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Dec 312012
 

By J. R. Carroll

Music with African roots warms the January chill, percussionists raise the roof, vocalist/pianist/songwriter Patricia Barber makes a welcome return, and a sextet of touring all-stars from the Monterey Jazz Festival swings through town.

2012 came to a superb conclusion with the auspicious launch of what we hope will be an ongoing series of live broadcasts from Scullers, hosted by Eric Jackson on WGBH. The featured artist, violinist Regina Carter, returned with her Reverse Thread project bridging the string musics of Africa and the Americas, a phenomenal performance that looked forward to some outstanding evenings in January 2013 with deep African roots, including appearances by Oliver Mtukudzi, Timbila, Femi Kuti, and the Leni Stern African Trio, as well as the percussive power of Yoron Israel, Sammy Figueroa, Billy Cobham and Jimmy Cobb (teamed with Joey DeFrancesco and Larry Coryell for a Jimmy and Wes tribute).

After a day of post-festivities recovery, the month gets underway on Wednesday, January 2, with a 9 p.m. duo performance by violist Tanya Kalmanovitch and pianist Anthony Coleman at the Lily Pad.

On Thursday, January 3, pianist Nando Michelin heads to Brookline for a 9:30 p.m. gig at the Fireplace.

The Acton Jazz Cafe, celebrating the New Year in its new location across from Nagog Pond, hosts the collective ensemble Clear Audience (saxophonist Andy Voelker, guitarist Steve Fell, bassist Jef Charland, and drummer Luther Gray) at 9 p.m. on Friday, January 4. Pianist Alan Rowe and his trio open the evening at 7 p.m..

Back in Cambridge, hard bop meets hip hop when Outpost 186 hosts Le Prestige at 8 p.m.

Drummer Yoron Israel has High Standards–that’s his quartet with saxophonist Lance Bryant, pianist Laszlo Gardony, and bassist John Lockwood. They’ll be in Framingham at the Amazing Things Arts Center at 8 p.m. on Saturday, January 5.

Guitarist Phil Sargent joins pianist John Funkhouser and his trio on Sunday, January 6, at 6 p.m. at the Lily Pad.

The thermostat goes up at the Beehive at 8 p.m. on Monday, January 7, with the arrival of the Funky AB’s (keyboardist Amy Bowles and bassist Aaron Bellamy)

On Tuesday, January 8, the Olson Pingrey Quartet returns to Outpost 186 at 8 p.m.

Sumie Kaneko has forged a remarkable fusion of jazz and traditional Japanese music, performing as both vocalist and player of the shamisen. Ryles World Wednesdays welcomes her at 9 p.m. on January 9.

Miami-based percussionist Sammy Figueroa has played and recorded with an amazing list of musicians, including Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis, the Brecker Brothers, and the pioneering Brazilian/Latin fusion band Raices. He brings his Latin Jazz Explosion to Scullers on Thursday, January 10, at 8 and 10 p.m.

The same evening, trumpeter Jerry Sabatini and his Sonic Explorers find their way to the Acton Jazz Cafe for a 9 p.m. gig, with pianist John Funkhouser opening at 7 p.m. Meanwhile, pianist Bill Charlap swings through Massachusetts for a 7 p.m. concert at Northampton’s Iron Horse Music Hall, following it up with two nights at the Regattabar on Friday and Saturday, January 11-12, at 7:30 and 10 p.m.

Also on Saturday, over at Scullers at 8 and 10 p.m., drummer Jimmy Cobb joins with organist Joey DeFrancesco and guitarist Larry Coryell in a tribute to Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery.

Up in Portsmouth, NH, baritone saxophonist Danny Harrington and trumpeter Jeff Stout perform at 6 p.m. on Sunday, January 13, at the Press Room.

Skip the aerobics class on Monday, January 14, and head to Club Oberon for a smoking evening of timba (figuratively—leave the cigars at home) with Ritmo Masacote, starting at 10 p.m.

Zimbabwean vocalist/guitarist/composer Oliver Mtukudzi, a powerful voice in the battle against AIDS in Africa, makes two stops in Massachusetts. On Tuesday, January 15, he and his band, the Black Spirits, come to Johnny D’s at 7:30 p.m. The following evening they’ll travel to Northampton’s Iron Horse Music Hall for a 7 p.m. performance.

Also on Wednesday, January 16, Ryles World Wednesdays hosts percussionist Edgar Rodriguez and his band Iba A Se at 9 p.m.

Drummer Billy Cobham hasn’t lost one whit of his power since he recorded his Spectrum album in 1973. His 7:30 and 10 p.m. performances at the Regattabar on Thursday, January 17, will mark not only the 40th anniversary of that album but also a reunion with his old compadre in the Mahavishnu Orchestra, violinist Jerry Goodman.

On Friday, January 18, the Acton Jazz Cafe welcomes pianist Adam Janjigian and his trio at 7 p.m.

Also on Friday, at 8 and 10 p.m., trumpeter Roy Hargrove opens a two-night stand at Scullers.

The Regattabar offers an outstanding evening of African-rooted music on Saturday, January 19. At 7:30 p.m. you can catch the Maghrebian funk of Atlas Soul, with special guest vocalist and qanun player Ali Amr. The emphasis shifts south to Mali and Zimbabwe—and to the East Village—at 10 p.m. with Timbila. A special price for tickets to both Atlas Soul and Timbila makes the double bill even more enticing.

Moving north, Rockport’s Shalin Liu Performance Center presents trumpeter Greg Hopkins and his Cryogenic Renaissance Orchestra, also on Saturday, at 8 p.m.

Even further north the same evening, again at 8 p.m., Brattleboro’s Vermont Jazz Center features harmonica player Grégoire Maret.

There’s also plenty happening on Sunday, January 20, kicking off at 2 p.m. with a visit by the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra to the Amazing Things Arts Center.

Later in the day, at 6 p.m., the Press Room brings pianist Kenny Werner to Portsmouth.

At 8 p.m. on Monday, January 21, guitarist Javier Rosario will be at the Beehive.

Swiss-born vocalist Gabriela Martina has come a long way since her days as a five-year-old yodeler. She’ll be at the Beehive at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, January 22.

Also on Tuesday, at 7:30 p.m. at Methuen’s Sahara Club, saxophonist and vocalist Lance Bryant presents his annual remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King.

One of the biggest names in African music, Nigeria’s Femi Kuti, arrives at the Paradise Rock Club with his band Positive Force on Wednesday, January 23, with Boston’s Uhuru Afrika opening the proceedings at 8 p.m.

Vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Leni Stern has been involved with African music—especially that of Mali—since 2005, leading her to take up the traditional n’goni and to sing in the Bambara language. Her current African Trio includes bassist Mamadou Ba and percussionist Alioune Faye, and they’ll be at the Regattabar at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 24.

The music of Sicilian vocalist and songwriter Sissy Castrogiovanni reflects her origins at the crossroads of Mediterranean music. She’ll be at the Acton Jazz Cafe at 7 p.m. on Friday, January 25, followed at 9 p.m. by Finnish guitarist Jussi Reijonen.

Scullers welcomes vocalist Jose James at 8 p.m. on Saturday, January 26, to celebrate the release of his new Blue Note CD, No Beginning, No End.

Saxophonist Jonathan Lorentz is at the Press Room at 6 p.m. on Sunday, January 27.

Monday, January 28, offers a final taste of Africa at 8:15 p.m. as the Berklee Performance Center presents “Homeland Security: Celebrating Contemporary and Traditional African Music and Dance at Berklee.”

Hurricane Sandy blew away the planned Hallowe’en presentation of Ran Blake’s “Brando Noir” project. Barring further meteorological mayhem, NEC will host the rescheduled performance at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, January 29, at Jordan Hall.

Also on Tuesday, UMass-Amherst’s Bezanson Recital Hall hosts Earl MacDonald and the Hartford Jazz Society’s New Directions Ensemble at 8 p.m.

It’s been a while since Chicago-based vocalist/pianist/songwriter Patricia Barber last came this way, so it’s a pleasure to note that she and her quartet will be at the Regattabar at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 30, for the release of her new Concord Jazz CD, Smash. (Here’s a review of her 2008 CD, The Cole Porter Mix.)

Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour 2012

As the thermometer plummets, a visit to Monterey sounds pretty tempting; for the next best thing, head to the Berklee Performance Center on Thursday, January 31, at 8 p.m. for a visit by an all-star touring sextet from the Monterey Jazz Festival: vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, saxophonist Chris Potter, pianist Benny Green, bassist Christian McBride, and drummer Lewis Nash.

Alternatively, over in Allston at 8 and 10 p.m. you can catch the duo of Cuban pianist Omar Sosa and Italian trumpeter Paulo Fresu at Scullers.

And if you’re in Northampton, bring the month to a wild conclusion with an organ trio tribute to the music of Frank Zappa by Z Three, at 10 p.m. at the Iron Horse Music Hall.

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