly fun set. As the world slowly returns to normal, it might be overly optimistic to expect to be able to see them in their native Oakland. But people are flocking to free states like Texas and Florida for live music; maybe the band can hit the road this summer.

ShoutHouse Trace the Turbulent History of New York With an Ambitious Blend of Styles

ShoutHouse play a lavishly orchestrated, absolutely unique blend of postrock, art-rock and indie classical pageantry. The obvious point of comparison is Sara McDonald’s similarly majestic NYChillharmonic. Both bands are (typically) fronted by women; the big differences are that ShoutHouse relies on strings instead of traditional jazz instrumentation, and they have a hip-hop edge. The group’s debut album, Cityscapes – streaming at Bandcamp – is a song cycle tracing the history of New York, from the days before the European invaders arrived, to a possible future. Bandleader/pianist Will Healy wrote most of the material.

The first track, Mannahatta has a bubbly, spacious, optimism reinforced by rapper Nuri Hazzard, David Valbuena’s clarinet and Connell Thompson’s sax adding verdant textures. George Meyer’s violin spirals and dips above Healy’s steady minimalism as Hudson Drones rises toward a lush peak, verses by Akinyemi and and Maassai reflecting how 19th century struggles here mirror those of today. Akinyemi spells it out at the end:

The morning of peace, took a trip around the hill
The same dividend impacted me, subtracted thrill
Add in all the negative: the subway stops, delays in the mix
As I’m released from these trapped doors
I’m faced with the fate of these past laws
My passion would probably pull me in a positive direction
I stop at the river entrance
Enthralled by the possibility but worrisome
Of the penalties that change by the minute…

Singer Majel Connery delivers a setting of a Billy Collins poem with brassy passion over a relentless drive and increasingly nebulous bustle in Grand Central. Drummer Aaron Ewing’s rhythmically tricky For Those Who Look Up shifts on a dime from minimialist mathrock to a summery trip-hop groove.

Percussionist Jesse Greenberg opens his contribution to the album, Ancient Tools, with tinkling bells over hazy atmospherics. Hannah Zazzaro’s pensive vocals over a catchy, syncopated sway evoke the Chillharmonic in a sparse, dancing moment; Akinyemi returns to end it with a long, rapidfire lyric.

Over a driving, emphatic sway, MCs Bush Tea and Nuri Hazzard put a wary, urban 21st century update on the old ant-and-grasshopper fable in the next-to-last track, Ants. The ensemble close the album with Rebuild, its tricky metrics anchored by Healy’s Radiohead chords, MC Spiritchild contemplating a rather grim cycle of death and renewal over an increasingly epic sweep. An ambitious achievement from a group who also include violists Leah Asher, Sofia Basile, Linda Numagami, Lauren Siess and Drew Forde; violinists Megan Atchley and Allison Mase; cellists Maria Hadge, Olivia Harris, Philip Sheegog, Mosa Tsay and Daniel Hass; bassists Luiz Bacchi, John McGuire and Andrew Sommer; flutists Kelley Barnett, Izzy Gleicher and Fanny Wyrick-Flax; clarinetist David Valbuena; guitarist Jack Gulielmetti; drummer Cameron MacIntosh and rapper Adè Ra.

Frank London and Adeena Karasick’s Darkly Gorgeous New Album Salutes a Feminist Archetype

“You are bringing in the big guns, opening the sluicegates with your hyperdramatic extra sex, a swishy riff, pithy swift grifters…like a feisty zeitgeist, a forever Riviera,” poet Adeena Karasick freestyles, saluting her title character in one of the early tracks on the new album Salome: Woman of Valor, her new collaboration with iconic trumpeter Frank London., streaming at his music page. It’s a psychedelic, globally-inspired, feminist reclamation of the Salome archetype, recasting her as a fearless, indomitable, multi-faceted persona rather than uber-slut. Typically, Karasick’s intricate, wickedly playful, erudite solo spoken world interludes are spaced in between the individual songs here.

The enticement builds over an echoey wash from Shai Bachar’s electric piano, Deep Singh’s tabla and London’s lyrically pensive trumpet in the album’s first musical number, Song of Salome. As it goes on, London channels more of the acerbic, chromatic edge and meticulous melismas that have characterized his sound as one of this era’s great klezmer and Balkan brass players.

Playing with a mute, he introduces a bracing, suspenseful Ethiopian theme over a chilly, techy haze in Garden of Eros, Karasick celebrating the pleasures of the flesh amid the “cinders of avarice.” London shifts to a hypnotic mashup of Ethiopiques, qawwali and Romany psychedelia in Drown Me, exchanging terse, soulful trumpet riffs with a swirly synth as the tabla holds down the groove.

Dance of Desire has a darkly slinky trip-hop ambience, Karasick deviously referencing a half century or more worth of lyrics, from Wilson Pickett to Leonard Cohen as London’s trumpet teases the listener. Bind Me has a gorgeously brooding, contrapuntal Hasidic melody and a metaphorically loaded lyric: this Salome doesn’t like being restrained.

To introduce Johnny, Karasick sends a shout out to Jean Genet and other bad-boy figures before London’s balmy trumpet and tersely circling, uneasy piano enter the picture. Martyrology, a grisly chronicle of Jewish mystics tortured and murdered over the years, makes a chilling contrast, followed by a haunting, Middle Eastern and Indian-tinged interlude from London that brings to mind Ibrahim Maalouf.

London returns to an anthemic mix of murky Ethiopiques and woozy psychedelia in Yes I Will Yes Say Yes. He shifts to the Middle Eastern freygish mode for the undulating Dance of the Seven Veils, part klezmer, part Palestinian shamstep, featuring an imploring vocal cameo by Manu Narayan . The group return to dusky, forlorn Ethiopian ambience to wind up the record with Kiss Thy Myth. Look for this one on the best albums of 2020 list here, scheduled for the end of the year.

Ferociously Lyrical, Amazingly Psychedelic, Eclectic Sounds From the Free Radicals

Fearlessly political Houston-based collective the Free Radicals have a brilliant, insightful new album, White Power Outage Volume 1 out and streaming at Bandcamp. Over catchy, psychedelically arranged organic grooves that range from hard funk, to roots reggae, to dub and even surf music, a vast cast of over fifty artists speak truth to power with witheringly insightful lyricism. This album is like a great musical podcast about the state of the world right at the first strike of the lockdown: over and over again, this crew breaks down the big picture in ways that make sense, especially considering what’s happened since March 16 here in New York and even earlier in Wuhan.

Not surprisingly, it took more than a year to pull together all 23 tracks here. Hip-hop artist Obidike Kamau kicks it off over with America Is a Lie, over a slinky, live funk groove with wah guitar:

I know how much this hurts your feelings
It’s not because you strive for justice, but I’ve heard this bullshit all my life
The propaganda you spit, the rose-colored myths you declare
…I guess it goes back to your gangster beginnings
Your genocidal belief in unhappy endings
…I know a thief appreciates possession being nine tenths of the law
And you’re a liar
I ain’t in fear, your reign is temporary
I see it leaving here

EQuality delivers another broadside so good all 58 seconds of it are worth reprinting:

If multiple black men are found dead in the apartment of a millionaire tied to the Democratic Party named Ed Buck, and nobody investigates his role in the incident, does it make a sound?
Bartender I’ll take another round
But pouring kool-aid in a wine glass don’t make it merlot
A cat having kittens in the oven don’t make them biscuits
Well I’ll be George Washington Carver selling peanuts to the peanut gallery at the art gallery See what’s on the walls, pictures of poverty and pain
‘Cause that’s what sells n____s to negros
Some inverse tradeoff
Paid off the most popular rapper so the house can run the field n____s
Capitalism and Christ cut a deal in the back of the Vatican
As the Pope pours another round of scotch
Excuse my cynicism
The gospel according to a con

“Maybe we just catch a case and disappear without a trace,” says rapper Nosaprise over the loopy psychedelic backdrop of Cash Out — and he’s not talking about COVID.

“Beware the boogieman, terror threats scaring us out of psychological reason,” D-Ology warns in Look at That, a far-reaching catalog of threats from police brutality to transhumanism.

The Great Australian Heist, featuring hip-hop lyricist Bryte from down under, reminds how the slave trade devastated his country’s indigenous population…and how that resonates today in, as just one example, the way fracking is destroying the country’s already scarce water supply. He doesn’t get into the fascist lockdown situation there, the most repressive clampdown on human rights outside of China and Israel right now.

Swatara Olushola takes over the mic in Racist Car No Driver, revealing a sinister white supremacist motivation behind driverless cars: their “garbage in, garbage out” technology was designed not to recognize the presence of black people in the street. Earlier in the record she contributes another rocksteady-tinged protest song that also pokes savage fun at technosupremacists.

The musicians here turn out to be a phenomenal roots reggae band. The best of many of the reggae tunes here are the intricately arranged Daughter of Diana, with Kam Franklin on vocals, and Student Debt Dub, an Ethiopiques number fueled by bass and brass. Yet the best straight-up instrumental on the album is the sarcastically titled Deepwater Horizon, a slinky, reverbtoned minor-key surf rock instrumental – it’s really cool how the bass gets to carry the melody for a verse.

Later on the band careen into punk klezmer for a bit, then toward the end of the record Matt Kelly contributes Piece of the Rock, a Celtic/punkgrass mashup sung from the point of view of a greedy oligarch. “Come take a hit of my rock,” he snarls.

Highlights among the many other tracks here also include also fiery, politically charged reggaeton from Karina Nistal; Rashard’s More Power, a political update on vintage James Brown spiced with vibraphone and horns; and Genesis Blu & Jasmine Christine’s Chariot Rock, a conscious hip-hop reinvention of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot over dubby, Ethiopian-tinged loops. You’ll see this on the best albums of 2020 page here at the end of the month.

Witheringly Smart, Cynical Oldschool Soul, Gospel and Funk From Fantastic Negrito

Multi-instrumentalist Fantastic Negrito a.k.a. Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz has been pumping out fearlessly populist, cynically amusing, pro-freedom songs that span the worlds of oldschool soul, hard funk, hip-hop and gospel music since the zeros. His deliciously layered, often witheringly lyrical latest album Have You Lost Your Mind Yet? is streaming at Spotify. It’s funny, it’s sharp, it’s a clinic in vintage soul music, the layers of guitar and organ are killer, and you’ll see it on the list of the best albums of 2020 here at the end of December. If you miss Prince, this guy picks up where he left off.

The first track is Chocolate Samurai, a gritty ba-bump roadhouse blues theme mashed up with some psychedelic hard funk and swirly gospel organ: a sly message to free ourselves from mental slavery, as Bob Marley put it.

I’m So Happy I Could Cry is a similarly high-voltage minor-key gospel hip-hop number complete with passionate guest vocals from Tarriona Ball of Tank and the Bangas. How Long? is next, a brooding, savagely wise soul tune in a bluesy Gil Scott-Heron vein:

To alll the baby Al Capones
Out there screaming all alone
Full of shit, full of hope
Holding on
We can repeat the same old lies
That make us feel all right
Try to escape
But but we gotta fight the scary ones
…moving so fast, spitting out hashtags
But the lynch mob’s ready to kill

The saturnine guitar solo midway through packs a wallop.

Searching For Captain Save A Hoe features golden age Bay Area rapper E-40, in a darkly organic, soul-infused reprise of his surreal, sarcastic 1993 stoner classic. Your Sex Is Overrated is more subtly amusing than you would think – and the expertly guitar-infused, darkly jazzy early 70s soul ballad atmosphere is spot-on.

These Are My Friends is a strutting, gospel-tinged chronicle of the shady characters Fantastic Negrito surrounds himself with. “Things that don’t kill you in this lockdown will only make you stronger,” he reminds. Easier said than done!

“You want me kissing your ass and you know I never could do that,” he explains in All Up In My Space, an eerie mashup of noir 60s soul and hip-hop, with a slithery organ solo. He brings in a harder funk edge in Platypus Dipster, the album’s most psychedelic number – the ending is priceless. He winds up the record with King Frustration, blending vintage soul, searing Chicago blues and early 70s Stevie Wonder in a fervently detailed message to the masses to wake up. We’ve never needed music this good as much as we do now.