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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.

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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.

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 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.

This week’s show presents an interview with organist Joey DeFrancesco! Be sure to tune in Tuesday night. He’ll be at the Jazz Standard on Wednesday February 27 in a release event for “In The Key Of The Universe” with previous Suga’ guest Billy Hart on drums. The New York City Winter Jazz Fest has just wrapped up, so watch this space for our event coverage and photos. And we have more listings for you this week.

Pianist Vijay Iyer is at the Jazz Standard from January 22-27 leading a trio, sextet, and his Ritual Ensemble on various nights.

Drummer William Hooker is at Brooklyn’s Shapeshifter Lab on January 23.

Billy HartBilly Harper, Eddie Henderson, Donald Harrison, and Cecil McBee are at Dizzy’s Club with The Cookers from January 24-27.

Trombonist Dick Griffin leads a Rahsaan Roland Kirk tribute at Brooklyn’s Sistas’ Place on January 26.

Pianist Marc Cary’s Harlem Sessions series continues with late Saturday night sets at Smoke on January 26 and February 2.

Trumpeter Freddie Hendrix is at Smoke for a Cannonball Adderley tribute with Antonio Hart’s quintet from January 26-28.

Saxophonist René McLean and percussionist Baba Neil Clarke are at Zinc Bar for a late afternoon set on January 27 as part of the VTY Jazz series.

Drummer Billy Hart leads a quartet at the Village Vanguard from January 29- February 3.

The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble is at the Blue Note from January 31- February 3.

Percussionist Baba Neil Clarke is at The City College of New York’s Aaron Davis Hall in Harlem for the Malcolm X Suite on February 1.

Tubist Joe Daley is at Terra Blues with Hazmat Modine on February 2.

Saxophonist Oliver Lake is at Newark’s Bethany Baptist Church for Jazz Vespers on February 2.

Organist John Medeski is at The Stone with drummer Billy Martin on February 5.

Flutist Bobbi Humphrey is at Ginny’s Supper Club on February 9.

Guitarist Mary Halvorson is at The Stone with drummer Billy Martin on February 9.

Vision Fest promoters Arts for Art take their free jazz series on the road to HOLO in Ridgewood Queens on January 24 and 31 and February 7 and 14 with Parker and saxophonist James Brandon Lewis kicking off the Queens series on the 24. Also: 2019 Vision Fest dates have been announced: mark your calendars for June 11-16 at Roulette in downtown Brooklyn with former Suga’ guest Andrew Cyrille as the honoree. Full lineups will be announced later and we’ll get you details and full coverage as the date nears and the weather warms up.

That’s all for now. Suga’ in My Bowl will be back on WBAI‘s airwaves on Tuesday January 22 in our new weekly 10 PM slot! 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. 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 every Tuesday night from 10 PM -12 midnight starting this week. 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 presents an old interview we did with Nancy Wilson, which we’ll present as our tribute to her. The New York City Winter Jazz Fest has just wrapped up, so watch this space for our event coverage and photos. And we have more listings for you this week.

Saxophonist James Brandon Lewis is at the Bowery Poetry Club on January 14 with Heroes Are Gang Leaders in an Amiri Baraka tribute.

Bassist Ron Carter is at the Village Vanguard with Emmet Cohen’s trio from January 15-20.

Pianist Harold Mabern leads a trio at Smalls on January 16.

Trumpeter Freddie Hendrix is at Zinc Bar on January 16.

Bassist Christian McBride is at Brooklyn Bowl on January 17 with DJ Logic.

Drummer Francisco Mora Catlett leads AfroHORN at Zinc Bar on January 19.

Tubist Joe Daley is at Terra Blues with Hazmat Modine on January 19 and February 2.

Pianist Marc Cary’s Harlem Sessions series continues with late Saturday night sets at Smoke on January 19 and 26.

Drummer William Hooker is at Brooklyn’s Shapeshifter Lab on January 23.

Billy HartBilly Harper, Eddie Henderson, Donald Harrison, and Cecil McBee are at Dizzy’s Club with The Cookers from January 24-27.

Trombonist Dick Griffin leads a Rahsaan Roland Kirk tribute at Brooklyn’s Sistas’ Place on January 26.

Trumpeter Freddie Hendrix is at Smoke for a Cannonball Adderley tribute with Antonio Hart’s quintet from January 26-28.

Drummer Billy Hart leads a quartet at the Village Vanguard from January 29- February 3.

The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble is at the Blue Note from January 31- February 3.

Percussionist Baba Neil Clarke is at The City College of New York’s Aaron Davis Hall in Harlem for the Malcolm X Suite on February 1.

Vision Fest promoters Arts for Art have two winter series coming up. Justice is Compassion runs from January 16-21 at Nublu on the Lower East Side with performances every night. Highlights include drummer William Hooker on January 20 and bassist William Parker on January 21 to close the festival with the Artists for a Free World ensemble. Arts for Art takes the series on the road to HOLO in Ridgewood Queens on January 24 and 31 and February 7 and 14 with Parker and saxophonist James Brandon Lewis kicking off the Queens series on the 24. Also: 2019 Vision Fest dates have been announced: mark your calendars for June 11-16 at Roulette in downtown Brooklyn with former Suga’ guest Andrew Cyrille as the honoree. Full lineups will be announced later and we’ll get you details and full coverage as the date nears and the weather warms up.

That’s all for now. Suga’ in My Bowl will be back on WBAI‘s airwaves on Tuesday January 8 in our new weekly 10 PM slot! 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. Find him on Twitter @streetgriot

WJF_15_CheatSheet_header

If you’re a jazz fan in NYC (or just very curious about the music), then the 11th annual Winter Jazz Fest should be squarely on your radar. If it is, good! You’re likely gearing up to push through the cold snap that’s hit us.

So far, I’ve done a first look with some basic logistics of the festival. In this post, I’ll dive into a few of the acts that you should keep an eye out for. Full disclosure, it’s weighted toward past guests from our Suga’ in My Bowl radio show, but I’ll also mention a few others at the end.

There are a lot of acts to choose from over the festival’s 2 main evenings (Friday and Saturday: Thursday has a lighter schedule), so hopefully this will give you a head start on who to see.

Friday January 9th

WJF_15_Friday

If the festival gave out an MVP award, saxophonist David Murray would certainly be in the running. He’s at the Minetta Lane Theater with his Clarinet Summit at 7:30 and with drummer Teri Lyne Carrington and pianist Geri Allen at 8:45.

We just profiled Murray in December, so I’ll point you to that show for more details. But, needless to say, Murray’s a standout artist and incredibly versatile player. He’s capable of playing as far out as anyone, yet has the skill to drop back into more introspective playing that leans as much on finesse as sheer technical virtuosity. While Suga’ host Joyce Jones won’t (yet) get her wish of a reunion of the World Saxophone Summit, catching the “Clarinet Summit”, his collaboration with Carrington and Allen, or his Saturday set leading his own Infinity Quartet ought to give you as rounded a view of Murray as you’ll ever get.

We’re looking to see a highly charged set with some experimental stuff thrown in with the Clarinet Summit, which has Don Byron and Hamiett Bluiett providing backup. Count on a more straight-ahead set with Carrington and Allen.

Terri Lyne Carrington has developed into a solid presence in jazz drumming. Her all-female Mosaic Project (which featured WJF collaborator Geri Allen) was much more than just a concept album to showcase women in jazz: it was a solid release in its own right. Her 2013 remake of the classic Money Jungle deservedly got high praise as well. Head to our audio archives for a deeper look at her work.

Similarly, pianist Geri Allen is sought after as both a leader and in side projects. Whether she’s heading up her own Timeline group or in collaboration with others (she’s also worked with TRIO 3, though won’t be at this year’s WJF), her percussive style is a joy to listen to. It won’t be the first Allen-Carrington collaboration and their comfort working together should translate into a solid rhythm section for the set with David Murray.

See both of them in this 2013 clip of “Unconditional Love” along with bassist Esperanza Spaulding.

Harpist Brandee Younger has seemingly taken the task of upholding the work of the late, underappreciated harpist Dorothy Ashby as her mission. You’ll likely get fully up to speed on where she is with this project at her “Afro Harping” Ashby tribute to the latter’s classic album of the same name at the Bitter End on Bleecker Street at 8:45. See Younger’s take on Ashby’s “Respected Destroyer”, recorded live in 2014.

Drummer Will Calhoun has come a long way since his days with Living Colour – a trip that’s come full circle, as the group reunited for a world tour in 2014 to support their Synesthesia release and even took a few days off to put the finishing touches on another release, Shade, scheduled for spring 2015. In the middle of all that, he’s grown into a respected leader in the jazz world as well, with a style that pulls equally from his prowess as a rock drummer and the finesse he’s gained at jazz styles and African percussion. Expect a meeting of all those worlds as he joins forces with Living Colour bandmate, bassist Doug Wimbish, and Vinx, who lends vocals and electronic loops and samples for the “Jungle Funk” collaboration at Bowery Electric at 9 PM. Jungle Funk leans more toward Living Colour’s end of the spectrum than Calhoun’s more standard jazz work. Here’s a sample of what you might hear, recorded live in Poland in 2013. For a longer listen, you can check out our 2013 Calhoun profile.

Saxophonist Oliver Lake and bassist Reggie Workman join forces with drummer Andrew Cyrille and special guest Vijay Iyer for TRIO 3 at Minetta Lane at 10 PM. All are incredibly accomplished players and Workman has nearly legendary status. TRIO 3’s shows are always extremely satisfying. Lake is as comfortable playing “out” and pushing the limits of the saxophone as he is using finesse honed from many years on the instrument. Iyer is scarily talented and adapts well to almost any setting. Below is a clip from the 2012 Vision Fest and for a much deeper dive into Lake, you can check out our December 2014 profile of him or our 2009 Workman and 2010 Iyer profiles, which live on in our audio archives, too.

Saturday January 10th

WJF_15_Sat

Saxophonist Oliver Lake returns with a show at The Bitter End on Bleecker Street with his Organ Quartet at 6:15 PM. Here they are performing at the Jazz Standard. Hammond B3 fans will be in for a treat with organist Jared Gold shoring up the rhythm section.

Saxophonist Billy Harper is at Minetta Lane Theater with The Cookers at 8:45 PM. Last year, The Cookers were one of the WJF highlights for me. Harper’s comfortable in the “free jazz” end of the sax spectrum (which I’ll admit I’m partial to), but as part of the collective he contributes to a hard driving straight ahead sound that’s accessible yet adventurous. Expect them to live up to their name. Here they are at the 2014 Nisville Jazz Festival. For a closer look at Harper, see our 2011 show on him.

Saxophonist David Murray makes a final appearance at Le Poisson Rouge with his Infinity Quartet at 9 PM. Keep an eye out for the spoken word of Saul Williams with Saturday night’s Infinity Quartet show. Here they are in a 2014 show.

Vocalist Catherine Russell, who’s been getting solid reviews for her 2014 Bring it Back release, is at the Greenwich House Music School on Barrow St. at 10 PM. Fans of the more traditional jazz vocals should be sure to catch Russell’s set. Her exposure on the popular Boardwalk Empire series has gained her some additional notoriety and her work is fresh and innovative, while still connecting to the jazz tradition. See her perform live in 2013 below or check out our 2014 show for a deeper dive into her work.

Drummer J.T. Lewis will be at Subculture on Bleecker Street with Harriet Tubman at 10 PM. I missed Tubman a few years ago when they were on at an ungodly late hour: not so this time! Tubman describes itself as an “avant metal jazz band” which is a description that I’d be hard pressed to improve upon. If you’re open to electronics in jazz, crossovers into fusion, and aren’t afraid of electric guitars, then this is your set. This clip from a 2010 show at NYC’s The Stone gives a good sense of the type of long, funky, ambient grooves they specialize in. For a longer look at Lewis, see our 2014 show focused on him.

Honorable Mentions

I’ll be honest: that’s an unfair header for this section, since there are so many fantastic acts to choose from. But you have to start somewhere, so here’s who else I’d catch in an ideal world—and just might in this one if I can manage to finagle the schedule just right.

I’ve never seen vibraphonist Joe Locke perform live, but I’d really like to. He’s at the Players Theater at 7 PM on Friday.

I’m a sucker for the electric guitar. Chalk it up to 1980s heavy metal. Still, Marc Ribot’s playing is always fantastic. Team him up with frequent collaborator and fellow guitarist Mary Halvorson for the “Young Philadelphians”? Yes, please! Halvorson’s an up-and-coming name on the scene and she played the WJF last year with both her own ensemble and as a guest with Ribot’s group and the result was a blistering set that I still remember and want to see again and again. Strong incentive to stick around for an 11:15 PM Friday set at Minetta Lane.

Suga’ host Joyce Jones and I were just talking about how Wallace Roney seemed to be the go-to person older trumpeters looked to for backup very early in his career. Both Miles Davis (whose influence is clear) and Freddie Hubbard tapped Roney’s talents. You can’t ask for a better pedigree than that. But he’s taken those lessons and developed his own unique voice on the trumpet. Hmm, 6:15 Saturday at the Bitter End? I just might make it.

Lionel Loueke’s Trio is 8:30 on Saturday at Subculture. Guitar and African rhythms? It makes me really wish I could be in two places at the same time. But you can catch them! And you should!

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 site at Judson Memorial Church.

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. I’ll likely be wiped out after it’s wrapped up, but it’s good training for the week-long Vision Fest, which has moved to July this year. We’ll have some coverage of that, but before then, I’ll check in with a WJF wrap-up.

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. This week, we’ll feature an interview with Geri Allen on January 11th, which should be a good way to wrap up the weekend.

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

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