The Best Jazz Shows in NYC This Month
These are the best jazz shows in NYC in December.
Saxophonist Joe Lovano takes up residency at the Stone for six nights (Dec. 3-8) to mark his 60th birthday. Though he's been with a major label for over 20 years, Lovano came of age in small indie venues like this, and he's never stopped being part of the community of improvisers. He'll make that clear in a duo night with drummer and philosopher-king Milford Graves; a summit with pianist Kenny Werner and drummer Andrew Cyrille; an appearance by the Village Rhythm Band (with guitarist Liberty Ellman); an encounter with the Super Sonix trio from Cleveland, Lovano's hometown; two sets of "loft ensemble improvisations"; and a "saxophone explosion" with mystery guests.
Cuban-born pianist David (that's Dah-VEED) Virelles made a splash in 2012 with Continuum (Pi), a thrilling abstract take on Afro-Cuban music and hard-hitting New York jazz. For sheer piano skills Virelles has been snapped up by David Binney, Chris Potter, Tomasz Stanko, Jonathan Finlayson and other bandleaders. But the Continuum project resumes on December 6 & 7 at the Jazz Gallery, which commissioned a new Virelles work titled Threefold. Bassist Ben Street, drummer Eric McPherson and percussionist/Yoruba vocal master Román Díaz all have a hand in the premiere.
Ben Monder Solo
You'd fully expect music from a distant planet to sound something like Ben Monder, a guitarist of huge technical reach and harmonic imagination. Monder has a reclusive vibe though he's appeared on countless recordings and sideman gigs about town. His albums are too few, though this year's Hydra (Sunnyside) reestablishes him as a composer-magician of high rank. With bands, or in duo with vocal innovator Theo Bleckmann, Monder's eerie electric-fingerstyle parts can go by in a blur. When he plays alone at Greenwich House Music School (Dec. 7), you'll hear every mystifying detail.
Brian Blade and the Fellowship Band
Drummer Brian Blade has brought an explosiveness, a sense of physical unrestrained joy, to the music of the Wayne Shorter Quartet for nearly 15 years. All the while he's led the Fellowship Band to great heights, combining jazz virtuosity with rhythms and melodies that can be disarmingly simple, even heartbreaking. His recent singer-songwriter record, Mama Rosa (Verve), revealed a lot about how his mind works, regardless of genre. The Fellowship returns to the Village Vanguard December 10-15.
Harish Raghavan Group
Born near Chicago, 31-year-old bassist Harish Raghavan has gained serious cred in the jazz world with Eric Harland's Voyager band, Vijay Iyer's trio, Kurt Elling's group, Ambrose Akinmusire's quintet and more. He's riveting to watch, a picture of control and total commitment. At Smalls on December 11 & 12 he'll push forward as a leader, and there's every reason to expect music of consequence with Harland on drums, Logan Richardson on alto, Fabian Almazan on piano and Matthew Stevens on guitar.