Archives for posts with tag: James “Blood” Ulmer

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 guests of our show that ran for 12 years in various time slots on NYC’s WBAI-FM radio. Our audio archives are available on line for free!

Our final show broadcast on WBAI aired on Tuesday January 7 with guitarist James Blood Ulmer as an intro to the 2020 Winter Jazz Fest! Audio will be up soon. The blog will continue, as will the weekly listings, event coverage, and possible new projects!

Feeling like hibernating until the weather clears up? The documentary film I Called Him Morgan is streaming on Netflix. See our review for details. The documentary film Chasing Trane is also on Netflix and we reviewed that too.

Saxophonist Eric Alexander is at Smoke with Mike LeDonne on January 14 and 21.

Pianist Marc Cary’s Harlem Sessions series settles back into a weekly Thursday schedule at Smoke on January 16 and 23.

Guitarist Nels Cline is at The Dance on January 11 as part of the Winter Jazz Fest.

Vocalist Melanie Charles is at Chelsea Music Hall on January 12-13.

Vocalist Ms. Lisa Fischer is at Manhattan’s Sony Hall on January 13 2020.

Guitarist Julian Lage leads a trio at the Jazz Standard from January 14-19.

Saxophonist David Murray brings the Revival Octet including saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin to the Jazz Standard from January 16-19.

Bassist Mimi Jones hosts the after hours Lab Session at Smalls on January 18, which is actually Sunday morning January 19 by the time she takes the stage.

Drummer Jeff Tain Watts celebrates his 60th birthday with a set at the new Café Bohemia on January 19.

Poet and multi-instrumentalist Ngoma Hill is at Sister’s Uptown Bookstore in Harlem on January 21 and the third Tuesday of every month for the Fat Tuesdays poetry and music showcase.

Bassist Linda May Han Oh is with Joe Lovano and Dave Douglas at the Jazz Standard from January 21-26.

Tubist Joe Daley is at Terra Blues with Hazmat Modine on February 15 and 29.

The 2020 edition of the annual Winter Jazz Fest continues through January with standalone shows 18 at spots around Greenwich Village, new outposts in Brooklyn, and a new Brooklyn marathon on Friday the 17th. There is also a series of talks continuing throughout the week. See our annual cheat sheet preview and stay tuned for more coverage coming up!

That’s all for now. We’ll 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. Find him on Twitter @streetgriot

Melvin Gibbs and JT Lewis of the band Harriet Tubman

Words by Hank Williams

This week, the annual Winter Jazz Fest is on and in full swing. The 16th edition of the popular festival has morphed slightly this year, with an additional Brooklyn “marathon” night of music and standalone events in addition to the now-traditional . In this post, we’ll take a look at the two marathon nights of music on Friday January 10th and Saturday January 11th in venues scattered around the heart of Greenwich Village and the new Brooklyn marathon on Friday January 17th. I’ll also look at the Saturday January 11th show in Brooklyn.

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 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

Social justice is front and center with the festival: as it has been for the last few years. The #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter, and #wehaveavoice are all part of the fabric surrounding the festival and it has joined the Europe-based Keychange initiative that urges festivals to achieve a 50:50 gender balance for acts by the year 2022. This follows on the discussion opened by the  We Have Voice Collective that published an open letter calling for a code of conduct, safe spaces for women, LGBTQIA, transgender, and non-binary music artists, and more opportunities for work in a field that’s often dominated by men.

This serves as an important concrete action backing up the expressed solidarity. There will again be a series of talks–this time highlighting wellness and health aspects of jazz–during the daytime on the weekend of January 11th-12th and during the following week, ending on Friday the 17th.

TICKETS AND ADMISSION

WJF has a variety of ticket options for either the Friday or Saturday Manhattan marathon nights–or both–and the new Brooklyn Marathon or standalone events. As usual, they don’t offer tickets for individual sets on Marathon nights. That said, tickets are 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 and WJF mainstays Zinc Bar, The Bitter End, and Le Poisson Rouge return with poles in the West and East Village also.

Zinc Bar is small, popular, and perennially crowded, 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 is SOB’s.

The Dance, the Nuyorican Poets’ Café, and Webster Hall anchor the northern/eastern ends of the Village/Lower East Side.

Nublu, Zürcher Gallery, Subculture, 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 some planning with the larger distances between venues. It’s still very possible to venue-hop since most are a brisk walk, Citibike, or cab ride away. The projected unseasonably warm weather for the Manhattan Marathon should make the task slightly easier.

 

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 10

The recently renovated Webster Hall plays host to a solid night of programming. Teenage piano prodigy Joey Alexander takes the stage at 7 PM, followed by trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire at 8:15 and drummer Makaya McCraven‘s “In These Times” at 9:30.

Alexander’s gained a lot of (deserved) positive press since an invitation to play at Jazz at Lincoln Center and Wynton Marsalis at age 14 and his following debut album, centered around a solidly inventive cover of My Favorite Things. Alexander’s maturing exponentially as a player and should be around for a long time. Catch him now and decades later you’ll be able to look back and recall his trajectory as an artist from your own experience.

Akinmusire and McCraven take slightly different approaches to the music, rooted in hip hop and beats as much as the jazz canon. Appropriately, perhaps, the night wraps with a DJ set by Pete Rock (yes that Pete Rock …) at midnight.

Over at SOB’s, the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble hits at 7:45 PM. The band’s anchored by the sons of the late Phil Cohran, a key figure of the Chicago branch of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. They’ve successfully taken the meticulous lessons from their father and the older generation of politically and socially-conscious musicians and adapted it to the current era and the reality that much of their musical world has been shaped by hip hop. Expect a brass-heavy set with a party vibe, but don’t underestimate them: solid musicianship, not gimmicks, are the foundation of their performances. If you miss them here, fortunately, you get another shot on Saturday, when they’ll be at Mercury Lounge at 11:30 PM.

At the new venue, The Dance, Guitarist Marc Ribot and trumpeter Jaimie Branch are both worth a look.

Ribot’s Ceramic Dog ensemble hits at 11 PM. Described as a noise rock trio, Ceramic Dog is one of many ensembles the incredibly inventive and prolific guitarist has fronted at Winter Jazz Fest over the years. Expect a somewhat loud and high energy set from them.

Branch is flying high (excuse the pun) on the successful release of her 2018 Fly Or Die debut and follow-up Fly or Die 2 albums as a leader along with side projects like James Brandon Lewis’s Unruly Notes. Branch’s approach seems to pull as much from the avant garde tradition as from current influences of pop and hip hop. Branch has serious chops, though, and her musicianship will impress you. It’ll be worth staying up late for her 12:15 AM set.

Finally, at Nublu, Mary Halvorson joins fellow guitarist John Dieterich at 10:45 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.

 

 

 

SATURDAY JANUARY 11th

The Nuyorican Poets’ Café hosts a solid night of music, poetry, film clips, and probably some personal remembrances in the honor of the late poet/journalist Steve Dalachinsky, co-curated by his partner, poet Yuko Otomo. Expect lots of regulars from the Vision Festival, including guitarist Marc Ribot, vocalist Fay Victor, pianists Matthew Shipp, Kris Davis, and Matthew Shipp, saxophonist James Brandon Lewis, and many more people in sets running from 7 PM-Midnight. Steve’s poetry was heavily influenced by free jazz and the Beat movement and he often read with musical accompaniment.

Meanwhile, over at The Dance, steel pedal guitarist Susan Alcorn’s Quintet hits at 10:45 PM.  Alcorn, originally inspired by Blues slide guitar, now blends free jazz and avant-garde European classical styles in her approach. Here, she’ll be joined by guitarist Mary Halvorson in a set that recreates a collaboration from the Vision Festival. See a version of their collaboration below.

 

 

Over on the east side, Subculture hosts The Cookers at 7:30 PM and René Marie’s Experiment in Truth at 11:15 PM. the Cookers is a supergroup of veterans Eddie Henderson, Billy Harper, Eddie Henderson, Donald Harrison, George Cables, Cecil McBee, Billy Hart, George Cables, and David Weiss. Hart and Henderson are alumni of Herbie Hancock’s Mwandishi formation and Harper was a trusted part of Lee Morgan’s ensembles. Expect a hard-hitting, post-bop set from them that’s likely to have a wide appeal to jazz aficionados and neophytes alike with music that’s technically challenging yet very accessible. René Marie will probably slow things down a bit for the late set, with smoother, lyrically dense ballads that will appeal to fans of vocalists.

One set stands out at the centrally-located Le Poisson Rouge: saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin’s Pursuance, which presents the music of John and Alice Coltrane with legendary bassist Reggie Workman, who was part of John’s early 60s groups. Benjamin, whose work often leans toward engagement with pop and party music, will show her range and depth here. This is a set that’s also bound to have a wide appeal. See Benjamin’s take on Coltrane’s “Liberia” in the embedded clip:

 

 

Over at SOB’s, saxophonist Tia Fuller’s 7:30 PM set is a good pick. Fuller’s supple style was on full display on last year’s Diamond Cut release and should provide much of the grist for the night’s set.

 

 

If you missed the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble’s Friday night set (or want to see them again) then they’ll be at Mercury Lounge at 11:30 PM. Mercury was a venue that had space issues last year, though, so get there early and be prepared to fight your way to the front of the room.

Finally, Webster Hall again has a solid night of programming with harpist Brandee Younger, drummer Makaya McCraven, and pianist Robert Glasper. Younger’s 7:30 PM Soul Awakening set should draw on material from her album of the same name and reflects her thorough digestion of Alice Coltrane and harpist Dorothy Ashby and her own musical voice.

McCraven’s 8:15 PM set presents work from his Gil Scott-Heron tribute, We’re New Again. Finally, Glasper’s 10:45 PM set finds the versatile pianist in an electric trio setting with a DJ as one of the members. It should be an interesting intersection of his traditional trio work and his affinity for the sampling and looping of hip hop.

SATURDAY JANUARY 11th Brooklyn Show

I’ll actually be spending much of Saturday night in Brooklyn at The Sultan Room for the standalone show of Harriet Tubman and guitarist James Blood Ulmer.

Tubman, consisting of drummer JT Lewis, bassist Melvin Gibbs, and electric guitarist Brandon Ross, is a power trio that shows elements of their various influences. Tubman’s music is deceiving though. It’s deeply layered and complex as they develop melodies that call for a response from each member. While it is music that holds greater appeal for fans of electrified sound, fusion, or avant garde, their appeal is much greater. Critics and a wider audience seemed to grasp that with their last two releases, including last year’s Terror End of Beauty.  It’s hard to tell exactly what they’ll play since nearly anything from their catalog is fair game, but anything they bring to the table will be satisfying.

Ulmer is a great match for Tubman. Joyce Jones talked to him for our last show on WBAI, where Ulmer went through his varied influences though let it be known where he comes from: “I play the blues. I call it the political blues.” Ulmer was also key in the late Ornette Coleman’s formation of his theory of Harmolodics and absorbed much of those lessons as well. He doesn’t gig as much these days and his last Winter Jazz appearance had him playing solo in a thoroughly captivating performance that showed his masterful storytelling and guitar prowess.

 

 

FRIDAY JANUARY 17th Brooklyn Marathon

Photo credit: Winter Jazz Fest (screenshot).  Map download here and there’s a copy in the program

Details are still in formation for the new Brooklyn Marathon night, but sets with DJ Logic and drummer Billy Martin, bassist Ben Williams’s I Am a Man, trumpeter Keyon Harrold catch my eye right now.

DJ Logic is one of a few who successfully works in an improvisational setting with other musicians and turns samples into true instruments and part of multi-layered performances. Paired with Martin, one of the popular long-running Medeski, Martin, and Wood trio, the set shows lots of promise.

 

Standalone Shows: through January 18th

While I don’t have space here to detail them all, you should take a look through the schedule of separate shows. From Detroit to the World on Sunday January 12 features a pre-show discussion on the history of Detroit’s jazz scene. On the same day, pianist Kris Davis and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington team up with the incredibly inventive DJ Val Jeanty for another set worth checking out. Remember that tickets for most of these shows are sold separately.

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.

—-
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.

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 back on the air on NYC’s WBAI-FM radio every Tuesday night from 10 PM -12 midnight. 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.

Be sure to tune in on Tuesday January 7 from 10-Midnight to hear our conversation with guitarist James Blood Ulmer as an intro to the 2020 Winter Jazz Fest! This will be our last broadcast show on WBAI. Thanks for all the support over the years! The blog will continue, as will the weekly listings, event coverage, and possible new projects!

Feeling like hibernating until the weather clears up? The documentary film I Called Him Morgan is streaming on Netflix. See our review for details. The documentary film Chasing Trane is also on Netflix and we reviewed that too.

Saxophonist Eric Alexander is at Smoke with Mike LeDonne on January 7, 14, and 21.

Vision Fest promoters Arts for Art present a preview of Vision 2020 (May 20-25, by the way…) with solo performances by vocalist/pianist Amina Claudine Myers and drummer Andrew Cyrille at David Gage String Instruments in Manhattan on January 7.

Vocalist Kurt Elling is at Birdland from January 7-11.

Bassist William Parker is at The Poetry Project on January 9 for Baraka and Place, an event tracing Amiri Baraka’s relationship with avant garde communities in different time periods.

Bassist Christian McBride brings Philly Reunion with organist Joey DeFrancesco to the Blue Note from January 9-12.

Pianist Marc Cary’s Harlem Sessions series settles back into a weekly Thursday schedule at Smoke on January 9, 16, and 23.

Vocalist Lizz Wright is at the Jazz Standard on January 10-11.

Tubist Joe Daley is at Terra Blues with Hazmat Modine on January 11.

Guitarist Nels Cline is at The Dance on January 11 as part of the Winter Jazz Fest.

Vocalist Melanie Charles is at Chelsea Music Hall on January 12-13.

Vocalist Ms. Lisa Fischer is at Manhattan’s Sony Hall on January 13 2020.

Guitarist Julian Lage leads a trio at the Jazz Standard from January 14-19.

Saxophonist David Murray brings the Revival Octet including saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin to the Jazz Standard from January 16-19.

Bassist Mimi Jones hosts the after hours Lab Session at Smalls on January 18, which is actually Sunday morning January 19 by the time she takes the stage.

Poet and multi-instrumentalist Ngoma Hill is at Sister’s Uptown Bookstore in Harlem on January 21 and the third Tuesday of every month for the Fat Tuesdays poetry and music showcase.

Bassist Linda May Han Oh is with Joe Lovano and Dave Douglas at the Jazz Standard from January 21-26.

Looking ahead, the 2020 edition of the annual Winter Jazz Fest blows back into town from January 8-18 at spots around Greenwich Village and with new outposts in Brooklyn. Highlights are a series of talks on the 11th and 12th, the traditional marathon nights in Manhattan centered around Greenwich Village on Friday the 10th and Saturday the 11th, a special performance in Brooklyn on the 11th and a new Brooklyn marathon on Friday the 17th. Followers of our show will recognize Nels Cline, Harriet Tubman with JT Lewis and Melvin Gibbs, James Brandon Lewis, the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, James Blood Ulmer, Jaimie Branch, Keyon Harrold, Teri Lyne Carrington, Lakecia Benjamin, Marc Ribot, Rene Marie, Brandee Younger, Ron Carter, and many more sets over the course of the festival.  We’ll have our annual cheat sheet preview out this week and more coverage coming up!

That’s all for now. Suga’ in My Bowl will be back on WBAI‘s airwaves for its final broadcast on Tuesday January 7 in the 10 PM-Midnight slot! We’ll 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. 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.

—-
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

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 guitarist Nels Cline, hop on over to our archives, where you can hear that and nearly a decade of previous shows. And we have more listings for you this week.

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

Pianist Harold Mabern is at Smoke with Avery Sharpe’s Trio on April 26.

Pianist Marc Cary’s Harlem Sessions returns as a late night set at Smoke on April 27.

Trombonist Steve Turre and harpist Brandee Younger are at Newark’s New Jersey Performing Arts Center for a celebration of Dorthaan Kirk on April 28.

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.

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

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

That’s all for now. Suga’ in My Bowl will be back on WBAI‘s airwaves on Sunday April 29. 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

WJF2016_Schedule_Cheat_Sheet

This year’s Winter Jazz Fest celebrates its 12th birthday by expanding to 12 different stages in and around Greenwich Village. It’s grown into a mainstay of the New York music scene, providing a welcome respite from the unpredictable depths of winter, joining the longtime summer mainstays the Charlie Parker Jazz Fest and Vision Fest (who are running a parallel festival throughout January this year) along with the newer Blue Note Jazz Festival.

The fest kicked off Wednesday January 13, with a preview show at Le Poisson Rouge and featured an event spearheaded by Mike LeDonne to support the Disability Pride Parade (held for the first time last year) on Thursday. Saxophonist Kamasi Washington, who headlined last October’s BRIC Arts Jazz Fest and whose appropriately titled 3-CD debut The Epic has gotten a lot of great press, broke his ankle and had to have his performance postponed until February 24 at Le Poisson Rouge Webster Hall. I’ve already got it saved on my calendar.

Friday and Saturday the 15th and 16th are again the big days. The Jazz Fest bills them as two “marathon” nights of music and they’re not wrong: this is where the majority of the action will take place. It’s a huge, wonderful spectacle with lots of choices and sets starting as early as 6 PM and as late as 1 AM at some venues for the diehards. As I did last year, I’m going to highlight a few of the acts I’ll be keeping an eye on, with an admitted bias toward musicians featured on our Suga’ in My Bowl radio show since we like to keep long-term tabs on the people we profile. Hopefully that’ll give you a head start as well if you don’t already have favorites you want to catch.

I’ll focus on Friday for this post and Saturday/Sunday in the next post.

Festival Logistics

The festival has several new stages this year, thanks to a new partnership with New School University, which gives some badly needed extra space, although they’re further from the main venues slightly further south in the Village.

To compensate for that, the WJF is adding extra check-in tables at different venues (PDF), which should shorten some of the long lines from previous years, but it’s still best to plan to arrive really early for the sets you want to catch.

In addition to the main check-in areas in the basement of Judson Memorial Church (Thomson St side entrance) and New School University Center (63 5th Ave, bet 13-14 Sts.), there are secondary check-ins at Subculture (45 Bleecker St, off Lafayette) and at WNYC Studios’ Greene Space (43 Charlton St.).

There are several options for tickets, depending what you want to catch. I’d recommend full passes for Friday and Saturday nights as the best bets and an insanely good deal for how much music there is, but you can do either day separately. There’s also a shorter closing event on Sunday that I’d recommend as well — and will cover it in part 2 of our cheat sheet.

Friday Highlights

Quarktet Burnt Plays Ornette, Sunny, and Wayne: Judson Memorial Church 6 PM

Greg Tate’s large ensemble and one of the many permutations of The Burnt Sugar Arkestra earns a leadoff spot at the main stage this year. Expect a lot of excitement, energy, and electronics as they work their way through the catalogs of Ornette Coleman, Sunny Murray, and Wayne Shorter. As a bonus, you’ll also get to Mikel Banks play the freak-a-phone! I have no idea what it is, but it’s gotta be cool. See the embedded YouTube clip (audio only) of their interpretation of Shorter’s “Footprints” will give a little taste of what to expect.

James “Blood” Ulmer: New School Auditorium @ 66 W 12th St. 9 PM

Ulmer’s a solo act here and his set promises to pull deep from the dual wells of the blues and Ornette Coleman’s harmolodics, which Ulmer absorbed during his stint with the late saxophone innovator in the 1970s. Ulmer’s done a lot since then and approaches shows with the wisdom of a veteran who can call up ideas from a widely diverse background. Ulmer lit up the 2014 Vision Fest with his Music Revelation Ensemble and had equally spirited performances in 2015 at The Stone and a rare duo with fellow guitarist Marc Ribot at City Winery. Suga’ in My Bowl profiled Ulmer on January 10 and he promised to be playing the Blues. You listen to the full show on our website and for a quicker take, check out his solo performance at the 2015 Skopje Jazz Festival.

Dr. Lonnie Smith’s Evolution: Judson Memorial Church 9:20 PM

You’ll have an inside track for Hammond B3 organ master Dr. Lonnie Smith’s forthcoming Evolution release if you catch his set. Smith is a veteran of the fabled Blue Note record label in the 1960s and made his name as a sideman on influential albums like Lou Donaldson’s Alligator Boogaloo before striking out on his own illustrious career. While the WJF highlights new and upcoming acts, the ability to see someone like Smith whose still at the top of his game is a definite highlight of the festival. Smith, appropriately, gets a coveted slot on the Judson main stage in prime time. For a much deeper dive, see our show on Dr. Lonnie, or see them in action at the 2015 BRIC Arts Jazz Fest in the embedded video.

Charenee Wade Group: The Music of Gil Scott Heron and Brian Jackson: New School Jazz Building 5th Floor Theater @ 55 W 13th St. 9:40 PM

Vocalist Charenee Wade’s deservedly gotten a lot of positive press for her latest Motéma Records Offering release, a tribute to the music of Gil Scott-Heron and longtime Heron collaborator pianist/keyboardist Brian Jackson. It’s not easy to do covers of well-known work — and they’re often poorly done or add little understanding to the originals. That’s not the case with Wade’s effort. Her turn on Scott-Heron’s question “did you ever turn your sick soul inside out so the world can watch you die?” gives the work a haunting quality and fresh new spin that’s balanced by Stefon Harris’s vibes on the CD. Nikara Warren will be handling vibraphone duties for this set, but bassist Lonnie Plaxico, pianist Brandon McCune, guitarist Dave Stryker, and saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin (who we’ve previously profiled) will be part of the combo and appear on the release. Drummer Darrell Green rounds out the sextet. The preview video of Offering will give you a quick take of what to expect.

René Marie: Zinc Bar 10:20 PM

If you manage to get into Zinc Bar, then you might as well stay around, especially if your tastes run toward vocalists working with the traditional jazz songbook. René Marie’s last effort was a tribute to the iconic Eartha Kitt, whose stage presence had Marie so enamored with Kitt’s work that she broke a promise she had made to resist doing a release of song covers. Marie handled the material just fine and her soulful, soothing vocals might be just the antidote you need on a hectic Friday night. We interviewed her back in 2013 and you can see her in action in the following clip.

Christian McBride: New School Auditorium @ 66 W 12th St. 10:20 PM

If you’re already at the New School for the aforementioned James “Blood” Ulmer show, there’s a strong case for sticking around to see bassist Christian McBride in action. He’s joined here by drummer Nasheet Waits, trumpeter Josh Evans, and saxophonist Marcus Strickland. McBride’s seemingly all over the place these days, either hosting National Public Radio’s “Jazz Night in Ameica” or appearing in various combos. He’s a versatile bassist who’s earned his stripes and, especially with the combo at the WJF, is always someone to look out for. We profiled him in 2011 and had so much fun that we brought him back into the studio to talk about Jazz Fusion. See him in a live session for NPR in the embedded video.

Vijay Iyer Trio: New School Tishman Auditorium 11:20 PM

Pianist Vijay Iyer returns to this year’s festival with his usual trio of bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore. Their last release Break Stuff was deservedly well-reviewed and saw the group pulling their inspiration from hip hop sampling and toying with the idea of “the break” as a theme. We wrote up a short blurb around the video preview (which is fantastic, BTW) and did a full show on Iyer back in 2015. See the band perform “Hood” live at the Portland Jazz Festival.

Nublu Orchestra “We play for you, Butch Morris”: New School Auditorium @ 66 W 12th St. 1 AM

The WJF is sticking to its proud history of keeping the idea of the after hours session alive and sweetening the pot by scheduling a few fiery acts late at night. So it is with the Nublu Orchestra, which takes its name from an unlikely East Village spot that happens to host some seriously experimental jazz acts – the biggest name among them being the Sun Ra Arkestra (who lands @ the WJF on Saturday), harking back to their days at the long lost Five Spot Café. While I haven’t seen them in person, the Nublu Orchestra–with a nod to the late conductor Butch Morris, who casts a wide shadow over avant garde jazz—looks to be an ensemble that’ll push the boundaries of the form itself in the spirit of the Arkestra. With a long subway trip back to The Bronx awaiting me, I’m not sure I can stay up that late, but after watching the following live video of a Butch Morris memorial, I may have to re-evaluate that plan.

Lastly, I’ll point you to the full performance schedule. They also have a handy guide to full group line-ups, which you can check to see if a favorite musician is on the list somewhere. Finally, there’s a map of the various venues, but you will get all that at the check-in sites (PDF).

So that’s it. That’s a lot of acts! But they’re all really good. Find who’s to your liking and take some time to see someone you haven’t—you might become a fan of a new group. Check out part 2 of our cheat sheet for Saturday/Sunday in the next post and I’ll check back in with a full review after it’s all over.

Shameless self-promotion time: if you’re not already a listener, check out our show that airs alternate Sunday nights from 11 PM – 1 AM on WBAI Radio and streams online. As part of our coverage, we talked to festival director Brice Rosenbloom and two musicians performing — guitarists Julian Lage and James “Blood” Ulmer — to get a variety of perspectives.

Are you going? Anyone in particular you’re looking forward to seeing? Let me know in the comments.

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 return to the air this week with our final preview of the 2016 Winter Jazz Fest featuring guitarist James “Blood” Ulmer!. You can see him on January 15 the New School University’s auditorium as part of the the Winter Jazz Festival. Now let’s take a look at some upcoming gigs.
 
Pianist Vijay Iyer is at The Stone on the 13th with Matana Roberts and also leads a trio at this year’s Winter Jazz Fest.
 
Guitarist Julian Lage is at Cornelia Street Café on the 13th and at the Winter Jazz Fest’s closing event on the 17th.
 
Saxophonist Tia Fuller leads a quartet at Smoke from January 13-14.
 
Also at Smoke is saxophonist Billy Harper, who leads a quintet from the 15-17.
 
Pianist Onaje Allen Gumbs leads a trio at BAM Café from January 13-15.
 
Vocalist Kurt Elling is at Birdland performing songs from his Passion World release from January 13-16.
 
Saxophonist Gary Bartz leads a quartet at the new Cassandra’s Jazz Club and Gallery in Harlem from January 13-16 and 22-23rd.
 
Vocalists Lizz Wright and Dee Dee Bridgewater are at BB King’s on January 15.
 
Low brass specialist on tuba Joe Daley is at Terra Blues with Hazmat Modine on the 16th.
 
The Harlem Jazz Parlor Festival hosts trombonist Craig Harris on January 16 and low brass specialist Joe Daley on the 18.
 
Saxophonist Ravi Coltrane will be at the John Coltrane House in Dix Hills, LI on the 20th.
 
Vocalist René Marie is at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club from January 21-24.
 
Saxophonist Gary Bartz is at the Blue Note on the 25 with legendary pianist McCoy Tyner. They’re also there on February 1, 15, and March 1. Tyner’s been less public lately, so it’s a good idea to catch one of these dates and see the last remaining member of Coltrane’s band in action.
 
Also at the Blue Note is legendary drummer Roy Haynes from January 26-27.
 
Drummer Craig Haynes has an Indiegogo crowd funding campaign to support making a CD and DVD of his band’s performance at the 2016 Dakar Goree Jazz Festival.
 
We wrap this week with two jazz festivals:
 
banner_AFA_EvolvingJan_website
Annual Vision Fest producers Arts for Art’s nearly monthlong “Justice is Compassion” festival continues at Clemente Soto Velez Center until January 24 with drummer Hamid Drake, dancer Patricia Nicholson Parker, bassist William Parker and many more.
 
The annual Winter Jazz Fest blows back into town this week from the 13-17 with so many past, present (and future) Suga’ guests that it needs its own coverage. Head on over to our annual cheat sheet for a full preview.
 
That’s all for now. Suga’ in My Bowl is back on WBAI‘s airwaves on January 10th. 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 Hunter and Lehman Colleges and The City College of New York.

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Poet Steve Dalachinsky opened Vision Fest 19’s second day on Thursday, June 12th. Dalachinsky’s a Vision stalwart and fittingly gave tribute to Amiri Baraka, as all poets and many other performers are this year. “Amiri was a person who should’ve been with us forever”, Dalachinsky said as he reflected on his relationship with Baraka. Dalachinsky dedicated one of his own poems, “Saga of the Outlaws #3”, to Baraka.

Dalachinsky’s work shares some lineage with Baraka’s, with influences of jazz and the free flowing verse of the beats and broadly eclectic references that force one to listen deeply. Although he’s read with musicians before, Dalachinsky read solo this time, inviting listeners to delve deep into the words and connections they invoked and taking in the improvisational rhythms of the words themselves and his delivery.

The Wimberly Harlem Ensemble then took the stage. Wimberly mixed African dance with instruments. Sabir Mateen, now living in Italy, returned to play Vision, armed with flute and sax. Meanwhile, Michael Wimberly tirelessly worked the stage, playing balafon, oud, and several percussive instruments. Larry Roland (bass) and Nioka Workman (cello) ably held down the rhythm section. Diane Harvey-Salaam and Souleyman Bodolo added and important dance and theatrical element to their composition titled “Signs and Rituals”.

In a break from the music, visual artist Jeff Schlanger was presented with a lifetime achievement award. “I’ve tried to be the quietest man in the room for 19 years”, Schlanger said, and this is usually the case, though his art speaks volumes. Schlanger probably spoke more than he has in the entire time he’s been at Vision Fest, but in keeping with the spirit of the entire festival this year, gave important historical context from his memory of being a longtime participant in the music scene.

“I’ve tried to be the quietest man in the room for 19 years”—Visual Jeff Schlanger

Schlanger, who goes by the moniker musicWitness®, recalled being at the first Vision Fest on Lafayette Street and spoke to the centrality of dance and movement in Vision. He also recalled many artists who have made their transition: poets Amiri Baraka, Louis Reyes Rivera, and Sekou Sundiata; all of whom were performers at past Vision Fests.

Schlanger is omnipresent at the Festival, quietly composing his vibrant drawings in front of the stage, improvising just as the musicians are and drawing inspiration from what happens a few feet in front of him. For the past several years, his work has been projected as a backdrop during the performances. His body of work is large enough that what one sees usually reflects what is going on onstage at the time. Schlanger’s work exhibits the same feeling of freeform dynamism that one hears in the performances at Vision. You can see a clip of his process in the following clip.

I’ve seen emerging electric guitarist Mary Halvorson several times, and always feel good about the future of the music when I see her perform. She was joined by Susan Alcorn on steel pedal guitar this evening and the duo did an excellent job of playing off of each other, with Alcorn providing a good counterpoint to Halvorson’s richly textured, brooding, work.

The final set of the evening featured a trio of Vision Fest regulars: saxophonist Peter Brötzmann, drummer Hamid Drake, and bassist William Parker. It’s always a treat to hear Brötzmann, as his playing is electrifying and when joined by the solid rhythm section of Drake and Parker, it’s pretty much guaranteed to be a powerful, earth-shaking performance.

Brötzmann, who was given a lifetime achievement award in 2011 at Vision Festival 16, fits the Vision ethos well. While he’s known in this context as a musician, he’s an accomplished visual artist and designer as well, having done several solo art shows in Europe, a few of which can be seen on his website.

Drake started the set solo, with a remembrance of Roy Campbell and Amiri Baraka. Parker and, finally Brötzmann then joined him on the alto sax. The set started slowly with a long solo by Drake, who was joined by Parker.

The quiet and introspective feel eventually gave way to Brötzmann’s familiar high register squeals as he pushed the sax to its limits. Drake and Parker easily kept up and kept pushing Brötzmann ahead.

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On Friday, June 13th, saxophonist Jameel Moondoc’s quintet devoted its set to another departed Vision stalwart, trumpeter Roy Campbell, Jr, who died in January 2014. Moondoc, trombonist Steve Swell, and drummer Newman Taylor Baker all appeared on Campbell’s last CD, See You on the Other Side (2013). Nathan Breedlove (trumpet) and Hilliard Green (bass) rounded out the quintet.

The quintet’s renditions of Campbell compositions “Charmain” and “Thanks to the Creator” provided the individual members ample room to stretch out, while bringing out the best in the songs’ melodies.

Electric guitarist James Blood Ulmer’s Music Revelation Ensemble Revisited capped off Friday night with a blistering instrumental set. Each Vision Fest illuminates at least one group that stands out from the rest, and Ulmer’s ensemble did so this year. Ulmer’s far from a newcomer and is well established in the blues scene, but may not be the first thing people think about in the context of free jazz, but fit brilliantly into the format.

Ulmer promised a retrospective of 20 years of his work, guided by guitar harmolodics, fittingly drawing a connection to the great saxophonist Ornette Coleman, who he joined in a rare NYC concert himself not too far away in Brooklyn this week. Calvin Rochester’s powerful drumming was the perfect counterpoint to Ulmer’s blues-inflected guitar on the first few songs, with Calvin “The Truth” Jones (bass) rounding out the rhythm section.

Near the end of the set Ulmer gave Rochester a chance to let loose, and he more than rose to the occasion with a blistering solo that showed (not that there was any doubt) that he had plenty to say in addition to being an excellent foil for Ulmer and providing color throughout the set.

Ulmer, sharply dressed in a yellow suit, looked the quintessential bluesman, though perfectly grasped the ethos of Vision, drawing from deep in the well of the blues, yet playing out and connecting it all to the jazz tradition. That’s a tall order, but the Music Revelation Ensemble Revisited delivered in style, sending us off into the cool night with their songs still in our heads.

Do you have any favorite moments? Add your thoughts in the comments!

You can see the Vision Fest 19 magazine with full days’ lineups, interviews, and more on Issuu here.

All photos courtesy of Joyce Jones and used with permission. Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 licensed.

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.

Joyce Jones is producer and host for Suga’ in My Bowl on WBAI Radio and a graphic artist.

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