These are the 10 best jazz shows in New York this month. (Here for more on Jazz Appreciation Month.)
Steve Coleman and Five Elements
Switching from its longtime format of guest curators in favor of brief single-artist residencies, The Stone offers an April packed with major talent (Matthew Shipp, Jamie Saft, more). Alto saxophonist Steve Coleman, veteran bandleader and influential theorist, finishes the month (April 23-28) with his main ensemble Five Elements, buoyed by the stellar new release Functional Arrhythmias (Pi).
Michele Rosewoman and New Yor-Uba
At Roulette on April 5, the ace pianist celebrates 30 years of a vital Afro-Cuban jazz project with an ensemble of five horns, three percussionists (bata/congas/vocals), bass and drums. Undulating rhythms, Yoruba lyrics in four-part harmony, the leader’s fiery finesse on piano and keys: hear it all just days before the band makes its debut studio recording.
Adam Rudolph’s Go:Organic Orchestra
From a tangle of flutes, clarinets, brass, strings and polymetric percussion — 42 instruments in all — experimental composer/conductor Adam Rudolph (a percussionist himself) elicits music of strange and unclassifiable beauty. Engrossing to watch, he uses hand cues and non-standard notation systems in search of global groove transcendence. The band’s residency at ShapeShifter Lab continues on April 8 and 22.
Jeff Ballard Fairgrounds
Drummer Jeff Ballard, a mainstay in the Brad Mehldau Trio and the acclaimed Fly, has assembled a most enticing lineup for his first Village Vanguard solo run (April 9-14): master trumpeter Eddie Henderson, Chicago guitar enigma Jeff Parker (of Tortoise), bassist Larry Grenadier (of Mehldau’s trio and Fly) and pianist Kevin Hays. Hurricane Sandy scuttled their October 2012 debut, so don’t miss ’em now.
Instant Composers Pool
Founded in 1967, the ICP remains a touchstone of Dutch progressive jazz, with an output gigantic enough for a 52-CD boxed set. The Amsterdam-based tentet is here for a one-nighter at Littlefield (April 13), ready to delight in its pranksterish sensibility. Piano eminence Misha Mengelberg can’t make it, but watch for drumming beast and co-founder Han Bennink, cellist Tristan Honsinger, reedist Ab Baars, trombonist Wolter Wierbos and more.
The Claudia Quintet
Following an April 2 Large Ensemble appearance at Jazz Standard, drummer and composer John Hollenbeck spends three nights (April 18-20) at Cornelia Street Café with his Claudia Quintet. Featuring Chris Speed on clarinet and tenor, Red Wierenga on accordion, Matt Moran on vibes and Chris Tordini on bass, the group is leaner than the sprawling big band but just as wild and sonically rich.
Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society
The Vancouver-born composer and his 18-piece “steampunk big band” play BAMcafé Live (April 20) to celebrate the release of Brooklyn Babylon, a follow-up to the group’s momentous 2009 debut Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam). Documenting music from his inspired multimedia premiere at BAM last year, Argue makes the case for big bands as forces of limitless expression, versed in history, rooted in today.
Christian Scott Sextet
This young and charismatic trumpeter out of New Orleans has appeared on late night TV more than once in recent years. He took a new name and released his best work to date in 2012, Christian aTunde Adjuah (Concord). Now he’s even playing radical new horns — the “siren,” “sirenette” and “reverse flugelhorn.” His sextet gig at Jazz Standard (April 25-26) features vibraphonist Warren Wolf and pianist Lawrence Fields, among others.
Vijay Iyer: Solo, Trio, Sextet
We’ve heard Vijay Iyer as a lone pianist on Solo, and leading a trio with bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore on the groundbreaking Historicity and Accelerando (ACT). At Zankel Hall on April 27, Iyer explores both these worlds and also adds three horn players (Steve Lehman, Mark Shim, Graham Haynes), alluding to the larger group sound of his ’90s recordings. Tyshawn Sorey, not Gilmore, is on drums.
Steve Kuhn, Buster Williams & Joey Baron
Piano great Steve Kuhn — onetime sideman to John Coltrane, Stan Getz, Kenny Dorham, Art Farmer and many more — turned 75 in March. He starts at Birdland on April 30 (International Jazz Day), and runs through May 4, with bass legend Buster Williams and versatile, swinging-as-hell Joey Baron on drums. Kuhn plays standards and striking originals with great melodic imagination and technical command.