Archives for category: Jazz Festivals


Words by Hank Williams

This week, the annual Winter Jazz Fest is on and in full swing. The 15th edition of the increasingly popular showcase expanded again, with a third “mini marathon” night of music on Saturday January 5th and several standalone events, which we previewed here. In this post, we’ll take a look at the two marathon nights of music on Friday January 11th and Sunday January 12th in venues scattered around the heart of Greenwich Village.

As we’ve done for the past few years, we’ll go through a shows with a viewers’ guide to some of our preferred picks, with an admitted lean toward former guests on the Suga in My Bowl radio show.

I’ll point you toward the Friday and Saturday schedules and artist lineup, but hopefully this will help wade through the myriad choices available each night. Obviously, there are several ways to experience the festival. You can either pick and choose key acts, take a more eclectic approach and see what you find, or some combination of the two. It’s all good.

FESTIVAL THEME AND FOCUS

The theme is again on social justice, as it has been for the last few years. This year, following on the heels of #MeToo, the spotlight has shifted to women’s role in music. The We Have Voice Collective was initiated by several female musicians, including Fay Victor, Nicole Mitchell, Linda May Han Oh, Jen Shyu, Imani Uzuri, and Tia Fuller. Their open letter calls for a code of conduct, establishing safe spaces for women, LGBTQIA, transgender, and non-binary artists working in music and more opportunities for work in a field that’s often dominated by men. Festival co-organi   and support of the broader discussion around Black Lives Matter, a theme that festival producer Brice Rosenbloom has committed to gender parity for the festival, noting in an essay in the 2019 program that while WJF has taken steps of its own, he sees that there’s still more work to be done and that the next step is pushing individual bandleaders to commit to more gender balance in their groups.

This year’s artist-in-residence is Meshell Ndgeocello, who has several sets of her own and will be part of an afternoon panel discussion on Saturday January 12.

TICKETS AND ADMISSION

WJF has ticket options for either the Friday or Saturday marathon nights–or both–but they don’t offer tickets for individual sets. That said, they’re a pretty good deal for how much music you get if you see more than a single show and there’s likely something to suit almost everyone’s taste. The one constant is that we strongly recommend getting tickets in advance, since the festival’s popularity does lead to sellouts.

LOCATIONS AND LOGISTICS

The WJF’s heart is still in the center of the Village: with venerable institutions Zinc Bar, The Bitter End, and Le Poisson Rouge returning, but the spaces at the New School that have been used for the last two years are gone and as a result the festival’s more scattered, with poles in the West and East Village also.

Zinc Bar is small and popular, so be warned that seeing an act scheduled there means getting there very early, and possibly skipping something else in the process.

On the western frontier of the Village and Tribeca are SOB’s and the SOHO Playhouse.

Nublu, Bowery Ballroom, Subculture, The Sheen Center, Public Arts, Mercury Lounge, and Bowery Ballroom are clustered together on the East Village/Lower East Side

Obviously, figuring out what one wants to see also means taking into account the logistics of who’s playing where and getting between venues, which requires more planning with the larger distances this year. It’s still very possible to venue-hop since most are a brisk walk, Citibike, or cab ride away.

 

Photo credit: Winter Jazz Fest (screenshot)
You can download the map here and there’s a copy in the festival program. Pickup of wristbands for marathon nights is at Le Poisson Rouge (158 Bleecker St).

HOT TIP: Use the WJF’s crowd estimator to see how much space a venue has before deciding to leave where you are. It’s at: https://www.winterjazzfest.com/crowds

FRIDAY JANUARY 11

Zinc Bar has an enticing lineup for the night and one good enough to consider staying put. The caveat is that it’s been too small for the festival for a long time, which means long lines to get in and a tight, crowded experience once you’re there. Should you decide to go, however, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen opens the night with a 6:40 PM set and at 9:20 PM the Borderlands trio takes the stage with pianist Kris Davis, bassist Stephen Crump, and drummer Eric McPherson. The following 10:40 PM set with the Artifiacts Trio featuring flutist Nicole Mitchell, cellist Tomeka Reid, and drummer Mike Reed should be an extremely satisfying one.

Over at the Sheen Center, guitarist Mary Halvorson brings her Code Girl project to the stage at 8:40 PM. Halvorson’s dense, looping electric guitar style’s attracting more fans, both as a side player and as a leader. Her collaborations with fellow guitarist Marc Ribot and others showcase her ability as a collaborative player capable of adding dense textures to an ensemble, which she’s continued in her own projects as a leader. For a deep dive, see our March 2018 show with Halvorson.

Meanwhile at Subculture in the 9:40 PM set, pianist Aaron Parks will work through his 2018 Little Big release, which is gaining a lot of deserved attention.

Over at Mercury Lounge, saxophonist Marcus Strickland‘s Twi Life is a solid pick in the 10:40 PM slot for anyone looking for a fresh take on the music rooted in the jazz tradition, yet incorporating funk, soul, and elements of hip hop. For a deeper dive see our recent show with Strickland as part of our 2019 WJF coverage.

For you real night owls or hardcore fans of the after-hours scene, Nublu‘s 1 AM Late Night Jam Session led by trumpeter Jamie Branch is worth making your way over to the Lower East Side for. Branch’s debut 2018 Fly Or Die release gained the attention of a lot of people who might not have caught her while woodshedding at the Vision Festival or other venues.

SATURDAY JANUARY 12th

The piano duo of Vijay Iyer and Craig Taborn kick things off with a 6:20 PM set at Le Poisson Rouge. Iyer shouldn’t need much introduction at this point, but his densely layered, nearly cinematic works have kept him busy touring when he’s not teaching at Harvard. The conversation between the two should yield a heady, exciting set that will reward close listening yet still being accessible. For a much deeper dive, see our 2015 show featuring Iyer.

 

Later on at LPR, veteran drummer Billy Hart‘s quartet sets up in the 9 PM time slot. Hart, who earned his chops as a member of Herbie Hancock’s groundbreaking and forward-looking 1970s Mwandishi band is now a key member of The Cookers superband when not helming his own ensemble. Expect a high energy straight ahead set that’ll swing hard.

 

Over at SOB’s, vocalist Fay Victor and saxophonist Nubya Garcia present compelling cases for going there. Victor’s 6:40 PM set with Mutations for Justice reprises the concept she’s workshopped over the past year and done versions of at last year’s Winter Jazz and Vision Festivals. Victor’s avant-garde vocal style meshes well with that of her band and speaks directly to the current political period, with some of her lyrics sounding like a stream of consciousness voice from Trump’s brain and critiquing the absolute absurdity of it all. Nubya Garcia’s 9:30 PM set might provide some revelations, as it did for me when I heard her open for Thursday night’s concert with sax greats Gary Bartz and Pharoah Sanders. When asked about how it felt to open for them, she said: “I can’t really put that into words. It’s very surreal and a huge honor.” Garcia’s style seemed a natural pairing and her set was an energetic one led by her playing paired with strong, bass-heavy drumming and trippy, dub-inflected keyboards. If you want to see one possible future of what jazz looks like, see her.

Over on the east side, Subculture has some appealing sets with Liebman, Rudolph, & Drake combining the powers of Dave Liebman and percussionists Adam Rudolph and Hamid Drake at 9:20 PM. Expect, obviously, a percussion-heavy set but one marked by African rhythms and rich textures set off by Liebman’s work on sax and piano.

You may want to stay put for J.D. Allen and David Murray‘s midnight set, which should keep you alert with the dueling tenor saxophones of the co-leaders. Murray’s capable of playing both “in” and “out” and matching lyricism with pure energy.

To tip my hand somewhat, I’ll probably post up at The Sheen Center, a new venue this year. If you missed saxophonist Gary Bartz‘s historic Thursday night set with Charles Tolliver and Pharoah Sanders, you have another chance to catch him in the 8:20 PM set with Pocket Science, where he teams up with colorful (in every sense of the word) electric bassist Jamaladeen Tacuma. I’m not quite sure what to expect, but Tacuma’s funk and harmolodics-inspired riffs should give Bartz a nice foundation to launch from.

If you’re inclined towards Pocket Science, stick around for the 9:40 PM set intriguingly titled Impressions of Pepper Round Robin with an all star cast of drummers Mark Giuliana, Makaya McCraven, and Nate Wood; electric guitarist Liberty Ellman; keyboardists Brian Jackson (best known for his Gil Scott Heron collaborations) and Matthew Whittaker; pianist David Virelles; trumpeter Keyon Harrold; harpist Brandee Younger; trombonist Clark Gayton; and saxophonist JD Allen. Admittedly I don’t know exactly what to expect here, but it’s certain to be a wild, loud, electronic ride.

At 11 PM, pianist/vocalist Amina Claudine Myers slows things down a bit with a quieter, more contemplative set that’ll showcase her thoughtful lyrics and vocal ability. Myers is joined by three other vocalists here, so expect some interesting interplay between them.

That’s a lot! But the nice thing about Winter Jazz is that it presents you with a good dilemma: who to choose from the sheer amount of interesting acts. We’ll check back in after it’s all wrapped up.

Are you planning to go? Who are you looking forward to seeing? Let us know in the comments.

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Hank Williams is an associate producer for Suga’ in My Bowl on WBAI Radio and webmaster for the Suga’ and Behind the Mic sites. He is also a PhD candidate in English and Africana Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches at Lehman College in The Bronx.

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Now that the dust has settled on the holiday and New Year’s festivities, it’s time to refocus on music and what’s become a refreshingly busy season in New York for jazz and improvised/creative music.

The Winter Jazz Fest returns for its 15th year in 2019 with the usual staggering array of sets, stages, and ancillary events. Not to be outdone, however, Arts for Art–the scrappy organizers best known for the annual Vision Fest (already scheduled for June 11-16 2019: save the dates)–have fired back with a week of events of their own from the 16-21 at Nublu, which will be covered in a later post. Right now’s a good time to look at WJF’s first “mini marathon” day and a few of the standalone events next week. Look for a deep dive into the marathon days on the 11-12th in our annual Cheat Sheet early next week.

Winter Jazz runs from January 4-12 2019 at a series of venues scattered around its traditional nucleus of Greenwich Village. The traditional “marathon nights” are on the 11th and 12th and it’s best to reserve tickets for them early since they might sell out due to festival’s popularity.

WJF dubs Saturday January 5th as a “mini marathon” with a range of acts in multiple venues. Me’shell Ndegeocello’s this year’s artist-in-residence and has multiple appearances at the fest, including at 7:50 on Saturday at Le Poisson Rouge. I’m particularly looking forward to the Zig Zag Power Trio, which has a 12:20 AM (technically Sunday morning) show at the Bitter End. The trio of Living Colour alums Vernon Reid and Will Calhoun teamed up with bassist Melvin Gibbs put out a fantastic release last year that got nowhere near the attention it should have, but will certainly have a high energy mix of free improvisation pulled from their various influences of jazz, blues, and rock on offer. I’ve written about them here and here, so I’ll send you to those write-ups.

Zinc Bar’s Saturday line-up features the Dave Liebman Group at 8 PM and saxophonist Tia Fuller presents work from her 2018 Diamond Cut album at 10:40 PM. One word of caution, though: Zinc’s a very small venue and gets packed quickly, so be prepared to get there very early.

This is just a sample of all the Saturday night shows; head over to the full schedule for the rest.

With Winter Jazz Fest’s continued popularity and expansion, they’ve also introduced several smaller standalone shows during the week.

Sunday January 6th features several acts at Le Poission Rouge with a return by festival regular guitarist Marc Ribot, who presents work from his 2018 Songs of Resistance release; pianist Samora Pinderhughes’s Transformations Suite; and Toshi Reagon’s annual Word*Rock*Sword event, dedicated to women’s lives.

Monday January 7th features several more sets at Le Poission Rouge, with The Bad Plus, Terri Lyne Carrington‘s Social Science, and Terrence Blanchard’s E-Collective taking the stage. Here, Blanchard does a follow-up to his performance at last fall’s BRIC Jazz Fest, which was one of the best shows I saw all year. Blanchard’s sweeping cinematic arrangements meld together almost seamlessly with nods to late career Miles Davis. Charles Altura’s stirring electric guitar work helps bind the collage together.

On Wednesday January 9th, you’ll have to head to Brooklyn Steel, but will be rewarded by a performance by Medeski, Martin, and Wood, who routinely sell out shows when they appear in New York nowadays and sound as good as they ever have.

On Thursday January 10th, you have a choice between Ndegeocello, who graces the stage of Nublu’s larger space at 151 Avenue C and Gary Bartz, who’s doing a 50th anniversary tribute of his Another Earth album at Le Poisson Rouge with saxophonist Pharoah Sanders.

Here, Sanders and Bartz get the chance to recreate some of the magic of a half-century ago. Both are still strong players and still in good form, if shaped by long careers. Sanders last graced the WJF stage two years ago in a phenomenal performance that saw Sanders call fellow saxophonist Ravi Coltrane to the stage for a stirring rendition of John Coltrane’s Olé.

Trumpeter Charles Tolliver–who celebrated a milestone of his own last year with the 50th anniversary of Paperman–also rejoins Bartz for the performance.

It promises to be an inspired performance and one not to be missed. Be sure to tune in to our show this Sunday for more Wintter Jazz coverage when Joyce Jones interviews saxophonist Marcus Strickland on Suga’ in My Bowl at 11 PM on WBAI Radio and streaming online.
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Hank Williams is an associate producer for Suga’ in My Bowl on WBAI Radio and webmaster for the Suga’ and Behind the Mic sites. He is also a PhD candidate in English and Africana Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches at Lehman College.

bandstand_picPhoto Credit: Hank Williams

Welcome to Suga in My Bowl radio‘s weekly feature, On The Bandstand, where we collect upcoming NYC area shows from current and past Suga’ guests. We’re online weekly and on the air on NYC’s WBAI-FM radio alternate Sunday nights from 11 PM -1 AM. Keep up with us via Facebook, the blog here, or our main website, or Twitter and we’ll keep track of the schedule for you.

This week’s guest is trumpeter Freddie Hendrix. Hendrix will be at the closing night of this year’s Vision Fest at Roulette in downtown Brooklyn on Memorial Day–May 28–with saxophonist Oliver Lake’s big band. Vision’s remains the big story this week; scroll to the bottom for more Vision Fest info.

WBAI Radio’s Spring Fund Drive is underway and it needs your support to stay on the air and keep this show on the air. You You can pledge as little as $5 online and we encourage you to consider becoming a sustaining member with a monthly pledge. The proceeds support WBAI Radio–not us–and will help ensure the survival of listener supported non-commercial radio in New York! We’re grateful for any gift you can give the station.

Drummer Will Calhoun leads a quartet at Dizzy’s Club on May 28.

The Sun Ra Arkestra led by saxophonist Marshall Allen returns to Earth on May 30 at Iridium to celebrate Allen’s 94th birthday.

Pianist Marc Cary’s Harlem Sessions returns as a Friday night series with late sets at Smoke on June 1 and 8.

Vocalist Lizz Wright is at the Count Basie Theater in Red Bank NJ for the Basie Summer Jazz Fest on June 2.

Percussionist Ray Mantilla is at Gateway Center in downtown Newark NJ for a free outdoor lunchtime performance on June 6 as part of WBGO Radio’s concert series.

Guitarist Mary Halvorson is at the Jazz Gallery with Ben Goldberg’s Quintet on June 7.

Flutist Bobbi Humphrey is at Ginny’s Supper Club on June 8.

Bassist Linda May Han Oh is at the Jazz Gallery with Ben Goldberg’s Quintet on June 8 and at the Village Vanguard with Joe Lovano and Dave Douglas from June 12-17.

Drummer Lenny White is at Smoke with Buster Williams from June 8-10.

Trombonist Craig Harris is at Sista’s Place on June 9.

Blues vocalist Alexis P. Suter is at Van Vleck Gardens in Montclair NJ on June 10 and at Caramoor in Katonah NY for the American Roots Music Festival on June 23.

The 23rd annual Vision Festival showcase of avant garde Jazz, poetry, dance and visual art wraps up on May 28, Memorial Day at Roulette in downtown Brooklyn. The last day starts with an afternoon panel discussion on the topic of the struggle for cultural equity in New York’s music communities with Dave Burrell, William Parker, Craig Harris among the speakers. Trombonist Craig Harris’s Brown Butterfly suite and saxophonist Oliver Lake’s Big Band are highlights of the night’s performances. You can jump to the full schedule right now or see our preview. We’ll also have a review when it wraps up if you can’t make it and need to live vicariously through us.

That’s all for now. Suga’ in My Bowl will be back on WBAI‘s airwaves on Sunday June 10. We’ll also have another edition of “On the Bandstand” online next Sunday with a fresh set of listings.

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Hank Williams is an associate producer for Suga’ in My Bowl on WBAI Radio and webmaster for the Suga’ and Behind the Mic sites. He is also a PhD candidate in English and Africana Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches at Lehman College and The City College of New York. Find him on Twitter @streetgriot

The annual Vision Fest returns his year for its 23rd edition and as usual provides a week full of avant garde jazz, dance, poetry, and visual art all under the same roof and available for the same admission fee. Single day passes are available and it’s probably a good idea to grab them in advance since the Wednesday night opening is already sold out.

The 2018 event is much earlier than usual: running from May 23-29, wrapping up on Memorial Day. It also features a return to Roulette in downtown Brooklyn after 3 years at Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village. Roulette’s extremely easy to access, though: it’s one long block from the Atlantic Avenue subways and LIRR station.

The festival officially started on Monday May 21 with films at Anthology Film Archives in Manhattan.

As is Vision’s tradition, the opening night on Wednesday May 23 is centered around an artist that Vision bestows with a lifetime achievement award. This year’s honoree is pianist Dave Burrell. As is Vision’s tradition, Burrell will perform in multiple ensembles during the course of the evening.

Burrell’s Harlem Renaissance suite featuring drummer Andrew Cyrille should be worth a look, and emanates from the intersection of his family’s history with the era.

Next up is what promises to be a historic reunion of former bandmates when Burrell joins legendary saxophonist Archie Shepp along with drummer Hamid Drake and bassist William Parker; the latter two are both familiar names to the Vision crowd. Burrell appears on several of Shepp’s classic early 1970s albums, including Live at the Pan African Festival, Blasé, Kwanza, and Attica Blues. Additionally, he’s been a more recent collaborator with Drake and Parker. The set promises to be a memorable one, as Shepp doesn’t gig too often in the US now.

Wednesday night’s closing set promises to be an exceptionally exhilarating ride, with Burrell leading a quintet with dual tenor saxophonists in Kidd Jordan and James Brandon Lewis, bassist William Parker, and drummer Hamid Drake. Jordan and Lewis are at opposite ends of the age spectrum, but both have a free-flowing wide open playing style and with Jordan drawing from the deep wells of the southern Blues for much of his inspiration, the pairing with the rising star Lewis should be special for all involved.

Thursday night kicks off with a panel discussion on the topic of “Creating Safe(r) Spaces in the Performing Arts,” featuring members of the We Have a Voice Collective, who released an open letter on sexism in Jazz.

Electric guitarist Mary Halvorson’s Code Girl ensemble starts Thursday night, followed by Vision veteran Whit Dickey’s trio. The Women With an Axe to Grind ensemble is something not to be overlooked, though. Bassist Jöelle Léandre will be making a rare US appearance and is joined by flutist Nicole Mitchell and violist Melanie Dyer.

Friday night brings pianist Matthew Shipp in different ensembles. Shipp teams up with Daniel Carter on saxophone/trumpet/flute and ever-present bassist William Parker for “Seraphic Light” early in the evening and leads the “Acoustic Ensemble” for the closing set. In between that, drummer Nasheet Waits’s “Equality” ensemble has a set that will be worth catching.

On Saturday, vocalist Fay Victor’s “Mutations for Justice” hits early in the evening. Victor’s freeform vocals are nearly otherworldly at times, creating a sonic palette for improvisations reminiscent of reed instruments. Slightly later, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire joins pianist Kris Davis and drummer/percussionist Tyshawn Sorey for another highly anticipated experimental set. Drummer/percussionist Francisco Mora Catlett draws Saturday night’s cleanup slot with a variation of his long-running Afro-Horn ensemble with trumpeter Ahmed Abdullah as a special guest.

Sunday starts with an afternoon panel discussion moderated by writer Scott Currie, this time for part one on the topic of “The Ongoing Struggle for Cultural Equality in NYC Music Communities” with poet Steve Cannon, pianist Dave Burrell, bassist William Parker, trombonist Craig Harris, Bernadette Speach, and Adam Shatz. Later on, Harris closes out the evening with his “Brown Butterfly” suite.

Memorial Day Monday brings another afternoon panel discussion and continues Sunday’s theme. Mike Heller moderates a panel of bassist Reggie Workman, trumpeter Ahmed Abdullah, saxophonist Jemeel Moondoc, bassist Luke Stewart, drummer Warren Smith, and dancer Patricia Nicholson Parker.

Fly or Die, Trumpeter Jamie Branch’s first release as a leader, gained favorable reviews last year. You get a chance to see her ensemble live in the evening’s first set of music. Slightly later Cooper-Moore gets a solo piano set followed by saxophonist Jemeel Moondoc’s “New World Pygmies.”

Finally, saxophonist Oliver Lake’s big band closes out the entire festival on Monday night. The final festival set is traditionally a large affair and this year should be no different, especially for someone with the compositional skills of Lake. People unfamiliar with Vision might have different ideas of what a big band sounds like, but Lake’s effort here is likely to be one that swings hard while creating multiple spaces for free improvisation and pushes the boundaries.

One unique attribute of Vision is the atmosphere it intentionally creates be breaking down boundaries between audience and musicians and even musicians themselves: it’s not uncommon to see musicians attend on different days simply to watch the other sets as audience members. There’s also a vending area open every night that provides the opportunity to take home some of the music one hears and possibly even get it autographed on the spot.

Vision’s one of the most highly anticipated festivals on our calendar every year at Suga’ in My Bowl radio, and for good reason. It’s a festival of Jazz that intentionally brings one back to the roots of what the music should be about: improvisation, community, and creativity.

For a deeper dive into this year’s honoree Dave Burrell, check out our show that aired on May 13 on WBAI. Our May 27 show will focus on trumpeter Freddie Hendrix, who’ll be part of Oliver Lake’s big band on the same night. It will air on WBAI (and stream online) from 11 PM-1 AM on the 27th and be archived on our site afterwards.

We’ll also check back in with a review and photos after Vision wraps up.

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Hank Williams is an associate producer for Suga’ in My Bowl on WBAI Radio and webmaster for the Suga’ and Behind the Mic sites. He is also a PhD candidate in English and Africana Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches at Hunter and Lehman Colleges and The City College of New York. Find him on Twitter @streetgriot

bandstand_picPhoto Credit: Hank Williams

Welcome to Suga in My Bowl radio‘s weekly feature, On The Bandstand, where we collect upcoming NYC area shows from current and past Suga’ guests. We’re online weekly and on the air on NYC’s WBAI-FM radio alternate Sunday nights from 11 PM -1 AM. Keep up with us via Facebook, the blog here, or our main website, or Twitter and we’ll keep track of the schedule for you.

We’re off this week, but is you missed last week’s show with pianist Dave Burrell, head over to our archives where you can hear that and nearly a decade of archived shows.  Burrell’s getting a lifetime achievement award at this year’s Vision Fest and will be performing in three different combos on the opening night at Roulette in downtown Brooklyn on May 23. Drummer Andrew Cyrille joins Burrell for the Harlem Renaissance suite, later that night he reunites with saxophonist Archie Shepp, then leads a quartet in the closing set with James Brandon Lewis, Kidd Jordan, and William Parker. Vision’s the big story this week; scroll to the bottom for more Vision Fest info.

WBAI Radio’s Spring Fund Drive is underway and it needs your support to stay on the air and keep this show on the air. You You can pledge as little as $5 online and we encourage you to consider becoming a sustaining member with a monthly pledge. The proceeds support WBAI Radio–not us–and will help ensure the survival of listener supported non-commercial radio in New York! We’re grateful for any gift you can give the station.

Saxophonist Tia Fuller leads a quartet at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club on May 22.

Saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin is at the Town Hall Theater for a Bob Dylan tribute concert on May 24.

Vocalist Rene Marie is at Birdland from May 24-26 and at The Side Door in Old Lyme CT on May 27.

Pianist Marc Cary’s Harlem Sessions returns as late night sets at Smoke on May 25 and June 1.

Drummer Will Calhoun leads a quartet at Dizzy’s Club on May 28.

The Sun Ra Arkestra led by saxophonist Marshall Allen returns to Earth on May 30 at Iridium to celebrate Allen’s 94th birthday.

Vocalist Lizz Wright is at the Count Basie Theater in Red Bank NJ for the Basie Summer Jazz Fest on June 2.

The 23rd annual Vision Festival showcase of avant garde Jazz, poetry, dance and visual art returns to Roulete in Brooklyn from May 23-29 and starts with a film festival on May 21 at Anthology Film Archives in Manhattan. Highlights include guitarist Mary Halvorson’s Code Girl project, vocalist Fay Victor’s Mutations for Justice, drummer Francisco Mora Catlett’s Afro Horn, trombonist Craig Harris’s Brown Butterfly suite, and saxophonist Oliver Lake’s Big Band on the final night. There are also afternoon panel discussions on the topic of the struggle for cultural equity in New York’s music communities on May 27 and 28. You can jump to the full schedule right now and we’ve got a preview coming this week and continuing event coverage after that.

That’s all for now. Suga’ in My Bowl will be back on WBAI‘s airwaves on Sunday May 27. We’ll also have another edition of “On the Bandstand” online next Sunday with a fresh set of listings.

—-
Hank Williams is an associate producer for Suga’ in My Bowl on WBAI Radio and webmaster for the Suga’ and Behind the Mic sites. He is also a PhD candidate in English and Africana Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches at Lehman College and The City College of New York. Find him on Twitter @streetgriot

bandstand_picPhoto Credit: Hank Williams

Welcome to Suga in My Bowl radio‘s weekly feature, On The Bandstand, where we collect upcoming NYC area shows from current and past Suga’ guests. We’re online weekly and on the air on NYC’s WBAI-FM radio alternate Sunday nights from 11 PM -1 AM. Keep up with us via Facebook, the blog here, or our main website, or Twitter and we’ll keep track of the schedule for you.

This week’s guest is pianist Dave Burrell! He’s getting a lifetime achievement award at this year’s Vision Fest and will be performing in three different combos on the opening night at Roulette in downtown Brooklyn on May 23. Drummer Andrew Cyrille joins Burrell for the Harlem Renaissance suite, later that night he reunites with saxophonist Archie Shepp, then leads a quartet in the closing set with James Brandon Lewis, Kidd Jordan, and William Parker. Scroll to the bottom for more Vision Fest info.

WBAI Radio’s Spring Fund Drive is underway and it needs your support to stay on the air and keep this show on the air. You You can pledge as little as $5 online and we encourage you to consider becoming a sustaining member with a monthly pledge. The proceeds support WBAI Radio–not us–and will help ensure the survival of listener supported non-commercial radio in New York! We’re grateful for any gift you can give the station.

Bassist Ron Carter is at the Blue Note from May 14-16.

Pianist Vijay Iyer at the Village Vanguard from May 15-20.

Pianist Harold Mabern leads a trio in a late set at Smalls on May 16.

Vocalist Thana Alexa is at the Jazz Gallery on May 17 and is joined by Antonio Sanchez on drums.

Saxophonist James Brandon Lewis leads a trio at Harlem’s Greater Calvary Baptist Church as part of the Harlem Jazz Boxx series on May 18.

Bassist Alex Blake leads an ensemble at Smalls on May 18.

Saxophonist Rene McLean is at The Side Door in Old Lyme CT for a Jackie McLean tribute on May 18.

Pianist Marc Cary’s Harlem Sessions returns as late night sets at Smoke on May 18 and 25.

Saxophonist David Murray leads the Class Struggle ensemble with trombonist Craig Harris at the Village Vanguard from May 19-24.

Saxophonist Tia Fuller leads a quartet at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club on May 22.

Vocalist Rene Marie is at Birdland from May 24-26 and at The Side Door in Old Lyme CT on May 27.

Drummer Will Calhoun leads a quartet at Dizzy’s Club on May 28.

The Sun Ra Arkestra led by saxophonist Marshall Allen returns to Earth on May 30 at Iridium to celebrate Allen’s 94th birthday.

The 23rd annual Vision Festival showcase of avant garde Jazz, poetry, dance and visual art returns to Roulete in Brooklyn from May 23-29 and starts with a film festival on May 21 at Anthology Film Archives in Manhattan. Highlights include guitarist Mary Halvorson’s Code Girl project, vocalist Fay Victor’s Mutations for Justice, drummer Francisco Mora Catlett’s Afro Horn, trombonist Craig Harris’s Brown Butterfly suite, and saxophonist Oliver Lake’s Big Band on the final night. There are also afternoon panel discussions on the topic of the struggle for cultural equity in New York’s music communities on May 27 and 28. You can jump to the full schedule right now and we’ve got a preview coming this week and continuing event coverage after that.

That’s all for now. Suga’ in My Bowl will be back on WBAI‘s airwaves on Sunday May 27. We’ll also have another edition of “On the Bandstand” online next Sunday with a fresh set of listings.

—-
Hank Williams is an associate producer for Suga’ in My Bowl on WBAI Radio and webmaster for the Suga’ and Behind the Mic sites. He is also a PhD candidate in English and Africana Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches at Lehman College and The City College of New York. Find him on Twitter @streetgriot

bandstand_picPhoto Credit: Hank Williams

Welcome to Suga in My Bowl radio‘s weekly feature, On The Bandstand, where we collect upcoming NYC area shows from current and past Suga’ guests. We’re online weekly and on the air on NYC’s WBAI-FM radio alternate Sunday nights from 11 PM -1 AM. Keep up with us via Facebook, the blog here, or our main website, or Twitter and we’ll keep track of the schedule for you.

We’re off this week, but if you missed last week’s show with guitar maker Linda Manzer, hop on over to our archives, where you can hear that and nearly a decade of archived shows. And we have more listings for you this week.

Bassist Ron Carter is at the Blue Note from May 7-9 and 14-16.

Percussionist Adam Rudolph has a residency at The Stone from May 8-12 and will be joined by drummer Hamid Drake and guitarist Nels Cline on various nights.

Blues guitarist James Blood Ulmer is at City Winery on May 10.

Trumpeter Ahmed Abdullah leads the Diaspora Ensemble at Sista’s Place on May 12.

Guitarist Julian Lage is at Le Poisson Rouge on May 12.

Vocalist Lisa Fischer leads Grand Baton at the Blue Note from May 10-13.

Pianist Marc Cary’s Harlem Sessions returns as late night sets at Smoke on May 11 and 18.

Pianist Vijay Iyer at the Village Vanguard from May 15-20.

Pianist Harold Mabern leads a trio in a late set at Smalls on May 16.

Vocalist Thana Alexa is at the Jazz Gallery on May 17 and is joined by Antonio Sanchez on drums.

Bassist Alex Blake leads an ensemble at Smalls on May 18.

Saxophonist Rene McLean is at The Side Door in Old Lyme CT for a Jackie McLean tribute on May 18.

Saxophonist David Murray leads the Class Struggle ensemble with trombonist Craig Harris at the Village Vanguard from May 19-24.

Saxophonist Tia Fuller leads a quartet at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club on May 22.

Finally, on the radar is the 23rd annual Vision Festival which returns to Roulete in Brooklyn from May 23-29 and a film festival on May 21 at Anthology Film Archives in Manhattan. We’ll have more details in the next Bandstand and an upcoming preview online or you can jump to the full schedule.

That’s all for now. Suga’ in My Bowl will be back on WBAI‘s airwaves on Sunday May 13. We’ll also have another edition of “On the Bandstand” online next Sunday with a fresh set of listings.

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Hank Williams is an associate producer for Suga’ in My Bowl on WBAI Radio and webmaster for the Suga’ and Behind the Mic sites. He is also a PhD candidate in English and Africana Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches at Lehman College and The City College of New York. Find him on Twitter @streetgriot

bandstand_picPhoto Credit: Hank Williams

Welcome to Suga in My Bowl radio‘s weekly feature, On The Bandstand, where we collect upcoming NYC area shows from current and past Suga’ guests. We’re online weekly and on the air on NYC’s WBAI-FM radio alternate Sunday nights from 11 PM -1 AM. Keep up with us via Facebook, the blog here, or our main website, or Twitter and we’ll keep track of the schedule for you.

This week’s guest is guitar maker Linda Manzer! And we have more listings for you this week.

Drummer Andrew Cyrille is at The Stone on May 1.

Blues vocalist Alexis P. Suter is at Iridium on May 2 and at Piermont’s Turning Point Café in on May 4.

Guitarist Mary Halvorson joins Ingrid Laubrock at the Jazz Gallery on April 24 and is at The Stone on May 3.

Bassist Dave Holland is at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater with Zakir Hussain on May 4.

Harpist Brandee Younger is at Brooklyn’s Lafayette Ave Presbyterian Church on May 5 as part of the annual Central Brooklyn Jazz Festival.

Bassist Ron Carter is at the Blue Note from May 7-9 and 14-16.

Percussionist Adam Rudolph has a residency at The Stone from May 8-12 and will be joined by drummer Hamid Drake and guitarist Nels Cline on various nights.

Blues guitarist James Blood Ulmer is at City Winery on May 10.

Trumpeter Ahmed Abdullah leads the Diaspora Ensemble at Sista’s Place on May 12.

Guitarist Julian Lage is at Le Poisson Rouge on May 12.

Vocalist Lisa Fischer leads Grand Baton at the Blue Note from May 10-13.

Pianist Vijay Iyer at the Village Vanguard from May 15-20.

Finally, on the radar is the 23rd annual Vision Festival which returns to Roulete in Brooklyn from May 23-29 and a film festival on May 21 at Anthology Film Archives in Manhattan. We’ll have more details in the next Bandstand and an upcoming preview online or you can jump to the full schedule.

That’s all for now. Suga’ in My Bowl will be back on WBAI‘s airwaves on Sunday May 13. We’ll also have another edition of “On the Bandstand” online next Sunday with a fresh set of listings.

—-
Hank Williams is an associate producer for Suga’ in My Bowl on WBAI Radio and webmaster for the Suga’ and Behind the Mic sites. He is also a PhD candidate in English and Africana Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches at Lehman College and The City College of New York. Find him on Twitter @streetgriot

Words by Hank Williams

In New York City this week, it’s cold, wet, gets dark insanely early, and unending service changes lend a Chess-like complexity to late night or weekend subway trips. Such is the state of winter in the Big Apple, but just when we get close to peak Seasonal Affective Disorder, the annual Winter Jazz Fest blows in to give you a reason to rush out and brave the cold for a weekend. 130 reasons, in fact–the number of acts the festival boasts spread across its multi-day span—with some 600-odd musicians making things happen.

The 14th edition of the ever-expanding annual showcase follows a familiar format: two marathon nights of music in venues scattered around the heart of Greenwich Village, with a few standalone opening and closing events – some of which are already sold out—and we’re told that tickets for even the marathon nights are going fast.

As we’ve done for the past few years, we’ll go through a shows with a viewers’ guide to some of our preferred picks, with an admitted lean toward former guests on our Suga in My Bowl radio show.

I’ll point you toward the full schedule for Friday January 12 and Saturday January 13 marathon nights and artist lineup, but hopefully this will help wade through the myriad choices available each night. Obviously, there are several ways to experience the festival. You can either pick and choose key acts, take a more eclectic approach and see what you find, or some combination of the two. It’s all good.

FESTIVAL THEME AND FOCUS

Following the lead of last year’s event, the festival again tackles themes of social justice. This is most clearly addressed through three different talks during the course of the festival.

“Jazz on the Border” will highlight issues around US visa laws and their impact on musicians. Drummer Terri Lyne Carrington moderates the “Jazz and Gender” panel, which includes Angela Davis and pianist Vijay Iyer among the panelists.

“The Long March: a Conversation on Jazz and Protest” on Tuesday the 16th is the only one with an admission fee, but is easily worth the price. Saxophonist Ras Moshe, who’s becoming well known in free and avant garde jazz circles, moderates the talk among saxophonist Archie Shepp, flutist Nicole Mitchell, and pianist Samora Pinderhughes.

The above talk immediately precedes a concert by Nicole Mitchell, who is this year’s resident artist. Mitchell will present a new release, Mandorla Awakening II, a sci-fi themed Afrofuturist composition. She also fronts Maroon Cloud with vocalist Fay Victor on Wednesday the 17th at Le Poisson Rouge.

Mitchell has a couple of appearances during the Friday/Saturday marathon nights. “Art and Anthem for Gwendolyn Brooks” honors the late Chicago poet and features pianist Jason Moran.

If you (understandably) don’t want to wade through the wall of words here, you can just scroll to picks for the first marathon day on Friday or second day on Saturday.

TICKETS AND ADMISSION

WJF has several options available for the standalone shows, marathon nights (either one or both) or full festival passes for the hardcore enthusiasts. The one constant is that we strongly recommend tickets in advance, since even with the expanded venues at the New School, it’s possible to get closed out of nights–and you save some money over buying at the door. The “marathon” nights on Friday the 12th and Saturday the 13th are sold for the entire night only: not for individual shows. They’re still a pretty good deal for how much music you get if you see more than a single show, and there’s likely something to suit almost everyone’s taste. 2-day passes and full festival passes get entrance to the marathon days as well. Separate tickets are available for the opening and closing events, with the exception of events that sell out.

Recommendation: Consider the 2-day marathon pass even if you can only make it for parts both evenings since that saves you even more.

LOCATIONS AND LOGISTICS

The WJF’s heart is still in the center of the Village: with venerable institutions Zinc Bar, The Bitter End, and Le Poisson Rouge returning. The New School continues as a festival sponsor and provides several spaces for the festival in its campus clustered around 13th Street off Fifth Avenue, including some much needed larger venues. All of these are close enough to comfortably (though maybe briskly) walk between for sets. Zinc Bar is small and popular, so be warned that seeing an act scheduled there means getting there very early, and possibly skipping something else in the process. Quite frankly, last year I opined that it needed to be dropped. WJF has simply outgrown the venerable space and it’s unfair to stick artists in there.

On the western frontier of the Village and Tribeca are SOB’s and the Django at the Roxy Hotel.

Nublu’s new(ish) second location at 151 Avenue C, between 9-10 Streets returns this year. It’s a brisk walk or quick bus or L train ride away from the action clustered near the center.

Subculture and Bowery Ballroom are clustered together on the Lower East Side and round out this year’s venues.

Obviously, figuring out what one wants to see also means taking into account the logistics of who’s playing where and getting between venues.

 

 

Photo credit: Winter Jazz Fest (screenshot)

FRIDAY JANUARY 12 HIGHLIGHTS

Adegoke Steve Colson and Iqua Colson 7 PM at New School Tishman Auditorium 63 5th Ave

The Colsons have been playing together since the 70s, with Steve’s piano and Iqua’s vocals taking an innovative look at nearly everything they’ve done. Trombonist Craig Harris joins them this evening in a tribute to the late pianist Muhal Richard Abrams, a co-collaborator in the New York chapter of AACM. It’s a rare opportunity to see them.

Sons of Kemet 7:40 PM at Le Poisson Rouge

Saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings may not be a household name on the US—yet—but he’s been steadily making a name for himself on the UK jazz scene with various groups. He returns following a successful US debut last year with Shabaka and the Ancestors. Sons of Kemet has a bass-heavy sound with a tuba prominently featured in the front line with Hutchings’s free-form playing flying above it. For a deep dive, see our show on him last month.

Fay Victor SoundNoiseFUNK 9 PM New School Jazz Building 5th Floor Theater (55 W 13 St)

Vocalist Fay Victor is another name that you might not know, but you should. Victor came to my attention through the NYC avant garde jazz scene and Vision Festival, where she’s been a staple for years. However, that’s selling her short. Her prodigious vocal talent, songwriting ability, and commitment to the music only became completely clear to me during out recent show with her. In this set, expect a broad approach to the jazz tradition drawing deeply from the Blues. It won’t be a straight ahead set, and that’s a good thing.

James Brandon Lewis’s Unruly Notes 11 PM Zinc Bar

Saxophonist James Brandon Lewis has been steadily woodshedding and the fruits of his labor are becoming clear. His regular trio including bassist Luke Stewart and drummer Warren Trae Crudup have expanded to include electric guitarist Anthony Pirog, who featured prominently on their last release. Here, the concept expands even further with trumpeter Jamie Branch. The band plays hard—though with increasing finesse—buoyed by Crudup’s steady backbeat. Lewis’s style leans toward the avant garde end of the spectrum, but that’s just one of many lenses he uses to approach nearly everything from hip hop to Anton Dvorzak compositions and feed them through the jazz tradition. The most unfortunate thing about this set is the location, which has been way too small for WJF for years now. You’ll have to come very early and probably wait on line for a while, but the set will be so very worth it.

Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Indo-Pak Coalition 11:20 PM at Bowery Ballroom

Meanwhile, over on the east side, saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Indo-Pak Coalition takes the Bowery stage. True to their name, expect an eastern-inflected take on jazz. It’s a late start time, but a solid backup if you decide that the wait to enter Zinc Bar is too daunting.

SATURDAY JANUARY 13 HIGHLIGHTS

Jazzmeia Horn 7 PM at New School Tishman Auditorium 63 5th Ave

Vocalist Jazzmeia Horn’s fortunes have been rising recently with a Grammy nomination for her debut release A Social Call. Horn’s already moved past where she was at the time of the recording, however. Horn is scarily talented, and enthusiasm to push the limits of her instrument will see her scatting, rapping, and marshalling a range of vocalizations in the space of a single performance. Horn’s an example of a young talent showing a different and fresh approach to jazz that attempts to join standards and the jazz tradition with younger audiences and the pop influence. Commendably, though, she does this without resorting to gimmicks and a refusal to sacrifice the jazz tradition. We’ve got an interview with her cued up for a future show, so stay tuned!

Antonio Sanchez and Migration 7:40 PM at Le Poisson Rouge

Drummer Antonio Sanchez is a busy man. In addition to heading his own migration ensemble, he’s been touring with guitarist Pat Metheny and the occasional gig with vocalist Thana Alexa, who’ll be with him here.

Harriet Tubman Plays Free Jazz 9 PM at New School Tishman Auditorium 63 5th Ave

In what has to be one of the most daring sets of the festival, Harriet Tubman will be taking a crack at riffing off of Ornette Coleman’s masterpiece Free Jazz. Here, the Tubman power trio of electric guitarist Brandon Ross, bassist Melvin Gibbs, and drummer JT Lewis will be joined by the lineup from saxophonist James Brandon Lewis’s Unruly Notes (see above) and saxophonist Darius Jones. It promises to be a wild ride. Gibbs deserves credit for the idea, which will be less a note-for-note recreation of the original than using it as a springboard for Coleman’s harmolodic approach and a modern take at what would happen if two different groups played together at the same time, improvising among themselves and riffing off each other.

Nicholas Peyton’s Afro Caribbean Mixtape 9:20 PM at SOB’s

Trumpeter Peyton’s Mixtape builds on snippets of speeches by Dr. Greg Kimathi Carr, who heads Howard University’s Afro American Studies Department. The recording blends Peyton’s ethereal trumpet lines with remixed snippets of sound. Peyton’s set should lean toward the pop/ electronic end of the spectrum. It’ll be a completely different approach from the maelstrom of the Tubman set. They’ll both be good in different ways.

Rene Marie 10:20 PM at Subculture

On a much different note than much of what I’ve presented, vocalist Rene Marie promises an intense, straight ahead set. Marie’s focus on technique, straight singing, and ballads provide a quieter, more contemplative experience than some of the more raucous acts at WJF. If that’s your speed, then you know where to go.

Sun Ra Arkestra Plays Live Score to Space is the Place 11 PM at New School Tishman Auditorium 63 5th Ave  

You could do much worse than just camp out the entire evening in the cavernous Tishman Auditorium. Like the previous Harriet Tubman set, we find the Arkestra digging back into the archives for inspiration. In this case, it’s a take on the 1974 film starring Sun Ra himself and directed by John Coney with substantial input from Ra. In a nutshell, Ra and the Arkestra return to Earth in their music-powered spaceship to take Black people with them from the decaying planet with “sounds of guns, anger, and frustration” and “see what they can do on a planet all of their own.” With touches of sci-fi, soul, and a hint of Blaxploitation, it’s the expected wild ride, with music and appearances from the Arkestra weaved through several scenes. It’s not clear how the current Arkestra will approach the task, though Arkestra veterans Marshall Allen and Danny Ray Thompson were part of the original production and will be in the house along with newer members. Whatever happens, it’ll be a way-out adventure.

Jamaladeen Tacuma Brotherzone 1 AM at Subculture

You’ll have to stay up really late for this set, but if you do, you’ll be treated to a funky set from the alum of Ornette Coleman’s Prime Time band that, in his words draws on the “sounds of soul, funk, jazz, rock, ambient poetics and the vibrations of life.” As a special treat, Abiodun Oyewole from The Last Poets will lay down some of his poetry.

SUNDAY JANUARY 14 HIGHLIGHT

Ravi Coltrane Presents Universal Consciousness: Melodic Meditations of Alice Coltrane 7 PM at Le Poisson Rouge

If you haven’t had enough already–or skip one of the marathon days–then there’s a single concert on offer Sunday night, but it’s a good one. In this separate ticketed event, saxophonist Coltrane presents some of his mother Alice’s music. Coltrane will build on the Indian-influenced sound of Alice’s later work, especially Translinear Light (2004).

MONDAY JANUARY 15 HIGHLIGHT

A Tribute to Geri Allen 8 PM at New School Tishman Auditorium 63 5th Ave  

Drummer Geri Allen has assembled a stunning cast to pay tribute to the late Geri Allen, who died last year. The concert is a fundraiser for the Geri Allen estate, so tickets are separate, but it’ll be a memorable event for a pianist who left a big mark on the music and left us way too soon.

That’s just scratching the surface of the festival, but hopefully there are a few ideas here for starters. I’ll be at many of the shows highlighted, though admit to still making up my mind. The good news is that there’s enough here that it’s hard to go wrong and even if a set doesn’t live up to expectations, there’s another one that’s bound to more than make up for it. See you on the other side. I’ll be back with a festival review.

If you missed them, see our preview shows with saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings, vocalist Fay Victor, and a tribute to late pianist Geri Allen.

Hank Williams is an associate producer for Suga’ in My Bowl on WBAI Radio and webmaster for the Suga’ and Behind the Mic sites. He is also a PhD candidate in English and Africana Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches at Hunter and Lehman Colleges and The City College of New York. Find him on Twitter: @streetgriot

Words by Hank Williams. Photos © Joyce Jones/SugaBowl Photography. | MAIN PHOTO: The Sun Ra Arkestra’s Marshall Allen @ Vision Fest. Used with Permission. Some Rights Reserved. Creative Commons CC-NC-BY-ND.

Over here in Suga in My Bowl headquarters, we’re gearing up for the 2018 Winter Jazz Festival (preview coming!), an annual gathering that brings an enormous amount of music to New York in January, with the centerpiece being two “Marathon” nights of music—this year on the 12 and 13.

This post, however, is about two scrappy festivals that might get lost in the shuffle, which would be a shame because you’d miss lots of good music.

The Nublu Jazz Festival’s been running since 2009 with an impressive roster of artists—originally in their postage stamp-sized East Village space at 62 Avenue C, which has been supplemented by a new, larger spot on the second floor of 151 Ave C, where this year’s activity will happen while the former space closes temporarily for a makeover.

The festival runs until December 17th. The selection of acts is strong and thoughtfully chosen. As with many festivals, it leans more toward the free/avant garde/ experimental (choose your preferred adjective) end of the scale, though it can be argued that that’s the corner of jazz that needs this sort of exposure.

With that out of the way, here are a few highlights of particular interest to listeners of our radio show. You can also just jump directly to the full schedule.

Trombonist Craig Harris makes an appearance on the 16th. Later that night, The Sun Ra Arkestra led by saxophonist Marshall Allen returns to Earth with two sets. They’ve also just been added to the bill at the Winter Jazzfest in January after a satisfying set at this year’s BRIC Arts Jazz Festival. To make what could be a long discussion short: go see the Arkestra if you can. Yes, there are some kitschy aspects to their shows, but it’s all in good fun. The 93-year-old Allen still has serious chops and no problems hitting the upper register of the sax or pulling out the EVI (which he’s become a master at as well) to liven things up. The setlists are a fascinating blend of favorites from the Sun Ra songbook, standards, and even the occasional Blues tune thrown in for good measure. Additionally, vocalist Tara Middleton has embraced her role as the Arkestra’s main vocalist and, along with other younger members, are invigorating the ensemble while carrying on the important traditions.

Meanwhile, slightly further downtown at the Clemente Soto Velez Center at 107 Suffolk St, Arts for Art, the nonprofit artist-centered organization responsible for the annual late spring Vision Fest, comes roaring back with a series spanning more than a month.

“Justice is Compassion: Action is Power” runs from December 7- January 12 in Clemente’s Abrazo Interno Gallery and features a surprisingly strong lineup of musicians working primarily in the free/avant grade mode, including many familiar names from Vision.

With sets nearly every night, there’s too much to mention here, but you can browse the full schedule and here are a few highlights.

The incredibly prolific bassist William Parker is part of several sets in the show. On December 21, he’s there with saxophonist Dave Sewelson and drummer Marvin Bugalu Smith. The next night, he’s back with saxophonist Andrew Lamb and joined by trumpeter Ahmed Abdullah. If you missed Parker’s “Songs for a Free World” suite earlier this year, there’s a chance to catch a version of it on January 10.

Drummer Francisco Mora Catlett brings a version of his AfroHorn ensemble for the early set on December 16 and has trumpeter Ahmed Abdullah joining him. It will be a rare chance to catch a very solid group that got stuck in a comically small space at last year’s Winter Jazz Fest.

One nice thing about Arts for Art is that they remember those who’ve passed on. Pianist Connie Crothers and poet Amiri Baraka will both be honored as part of the series. December 19-20 will feature several different sets dedicated to Crothers, while Baraka gets the focus on January 2-3.

Poet/vocalist (and Baraka’s widow—and frequent collaborator) Amina Baraka fronts drummer John Pietaro’s Red Microphone ensemble on the 2nd. Baraka will read several of her own poems with accompaniment by the group which includes saxophonist Ras Moshe. On January 3, saxophonist James Brandon Lewis brings a version of his Heroes are Gang Leaders ensemble for what promises to be a high energy set.

Both festivals showcase the type of innovative music that’s on offer beyond the jazz mainstream and do so in low-key settings and with affordable admission prices. So bundle up and see some live music this winter: once you get inside the vibe will keep you warm.

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Hank Williams is an associate producer for Suga’ in My Bowl on WBAI Radio and webmaster for the Suga’ and Behind the Mic sites. He is also a PhD candidate in English and Africana Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches at Hunter and Lehman Colleges and The City College of New York. Find him on Twitter @streetgriot

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