These are the best jazz shows in NYC in November.
See also: Ten Jazz Albums to Hear Before you Die
In the ’70s trumpeter Charles Tolliver co-led the extraordinary Music Inc. and co-founded the innovative label Strata-East. Over the past decade he’s seen a return to prominence, and when he lifts that horn and approaches the mic at age 71, you’d better believe he means business. At the Cell Theatre on November 6 — and every Wednesday through December 11 — Tolliver gives us “new directions in modern music” with a smoking quintet featuring Theo Hill on piano, Bruce Edwards on guitar, Devin Starks on bass and E.J. Strickland on drums.
The trumpeter and Buenos Aires native did something super-cool on Mates (Sunnyside), his fifth CD as a leader: he recorded duets with strong personalities on various instruments, telling a story that’s as serpentine as it is cohesive. At Smalls on November 4, Urcola might pivot from this approach in any way he chooses, bringing along album guests Dave Samuels on vibes and Edmar Castañeda on Colombian harp. The formidable Luques Curtis stands in for Avishai Cohen on bass, and Raul Jaurena for Juan Dargenton on bandoneón.
Myron Walden’s Momentum
Revered for his furious alto saxophone solos in the Brian Blade Fellowship, Myron Walden has shifted primarily to tenor sax in his recent prolific work as a leader: funky soul-jazz with his group Countryfied; leaner swing with his Apex Trio; and surging, ethereal post-bop with his Momentum quintet. At Dizzy’s (Nov. 5 & 6) he’ll mark the release of the four-disc Momentum Live: Our Sound (Demi) with trumpeter Darren Barrett, pianist Eden Ladin, bassist Yasushi Nakamura and drummer Mark Whitfield, Jr. (Pianist Jon Cowherd, Walden’s Fellowship bandmate, celebrates the release of Mercy at Dizzy’s on November 11.)
Jazz & Colors
The weather was blah for last year’s inaugural event in Central Park, and yet what a day. Hopefully the sun will shine on November 9 when 30 groups of all configurations play for free again in the great outdoors, from midtown to Harlem, east side to west side. Here’s the twist: all bands play the same agreed-upon songs, but in completely different ways. Meta jam session? Performance art? And how to hear it all? (Bicycle comes to mind.) Watch out for Arturo O’Farrill, Doug Wamble, Wayne Escoffery, Joel Harrison, Jason Kao Hwang and many more.
Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet
All while leading several compelling bands, cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum has had time to co-found a label, direct the Tri-Centric Foundation, serve as (former) VP of the Festival of New Trumpet Music (FONT) and write incisive music criticism to boot. On November 9 at the Jazz Gallery he’ll play material from Navigation (Firehouse 12), a two-LP, two-CD document for sextet featuring the heady improvising talents of alto saxophonist Jim Hobbs, bass trombonist/tuba-ist Bill Lowe, guitarist Mary Halvorson, bassist Ken Filiano and drummer Tomas Fujiwara. (Fujiwara’s excellent band The Hook Up is at Cornelia Street Café on November 16.)
Jamie Baum Septet +
Jamie Baum casts a spell on flute and alto flute and leads a vibrant septet that probes every detail of her ingenious compositions. In This Life (Sunnyside), her first release since 2008, brings together French horn, bass clarinet, killing rhythm section and other elements in a visceral statement inspired by recent journeys in South Asia. Maria Schneider’s Orchestra is the big draw this month at Jazz Standard, but don’t miss Baum and her inspired crew in the same room on November 19. (Baum’s trumpeter, Amir ElSaffar, celebrates his new Pi release Alchemy at the Jazz Gallery on November 2.)
Marco Cappelli Acoustic Trio
Departing from the nutty surf guitar of The American Dream (Mode), Italian virtuoso Marco Cappelli returns to the beguiling sound of his modified nylon-string axe on Le Stagioni Del Commissario Ricciardi (Tzadik), with music inspired by the detective novels of Maurizio De Giovanni. At Nublu on November 12, and again at ShapeShifter Lab on November 21, Cappelli and his trio mates (bassist Ken Filiano, percussionist Satoshi Takeishi) will take you on a hell of a journey.
For years, vibraphonist Chris Dingman has lent a rippling, airy sound to the wizardly compositions of Steve Lehman (Jazz Gallery, Nov. 8). But Dingman’s 2012 opus Waking Dreams signaled the arrival of an imaginative leader in his own right, able to rally today’s top players to his cause. His new nature-inspired suite, soon to be recorded, is The Subliminal and the Sublime, which he’ll premiere at SubCulture on November 23 with a sterling sextet: guitarist Ryan Ferreira, saxophonist Loren Stillman, pianist Fabian Almazan, bassist Linda Oh and drummer Justin Brown.
Ryan Keberle’s Catharsis
Indispensable to some of today’s best big bands when he’s not touring with the likes of Sufjan Stevens, trombonist Ryan Keberle has also pursued a unique brass-centered sound with his own groups. Catharsis, lean and powerful with a front line of trombone and trumpet (Mike Rodriguez) and an adroit rhythm section (bassist Jorge Roeder, drummer Eric Doob), debuted earlier this year with Music Is Emotion. On November 20 at SEEDS, perhaps Brooklyn’s most intimate room, they’ll add vocalist Camila Meza to the mix. Guitarist Dave Miller and his trio share the bill.
Fred Hersch & Julian Lage
Piano master Fred Hersch can thrive in any setting, but there’s something about his poetic approach to the duo. This year alone he’s given us Only Many (CAM Jazz) with trumpeter Ralph Alessi and Free Flying (Palmetto) with 25-year-old guitar sensation Julian Lage. At the Blue Note on November 25-27, Hersch and Lage do their intricate, unpredictable thing. But also keep an eye on the great Jim Hall, one of Lage’s heroes, who plays Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Allen Room on November 22 and 23.