Paganini. You know, the famous violinist, classical celebrity, and waltz-stomping workhorse, whose instrument rests in a bank vault under strict security in northern Italy. His name suggests majesty, and, right now, so does Regina Carter’s; she recently became that violin’s first black jazz player—a milestone. Her crowning achievement is not just her recording, but her creativity on that album, so celebrated as a historical document that her performance plays second fiddle to the whirlwind surrounding it. Both are stunning, and both deserve celebration at Carnegie Hall on November 3, when, if authorities can transport the musical heirloom safely on time, she’ll perform on it live. Wouldn’t miss it, would you?
If Carter’s quick wit and guiding intelligence abide, she’ll play tremendously. But doesn’t jazz happen best when musicians discard all that and honk like mad? Sometimes. In Carter’s case, exacting precision and studied syncopation are her gifts, and no urge to scratch, scream, holler, or shriek can disrupt her concentration—even though, when challenged, she can burst into blues so biting that you’ll need a fan to cool her down. Here’s hoping for the latter—whatever it takes to rev her engine. At least she’ll treat us to that giggle sound she makes using oscillating bow motions and, just maybe, she’ll find her own reflection in the pools of that polished instrument.
Regina Carter performs November 3 at Carnegie Hall, Zankel Hall, 881 Seventh Avenue, 212-247-7800.
TONIC, 107 NORFOLK STREET, 212.358.7501
Masada: The only name you’ll need to access the saxophonist’s powerhouse acoustic ensemble. The group gears up for the man’s 50th birthday celebration, which includes a rotating lineup of seasoned jazz vets. This portion includes Zorn, trumpeter Dave Douglas, and other top-notchers doing what they do: pumping passion through downtown Manhattan.
BLUE NOTE, 131 WEST 3RD STREET, 212.475.8592
Abbey, 70, is today’s most stirring jazz vocalist. Catch this performance if it’s the last thing you do. Her booming charisma, emotional power, towering warmth, and tragicomic lyrics are acquired tastes worth acquiring, because she speaks to twentysomethings, thirtysomethings—everyone. And this time out, she has a bracing new CD.
TOSHIKO AKIYOSHI JAZZ ORCHESTRA
CARNEGIE HALL, 881 SEVENTH AVENUE, 212.247.7800
Say farewell to one of jazz’s most resilient big bands. Pianist Akiyoshi and her husband, saxophonist Lew Tabackin, mark the 30th anniversary and end of their enigmatic ensemble together, with this final performance. She’s calling it quits after a terrific run, and returning to smaller settings now, as is he. How they’ll send us off—in style, no doubt—remains to be seen.
‘HERE’S TO THE LADIES’
AVERY FISHER HALL, 64TH STREET AND COLUMBUS AVENUE, 212.258.9803
Wynton Marsalis leads the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and featured guest Shirley Horn, whose recent foot amputation has only renewed her resounding creativity, for the Orchestra’s eighth annual awards gala. Ed Bradley hosts the event, which includes compositions by Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, and other great women in jazz. What’s really sparkling is Shirley, of course, whose voice could fill a temple.
VILLAGE VANGUARD, 178 SEVENTH AVENUE SOUTH, 212.255.4037
It’s cold out there and hot in here, and even if Lou has softened his edges a little since the ’60s, he’s still the high-octane, funk-inflected, blues-drenched Lou—a scorching saxophonist with hilarious quips and side-splitting anecdotes. And this time, no Lonnie Smith. Very accessible, hip, crowd-pleasing music.
IRIDIUM, 1650 BROADWAY, 212.582.2121
Chicago-born saxophonist Konitz turns 76, and with him to celebrate are expressive guitarist Bill Frisell, adventurous bassist Gary Peacock, and colorful drummer Paul Motian—each a headliner, and together sharing chemistry that no watercooler can extinguish.
BLUE NOTE, 131 WEST 3RD STREET, 212.475.8592
Last time Elvin appeared here, he had one bandmate: Cecil Taylor. That’s all he needed. The music was so powerful that their union, which has now turned into a reunion, drew crowds of all ages. And this event should too—a big-band ensemble with Elvin at the helm and his cymbal-crashing clarity and hi-hat hellos to ignite the proceedings.
ANDREW HILL+JASON MORAN
KAUFMAN CENTER, MERKIN CONCERT HALL, 129 WEST 67TH STREET, 212.501.3330
Andrew, who taught Jason to pummel the piano with wry intelligence and meaty abstraction, and Jason, who carries Andrew’s torch, face off on dueling pianos. Their avant-garde alliance combines dinnertime intensity with shivering thunder and way dope interplay.
BIRDLAND, 315 WEST 44TH STREET, 212.581.3080
His Eight Plus album sounds mighty good—that funky New Orleans track at the end, that string-heavy “O.K.” Bassist Ron Carter continues to pluck storms around town, with acuity and clarity. His narratives are easy to follow and fun to hear, which doesn’t mean predictable. He brings the nonet.