Fall Arts Guide 2012: Music


Anthony Braxton

September 13

The magisterially awesome saxophone improviser, Wesleyan professor, and MacArthur grant-winning experimental composer, now 67, will only make one New York appearance in 2012. But this solitary night brings two of the legend’s latest bands to Brooklyn, in what amounts to a event (and a bargain). The first set promises Braxton playing in his current quartet. The later set brings Braxton’s “Diamond Curtain Wall” ensemble, which features interactive electronics and (now) a vocal group. Some guarantees: It won’t sound much like his ’70s-era music. Or like any other music you’ve ever heard. But odds are it will show a mastery of instrumental technique, and a singular, thrilling approach to musical expression. Roulette, 509 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn,

New York Philharmonic

September 19–22

The wild, stylistically magpie and famously protested-upon-its-premiere Rite of Spring turns 100 this year. To celebrate, philharmonic music director Alan Gilbert has programmed a suitably daring evening that not only features Stravinsky’s avant-garde ballet, but also Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 and a piece by modernist master György Kurtág. Why not! Adventurous programming alone won’t be a guarantee of applause, however, since Rite fans are a discerning sort (and since the L.A. Philharmonic recorded a glorious version of the Rite with Esa-Pekka Salonen not long ago). But even if you attend with a readiness to nitpick, do leave your rocks and tomatoes at home. Avery Fisher Hall, 10 Lincoln Center Plaza,

David Byrne & St. Vincent

September 25–26, 29

David Byrne has always known how to package his career. The same month that sees a book of his musings on music published by McSweeney’s is the same month we also get to hear his new album with St. Vincent. Does the book have a lot to say about how important collaborations have been to Byrne? Why, yes! Is St. Vincent mentioned? You bet. Good thing their union sounds as vital as Byrne’s last project with Brian Eno. Since they’re both legendarily great performers, there’s reason to have no fear of this particular night of music. Beacon Theatre, 2124 Broadway,; Williamsburg Park, North 12th Street and Kent Avenue, Brooklyn,

Melvins Lite

October 4

Only the Melvins would dub their experimental-trio format in a manner suggestive of lo-cal substitutes. But the truth is that King Buzzo and Dale Crover still sound aggressively weird when (acoustic) bass duties are handed over to Trevor Dunn (formerly of Mr. Bungle). Going by their recent album Freak Puke, this band’s repertory even includes some old-school-reminiscent stompers in the mode of Melvins proper. The fact that this band balances the dual duties of brand maintenance and exploration better than any of their active colleagues from the grunge era means this stands an excellent chance of being a vital show, rather than some terrible “remember the ’90s” nostalgia wank. Music Hall of Williamsburg, 66 North 6th Street, Brooklyn,

The Mountain Goats

October 13–16

John Darnielle has built up some real goodwill in the realm of folkified indie rock by releasing solid music (and also by virtue of his charming social-media presence). Transcendental Youth, the latest album from his band, is a song cycle affair that found its beginnings in a collaborative context with various modern-classical musicians, like Owen Pallett. It seems Pallett’s arrangement won’t appear on the final album, though lead single “Cry for Judas” evinces some newfound love for the horn/chart. The Mountain Goats’ four-night residency between Brooklyn and Manhattan that’s scheduled right after the album’s release presages one of those modern-rock love-ins that comes hot on the heels of an ambitious new effort. Music Hall of Williamsburg, 66 North 6th Street, Brooklyn,; Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey Street,

Fiona Apple

October 16–17

SXSW-related buzz can’t always be trusted. Most everyone is A) drunk and B) just happy to be there and C) professionally obligated to tell the world that everything that’s happening that week is really the best thing you haven’t seen or heard yet. But after her super-well-received sneak-preview performances in Austin this spring, Fiona Apple went and delivered an album that retroactively justified all that praise. The Idler Wheel is a virtual lock for a million year-end lists, but don’t let preemptive ennui over the critical hive mind dissuade you from checking out Apple’s rare live appearances. Terminal 5, 610 West 56th Street,

Thomas Ades’s ‘The Tempest’

October 23–November 17

Enthusiasm over the Met’s smart decision to bring Thomas Ades’s operatic recast of the Shakespeare play to New York is tempered only by its choice of director. After showing a talent for staging some rare and outsider repertoire at places like BAM, Robert Lepage has made an utter hash of Wagner’s Ring cycle over the past two seasons. Still, a contemporary work arrives with less baggage, so there’s probably (hopefully?) less opportunity for a director to fail so comprehensively. (Also see: the law of averages.) Cautious optimism, then, for a new work that can already be heard to contain some glorious music (on its premiere CD recording, from EMI). Metropolitan Opera, 64 Columbus Avenue,

Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Indo-Pak Coalition

November 3

Pakistani guitarist Rez Abbasi and tabla player Dan Weiss joined forces with Mahanthappa on the 2008 album Apti and need to record again. Until then, the highlight of Miller Theatre’s fall jazz schedule (and its whole calendar, perhaps) is this appearance by the alto-sax player’s trio dedicated to undoing all your previously held views on “Indo-jazz” fusion. Oh, did you not have any prior beliefs about that kind of fusion? Fret not. The compositions are elegant, their swing is real, and the sound—both aggressive and sly—is unique. Miller Theatre, 2960 Broadway,