Coming Attractions in Jazz: December 2012

By J. R. Carroll.

An Aardvark Christmas

An edgy Season’s Greetings

With major clubs closing their doors for private parties, December can be a little thin for mainstream jazz. But if you like to walk on the wild side, this is your month.

Gotta love a guy who’s this much into cycling. Composer Darrell Katz and the Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra premiere the second of his bicyle-inspired compositions, “Why Do You Ride,” along with new works by David Harris, Jim Hobbs, and Norm Zocher, at 8 p.m. on December 1 at the Cambridge YMCA Theatre.

Improbable as the concept may seem, the musical results can be remarkable when the “power trio” (saxophonist Daniel Rovin, bassist Austin White, and drummer Dave Miller) who call themselves Karl 2000 turn loose their fusion of Albert Ayler and Russian folk tunes at Outpost 186 on Sunday, December 2 at 8 p.m. Also on the program is a fellow trio, J. D. Salinger-inspired Boo Boo Glass (saxophonist Andy Allen, guitarist Lautaro Mantilla, and synth player Borey Shin).

Chilean vocalist Natalia Bernal and two Americans, keyboardist Mike Eckroth and seven-string guitarist Jason Ennis, comprise Brooklyn-based La Voz De Tres. They’ll bring their mix of Brazilian, Cuban, Chilean, and other Latin styles to the Beehive at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, December 4.

House of Waters, the trio of hammered dulcimer virtuoso Max ZT, bassist Moto Fukushima, and percussionist Luke Notary, has a globe-spanning sound all its own. Catch them on December 5 at the Beehive.

There’s more world fusion the next night, Thursday, December 6, when Boston’s Debo Band bring their Ethiopian grooves to the Brighton Music Hall at 9 p.m.

Combining a double-neck, fretless/fretted guitar, a quarter tone guitar, and what we used to call a “twang bar,” guitarist David Fiuczynski has developed a “Planet MicroJam” concept that mingles microtones, jazz harmonies, and intricate rhythms. On Friday, December 7 at 8:15 p.m. at the Berklee Performance Center, he’ll premiere “Flam! Pan-Asian MicroJam for J Dilla and Olivier Messiaen,” a Guggenheim Fellowship two-year project that incorporates microtonal birdsong-based melodies, hip-hop beats, and a variety of Asian musical idioms.

Also on Friday, December 7, Brazilian pianist Luiz Simas and his trio (bassist Jason Davis and drummer Bertram Lehmann) pay a visit to Framingham’s Amazing Things Arts Center at 8 p.m.

And now for something completely different: On Saturday, December 8, at 8 p.m., the Cambridge Performing Arts Center presents the ensemble Cloud Ludum performing Karlheinz Stockhausen‘s Zodiac, a cycle of 12 tone-row pieces—originally written for music boxes—each representing a zodiac sign. This chamber jazz adaptation by Olga Karaseva will include different types of improvisation ranging from classical variation to blowing over jazz changes to riff-based solos and free collective improvisation.

The same evening at 9:30 p.m. up in Beverly, MA, at Chianti, tenor saxophonist Benny Sharoni adds fellow tenorman George Garzone to his quartet (with pianist Joe Barbato, bassist Sean Farias, and drummer Steve Langone). Duel or duet? Should be great either way.

As the daylight fades on Sunday, December 9, the trio of pianist Cyrus Chestnut will take the stage at Rockport’s Shalin Liu Performance Center at 5 p.m.

Later, at 8 p.m. at Inman Square’s Outpost 186, pianist Eric Zinman and drummer Laurence Cook celebrate the release of their new CD, Double Action.

Things stay busy at Outpost 186. On Monday, December 10, pianist Dave Bryant and his quartet play at 8 p.m., and at the same time on Tuesday, December 11, saxophonist Fausto Sierakowski performs with bassist Joe Morris and drummer Luther Gray.

Aside from the enduringly popular “Samba de veraõ (Summer Samba),” songwriter Marcos Valle has been something of a ghostly presence in music outside Brazil, woven into film, television, and commercial soundtracks, sampled by dance music and hip hop artists, and supplying the compositional and production underpinning for many other performers. His own recordings, while rooted in bossa nova and samba, reflect an elusive and eclectic style that has spanned MPB, jazz fusion, prog rock, funk, acid jazz, and straight-up pop. Boston audiences will get a chance to try to wrap their arms around all this on Thursday, December 13 at 8:15 p.m., when he appears at the Berklee Performance Center with a large student ensemble led by pianist Jetro Da Silva.

If you’re weary of the usual holiday fare, here’s a breath of fresh air. At 8 p.m. on Friday, December 14, the Cambridge YMCA Theatre, hosts Newpoli for the release concert of their new CD Musica di Natale: A Traditional Italian Christmas. The program (and the CD) present the Christmas Story as told through the folk music of Southern Italy, from shepherd songs of the Appenini Mountains to music from the courts and piazzas of Naples.

Another seasonal tradition returns on Saturday, December 15, at 8 p.m., as Emmanuel Church welcomes the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra for its 40th (!) annual Christmas concert. Looking back over its four decades, the program will feature the world premieres of two pieces by Mark Harvey: “Fanfare for 40” and “Children’s Carol,” along with music from the very first Aardvark Christmas concert in 1973: the Advent hymn “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” and Duke Pearson’s “Cristo Redentor (both arrangements by Harvey). The evening’s proceeds will benefit Community Works and Emmanuel Church. (For more on Aardvark, see Steve Elman’s extensive profile of leader Mark Harvey on The Arts Fuse from earlier this year.)

The Kevin Harris Project is something of a regular at the Lily Pad, and Sunday, December 16, will be a good occasion to catch them at 7:30 p.m.

Guitarist Jeremy Quick and his JQTrio will be at Outpost 186 on December 17, at 8 p.m.

I still have no idea where the name “Bagels the Dog” came from, but drummer Gary Fieldman walks his latest project into the Beehive on Tuesday, December 18, at 8 p.m.

On Wednesday, December 19, at 8 p.m., prodigal pianist Matt Savage brings an ace quartet comprised of saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi, bassist Bruce Gertz, and drummer Richie Barshay to the Lily Pad.

The late John Tchicai enjoyed a strong connection with Boston musicians despite having lived most of his life in Denmark. This year the Either/Orchestra devotes its December concert, on Friday, December 21, at 7:30 p.m. at Johnny D’s to revisiting compositions Tchicai composed for or performed with the E/O—a fitting tribute to a saxophone giant.

The week surrounding Christmas is pretty quiet, but the action picks up on Friday, December 28, when the Construction Party, a collaborative quartet joining Chicago saxophonist Dave Rempis with the Boston area’s Forbes Graham on trumpet, Pandelis Karayorgis on piano, and Luther Gray on drums, releases its new CD at 7 pm. at the Lily Pad.

Finally, violinist Regina Carter returns to Scullers on Friday and Saturday, December 28-29, at 8 and 10 p.m.

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