January 8–18: Winter Jazzfest: No Agenda Family with the Subterranean Spirit Band: An Intergenerational Night of Music; A Celebration of Steve Dalachinsky at Nuyorican Poets Cafe. This year’s edition of Winter Jazzfest may be its most jaw-dropping yet, with star-studded concerts, all-night marathons, and talks. There’s a must-see double bill of Harriet Tubman and James “Blood” Ulmer at The Sultan Room on January 11, and the monumental highlight is that same night at Nuyorican Poets Cafe. There, the life of Steve Dalachinsky, last of the beat poets, oral historian of jazz, and quintessential scenester and champion of the arts—and sorely missed Brooklyn Rail scribe—will be celebrated. Dozens of Dalachinsky’s peers including Daniel Carter, Matthew Shipp, David Liebman, Lisa Sokolov, Cooper-Moore, Gerald Cleaver, Ingrid Laubrock, Jaimie Branch, Ka Baird, Sarah Bernstein, Kenny Wolleson, James Brandon Lewis, Shelley Hirsch, White Out, Talibam!, members of Yo La Tengo, and more, will pay tribute. Mark January 19 on your calendars for another homage to Dalachinsky, beginning at 2 P.M. at Artists Space (11 Cortlandt Alley) featuring “Family; A Love Supreme; Childhood Memories; Friends from 192 Spring St.; Sunset; Dreams; Creative community; Musicians Talk; Collaborators Talk; Poets Choir & Music Interludes…” Visit the WJF site for full calendar of events.
January 10–11: William Parker: Trail of Tears Continuum 1492–2020 at Roulette. Bassist and composer William Parker is a master of wildly innovative large-scale works with socio-political themes and Trail of Tears Continuum 1492–2020 could turn out to be his apotheosis. Its first iterations were performed at Lincoln Center in 2017 and The Kitchen in early 2019, but tonight, for the first time, he will present it in full multidisciplinary form with music, video, and dance combined. Parker will lead a fourteen-piece ensemble through a tone poem that reflects the history, pain, and hope inspired by the forcible relocation of 100,000 indigenous people, including members of the Cherokee and Choctaw nations.
January 11: New Ear Music and Arts Festival at Fridman Gallery. An indefatigable creative force and titan of the downtown avant-garde jazz scene, percussionist, drummer, poet, and composer William Hooker continues to be a game-changer. His unrivaled drum power is next-level on his most recent album, the gripping Symphonie Of Flowers (ORG), a set that ranks up there as one of the best recordings of 2019. Tonight, as part of the New Ear Music and Arts Festival, Hooker celebrates with a performance of excerpts from Symphonie of Flowers by leading a quartet made up of Marc Edwards, Matt Chilton, and Theodore Woodward. On January 25 at iBeam, Hooker and his quartet continue the celebration of his new record with multiple sets & collaborations featuring Mara Rosenbloom, Stephen Gauci, Adam Lane, and Devin Waldman.
January 12: FERUS Festival: Sarah Hennies & Mara Baldwin, Come ’Round Right at National Sawdust. Billed as an annual showcase of “untamed voices”, the four-night FERUS Festival is designed for the cutting edge sound-seeker. This evening’s presentation pairs sculptural set pieces by Mara Baldwin, inspired by Shaker furniture and crafts, with music by rising star composer Sarah Hennies based on Shaker hymns. Following the performance, Hennies and Baldwin are joined after the show by Steve Smith, National Sawdust’s Director of Publications, for a conversation about the piece.
January 18: The Hum Presents Jilian Medford (Ian Sweet) and Greta Kline (Frankie Cosmos) with Emily Yacina and special guests at National Sawdust. Female and nonbinary series The Hum continues its forward thinking programming with an evening headlined by a pair of indie rock stars. Greta Kline and Jilian Medford have breathed new life into the underground landscape with their introspective and intimate medium-fi stylings in the groups, Frankie Cosmos and Ian Sweet, respectively. Tonight, they team for a unique collaboration. With Emily Yacina and other special guests.
January 18: Krallice, The Flying Luttenbachers, and Chepang at Saint Vitus. 2019 marked the welcome return of Weasel Walter’s brutal-prog collective, The Flying Luttenbachers. On the face-melting Shattered Dimension (ugEXPLODE), Walter, guitarist Brandon Seabrook, saxophonist Matt Nelson, and bassist Tim Dahl served up punishment on the skronkiest of scales that combined metal, classical composition, and free jazz. Walter has quickly followed up that destruction with Imminent Death, a cosmic and breakneck blast of downtown no wave funk weirdness that conjures Ornette Coleman on a death metal trip. WIth black metal-centric outsiders Krallice.
January 18: Tongue Depressor and Zach Rowden’s Tide at Scholes Street Studio. In the fall, the Marginal Frequency label issued Tide, Matt Sargent’s composition for 10 basses, played by Zach Rowden and assembled into its ultimate form via Sargent’s custom software. A mysterious and grand work that follows a mesmerizing path of expansion, Rowden will play TIde as the headline event on this concert, which also features his duo with Henry Birdsey, Tongue Depressor.
Janiary 23-February 2: You Are Under Our Space Control at La MaMa. An alternative to the increasingly anodyne Prototype Festival comes via this new opera from Object Collective. Composer Travis Just and librettist Kara Feely describe it as about life on earth after the depletion of all resources needed to sustain life. Based on a drum transcription of Cage’s Book of Changes, it mashes together interviews with astronauts, Sun Ra’s Afrofuturist poetry, and the philosophy of Russian Cosmists.
January 24–26: Festival of Protest Music at Spectrum. Geography takes on a whole new meaning at this (literal) garage, (literally) across the street from the new capitalist fiefdom of the Brooklyn Navy Yards. Protestival will co-chaired by Spectrum’s Glenn Cornett, consultant Alanna Maharajh Stone, and musicologist Ben Tausig, author of the 2019 book Bangkok is Ringing: Sound, Protest, and Constraint. Discussions and music will focus on how to response to the mass of threats to human dignity, and will geature Tausig, trumpeter Kate Amrine playing music by Gemma Peacocke, Jacob TV, and others, a performance by cellist and composer Meaghan Burke, John King and Mick Rossi reminaging field hollers and working songs, and guitarist Marco Cappelli leading a live soundtrack to Sergei Eisentein’s film, Strike.
January 30: Burnt Sugar The Arkestra at the David Rubenstein Atrium. This rollicking ensemble makes a speciality of taking existing music, taking it apart, (re)applying African-American roots, and then returning the product, new and improved and funky and rich. For this Lincoln Center show, they pull Porgy and Bess out of the Metropolitan Opera and turn it into “Porgy & Bess The AstroBlack Trapfish Row Variations.” It’s going to be smart and fun as hell, and it’s free so get there early, space is limited.
January 30: Colin Hinton at Rockwood Stage 3. Drummer and composer Hinton has a recent album, Simulacra, that pushes a powerful ensemble through some imaginative and refreshing forms. Expect some of Hinton’s steady compatriots, including Anna Webber, Edward Gavitt, and Shawn Lovato.
February 2: Ghost Train Orchestra Plays Moondog at [(le) poisson rouge](https://lpr.com/). Brian Carpenter's Ghost Train Orchestra "reimainges" the music of the late, great Moondog, and outsider musician's outsider musician. Not only is this Moondog for a big band—an ensemble of woodwinds, strings, percussion, and more—but the performances will be fronted by some exceptional guests: Theo Bleckmann, Karen Mantler, Jim Thirlwell (a/ka/a Foetus), and Joan Wasser (of Joan as Police Woman).