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Darkly Ambient Americana Instrumentalists Suss Headline an Enveloping, Inviting Brooklyn Triplebill Tomorrow Night

In 2018 this blog called cinematic instrumental group Suss “the missing link between Brian Eno and Ennio Morricone – or the Lost Patrol without the drums.” They were a quintet then. Tragically, they’ve been whittled down to a trio after the sudden 2021 loss of keyboardist Gary Lieb, but they keep putting out frequently mesmerizing, sometimes Lynchian deep-sky themes. Their latest album is a double-cd release comprising both their Heat Haze southwestern travelogue suite and their even more nocturnal Night Suite along with new material.

They’re headlining a great lineup tomorrow night, Feb 8 at around 10 PM at Public Records, that shi-shi monstrosity in the former Retrofret space north of Gowanus. As a bonus, deadpan and often hilariously lyrical new wave pop spoofers Office Culture open the night at 8ish, followed by the trippy electroacoustic trio of saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi, bassist Paul Bryan and drummer Jeremy Cunningham. Cover is pretty steep for a show like this, presumably $24 since the venue is one of many in Brooklyn who seem to be oblivious to the rising popularity of #cashalways and are still trying to make it with the goofy pennies-and-nickels online ticketing fad.

Both Suss’ Night Suite and Heat Haze got the thumbs-up here. The new tracks – the first several of which you can hear at Bandcamp – are just as drifty and evocative. Beyond Jonathan Gregg’s resonant pedal steel and spare dobro, it’s impossible to tell whether that’s Pat Irwin or Bob Holmes on the many other guitar and keyboard tracks. The first is a miniature, Winter Is Hard, rising from a delicate little piano figure to a flaring slide guitar peak and then out.

The band blend keening ebow textures, slow doppler effects, stalagmite piano drips and icepick reverb guitar incisions in North Wind. The most lingering thing in Linger is the gentle, precise acoustic guitar and the reverbtoned steel over the puffing, echoey loops in the background. Everything Is So Beautiful is steady and sad and Lynchian, and over too soon.

By now, the band are working variations on that initial crystalline three-note theme, notably in the rising and falling icy/hot textures of The First Thaw. Then they reprise Winter Was Hard with some unexpected timbres like autoharp and some gritty mechanical whirs.

At this point, you will have to switch to yucky Spotify to hear the rest of the record. Across the Horizon is aptly vast but peppered with warmly anticipatory fragments of blues and C&W riffs. The band warp the sustain a little in Ranger as a solitary acoustic guitar surveys the great plains, then in Shimmer (Reflection) they bring back the delicate quasar pulse: a distant Blue Velvet galaxy.

Holmes breaks out his mandolin and slowly works his way up in the mix in That Good Night. They waft their way out with the gentle phrases in The Open Door, shifting slowly through a characteristically twilit tableau.


In Memoriam: Tom Verlaine

Television guitarist and co-founder Tom Verlaine, whose distinctive style fused psychedelia, janglerock and in later years ambient music, died suddenly on January 28. He was 73.

Born Tom Miller, Verlaine took the name of one of the French poets whose work he discovered while in his teens. Alongside fellow guitarist Richard Lloyd, bassist Richard Hell and drummer Billy Ficca, Verlaine founded Television in New York in 1975. Although they were not a punk band, they were one of the first groups to have a regular residency at CBGB.

Television’s first two albums, 1977’s Marquee Moon, and Adventure, from a year later, achieved marginal commercial success but were enormously influential on subsequent, jangly guitar bands, from the Soft Boys, to the Larch. Marquee Moon is commonly cited as one of the greatest albums of all time.

In Television, Verlaine’s sinuous, melodic climbs and cascades contrasted with Lloyd’s harder-edged attack, often echoing the Grateful Dead’s two-guitar dichotomy. Where Lloyd would punch in with riffs and chords, Verlaine opted for melodic variations and rarely employed distortion, preferring a clean, ringing Fender guitar sound that drew on surf rock as much as Jerry Garcia and Lou Reed. Many of Television’s songs feature the two guitars exchanging roles and conversational ideas, a common jazz trope that was rare in rock bands of the era.

After the band’s breakup, Verlaine pursued a solo career and focused more on briefer, more pop-oriented songcraft. Verlaine also produced albums for two of the most important, twangy rock bands of the 80s, True West and the Room, as well as two Jeff Buckley cd’s.

Verlaine regrouped Television in 1992, primarily as an instrumental unit, with limited and highly sought-after live performances in the years that followed until he left the band for good in 2007.

Live Music Calendar for New York City and Brooklyn For February 2023

All these concerts are free of restrictions on entry. Weekly events first followed by the daily calendar. If a venue is unfamiliar, look for it on the old guide to NYC music venues here, which is more of a worksheet now, but it has links to most of the places on this calendar.

Tuesdays in February, Inspired, latin-influenced postbop trombonist Conrad Herwig and his septet at the Django, $25.

Thursdays in February, 5 PM poignantly lyrical, eclectic pianist Marta Sanchez at Bar Bayeux. 2/28 at 7:30 PM she leads a trio at Mezzrow, $25

Sundays at around 8 PM trumpeter Jon Kellso and (frequently) guitarist Matt Munisteri lead the Ear-Regulars in NYC’s only remaining weekly hot jazz jam session at the Ear Inn

2/1, 7 PM crystalline-voiced noir Americana songwriter Jessie Kilguss, leads an acoustic evening of some eclectically excellent songwriters: Lizzie Edwards of fiery, psychedelically bluesy oldschool soul/roadhouse jamband Lizzie & the Makers. Dave Derby of allstar 90s lit-rock crew Gramercy Arms, badass cellist Patricia Santos of the Whiskey Girls; and others at Branded Saloon

2/1, 7 PM riveting, charismatic, intuitive pianist Karine Poghosyan plays the album release show for her new one with works by Coleridge-Taylor, Grieg, Komitas and Liszt at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, $35 tix avail

2/1, 7:30 PM  the best singing pianist (and the best piano-playing singer) in jazz, Champian Fulton at the Django, $25

2/1, 7:30 PM  eclectic, witty, paradigm-shifting B3 jazz organist Brian Charette at Mezzrow, $25 2/15, 10:30 PM he’s at the Django, $25

2/1, 8/9:30 PM  Transylvanian pianist Lucian Ban with viola sorcerer Mat Maneri at Bar Bayeux. Ban is at Bar Lunatico on 2/7 at 9 PM

2/1, 8:30 PM throwback powerhouse blues belter Shemekia Copeland at City Winery, $20 adm avail

2/1, 8:30 PM loop-driven art-rock instrumentalists Thee Reps at Sisters Brooklyn, 900 Fulton at Washington, A/C to Clinton-Washington, $10

2/2, 7 PM fiery Bollywood and art-rock violinist Rini and Shakthi a.k.a. Bollywood chanteuse Shakthisree Gopalan front their own bands and then join forces for a set at Drom, $20 adv tix avail

2/2, 7 PM entrancing singer Treya Lam – who blends psychedelia, art-rock and oldschool soul – at Joe;s Pub, $15

2/2, 7:30 PM brilliant baritone saxophonist Lauren Sevian leads a quartet at the Django, $25, followed at 10:30 by noir-inspired alto saxophonist/composer Nick Hempton, He’s also at Smalls on 2/12

2/2, 7:30 PM wryly witty, sophisticated art-rock keyboardist and theatrical composer Greta Gertler Gold at the Lincoln Center Atrium, free

2/2, 8 PM ex-Brain Cloud frontwoman Tamar Korn‘s charming torch-swing band Kornucopia at at St. Mazie’s

2/2, 8 PM eclectic pan-Middle Eastern chanteuse Zahra Alzubaidi and surrealist art-song bandleader Leila Adu  at the Owl, $20 sug don

2/2, 8:30 PM ferociously dynamic, tuneful, female-fronted art-rock power trio Castle Black at the Windjammer, 552 Grandview Ave, Ridgewood, $12

2/3, 7 PM punk-jazz guitar cult hero Jack Martin’s Deathwatch at TV Eye, $10

2/3, 7:30 PM sizzling postbop saxophonist Mike DiRubbo’s quartet  at the Django, $25

2/3, 7:30 cynical, amusing, cinematic synthpunk band Marottes play the album release show for their new one at the Parkside

2/3-4, 7:30 PM  tenor sax improv titan George Garzone leads a quartet at Smalls, $25

2/3, 9 PM tuneful, first-class Kenyan reggae crooner Nixon Omollo at Shrine. If you love classic 70s roots reggae, don’t miss this guy.

2/3, 9 PM iconic klemer trumpeter Frank London’s Spiritual Quartet at Bar Lunatico

2/3, 10:30 PM  picturesque jazz pianist Michael Weiss leads a trio the Django, $25

2/3,11 PM iconic Afro-Cuban percussionist/bandleader Pedrito Martinez at Drom, $25. He’s back on 2/23 at 9 PM

2/4, 7 PM a battle-of-the-bands lineup including a showdown between slinky Afrobeat-influenced band Deep Sea Peach Tree vs. catchy powerpop/dreampop band Royal Blush at Our Wicked Lady, $15. Apples and oranges: they’re both good. Noisy lo-fi soul-punk band Hypemom will dispose of their execrable math-rock competitors

2/4, 7 PM the world’s most unpredictably brilliant cinematic guitarist, Steve Ulrich plays his original scores from This American Life with a string quartet followed by a set by his iconic film noir trio Big Lazy at the Sultan Room, $26

2/4. 7 PM darkly torchy southwestern gothic/Europolitan songwriter/guitarist Miwa Gemini, at the downstairs room at the Rockwood, $10

2/4 and 2/9, 7:30 PM bhangra trumpet mastermind Sunny Jain and band at Symphony Space, $35/$25 30 and under

2/4, 8 PM vicious noiserock jamband the the Skull Practitioners– led by Steve Wynn sparring partner/genius guitarist Jason Victor and perennially entertaining punk-soul cult figure Jon Spencer & the Hitmakers at TV Eye, $20

2/4, 8 PM perennially acerbic violin duo String Noise join in an audiovisual performance based on traditional Norwegian knitting patterns with sound artists Stine Janvin and Cory Arcangel at the Clementa Soto Velez auditorium, 107 Suffolk off Rivington, $20

2/4, 9:30 PM  hard-hitting, reverb-iced surf band Strange but Surf, and slinky, Middle Eastern-tinged Pontic surf band the Byzan-tones  at 11 at Otto’s

2/4, 11 PM  80s dancehall reggae hitmaker Sister Nancy  at the Market Hotel, $20

2/5, half past noon/2L390 PM hot 20s jazz trumpeter Jason Prover and band at the Blue Note, $26

2/5, 11 AM chamber jazz  cellist Marika Hughes with eclectic, ambient-tinged guitarist Kyle Sanna  at the Museum of Art & Design, 2 Columbus Cir., $25, coffee/breakfast snacks included

2/5, 2 PM Irish musicians Sean and Deirdre Murtha lead a sea chantey singalong at the South St. Seaport Museum, 12 Fulton St north of the water, free

2/5, 4 PM front porch folk banjo player Allison Kelley – of the Johnson Girls – with her band – at Skinny Dennis

2/5, 5 PM spiky strings galore: Yacouba Sissoko, kora; John Hadfield, percussion; Bridget Kibbey, harp at Our Saviour’s Atonement Lutheran Church, 178 Bennett Avenue at 189th, Washington Heights, $25

2/5, 8 PM sets from ambient, percussive composer Qasim Naqvi, + MIROVAYA LINIYA (Julia Pello & Heinrich Mueller’s Heisenberg Principle-influenced duo) as well as a video installation by Peter Burr at Roulette, $25 adv tix rec

2/5, 8 PM cheery, kinetic 20s hot jazz crew Baby Soda Band at St. Mazie’s. They’re back on 2/12 and 2/26.

2/5, 9 PM choral quartet Agrol Agra sing Bartok works followed by trumpeter Frank London’s ¡No Pasarán! brass band at the Owl, $12 sug don

2/6-7. 7:30 PM alto saxophonist Jesse Davis makes a rare 2-night NYC stand at Smalls with a quartet, $25. He’s also at Mezzrow on 2/10-11

2/6, 8 PM Trio Casals play works by Mozart and Piazzolla at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, $34 tix avail

2/6, 9 PM unorthodox hot 20s swing string band the Buck and a Quartet Quartet at Skinny Dennis

2/7, 7 PM  funk-jazz crew the Silver Arrow Band at Drom, free. They’re back on  2/22

2/7, 8 PM intense janglerock/Americana/soul songwriter Matt Keating and guitarist Steve Mayone’s catchy project the Bastards of Fine Arts at the small room at the Rockwood

2/8, 9 AM, not a music event but important: thousands of New Yorkers, many of them city workers, are still out of a job after being fired for not taking the lethal Covid injections. Show up and show your support at the rally at Foley Square, downtown across from the courthouse

2/8, 7:30 PM  snidely satirical new wave/80s rock spoofers Office Culture and  hauntingly cinematic Lynchian/southwestern gothic instrumentalists Suss at Public Records, $24

2/8, 8 PM Filharmonie Brno play works by Martinu, Janacek and the New York premiere of Philip Glass’ Symphony No. 12, at Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall, $34 tix avail

2/8, 10:30 PM  lyrical, thoughtful tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander leads a quartet at the Django, $25

2/9, 7 PM carnivalesque Balkan punk monstrosity Funkrust Brass Band and wild, hilarious klezmer punks Golem at Union Pool, $19

2/9, 7:30 PM  tuneful oldschool soul/jazz trombonist Dave Gibson leads a quartet followed by  purist oldschool tenor sax player Craig Handy at the Django, $25

2/9, 7:30 PM  tenor saxophonist Tim Ries and his quartet play Sonny Rollins at Drom, $20 adv tix rec

2/9, 7:30 PM soulful pan-Latin jazz chanteuse Claudia Acuña at the Lincoln Center Atrium, free

2/9, 9 PM relentless noiserock duo the Venus Twins and explosive, theatrical, phantasmagorical indie/metal band A Deer A Horse at TV Eye, $12

2/9, 9 PM edgy, hypnotic harpist/singer Kitba at the Owl

2/10, 10 PM punk night at the small room at the Rockwood – no joke. Fire Is Murder at 10 and then the reliably hilarious Car Bomb Parade. Desperate times, desperate measures.

2/11-12, sets at 10:30., 11:30 AM and 1:30. & 2:30 PM  Metropolis Ensemble play Ricardo Romaneiro’s mutimedia Biophony SoundGarden in sync with plant-generated soundscapes at the Steinhardt Conservatory at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, $18

2/11, 6 PM potentially mesmerizing improvisation: James Ilgenfritz – bass / Sandy Ewen – guitar / Michael Foster – saxes
  at Downtown Music Gallery

2/11, 7 PM dark psychedelic acoustic blues/klezmer/reggae/soca jamband Hazmat Modine at Terra Blues.

2/11, 7:30 PM distinctively intricate, vivid composer/singer/viollinist Caroline Shaw plays Caroline Shaw at Merkin Concert Hall $30

2/11, 8 PM trumpeter Kenny Warren leads an interesting trio with cellist Christopher Hoffman and drummer Nathan Ellman-Bell at Bar Bayeux

2/11, 8 PM the Met Orchestra play Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra, Stravinsky’s Firebird and Moussorgsky’s Dances of Death, yikes, at Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall, $28 tix avail

2/11, 9 PM fiery electric bluegrass and C&W with Demolition String Band at Skinny Dennis  They’re back on 2/27

2/11, 9 PM Innov Gnawa‘s star Moroccan sintir player Samir Langus at Bar Lunatico

2/11, 10:30 PM  fiery, latin-inspired trombonist Mariel Bildstein leads her septet at the Django, $25

2/12, 4 PM the  Harlem Chamber Players play works by Valerie Coleman, Tania León, Frederick Tillis and George Walker’s String Quartet No. 1 at the Dreck Center at the Brooklyn Public Library, free, no under-sixes.

2/12, 9 PM pastoral gothic accordion bandleader Sam Reider with the Jimi Hendrix of the cuatro, Jorge Glem at Bar Lunatico

2/13, 7 PM the New York Composers Circle play new small ensemble music: David Picton’s Piano Sonata No. 1, Kevin McCarter’s Responding Variations for oboe and viola, Tamara Cashour’s This Is Not a Reimagining for piccolo and contrabassoon, and Timothy L. Miller’s Two Settings of Ogden Nash Poems for narrator and piano, U.S. premieres of Ukrainian composer Olga Victorova’s Magic Birds Phung Hoan, Andrei Bandura’s Sonata for Violin and Piano and the New York premiere of David Mecionis’s Trio in Two Parts with an Interval Between, Natalia Medvedovskaya’s Ragtimes for piano solo and Debra Kaye’s Submarine Dreams for bass flute and double bass at the National Opera Center, $20

2/13, 7:30 PM  energetic ragtime/Romany swing guitarist Felix Slim at Cowgirl Seahorse. 2/22 at 8 he’s at St. Mazie’s

2/13, 8 PM the Toronto Symphony play Samy Moussa’s Symphony No. 2, Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole and Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet Suite at Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall, $34 tix avail

2/13, 10:30 PM smartly impressionistic postbop pianist Miki Yamanaka at Smalls. She’s back on 2/27

2/14, half past noon, Italian organist Francesco Bongiorno plays a program tba at Central Synagogue, 54th/Lex, free

2/14, 7 PM jazz vocalist/comedian Eleonor England‘s annual Stabby Valentine’s Day “featuring tunes where someone is betrayed, neglected, forgotten, jilted, left, abandoned, denied, or (in a perfect world) stabbed by their lover at Don’t Tell Mama’s 343 W 46th St between 8th and 9th Ave, $20

2/15, 8 PM the S.E.M. Ensemble play new small-scale orchestral works by Lydia Brindamour, Jordan Dykstra, Jakub Polaczyk, Teodora Stepančić, and Jiaqi Wang at Willow Place Auditorium, 26 Willow Place, Brooklyn Heights, free

2/15, 8 PM lyrical, cerebral pianist Matt Mitchell leads a great trio with Kim Cass on bass and Kate Gentile on drums at Bar Bayeux

2/15, 8 PM violist Miranda Sielaff performs work by Telemann, Ligeti and Stravinsky followed by the Argus Quartet playing Theofanidis works at Seeds

2/15, 9 PM iconic, slinky film noir guitar instrumental jamband Big Lazy at Bar Lunatico

2/16, 7 PM powerful, dynamic clarinetist/composer Michael Winograd leads a killer klezmer band playing a live concert recording of his Tanz album at the Manhattan JCC, $10

2/16, 9 PM intriguingly moody, coldly jangly, female-fronted new wave band Nostranders at Our Wicked Lady, $14. They’re at the small room at the Rockwood on 2/26 at 10 for the tip jar

2/16, 8 PM the Czech National Orchestra play works by Dvorak, Brahms and Beethoven’s Symphony No, 3 at Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall, $34 tix avail

2/16, 8 PM keyboardists Marcia Basssett and Ted Gordon improvise as a duo on the Buchla Music Easel at the Old Stone House in Park Slope, $20

2/17, 7:30 PM merengue band Afro Dominicano at the Lincoln Center Atrium, free

2/17, 7:30 PM rising star trumpeter Adam O’Farrill‘s Stranger Days quintet at Seeds

2/17, 8 PM sound artists Thomas Ankersmit and Dani Dobkin play a 1973 Serge Modular synthesizer at Brooklyn Music School, 126 St. Felix St, $20, any train to Atlantic Ave or G to Fulton

2/17, 8 PM intense, ecstatic oldschool soul band Empire Beats at Silvana

2/17, 10 PM the oud-fueled Sedi Donka Balkan Band at St. Mazie’s

2/18, 5:30 PM a free screening of Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine’s Leonard Cohen documentary Hallelujah at the Dreck Center at the Brooklyn Public Library, free

2/18, 7:30 smart, terse guitarist Mike Moreno leads his quartet at Smalls, $25

2/18, 8 PM  luminous latin-inspired jazz chanteuse Marianne Solivan leads her quartet at Bar Bayeux

2/18. 9 PM brilliant, fearlessly political B3 organist Greg Lewis does his Organ Monk thing at Bar Lunatico

2/19, 11 AM: early music at an early hour, Twelfth Night Ensemble plays a medieval program TBA at the Museum of Art & Design, 2 Columbus Cir., $25, coffee/breakfast snacks included

2/19, 3 PM Ronn McFarlane, lute; Carolyn Surrick, viola da gamba; Yousif Sheronick, percussion play works by Dowland, Purcell, the Allman Bros., English folk tunes and hymns at Concerts on the Slope, St. John’s Episcopal Church, 139 St. John’s Place downhill from 7th Ave,, $25

2/19, 3 PM the New York Virtuoso Singers perform American works including world premieres by Anthony Davis, Peter Zummo, Elena Ruehr, and William McClelland; New York premieres by Tania León, David Patterson, and Edie Hill as well as works by Florence Price, Annea Lockwood, Jessie Montgomery, Mari Esabel Valverde, and Nancy Wertsch, and 18th, 19th and 20th century choral works by William Billings, Charles Ives, at Christ & St Stephen’s Church. 120 W 69th St (bet Broadway and Columbus) $20. 2/25 at 7:30 they sing the choral movements from Bach’s Cantatas 148 through 177, with piano accompanist Will Healy at Merkin Concert Hall, $30

2/19, 5 PM classically-inspired jazz pianist Jason Yeager in a rare duo show with saxophonist Gottfried Stöger at the lounge at  at Hudson View Gardens, 116 Pinehurst Ave, Washington Heights, A to 181st St., $15

2/19, 9 PM 90s allstar janglerock collective Gramercy Arms play the album release show for their new one at the big room at the Rockwood

2/19, 8 PM edgy jazz cellist Hank Roberts at the Owl. 2/20, 9 PM he’s with Aruan Ortiz on piano and Matt Wilson on drums at Bar Lunatico, wow.

2/21, 6:30 PM a wild night of improvisation: drummer Nick Fraser, viola wizard Mat Maneri and bassist Brandon Lopez,  followed at 7:30 by guitarist Aaron Rubenstein solo  and then at 8:30: Active Field with Nana Futagawa on shamisen, Evan Caplinger on cello, Joe Jordan on oboe, Izzy Tanashian on synth and Orchid McRae on drums, wow   at Downtown Music Gallery

2/21, 7 PM sludgy stoner metal band Reverend Mother, thorny heavy psych band Bone Church and killer heavy psych/stoner boogie band El Perro at St. Vitus, $16

2/21, 7:30 charismatic, adventurous postbop/avant garde trombonist/crooner Frank Lacy at Smalls, $25

2/21, 8 PM Mohamed Araki – keyboard Dave Adewumi – trumpet Gideon Forbes – nay Sami Abu Shumays – violin Sarah Mueller – violin Josh Farrar – electric guitar Marwan Allam – bass Johnny Farraj – percussion Philip Mayer – percussion play a tribute to paradigm-shiffting Egyptian keyboardist Hany Mehanna at Sisters Brooklyn, 900 Fulton at Washington, A/C to Clinton-Washington, $20

2/21, 9 PM cinematic, classically-tinged improvisational pianist Miss Kerosene at the small room at the Rockwood

2/22, 8 PMish Mykal Rose, former frontman of roots reggae legends Black Uhuru at SOB’s, $30

2/22. 10 PM boisterously funny oldschool 60s C&W and brooding southwestern gothic with Jack Grace at the Ear Inn

2/22, 10:30 PM purist postbop saxophonist TK Blue leads a quartet at the Django, $25

2/23, 7 PM  pianist Per Tengstrand and a string ensemble play the Grieg Piano Concerto at Scandinavia House, $30

2/23, 7 PM  rustic Piedmont-style blues guitar duo Gordon Lockwood at Terra Blues

2/23, 7:30 PM the Experiental Orchestra play string quartets and other works by Michelle Ross, Jessie Montgomery and Jessica Meyer at Church of the Advent Hope, 111 E 87th St east of Park, $29/$18 stud

2/23 8 PM Judith Hamann plays works for solo cello by microtonal composer Pascale Criton at the Dreck Center at the Brooklyn Public Library, free, no under-sixes.

2/23, 10 PM counterintuitive, whirling, string-driven chamber pop/art-rock band Gadadu at the Owl

2/24-25, 6 PM brilliantly relevant oldtime gospel/Africana music maven Vienna Carroll at the balcony bar at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, free w adm

2/24-25, 7:30 PM cutting-edge B3 organ grooves with the Jared Gold quartet at Smalls, $25

2/24, 7:30 PM purist postbop jazz guitarist Ed Cherry and band followed at 10:30 by clever, purist B3 jazz organist Akiko Tsuruga at the Django, $25

2/24, 10:30 PM pyrotechnic clarinetist Ismail Lumanovski’s ferociously kinetic NY Gypsy All-Stars at Drom, $20 adv tix rec

2/25, 8 PM world-class jazz for the tip jar: revered saxophonist Ravi Coltrane leading a quartet with Luis Perdomo, Drew Gress, EJ Strickland at Bar Bayeux

2/25, 10:30 PM  the great unsung NYC hero of darkly purposeful, noir-tinged jazz guitar, Saul Rubin at Smalls, $25

2/26, 3 PM the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra play Beethoven’s 9th Symphony at Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall, $18 tix avail

2/26, 7:30 PM pianist Illia Ovcharenko plays works by Liszt, Scarlatti, Revutsky and Silvestrov at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, $18 tix avail

2/26, 8 PM classical chorale the Downtown Voices sing Caroline Shaw’s “To the Hands” at St. Paul’s Chapel downtown, free

2/26, 10:30 PM energetic, inventive, gospel-inspired jazz pianist Pete Malinverni leads his trio at the Django, $25

2/27, 8 PM brilliant keyboard-driven doom metal/heavy psych band Early Moods at St. Vitus, $20

2/28, 7 PM wildfire polymath violist Stephanie Griffin of the Momenta Quartet leads a different quartet playing her new suite for voice, viola, clarinet, and piano at the Americas Society, 680 Park Ave, free,

2/28, 9 PM singer Veronica Davila’s twangy, Bakersfield-flavored hard honkytonk band Low Roller at Skinny Dennis

The Skull Practitioners Hit Queens With Their Most Savagely Tuneful Album in Tow

Nobody plays guitar with as much distinctively feral intensity as Jason Victor. He’ll hang a chord over the edge of a familiar resolution until it bleeds and screams to be pulled back from the abyss, or slash his way through the passing tones like a Sandinista chasing a World Bank operative through the sugarcane. He’s best known for his work as Steve Wynn‘s sparring partner in the Dream Syndicate as well as Wynn’s band the Miracle 3. But Victor is also a bandleader in his own right, and has slowly built an equally savage body of work as frontman of the Skull Practitioners. While you can hear elements of the Stooges, the Gun Club and maybe the Chrome Cranks in his music, there is no band who sound like them. Their new album Negative Stars is streaming at youtube. They’re opening the best twinbill of the year so far on Feb 4 at 8 PM, with Jon Spencer & the Hitmakers headlining at a new venue, TV Eye, at 1647 Weirfield St. between Wyckoff and Cypress in Ridgewood. Cover is $20; take the J/M to Myrtle-Wyckoff and walk about eight blocks.

The album’s first number is Dedication, Victor buzzing and growling over the loose-limbed attack of drummer Alex Baker while bassist Kenneth Levine booms lithely behind them. There’s a bridge that’s part Sonics Rendezvous Band, part Live Skull. All that in about five and half minutes.

Track two is Exit Wounds, a catchy, hard-riffing post-Stooges number propelled by Baker’s staggered stomp: when Levine takes a climb up the scale behind Victor’s acidically floating lines, it could be Radio Birdman. For that matter, so could LEAP, where Victor blends in a more 90s-flavored, acidic, Polvo-style edge.

Hypnotic fuzz guitar and a suspenseful, mutedly echoey syncopation kick off the album’s big epic, Intruder, a mashup of uneasy surf rock, the Dream Syndicate, and the Lords of the New Church (let Victor’s vocals sink in for a minute). “We start apart and we finish alone,” Victor snarls.

Levine gets his fuzz going in What Now, Victor bending his chords and firing off one of his signature, unhinged solos that ends in a flurry of machete-chops. He builds a loopy noir atmosphere and then an increasingly desperate, bittersweet drive as the band rise into a brisk new wave groove in the album’s lone instrumental, Fire Drill.

In the next track, Ventilation, the band work a warped, ominously galloping southwestern gothic take on the Dream Syndicate. The album’s final cut is Nelson D – a reference to former New York Governor, pathological racist and deep state operative Nelson Rockefeller, maybe? Victor howls and wails, building a volcanic interweave with a few finely sharpened, dueling layers over the rhythm section’s ineluctable drive toward chaos. Having picked Steve Ulrich’s eerie Music From This American Life as the frontrunner for best album of 2023, this one’s a contender too.

Fearless Microbiology Expert Dr. Jessica Rose Creates a Party Playlist For the Noncompliant

Dr. Jessica Rose is one of the world’s foremost experts on the VAERS database of vaccine injury and death in the US. Despite the seriousness of her research, she has a devastatingly deadpan sense of humor and a sleuth’s determination to figure out where the data is and what it tells us. She’s also one of the most lucid and entertaining writers on subjects ranging from microbiology, to biostastistics and lipid nanoparticles. She documents her research (and her surfing adventures, and her cats) on her Substack page. You should subscribe!

And like a lot of the fighters on the frontline of the freedom movement, she’s an interesting and original musician. Keyboards are Rose’s axe. Like her writing, her instrumentals have a quirky charm and a devious sense of humor. Most of them you can dance to: Rose is definitely a bon vivant. There’s a ton of her work up at Bandcamp as a free download, and if this kind of stuff is your thing, you should grab it while it lasts.

Somehow, between conferences and interviews and writing scientific papers with Dr. Peter McCullough, Rose has found time to make a short album, titled Thank Him For His Email and Cut Him Off. It has three tracks: a wryly loopy march, a funky strut and a piece where she multitracks polyrhythmic piano and organ before taking it in a minimalist dubstep direction.

Rose’s previous albums are also a lot of fun. The oldest album up at Bandcamp, going all the way back to 2012, is There Will Be Words (one of the free downloads). This one actually has words. Rose’s determined individualism comes across in a mix of bouncy, playful themes that echo Bjork, Goldfrapp, Tom Tom Club and vintage Kraftwerk, infused with catchy, diversely textured riffage and occasional airy, multitracked vocals. One of the more sweeping, orchestrally majestic instrumentals has bass, flute and an irresistibly funny lakeside scene. There are also shamanic percussion interludes, an ominous tableau with flaring guitar, some trip-hop, a loopy gnawa tune and an empowering rap about being in this for the long haul. Was that prophetic or what?

True to the title, There Are No Words – another 2012 release, and a free download – is pretty much all-instrumental. There’s a trio of catchy New Order-style dancefloor jams, a couple of action movie-style themes, and a bit of what could be a medieval chorale.

Inertia, a 2014 release, is very sarcastically titled: the beats come flying out of this one. There’s a lot of late 70s Tangerine Dream and Alan Parsons sequencer influence, with an epic twelve-minute salute to transgression to close it out. And Rose picked up right where she left off with a couple of singles she released in March, 2020: the consistent theme throughout her music seems to be to party for our right to fight.

Dark Tunesmith Gemma Ray Takes a Detour Into Enigmatic, Minimalist Tableaux

Gemma Ray made a name for herself in the previous decade as a connoisseur of eerily twangy, Lynchian songcraft. On her new album Gemma Ray & the Death Bell Gang – streaming at youtube – she completely flips the script, switching out her signature retro guitar sonics for cold, disquieting keyboard atmospherics. You could call this her Low album. In addition to the guitars, Ray plays keys, joined by Ralf Goldkind on keys and bass, Kristof Hahn on lapsteel and Andy Zammit on drums.

Appropriately enough, the first sound you hear echoes the way AC/DC opened the bestselling album of alltime. From there, the opening track, No Love grows into a hazy, chilly, electronicized take on a stark 19th century gospel sound: Algiers with a woman out front.

Likewise, the second cut, Procession, is a stern minor-key blues awash in nebulous keys, Ray’s eerie, tremoloing guitar tantalizingly hinting at piercing the veil.

She channels early 80s Siouxsie in Be Still, a slowly swaying, distantly lurid, quasi trip-hop tune. Howling also brings to mind Ms. Sioux, but in sleek, keyboard-driven mode from ten years later.

Come Oblivion is a surprisingly successful attempt to blend early 60s soul and pulsing, organ-driven bedroom pop. The instrumental Tempelhof Desert Inn – a reference to the abandoned German airport – begins with wry helicopter sonics, then Ray picks up her big hollowbody Gibson and builds a terse deep-sky tableau.

I Am Not Who I Am is an uneasily hypnotic boogie blues disguised as murky, cinematic trip-hop. The album’s loopiest song is The Point That Tears, a mashup of cheery 60s soul-pop and smoky, synthesized battlefield sonics. The most surreal track is All These Things, a collage of echoey, disjointed phrases around a buzzy synth loop.

“She was born with her dark taste/Let her stray to the cliff face,” Ray muses in the final cut, Blowing Up Rocks, taking her time rising from a skeletal sway to what could be smoky, menacingly orchestrated Portishead. On one hand, another Twin Peaks guitar record from Ray would have been welcome; on the other, her invitation to this strange and opaquely troubled new sound world is well worth your time.

The World’s Most Cinematic Guitarist Continues His Dark Dynasty

It was the spring of 2016, and cinematic instrumental trio Big Lazy had just finished slinking their way through a slowly simmering, increasingly macabre, chromatically slashing crime theme. The Brooklyn bar was packed, and people were dancing, notwithstanding the band’s somber, noir-drenched sonics.

Then guitarist Steve Ulrich took the mic and led the band through a brisk if somewhat wistful new wave song. Half the audience did a doubletake: a Big Lazy song with lyrics, in a major key, no less!

But fans of Ulrich’s signature blend of nocturnal bristle, deep-sky twang and white-knuckle improvisational scramble know that he has a completely different body of work. In addition to Big Lazy – the first band to top the best-albums-of-the-year lists here twice, in 2014 and 2019 – Ulrich does a lot of work in film and other media. His soundtrack to the artworld forgery documentary Art and Craft ranges from his signature, shadowy style to more lighthearted terrain. And now, he’s finally released a compilation of some of his most vivid and surprisingly eclectic soundtrack work from the NPR series This American Life, due to hit his Bandcamp page. Ulrich is celebrating the release of the album with a characteristically epic night on Feb 4 at 7 PM at the Sultan Room, playing a set with a string quartet, then bringing Big Lazy in to close the evening. The venue is easy to get to from the Jefferson St. stop on the L; like a lot of the trendier Brooklyn joints, they’ve become enamored of weird online dollars-and-cents cover charges, meaning that $26 cash should get you in.

On one hand, this is the great lost Big Lazy album. On the other, it’s more texturally diverse and slightly more lighthearted: the increased use of keyboards is a newer development for Ulrich. Typically, he’ll lay down a simple, muted riff and then judiciously add layers.

The first track, Earthly begins as a klezmer-tinged, lithely pulsing, delicately disquieted cha-cha, drummer Dean Sharenow spacing out his playfully counterintuitive hits, keyboardist Thomas Bartlett channeling a deep-space cabana with his lightly processed piano. Ulrich orchestrates bass and lapsteel into the mix as well.

The group slowly straighten out into a dark, wry strut in Handheld as Ulrich’s layers of skeletal guitar and resonant lapsteel mingle with Bartlett’s occasional roller-rink organ. In track three, The Swell, they trace a similar light-footed path, following a familiar Ulrich pattern, shifting almost imperceptibly out of the shadows into a sunny pastoral theme and then back.

Fellow Traveler is not a Chinese army song but a syncopated waltz with hints of dub and classic country, courtesy of Ulrich’s baritone guitar work. Surprise, Arizona is a Big Lazy concert favorite that first took shape in the wake of a 2019 tour, a stern Appalachian theme that diverges into mysterious sagebrush.

Ulrich’s sense of humor tends to be on the cynical side, but Rinse Cycle – the loopiest number here – is irresistibly funny and a good example of how far afield he can go from Big Lazy noir when he feels like it. He begins Housebroken as a forlorn bolero over Sharenow’s shuffling snowstorm beats: it’s the closest thing to Big Lazy here and the album’s creepiest song.

The most jazz-inflected tune here is If and When, a classic example of how Ulrich can take a whimsical theme and turn it inside out in a split-second, Bartlett shadowing the unfolding menace with his airy fills. The most brisk tune here is Unpretty, which is actually very attractive, in a delicate, melancholy vein

Bookworm turns out to be an apt coda, a bouncy swing tune where Ulrich flips the script on his usual trajectory. It’s still January, but Ulrich just might have given us the answered to the question of what the best album of 2023 is.

Cupid’s Nemesis Bring Their Catchy Retro Guitar Pop Sounds to the Rockwood

By last summer, when a substantial number of venues began breaking free of lockdown restrictions, it quickly became obvious that there wasn’t much left of the New York rock scene. However, that brain drain has opened a window of opportunity for some of the remaining talent here, much of which probably would never been able to score a gig at a “name” venue like Rockwood Music Hall on a weekend night That’s where power trio Cupid’s Nemesis are playing on Jan 28 at 10 PM.

Their new ep, Sleepover – streaming at Bandcamp – is a competent take on Big Stir Records guitar pop. The three brief tracks include a cynical, scruffy Shirts-style new wave tune, a decent, bittersweet powerpop anthem and an early 60s-style proto-Merseybeat number that could be an early song by the Who.

Their debut album, which they released last year, has a lot more detail, stylistic breadth and guitar textures – and it’s up at Bandcamp as a name-your-price download. The band – guitarist/frontman Erik Reyes, bassist Antony DiGiacomo and drummer Declan Moy Bishow – stake their claim to a catchy mid-sixties four-chord Britpop sound in the opening song, Time Traveling Man, with keening roller-rink organ and layers of acoustic and electric guitars.

All of My Friends is a punchier midtempo take on Jacco Gardner sunshine pop. Then the group make trip-hop out of a jazzy Burt Bacharach-inflected sound in Amores. The best song on the album is Best Friends With a Ghost, a similarly jazz-tinged miniature that clocks in at barely a minute twenty-five.

The band leap forward thirty years into gritty indie pop with I Don’t Care. Then they go back to the sixties, bringing back the organ and adding some flute in Scary World, a gently strutting psych-pop tune.

Reyes hits his chorus pedal and DiGiacomo plays fuzz bass up to an unexpectedly swirly spacerock chorus in Drop Out. The album’s slow, catchy, melancholy concluding ballad is simply titled Me. Considering the more raw, stripped-down sound of the ep, the band may be going in a more straightforward direction, something you can find out this Saturday night at prime time.

In Memoriam: David Crosby

David Crosby. who with his guitarist bandmate Roger McGuinn invented janglerock in their iconic 60s band the Byrds, died yesterday at 81.

Like the Beatles, the Byrds played Rickenbacker guitars, which have a distinctively ringing, high-midrange tone enhanced by a high-pitched harmonic resonance. The Byrds maximized that effect, with McGuinn playing a twelve-string model.

Unlike the Beatles, whose early songs were based on chords and riffs, McGuinn and Crosby pioneered the use of broken chords and a slower style of bluegrass-inspired flatpicking. The Byrds were unsurpassed at Dylan covers; the group’s enormous influence on generations of jangly rock bands, from Big Star, to the Church, to REM, cannot be overstated. Crosby’s high vocal harmonies and imaginative guitar work were central to the Byrds’ sound. Their hit I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better remains one of the foundational songs in the style: pretty much every rock guitarist knows it.

Crosby’s career after the Byrds was erratic. He was a founding member of 70s harmony-rock band Crosby Stills Nash & Young, whose frequently pompous, cloying, folky sound has not aged well.

Crosby’s long solo career afterward was spent mainly on the nostalgia circuit. Tragically, he was imprisoned for crack possession in the mid-80s when he really needed rehab. He would later require a liver transplant due to his heavy cocaine and heroin use.

The 2nd Smartest Guy in the World Substack asks if Crosby was murdered by the lethal Covid injection. Crosby claimed on social media to have taken the shot, but with so many celebrities buying fake vaxx cards, we will probably never know the answer. On one hand, the world’s most-published cardiac physician, Dr. Peter McCullough, asserts that until proven otherwise, we should always assume that the Covid shot is to blame if someone who has taken it dies suddenly. On the other hand, very few people survive into their eighties after a lifetime of heavy drug abuse and an organ transplant.

In Memoriam: Jeff Beck

Jeff Beck, one of the most technically gifted guitarists to emerge in the 1960s British rock and blues scene, died at 78 this past Tuesday. According to media reports, the cause of death was bacterial meningitis, an increasingly common consequence of the lethal covid shot that Beck had championed over the past year.

Beck got his start as a session musician in London in the early 60s, while still in his teens, playing with R&B and pop cover bands. At 18, he was hired as lead guitarist in Screaming Lord Sutch’s horror-blues band. In 1966, the Yardbirds enlisted Beck to replace Eric Clapton, a commonsense move considering Beck’s speed, precision and reputation for perfectionism. The gig lasted long enough for him to recruit a fellow session guitarist, Jimmy Page, to join the band.

After leaving the Yardbirds, Beck formed his own group with Rod Stewart on vocals and released two records which are considered foundational moments in British blues. Afterward he led the psychedelic power trio Beck, Bogart & Appice and released a handful of fusion-oriented records which were his most commercially successful. He would later disown those albums as being overly slick and unreflective of the gritty blues sound he preferred.

A master of texture and tone, Beck pioneered the use of effects including distortion, reverb, fuzz and wah-wah. Beck would arguably record his finest work as lead guitarist on Roger Waters’ 1992 album Amused to Death album. Although known for his ability to shred, Beck could be poignantly lyrical: give a listen to his wrenchingly beautiful solo on The Ballad of Bill Hubbard, or his concise work on Three Wishes.

A year later, he played lead guitar on Kate Bush’s album The Red Shoes. In later years he would tour occasionally and collaborate with other artists, most notably Australian bassist Tal Wilkenfeld.