Coming Attractions: October 8 through 24 — What Will Light Your Fire
Our expert critics supply a guide to film, dance, visual art, theater, author readings, and music. More offerings will be added as they come in.
Trenque Lauquen, Part II
October 9 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Film Archives, Cambridge
Trenque Lauquen, Part I and II
October 10 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Film Archives
Director Laura Citarella takes viewers on a journey through stories nested within stories that are set in and around the Argentinean city of Trenque Lauquen (“Round Lake”). It is centered on the strange disappearance of a local academic named Laura (Laura Paredes). Through initial inquiries by two colleagues — older boyfriend Rafael and a driver named Ezequiel with whom Laura had grown secretly close — we learn about her recent discoveries, including a new, unclassified species of flower and a series of old love letters hidden at the local library. These are clues that may help track her down. Yet as flashbacks and anecdotes pile up, we — and the film’s intrepid investigators — begin to realize that this intricately structured tale is larger and stranger than we could have imagined. Trenque Lauquen is told in 12 chapters spread across two feature films. (Lincoln Center)
A Little Princess
October 9 at 7 p.m.
Harpist-composer Leslie McMichael performs her live original score for this 1917 silent commissioned by Northwest Film Forum for its annual children’s film festival. Festival director Elizabeth Shepherd said, “Leslie’s score, filled with cleverly repeating themes and stunning interludes, breathed new life into this film from the dawn of cinema, and her energetic performance was also enchanting and brought audiences to their feet at the end of the screening.” This is the first film version of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1905 novel; it runs for 62 minutes and stars Mary Pickford and Zasu Pitts.
We Were Famous, You Don’t Remember: The Embarrassment
October 11 at 7:30 p.m.
Regent Theater, Arlington
Ignited by punk’s invasion of the Great Plains, America’s gawkiest and greatest lost rock band battles conformity in Reagan-era Kansas. There will be a post-screening panel with filmmaker Dan Fetherston and band member Woody Giessmann (Del Fuegos) moderated by Gary Waleik (Big Dipper).
Boston Asian Film Festival
October 12 – 23
In Person Screenings Emerson Paramount Center October 13 – 15
Virtual On Demand Shorts Program October 13–23
BAAFF will present six feature film presentations that include live filmmaker Q&A’s and six shorts programs. This year’s centerpiece documentary is Michele Rae Josue’s Nurse Unseen (October 13 at 6 p.m.). The centerpiece narrative film is Accidental Getaway Driver (October 14 at 4:30 p.m.) Other offerings include the documentaries Photographic Justice: The Corky Lee Story (October 14 at 1:30 p.m.) and Finding Her Beat (October 15 at 1 p.m.) Other narrative films include B-Side: For Taylor (October 15 at 4 p.m.) and Starring Jerry as Himself (October 15 at 7 p.m.). Events, Schedules and descriptions
New Hampshire Film Festival
October 12 – 15
Since 2001, NHFF has become one of the leading festivals in New England with over 10,000 attendees enjoy a huge range of narrative, documentary, short and animated films as well as panel discussions, parties, events, a screenwriting competition, and a Young Filmmakers Workshop. Screening Schedule
Palestine Film Festival
October 13 through 22
Museum of Fine Arts Boston
MASSART Design and Media Center
Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brookline
The festival features documentaries, features, rare early works, video art pieces, and new films by emerging artists and youth with independent views of Palestine and its history, culture, and geographically dispersed society. Ancillary programming includes concerts by Palestinian musicians and art exhibits.
The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
October 16 at 7 p.m.
Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brookline
The Sound of Silents Series presents Rupert Julian’s adaptation of the Gaston Leroux novel, which stars Lon Chaney as the masked phantom who haunts the Paris Opera House. His horrific self-applied makeup was kept secret by the studio until the film’s premiere. Featuring a terrifying live score by Jeff Rapsis!
One Hand Don’t Clap
October 18 at 7:30 p.m.
Regent Theater, Arlington
A spicy offering for Celebration of Calypso History Month: this award-winning 4K digital restoration of a seminal 1988 music documentary. It presents two icons of calypso music, Lord Kitchener and Calypso Rose (among other musical legends), on stage and behind the scenes. Through these calypsonians, the story traces the history of Calypso and Soca from their birth through their worldwide diaspora, including their popularization in the 1950s by Harry Belafonte.
A steel drum performance by Berklee professor Ron Reid will open the event, and there will be with a post-screening conversation with filmmaker Kavery Kaul and music journalist (for the Arts Fuse, among other publications) Noah Schaffer.
Independent Film Festival Boston 9th Annual Fall Focus
October 19 – 23
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge
As usual, the IFFB Fall Focus offers a stellar lineup of new, noteworthy films. Consider a membership for perks and access to the first and best seats in this carefully curated Fall program.
Thursday (Oct 19)
7:30 p.m. Eileen
Friday (Oct 20)
6:30 p.m. Fallen Leaves
8:30 p.m. Fingernails
Saturday (Oct 21)
12:30 p.m. Robot Dreams
2:45 p.m. Evil Does Not Exist
6:00 p.m. Monster (Centerpiece Film)
9:00 p.m. Dream Scenario
Sunday (Oct 22)
12:30 p.m. All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt
2:30 p.m. Tótem
5 p.m. Perfect Days
7:30 p.m. The Taste of Things
Monday (Oct 23)
7:30 p.m. Miyazaki’s The Boy and The Heron
Pick of the Week
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Charlie Kaufman’s 2020 adaptation of Iain Reid’s unnerving best-selling novel proved to be the perfect vehicle for this mischievously philosophical writer/director whose films — Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Synecdoche, New York — feature enigmatic puzzles on identity, freedom, love, social acceptance, family, memory, and more. On one level, this movie is a kind of thriller: it begins with a young man (Jesse Plemons) driving his girlfriend (Jesse Buckley) along a deserted country road to meet his strange parents (Toni Collette and David Thewlis) on their family farm.
The film offers a companion to Garth Davis’s film adaptation of Reid’s second novel, Foe. That stars Saoirse Ronan and Paul Mescal, and is scheduled for release in the coming weeks.
— Tim Jackson
Regenerating Life, Boston premiere screening at ASEAN Auditorium Cabot Center, Tufts University, 170 Packard Ave, Medford, October 14, 12:30 to 5 p.m.
John Feldman’s new three-part documentary takes “an ecological approach to unpacking the social and environmental crises that confront us, shifting the prevailing climate change story, and offering new, attainable solutions.” According to emeritus University of Chicago scholar/scientist James Shapiro, an expert in bacterial genetics, the film “places the Climate Crisis squarely in the biosphere, where it has always belonged.” Director Feldman will be at this screening, along with key speakers from the doc and experts in the field as part of a panel discussion and Q&A.
Honoring Eric Bentley: A Centennial Tribute Concert
October 25 at 7:30 p.m.
They say no statue has ever been dedicated to a critic (not true by the way). Here’s a tribute to one of the best theater critics ever, Eric Bentley, who was also a playwright, editor, anthologist, and translator (Brecht and Pirandello). Bentley died at the age of 103 in 2020, but his 100th birthday was celebrated at a concert/theater tribute in NYC’s Town Hall. It was filmed and — glory be! — we can see it now! May it be fit homage to the man who wrote the influential books The Playwright as Thinker and The Life of the Drama.
The celebrators included Tony Kushner, Austin Pendleton, Harold Bloom, James Shapiro, Edward Mendelson, and Phillip Lopate. The evening featured readings from Bentley’s right-on criticism (there had better be a chunk from his terrific book on George Bernard Shaw). Thoughts were shared on his influence on the American theater, music, and culture. Do they read from his stinging New Republic critiques of Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams? They both denounced Bentley and threatened to sue. Let’s see …
Here is what is also announced in the lineup: “Bentley’s work with Brecht, his classic books on the theater, and his own artistry were all highlighted. The evening was punctuated by theater music of Hanns Eisler and Darius Milhaud, whose songs for Mother Courage were performed by Soprano Karyn Levitt in the composer’s original, unpublished version for chamber orchestra, conducted by the late multi-Emmy Award winner Glen Roven. Selections from Eric Bentley’s Brecht-Eisler Song Book were also performed by Ms. Levitt and the Hanns Eisler Trio.”
— Bill Marx
Roots and World Music
Home Run Cafe, Dorchester
Once the music of houses of ill repute, in recent years the peppy acoustic guitar-driven sounds of Dominican bachata have been given a modern pop gloss via some successful crossover acts. If you’re looking for some bachata pura, you can find it whenever 74-year-old singer Ramon Torres, known as “el poeta de la bachata,” comes to town.
Lonesome Ace String Band with Basset
Club Passim, Cambridge
A popular bumper sticker at fiddle and banjo gatherings reads “Old-time music: It’s better than it sounds.” In the case of Canada’s Lonesome Ace String Band, it’s also newer than it sounds. The trio of fiddle (John Showman), clawhammer banjo (Chris Coole), and upright bass (Max Heineman) have a new LP, Try To Make It Fly, filled with original songs and instrumental tunes that give a nod to the pre-bluegrass string band tradition while they also move it forward.
The Orpheum, Boston
The poet laureate of American roots music hasn’t let a 2020 stroke slow her down. Over the past few months she’s released a new album, Stories from a Rock n Roll Heart, and Don’t Tell Anybody the Secrets I Told You: A Memoir. Williams’s live shows are usually steady rocking affairs, but the performer says she will be combining storytelling and music in this show.
Baba Commandant and the Mandingo Band
Crystal Ballroom at the Somerville Theatre
This funky Burkina Faso Mandigue guitar band is quickly becoming one of the hottest touring African acts. Trusted sources offered raves after seeing them on their spring US tour, and now Global Arts Live is bringing them in for their Boston debut. Alert: The concert is likely to be the sleeper show of the fall.
— Noah Schaffer
Brazilian Night at Regattabar: Receita de Samba & Ian Coury Quartet
After being closed since the onset of Covid, The Regattabar in Cambridge’s Charles Hotel has finally reopened for business. In addition to world-renowned stars of the jazz world, the club will continue to showcase world-class local heroes, and this show features two such stellar acts. The wonderful Brazilian vocalist Anna Borges and her US-born but Brazilian-souled pianist/guitarist husband, Bill Ward, have performed for years under the name “Receita de Samba” (Samba Recipe). For this evening of Brazilian music they welcome the crack rhythm section of drummer Mark Walker and bassist Ebinho Cardoso, who will also be backing the young Brazilian 10-string mandolin virtuoso Ian Coury, along with the excellent pianist Maxim Lubarsky. Two sets of samba jazz, bossa nova, and choro are sure to delight the crowd.
— Evelyn Rosenthal
COVID PROTOCOLS: Check with specific theaters.
Lunar Eclipse by Donald Margulies. Directed by James Warwick. Staged by Shakespeare and Company at the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre, Lenox, through October 22.
“On a summer night, in the middle of a field on their midwest farm, a long-married couple sits on folding chairs to observe the seven stages of a lunar eclipse. While watching the celestial phenomenon unfold, the two sip bourbon and reflect on land and legacy, on children and dogs, and the accelerating passage of time.” Karen Allen and Reed Birney play the meditative couple in the world premiere of a new work by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Margulies
2216: The Remix of a Global Experiment, written and directed by JaMario Stills. Staged by the Wilbury Theatre Group inside the WaterFire Arts Center, 475 Valley Street, Providence, Rhode Island, through October 15.
This world premiere is an “immersive and thought-provoking theatrical experience that weaves together personal narratives, historical truths, and futuristic possibilities. 2216 explores the lives of an ensemble of actors representing nationalities around the globe as they create and reenact a new world doctrine that connects and transcends time, and invites the audience to reflect on their own roles in shaping the groups experience and challenges them to actively participate in a hilarious, and sometimes tragic, ongoing journey.”
Wish You Were Here by Sanaz Toossi. Directed by Sivan Battat. Staged by Yale Rep at Yale Repertory Theatre, 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven, through October 28.
“It’s 1978 and protests are breaking out across Iran, encroaching on the suburb where a tight-knit circle of girlfriends plans weddings, trades dirty jokes, and tries to hang onto a sense of normalcy. But as the forces of revolution escalate, each woman must choose whether to join a wave of emigration or to remain in their country, where the future is uncertain. With breathtaking humanity and cutting wit, 2023 Pulitzer Prize winner Sanaz Toossi chronicles a decade of life during and after war, as best friends forever become friends long lost — scattered and searching for home.”
Assassins Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by John Weidman. Directed by Courtney O’Connor. Staged by the Lyric Stage Company of Boston at 140 Clarendon Street, 2nd Floor, Boston, through October 15.
“With the American dream out of reach, nine of the most notorious figures in our nation’s history ignite a chain of monumental nightmares. The white picket fence is set on fire in Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s musical, which peers inside the shattered minds of presidential assassins (both successful and failed) from John Wilkes Booth to John Hinckley Jr. This gallery of historical misfits jolts us into their blurry points of view with unapologetic humor, fiery anthems, carefree tunes, and unbridled energy that boldly blurs the lines between ambition and madness.” Arts Fuse review
POTUS, Or Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying To Keep Him Alive by Selina Fillinger. Directed by Paula Plum. Staged by SpeakEasy Stage Company at the Roberts Studio Theater, 527 Tremont Street, Boston, through October 15.
A New England premiere. “It’s The Women meets House of Cards in comedy that celebrates the women who keep things running behind the scenes both in — and out — of the Oval Office. Seven brilliant and beleaguered women in the president’s inner circle take increasingly desperate measures to save the country when his sexist and sex-related scandals spark a global crisis.” Entertainment Weekly said that “Fillinger’s script views politics behind-the-scenes as a twisted carnival, a zany, mad ride that you might never want to get off.” Arts Fuse review
The Good John Proctor by Talene Monahon. Directed by Kimberly Senior. Running in rep with Becky Nurse of Salem by Sarah Ruhl. Directed by Curt Columbus. Staged by Trinity Repertory Company at the Dowling Theater, 201 Washington Street, Providence. Schedule: The Good John Proctor, through November 12. Becky Nurse of Salem, through November 10.
Arthur Miller’s The Crucible has inspired a pair of feminist revisionist visions. The Good John Proctor “reexamines the Salem Witch Trials through the eyes of the four young girls at its center.” Becky Nurse of Salem centers on “Becky Nurse, a modern descendant of an executed Salem ‘witch.’ She’s been fired from her job, troubled by her granddaughter’s boyfriend, is pining for a married man, and taking pain pills to cope after her daughter’s overdose. To reverse her bad fortune, she consults an eccentric local witch … leading to shocking, funny, and even disturbing results.”
Fat Ham by James Ijames. Directed by Stevie Walker-Webb. Staged by the Huntington Theatre Company in association with Alliance Theatre and Front Porch Arts Collective at the Calderwood/BCA, 527 Tremont Street, Boston, through October 29.
In this Pulitzer Prize-winning script, a playful variation on Hamlet, “the sweet and sensitive Juicy wants to make his own way as a queer Black man growing up in a Southern family, until his father’s ghost turns up at a backyard barbecue and insists that Juicy avenge his murder. Ay, there’s the rub!” Arts Fuse review
T: An MBTA Musical, written by Mike Manship (book) and Melissa Carubia (music and lyrics). At the Rockwell, Davis Square, 255 Elm Street, Somerville, October 20, November 3 and 17, and December 1.
The show “chronicles the journey of three struggling Bostonians whose lives have been derailed by the MBTA’s incompetency. When they discover a secret map that will enable them to overthrow the transit system’s inefficiency, they set forth on a colorful journey that is part love story, part melodrama, part scavenger hunt, all one big transportation nightmare.” The script and score are updated seasonally to reflect current events and the latest MBTA struggles. Note: Limited on-the-train tickets are also available for each performance, where audience members can join an eccentric cast of T riders and personnel on stage as part of the action.
Naughty Bits, written and performed by Sara Juli. At the The Strand Theatre, 345 Main Street, Rockland, ME, October 13 and 14 at 7 p.m.
Solo performance artist Sara Juli’s newest piece is a dance-play set inside her memories, which include sexual trauma. She finds “levity within the tragic.” The production features dramaturgy by Michelle Mola, projections by Devon Kelley-Yurdin, lighting and production management by Justin Moriarty, and costumes by Carol Farrell. This is the world premiere of a show that finds “the forgotten bits, funny bits (and wobbly bits) of putting one’s mind and body back together.” Content warning: This piece examines one person’s experience with sexual assault.
Selling Kabul by Sylvia Khoury. Directed by Evren Odcikin. At Northern Stage’s Byrne Theater at the Barrette Center for the Arts, 74 Gates Street, White River Junction, VT, October 11 through 29.
A finalist for the 2022 Pulitzer Prize, “the script tells the story of a former U.S. military interpreter, who is hiding from the Taliban in his sister’s apartment in the wake of the American troop withdrawal.” The drama takes “a searing look at the human cost of America’s longest war, and the love and family that keeps people going in the face of the harshest conditions.”
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by Hugh Wheeler. Directed by Ryan Mardesich. Choreography by Joy Clark. Music directed by Dan Ryan. Staged by Moonbox Productions at 2 Arrow Street, Cambridge, October 13 through November 5.
The press material for this effort sounds … intriguing, to say the least. Not just another production of the oft-produced Sondheim musical, this will be “a new take on the modern myth, the parable of power, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” In other words, “a Brechtian take on a Sondheim classic.” Mrs. Lovett as Mother Courage?
The Book of Life – Hope & Harmony from Rwandan Voices, by Odile Gakire (Kiki) Katese. Directed and co-created by Ross Manson. A Volcano Theatre & The Woman Cultural Centre / From Canada & Rwanda production presented by Arts Emerson at the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre, Boston, October 18 through 22.
“In 2019, a group of Rwandan and Canadian artists came together in Kigali to develop a show about recovery from trauma. The result was this show, which combines original music from Ingoma Nshya — Rwanda’s first ever women’s drumming group — an extraordinary collection of letters written by ordinary Rwandans, the wisdom of director, playwright, and actor Kiki Katese, and a story about talking animals.”
Pride and Prejudice by Kate Hamill. Adapted from the novel by Jane Austen. Directed by Tatyana-Marie Carlo. Staged at Hartford Stage, 50 Church street, Hartford CT, October 12 through November 5.
Jane Austen, revamped for contemporary sensibilities. “It’s about time for the Bennet sisters to get married, only the independent and outspoken Elizabeth isn’t keen on the idea. Meanwhile, the proud and mysterious Mr. Darcy keeps appearing in the Bennet social sphere, sparking conflict and marital questions. Might a change of heart be in the cards for Elizabeth?” This “playful adaptation bends tradition and social conventions.”
Lizzie: A Rock Concert in 40 Whacks Music by Steven Cheslik-deMeyer and Alan Stevens Hewitt. Lyrics by Steven Cheslik-deMeyer and Tim Maner. Book by Tim Maner. Directed by Lanie Sakakura. Staged by TheaterWorks at 233 Pearl Street, Hartford, CT, through October 29.
Lizzie Borden took an axe…. This all-female punk-grunge-rock musical “explores the heated days leading up to the most famous double murder of all time.” Following in the footsteps of “the recent Broadway hit Six,” this “rock concert retells “a mind-bending American myth.” Does the production come with a mosh pit?
Just Tell No One, site-specific, multimedia staged readings. Directed by Igor Golyak. Staged by the Arlekin Players Theatre at 368 Hillside Ave, Needham, October 6 through 14.
A theatrical evening director Golyak put together using excerpts from three plays by female Ukrainian playwrights — Bad Roads by Natal’ya Vorozhbit, translated by Sasha Dugsdale, Three Rendezvous by Natal’ya Vorozhbit, translated by John Freedman with Natalia Bratus, and Just Tell No One from the full-length play Night Devours Morning by Oksana Savchenko, translated by John Freedman. It was first presented by Lincoln Center in March 2023 in a site-specific, multimedia staged reading that featured Jessica Hecht, Bill Irwin, and David Krumholz. It was then shared for one performance in the Maso Studio at the Huntington Theatre. Arlekin now presents a new iteration of the piece in a series of intimate fundraising salons in their studio. The cast will include members of the Arlekin resident acting company, guests Daniel Boudreau and Lucas Boniface, along with Boston favorites Anne Gottlieb, Benjamin Evett, and Robert Walsh.
— Bill Marx
In partnership with the Farnsworth Museum, the Strand Theater at 345 Main Street, Rockland, ME, will present The Firefly Experience, with Firefly the Hybrid on October 19 at 7 p.m. Firefly, a member of the Penobscot Nation and traditional culture keeper of the Wabanaki, will stage a performance of music, visuals, and storytelling, designed to illuminate his indigenous culture in a modern context. Firefly’s 2022 film Wabanavia is part of the Farnsworth permanent collection. Tickets to the event, available at the Strand, are priced on a sliding scale from $5 to $30.
The Brattleboro Museum & Art Center in Vermont opens four fall exhibitions on October 14. Paper Made explores how paper can be a medium of its own, independent of what is drawn, printed, or written on its surface. The artists in the show reveal how paper can be its own story. Paper is shaped into a sunset or a stream of water, a kimono, a commentary on disintegration and decay, or a visual essay on the female body, desire, and commodity made from US currency.
Fawn Krieger and David B. Smith: Home Bodies was conceived during a global pandemic “during which the concept and context of home became a site for reinvention.” Ceramicist Krieger and textile artist Smith have used their respective media to consider “home as a place of care and freedom, a place to dream and create.”
It is not quite clear if Art Costa’s richly colored and textured evocations of deep sea creatures in reclaimed cardboard, papier-mâché, and natural material are real or imagined. On exhibit in the Brattleboro’s Art Costa: Sounds Deep, Costa’s work suggests a mysterious and perhaps not entirely real environment of the deepest depths, one that is still very little known to science, though perhaps less so for Costa’s imagination. Costa, who lives in landlocked Vermont, says “I hope my work helps inspire a collective effort to protect Earth’s fragile environments.”
Finally, Michael Smoot: And To This World features an artist who uses traditional printmaking methods like lithography in connection with digital media to create complex images suggesting connections through time. “I am interested,” he says, “in the connection between our models of the physical world and their potential to serve as a meditative tool while we are confronted with ecological, political, and cultural calamities.”
The $20,000 Arnold Newman Prize for New Directions in Photography is funded every year by the Arnold and Augusta Newman Foundation and administered by Maine Media Workshops + College. The Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester is partnering with the latter to present the work of the 2023 winner, Craig Easton, along with finalists Dylan Hausthor, Takako Kido, and Nziyah Oyo Diallo. The show, Arnold Newman Prize for New Directions in Portraiture, opens on October 19.
Also opening October 19 at the Griffin are exhibitions of two other photographers, David Johnson in Wig Heavier Than a Boot , which also features the collaboration of poet Philip Matthews, and Cody Bratt in The Other Stories. Bratt’s work, the museum says, deals with unreliable memories, displacement, loss, and coming of age.
On October 12, the Smith College Museum of Art will host artist Deborah Jack and Simone Cambridge of the University of Massachusetts for a film screening and discussion at 5 p.m. in Graham Auditorium, Hillyer Hall, on the Smith campus. The event is part of Art Stockings: Dialogues on Art, Gender, and Cultural Theory, a series that invites a diverse group of women-identified and nonbinary artists to talk about their work, ideas, and process.
— Peter Walsh
Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra
October 10 at 8 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center, Boston
The performance at the BPC by the Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra in March was a standout: a varied program, beautifully sequenced, with pieces that showed each composer’s idiosyncratic mastery of form and content. And, as usual, the players were stellar. For this show they’ll be performing pieces previously recorded on their 2020 Live at the BPC, as well as new pieces, by resident composers David Harris, Darrell Katz, Bob Pilkington, and Mimi Rabson. BPC influences range from Ray Charles and James Brown to Julius Hemphill and Terry Riley.
Cyrus Chestnut Trio
Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston
The phenomenally gifted pianist Cyrus Chestnut plays his first Boston shows in memory. He’s joined by bassist Herman Burney and drummer Kelton Norris.
Jared Sims and Hellbender
October 13 at 8 p.m.
Former Bostonian Jared Sims (at NEC), now director of jazz at West Virginia University, returns with his free-jazz-rock outfit Hellbender (think: Miles, On the Corner), with guitarist Andrew Stern, keyboardist James Rohr, bassist Marc Friedman, drummer Randy Wooten, and Sims playing saxophones, including an electric sax.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston
Swinging jazz pianists sometimes stumble when they tackle classical repertoire that should swing. On his new Preludes, adapted from the two books of Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier, Adam Birnbaum avoids these pitfalls. Saying that he has been inspired by the most swinging of all Bach keyboard players, Glenn Gould, and the more lyrical Angela Hewitt, Birnbaum swings hard but also with delicacy, in insightful arrangements with bassist Matt Clohesy and drummer Keita Ogawa. These shows are an album-release event for the Brookline homey Birnbaum (now living in New York).
October 15 at 5 p.m.
Shalin Liu Music Center, Rockport, MA
The singer Stacey Kent came to the fore in the late ’90s with a light, focused voice and approach to lyrics that made her stand out among singers of Great American Songbook standards. A series of albums on Candid and Blue Note, with sensitive arrangements by her husband, the saxophonist and flutist Jim Tomlinson, have established her appeal in jazz, bossa, and French chanson.
Charles Lloyd Quartet
Oct. 15 at 7 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center, Boston (Celeb. Series)
The great saxophonist, flutist, and spiritual seeker Charles Lloyd is playing this Celebrity Series of Boston concert as part of his 85th birthday celebration tour. He’ll be joined by his outstanding longtime New Quartet (b. circa 2007), with pianist Jason Moran, bassist Reuben Rogers, and drummer Eric Harland.
“The Music of George Russell”
Oct. 19 at 7:30 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston
New England Conservatory celebrates the centennial of the late, great composer and faculty member George Russell with this concert of his work, performed by the NEC Jazz Orchestra. The program will include Russell’s “Ezz-thetic,” “All About Rosie,” “Stratusphunk,” and parts of his extended work “The African Game.” NEC jazz studies chair Ken Schaphorst, a former colleague of Russell’s, will conduct. The show is free, but tickets are recommended.
Bill Frisell/Ambrose Akinmusire
October 19 at 8 p.m.
Groton Hill Music Center, Groton, MA
Modern jazz guitar sage Bill Frisell joins forces with next-gen trumpet genius Ambrose Akinmusire, first in Frisell’s quartet (with guitarist Tony Scherr, bassist Thomas Morgan, and drummer Rudy Royston) and then in Akinmusire’s Owl Song, with the great New Orleans drummer Herlin Riley.
Billy Harper Quintet
October 20 at 7 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston
In recent years, the commanding tenor saxophonist Billy Harper has been seen in Boston most often as part of the hard-bop collective the Cookers. For this show he’ll be leading his longstanding New York quintet, with trumpeter Freddie Hendrix, pianist Francesca Tanksley, bassist Benjamin Young, and drummer Aaron Scott.
October 21 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.; October 22 at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston
Back in the day, Stan Getz famously said, “There are only three pianists left — Tommy [Flanagan], Hank [Jones], and Kenny [Barron].” In Stan’s estimation that would mean that now there ain’t but one. In case you’re not sure what Getz was talking about, you have four shows to catch up with peerless jazz master Barron (now 80), at Scullers this weekend with his longtime Voyage Trio, with bassist Kiyoshi Kitagawa and drummer Jonathan Blake.
Kalia Vandever/Bruno Råberg/Jonah Parzen-Johnson
October 21 at 8 p.m.
Eliot Hall, Jamaica Plain
Mandorla Music presents these three players in solo performances — and possibly with a three-way jam finale. The exciting Brooklyn trombonist and composer Kalia Vandever released two compelling small-band albums — In Bloom and Regrowth — before releasing this year’s mesmerizing solo trombone-and-electronics workout We Fell in Turn. The esteemed veteran Boston bassist and composer Bruno Råberg this year released his first solo-bass album, the richly varied Look Inside. Chicago-born Jonah Parzen-Johnson is a baritone saxophonist and flutist whose introspective solo performances are supported by a strong sense of groove.
October 21 at 8 p.m.
Groton Hill Music Center, Groton, MA
The jazz-dub-Moroccan trance outfit fronted by Mike Rivard concludes its 25th-anniversary tour with this show at Groton Hill. Rivard — on bass and three-string Gnawan sintir — is joined by keyboard master John Medeski (Medeski Martin & Wood), guitarist Will Bernard (TJ Kirk, Dr. John), and core members Mister Rourke on the turntables, and percussionist Fabio Pirozzolo.
October 22 at 4 p.m.
The Mad Monkfish, Cambridge
The wonderful Boston drummer (“beautiful hands,” as they say in the trade) Austin McMahon celebrates the release of his tasty new organ quartet EP, Things Are Looking Up, with keyboardist Ana Petrova on organ, guitarist Nate Radley, and tenor saxophonist Gregory Grover Jr. The band will be playing songs from the new EP (all McMahon originals) as well as new material.
— Jon Garelick
Kathleen Alcott in conversation with Valeria Luiselli – Porter Square Books
October 10 at 7 p.m.
“From an ‘exquisite’ (The New Yorker) writer, a searing volume of prizewinning stories starring women facing points of no return. A professor finds a photograph of her deceased mother in a compromising position on the wall of a museum. A twenty-something’s lucrative remote work sparks paranoia and bigotry. A transplant to a new city must make a choice about who she trusts when her partner reveals a violent history. The summer after her divorce from an older man, an exiled painter’s former friends grapple with rumors that she attempted to pass as a teenager.
“In this long-awaited debut collection, Kathleen Alcott turns her skills as a stylist on the unfreedoms of American life — as well as the guilt that stalks those who survive them. Emergency roams from European cities to scorched California towns, drug-smeared motel rooms to polished dinner parties, taking taut, surprising portraits of addiction, love, misogyny, and sexual power. Confronting the hidden perils of class ascension, the women in these stories try to pay down the psychic debts of their old lives as they search for a new happiness they can afford.”
Michèle Lamont at Harvard Book Store
Seeing Others: How Recognition Works— and How It Can Heal a Divided World
October 10 at 7 p.m.
“Decades of neoliberalism have negatively impacted our sense of self-worth, up and down the income ladder, just as the American dream has become out of reach for most people. By prioritizing material and professional success, we have judged ourselves and others in terms of self-reliance, competition, and diplomas. The foregrounding of these attributes of the upper-middle class in our values system feeds into the marginalization of workers, people of color, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and minority groups. The solution, Lamont argues, is to shift our focus towards what we have in common while actively working to recognize the diverse ways one can live a life. Building on Lamont’s lifetime of expertise and revelatory connections between broad-ranging issues, Seeing Others delivers realistic sources of hope: By reducing stigma, we put change within reach.”
Paul Yoon at Harvard Book Store
The Hive and the Honey: Stories
October 11 at 7 p.m.
“The Hive and the Honey is much more than an exquisite, beautiful collection of short stories. Yoon roves geographic and historical points, catching stories of the Korean diaspora and, in the best way, the way of great literature, locates narratives that would disappear forever if he didn’t find them, characters far from home, longing for home, finding ways to reconcile and embrace complex new landscapes. This is a book about all of us. If you let each of these wonderful stories into your soul, you’ll feel the way I felt when I read this collection. I was in the hands of a vivid, powerfully honed imagination and came out better, more human, having learned something new about the world.” —David Means, author of Two Nurses, Smoking
Filmmaker Werner Herzog – Events (wbur.org)
Every Man for Himself and God Against All
October 12 at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets are $5 for livestream
“Every Man for Himself and God Against All is at once a personal record of one of the great and self-invented lives of our time, and a singular literary masterpiece that will enthrall fans old and new alike. In a hypnotic swirl of memory, director Werner Herzog untangles and relives his most important experiences and inspirations, telling his story for the first and only time.” Arts Fuse review
Jessie Reyez – Porter Square Books, Boston
Words of a Goat Princess
October 15 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $16.99 with book
“Words of a Goat Princess is the debut poetry collection about life’s struggle and triumphs from Grammy-nominated and JUNO-award winning songwriter Jessie Reyez. With the authenticity and heartbreaking relatability that her fans know and love her for, Reyez brings the breadth of her lived experience to the page as few recording artists can. At times ethereal and visceral, these 43 poems are carefully painted moments that expertly explore love, loss, and identity with an artistry that leaps off the page with every turn.
“Through this collection of poems and stories, Jessie Reyez shows that she is more than a pop performer, she is a true artist whose star knows no limits.”
Schuyler Bailar at the Brattle Theatre – Harvard Book Store
He/She/They: How We Talk About Gender and Why It Matters
October 17 at 6 p.m.
Tickets are $38 including book
“Anti-transgender legislation is being introduced in state governments around the United States in record-breaking numbers. Trans people are under attack in sports, healthcare, school curriculum, bathrooms, bars, and nearly every walk of life. He/She/They clearly and compassionately addresses fundamental topics, from why being transgender is not a choice and why pronouns are important, to more complex issues including how gender-affirming healthcare can be lifesaving and why allowing trans youth to play sports is good for all kids. With a relatable narrative rooted in facts, science, and history, Schuyler helps restore common sense and humanity to a discussion that continues to be divisively co-opted and deceptively politicized.”
Teju Cole with Tara K. Menon – brookline booksmith
October 17 at 7 p.m.
Free or $28 with book
“Tremor is a startling work of realism and invention that engages brilliantly with literature, music, race, and history as it examines the passage of time and how we mark it. It is a reckoning with human survival amidst ‘history’s own brutality, which refuses symmetries and seldom consoles,’ but it is also a testament to the possibility of joy. As he did in his magnificent debut Open City, Teju Cole once again offers narration with all its senses alert, a surprising and deeply essential work from a beacon of contemporary literature.”
Justin Torres at Harvard Book Store
Blackouts: A Novel
October 19 at 7 p.m.
“Out in the desert in a place called the Palace, a young man tends to a dying soul, someone he once knew briefly, but who has haunted the edges of his life. Juan Gay — playful raconteur, child lost and found and lost, guardian of the institutionalized — has a project to pass along to this new narrator. It is inspired by a true artifact of a book, Sex Variants: A Study in Homosexual Patterns, which contains stories collected in the early twentieth century from queer subjects by a queer researcher, Jan Gay, whose groundbreaking work was then co-opted by a committee, her name buried. As Juan waits for his end, he and the narrator trade stories — moments of joy and oblivion — and resurrect lost loves, lives, mothers, fathers, minor heroes. The past is with us, beside us, ahead of us; what are we to create from its gaps and erasures?”
— Matt Hanson