The 10 Best Jazz Shows in NYC This Month
These are the best jazz shows in NYC in June.
Luciano Rossetti Charles Gayle
Vision Festival 19
The Vision Festival (June 11-15) has made a custom of honoring a particular avant-garde jazz musician for Lifetime Achievement each year. Now it's the turn of uncompromising saxophonist (and pianist, and bassist) Charles Gayle, 75, who'll fill the entire first night with a trio, quartet and an 11-piece unit called the Vision Artist Orchestra. Sets also on tap from Peter Brötzmann, James "Blood" Ulmer, Matthew Shipp, Nicole Mitchell, TarBaby and more, plus a promising slate of duos (Mary Halvorson/Susan Alcorn, Fay Victor/Tyshawn Sorey, Angelica Sanchez/Omar Tamez). There'll also be a film tribute to Jeff Schlanger, whose "MusicWitness" paintings, created in real time during every Vision Festival set, have come to be inseparable from the event itself.
Blue Note Jazz Festival
When a jazz festival books Aretha Franklin, Michael Bolton and Michael McDonald, one can understand jazz purists getting a slight case of the willies. But the Blue Note Jazz Festival (June 1-30) deserves props for balancing mega-names with probing artists along the lines of José James, Kris Bowers, Jon Batiste and Marcus Strickland. Bouncing between well over a dozen venues all month long, the fest can definitely point to some coups, including a night of Questlove with Bobby McFerrin (June 13) and the U.S. premiere of the Children of the Light Trio, i.e., Wayne Shorter's trailblazing quartet without Shorter (June 17-22).
Jack DeJohnette Trio
Drummer-composer Jack DeJohnette, 71, has played unabashed swing around the world for three decades with Keith Jarrett, the pianist he came up with in the '60s in bands led by Charles Lloyd and Miles Davis. But DeJohnette's own music with Special Edition and other units may be his greatest gift -- an elusive and absorbing catalog often drawing on the venturesome spirit of Chicago's AACM where he got his start. At ShapeShifter Lab on June 2, DeJohnette takes another turn, joining saxophone marvel Ravi Coltrane and electric bass shredder Matthew Garrison for a trio gig that could tilt Earth's axis (or at least Brooklyn's). That Ravi is the son of John Coltrane, and Matthew the son of Coltrane's bassist Jimmy Garrison, adds a certain historical weight.
Helen Sung Quartet
Houston native Helen Sung can outswing just about any pianist working today, as she'll demonstrate at Smoke (June 6-7) with a formidable quintet (trumpeter Alex Norris, saxophonist John Ellis, bassist Boris Kozlov, drummer Donald Edwards). After several solid releases for Fresh Sound, Sunnyside and SteepleChase, Sung landed at Concord this year and brought forward Anthem for a New Day, her most vibrant effort to date -- splashed with Fender Rhodes, propelled by lyrical discovery, showcasing Sung's own tunes as well as readings of Monk, Ellington, Chick Corea and Stanley Cowell. On the bandstand this material can go in any and all directions.
Red Hook Jazz Festival
The lineup seems to get better every year at the Red Hook Jazz Festival, held on two successive Sundays (June 8 & 15) at the Urban Meadow from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. These bands have widely varying instrumentation but a shared independent spirit, an ethic as purposeful and rigorous as it is experimental. Day one belongs to Azares (featuring vocalist Jean Carla Rodea and drummer Gerald Cleaver), plus ensembles led by Ralph Alessi, Amanda Monaco, Harris Eisenstadt and Ted Daniel. Day two features a quartet called the Museum Band of Teeth and Respect, along with Tim Berne's DECAY, the Welf Dorr Unit, George Coleman's Rivington Project and Gene Ess's Fractal Attraction.