Archives for posts with tag: James Brandon Lewis

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.

—-
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

Advertisements

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. Before we get to our listings, a quick reminder that WBAI’s Winter Fund drive is in full swing and the station needs your help to stay on the air. See WBAI’s pledge site for ways to support the station. And we have many more listings for you this week.

This week’s guest is guitarist Mary Halvorson. She’ll be at the Village Vanguard on March 11 for an afternoon set with saxophonist John Zorn’s ensemble with bassist Christian McBride and guitarist Marc Ribot. And now on to the rest of the week’s listings:

Harpist Brandee Younger is at the Schomburg Center in Harlem for a tribute to Alice Coltrane as part of their Women’s Jazz Festival on March 5.

Saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin is at the Blue Note with Pete Rock for a late set on March 6.

Saxophonist James Brandon Lewis is at Spectrum in Brooklyn on March 8 for an album release party with Chad Taylor.

Finally, Pianist Marc Cary is at the HarlemStage Gatehouse on March 9 with Mothers of the Movements to remake the Freedom Now Suite with drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and bassist Reggie Workman.

Saxophonist Jane Bunnett and Maqueque are at Birdland on March 13.

Guitarist Bill Frisell leads a trio at the Village Vanguard from March 13-18 and returns the next week with a quartet from March 20-25.

Drummer/percussionist Bobby Sanabria is at Kitano with Gene Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble on March 14 and leads the Multiverse Big Band in West Side Story Reimagined at Hostos Community College in The Bronx on March 17.

Vocalist Kurt Elling is at Birdland for an album release party for The Questions from March 14-17.

Drummer Roy Haynes celebrates his 93rd birthday at the Blue Note from March 15-18.

Pianist Harold Mabern leads a quartet at Smoke from March 16-18 for an 82nd birthday celebration and leads a trio at Smalls on March 21.

That’s all for now. Suga’ in My Bowl will be back on WBAI‘s airwaves on Sunday March 18. 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. Before we get to our listings, a quick reminder that WBAI’s Winter Fund drive is in full swing and the station needs your help to stay on the air. See WBAI’s pledge site for ways to support the station. And we have many more listings for you this week.

We’re off this week, but if you missed last week’s show with drummer TS Monk, then head over to our archives, where you can hear that and nearly a decade of archived shows.

Guitarist John Scofield is at Roulette in Brooklyn for a John Abercrombie tribute on February 26.

Looking further ahead, Vocalist Jazzmeia Horn is at the Jazz Standard from March 1-4.

Bassist Mimi Jones is at Lehman College’s Lehman Stage in The Bronx on March 3.

Trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf is at Drom on the Lower East Side on March 3.

Harpist Brandee Younger is at the Schomburg Center in Harlem for a tribute to Alice Coltrane as part of their Women’s Jazz Festival.

Saxophonist James Brandon Lewis is at Spectrum in Brooklyn on March 8 for an album release party with Chad Taylor.

Finally, Pianist Marc Cary is at the HarlemStage Gatehouse on March 9 with Mothers of the Movements to remake the Freedom Now Suite with drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and bassist Reggie Workman.

Saxophonist Jane Bunnett and Maqueque are at Birdland on March 13.

Vocalist Kurt Elling is at Birdland for an album release party for The Questions from March 14-17.

Drummer Roy Haynes celebrates his 93rd birthday at the Blue Note from March 15-18.

That’s all for now. Suga’ in My Bowl will be back on WBAI‘s airwaves on Sunday March 4. 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. Before we get to our listings, a quick reminder that WBAI’s Winter Fund drive is in full swing and the station needs your help to stay on the air. See WBAI’s pledge site for ways to support the station. And we have many more listings for you this week.

This week’s guest is drummer TS Monk. You can see him leading a sextet at Morristown NJ’s Bickford Theater on the 22nd.

Saxophonist James Brandon Lewis  joins saxophonist Allen Lowe at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club on February 20 for A Dixieland Love Supreme and is at Spectrum in Brooklyn on March 8 for an album release party with Chad Taylor..

Vocalist Catherine Russell leads a sextet at Birdland from February 13-17.

Vocalist Dianne Reeves is at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater on February 9-10.

Bassist Linda May Han Oh is at Jazz at Lincoln Center with Dave Douglas on February 23-24.

Vocalist Carmen Lundy is at the Jazz Standard from February 22-25.

Guitarist Bill Frisell is at Jazz at Lincoln Center with Dave Douglas February 23-24.

Guitarist John Scofield is at Roulette in Brooklyn for a John Abercrombie tribute on February 26.

Looking further ahead, Vocalist Jazzmeia Horn is at the Jazz Standard from March 1-4.

Bassist Mimi Jones is at Lehman College’s Lehman Stage in The Bronx on March 3.

Trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf is at Drom on the Lower East Side on March 3.

Finally, Pianist Marc Cary is at the HarlemStage Gatehouse on March 9 with Mothers of the Movements to remake the Freedom Now Suite with drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and bassist Reggie Workman.

That’s all for now. Suga’ in My Bowl will be back on WBAI‘s airwaves on Sunday March 4. 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 John Scofield head over to our archives, where you can hear that and many other archived shows. As usual, we have other listings this week.

Saxophonist James Brandon Lewis is at the Zürcher Gallery with pianist DD Jackson on February 13. He also joins saxophonist Allen Lowe at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club on February 20 for A Dixieland Love Supreme.

Vocalist Catherine Russell leads a sextet at Birdland from February 13-17.

Vocalist Dianne Reeves is at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater on February 9-10.

Saxophonist Gary Bartz is at Iridium with Javon Jackson from February 15-17.

Vocalist Thana Alexa is at Brooklyn’s Kingsborough Community College for the Jazz at the Lighthouse series on February 16.

Bassist Linda May Han Oh is at the Jazz Gallery with Fabian Almazan from February 16-17.

Pianist Harold Mabern is at Smoke for a JJ Johnson Tribute from February 16-17.

Vocalist Carmen Lundy is at the Jazz Standard from February 22-25.

Guitarist John Scofield is at Roulette in Brooklyn for a John Abercrombie tribute on February 26.

That’s all for now. Suga’ in My Bowl will be back on WBAI‘s airwaves on Sunday February 18. 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 guitarist John Scofield and you can catch him on February 6 for a Creative Music Studio benefit at Le Poisson Rouge. He’ll also be at Roulette in Brooklyn for a John Abercrombie tribute on February 26 and has a run at the Blue Note from April 3-8. As usual, we have other listings this week.

Pianist Harold Mabern is at St. Peter’s Church on February 7 for a free solo lunchtime concert and at Smoke for a JJ Johnson Tribute from February 16-17.

Saxophonist James Brandon Lewis is at the Zürcher Gallery with pianist DD Jackson on February 13. He also joins saxophonist Allen Lowe at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club on February 20 for A Dixieland Love Supreme.

Vocalist Catherine Russell is at Port Washington LI’s Landmark on Main St on February 9, New Jersey’s South Orange Performing Arts Center on February 10, and leads a sextet at Birdland from February 13-17.

Vocalist Dianne Reeves is at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater on February 9-10.

Percussionist Steve Kroon leads a sextet at Brooklyn’s Sista’s Place on February 10.

The Save WBAI Coalition is having a community meeting at Manhattan Neighborhood Network’s studio in East Harlem on February 10. Details are at their website.

Vocalist Thana Alexa is at Brooklyn’s Kingsborough Community College for the Jazz at the Lighthouse series on February 16.

Bassist Linda May Han Oh is at the Jazz Gallery with Fabian Almazan from February 16-17.

Vocalist Carmen Lundy is at the Jazz Standard from February 22-25.

That’s all for now. Suga’ in My Bowl will be back on WBAI‘s airwaves on Sunday February 18. 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 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 the air this week, but if you missed last week’s show with on 2018 Grammy nominated vocalist Jazzmeia Horn, head over to our archives, where you can stream that and nearly a decade of archived shows. She’ll be at the Jazz Standard from March 1-4 and we have more listings for you. Be sure to check back for our review of the 2018 Winter Jazz Fest!

Saxophonist Kenny Garrett is at the Blue Note with Talib Kweli on January 28.

Drummer Terri Lyne Carrington is at The Stone’s Lower East Side location on January 28.

Professor Farah Jasmine Griffin and poet Quincy Troupe are at the Schomburg Library on January 30 for a talk on James Baldwin and Miles Davis.

Pianist David Virelles leads Nosotros at the Jazz Standard on January 30-31.

Saxophonist David Murray leads the Infinity Quartet at Birdland from January 31-February 3.

Drummer Francisco Mora Catlett is at Brooklyn’s Sista’s Place on February 3 with Afro Horn.

Poet Carl Hancock Rux and vocalist/guitarist Toshi Reagon are at Fairfield University’s Quick Center for the Arts for a theatrical presentation of Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower on February 3.

Vocalist Catherine Russell is at Port Washington LI’s Landmark on Main St on February 9 and leads a sextet at Birdland from February 13-17.

Vocalist Dianne Reeves is at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater on February 9-10.

Percussionist Steve Kroon leads a sextet at Brooklyn’s Sista’s Place on February 10.

Saxophonist James Brandon Lewis is at the Zürcher Gallery with pianist DD Jackson on February 13. He also joins saxophonist Allen Lowe at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club on February 20 for A Dixieland Love Supreme.

Vocalist Thana Alexa is at Brooklyn’s Kingsborough Community College for the Jazz at the Lighthouse series on February 14.

That’s all for now. Suga’ in My Bowl will be back on WBAI‘s airwaves on Sunday February 4. 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 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.

This week’s show focuses on 2018 Grammy nominated vocalist Jazzmeia Horn! She’ll be at the Jazz Standard from March 1-4 and we have more listings for you. Be sure to check back for our review of the 2018 Winter Jazz Fest!

Bassist Linda May Han Oh is at the Jazz Gallery with Jonathan Blake’s trio on January 21-22.

Saxophonist Salim Washington is at the Jazz Gallery on January 25.

Vocalist Lisa Fischer is at the Blue Note with Talib Kweli on January 25.

Saxophonist Kenny Garrett is at the Blue Note with Talib Kweli on January 28.

Drummer Terri Lyne Carrington is at The Stone’s Lower East Side location on January 28.

Professor Farah Jasmine Griffin and poet Quincy Troupe are at the Schomburg Library on January 30 for a talk on James Baldwin and Miles Davis.

Pianist David Virelles leads Nosotros at the Jazz Standard on January 30-31.

Saxophonist David Murray leads the Infinity Quartet at Birdland from January 31-February 3.

Drummer Francisco Mora Catlett is at Brooklyn’s Sista’s Place on February 3 with Afro Horn.

Vocalist Dianne Reeves is at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater on February 9-10.

Percussionist Steve Kroon leads a sextet at Brooklyn’s Sista’s Place on February 10.

Saxophonist James Brandon Lewis is at the Zürcher Gallery with pianist DD Jackson on February 13.

That’s all for now. Suga’ in My Bowl will be back on WBAI‘s airwaves on Sunday February 4. 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 Hunter and Lehman Colleges 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.

—-

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

%d bloggers like this: