Jazz Preview: The Scene Lives! — Local Jazz in the Months to Come
By Steve Elman
Here is an idiosyncratic calendar of events in the coming months, compiled by your scribe for your perusal and possibly your inspiration. There will be much more to come as Scullers, Monkfish, the Lilypad, Berklee, NEC, City Winery, and (is anybody home over there?) the Regattabar book events in the months ahead.
If I had unlimited time and resources (and the ability to be in two places at once), these are the gigs I would see. Most of these require tickets and/or payment. I note “free” when I can, and there are many other things at Berklee and at the New England Conservatory without cost.
Get out there and hear some live music. It’s the best gift you can give to your ears.
October 1: The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, led by composer Mark Harvey. 7:30 PM, Kresge Auditorium (MIT), 48 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge – Kresge is centrally located within the MIT campus, a short walk from the curbside at 48 Mass Ave.
October 1: Russ Gershon’s Listen to This plays music from the Miles Davis electric book, 7:30 PM, The Lilypad, 1353 Cambridge Street (Inman Square), Cambridge
October 3 (and almost every Monday as far as the eye can see): Jerry Bergonzi Quartet (8:30 PM) and The Fringe [George Garzone, John Lockwood, and guests] (10:30 PM), The Lilypad, 1353 Cambridge Street (Inman Square), Cambridge. Two monstrous world-class saxophonists lead their most adventurous groups. Just because they play every week doesn’t mean you should take them for granted.
October 5: Bert Seager’s Heart of Hearing, 6:30 PM, The Lilypad, 1353 Cambridge Street (Inman Square), Cambridge. Keyboardist Seager is one of our most valuable local treasures, and his music is always well considered.
October 7: The Maria Schneider Orchestra, 8 PM, Sanders Theatre, 45 Quincy Street, Cambridge. The most stellar of today’s great jazz composers, who learned her craft from Gil Evans and now creates music that is distinctively her own. That apprenticeship shows in every one of her beautiful orchestrations. Her hand-picked ensemble of New York–based musicians will play music from her landmark album Data Lords (ArtistShare, 2020). A Celebrity Series event.
October 7, and each of the other Fridays in October: Yoko Miwa, 7 PM, Jazz Baroness Room at the Mad Monkfish, 524 Massachusetts Avenue (Central Square), Cambridge. An adept pianist with her very simpatico trio.
October 9: Milton Nascimento, 8 PM, Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston. This giant of Brazilian music is making a final world tour before his retirement from the stage. This is Boston’s last chance to hear him live.
October 9: Tim Ray, 7 PM, Jazz Baroness Room at the Mad Monkfish, 524 Massachusetts Avenue (Central Square), Cambridge. A pianist who can do anything, and does everything brilliantly. (You can get some very good sushi while you listen.)
October 14: Chucho Valdés, 8 PM, Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston. Valdés, a Cuban pianist with astonishing ability, leads a large ensemble in his new suite, La Creación, depicting the creation story via Afro-Latin jazz and the traditions of Santería.
October 15: Kenny Werner, 8 PM, Scullers, on the first floor of the Doubletree Suites Hotel, 400 Soldiers Field Road, Boston. A pianist who never fails to inspire, with bassist Johannes Weidenmueller and drummer Ari Hoenig.
October 16: Joe Hunt Group, 830 PM, The Lilypad, 1353 Cambridge Street (Inman Square), Cambridge. Hunt, like Roy Haynes, is a drumming legend. Once again, just because he’s locally based, he should never be taken for granted.
October 20: Jazz Composers’ Alliance Orchestra, led by Darrell Katz, 8 PM, Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston. New music by Katz, Bob Pilkington, Dave Harris, and Mimi Rabson. This ensemble never fails to deliver a fascinating show, and the prospect of new music from any of these four composers is mouth-watering.
October 20: Allan Chase Septet, 6:20 PM, The Lilypad, 1353 Cambridge Street (Inman Square), Cambridge. Seven pieces give saxophonist Chase a chance to show off his writing as well as his playing, both of which are superb.
October 21 and 22: Eliane Elias, 8 PM, Scullers, on the first floor of the Doubletree Suites Hotel, 400 Soldiers Field Road, Boston. A two-night CD release celebration for this A-list pianist/singer, concentrating on bossa nova and other forms of her native Brazil, with tunes drawn from her new Quietude (Candid, due in December 2022).
October 23: Antonio Sánchez & Bad Hombre, 8 PM, City Winery, 80 Beverly Street, Boston. Deep in the historic heart of the city is this unlikely but spacious food-and-music place, and their rare jazzish shows deserve support. Drummer Sánchez, with a long list of superior jazz credits, names his group after one of the thousands of reprehensible remarks of El Trumpo. This show will spotlight music from his new CD SHIFT, subtitled Bad Hombre, Vol. II (Warner, 2022). He promises tunes that “are all about the groove” and “go back to my rock roots.”
October 27: Kenny Barron with string orchestra of Berklee musicians, conducted by Eugene Friesen, 8 PM, Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston. The eminent Barron, one of the last living hard bop masters, plays live with a string orchestra in arrangements by Eric Gould. This is a true rarity; we almost never get to hear jazz musicians of any stripe play live with strings, and this is Kenny Barron, one of the great ones.
October 29: Benny Green, 8 PM, Scullers, on the first floor of the Doubletree Suites Hotel, 400 Soldiers Field Road, Boston. Excellent piano. Never disappoints. ‘Nuff said.
November 3: Dee Dee Bridgewater, with ensemble led by Shirazette Tinnin, 7 PM, Red Room at Café 939 (Berklee), 939 Boylston Street, Boston. One of the greatest jazz singers of our time in an intimate venue, singing music by Horace Silver.
November 5: Karrin Allyson, 7 PM & 9 PM, Scullers, on the first floor of the Doubletree Suites Hotel, 400 Soldiers Field Road, Boston. Almost exactly one year ago, Allyson was one of the first to break the silence at Scullers. She gave a generous vocal show in 2021, covering all aspects of her broad range with her excellent band, and they brought down the house. No less of an event is expected on this night.
November 5: Russ Gershon’s Lookie Lookie, 8 PM, Boston Harbor Distillery, 12R Ericsson Street, Dorchester. This venue, the event space at a woman-owned craft brewery/distillery, only occasionally offers live music, but this evening makes it worth your attention. Lookie Lookie is Gershon’s adventure into Latin bugalú — a feel-good mix of Latin, soul, and jazz, all performed with Gershon’s signature tongue-in-cheek attitude. No food is served here, but you can order in from nearby eateries.
November 7: Darrell Katz and Oddsong, with vocalist Rebecca Shrimpton, 7:30 PM, David Friend Recital Hall (Berklee), 921 Boylston Street, Boston. This will be a program of Katz’s songs on texts by his late wife, poet Paula Tatarunis. The ensemble’s instrumentation is unusual — four saxes, violin, mallets, and voice.
November 11: Bass Extremes (Victor Wooten, Steve Bailey, & Derico Watson), 7 PM, City Winery, 80 Beverly Street, Boston. Wooten is best known as the virtuoso bassist in Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, and the person most responsible for giving that group its interest to jazzpeople. Bailey is chair of the Bass Department at Berklee, and one of the few who can go toe-to-toe with Wooten as a technician. This two-bass-one-drummer trio allows both of the frontmen to show off their chops.
November 18: Warren Wolf, 7 PM & 9 PM, Scullers, on the first floor of the Doubletree Suites Hotel, 400 Soldiers Field Road, Boston. A contemporary master of the vibraphone.
November 30: Kat Edmondson, 8 PM, City Winery, 80 Beverly Street, Boston. Xmas jazz from this respected singer, who is more of a song interpreter than a jazz vocalist. She made her first Christmas album (Holiday Swingin’, Spinnerette) last year, and this “Holiday Show,” as it’s billed, will undoubtedly draw from it.
December 8: New England Conservatory Jazz Orchestra, Don Byron, Ken Schaphorst (dir), 7:30 PM Jordan Hall, 30 Gainsborough Street, Boston. Byron, a major figure on clarinet, returns to his alma mater. The program includes music by George Russell, Randy Weston (arranged by Melba Liston), Anthony Braxton, and others. Free.
December 9: Steve Turre, time(s) TBA, Scullers, on the first floor of the Doubletree Suites Hotel, 400 Soldiers Field Road, Boston. One of the best trombonists alive today brings in a small group for a one-nighter.
December 28: Madeleine Peyroux, 8 PM, City Winery, 80 Beverly Street, Boston. Her voice can be eerily like Billie Holiday’s, and her 2006 CD Careless Love (Rounder), with a memorable version of “Dance Me to the End of Love,” slipped into a lot of CD players. She’s now issuing an expanded version of that CD (there’s not a lot of detail about it yet), and this tour supports the new release, presumably including a lot of the vintage material.
January 26: Laszlo Gardony, with John Lockwood and Yoron Israel, 7:30 PM, David Friend Recital Hall (Berklee), 921 Boylston Street, Boston. Gardony is a pianist to reckon with, and the support from Lockwood and Israel is top-class. They will play music from a new CD, Close Connection (Sunnyside, due in December 2022).
January 28: Branford Marsalis, 8 PM, Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston. Marsalis will play music from The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul (Masterworks, 2019) with his longtime quartet, pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis, and drummer Justin Faulkner. A Celebrity Series event.
February 4: Artemis [Renee Rosnes, piano; Alexa Tarantino, alto saxophone/flute; Nicole Glover, tenor saxophone; Ingrid Jensen, trumpet; Noriko Ueda, bass; Allison Miller, drums], 8 PM, Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston. To see Rosnes, Jensen, or Miller alone would be a treat. In this all-star ensemble, they shine even more brightly. A Celebrity Series event.
February 17: Jason Moran and the Harlem Hellfighters: James Reese Europe and the Absence of Ruin, 8 PM, Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston. Pianist Moran, a big thinker, celebrates one of the early pioneers of African American music, James Reese Europe, who led his military big band in syncopated dance music and early jazz during World War I. A Celebrity Series event.
March 3, 8 PM; March 4, 8 PM; March 5, 2 PM: Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Uri Caine Trio, Barbara Walker, Catto Chorus, conducted by Andre Raphel, Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston. Three performances of a work that had to be canceled because of the pandemic, Caine’s The Passion of Octavius Catto, which blends jazz, gospel, and classical elements. This leads off the BSO’s first festival of works primarily spotlighting African American composers and performers, under the general title “Voices of Loss, Reckoning, and Hope.” The concert also includes William Grant Still’s Afro-American Symphony, which some critics believe influenced Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess.
March 9, 7:30 PM; March 10, 130 PM; March 11, 8 PM: Boston Symphony Orchestra, Anthony McGill, conducted by Thomas Wilkins, Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston. The second program in the BSO’s “Voices of Loss, Reckoning, and Hope,” which features a clarinet concerto by Anthony Davis called You Have the Right to Remain Silent, with McGill as soloist. It also includes William Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony. Conductor Wilkins, a great champion of works that blend genres, has been an important part of the BSO’s growing interest in this repertoire for more than five years, and this concert series should be a personal triumph for him.
March 8: Melissa Aldana, 7 PM, Artists for Humanity EpiCenter, 100 West 2nd Street, at A Street [entrance on A Street] (Seaport), Boston. This community center in the Seaport area is being transformed by the Celebrity Series into an intimate concert venue for four shows beginning tonight, with a performance by this gifted Argentinian saxophonist.
March 10: Nnenna Freelon, 7 PM, Artists for Humanity EpiCenter, 100 West 2nd Street, at A Street [entrance on A Street] (Seaport), Boston. The Cambridge native, now an acclaimed vocal artist, continues the Celebrity Series’ “Jazz Festival” at the Seaport.
March 11: Ambrose Akinmusire, 7 PM, Artists for Humanity EpiCenter, 100 West 2nd Street, at A Street [entrance on A Street] (Seaport), Boston. It would be unfair to call this the best of the four shows in the Celebrity Series’ “Jazz Festival,” but it is the one I most eagerly anticipate. This innovative trumpeter has delivered some groundbreaking performances on disc and this will be Boston’s first opportunity to hear him in person.
March 24: Terri Lyne Carrington + Social Science, 8 PM, Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston. Drummer Carrington’s work is so comprehensive that she needs more than one ensemble to cover it all. Social Science is her “crossover” band, and they won a Grammy for their album Waiting Game (Motema, 2019), a pungent commentary on contemporary events. They will probably mix new music with the old. A Celebrity Series event.
March 21: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, 8 PM, Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston. This visit to Boston by NYC’s jazz repertory orchestra has become an annual event for many. Marsalis’s ensemble is just about the only contemporary jazz group that can fill Symphony Hall … and do it justice. A Celebrity Series event.
April 1: Craig Taborn, 8 PM, Crystal Ballroom at the Somerville Theater, 55 Davis Square, Somerville. Taborn is a massive intellect at the piano, and I wonder what his trio is going to do at a general-admission event in the Somerville Theater’s big event space. A Celebrity Series event, part of Stave Sessions, their cross-disciplinary contemporary music series.
May 6: Bela Fleck, Zakir Hussain, and Edgar Meyer, 8 PM, Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston. It is not possible to pigeonhole any of these musicians, and this ensemble allows them an open canvas to play music in any genre. A trio of banjo, tabla, and bass doesn’t sound like it offers a world of possibilities, but these are virtuosi, so expect the world. A Celebrity Series event.
Steve Elman’s more than four decades in New England public radio have included 10 years as a jazz host in the 1970s, five years as a classical host on WBUR in the 1980s, a short stint as senior producer of an arts magazine, 13 years as assistant general manager of WBUR, and fill-in classical host on 99.5 WCRB.