With the joyous, overwhelmingly busy John Cage centenary celebrations of 2012 now at an end, adherents might worry that the musicians who trotted out all manner of Cage scores last year might be ready to shelve them now. It felt doubly fortunate, then, to encounter a performance of Cage’s seminal Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano on Wednesday evening at the Stone, the spartan East Village music laboratory founded and maintained by the composer John Zorn: doubly not only because the account, by Conor Hanick, was a marvel of poetic concentration, but also because it was not even planned until a few days ago.
Guillermo Gregorio/Jason Roebke/Brian Labycz: Without Titles [PM16]
This new CD from the Peira label captures a highly satisfying set of improvisations for Guillermo Gregorio’s clarinet, Jason Roebke’s double bass, and Brian Labycz’s modular synthesizer. In keeping with the music’s fully improvised nature, the tracks remain untitled—the absence of titles constituting a kind of literary parallel to the absence of predetermined structures constraining the performances.
Although each of the tracks has its own distinctive qualities, the recording as a whole creates a collective impression rooted in finely-judged textural dynamics and a well-balanced interaction of sound and space. Each piece maintains a discerning proportionality of voice, whereby none of the instruments overshadows the others. This is particularly the case with Labycz’s electronics, the timbres and phrasing of which complement the acoustic instruments without overpowering them. Roebke’s playing, with its mixture of expansive technique and conventional sound production, often acts as a kind of bridge between the electronics and Gregorio’s fluid lines.
The combination of wind, strings and electronics creates a rich collection of overlapping and contrasting sounds: scraping bass intersects with brief burst of electronics, while the clarinet reels out rapid runs throughout its entire range, or guttural stabs and trilling squeals. Labycz’s essays into the low frequency range mesh with the bass, while elsewhere free counterpoint is liable to break out at any moment. At times the acoustic instruments even appear to mimic electronic sounds, as when Gregorio’s clarinet shrills or Roebke plays sul ponticello. As is true of the best-honed group improvisations, the playing here gives evidence of a deep musical empathy.
The Barry Altschul 70th Birthday Bash (Tuesday) Barry Altschul is a drummer who stood at the center of the jazz vanguard some 40 years ago, and has recently been inching his way back. (Don’t miss “Reunion: Live in New York,” just out on Pi Recordings, which documents a 2007 concert he played with the multireedist Sam Rivers and the bassist Dave Holland.) The first half of this birthday concert will feature a new trio, 3dom Factor, with Jon Irabagon on tenor saxophone and Joe Fonda on bass. The second half will feature an old trio — the same one that appears on Mr. Altschul’s album “Brahma,” recorded in 1980 — with the trombonist Ray Anderson and the bassist Mark Helias. At 8 p.m., Roulette, 509 Atlantic Avenue, near Third Avenue, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, (917) 267-0363, roulette.org; $15, $10 for members and students. (Chinen)
The Bad Plus (Friday through Sunday) Few groups in the greater jazz orbit sound more doggedly intrepid than the Bad Plus, which flirted with electronic textures on “Made Possible” (eOne), released in the fall. The band — Reid Anderson on bass, Ethan Iverson on piano, David King on drums — can often sound impatient to greet the future, even as it basks in nostalgic reflection. A good fit, in other words, for a run that began on New Year’s Eve. At 9 and 11 p.m., Village Vanguard, 178 Seventh Avenue South, at 11th Street, West Village, (212) 255-4037, villagevanguard.com; $25 cover, with a one-drink minimum. (Chinen)
Karl Berger’s Improvisers Orchestra (Thursday) Mr. Berger, the composer, conductor and former guiding spirit of the Creative Music Studio in Woodstock, N.Y., presents his final show of this season with his loosely defined large ensemble, which features astute improvisers like the trumpeter Herb Robertson and the multireedist Peter Apfelbaum. The group, which also features Mr. Berger’s wife and longtime collaborator, the poet and vocalist Ingrid Sertso, will play an open rehearsal at 7:30 p.m., followed by a performance at 9 p.m. At El Taller, 2710 Broadway at 104th Street, (212) 665-9460, tinyurl.com/agfz7o9, tallerlatino.org; $15, $10 for students; reservations are recommended. (Chinen)
Countdown 2013: John Coltrane Festival (Friday and Saturday) This self-explanatory repertory festival at Smoke concludes with a band led by George Coleman: a rough contemporary of Coltrane, and one of several tenor saxophonists to succeed him in the Miles Davis Quintet. Mr. Coleman leads a band with two close colleagues, the pianist Harold Mabern and the drummer Al Foster, and a respectful younger stalwart, the bassist Doug Weiss. At 7 and 9 p.m., Smoke, 2751 Broadway, at 106th Street, (212) 864-6662, smokejazz.com; $35 cover, with varying minimums. (Chinen)
Jeff Davis Trio (Wednesday) The exploratory, texture-minded drummer and composer Jeff Davis draws from his intriguing recent album, “Leaf House” (Fresh Sound New Talent), with two regular partners, the pianist Russ Lossing and the bassist Eivind Opsvik. At 8 p.m., Barbès, 376 Ninth Street, at Sixth Avenue, Park Slope, Brooklyn, (347) 422-0248, barbesbrooklyn.com; suggested donation, $10. (Chinen)
Mary Halvorson Jazz Festival (Friday and Saturday) The guitarist Mary Halvorson, a calmly prickly and increasingly prominent presence on the avant-garde landscape, leads two different ensembles this weekend, beginning on Friday with Reverse Blue, a new quartet featuring Chris Speed on saxophone and clarinet, Eivind Opsvik on bass and Tomas Fujiwara on drums. On Saturday she works with Thumbscrew, her aggressively interactive trio with Mr. Fujiwara and the bassist Michael Formanek. At 9 and 10:30 p.m., Cornelia Street Café, 29 Cornelia Street, Greenwich Village, (212) 989-9319, corneliastreetcafe.com; $10 cover, with a $10 minimum. (Chinen)
Ben Holmes Quartet (Tuesday) The trumpeter Ben Holmes, whose areas of specialty include klezmer and Gypsy music, features this alert working band — with the trombonist Curtis Hasselbring, the bassist Matt Pavolka and the drummer Vinnie Sperrazza — on his appealing second album, “Anvil of the Lord” (Skirl). The band has a residency here, playing the second Tuesday of each month. At 7 p.m., Barbès, 376 Ninth Street, at Sixth Avenue, Park Slope, Brooklyn, (347) 422-0248, barbesbrooklyn.com; suggested donation, $10. (Chinen)
Lion Mouth / Max Johnson Trio (Monday) The assertive but tactful young cornetist Kirk Knuffke forms a connective thread between the two groups on this double bill. Lion Mouth, playing at 9:30 p.m., finds him in a combo with the pianist Jesse Stacken, the bassist Simon Jermyn and the drummer Jeff Davis (who has a tune called “Lion Mouth” on his most recent album). And the Max Johnson Trio, which plays a preceding set at 8:30, draws from its recent debut, “Elevated Vegetation” (FMR), featuring Mr. Knuffke, Max Johnson on bass and Ziv Ravitz on drums. At Shapeshifter Lab, 18 Whitwell Place, Park Slope, Brooklyn, shapeshifterlab.com; $10. (Chinen)
David S. Ware Memorial Service (Monday) David S. Ware, who died in October at 62, was a saxophonist of volcanic energies and searching temperament, and a pillar of conviction in the post-1960s jazz avant-garde. His memorial will include musical tributes by the bassist William Parker, the drummer Guillermo E. Brown and the pianist Matthew Shipp, who’ll play his compositions as a trio; the drummer Andrew Cyrille, the multireedist and trumpeter Daniel Carter and the guitarist and bassist Joe Morris, who’ll form another trio; the multi-instrumentalist Cooper Moore, in a solo harp meditation; and the drummer Muhammad Ali and the saxophonist Darius Jones, in duologue. At 7:30 p.m., St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Lexington Avenue, at 54th Street, (212) 935-2200, saintpeters.org; free. (Chinen)
From London’s The Vortex Jazz Club:
After the great success of the January 2012 Might I Suggest festival, we are excited that the ICP Orchestra have accepted Evan Parker‘s invitation to be at the Vortex from 29 January 2013 to 2 February 2013. The first visit to London for 6 years of one of the most iconic groups in jazz. Originators of New Dutch Swing and in existence since 1967. The first 3 days will be collaborations with the UK friends and the last 2 nights will be with the whole band.
Tuesday January 29
Tristan Honsinger cello/Mary Oliver violin/John Russell guitar/Ernst Glerum bass
Toby Delius saxophone/ Claude Deppa tpt (TBC)/Gail Brand trombone
Wednesday January 30
Michael Moore saxophone, clarinet/Alex McGuire piano/Ernst Glerum bass/ Mark Sanders drums
duo, trio and quintet from
Wolter Wierbos trombone/Ab Baars saxophone,clarinet/Phil Minton voice/Alex Ward clarinet/Roger Turner drums
Thursday January 31
Han Bennink drums/Pat Thomas piano, electronics/Steve Beresford piano,electronics/John Coxon guitar
Han Bennink drums/John Edwards bass/Evan Parker saxophone