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These are the best Jazz shows in the city this month, in no particular order.
Chucho Valdés, Egberto Gismonti, Danilo Pérez and Gonzalo Rubalcaba
As part of the Voices From Latin America series, these virtuoso pianists — two from Cuba, one from Brazil, another from Panama — will perform at Carnegie Hall on December 4. Throughout the show, they’ll engage in different musical configurations. The concert culminates in an eight-hand finale with all four musicians on stage.
Every Tuesday at Smalls — that basement hangout in the West Village — Spike Wilner, the club’s manager, sits down at the piano for about two hours and plays. Wilner seems to have contained in his head the entire history of jazz piano, and so you’ll see him deliver bouncing stride rhythms alongside brisk bebop lines. There’s no cover for this happy hour set.
The songs on drummer-composer John Hollenbeck’s new album, Songs I like a Lot — out January 29 — are ones we think you’ll like a lot too. They’re warm, elliptical and, best of all, tuneful. Hollenbeck brings his large ensemble, along with singers Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckmann, to Roulette on Dec. 10 to celebrate the new CD. With any luck, they’ll play their great rendition of “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow.”
Medeski Martin & Wood
Medeski Martin & Wood is a jam band at heart, but it’s also a credible jazz trio when it wants to be. From December 11-16 John Medeski, Billy Martin and Chris Wood will take to the Blue Note, where they’ll spend a week interacting with a different jazz musician every night except the last one. You’ll find the group augmented by Aiyb Dieng, Nels Cline, Marc Ribot, Bill Evans or Marty Ehrlich.
Ben Holmes Quartet
The trumpeter Ben Holmes returns to Barbès with his quartet on December 18 for the second installment of his monthly residency. To get a taste of what the group might sound like listen to Anvil of the Lord, Holmes’s new CD, released in November, featuring trombonist Curtis Hasselbring, bassist Matt Pavolka and drummer Vinnie Sperrazza. Ben Perowsky will fill in for Sperrazza at the Barbès show.
Aaron Diehl Trio
On December 21, the pianist Aaron Diehl brings his trio — with David Wong on bass and Peter Van Nostrand on drums — to the Kitano. Diehl is young — 27 — but he’s by no means inexperienced. He’s got an excellent command of jazz’s standard repertoire and he plays with crystal-clear concision.
Jimmy Cobb and the Kind of Blue Band
The drummer Jimmy Cobb played on Kind of Blue, Miles Davis’s legendary 1959 release, and he’s the only surviving musician to have done so. In the spirit of that album, Cobb will bring a sextet — including Jeremy Pelt, Vincent Herring, Javon Jackson, Larry Willis and Buster Williams — to the Jazz Standard from December 27-30.
The Bad Plus
The Bad Plus, a slyly progressive jazz trio with ecumenical taste ranging from Nirvana to Rodgers and Hart, continues with the tradition of its yearly New Year’s Eve concert at the Village Vanguard. Presumably its members — pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King — will play selections from their new album, Made Possible, released this fall.
Ring in the Swing: A New Year’s Eve Dance Party
If you can afford it, this looks fun. On New Year’s Eve, Jazz at Lincoln Center is putting on its first swing dance concert in the Allen Room as part of the institution’s 25th anniversary season. The Harlem Renaissance Orchestra will perform selections from classic big bands of the Swing Era: Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman. Tickets are $325.