January 5–10. Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Frigid temperatures and drifts of slushy snow didn’t deter the devoted concertgoers who trudged out for Winter Jazzfest, that annual endurance test of 140 or so musical performances scattered throughout Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn — perhaps the densest yearly concentration of jazz anywhere in the world. According to a spokesperson, 7,500 attendees — international tourists, music students, jazz heads, locals — filtered through the clubs, concert halls, and bars of the city to take in an insanely diverse array of music, from the saxophonist Donny McCaslin, who appeared on David Bowie’s final al- bum, to the cerebral pianist Kris Davis. This year the festival also set its sights on the theme of social justice, presenting a slate of politically minded performances, from the likes of Terri Lyne Carrington and Nate Smith, focusing on subjects such as incarceration and police brutality.
Boston, was in for the weekend, staying with friends but braving the festival alone. “This is my third time here,” he said proudly. On Sunday we caught up with fans milling about at Littlefield, in Brooklyn, where musicians like Marc Ribot, Linda Oh, and Sam Newsome were playing a tribute to Thelonious 3 Monk, who celebrates his centennial this year. “There’s nobody like him,” Rachel Sacks, a 45-year-old flute player and public health consultant, said of Monk. “He had his own language.”