Music

Get Jazzed About Seu Jorge and the Other Best Shows in NYC This Week

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New York may not have been the birthplace of jazz, but its towering status within the genre’s history and development is undeniable. For some audiences, that history ends sometime in the Sixties, which is a damn shame: jazz never went away here, and with the proliferation of music schools and jazz-centric venues, it’s flourished. This week is a reminder that — especially for all the cool kids who stick to Brooklyn — the variety of music to hear in the city is as staggering as its sheer volume. Among the highlights before the weekend are two residencies from artists who take jazz in unexpected directions: Darius Jones, a sax prodigy who’s assumed the mantle of avant-jazz leadership, and Seu Jorge, the Brazilian samba master whose grooves have a distinctly jazzy undertone. Rounding out the options is the talented but under-appreciated bassist Matt Brewer, whose trio plays a late-night improvisational set at Smalls. 

2/15

Aye Nako

Silent Barn

8 p.m., $8

Acclaimed alt-pop punk prodigies and Silent Barn regulars Aye Nako will play the venue on February 15 as part of a tour with didi, Yowler, and The Molasses Gospel. didi similarly blend Nineties punk-inspired instrumentals with sweeter vocals, resulting in irresistibly catchy songs. The more low-key Yowler will also bring moody, vocals-and-guitar-driven tunes to the space (be sure to check out their excellent album from last year, The Offer). The Molasses Gospel’s folky, soulful music closes out the lineup. There isn’t a mediocre band on this show. For $8, that’s one hell of a deal—even if it is a Monday night. — Sophie Weiner

Coffins, Ilsa
Saint Vitus

8 p.m., $15

Split EPs that pair bands across continents don’t always guarantee a concert together, so it’s a rare occurrence to see Coffins, who are from Japan, share a bill with DC/Brooklyn’s Ilsa. It’s the only such pairing (and the only East Coast gig) on Coffins’ seven-show US tour. The two death-doom bands complement each other especially well on their upcoming Relapse split, with Coffins’ more frenetic take on death-doom leading into Ilsa’s growling, crusty track. Rounding out the bill is Baltimore’s Noisem, a death/thrash band that used to share a label (A389) with Ilsa. Noisem doesn’t quite fit on the bill stylistically, but their youthful live energy will more than make up for the mismatch. — Catherine P. Lewis

Matt Brewer

Smalls Jazz Club

10:30 p.m., $20

The NYC jazz scene is packed with under-the-radar dudes who make plenty of wise moves but don’t get enough recognition, and Matt Brewer is one of the best. As a bass player he’s perpetually adding insightful lines and extra oomph to whatever band he’s in; as a boss he’s recently been working a two-reed front line concept that’s fetching in its textural allure. 2014’s superb Mythology put saxophonists Steve Lehman and Mark Turner up front, but this rare gig finds Greg Osby and Ben Wendel on the spotlight horns. Brewer’s tunes give them plenty of structural designs to mess around with. And if they romp through Ornette’s forever-enticing “Free,” you’ll hear the meaning of the term “nu-bop” unfold right in front of you. — Jim Macnie

2/16

Darius Jones

The Stone

8 p.m. & 10 p.m., $15

Through 2/21

For two decades, Brooklyn-based avant-jazz label AUM Fidelity has served as a launchpad for mavericks like William Parker, Matthew Shipp, and the late, great David S. Ware. Now comes the young saxophonist Darius Jones, a giant in his own right whose oeuvre to date — much of it on AUM — is nothing short of brilliant. It’s no wonder downtown icon John Zorn tapped Jones for a residency this week at his Ave. C performance space. Through February 21, Jones presents a tour de force of his myriad projects and free-improv collaborations, with each two-set night being a must-see. But if you can’t catch them all, highlights include Cosmic Lieder, Jones’s spiritual meeting of the minds with pianist pioneer Shipp (February 16 at 8 p.m.); the blues-oozing free-bop of super-group Grass Roots (February 17 at 10 p.m.); a sax duel with his Little Women band-mate Travis Laplante (February 21 at 10 p.m.); and, of course, his epochal “Man’ish Boy” epic in its various iterations throughout the run. — Brad Cohan

Seu Jorge

Blue Note

8 p.m. & 10:30 p.m., $50-75

Through 2/28

Brazilian singer-songwriter Seu Jorge will helm a ten-date residency at the Village’s Blue Note, where he’ll draw from his decade-spanning career, including last year’s Músicas Para Churrasco II. Roughly translated to English as “Music For Barbecuing,” Churrasco II cooks up some Gil Scott Heron-esque vibes circa 1981, when soul was squeezed into funk. Jorge is perhaps best known for his acting, particularly in City of God (he played Knockout Ned) and Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. It was the latter role that showed off Jorge’s musical dexterity — he performed an LP’s worth of David Bowie covers in his native tongue of Portuguese. Whether he’s plucking a tender rendition of “Starman” or juicing jazz-fusion out of his cuíca, Jorge is a worldwide talent who’s giving New York twenty opportunities to bask in his light. — Silas Valentino

Ecstatic Music Festival: Yo La Tengo with Alvin Lucier
Kaufman Center

7:30 p.m., $25

In their thirty years as a band, Yo La Tengo have played their music (and the music of others) in almost every way imaginable: the feedback-addled indie grooves they built their sound upon; masquerading as gnarled garage punks Condo Fucks; and, with last year’s stripped-down Stuff Like That There, reimagining their own deep cuts in an acoustic vein. They collaborate often with others, which makes them a great fit for the Ecstatic Music Festival’s tradition of counterintuitive musician pairings creating new work. Such is the case the night they make ecstatic music with American composer Alvin Lucier, whose groundbreaking sound installations uncover auditory phenomena. Lucier and YLT wrote a piece together for the show, and the band will also perform some of Lucier’s previous works. As an added bonus, Ecstatic Music brings the Rock ‘n’ Shop Flea Market to Merkin before and during the show – it’s free to catch comedy, live bands, and do some shopping from 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m., reopening for ticket holders only at 6:30 p.m. — Lindsey Rhoades

2/17

The Cactus Blossoms

Mercury Lounge

9:30 p.m., $10

The sounds of the Grand Ol’ Opry come to downtown New York in the glorious form of the Cactus Blossoms. Page Burkum and Jack Torrey are brothers who have been playing together since 2010, and their country has a traditional, rockabilly-tinged feel. Close your eyes and you’ll land in a middle-of-nowhere bar near closing time circa 1953, watching couples dance the last dance of the night. These brothers prove you don’t have to grow up rural to get the sound — they’re actually from Minneapolis. Regardless, their real-deal Americana and dynamic harmonies harken back to the golden age of this particular kind of honky-tonk. If you can’t catch them the first time, don’t worry — they’ll be back on February 23. — Annalise Domenighini

Eleanor Friedberger

Bowery Ballroom

8 p.m., $16-18

Indie rock vet Eleanor Friedberger‘s latest album New View, her third as a solo artist, is a pleasant mix of folk and pop sensibilities that brings back memories of the mid-Aughts peak of indie pop, when Friedberger’s project the Fiery Furnaces were active. (It’s also reminiscent of pop music from the Seventies and Eighties like Fleetwood Mac, which the album actively references.) Most of the record passes by breezily, but standouts like “Never Is A Long Time” add wistful melancholy into the mix, Friedberger’s voice drawn to the fore with dark lyrics like “We are less than nothing, nothing is a perfect rhyme.” To balance it out, on “Two Versions of Tomorrow,” her voice takes on an effortless soul-inflected perfection. February 18 at Bowery Ballroom she’ll be backed up by Brooklyn’s Big Theif and Icewater, who contributed instrumentals to New View. — Sophie Weiner