The 10 Best Jazz Shows in NYC This Month (Jazz Appreciation Month Edition)
"Hooray, hooray for composite existence and the cosmic forces," said Anthony Braxton as he accepted the distinction of NEA Jazz Master back in January. Speaking of the "sequential logics," "propositional logics," "image logics," "sound mass logics" and other aspects of his "Tri-centric thought unit construct," the multi-reedist and composer also singled out Frankie Lymon, Bill Haley, John Philip Sousa, Ahmad Jamal and Dave Brubeck as pivotal influences. At just 68, Braxton has a great deal more "transidiomatic" work ahead, some of which you can hear at Roulette during Jazz Appreciation Month. From April 10-12 he leads various ensembles and showcases the work of James Fei, Nate Wooley and Fay Victor as well. From April 17-19 he'll present his four-act opera Trillium J (The Non-Unconfessionables).
Since his debut in 1999, tenor saxophonist Jacques Schwarz-Bart has explored his complex Caribbean-Jewish heritage on vivid releases including Soné Ka-La (EmArcy), Abyss (ObliqSound) and The Art of Dreaming (Aztec Musique). He's also lent his impassioned sound to the music of Meshell Ndegeocello, Erykah Badu, D'Angelo, Ari Hoenig, Etienne Charles and Jacky Terrasson, among others. At SubCulture (Apr. 3) to celebrate the new Jazz Racine Haïti (Motéma), Schwarz-Bart shifts his focus to Haitian voodoo traditions, enlisting fiery vocalists and top-shelf jazz players in a project full of melody, momentum and improvisational grit.
The Jeremy Pelt Show
Having led a formidable acoustic quintet on his HighNote releases Men of Honor, The Talented Mr. Pelt and Soul, 37-year-old trumpeter Jeremy Pelt changed direction in 2013 with Water and Earth, adding electric piano, percussion and vocals and finding a new frontline partner in gifted tenor/soprano saxophonist Roxy Coss. Following up in short order with Face Forward, Jeremy, the band now known as the Jeremy Pelt Show is even more effective: the sonics more ambitious, the quasi-electric concept more coherent. At the Jazz Standard on April 8-9, Pelt will explore the matter further in the presence of Coss, David Bryant on Fender Rhodes, Chris Smith on acoustic and electric bass and Dana Hawkins on drums.
A scintillating performer with a wealth of experience in bands led by David Binney, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Ryan Truesdell and many others, drummer Dan Weiss is also a devoted student of tabla master Samir Chatterjee. His immersion in Indian percussion has led him to a startling and distinctive vocabulary on the drum set, apparent not only on his Tintal Drumset Solo and Jhaptal Drumset Solo (Chhandayan) but also on his trio releases Now Yes When (Tone of a Pitch) and Timshel (Sunnyside). For his weekend at the Jazz Gallery (Apr. 11-12), Weiss pivots to the larger group concept of his Pi debut Fourteen, with rhythm section plus unruly guitar, reeds and low brass, harp, glockenspiel and three wordless vocalists.
Along with two new Innova releases this season (The Singing Gobi Desert and People's Emergency Center, the PRISM Quartet has three evenings of world premieres up its sleeve in an enticing Symphony Space program called Heritage/Evolution: New Music for Saxophones. On April 12, altoists Steve Lehman and Rudresh Mahanthappa unveil new works with backing from with PRISM's saxophone regulars Timothy McAllister (soprano), Zachary Shemon (alto), Matthew Levy (tenor) and Taimur Sullivan (baritone). Return on May 9 and you'll hear Tim Ries and Miguel Zenón add their perspectives. Enigmatic altoist Greg Osby and NEA Jazz Master Dave Liebman -- Miles Davis alum from On the Corner -- complete the series on June 12.