Our guide to pop and rock shows and the best of live jazz happening this weekend and in the week ahead.
Pop & Rock
MARC COHN at City Winery (Jan. 6, 7:30 p.m.). For those who prefer their rock on the softer side and with a healthy dose of blues, singer-songwriter Marc Cowhn — best known for his hit “Walking In Memphis” — is headlining a near-ideal evening of music. Also performing are John Oates and his Good Road Band, who recently released “Arkansas,” a rootsy album designed in part as a tribute to legendary bluesman Mississippi John Hurt, and then Cohn will get vocal support from legendary harmonists the Blind Boys of Alabama.
MDOU MOCTAR at Baby’s All Right (Jan. 4, 8 p.m.). The robust rock tradition among the Tuareg people — a Berber group with origins around the southern Sahara — has long been represented internationally by artists like Bombino and Tinariwen. Moctar, a singer-songwriter, offers a subtler, more intimate variation on their desert blues with his most recent album “Sousoume Tamachek.” Translated from the Tuareg dialect in which he sings, the title of the soothing, stripped-down release fittingly translates to something like “calm down.” He’s responsible for every note on the album, layering electric and acoustic guitar, percussion, and singing with mesmerizing results.
NEW POWER GENERATION at Sony Hall (Jan. 4, 7:30 p.m.). Prince’s backing band for over 20 years, the New Power Generation reunited shortly after his death in 2016. While the Revolution, who are also currently touring, were the primary support for Prince’s 1980s output, the New Power Generation — whose long tenure belied a much less consistent personnel — played behind his 1990s and 2000s compositions and performances. Their setlists span the singer’s career, though, for fans new and old who want to hear Prince’s music in as close to its original form as is still possible live.
NONAME at Brooklyn Steel (Jan. 5-6, 8 p.m.). Upon first listen, the Chicago rapper’s music sounds laid-back and understated. “I make lullaby rap music,” she explained recently on Twitter, a description as concise and apt as most of her rapid-fire yet still conversational verses. But even though her volume rarely goes above piano, Noname has attitude and depth to spare as she raps over asymmetrical grooves that have a live, unprocessed sound. On her recent full-length debut “Room 25,” there are lines salacious enough to garner their own headlines alongside philosophical manifestos, as on “No Name”: “’Cause when we walk into heaven, nobody’s name’s gonna exist/Just boundless movement for joy, nakedness radiance.” Both shows are sold out, but tickets are available via the secondary market.
OZOMATLI at Sony Hall (Jan. 5, 7:30 p.m.). The Los Angeles band’s goal has long been to capture that they see as a melange of genres: cumbia, salsa, rock, hip-hop, reggae and funk. This past year was the 20th anniversary of their self-titled debut album, which earned them a spot opening for Santana on the 1999 “Supernatural” tour. Since, they’ve been among the most reliable purveyors of Latin rock, often foregrounding issues around immigration, social justice and worker’s rights (the band’s members first met while trying to unionize a community center).
CL SMOOTH at S.O.B.’s (Jan. 10, 8 p.m.). When the rapper released his best-known single “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)” alongside producer Pete Rock, he was just 23. Over two decades later, the song’s carefully crafted bars and jazz-sampling beat remain etched in hip-hop history, giving its titular reminiscence new meaning. In a recent interview, CL Smooth reflected on how the music has evolved since the duo’s heyday during what’s often called hip-hop’s golden age. “I wouldn’t change anything.”
GLOBALFEST at the Copacabana (Jan. 6, 7 p.m.). As always, the 16th annual Globalfest features a broad range of acts from across the world. Highlights this year include the Calcutta-based Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya, who plays Indian ragas on the slide guitar, in a style descended of the sitar; the Cuban mambo revivalists of Orquesta Akokán; and Gato Preto, an electronic duo exploring music from across the African diaspora. All told, the evening boasts performances from a dozen bands across three stages at the Copacabana, one of Manhattan’s most storied nightclubs.
CRAIG HARRIS at Nublu 151 (Jan. 6, 7 p.m.). Harris, a trombonist, is celebrating the release of “Brown Butterfly,” an ambitious album paying homage to the legacy of Muhammad Ali. The suite laces gnarled horn arrangements and spoken tributes to Ali over protean rhythms, drawing on influences as varied as Count Basie’s big band and the drum-and-bass of 1990s London; the music emulates the rugged grace and mercurial power of Ali in the ring. Harris’s band includes Kahlil Kwame Bell on percussion, Calvin Jones on bass, Adam Klipple on piano, Tony Lewis on drums and Jay Rodriguez on saxophone.
CHRISTIAN SANDS at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola (Jan. 5-6, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.). A 29-year-old pianist and bandleader of increasing renown, Sands is aligned with jazz’s straight-ahead mainstream, but he’s got an unbounded inquisitive instinct. He sounds like he listens to Oscar Peterson, Jason Moran and Eddie Palmieri in about equal doses. He performs this Saturday with a quartet including the guitarist Caio Afiune, the bassist Yasushi Nakamura and the drummer David Rosenthal; that group will likely draw heavily from Sands’s most recent album, “Facing Dragons.” On Sunday, he returns with a trio featuring the bassist Luques Curtis and the drummer Terreon Gully. The latter show is a tribute to Erroll Garner; Sands serves as the creative ambassador for the Erroll Garner Jazz Project, a group dedicated to furthering the canonical pianist’s legacy.
JEN SHYU AND JADE TONGUE at the Jazz Gallery (Jan. 9, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.). A vocalist, poet and movement artist, Shyu is equally devoted to open-ended abstraction and absorptive storytelling. Here she presents “In Healing/Zero Grasses,” a new project with her longstanding group, Jade Tongue, that features a characteristically radical admixture of song, spoken poetry and outré improvisation, all aimed at healing humanity’s relationship with the natural environment. Jade Tongue includes Ambrose Akinmusire on trumpet, Mat Maneri on viola, Thomas Morgan on bass and Dan Weiss on drums.
BEN WENDEL HIGH HEART AND KENDRICK SCOTT ORACLE at ShapeShifter Lab (Jan. 6, 7 p.m.). Wendel and Scott are two of the most admired composer-bandleaders among today’s young music students and devotees of jazz’s modern mainstream. Here Wendel, a saxophonist, will present the debut of High Heart, a new acoustic-electric ensemble with the vocalist Michael Mayo, the keyboardists Shai Maestro and Gerald Clayton, the bassist Joe Sanders and the drummer Nate Wood. Scott, a drummer, will perform with Oracle, a vessel for his shimmering, gently propulsive compositions; in its current iteration, the group includes Sanders on bass, John Ellis on saxophone, Taylor Eigsti on piano and Mike Moreno on guitar.
WINTER JAZZFEST (Jan. 4-12, times vary). Now in its 15th year, the Winter Jazzfest has never had a more bountiful lineup of contemporary jazz talent. Its beloved weekend marathon — featuring simultaneous shows at venues across Lower Manhattan — will now stretch across two weekends: a “Half Marathon” will set the pace this Saturday, with a fuller, two-night marathon taking place a week later, on Jan. 11-12. In the week between, one-off concerts will be held nearly every night at a variety of venues. Highlights include Sunday’s New York debut of the pianist Arturo O’Farrill’s “Fandango at the Wall,” a suite he first performed at the American-Mexican border this past spring, with a multinational federation of musicians; and a concert on Thursday with the saxophone luminaries Pharoah Sanders and Gary Bartz performing together. Both of those shows, and many others at the festival, will take place at Le Poisson Rouge.
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