The 10 Best Jazz Shows in NYC This Month
These are the best jazz shows in NYC in May.
Shervin Lainez Marc Ribot
Guitarist Marc Ribot has much to celebrate as he turns 60 (on May 21), so he'll be the main focus of the fifth annual Undead Music series. There'll be shows by Son Lux with Rafiq Bhatia, Daedelus & Shigeto and a May 14 Improvised Round-Robin Duets blowout at Town Hall (featuring Ribot among many others). Of the four dedicated Ribot nights, the most buzzworthy is his record release show for Live at the Village Vanguard (Pi) with Henry Grimes on bass and Chad Taylor on drums, May 12 at (Le) Poisson Rouge. This hair-raising trio juxtaposes Albert Ayler and late-era Coltrane with distinctively fractured renderings of things like "I'm Confessin'" and "Old Man River." It's music that fries brains while also expanding and uplifting.
Brad Mehldau Trio
An unstoppable force on piano since his emergence in the mid-'90s, Brad Mehldau has raised the bar for instrumentalists across the board, collaborating with the likes of Jon Brion, Pat Metheny, Chris Thile and most recently drummer Mark Guiliana on the electronic jazz feast Taming the Dragon (Nonesuch). At the Village Vanguard (May 6-11) Mehldau returns to the source of it all with his acoustic trio featuring bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard. The band's 2012 Nonesuch efforts Ode and Where Do You Start, focusing on originals and covers respectively, spill over with harmonic invention and interpretive finesse.
Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival
This multi-venue event (starting May 4) pays homage to legendary Harlem venues past and present such as Minton's, Monroe's Uptown House, Small's Paradise and the Apollo Theater. There'll be jam sessions hosted by Christian Sands and Antonio Hart, discussions of the legacies of Charlie Parker and James Baldwin, big bands led by Cecil Bridgewater, Bobby Sanabria and Arturo O'Farrill, and a free (yes, free) concert by the Vijay Iyer Trio at Aaron Davis Hall (May 9). The Harlem Stage Gatehouse also promises two intriguing nights with pianists Aruán Ortiz and Manuel Valera (May 7) and trumpeter Christian aTunde Adjuah (May 8).
Eric Reed Quartet
Pianist Eric Reed came to prominence in the early '90s as a member of the Wynton Marsalis Septet, filling the shoes of Kenny Kirkland and Marcus Roberts. Though he's recorded prolifically as a leader, displaying a high level of mastery at age 43, he hasn't been given his full due. His two duet records with trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, We and We, Vol. 2, are simply outstanding, and his Savant trilogy The Dancing Monk, The Baddest Monk and The Adventurous Monk has set a new standard for Thelonious Monk interpretation in our day. It's safe to assume Reed will draw on that repertoire at Smoke Jazz and Supper Club on May 9-10. With him will be tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake, bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Rodney Green.
Ryan Truesdell's Gil Evans Project
Apart from Fred Hersch's always essential annual week of duos (May 6-11), the must-see at Jazz Standard is May 13-18, when Ryan Truesdell's Gil Evans Project will record its next CD, a fan-funded affair aptly to be titled LIVE at the Jazz Standard (Blue Note/ArtistShare). The follow-up to 2012's absorbing Centennial: Newly Discovered Works of Gil Evans, this effort finds scholar-conductor Truesdell and 20-piece ensemble (with Wendy Gilles, vocals) immersed in a treasure bath of further Evans rarities and acknowledged classics. For the first three nights it's "Music for Claude Thornhill"; for the latter three it's "New Bottle Old Wine and Individualism of Gil Evans" (referencing Gil's classic albums of '58 and '64, respectively).
178 Seventh Ave., New York, NY
W. 135th St. & Convent Ave., New York, NY
150 Convent Ave., New York, NY
116 E. 27th St., New York, NY
290 Hudson St., New York, NY
29 Cornelia St., New York, NY
16 Gramercy Park S., New York, NY
66 Park Ave., New York, NY
18 Whitwell Place, New York, NY