These are the best jazz shows in NYC in August.
Having made his name in the bands of Terence Blanchard, Robert Glasper and others, bassist Derrick Hodge debuts as a leader this month with the seductive, lyrical, beat-oriented Live Today (Blue Note), featuring the likes of Common and singer-songwriter Alan Hampton. Hodge is a stunner on upright and electric but flaunts production chops as well: it’s about the songs. His gig at The Cutting Room (Aug. 6) could be a highlight of the year.
Rob Reddy’s Tenfold
On albums such as A Hundred Jumping Devils and Songs That You Can Trust, soprano/alto saxophonist Rob Reddy has conjured a universe of dissonant free-funk, folk-like hymns, ethereal out-of-tempo tone poetry and beyond. He’ll end a brief performing hiatus with something new. What? Find out on August 5 — and every Monday this month — when he plays SubCulture with Tenfold, featuring drummer Pheeroan akLaff, violinist Charlie Burnham, guitarist Brandon Ross and more.
Trio 3 with Vijay Iyer
Alto saxophonist Oliver Lake, bassist Reggie Workman, drummer Andrew Cyrille: the co-leaders of Trio 3 go way back, and their avant-garde sound flows from deep sources in jazz history. Lately they’ve been inviting guest pianists, including Geri Allen and Jason Moran. So when Vijay Iyer, fresh from a residency at the Stone, takes his seat at Birdland (Aug. 6-10), he’ll be in seriously good company. His methods of rhythmic entrancement should be a great fit.
From the funk-heavy “M-Base” experiments of Steve Coleman to the searing vocal music of Abbey Lincoln and the swing abstraction of Joe Lovano’s Us Five, pianist James Weidman has quietly helped alter the jazz landscape for some decades now. In July he turned 60 — a landmark he’ll celebrate at Zinc Bar (Aug. 12) with his Aperturistic Trio (bassist Harvie S, drummer Steve Williams). They’ll draw on material from the new Truth and Actuality (Inner Circle).
Christian McBride Trio
The bass titan has devoted energy to a big band and a quintet called Inside Straight in recent years. But his new Out Here (Mack Avenue) pares down to a trio with two compelling players on the rise: pianist Christian Sands and drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr. They’ll appear at 54 Below on August 13, putting an earthy swing and blues vibe in the foreground but also hinting at McBride’s debt to soul, modal jazz and much else. On August 25 Owens leads a group featuring Sands at Iridium.
Mary Halvorson doesn’t sound like other guitarists. Here she is unaccompanied, taking her Guild hollowbody to town, favoring a dry tone with some pretty extreme pitch effects. And here she is with her quintet, reconciling subtle compositional craft with unfettered free improvisation. At The Stone (Aug. 13-18) she’ll duet with fellow avant-pluckers Joe Morris and Brandon Seabrook, spend two nights with the trio Thumbscrew, and devote the whole weekend to her new septet, which releases Illusionary Sea (Firehouse 12) in September.
Bouncing between Paris and New York, the inventive Logan Richardson doesn’t gig here year-round, so it’s wise to catch the alto saxophonist’s band SHIFT with pianist Sullivan Fortner, bassist Harish Raghavan and drummer Tommy Crane at Smalls (Aug. 14-15). The week prior he’ll appear at Jazz Standard (Aug. 7-11) with the Next Collective, an all-star sextet devoted to sly instrumental covers of pop and hip-hop tunes, as heard on Cover Art (Concord).
Pianist Myra Melford worked with Henry Threadgill and other greats while honing her identity as a composer and leader. Her recent projects, including Be Bread and Trio M, have a lithe and poetic sound underscored by a sense of risk. At Roulette on August 15 she’ll convene her band Snowy Egret for a work-in-progress called “Language of Dreams,” with trumpeter Ron Miles, guitarist Liberty Ellman, acoustic bass guitarist Stomu Takeishi and drummer Tyshawn Sorey plus video, dance and narration.
David Weiss’s Endangered Species: Music of Wayne Shorter
First came Shorter himself in June, then the Shorter-inspired Wallace Roney Orchestra in July. Now comes a volcanic 12-piece unit led by trumpeter/arranger David Weiss, returning to Dizzy’s (Aug. 22-25) after recording Endangered Species (Motéma) live at the club in 2012. Weiss’s arrangements brim with insight, featuring talent on the order of Marcus Strickland and JD Allen on saxophones and Jeremy Pelt on trumpet. Pianist Geri Allen plays the first two nights; the final night is Shorter’s 80th birthday.
Patrick Cornelius Sextet
There’s a certain jolt of energy in the music of alto saxophonist Patrick Cornelius, who’ll celebrate his new Infinite Blue (Whirlwind) at The Kitano on August 22. Joined by sage pianist Frank Kimbrough, Cornelius starts from a quartet but adds trombonist Nick Vayenas and trumpeter Michael Rodriguez to fatten the sound and vary the solo voices. At the gig he’ll have Peter Slavov on bass and Billy Drummond on drums.