Our guide to pop and rock shows and the best of live jazz happening this weekend and in the week ahead.
Pop & Rock
A-TRAK at Marquee (March 22, 11 p.m.). A touring D.J. for Kanye West in the early 2000s, this Canadian turntablist quickly graduated from trusted collaborator to label boss: In 2007, he co-founded Fool’s Gold, a Brooklyn-based record company that has championed artists like Danny Brown and Kid Cudi. He has also released his own work through the label, including 2016’s “In the Loop: A Decade of Remixes,” a box set compiling a selection of his 200-plus credited remixes (most notably, his version of “Heads Will Roll” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs). A-Trak celebrates his birthday with a guest set at this trendy West Chelsea nightclub.
MARIAH CAREY at Radio City Music Hall (March 25, 8 p.m.). Since the early 1990s, this powerhouse has put the full might of her five-octave voice behind radio hits that straddle genres, from the honeyed daze of “Always Be My Baby” to the hip-hop flair of her “Fantasy” remix featuring Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Currently, Carey is on the road touring her 15th studio album, “Caution” — a record graced by collaborators like Ty Dolla Sign and Dev Hynes. It prioritizes a more subdued, of-the-moment R&B sound over the vocal theatrics for which Carey is known. Still, expect the singer to dust off the showstoppers for her hometown crowd.
FLOHIO at Baby’s All Right (March 22, 8 p.m.). This Nigeria-born, British-bred rapper makes her way to Brooklyn this weekend to perform hard-charging songs that draw together elements of grime, trap and techno. An energetic M.C., Flohio — whose given name is Funmi Ohiosuma — floods her music with a brashness that she attributes to her South London upbringing. Ohiosuma recently told The Guardian, “Rap isn’t meant to be too happy; there’s meant to be grit in there.” That attitude guides her recent EP, “Wild Yout,” on which she touts her authenticity and taunts her detractors. Released in November, it was the culminating effort of her breakout year.
JOSÉ GONZÁLEZ at the Apollo Theater (March 21-22, 8 p.m.). In his solo work, this Swedish-Argentinian songwriter is a practiced minimalist, painting pictures with just his fingerpicked guitar and soft vocals. But González transforms in the company of collaborators. His sound expands whether he’s recording with the folk-rock group Junip or touring with the String Theory, an experimental orchestra from Berlin and Gothenburg with whom he released a live album last month. The String Theory will join him for his two-night run at the Apollo, performing new arrangements of songs from González’s three solo albums.
[Read about the events that our other critics have chosen for the week ahead.]
KAIA KATER AND KARINE POLWART at Carnegie Hall (March 23, 9 p.m.). This double bill showcases a range of folk traditions, embraced by two distinctly contemporary artists. For Quebec-born Kater, the Canadian folk songs of her childhood and the Appalachian music she studied while attending college in West Virginia serve as touchstones; Polwart, meanwhile, draws from the musical heritage of her native Scotland. The noted political dimension in the songwriting of both women makes this a natural pairing: Kater has sung about the Black Lives Matter movement and political strife in her father’s home country of Grenada, and Polwart’s 2018 album, “Laws of Motion,” addresses Trumpism and the experiences of migrants.
TORRES at Le Poisson Rouge (March 22, 8 p.m.). In the six years since she released her debut album, the Brooklyn-based singer Mackenzie Scott (a.k.a. Torres) has made the journey from quiet, confessional songwriter to adventurous, often boisterous rocker. On her most recent album, 2017’s “Three Futures,” Scott textured her guitar work with industrial and electronic sounds, aiming to create something that engaged all five senses. For her show at this Manhattan multimedia club, expect sensory engagement, beginning with her ritual preshow burning of palo santo sticks. Annie Hart, of the trio Au Revoir Simone, will open, setting the stage with lush, synth-driven pop songs.
ALTERNATIVE GUITAR SUMMIT at various locations (March 21, 25 and 27-28, 7:30 p.m.). Organized by the guitarist Joel Harrison, the annual Alternative Guitar Summit gathers some of the most talented six-string improvisers in jazz, post-rock and world music. This year’s festival begins on Thursday with a 50th-anniversary celebration of the music of Woodstock, at Le Poisson Rouge in Greenwich Village. Harrison will play music from the Richie Havens and the Grateful Dead songbooks alongside the Everett Bradley Choir. The guitarist Ben Monder and the vocalist Jo Lawry will collaborate on music by John Sebastian and the Band. And the guitarist Nels Cline, who’s best known for his work in Wilco, will revisit Santana’s iconic Woodstock performance. The summit’s second concert takes place on Monday, when Cline, Leni Stern and others will pay tribute to the esteemed guitarist (and multi-instrumentalist) Ralph Towner at Drom, in the East Village. It concludes on Wednesday and Thursday at Jazz Standard with solo shows from Towner himself. (On the last two nights, there will be second sets at 9:30 p.m.)
AARON DIEHL TRIO at the Baruch Performing Arts Center (March 28, 8 p.m.). Diehl’s piano playing has the same courtly, dapper flare as his wardrobe (he’s usually attired in a crisp, dark suit, sometimes topped off with a pair of thick-framed glasses). Picking up the mantle of midcentury greats like Bud Powell, Barry Harris and Cedar Walton, he espouses the ideal of jazz as America’s classical music, whether he’s performing standards or his own neo-traditionalist compositions. He may be best known for his work alongside Cécile McLorin Salvant, an eminent young vocalist, but at Baruch the spotlight will fall squarely on Diehl and his trio, which features the bassist David Wong and the drummer Aaron Kimmel. They will be playing music from his most recent album, “Space, Time, Continuum,” as well as some new pieces.
FIRE! AND MADALYN MERKEY at the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center (March 28, 8 p.m.). The tenor saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, one of Europe’s most uncompromising free improvisers, angles toward the void in Fire!, a trio that includes the bassist Johan Berthling and the drummer Andreas Werliin. Whether scrawling an illegible smear of notes across the top of a pounding beat or erupting in fury as the rhythm dissolves beneath him, Gustafsson keeps the intensity high and your ears alight — even when his tone skews murky and dark. Fire! shares the bill here with Merkey, whose semi-ambient electronic music guides listeners into a kind of dreamlike state. This concert — Fire!’s first ever in New York — is presented by the nonprofit organization Blank Forms.
DEREK GRIPPER at Roulette (March 23, 8 p.m.). Gripper, a South African guitarist, has developed a virtuoso approach to playing Malian music that was originally composed for instruments such as the kora (a 21-string instrument, somewhere between a harp and a guitar) and the ngoni (a possible progenitor of the banjo). He fingerpicks his classical guitar in percussive swirls, producing a sound that’s as enlivening as it is hypnotic. His repertoire includes music by the kora master Toumani Diabaté and the guitarist Ali Farka Touré, as well as folk songs from South Africa’s Western Cape. This concert kicks off the fifth annual A World in Trance festival, which spotlights music from around the world with explicitly spiritual overtones.
MANUEL VALERA AND THE NEW CUBAN EXPRESS BIG BAND at Terraza 7 (March 28, 9 p.m.). Valera, a Cuban-born pianist with a blazingly fluent right hand and a mellifluous compositional style, has long led the New Cuban Express, a midsize band that integrates elements of contemporary New York jazz with Afro-Cuban forms. On Thursday he will premiere a big-band iteration of the ensemble, featuring the vocalist Sofía Rei and the alto saxophonist Román Filiú, plus 16 other instrumentalists.
WEBBER/MORRIS BIG BAND at the Jazz Gallery (March 22, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.). The tenor saxophonist and flutist Anna Webber recently put out “Clockwise,” an album full of atonality and friction and discomfited momentum — not to mention, some of New York’s premier improvising musicians. Angela Morris, a fellow saxophonist, shares some of Webber’s style, while also drawing more heavily on the influence of Impressionist composers and jazz’s most ancient styles. They have been playing their ambitious original compositions in this big band for a few years, and supposedly there’s an album on the way — but so far all we have to show for it are a few YouTube clips and a bit of buzz on the scene. To really hear the Webber/Morris Big Band, you’ve got to go in person.
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