Brooklyn Rail Highly Selective Music Events
December 2015/January 2016
By the Editors
- December 3: Tristan Perich at Roulette. Perich is one of the most important new composers, his work straddling both conception and practice, and grounded in beautiful sound. Capping a year in which he produced four gorgeous “Compositions”—Active Field, Dual Synthesis, Telescope, and Parallels—editions that packaged his music with copies of the scores, he will be playing improvisations with electronics. Expect something equal parts surprise and fulfillment.
- December 4: Arto Lindsay, PC Worship, Gary War, Elder Ones at Palisades. Tropicalia-skronk King Arto Lindsay heads a bill that includes Brooklyn’s PC Worship, who celebrate the release of a new EP, as well as Elder Ones, featuring vocalist Amirtha Kidambi. The evening will also witness an installation by Ashcan Orchestra.
- December 4: Yarn/Wire at National Sawdust. This unique and accomplished new music percussion group (the piano is a percussion instrument) has a big season of performances ahead of them and three new, great recordings available at their bandcamp page. The excitement kicks off for us New Yorkers at National Sawdust, where they play music from George Lewis and Chiyoko Szlavnics, with the help of the great violinist Miranda Cuckson.
- December 5: Swedish Energies V: Nordic Edition at Saint Vitus. For the second day of ISSUE Project Room’s fifth annual Swedish Energies Festival features a wide array of performers including the dancers Anna Asplind, Daniel AlmgrenRecén, and Anna Koch (“We neither deconstruct nor reconstruct. We insist.”); Hild Sofie Tafjord’s French horn-driven drones; and Tommi Karänen, a member of Paal Nilssen-Love’s Large Unit, among other noisy ensembles.
- December 7: Deerhunter, Atlas Sound at Rough Trade. Since Deerhunter’s 2007 breakthrough Cryptograms, the Atlanta, Georgia band has just kept chooglin’ along, never content with one style but instead bringing a fresh record out every few years or so. The group has a way of being well-known while still seeming under-appreciated, though none of them seem too bothered by it. This year’s Fading Frontier continues the solid streak, and the show at Rough Trade offers the rare chance of seeing Bradford Cox’s solo project Atlas Sound on the same bill.
- December 8 - 11: Other People residency at Trans-Pecos. Nicholas Jaar’s Other People record label has put together a short series in Ridgewood that is dense with excitement. Sets include William Basinski, Jaar and Arto Linsday, an Afrika Bambaataa vinly only DJ set, and an appearance from Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, which has got all us old people up off the couch and heading to the internets to get tickets. As Justin Snow would say: ‘some pretty cool shit.’
- December 10: Interpretations The AACM continues to celebrate its 50th anniversary. For tonight’s show trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith will present two new works, String Quartet No. 6, Taif: Prayer in the Garden of the Hijaz, for string quartet, piano and trumpet, and Henry David Thoreau Civil Disobedience: 1849, Six Ideas, for strings, percussion, piano, celesta, and voice. Douglas Ewart’s ensemble Quasar presents Ewart’s tribute to the AACM, AACM the Sonic Progenitor.
- December 12: Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Bird Calls at Miller Theatre. The cutting, burning alto saxophonist has one of the best jazz records of the year with Bird Calls. The music reworks Charlie Parker in particular and bebop in general to make contemporary jazz of the highest level. It’s not necrophilia, but rebirth, and the band—Adam O’Farrill on trumpet, Matt Mitchell at the piano, bassist François Mouton, and drummer Rudy Royston—is insane.
- December 12 - 14: 577 Forward Festival Celebrates Daniel Carter. 577 Records, one of the best jazz labels you’ve not yet heard, is celebrating wind player Daniel Carter’s 70th birthday with three evenings packed with music at the intimate Scholes Street Studio in Williamsburg. Carter will be playing with the likes of Connie Crothers, William Parker, Federico Ughi, and Matthew Putnam, and some of the musicians paying tribute will bee Stephen Gauci, Erin Yamamoto, Steve Swell, G. Calvin Weston, and James Brandon Lewis. And, hello, our own Steve Dalachinksy will be reading his poetry!
- December 13: The Real Kids, Baby Shakes, Wyldlife at WFMU’s Monty Hall. If WFMU’s airwaves are where you go to hear recorded music you’d never hear elsewhere, then the station’s new concert hall is proving to offer the same for live music. Headed by John Felice, founding-but-unheralded member of the Modern Lovers, the Real Kids have been around since the 1970s, making music that would blow you away if you could only hear it. Before all you had to do was tune in to the low end of the dial; now, you’ve just got to get on the PATH train. Rock and rollers Baby Shakes and Wyldlife round out the bill.
- December 13: Jon Lundbom’s Big Five Chord at Threes Brewing. NY expat Lundbom returns from Texas with his crunchy, open-form ensemble, featuring the leader’s cultivated explorations on guitar, and the terrific Bryan Murray on saxophones. Beyond Lundbom, your drinking will be accompanied by Jessica Lurie’s Bravadas and Eivind Opsvik’s Overseas, with Tony Malaby, Jacob Sacks, Brandon Seabrook, and Kenny Wollesen. Rock on.
- December 14 - 15: Henry Threadgill at Roulette. Two nights of the master and his Double Up Ensemble. If you missed out on the one night performance from this group at the 2014 Winter Jazz Fest, you have two chances to hear him honor the AACM. In line with the release of Old Locks and Irregular Verbs, catch his new work, Double-Up plays Double Up Plus.
- December 15: Sleater-Kinney, Waxahatchee at Terminal 5. Sleater-Kinney started off 2015 with the release of No Cities to Love, the band’s first record since 2005’s The Woods. The iconic trio sounds as raw as it did on its 1997 debut Dig Me Out. Philadelphia’s Waxahatchee—whose three records have helped make Sleater-Kinney’s hiatus bearable—opens.
- December 15 - 16: Mary Halvorson at the Jazz Gallery. Halvorson has one of our picks for the top jazz album of the year, he engrossing solo record Meltframe, and at the Gallery, she’ll be fronting her powerful large ensemble, with which she made Illusionary Sea, one of the finest jazz albums of 2013. Nothing but the finest for two nights.
- December 16: Peter Evans’s Fire Breathing, Seaven Teares at Roulette. As part of his artist residency at Roulette, trumpeter Evans brings together a quartet consisting of Steve Lehman on saxophones, David Byrd-Marrow on french horn, Anthony Orji on bass clarinet, and himself. Spooky post-industrial, pre-Reformation folk group Seaven Teares (Charlie Looker, Amirtha Kidambi, Robbie Lee, and Russell Greenberg) opens.
- December 19: The S.E.M. Ensemble at the Paula Cooper Gallery. Petr Kotik leads the annual concert from one of the most important new music ensembles on the globe. This is always one of the finest musical events of the year, and the variety for this program—it includes the U.S. premiere from Alvin Lucier, a world premiere young Estonian composer Liisa Hirsch (she was one of the highlights of Ostrava Days 2015), rare music from 17th century Moravian composer Pavel Jan Vejvanovsky, Xenakis—is outstanding even within the context of previous S.E.M. concerts. If only they could do these more often.
- December 21: Make Music Winter. The fifth year now for this counterpart of Make Music New York, a celebration of the longest night of the year, with free, outdoor performances throughout the city. Choose your own destination, but our picks are Joan La Barbara performing Alpine Echoes in Washington Heights, Tom Peyton’s Bell by Bell parade through DUMBO, and Lainie Fefferman’s The Gates Highline sound walk.
- December 21: Phill Niblock Winter Solstice at Roulette. An annual event, and a winter highlight. Niblock will combine acoustic/electronic music and video to chart the slow movement of the earth through the solar system and through the seasons. This live progression will extend six hours, and leave you in resonant peace.
- December 31 - January 2: They Might Be Giants at Music Hall of Williamsburg. If you must miss Carson Daly on television on New Year’s Eve, there are worse places to be than at Music Hall of Williamsburg, where They Might Be Giants will be kicking off a three-night stand centered around an as-yet-unannounced theme.
- January 6 - 17: Prototype Festival. With the demise of yet another opera company, Gotham Chamber Opera, this excellent festival of new opera is more important than ever. In its fourth season, the festival is mounting the NYC premiere of David T. Little’s acclaimed Dog Days, the world premiere of Du Yun’s Angel’s Bone, and the US premier of Irish Composer Donnacha Dennehy’s The Last Hotel. There will be peeks at works in progress and a contemporary/baroque mashup. Get tickets early because everything will be in demand.
- January 13 - 17: New York City Winter JazzFest. Expanded to five days but still within the confines of the Village, with every venue within walking distance of every other, this is NY’s premiere jazz festival, and thus one of the world’s premiere jazz festivals. There are nothing but riches every night, and it’s impossible to get to everything, but try and carve out plans for Charenee Wade, Rova doing Electric Ascension, Kamasi Washington, Marc Cary, James Brandon Lewis, Jim Black Trio, Dawn of Midi, Dayna Stephens, The Ex with Colin Stetson, Bill Laswell, and Happy Apple, Alicia Hall Moran with Brandon Ross … You get the picture.
- January 16: Laura Cantrell, Michael Shelley at WFMU’s Monty Hall. If you only know Michael Shelley from his eclectic Saturday program on WFMU, here’s a chance to see the DJ in his music-making capacity, opening for New York by way of Nashville singer Laura Cantrell.
- January 28 - 30/February 4 - 6: Robert Ashley’s Quicksand at The Kitchen. This is a world premiere from the late and sorely missed Ashley, but it’s not a new work. Ashley, not just an opera composer but one of America’s greatest prose writers, wrote a taut, funny, sad, haunted spy novel called Quicksand, which he called an opera in the form of a novel (just as his operas might be entries in the Great American Novel competition). This production, with the music produced by Tom Hamilton and choreography from Steve Paxton, puts the book where Ashley always imagined it might be. And if you want to know what an opera about a spy who helps overthrow Southeast Asian dictatorship might be like, go.