The Best Jazz Shows in NYC This Month, September 2013


These are the best jazz shows in NYC in September.

Orrin Evans
Pianist Orrin Evans of Philadelphia recently co-founded the artist collective Likemind, and for six nights at Jazz Standard (Sept. 3-8) he’ll give a good idea of its breadth and purpose. He opens with Tarbaby, a quartet featuring renowned altoist Oliver Lake; continues as a sideman backing vocalist JD Walter; devotes two nights to a trio celebrating the release of …It Was Beauty (Criss Cross); and saves the final two nights (Sept. 7-8) for a quintet with pacesetters Ralph Alessi on trumpet and Greg Osby on alto saxophone. Alessi returns to the club on Sept. 24-25 to mark the release of Baida (ECM), featuring pianist Jason Moran.

Dawn of Midi
Drummer Qasim Naqvi, bassist Aakaash Israni and pianist Amino Belyamani are Dawn of Midi, an acoustic trio that’s traveled from the freer improv of their 2010 debut to the subtle, microscopic beat-tweaking of the new Dysnomia (Thirsty Ear). Nine tracks, with titles like “Sinope” and “Algol,” run together with no pauses, creating an inexhaustible flow of rhythmic patterns and impulses and slow-morphing drama. At Le Poisson Rouge (Sept. 3) they’ll offer a closer look.

Dave King Trio
As drummer for the Bad Plus, Dave King of Minneapolis has shared his carefree energy and insane chops with global audiences since the early ’00s. But his leader debut at the Village Vanguard (Sept. 10-15) involves the soft-spoken trio that recorded I’ve Been Ringing You (Sunnyside) in 2012. With pianist Bill Carrothers and bassist Billy Peterson, King transforms standards like “If I Should Lose You” into dark and ethereal riddles. On paper it’s his most traditional move to date, but unlike any standards record in recent memory.

Donny McCaslin Saxophone Quartet
Tenor/soprano saxophonist Donny McCaslin has been playing like a beast since his teens. At 47 he’s a seasoned artist with many facets–a newer one being this four-saxophone group coming to the Rubin Museum (Sept. 6). On alto sax will be the producer of McCaslin’s last several albums, the ever imaginative David Binney. On tenor and soprano along with McCaslin is Joel Frahm, who combines scary technical acumen with a language soaked in bebop and blues. Scott Robinson, genius of the low reeds, will fill out the spectrum and assert himself on baritone.

FONT: Festival of New Trumpet Music
Focus on one instrument–the trumpet, say–and you can program a festival that spans the spectrum, from iconic composers Christian Wolff and John Zorn to jazz up-and-comers Josh Evans, Miki Hirose, Bria Skonberg, Laura Kahle and more. Running at several venues from Sept. 10 to Oct. 2 (full schedule), FONT will also honor the late Butch Morris and present living masters Hugh Ragin, Lew Soloff and Marcus Belgrave, among others.

Muhal Richard Abrams
A week after his 83rd birthday, pianist and AACM grandee Muhal Richard Abrams will premiere his new extended work “Dialogue Social” as part of the Interpretations series at Roulette (Sept. 26). For half a century Abrams has soared past aesthetic boundaries, so this two-parter for solo piano and ensemble (with operatic voices, strings, clarinets, percussion and electronics) ought to deepen the mystery. While you’re at it, catch the AACM’s showcase with Steve and Iqua Colson at the Community Church of New York (Sept. 20).

Matt Mitchell & Ches Smith
In just a few years, Philadelphia’s Matt Mitchell has become pianist of choice for some of the most creative and demanding units on the scene: Tim Berne’s Snakeoil, John Hollenbeck’s Claudia Quintet, the Dave Douglas Quintet and more. Fiction (Pi), Mitchell’s solo debut, is a collaboration with Snakeoil drummer and vibraphonist Ches Smith. It sustains maximum mathematical density but also reaches into quieter, more fragile zones. Hear the duo pull it off live at Greenwich House Music School (Sept. 14).

Ahmad Jamal & Wynton Marsalis
In the ’50s pianist Ahmad Jamal rewrote the book on trio playing and provided the aesthetic model for Miles Davis’s first great quintet. He’s still making beautiful records at 83, so his three-night collaboration at Rose Theater (Sept. 19-21) with Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra holds great promise. Jamal’s quartet and the LCJO will work in tandem to recast some of the landmark works — who knows, maybe even the ’70s keeper “Swahililand,” which De La Soul sampled on “Stakes Is High.”

Alexis Cuadrado Group
Federico García Lorca’s poetry has inspired composers from Shostakovich to Golijov, but bassist and Barcelona native Alexis Cuadrado presents a searing and original take with A Lorca Soundscape (Sunnyside). He’ll celebrate the new release at the Jazz Gallery (Sept. 20-21), leading a quintet with nonpareil Chilean vocalist Claudia Acuña. Cuadrado’s music explodes with melody, rhythmic urgency and tonal color. For lyrics he relies on Lorca’s A Poet in New York, which depicts the “dreadful spectacle” of the city as it entered the Great Depression.

Chick Corea’s The Vigil
The piano legend is shredding at age 72 and putting together strong bands like The Vigil. They’ll play the Blue Note (Sept. 24-29) in support of an eponymous CD on Concord. Unabashedly electric and fusiony, the new quintet boasts British reedist Tim Garland, California guitarist Charles Altura, French bassist Hadrien Feraud and Hollis, Queens-born-and-raised drummer Marcus Gilmore. Poetic that Gilmore is the grandson of drum icon Roy Haynes, a member of Corea’s classic late-’60s trio. Vibraphonist Gary Burton, a beloved Corea associate, leads his own quartet at the Blue Note the week prior (Sept. 17-22), in support of Guided Tour (Mack Avenue).

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